Category Archives: Food

Vegan Delights

One of the first things that diners will notice at Herbie Burger is that the vegan takeout joint’s picturesque burgers are made with mushrooms and black beans, a special recipe from founder Peter Williams.

Photo courtesy of Marcelo Cruz

“My wife [Erin Harnisch] and I noticed vegan menu items trending toward factory-produced meat replacements and away from house-made items,” said Williams of the inspiration to open his concept in a ghost kitchen in Culver City.

“While we have nothing against products like Impossible and Beyond, and we consume them from time to time, we found ourselves craving veggie burgers and plant-based ‘chicken’ products with fewer, less processed ingredients.”

Williams’ mini cooking space is at the very end of Selmaraine Drive, where a never-ending rotation of Grubhub, UberEats and DoorDash drivers saunter up to the window to grab their deliveries. Customers can also order at the window from a tablet, and Williams has seen his walk-up orders grow from one  when he opened on Aug. 1 to 10 orders in recent days.  …

Read the full article in The Argonaut.

Sustainable Sushi

Most nights, Platform in Culver City is packed with diners, shoppers and people watchers. The community shopping center on Washington Boulevard buzzes with the pulsing energy of a college campus or popular mall food court. After a three-month stint as Little Fiish in a pop-up space, Fiish has expanded and joined the swarm of eateries that makes Platform so appealing.  

Photo Credit: Julian Martin/Fiish

“We were also lucky that there is a lack of sushi restaurants in the area so it was a well-received concept,” said Chef Colin Whitbread, a professional-surfer-turned-chef who previously ran a catering business in Los Angeles and San Diego for more than 15 years.

“The local community has been so supportive of the new space,” Whitbread said. …

Read the full article in The Argonaut.

Modern Creamery

In 2017, N’ice Cream fell into Omid Torkian’s lap, metaphorically.

As his wife Elaheh (or Ellie as people call her) tells it, they had been looking to jump into the restaurant business. More specifically, Omid was looking for a business for her to nurture — and she just happened to be pregnant with their third child.

N’ice Cream’s previous owner was looking to sell the Playa Vista location, and the Torkians saw the perfect opportunity to “start small and get the ball rolling,” Ellie says.

After opening in February 2017, Ellie conducted what would be the first revamp of the shop. She upgraded the vibe to a bright and pastel interior, added a refrigerated section with fresh fruit, and put her skills as a former art teacher to work by designing their mascot, Mrs. N’ice Cream, who is painted on the wall and smiles at customers.

They also expanded the types of soft serve they offered beyond strictly gelato or frozen yogurt. …

Read the full article at Playa Vista Direct.

Ghisallo serves up authentic wood-fired pizza

Mark Meyuhas and Bruce Horwitz are quite deliberate when they pick a street on which to open a restaurant. In 2009, they launched The Tasting Kitchen on Abbot Kinney, serving contemporary Italian with a focus on farm to table. And in Fall 2021 they opened Ghisallo, a wood-fired pizza kitchen on Santa Monica’s Ocean Park Boulevard. 

Photo credit: Derrick Reed

But the two restaurateurs don’t just pick locations based on popularity. They both live on the Westside with their families, and they also consider community. 

“We love Santa Monica,” Horwitz said. “It has been a welcoming community from day one. We wanted to open a restaurant that the community could make their own. There is a natural gravity to independent, small business in Santa Monica that doesn’t exist in all communities.” …

Read the full article at The Argonaut.

Culinary Treasure

“We’ve been open for five weeks today,” said Duc Pham of his new Blossom Vietnamese restaurant on Abbot Kinney Boulevard. 

Photo by Chris Mortenson

Pham just received the two heaters he ordered for the outside patio, which have arrived in time to warm outdoor diners for the coming windy weekend. 

“We’re moving with the space,” he said. “It’s telling us what it needs daily.” 

Venice is Pham’s fifth Blossom location – the original Downtown Los Angeles noodle shop launched on Main Street 17 years ago. Santa Monica’s Ocean Park Boulevard eatery opened five years ago. His Silver Lake spot, which opened in 2006, closed three years ago because of the building’s rapidly rising rent, and the Atwater Village restaurant popped up just over a year ago. …

Read the full article at The Argonaut.

Natural Wine and Plant-Based Plates

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to more than a few unexpected things. One much-needed pleasant surprise is the proliferation of pop-ups.

Photo Credit: Only the Wild Ones

“In 2020, we were able to do a pop-up for De Buena Planta in a parking lot,” said Heather Tierney, founder of The Butcher’s Daughter, of the plant-based Mexican concept across Abbot Kinney that opened on Labor Day in 2020. “It was a way to get creative.”

Tierney is popping up once again with Only the Wild Ones, a natural wine bar on Abbot Kinney next door to The Butcher’s Daughter where The Other Room once operated. The landlord of the building, who also owns The Butcher’s Daughter and De Buena Planta’s properties, is in the process of converting it to retail space, but it’s a long process. Tierney has the go-ahead for her pop-up until the space is converted and a retail tenant moves in.

The pandemic and Abbot Kinney’s high rents have made Tierney a big proponent of pop-ups.

“Landlords on Abbot Kinney are holding out for ridiculous rents, so if anyone sees an empty storefront, it’s an opportunity to launch something,” she said. …

Read the full article at The Argonaut.

Coffee that Caters to the Community

When Edward Ackah-Miezah was in high school in Seattle, he got a job at Java Joe’s. It was one of his first jobs, and it played a major role in where he’s sitting today – at a table in front of his 4-year-old Playa Vista outdoor coffee cabana, Café Ruisseau.

“Joe was super cool,” shares Ackah-Miezah. “He was really popular. Everybody loved him, and I saw how magnetic he was and how magnetic coffee could be for a community. I fell in love with coffee and how it brings people together. Ever since, I’ve been in and around coffee.”

Photo by ZSUZsI STEINER

Tucked away next to Tocaya Organica and across the drive from Home State, Café Ruisseau has been thriving since 2016, when the Playa Vista Campus invited Ackah-Miezah to open a coffee shop to service the rapidly growing business community.

In mid-March, as with all aspects of life as we knew it, everything changed. …

Read the full article at Playa Vista Direct.

40 Years of Pasta & Family

On Nov. 1, Vito Restaurant will celebrate its 40th anniversary — and like every other person and thing in the world this year, it’ll be a pandemic birthday. But Giovanna Somma, co-owner of the Santa Monica restaurant with her husband, Roberto, has a lot to be grateful for.

“Of course, it’s nothing like it used to be,” Giovanna says. “But we are doing OK. Fortunately, we are lucky enough that we own the property and we created a patio. And we do a lot of to-go. We are fine, but it’s very weird.”

What used to be a fine dining establishment with low lighting and bar crowds has transformed into a 13-table casual, lit-up, heated patio area in the parking lot.

“I was very skeptical,” says Giovanna about taking the Vito dining experience outside. “I have a nice, elegant restaurant. And now I’m here.”

Giovanna is sitting at the edge of her patio. …

Read the full article at The Argonaut.

Unstoppable Sushi

Success stories are hard to come by these days. But Wabi on Rose is one of them.

“We’re thriving on Rose,” proclaims co-owner Tricia Smalls triumphantly via cell phone.

It’s music to the ears. Especially after an unexpected fire in December 2018 forced the popular sushi restaurant Wabi on Abbot Kinney (or Wabi 1) to close.

“We were doing the best we could to open in that location,” shares Smalls, “but due to the size of the loss, we were forced to look into other locations. Venice is our home and we wanted to stay, but there wasn’t a lot available.”

Then the owners of Makani, located on Rose, approached Smalls to do a partnership. Wabi’s owners were familiar with that space — one of Wabi’s owners was one of the original designers of Makani — and they decided it was a good fit.

Just two weeks before the pandemic lockdown, Wabi signed the contract. And despite the unfortunate turn of events, Wabi decided to move forward and try to make the best takeout program possible in Venice.

On April 4, Wabi on Rose (or Wabi 2) launched their takeout program. …

Read the full article at The Argonaut.

Best Place to Order Up the Custom Cake of Your Dreams: Angel Maid Bakery

My stepmother discovered Angel Maid Bakery years ago on the strip of Centinela between Venice and Culver Boulevards, in a part of town now called Del Rey. It’s been our go-to custom cake bakery since, and we all have our favorites.

My favorite is strawberry shortcake, with fresh cut strawberries and not-too-sweet whipped cream between layers of white chiffon cake. My stepmom’s fave, the chocolate banana, is also delicious: chocolate cake with sliced bananas and custard cream, completely covered with fresh whipped cream.

We’ve never tried anything else, but the possibilities are endless: Tres Leches, mango mousse, raspberry passion fruit mousse, Mont Blanc (chestnut cream, meringue whipped cream, almond dacquoise cake), tiramisu, mocha chiffon, carrot cake, German chocolate and the menu goes on. …

Read the full article at The Argonaut.