Since 1969, restaurant, hotel, travel & other witty reviews by a handpicked, worldwide team of discerning professionals—and your views, too.




  • pinitbutton Tequila Pairing at Tortilla Republic
battered avocado 300x255 Tequila Pairing at Tortilla Republic

Tequila-battered avocado with pomegranate vinaigrette

by Barnaby Hughes

I’ve had the pleasure of attending many wine pairing dinners, but recently was invited to my first Tequila pairing at Tortilla Republic in West Hollywood. Taking place on the third Wednesday of each month in a private dining room, the four-course dinners pair Mexican tapas with a line of Tequilas from a single distillery. I was fortunate enough to attend the inaugural dinner featuring Milagro Tequila. Executive chef Brendan Warren came out of the kitchen to introduce each of the evening’s dishes, which were paired with three of Milagro’s Tequilas. Reposado was served with Tequila-battered avocado, Silver with camarones and chorizo, Reposado with albondigas over herbed rice and Añejo with sorbet and fresh fruit. A glass of the restaurant’s sangrita, a non-alcohol mix of juices and spices, was provided as a palate cleanser between courses.

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  • pinitbutton New Brunch Buffet at Wilshire Restaurant
P1420322 1 300x200 New Brunch Buffet at Wilshire Restaurant

Wilshire Restaurant in Santa Monica has a new Sunday brunch buffet with bottomless Mimosas and Bloody Marys

Enjoy Farmers Market-Inspired Fare on a Primo Patio

With the weather starting to warm up in Southern California, we’re looking forward to leisurely weekend brunches outdoors. Wilshire Restaurant scores highly in the patio department with its split-level al fresco space shaded by trees and sail-like canvases, and this Santa Monica spot has added to its appeal by launching a Sunday brunch buffet complete with bottomless Mimosas and Bloody Marys.

Executive chef Nyesha Arrington, who was a fierce competitor on season 9 of “Top Chef,” takes inspiration from the nearby farmers market to put a spin on classic brunch dishes, such as her crab cake Benedict with tomato hollandaise sauce. The bountiful spread also features fresh fruits, cheeses, charcuterie, shrimp, smoked salmon, brioche french toast and salads like arugula with burrata, roasted red pepper and aged balsamic. In addition, there’s a customizable omelet station and a dessert buffet with mini cupcakes and over-sized cookies.

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  • pinitbutton Tea Cappuccino Debuts at The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf
tea cappuccino 300x300 Tea Cappuccino Debuts at The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf

Tea cappuccino (photo credit : CBTL)

by Anneli Rufus

Just when you thought the world could not possibly produce another frothy caffeinated beverage, The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf has just launched a new concept: Tea Cappuccino. Since the word “cappuccino,” when first applied to coffee drinks, referred only to the hooded brown robes of Italian Capuchin friars and not to anything specifically coffee-ish, it can just as aptly be appended to a tea drink — or a bean dish or anything else that is richly brown, come to think of it.

Debuting recently at all CBTL locations, Tea Cappuccino combines freshly brewed tea, whole-milk foam and vanilla bean sauce in three different flavors: chai, Scottish Breakfast and Anniversary Blend. The latter blend marks CBTL’s fiftieth anniversary; the company was founded in Southern California in 1963.

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  • pinitbutton Shade Hotel, Manhattan Beach, California   Hotel Feature


shade hotel skydeck Shade Hotel, Manhattan Beach, California   Hotel Feature

The Skydeck at Shade Hotel in Manhattan Beach, California


Made in the Shade

In the summer of 2005, downtown Manhattan Beach’s first hotel opened its doors to the picturesque beachfront community in Southern California. Adjacent to dining and shopping destination Metlox Plaza (a former pottery factory that produced the ceramic sign for Pantages Theater in Hollywood), Shade Hotel is an upscale property conveniently located within walking distance of the pier and beach, and just fifteen minutes from Los Angeles International Airport. The area is known for its beauty – it’s even nicknamed the “Pearl of the South Bay” and has been used as a filming location for numerous movies and television shows, including “Jerry Maguire,” “Point Break,” “The O.C.” and “90210.”

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  • pinitbutton The Southern California Winners of GAYOT 2013 Restaurant Issue

by Sophie Gayot

For those of you who want to learn more about the chefs who are the recipients of the 2013 U.S. Restaurant Awards, watch the video above. It was filmed during Chef Jamie Gwen’s radio show Food & Wine, which airs every Sunday morning in the Los Angeles area on KFWB News Talk 980.

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  • pinitbutton Yao Ming Launches Eponymous Wine Label
 Yao Ming Launches Eponymous Wine Label

Winemaker Tom Hinde and Yao Ming

Yao Family Wines

by Barnaby Hughes

Former pro basketball player Yao Ming has not been idle since retiring from the Houston Rockets in July 2011. In addition to enrolling at the Shanghai Jaio Tong University and working on behalf of elephant conservation, the thirty-year old has begun producing a pair of premium Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignons.

Yao Ming and Tom Hinde, President and Director of Winemaking of Yao Family Wines, presented the portfolio at the historic Millennium Biltmore Hotel in downtown Los Angeles recently. The grapes are sourced from multiple Napa sub-appellations and include small amounts of Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot.

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  • pinitbutton New Chef at Culina Modern Italian

by Sophie Gayot

The Vatican in Rome has a new Pope, while Culina Modern Italian, the restaurant at the Four Seasons at Beverly Hills, has a new chef: Mette Williams. I have been following her career as she worked her way through the kitchens of Wolfgang Puck‘s Spago Beverly Hills and CUT as well as Lexington Social House and One Pico.

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Abigaile Kitchen Takeover

on February 28th, 2013
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  • pinitbutton Abigaile Kitchen Takeover
kitchen takeover 300x200 Abigaile Kitchen Takeover

Tin Vuong, Tony DiSalvo, sous chef, Dean McDermott, Jet Tila, Amy Veraldi, Emily Collisson, Jorge Valines

by Jeff Hoyt

You’ve heard of a Kitchen Makeover, but how about a Kitchen Takeover? Chef Tin Vuong of Abigaile hosts a monthly Kitchen Takeover at his American restaurant in the heart of Hermosa Beach, California, close to the sand. He invites a group of chefs to help him prepare the special menu available for one night only, with each toque preparing a different course.

We were lucky enough to attend his last gathering in the historic, rustic building. We made our way past the large vats where the house-brewed beer is made to a large, casual table across from the lively bar. The theme was global cuisine, and it didn’t disappoint.

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  • pinitbutton Koi     Feeding Stars and Stargazers for More Than a Decade
koi restaurant 300x200 Koi     Feeding Stars and Stargazers for More Than a Decade

Interior of Koi restaurant

by Jeff Hoyt

In Los Angeles, restaurants come and go. In fact, we have a list of more than 1,100 of them that we have reviewed that are no longer open for business. Restaurants that hope to capitalize on the feeding of celebrities seem to fail at a greater rate. This could be due to a variety of reasons, including:

• higher costs for design and decor, as celebs can’t be seen just anywhere;

• higher operating expenses, as extra staff are required to deal with publicists, paparazzi and the like;

• fickle trendsetters moving on to the latest and the greatest, as they abandon yesterday’s place for the next restaurant opening;

• freeloading stars who expect meals for their posses and themselves comped believing proprietors should be thrilled that they even showed up;

• the simple fact that celebs don’t eat that much or they’ll wind up starring in a Weight Watchers commercial instead of a TV series.

Consult our list of the Top 10 Star Spotting Restaurants in LA and you’ll see quality restaurants where you’ll find a good meal even if you don’t spot an Academy Award winner. On that list is Koi, which we have been enjoying for more than a decade.

Continue reading “Koi — Feeding Stars and Stargazers for More Than a Decade” »

The End of the Rules

on February 25th, 2013
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  • pinitbutton The End of the Rules
nathalie zapata peter madrigal 288x300 The End of the Rules

SUR Restaurant & Lounge business partner Nathalie Zapata (center), general manager Peter Madrigal (right) and two wait staff

by Sophie Gayot

Bravo TV series Vanderpump Rules started airing in January with a happy cast. It stars the wait staff and bartenders at SUR Restaurant & Lounge, who work under the firm hand of restaurant partner Lisa Vanderpump, one of “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills”.

By the end Season One almost everybody is crying or has cried, except Vanderpump. As the finale is airing tonight, I think business partner Nathalie Zapata and general manager Peter Madrigal will have lots on their hands to keep the boys and girls working together as a team until Season Two starts.

And since SUR Restaurant & Lounge is one of’s Top 10 Sexy Restaurants in Los Angeles, maybe the atmosphere will foster a surprise.

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