Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Los Angeles (Dining)

Over the last two years, I have traveled to Los Angeles on three separate occasions. The first visit was for Shyawn's cousins wedding in October 2011, the second was a girls trip with my mom and sister in July 2012, and the most recent was a trip that Shyawn and I took together in May 2013. Shyawn has several family members that live throughout Los Angeles so I know it will be a place that we will visit frequently throughout our lifetime. Over the course of these three trips I have eaten at several wonderful restaurants, all of which will be described below:

Tar and Roses
Umami Burger
Father's Office
Pizzeria Mozza
Bay Cities Italian Deli and Bakery
Raffi's Place
Milo and Olive
Urth Caffe
The Luggage Room Pizzeria
Gloria's Cafe

Note: Only a few of the above mentioned restaurants are actually in LA; many are in other cities that are part of the greater Los Angeles metropolitan area.

Located in Santa Monica, this lovely French restaurant is my favorite restaurant of all that I have been to on my three trips to LA. On our most recent trip, we decided to take Shyawn's cousin Shervin and his wife Yeva out for dinner as a thank you for allowing us to stay with them for the weekend. I had completely forgotten to make reservations for this dinner until about a week prior to our trip and was worried that all of the good restaurants would't have reservations available. After perusing Yelp, I found JiRaffe which not only had good ratings but also had an ideal reservation time available for the four of us.

Although I didn't take any photos of the interior space, it was quite lovely; formal and beautifully decorated without being stuffy. The staff was attentive and friendly but never obtrusive nor did they rush us when we took forever to place our order.

For an amuse-bouche, we were brought a small cup of mushroom soup, which was surprisingly refreshing and very delicious.
Amuse-bouche at JiRaffe.

We were also provided with a basket of bread to munch on while we waited for our appetizers.
Bread basket from JiRaffe.

We decided to order two different appetizers. The first was the JiRaffe Classic Tomato Tart (Tutti Frutti organic tomatoes, buratta cheese, caramelized balsamic onions, basil pesto, ratatouille sauce, olive tapenade). This dish was incredibly good and the tomatoes were very fresh and flavorful and paired wonderfully with the basil.
JiRaffe Classic Tomato Tart.

Our second appetizer was the Roasted Beet Salad (organic beets, caramelized onions, dried cherries, goat cheese cream, banyuls-ginger vinaigrette.) This is definitely not a dish that I would have ever selected on my own accord. However, Shyawn's cousins love beets and were immediately drawn to the dish. Much to my surprise, I really enjoyed the beets though I of course avoided the goat cream cheese as goat cheese is about the only thing in this world that I am unable to eat.
Roasted Beet Salad at JiRaffe.

For our main entree, Shyawn's cousin Shervin ordered the special, Osso Buco which was placed atop a beautiful spread of vegetables. I didn't get a chance to try a bite but Shervin ate every last morsel on this plate and stated it was excellent.
Osso Buco at JiRaffe.

Yeva's choice of entree was the Pan Roasted New Zealand Rack of Lamb with roasted yellowfin potato samosas, curried vegetable moussaka, thyme scented lamb jus. Lamb isn't one of my favorite foods so I didn't take a bite but she raved and raved about this dish and said it was some of the best food she had eaten in years.
New Zealand Rack of Lamb at JiRaffe

Shyawn ordered the Grilled Daurade and Maine lobster Medallion with saffron oil, fregola sarda, fresh Dungeness crab, pistou, fennel almond sauce, served over a pesto cous-cous. This dish was simply amazing. No other way to describe it. If it's on the menu during your visit do yourself a huge favor and just order it. I promise you won't be disappointed.
Grilled Daurade at JiRafe.

And finally, my entree of choice was the Angus Filet of Beef with sweet corn confit, grilled farmer's market scallions, ancho chili emulsion, roasted bell pepper sauce, natural beef reduction. Yet another very strong dish, the sweet corn confit was probably my favorite aspect which was quite surprising, given that I usually dislike the flavor of corn. The beef was moist and extremely tender and tasted amazing with the ancho chili and roasted bell pepper sauces.
Angus Filet at JiRaffe.

Given how delicious our meal had been up to this point, we knew we were going to have to spring for dessert. We decided to order the Chocolate Truffle Cake (Tahitian vanilla bean ice cream and chocolate, raspberry sauce) as well as Lisa's Fresh Baked Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Sandwiches (Tahitian vanilla, dark chocolate, and fresh strawberry ice cream). Once again, both of the dishes were outstanding and were devoured by the four of us within minutes.
Chocolate Tuffle Cake at JiRaffe.
Lisa's Fresh Baked Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Sandwiches at JiRaffe.

All four of us were tremendously impressed with the overall dining experience at JiRaffe. It's not very often that every single plate you order is amazing, but it happened at JiRaffe.

Tar and Roses:
We visited Tar and Roses, located in Santa Monica on our most recent visit to LA. Based on all of the hype I had heard about the restaurant, I was quite excited for our meal and had somewhat high expectations. Tar and Roses serves inventive American fare in the form of small plates. The restaurant is extremely popular and busy so making reservations in advance is highly recommended. When we arrived for our 7:30 reservation there was a huge line of people waiting without a reservation so I was very pleased that we had reservations. The interior space of Tar and Roses is quite small though it makes up for its lack of size with a beautiful, upscale and modern design scheme. The restaurant was dimly lit but had lots of mirrors creating quite a cozy and comfortable atmosphere; the perfect spot for a date night.
Tar and Roses
Tar and Roses

Upon first glance at the menu, we had a difficult time narrowing down our choices. The menu is divided into four different categories: Snacks, Small, Veggie, and Large. Many of the menu options were quite different and unique; don't come here expecting to see anything traditional. Under the Snacks category, we ordered the Popped Corn (crisp bacon/brown sugar/chili). I specifically ordered this dish based on some hype I had heard on Twitter. Additionally, pop corn and bacon are two of my loves in life and since they were combined with something sweet and something spicy I was hopeful that it would be an amazing flavor combination. The texture of the crunchy popcorn with the brown sugar glaze was pleasing as was the crispy bacon, but the chili flavor was so strong that it completely overpowered the dish. Even Shyawn, a huge fan of spicy things had a difficult time handling the heat. I wanted so badly to enjoy this dish but I seriously could not tolerate the spice. Maybe it was an off night for this popcorn but I don't understand why it has received so many accolades given its level of heat.
Popped Corn at Tar and Roses.

Also in the Snacks category, we ordered one of Tar and Roses most popular dishes: Bone Marrow (onion marmalade/sea salt/sourdough). This dish was mentioned more times on Yelp than any other plate at the restaurant so we figured it was a wise choice. Neither one of us had ever tried bone marrow and admittedly I was a bit nervous to eat it! In hindsight, my nerves were completely unnecessary as the fat was flavorful and paired wonderfully with the onion marmalade when placed atop the crispy bread.
Bone Marrow at Tar and Roses.

In the Veggies category, we decided to order two items including Wood Roasted Potatoes (garlic/spicy tomato aioli) and the Grilled Asparagus (romesco/burrata). The potatoes were definitely the highlight of our meal, believe it or not. They were cooked perfectly and tasted amazing with the delicious tomato aioli sauce.
Wood Roasted Potatoes at Tar and Roses.

The Grilled Asparagus was also cooked perfectly, but I wasn't quite as impressed with its accompanied sauce. It was good, but nothing amazing.
Grilled Asparagus at Tar and Roses.

And finally, our last plate of the night was the Kurobuta Pork Loin (tarragon creamed corn/black kale) which was listed under the Large category. Along with the Wood Roasted Potatoes, this was one of the better dishes of the evening. The pork loin was cooked perfectly and was moist and flavorful. Shyawn, a huge corn lover, really enjoyed the bed of the creamed corn that the pork was placed atop.
Kurobuta Pork Loin at Tar and Roses.

By the time we got around to dessert, we were unfortunately much too full to order anything.

Overall, we both walked away from the restaurant feeling slightly perplexed. The food was good and I really appreciated how much thought and effort had gone into creating and putting together the very unique menu items and the unusual pairing of flavors. However, I just don't feel that the quality of food quite lived up to all of the hype it's received. Don't get me wrong; none of the food was bad per say but there was not a single dish we tried that evening that would have me running back to eat again. Maybe we didn't try the "right" dishes that evening but all I know is that I didn't leave the restaurant feeling the "wow" factor that I was so hoping to experience.

After reading a favorable review of this new restaurant on a blog I follow, discovering that it had 4.5/5 stars on Yelp, and that it was on Eater's Where to Eat Right Now list,  I decided that Shyawn and I needed to include it on our list of restaurants to eat at on our most recent visit.

The seasonal Italian restaurant is located in what appears to be a former industrial space in the Arts District of downtown Los Angeles. Whomever designed the restaurant did an amazing job and took full advantage of the incredible space by incorporating the beautiful exposed brick and industrial beams into the design scheme. Upon arrival we first walked into a beautiful and bright courtyard and then went directly into the bustling restaurant, which had an amazing buzz and electric energy.
Courtyard seating at Besta.
Exposed brick walls at Bestia.
Interior of Bestia.
The bar at Bestia.
Interior of Bestia as viewed from our table.

Bestia is already well-known for its house-cured meats and they personally create dozens of different types of charcuterie for their restaurant. As a result, we ordered their Salumi (Chef's selection of house-cured meats, pickles, mostards, grilled bread). We enjoyed all of the meats except for one on the very right as it had a bit too much cartilage which was unpleasant for us to chew.
Salumi at Bestia.

For his main entree, Shyawn opted to go with their Tartufo e Acciughe pizza (black truffle, anchovy, fior de latte, grana padano). His pizza would have been classified as amazing had it not been so incredibly salty. So salty in fact that it prevented us from finishing it. Such a shame!
Tartufo e Acciughe pizza at Bestia.

When it came time for me to make a decision regarding my entree, I was torn, wanting to order both pizza and pasta. When I learned that Shyawn was ordering pizza I figured that was my cue to order one of the pastas and went with the much touted Cavatelli alla Norcina (ricotta dumplings, housemade pork sausage, black truffles, grana padano. The pasta was cooked perfectly and I truly enjoyed the flavor combination of the pork sausage with the black truffles. I would definitely recommend this dish to anyone who visits the restaurant.
Cavatelli alla Norcina at Bestia.

For dessert, we ordered the Nectarine and Cherry Crostata, which was served with buttermilk gelato. Nectarines and cherries are two my of favorite fruits so I was quite excited when I saw this item on their dessert menu! The crostata was amazingly flaky and delicious and the sweetness of the fruit went wonderfully with the buttermilk gelato. I just wish the crostata had been larger as we devoured it in about a minute!
Nectarine and Cherry Crostata at Bestia.

Overall, I was mostly impressed with our experience and food at Bestia. I loved the ambiance and decor of the restaurant and as long as they lay off the salt on that pizza, I would recommend this restaurant as a solid choice for anyone who lives in or visits Los Angeles.

Umami Burger:
A local chain found throughout southern California (with two locations in Northern California and even one in Miami!), I was quite excited when we learned that Shyawn's cousins lived literally across the street from this burger joint in Santa Monica. I had read numerous reviews on their burgers, most of them raving so I was quite excited to try one and hoped that it would live up to the hype, especially since I am not a burger type of girl.
Umami Burger in Santa Monica (next to Fred Segal).

I had read on Yelp that many people recommended the Tempera Onion Rings so we ordered those as well as the Thin Fries Make 'em Manly (beer-cheddar, bacon, onion strings). Both of these starters were incredibly delicious! The onion rings were cooked perfectly: crispy and full of flavor without being greasy. The fries were a complete indulgence as they incorporated some of my most favorite things in life: potatoes, cheese, bacon, and onions. I could have eaten a never ending bowl of these!
Tempera Onion Rings at Umami Burger.
Thin Fries Make 'em Manly at Umami Burger.

For his choice of burger, Shyawn went with the Manley Burger (beer-cheddar cheese, bacon lardons, smoked-salt onion strings, house ketchup, mustard spread). This burger tasted as good as it looked. Amazing flavor in addition to a great texture combination of the soft bun, dense meat, and crunchy onion strings.
Manly Burger at Umami Burger.

As soon as I saw it on the menu, I knew immediately which burger I would be ordering. I LOVE anything made with truffles. Even further, aioli in my opinion is one of the most amazing sauces on earth. So naturally I ordered the Truffle Burger (famous blend of beef, roasted garlic aioli, house truffle cheese, truffle glaze). It may not look like much in the picture below, but let me assure you that this burger was beyond amazing. The moist beef was cooked perfectly and its flavor was out of this world. That combined with the garlic aioli, truffle cheese, and truffle glaze was a complete flavor explosion. I have never been so happy or enamoured with eating a burger in all my life. And again, that's saying a lot considering I typically avoiding ordering burgers as I usually find even the "good" ones meh.
Truffle Burger at Umami Burger.

I was so utterly sad when I finished eating my meal, knowing that I lived hundreds and hundreds of miles away from the closest Umami Burger location. Although Umami is a chain, it is definitely one of the most impressive, it not most impressive chains I have ever eaten at. It's been weeks since I have eaten here and I am still dreaming of my Truffle Burger...

Father's Office:
We visited Father's Office in Los Angeles on our visit in October of 2011. There is much debate as to who serves the best burger in LA: Father's Office or Umami Burger and the fans of each seem to be equally divided down the middle. Father's Office is quite unique in that it has several very strict policies: no substitutions, modifications, alterations, or deletions. In addition to being well known for their burger, they are also famous for their offerings of craft beer. During our visit, Shyawn and I split the only burger option on the menu, The Office Burger (caramelized onions, bacon, gruyere, Maytag Blue, arugula) along with the Frites in a "Basket" served with garlic parsley aioli. Unfortunately blue cheese is one of the few foods in life that I hate so I was only able to take a few bites along the edge of the burger, though those bites were quite good. The thin fries were yummy, especially with the delicious aioli. Unfortunately, I have no photos to share of the food as I didn't have my camera on me when we visited.

Pizzeria Mozza:
I had known about this well-known restaurant for years after reading reviews of it on several different blogs that I follow. Chef Mario Batali is one of the owners and it has received numerous accolades as well as thousands of Yelp reviews. As a result of its massive popularity, reservations are an absolute must for dinner and highly recommended for lunch. We decided to visit for lunch since it was quite a ways out from where we were staying in Santa Monica. Much to my surprise, the restaurant's interior space was much smaller than I had anticipated it would be. It was brightly painted with lofty ceilings, large mirrors, and great lighting. In addition to table and bar seating, there were also a few stools at the counter in front of the pizza oven which in hindsight might have been the most fun place to sit at in the restaurant.
Pizzeria Mozza
Pizzeria Mozza
Pizzeria Mozza
Pizzeria Mozza
Pizzeria Mozza

Upon checking into Foursquare, Shyawn noticed that there was an offer for a free glass of prosecco during lunch hours which we of course took advantage of!
Free prosecco at Pizzeria Mozza.

After digging through some reviews on Yelp, it appeared as though one of the most popular antipasti items was the Fried Squash Blossoms with Ricotta. These little guys were amazing: crispy and flavorful but not greasy. Four wasn't enough for us!
Fried Squash Blossoms with Ricotta at Pizzeria Mozza.

We both decided to order a pizza for our main entree. Pizzeria Mozza's fennel sausage had been mentioned over 500 times in the Yelp reviews so I figured it was wise to order some pizzas that included this sausage. Shyawn requested the Fennel Sausage, Panna, Red Onions and Scallions while I went with the Bacon, Salame, Fennel Sausage, Guanciale, Tomato and Mozzarella. Shyawn's pizza was an excellent choice. The sausage was incredibly delicious and I really enjoyed the shavings of red onions and scallions. My pizza was okay but much greasier than I had realized it would be. I guess I should have expected that considering it had sausage, bacon, and salami on it. It reminded me very much of pepperoni pizza which I do not like. In hindsight I wished I would have ordered the traditional Margherita pizza with tomato, mozzarella and basil.
Fennel Sausage, Panna, Red Onions and Scallions Pizza at Pizzeria Mozza.
Bacon, Salame, Fennel Sausage, Guanciale, Tomato and Mozzarella Pizza at Pizzeria Mozza.

I would definitely recommend Pizzeria Mozza and if I had the opportunity, I would eat here again. I would love to try its neighboring restaurant Osteria Mozza on a future visit.

Bay Cities Italian Deli and Bakery:
Located in Santa Monica since 1925, this gourmet Italian deli and market is not only a fun place to shop and explore, but also serves amazing sandwiches and side dishes. I have visited this place a few times but the photos below are from my very first visit during the girl's trip with my mom and sister.
Bay Cities Italian Deli and Bakery.

I eyed this lovely bowl of Fusilli Pesto Salad while waiting for my sandwich, which this pesto lover naturally gravitated towards.
Fusilli Pesto Salad at Bay Cities Italian Deli and Bakery.

I ordered the Turkey Pesto sandwich, which was served warm. The sandwich was massive and incredibly delicious and I loved how they had attempted to stuff as much turkey as they possibly could inside of the bread!
Turkey Pesto sandwich at Bay Cities Italian Deli and Bakery.
Turkey Pesto sandwich at Bay Cities Italian Deli and Bakery.

My mom had the Buffalo Chicken sandwich which she indicated was very good.
Buffalo Chicken sandwich at Bay Cities Italian Deli and Bakery.

My sister ordered the Veggies Only sandwich (avocado spread, cucumber slices, lettuce, tomato, pickles, olives, onions, oil and vinegar.) She, like my mom and I also enjoyed her sandwich.
Veggies Only sandwich at Bay Cities Italian Deli and Bakery.

Bay Cities is a wonderful place to come to for those who want a high quality and delicious sandwich. The lines are long no matter what time of day you visit, unless you happen to arrive right at opening so be prepared to spend at least 20-30 minutes waiting in line for your sandwich. If you know you'll be going there ahead of time you can always go to their website and place your order which will be ready for pick up when you arrive.

Raffi's Place:
Shyawn (who is half Persian) introduced to Persian food after we first met and it quickly became one of my very favorite cuisines. Unfortunately there is only one Persian restaurant in the greater Seattle area so when we planned our most recent trip to LA I made a point on finding a Persian restaurant to eat at as they are so much more numerous in this part of the country due to the large Persian population. After consulting Yelp, I learned that Raffi's Place was the highest rated and most reviewed Persian restaurant in the greater Los Angeles area, located in the city of Glendale. We decided to stop in for lunch. The restaurant is quite unique in that its center portion of the dining room is open air, while the rest is enclosed which of course works quite well in sunny and warm LA.
View from our table at Raffi's Place in Glendale.

After being seated, we were brought out a complimentary plate of vegetables and pita bread, which is typical at all Persian restaurants.
Complimentary Vegetable Plate at Raffi's Place in Glendale.
Complimentary Pita Bread at Raffi's Place in Glendale.

For an appetizer, we decided to order the Hommus (cooked, mashed garbanzo beans, blended with tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and garlic). Easily the best hummus we've ever eaten and I really enjoyed eating it with the radishes that had been provided on the vegetable plate.
Hommus at Raffi's Place in Glendale.

For our main course, Shyawn ordered his most favorite Persian dish which was the Koobideh (lean ground beef, skewered and charbroiled to perfection) served with fluffy basmati rice and a grilled tomato and Anaheim pepper). I've had some great Koobideh in my life (Shyawn makes an excellent version himself) but this koobideh was incredibly good with amazing flavor. If you are going to this restaurant with at least one other person, hopefully someone orders this!
Koobideh at Raffi's Place in Glendale.

Normally when at a Persian restaurant I try to order fesenjoon if it's on the menu, which is an amazingly rich chicken stew made with pomegranate and walnuts. Much to my great disappointment Raffi's Place didn't serve fesenjoon. In its place, I decided to try the Chicken Barg Kabob (skewered and charbroiled, boneless breast of chicken). Like Shyawn's my dish was also served with rice and a tomato and pepper. The chicken was very flavorful and moist and was yummy. Warning: the entree portions here are HUGE. I had read that numerous times on Yelp but it didn't really sink in until our food arrived. Since we had ordered an appetizer, we could have easily split one entree and likely still not have finished the food. When we left we had over half of our food remaining on the plates and since we had sightseeing planned ahead of us we weren't able to take any of the food home with us which was a shame.
Chichen Barg Kabob at Raffi's Place in Glendale.

Milo and Olive:
On our way up to Mulholland Drive, we decided to stop in at this lovely place, which has been categorized as a restaurant, bakery, and pizza place. Located in Santa Monica, the restaurant is small and intimate with communal seating, lots of natural lighting, and an overall wonderful ambiance. Our visit occurred in the morning, but since we were in a hurry we decided to just pick up something to go. After eying the beautiful pastries they had on display, we decided to purchase one of their Almond Croissants which was not only perfectly flaky, but also incredibly delicious. This would be a wonderful spot to have brunch on an early Saturday or Sunday morning; just make sure to arrive very early or else you will likely be waiting a long time.
The exterior of Milo and Olive.
The interior of Milo and Olive.
The interior of Milo and Olive.
Bakery items on display at Milo and Olive.
Milo and Olive.
Almond Croissant at Milo and Olive.

Urth Caffe:
With four locations spread across the greater Los Angeles area (West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, and Downtown), Urth Caffe specializes in organic coffee and fine teas. Additionally, they also serve plenty of delicious and healthy breakfast and lunch offerings. We visited their Beverly Hills location for breakfast during our first trip to LA in October 2011.

To drink, Shyawn ordered a Mocha Mint (mint flavor, whip cream with mint chocolate shavings) which tasted just as good as it looked.
Mocha Mint at Urth Caffe.

We started with some sort of a chocolate pastry, the name of which I cannot remember but it was very good.
Chocolate Pastry at Urth Caffe.

We also ordered their Prosciutto and Cheese Breakfast Panini (organic eggs, prosciutto di Parma, roasted peppers and mozzarella cheese grilled on country bread served with mild tomato dipping sauce.) This was good but nothing necessarily memorable.
Prosciutto and Cheese Breakfast Panini at Urth Caffe.

Overall, I think any of the Urth Caffe locations in Los Angeles are great places to stop if you are seeking a delicious coffee beverage.

The Luggage Room Pizzeria:
During my second trip to LA with my mom and sister, we decided to eat at the Luggage Room Pizzeria in Pasadena after visiting the nearby Huntington Library and Gardens. The restaurant had pretty good reviews on Yelp and had items on their menu that all three of us could enjoy (my sister is a vegetarian and my mom doesn't eat beef or pork). The interior space of the restaurant was surprisingly beautiful, with a deep red color on the wall accented by lots of gold and black accessories.
The Luggage Room Pizzeria
The Luggage Room Pizzeria

My mom, always the healthy one, opted to go with their Vegetarian Chopped Salad which was quite massive and very good.
Vegetarian Chopped Salad at the Luggage Room Pizzeria.

My sister chose the Mushroom Party pizza (duxelle of crimini and oyster mushrooms, sweet onion, and fennel). She enjoyed this, but not as much as she had been hoped to.
Mushroom Party pizza at The Luggage Room Pizzeria.

And finally, I ordered their Margarita pizza (roasted tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and basil). This was definitely the better of the two pizzas we ordered. It was simple but fresh and delicious and the crust was a perfect combination of softness, chewiness, and crispiness.
Margarita pizza at The Luggage Room Pizzeria.

As we were walking out the door, we noticed that they had complimentary Salted Chocolate Chip Cookies for their customers. These cookies were amazing; definitely the highlight of the meal for us.
Complimentary Salted Chocolate Chip Cookies at The Luggage Room Pizzeria.

We didn't take advantage of it on our visit as it was too warm, but The Luggage Room Pizzeria has a lovely outdoor eating area that their patrons can take advantage of.
Outdoor eating area at The Luggage Room Pizzeria.

Gloria's Cafe:
While researching restaurants for my trip to LA with my sister and mom, my sister had told me that she wanted to eat Mexican food at some point on the trip. After perusing Yelp, I found Gloria's, classified as a Mexican-El Salvadorian restaurant which had a 4/5 rating with nearly 1000 reviews. Additionally, I further learned that the restaurant had been featured on Guy Fieri's "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives" so I figured it was a safe choice. Be forewarned that the restaurant is located in a not so nice section of Los Angeles and appears to be a complete hole in the wall sort of place from its exterior.
Exterior of Gloria's Cafe.

The brightly decorated interior of the restaurant was long and narrow and had been recently renovated. Unfortunately the lighting in here was quite dim so I apologize for the lack of quality in my photos.
Interior of Gloria's Cafe.

We split a pitcher of Sangria which was tasty and refreshing.
Sangria at Gloria's Cafe.

There were hundreds of mentions on Yelp for their pupusas, which are an El Salvadorian savory treat made with thick handmade corn tortillas, filled with a variety of different fillings, and then grilled. We decided to order their Cheese and Cheese & Herb Pupusas. I preferred the Cheese ones and thought they were quite good. However, my sister, who spent several months living in Nicaragua thought that the pupusas she had eaten there were much better than these ones.
Pupusas at Gloria's Cafe.

For our main dinner entree, my sister ordered the Chile Relleno, Enchilada, and Taco combo (all cheese). She said it was good, but typical Mexican food that you could find at any Mexican-American restaurant in the US.
Chile Relleno, Enchilada, and Taco at Gloria's Cafe.

My mom ordered the Camarones a la Diabla (Shrimp in Spicy Sauce) which she enjoyed.
Camarones a la Diabla at Gloria's Cafe.

My dinner choice was the Carne Adobada (tender chunks of carnitas served in Ms. Gloria's masterly prepared Adobada sauce) as it had been mentioned on Yelp hundreds of times. Thankfully, this was a good recommendation and likely the best food on our table that evening. The pork was for tender and tasted amazing in the adobada sauce.
Carne Adobada at Gloria's Cafe.

Aside from my plate of Carne Adobada, my overall impression of the restaurant was quite disappointing. I had made an assumption that it was going to serve traditional Mexican food when in actuality it seemed nearly the exact same as the food I could order from any Mexican chain in my own neighborhood. The food was fine but unless you are planning on ordering the Carne Adobada dish, I wouldn't recommend this place.


  1. love all of your photos and stories! i live in LA and count bay cities and fathers office as two of my favorites. have been dying to check out bestia, thanks for sharing the photos! - eva at jauntblog.com

    1. Thanks for the kind words Eva! Hope you get to visit Bestia soon!


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