My trip to Los Angeles to visit my line sister, Rachel, was filled with plenty of unexpected joys. As with my first time visiting any new place (especially in the US), I love experiencing the area as a tourist first as I gradually become familiar with the city’s culture. So, I introduce to you the beginner’s (touristy, yet obligatory) guide to LA.
| Explore Hollywood Boulevard |
This is the ultimate touristy spot of the city and, nonetheless, an obligatory experience. You can easily spend an entire afternoon in Hollywood walking along the Hollywood Walk of Fame or Shopping at the Hollywood & Highland Shopping Center. If you are that corny person (like me) that loves street performers, there are plenty that set up along the boulevard throughout the day.
Sometimes an informal, low-key lunch is just what you need to simmer down in the midst of a full day of work. Willie T’s Lobster Shack, which debuted not too long ago in Dupont Circle right next to Kramerbooks & Afterwords Café, proved to be just what I needed. And, as an almost-pescetarian, I could not turn down an opportunity to eat some seafood, especially lobster.
At first glance, the menu may seem pretty limited with 3 primary options – lobster roll, crab roll, or shrimp roll. But the variety of soups and the option to convert any roll into a salad creates an array of lunch combinations. Living in the DC area has taught me that you can always trust crab dishes if it is proceeded by the word ‘Maryland’ and Old Bay seasoning is in sight.
The shack theme is taken quite literally and, although it definitely has a ‘cheap eat’ atmosphere, I had to remind myself that it is a seafood spot. I imagined that anything with the word shack in the name has great food (and possibly on the less healthy side) with a low price tag. The great food part was very accurate, but nearly $20 for a lobster roll (especially with DC tax) from a “shack” seems a bit pricey, but nevertheless the food was good and it is lobster.
For a (somewhat) healthier option, I opted for the creamy and delicious lobster bisque. The endless supply of oyster crackers and Old Bay seasoning made it easy for me to revel in every taste. Staying true to the “shack” theme, you can expect window service and stool/bar seating. There aren’t any fancy utensils and the food is garnished with simplicity.
Commuting to DC for work every day can be a seriously draining (of my energy and money). But, the one thing I can’t complain about is the endless array of eating options in the city and surrounding areas. Washington, D.C. is the capital of our nation and the capital of foodies (in my opinion) and the best part about eating in DC is that cuisine from almost any nation in the world is probably just around the corner or a metro stop away. My European taste buds are always satisfied especially when a wave of nostalgia hits.
French cafes in America can be a bit pricey for lunch and anyone who knows me knows that I am obsessed with the famous French bakery, PAUL. Unable to get to a PAUL as frequently as I’d like, I have explored the world of Le Pain Quotiden (‘The Daily Bread’) and I loved it. The store front is full of French goods, such as chocolates and spreads (even speculoos).
| ROASTED TURKEY & AVOCADO TARTINE |
with radishes, cucumbers, wild arugula and a lemon Dijon vinaigrette on organic whole wheat bread
| VEGETABLE QUICHE |
with Gruyère cheese, leeks, spinach and mushrooms & served with a small green salad
Please do not sleep on Greek Deli. This place is to die for if you are looking for truly authentic Greek food. The Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup is my personal favorite and, at only $5, it’s probably the most affordable lunch item I’ve ever bought in DC – ever. It’s a large portion of soup served with a fresh and warm bread. Although their presentation is not as appealing to the eye, Greek Deli quite possibly has the best Greek food in DC.
Vapiano is not at all exclusive to DC but still one of my favorite lunch spots in the city. The journey to a healthier diet has led me to restaurants who use fresh ingredients, vegetables, and meat. If bowls of pasta were diet friendly, I’d be there every single day. Everything is made with fresh and cooked right in front of your eyes and the pasta is made on sight every morning. The orange fennel salad with shrimp is great healthy choice and just as tasty as the pasta and pizza selections.
| ARRABIATA |
with Campanelle pasta and chicken
Il Fornaio is not exactly a lunch spot for me given that it’s located outside of DC in northern VA. But this I just couldn’t exclude this authentic Italian treasure from my gourmand à DC list. Their brunch is probably on my top 3 list for brunches in the area. The cheese platter is not exactly on the menu but can be prepared upon request and I highly, highly recommend it.
| FRITTATA CON GAMBERI E SPINACI |
Open-faced omelet with shrimp, spinach, tomatoes and
mozzarella cheese; served with potatoes and caramelized onions
| GOURMET CHEESE PLATTER |
featuring fresh mozzarella, Gouda, Gorgonzola, Parmesan, and more
In honor of Chinese New Year, I headed down to Ping Pong Dim Sum to keep up my streak of trying new things. Dim Sum is a dish (or series of small plates) of steamed or fried dumplings with various fillings and flavors. It’s usually served as a main course (similar to tapas in Spanish culture). All the talk about traditional Chinese cuisine had me itching to see what all of the hype is about. Plus, I could fall in love with any tradition that involves continuously serving plates of food.