Sqirl

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Sqirl is a popular eatery on the east side of Los Angeles, and I try to go every time I’m in the area and the line isn’t crazy long. Weekdays are less crazy, and weird times are even less crazy. If you’re going at 11AM on a Saturday then just be prepared to wait.

Everything I’ve tried has been worth trying, including the sorrel rice bowl, the seasonal hash, stewed chickpeas with eggs, and the oft-grammed ricotta toast. It’s all simple and fresh and flavorful. Thumbs up!

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Sqirl

Highland Park Bowl

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If you haven’t visited Highland Park latest hot spot, then allow me to extend an invitation. Highland Park Bowl is one of the most impressive interior renovations I’ve seen in Los Angeles, and its worth visiting just to take a good look around. Luckily there are drinks, food, and bowling to keep you there.

The bowling alley, situated on constantly-changing Figueroa, was built in the 20s. It went through a number of changes over the years before being bought by the 1933 Group a couple of years ago. They stripped away drop ceiling, paneling, and junk to reveal the beautiful details beneath—a mural from the 30s (seen in the photo), old bowling paraphernalia, even nearly 100-year-old liquor bottles. The result is awe-inspiring. The original, tall ceiling with skylights and metal beams floats overhead, with bowling lanes beneath and two semi-circle bars not far behind. The bars are lit by the old pin-setters-turned-chandeliers, and the liquor sits on the former ball returns. Old pins now serve as bar lights, and former bowling team plaques and banners adorn the walls.

While you’re there taking a good look around, order a drink and maybe a pizza. The bar/restaurant boasts a large, Italian brick oven that churns out Neapolitan-style pizzas and other fare. Bowling is expensive but fun, and the prices vary based on the day and time.

Highland Park Bowl

Hattie B’s

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My husband and I have talked about hot chicken arguably too much considering he, until recently, had never even tried it. At some point I was rubbing it in his face, extolling its deliciousness and going on and on about something out of his reach. This all led to me declaring hot chicken eating our #1 mission while visiting Tennessee during the holidays. Nothing would get in our way.

Well, a tornado almost got in our way, among the usual hubbub of the holidays. But we volunteered to make an airport drop-off with the secret intentions of a lunch run, and made it into the rainy line at Hattie B’s. Yes, there’s almost always a line, but even at prime time lunch it went relatively quickly, and the staff is helpful and the food is totally worth it. We split a double white meat, some greens, coleslaw, and banana pudding. Many thumbs up.

And if you’re never had hot chicken—start low on the scale, even if you love spicy food. We ordered the lowest on the spice scale, and thought it perfectly spicy without the stomach ache or run for the water fountain. Scale up if you dare.

Hattie B’s

Cindy’s

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Cindy’s in Eagle Rock is the kind of place I have driven by a million times and thought about stopping, but never seriously enough to even slow down. It was looking a little pitiful, open really random hours, and half of the time had a film crew shooting in or outside. In the past year, Cindy’s was bought and sold and renovated, so things are a little different. On a lightly hungover Sunday, it was time to try it out.

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We were pleasantly surprised by the bright interior, freshly painted with big orange booths. There’s first-come-first-serve counter seating, but we opted to wait for a booth, and only ended up standing around for 5 or 10 minutes. That is rare luxury at prime brunch time on a Sunday in Los Angeles.

The menu is a fresher, healthier and more thoughtful version of classic diner food without losing the comfort aspect. It’s also priced accordingly, but compared to many brunch spots in LA, it’s reasonable. I ordered a waffle and a side of homemade sausage and my husband ordered brisket hash which comes with two eggs on top. We both heartily approved our choices–the waffle was light with a bit of a crunch and not too sweet, the sausage was full of spices (not the best I’ve had but solid), and Dan really liked his hash, which was full of fresh-diced veggies and seasoned with homemade hot sauce. The only dud was the black-eyed peas, but I think they’d be much better mixed into the hash rather than eaten alone. Plus, it’s hard to make plain old black-eyed peas exciting.

The service was friendly and the crowd was local, ranging from big families to young and old couples. We’ll definitely be back for another mid-day breakfast fix.

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Cindy’s

Trails Cafe

One of my favorite food spots in LA is the tiny Trails Cafe. It’s an adorable cafe nestled at the bottom of Griffith Park with outdoor-only seating, and exactly the kind of place I’d want to own if someone handed me a million bucks and said “open a restaurant please.” They offer a small menu–a few sandwiches, daily quiche and pies, a few pastries and drinks. It’s the perfect place to stop after a gaunt through the park and refuel. It’s usually full of cute dogs, too.

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Trails Cafe