Angelenos know better than to write a restaurant off because of its shabby or odd location. Many a mini-mall in LA houses the occasional culinary treasure, and one of them is Alegria, an Oaxacan-influenced restaurant in Silver Lake.
Brightly printed oilcloth covered tables against a brick wall evoke a charming neighborhood spot. Within seconds of being seated, a tangy fresh pico de gallo arrives at your table accompanied by a basket of toasty tortilla chips. The daily special’s board usually outdoes itself, boasting a wide variety of fish, meat and vegetables cooked with care in homemade sauces derived from secret recipes handed down through the generations.
Alegria is all about fresh, keeping with tradition yet staying simple and delicious; never compromising on quality. The hearty Pollo Mole has a depth of flavor that might encourage addiction. Carnitas made from the best cuts of meat that melt in the mouth, are served with frijoles de la olla and fresh tortillas.
Made to order Aguas frescas, or their famous cinnamon coffee are the beverages of choice. If you want beer, wine or some rum to pour into your fresh watermelon juice, remember to bring your own.
Chef Don Dickman, a New Yorker with an impressive resume, hits the mark with this casual, seasonal farm-to-table restaurant. Passionate foodie locals and neighborhood hipsters flock to this cozy gem for the finest in wine, cheese and charcuterie. Settle in comfortably at the fairy-lit outdoor patio. The unpretentious atmosphere is custom-made for a romantic date or a relaxed evening with friends.
Dishes are served tapas style, meant to be shared. Concoct a Cheese and Charcuterie plate from an array of Mediterranean edibles including the creamiest Leonora goat’s cheese, the finest imported speck, lomo and coppa meats.
The European/Mediterranean favored menu includes crispy Pork Belly with mustard sauce, or the grilled Polenta with alba, shitake and oyster mushrooms & creamy gorgonzola fonduta. Farro Salad with asparagus, pepitas, feta & mint is a particular favorite. Those with a larger appetite can opt for the heavier dishes such as roast Lamb Loin Pistachio Persillade with yukon gold mashed potatoes, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower hash drizzled with a red wine date sauce. Well-matched international wines are available, many offered by the glass.
A perfect French bistro is hard to come by in a city accused of being devoid of culture. Café Stella, located in the heart of Sunset Junction in the artistic community of Silver Lake just east of Hollywood, serves up a hidden nook of perfection and charm.
Whether seated in the covered patio lined with bougainvillea and tiny lights, in the cozy romantic wood-paneled dining room among deep banquettes, or in the perfectly lit bar, you are treated as a regular even on your first visit. Your palette will be pleased by an array of standard bistro fare such as Steak au Poivre, Moules Frites, Escargot, Coq au Vin, and of course, French Onion soup. The Stella Burger served with Roquefort cheese, an oven roasted tomato and grilled onions is not to be missed, especially with a side of Truffle Fries. Dive into the exceptional and hearty Cheese Plate that is curated with the help of their next door neighbors, the Silver Lake Cheese Store.
If room allows, attempt dessert. Pot de Crème is reliable and the Cheesecake is a stand out-- tart and not too dense against a perfect graham cracker crust. The ever-revolving wine list is approachable and descriptive with a focus on French, but also showcasing small gems from California, Hungary and Spain.
Los Angeles might be over-saturated with vegetarian and health food restaurants, but Elf Café in Echo Park, serves delicious vegetarian food that is unlike anything else in the entire city.
This tiny Middle-Eastern/Mediterranean influenced restaurant turns out heaping plates of delectable rich flavors from their small, open kitchen. Favorites include Phyllo Tomato Tarts, Moroccan Vegetable Tagines, braised Portobello mushrooms, and one of the house favorites, a Chickpea Crepe filled with spinach, cheese and topped with chevre butter.
Don’t miss their dreamy desserts made fresh daily by local pastry chef Stephen Hauptfuhr. Tarte Tartin topped with pistachios and heavy cream, or the incredibly rich and decadent chocolate mousse made with coconut, avocados and raw cacao.
A gleaming bar within the opulent marble and deco inspired surroundings invites the diner into a lush, comfortable dining room of marble columns, banquettes and crisp white linens.
The exceptional hands of executive chef Amanda Baumgarten leads you through the Asian-influenced menu, with an impressive variety of poetic and intricate choices.
Start with the raw bar showcasing a stunning array of oysters, clams, sea urchin, and lobster. The seasonal menu changes daily, flaunting chef Le Febre’s imagination and attunement to arisanal ingredients such as the Clam Chowder with Weiser Farm potatoes and Niman Ranch bacon, a Jumbo Crab Cake served with house-brined pickles, and the main course of Alaskan Halibut sautéed with lavender, Meyer lemon and vanilla bean oil.
The elegant wine list offers domestic and international selections, assembled to complement the delicate and intricate flavors of each dish. Desserts are ambitious yet impeccable, and should not be missed.