After a night in West Hollywood, Jocelyn and I made our way to Downtown LA. The change of geography turned out to be the perfect jumping off point for exploring restaurants… which was all that we did. Jocelyn and I love food so much that we completely skipped all the LA sites, and chose to go from restaurant to restaurant instead, and we ate some exceptional meals.
I have finally hopped on board this Snapchat trend, so I made a little video for you so that you can get an even better look at our LA trip. And to follow along with my adventures in real time, you can follow thekittchen on Snapchat.
On our first night we dined at Bestia, a restaurant that is well respected for its charming atmosphere and incredible modern take on Italian food. When LA locals asked us where we planned to eat during our trip, and we told them that we had a reservation at Bestia, they were both impressed and slightly surprised. I think we took their top restaurant recommendation right out of their mouths. To be honest, I think we got in simply because we made a 5:15 reservation. We were on Central Time, so we were hungry early anyway, plus we got the benefit of dining during magic hour and getting perfect lighting for our photos.
We began our meal with a cocktail. I had the Aperol This Time, made with aperol, punt e mes, saffron syrup, lime juice, salt tincture, and seltzer. Jocelyn had a sweeter fruity cocktail with lime and pineapple.
Next we had pizza and the grilled octopus and calamari.
The grilled octopus and calamari was served on a bed of pickled shiitake mushrooms, baby fennel, and arugula with a lemon chili vinaigrette. I liked that the seafood was grilled, not fried, and served with a nice light salad. In Chicago octopus and calamari is often fried, and I prefer this lighter preparation.
The pizza was exceptional. We selected a traditional margherita pizza with sweet san marzano tomatoes, mozzarella, basil, olive oil, and sea salt. It had a doughy crust and the perfect sauce to mozzarella ratio. And it was so beautiful we almost felt guilty eating it.
Next we each had a pasta. Jocelyn and I share a love of carbohydrates, and this was not the only meal that involved both pizza and pasta during our time in LA. Jocelyn ordered the Pici al Sugo Di Maiale – a fresh homemade pici – a fatter hand-rolled spaghetti with a lamb rage, saffron, capra sara, and breadcrumbs. (Saffron is a reoccurring ingredient on the menu and the name of the Chefs’ daughter). This pasta was rich and meaty and just a perfect combination of tastes and textures. Jocelyn might had ordered a bit better than me here.
Jocelyn and I made a point to order to completely different pastas – because good friends share bites. I had the Pappardelle di Ortica- homemade green pappardelle in a mushroom ragu with stinging nettles and fried spinach topped with a poached egg. While Jocelyn’s pasta was thick and meaty, this had light fresh Spring flavors, and the runny yolk of the poached egg was a fitting compliment to the sauce.
The dessert was one of the most magnificent and creative desserts I have tasted. The Creamsicle Torte has a layers of buttercake, coconut sorbet, sour tangerine sorbet, and meyer lemon ice cream topped with a kumquat meringue and toasted coconut. And it tasted just like the creamsicles I loved as a kid – but better. While the menu’s at Bestia change frequently, I get the sense that this is a signature item.
The next morning we went to Republique. Coincidentally, both Bestia and Republique are run by husband and wife teams! The husbands are the Executive Chefs, while the wives are the Pastry Chefs.
What’s that, you wonder? Oh, just a salted caramel croissant knot because at Republique they take the best things in the world and combine them.
Jocelyn ordered the Adobo Fried Rice, an item on the All Day Breakfast Menu which is served until 3pm. The lunch menu is served starting at 11am – so you have a wide range of menu items to pick from in the afternoon. The Adobo Fried Rice had big chunks of pork belly and was topped with two sunny side up eggs.
I ordered the Croque Madame, which is made with house-cured ham and gruyere cheese, a topped with a fried egg. This sandwich had the ideal amount of butter and was ever so perfectly toasted.
Our meal ended with a coconut mini cake, with lemon filling. I loved it’s tiny size – it was just small enough that resisting it was impossible. It’s also become my most popular Instagram ever – with over 25,000 views of the video!
If you are ever in LA, I can’t say enough good things about Bestia and République. If you have to chance to dine at these restaurants, please do so.
Sidenote: I know that I travel a lot, and people often ask how I make that happen. It’s a mix of taking advantage of opportunities to go on press trips, following along on my husband’s work trips (where the hotels are paid for), and finding really great deals. The LA trip was a press trip, but Jocelyn and I decided to extend the trip so we could stay a little longer. The flights and one night of the hotel was covered, then we just hopped on Priceline and scooped up a hotel room at the Westin for $152 a night for the rest of our trip! I used the “Express Deals” feature and picked a 4 star hotel downtown – you can see the price but not the name of the hotel before you buy. It worked out really well for us. (Not sponsored by Priceline, I just want to let you know how I got such a good deal).
Bestia‘s address is 2121 7th Place. It’s in the Art’s District, and they do accept reservations.
Republique‘s address is 624 South La Brea Avenue. They do accept dinner reservations. They also serve breakfast and lunch – but don’t offer reservations for these meals.