Monday, March 20, 2017

The Five Must Have Burgers in Downtown Santa Monica

Photos by Eddie Sanchez

If you want to know where to find the best food in town, ask a local. I grew up near Santa Monica and have early memories of my dad dropping me and my best friend off at the Third Street Promenade where we would spend our afternoons watching Adam Sandler movies and eating burgers. 20 years later, I still spend a good part of my week in Santa Monica - no, not watching Happy Gilmore or The Wedding Singer, but working in this iconic beach city everyday. A lot has changed in those two decades but my love for this city and a good burger has not. 

Watching the neighborhood change and transform into a mecca of dining and entertainment makes it easy to recommend Downtown Santa Monica as a destination for locals and tourists alike. I'm sure you're already familiar with the neighborhood's great restaurants, world-class shopping, unique street performers, and ocean views, but did you know that Downtown Santa Monica has some of the best burgers in the city? The burger game here is spot on. That's why I'm excited to partner with Downtown Santa Monica Inc to feature my top burgers in the area. I've done my research and below is my list of five must have burgers you need to try the next time you're in Downtown Santa Monica.

Santa Monica Yacht Club - "SMYC Burger"

It might seem unusual to order a burger at a place that is well known for seafood, but Chef Andrew Kirschner's SMYC Burger is more than just an item to appease the seafood-adverse diner that ended up at Santa Monica Yacht Club. This hefty burger packs a lot of flavor thanks to the generously sized and perfectly seasoned beef patty. Crisp pancetta and a soft egg that provides a silky, golden yolk "gravy" if you will, is a great play on bacon and eggs. Along with a thick slice of cheddar, pickles, and garlic aioli, it all comes together to create a perfect burger with flavor in every bite. 

Santa Monica Yacht Club
620 Santa Monica Blvd
Santa Monica, CA 90401

Plan Check - "PCB"

Remember those backyard  burgers you grew up with before the onset of gourmet burgers topped with fancy sauces and truffle shavings? We kept it pretty simple back then with just cheese, ketchup and pickles. That's the nostalgic feel you get from the Plan Check Burger (PCB), except this is a much more elevated interpretation of that. The PCB is a wagyu beef patty with Americanized dashi cheese, schmaltz onions, pickles, and ketchup leather. That's right, leather. Think of ketchup leather as sort of a ketchup fruit rollup that melts into the beef patty to prevent the bun from getting soggy, keeping it perfect until the last bite. It's a game changer and you'll never think of ketchup the same way again.

Plan Check Santa Monica
1401 Ocean Ave #104
Santa Monica, CA 90401

Fig Restaurant - "Fig Burger"

Fig Restaurant, located inside the Fairmont Miramar Hotel, is a beautiful Mediterranean-influenced bistro, featuring wood-fired dishes by Chef Yousef Ghalaini. Santa Monica locals love this place for brunch, after work cocktails, small bites, and of course a great night out. If you're not ordering the famous bread balloon for lunch, order the Fig Burger. A play on a classic SoCal-style burger, this one comes with lettuce, tomato, house-made special sauce (think Thousand Island without the relish), Fiscalini Cheddar and grilled onions. All this goodness is sandwiched between two pillowy soft buns. The Fig Burger is as close to perfect as you can get in Downtown Santa Monica without all the fuss of complicated toppings and flavors.

Fig Restaurant
101 Wilshire Blvd 
Santa Monica, CA 90401

Stout Burgers and Beers - "Stout Burger" 

Redefining the idea of the local pub, Stout offers a vast selection of artisanal draft and bottled beers from around the world alongside their fine gourmet burgers. Located just a couple blocks from the famous Third Street Promenade, if the perfect pairing of a burger and beer is your thing, then you came to the right place. If you can't decide which burger to get, go with the Stout Burger that's topped with blue cheese, Gruyere, rosemary bacon, caramelized onions, horseradish cream, and roasted tomatoes. The menu recommends the best beer pairings to go with your burger and this one calls for a strong IPA that stands up to the bold and punchy flavors of this big burger.

Stout Burgers and Beers
111 Santa Monica Blvd 
Santa Monica CA 90401

Bruxie - "Bruxie Burger"

Maybe it's not what's in your burger that counts as much as what it is on. We talk about brioche buns, or pretzel bread, but what about putting a burger between two fresh-made waffles? Yes, a waffle burger and you can find it at Bruxie on the Third Street Promenade! Two light crisp airy waffles house a very flavorful beef patty that's topped wth a Thousand-like sauce, pickles, shredded lettuce and tomato. It's the classic California style burger but dressed up for breakfast. Add some bacon for smokiness and a fried egg and you have the ultimate brunch burger. 

1412 3rd Street Promenade 
Santa Monica CA 90401

/// This post is in partnership with Downtown Santa Monica Inc. All content, ideas, and words are my own. Thanks for supporting the sponsors that allow me to create new and special content like this for Hungry in LA ///

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Patrón's Margarita of the Year

As the days get longer and the weather warms up, it’s time for bike rides on the beach, pool parties, and margaritas! That’s right, when Spring and Summer roll around, a perfect Margarita in hand is my drink of choice. There’s just something about the citrus and agave flavors that immediately transport you to a beachside paradise. Yes, the classic Margarita is amazing, but I love trying new twists that incorporate fresh and exciting ingredients. So, when I was asked to partner with Patrón on the Margarita of the year, I was all in! 

To celebrate the most popular cocktail nationwide, Patrón has crafted 7 artisanal recipes by expert mixologists from around the world that exhibit the versatility of the Margarita and its countless variations in flavor profiles. Each one gives you a new take on this classic drink, from tropical fruit to exotic spices. They're also leaving it up to you to vote for your favorite Margarita of the year! I recently tried my hand at creating one of the featured drinks, "Pacific Rim" and absolutely fell in love with it.

Created by Max Greco from Sydney, Australia, this cocktail combines Patrón Silver and Patrón Citrónge with a spicy coconut syrup for a great twist with bright citrusy flavors layered throughout. It’s refreshing and will become your new go-to Margarita. And the best part? It’s easy to make. 

1.5 oz Patrón Silver
.5 oz Patrón Citrónge Orange
.25 oz Spicy coconut syrup* (Monin or similar)
.75 oz Yuzu juice
.25 oz Fresh lime juice
+ Pinch smoked salt (optional)
+ Lemon wheel for garnish
+ Dehydrated lime salt rim**
  1. Combine ingredients in a cocktail shaker and shake with ice to chill.
  2.  Strain into a salt-rimmed coupe.
  3. Garnish with a lemon wheel.
Spicy coconut syrup:
Infuse coconut syrup with a few slices of jalapeño until a pleasant spiciness emerges. Strain out solids using a mesh strainer. Store in refrigerator.
** Dehydrated lime salt rim:
Using a zester or fine grater, remove 1 tablespoon of zest from a lime. Allow to dry thoroughly on a paper towel. Add dried lime zest to 2 tablespoons salt and pulverize until combined.

If Yuzu juice is unavailable, substitute 2 parts lemon juice : 1 part white grapefruit juice.

After trying it for yourself, make sure you post your drink on Twitter/Instagram and cast your vote by tagging #PacificRimMargarita. You can also vote everyday on the site here until April 9thThe perfect way to enjoy Patrón is responsibly. 

/// This post is in partnership with Patrón. All content, ideas, and words are my own. Thanks for supporting the sponsors that allow me to create new and special content like this for Hungry in LA ///

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Classic California Luxury in Santa Barbara

What comes to mind when you think of Santa Barbara? Is it the beaches with sunshine glistening on the waves of the ocean? Perhaps the famous wine trail from the movie Sideways comes to mind and the luscious and velvety smooth Pinot Noir wines that Miles (Paul Giamatti) speaks so highly of. Or maybe you’re like me and you picture a classic California coastal town with beautiful Spanish architecture lining its streets. Everything here seems to slow down and for a moment you feel like you’re back in time, maybe the 1950’s or 60’s. I don’t know but it's easy to picture glamorous Hollywood stars like Marilyn Monroe or Cary Grant escaping up the American Riviera for a relaxing weekend getaway. Yes, there is history, charm, sunshine and ocean in Santa Barbara and no other resort epitomizes this casually sophisticated California lifestyle than Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara

Main lobby with stunning Spanish Colonial architecture. 

Situated on 22-acres of lush jungle and peaceful gardens, Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara invites you to indulge in everything from tours of local wineries to surfing, hanging on the beach or lounging poolside at the exclusive Coral Casino Beach and Cabana Club. The resort has everything you need to stay without ever leaving. The rooms offer private balconies and terraces, with some boasting breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean and Channel Islands. The classic luxurious style of the room is accented with modern amenities like a Nespresso machine, usb charging ports, and a 65-inch Smart TV so you can binge on Netflix. Of course there are quintessential touches like a deep soaking tub, rain shower, fireplace, and the newspaper of your choice to be delivered in the morning. The world class spa is a perfect place to unwind and the dining at Bella Vista or Tydes is reason alone to visit. 

House-cured charcuterie with a bottle of local wine. 

Bella Vista Restaurant offers oceanfront dining in a spacious outdoor environment. You overlook incredible panoramic views of the ocean while enjoying a delicious contemporary Italian menu that highlights fresh California ingredients. Bella Vista also has the distinction of being one of only 12 restaurants in California, and the only one in Santa Barbara, licensed to cure its own meats. The house-made charcuterie paired with local Santa Barbara wines is a perfect start to your meal. If you're up for something a bit more casual, the restaurant has one of the best burgers in Santa Barbara. A prime beef patty topped with bacon marmalade, jalapeño brie and avocado lime aioli.

Bella Vista Restaurant

"Nizzarda" Tuna Crudo - Olives, Green Beans, Pine Nuts, Avocado, Sesame Seeds

The BV Burger - Bacon Marmelade, Jalapeno Brie, Avocado-Lime Aioli

 Amaretti - Coconut Sorbetto, Candied Almonds, Banana Carmel, Chocolate Sauce

If all this talk about wine is not your thing, the cocktail program at Ty Lounge is outstanding. The “8 Barrels" cocktail made with bourbon, maple syrup, lemon, spiced simple syrup and nutmeg in a hand-smoked glass is one of the best whiskey cocktails you will ever have. For the coffee aficionado, try the Espresso Martini made with a shot of espresso, Vanilla Stoli, Khalua and cream. This could double for a dessert, it’s that good!

Ty Lounge

A look at the bar at Ty Lounge

Espresso Martini - shot of espresso, Vanilla Stoli, Kahlua, and cream.

Sage Margarita - sage infused El Charro Reposado, 
blood orange juice, lime, and Grand Marnier. 

"8 Barrels" - Bourbon, maple syrup, lemon, 
spiced simple syrup, nutmeg, hand-smoked glass.

"Montadito" at Ty Lounge - Open Faced Chorizo Grilled Cheese, Cured Tomato

Dinner at Tydes, located across from the resort at the Coral Casino Beach and Cabana Club, is the perfect place for an amazing dinner experience. Make sure to arrive just before sunset since the restaurant is situated over Butterfly Beach and has spectacular views of the Pacific. The seafood driven menu is highlighted by innovative dishes that will blow your taste buds away. Highlights include seared scallops with buttermilk sauce and the Chilean Sea Bass served with gnocchi and butter clam foam. If seafood really isn’t your thing, you’ll be more than happy ordering the Wagyu with ox tail marmalade and fingerling potatoes.

Tydes Restaurant

The bar at Tydes Restaurant

Beet Salad with pistachio granola

Chilean Sea Bass, gnocchi, butter clam foam

Wagyu with ox tail marmalade over fingerling potatoes 

Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara
 1260 Channel Dr, Santa Barbara, CA 93108

Leave a comment for Hungry In LA on  Facebook.
Special thanks to Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara

for collaborating with Hungry in LA.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

5 Whiskey Drinks We Love in LA

Photos by Eddie Sanchez

On the rocks or neat. Old Fashioned or Manhattan. Face it, your spirit of choice is whiskey, and you enjoy the smokiness, butterscotch, caramel, oak flavors that are so distinct in this drink.  If that's already getting you thirsty, then you need to check out what I believe are the five best whiskey cocktails in LA. 

The Wallace - "Cowboy Killer"

Griff's cowboy whiskey, chocolate chili bitters, tobacco, and hickory smoke - that's The Cowboy Killer at Culver City's, The Wallace. The drink is served in a small mason jar with a sealed lid to lock in that smoke. Uncap and enjoy a jolt of liquified nicotine and put the cap back on in between sips to keep the smoke from escaping. This drink is not for the weak, so cowboy-up and see if you can hang with it. 

The Wallace
3833 Main St 
Culver City, CA 90232
(310) 202-6400

The Independence - "Wolfskill"

One of the most well balanced and interesting whiskey cocktails in town is the Wolfskill from the Godfather of cocktails homself, Vincenzo Marianella. Located at one of downtown Santa Monica's best spots for casual food and drinks, The Independence serves this two-tone cocktail on the rocks. The magical elixir consists of Bourbon, Mezcal, rhubarb liqueur, elderflower liqueur, and Jerry Thomas Bitters. If you enjoy old fashioneds, this might be a new go-to for you. The Wolfskill is featured on and off the permanent menu, depending on the season, but if you don't see it, just ask and the kind folks at The Independence will be happy to make it for you. 

The Independence
205 Broadway 
Santa Monica, CA 90401
(310) 458-2500

Sotto - "Field of Dreams"

The "Field of Dreams" cocktail at Sotto in Beverly Hills is as cool and sophisticated as the Italian restaurant itself. Served up, this drink is made of WhistlePig Rye, amoro foro, and cocchi americano. On the sweeter side, (think Manhattan) but still well balanced with the more pronounced flavor of the rye, this drink in this environment will make you feel like you're in some exclusive, underground supper club.

9575 W Pico Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90035
(310) 277-0210

Wallflower - "Huo"

Venice newcomer Wallflower is one of the most underrated restaurants in Venice. Sure people flock to the Instagram-popular locales of other "famous" establishments in this neighborhood, but Wallflower is doing something special on Rose Avenue with delicious Indonesian flavors and an incredible cocktail program. The "Huo" is one of our favorite cocktails in the city! Yes, it's that good! The drink is made table-side by igniting a small block of black walnut wood (repurposed from the leftover materials of their bar top) and using the smoke to fill the glass then pour in a concoction of Woodford Reserve, cherry heering maraschino, and sichuan peppercorn. 

609 Rose Ave
Venice, CA 90291
(424) 744-8136

Love & Salt - "#INEEDCOFFEE"

The best coffee cocktail you will have in LA coincidentally is one of the best whiskey cocktails too. Finally a drink that will appease a coffee snob and a cocktail connoisseur. The appropriately named "#INEEDCOFFEE" at Love & Salt in Manhattan Beach, is made up of bourbon, amaro nomino, cold brew coffee and cream. It's only fitting that this magical concoction was made by master barman Vincenzo Marianella (Copa d'Oro, The Independence). 

Love & Salt
317 Manhattan Beach Blvd
Manhattan Beach, CA 90266
(310) 545-5252

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Everything You Want at The Modern Honolulu

We've had a good share of travel to beach destinations, but out of all the beaches and traveling, Oahu always stands out. There's just something about getting away and finding the perfect aloha escape, where you can listen to the ocean waves crashing and the forecast is calling for board shorts and flip flops all week long. You're on a beautiful island far away from home, but it has everything you need to entertain you just like that big city you left behind. Beach, sun, escape, and city life - that's Honolulu, your destination. Luxury, style, and comfort, that's The Modern Honolulu, your hotel.

The Modern is the perfect location, close enough to Waikiki beach, but just slightly removed to give you some space from the tourist crowds. Plus the Modern has a great nightlife of its own with The Study, a lobby bar located behind a rotating wall of books. Yes, it's like finding the secret entrance to the bat cave, except it's full of great cocktails and live music and there are no creepy bats.

The rooms at The Modern Honolulu are just what you would picture at this boutique hotel - contemporary, stylish, and minimal yet refined in style. The room is bright, comfortable and has a breathtaking view of the water. The rest of the property is equally matched. The pool area, right by the marina, is buzzing with tanned body's laying out by midday. On the second level is a private artificial beach, complete with palm trees, chairs, and a bar to relax.

For dinner you will want to eat at Morimoto. Yes, Iron Chef Morimoto's Waikiki restaurant, located in the hotel and right by the water. Try to ask for a table outside and watch the sunset go down over the Pacific while you dine on oyster foie gras and the best sushi you've ever had. 

The Modern Honolulu is the perfect place to stay in Waikiki. The rooms are modern and luxurious, the boutique hotel has style, and the food is outstanding, even the President has stopped in for dinner at Morimoto. No wonder the hotel has received the honor of AAA Four-Diamond, is on multiple top travel lists, and continues to be ranked number one on Trip Advisor. Plus with programs like their "Friends With Benefits" (no, it's not what you think) you can book directly with the hotel for the lowest rate and receive rewards from $50 - $150 credits per night. The Modern Honolulu will be a place that we will visit again and again. 

Poolside lunch: Chicken prosciutto sandwich with arugula aioli. 

Morimoto Dinner clockwise from bottom left: salmon roe; oyster foie gras with uni;  chu-toro; yellowtail cooked table side in a hot stone bowl.
Breakfast in bed: Hot made-to-order waffle with caramelized bananas, macadamia nuts, and chantilly cream

The Study - lobby bar and lounge 
Inside The Study

1775 Ala Moana Blvd, Honolulu, HI 96815

Leave a comment for Hungry In LA on  Facebook.

Special thanks to The Modern Honolulu for collaborating with Hungry in LA. As always, the content and opinions expressed here are entirely our own.

© 2009-2017 HungryInLA™