Rao’s – Los Angeles



Seafood salad

Penne alla Vodka


Lemon Chicken

Amazing cheesecake!

***** (5 stars)

Rao’s is tucked away on an unlikely side street in residential Hollywood. It has that magical and now rare ambiance of the red leather booth restaurants of the 1950s.

You’d be hard-pressed to find better Italian food in LA. The meatballs and the seafood salad were great starters, and the Penne alla Vodka was also very good.

But the standout was the Fiocchi, made of Beggar Purse Ravioli, with Ricotta and Bartlett Pear Filling, sauteed in Brown Butter, and dressed with Sage and Dried Cranberries. It was, simply put, the best pasta dish I’ve ever had.

Another number one ranking goes to the cheesecake, served New York style, but with an airy character, elevated by a hint of Amaretto. Amazing.

Our server, Jonathan, was a terrific host, and basically assembled this wonderful menu for us. A great new LA find!

Rao’s – Los Angeles
1006 Seward St
Los Angeles, CA 90038
(323) 962-7267

El Pollo Loco

3 Pcs Chicken Combo

**** (4 stars)

El Pollo Loco has always been my favorite fast food place. It’s healthy (depending upon what you order), tasty, and generous. A three piece combo with chicken breasts, side salad, a heap of cole slaw, corn tortillas and a drink is ten bucks. You can’t beat that! And the salsa bar has fresh cilantro and lots of different salsas. Service was friendly and efficient.

El Pollo Loco
1545 S Western Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90006
(213) 380-2772

Nonna’s Empanadas

Carne asada empanada

**** (4 stars)

These are particularly nicely made empanadas. They’re even branded with their contents! I particularly liked the carne asada. The breakfast empanada was less interesting.

The place is tiny, and it’s a carry out operation. Parking is essentially impossible.

Nonna’s Empanadas
8570 W 3rd St
Los Angeles, CA 90048
(310) 385-0445

The Little Door




Sesame Seared Day Boat Scallops, Preserved Lemon Sauce

Chermoula Marinated Grilled Octopus, Preserved Lemon Sauce

Spicy Ahi Tuna Tartare and Shaved Fennel Salad

Patio at night

***** (5 stars)

The extraordinarily romantic ambiance of The Little Door makes it almost a magical dining experience. Divided into many intimate spaces, it feels like you’re dining in a patio, or a forest, or a cottage, depending upon where you sit.

Tuna tartare was a nice starter, but the grilled octopus was even better, extremely tender and flavorful.

The mussels appetizer which my companion had as an entree was huge; she could only eat half!

My grilled scallops were perfectly cooked and accompanied by carrots seasoned with interesting Morrocan spices.

The extensive wine list is extremely reasonably priced.

Service was professional, attentive, and friendly.

The Little Door
8164 W 3rd St
Los Angeles, CA 90048
(323) 951-1210

The 3rd Stop

Pretzel bites to go

*** (3 stars)

This is a nice little sidewalk cafe and wine bar. The menu is extensive and we only had time for a snack, so I don’t have a lot of data points to go on. But I will say we were there in mid-afternoon, were the only customers, ordered a diet coke and espresso and pretzel bites, and the service was so slow we ended up having to take the pretzel bites to go. So I can’t recommend it if you’re in a hurry.

The pretzel bites, by the way, aren’t what you’re expecting. It’s actually a bowl of fondue with the pretzels floating in it. It was okay, but I wouldn’t have it again.

The 3rd Stop
8636 W 3rd St
Los Angeles, CA 90048
(310) 273-3605

Toca Madera

Back room

Enchiladas De Mole

Carne asada hot rock


**** (4 stars)

This is a very vibrant restaurant with a club-like atmosphere in the front room. It’s loud by design, and louder because of the central bar. HOWEVER… there is a back room (and an upstairs room) where you can find a reasonable noise level and enjoy some very interesting food.

The free chips and salsa were good, and the plantain chips were particularly good, not overwhelmingly tough or banana-y. I’ve had a lot of guacamole in my life, but this was the best I’ve encountered–creamy, and topped with pomegranate seeds and interesting herbs.

The carne asada hot rock preparation was okay, but nothing spectacular; the soft tortillas were a bit more like roti.

The clear standout of the meal was the enchiladas de mole. WOW! This is by far the best mole I have ever tasted. They claim they use 42 ingredients and cook it for 24 hours, and the complexity shows it is worth it!

Service was very attentive. It’s worth noting that server’s costumes may be setting a new record for short hemlines.

Yes, many of the patrons are narcissistic, dressed to the nines selfie-takers making duck faces into their smartphones. But there are also plenty of well-adjusted people enjoying some creative cuisine. My advice is to go early, before it gets too full of itself.

Toca Madera
8450 W 3rd St
Los Angeles, CA 90048
(323) 852-9400




Chili Cheese Naan

Yoghurt puffs

**** (4 stars)

Badmaash is REALLY popular, and therein lies the problem for me. We really enjoyed the food, but it was so packed and loud it was hard to enjoy the experience.

I highly recommend the butter chicken, whether as an entree, or in the samosa appetizers, which were the best item we had.

The place has probably the worst offering of wines I’ve ever encountered, and I’m including coffee shops; not sure what’s up there. Beer is a better bet, but also limited.

Service was friendly and attentive.

108 W 2nd St
Ste 104
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 221-7466

Noe Restaurant and Bar

Popcorn chicken

Tuna tartare

**** (4 stars)

The bar here offers a delightful intimate atmosphere, with live piano music in the evenings, and a nice outside dining area with heaters. The menu is arranged from tinest to largest “small plates” with a wide variety of nibbles to something enough for a full dinner.

There is a small assortment of wines by the glass, and a lot of spirits.

Service was friendly and efficient.

Noe Restaurant and Bar
251 S Olive St
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 356-4100



Steak frites

Provencal plate

***** (5 stars)

This is a delightful spot to sit outside downtown, with no noise and a great view. There are heaters and a fireplace to keep warm in winter, and clear glass windbreaks all around.

The menu offers a nice combination of small plates and main dishes. We really liked both the tuna tartare and mussel starters, and my Provencal vegetable plate was excellent.

There is a medium sized list of wines, with about a fourth available by the glass. There is also an extensive spirits list.

Service is friendly and efficient, and pricing is reasonable.

448 S Hill St
Los Angeles, CA 90013
(213) 802-1770