Because every Angeleno loves to eat, even if he has to valet, we bring you Table Stakes: a series that answers man’s eternally recurring question (“Uh, what’s new?”), and recurs once every lunar cycle or so. Bon appétit.
You’re here for: A fun meal before a night of bar-hopping night.
You’re dining on: Robata is Tokyo-style street food, and RBTA does it pretty damn well. A skewer of cod is packed with umami courtesy of a miso glaze. The miso caesar is a great twist on a local favorite, and the hamachi is a must-try. The sake list is small but won’t break the bank.
gesso (2 images)
You’re here for: A pre- or post-show dinner, double-date or simple dinner with friends.
You’re dining on: Gesso is the new casual Italian spot from the folks behind Pitfire Pizza. The pies here are just as delicious, but made with slightly better ingredients (the bitter greens with sotocenere, for example). But dishes like the whole mackerel (meaty and sweet), and burrata with grilled peaches are prepared at the caliber of the city’s higher-end spots but at a lower price point. And their wine list has some good values, like the Movia, a crisp white from Slovenia.
801 N. Fairfax Ave. (map)
You’re here for: Either for fuel post-morning surf or run, or a breezy lunch or brunch with friends. Also: our new favorite fish taco.
You’re dining on: For breakfast, the avocado toast is creamy and delicious and the tangy blue smoothie bowl is ideal for post-workout because of its high protein content. But we’ll be back for the fish tacos, which are loaded with meaty chunks of mahi mahi and topped with a crunchy slaw and creamy aioli.
Joe and the Juice
You’re here for: A healthy breakfast, lunch or dinner.
You’re dining on: Joe and the Juice is a Danish export. Hugely popular in Europe, their Melrose location is tamer, but still serves high-quality juices and pressed sandwiches that are great starts or ends to the day. And if you have kids, they’ll love those strawberry juices and shakes; you’ll love that they’re getting their fruits and veggies.
8532 Melrose Blvd. (map)
You’re here for: Boys night and pub fare.
You’re dining on: It’s a tough call between the classic french onion soup and the yorkshire pudding with the earthy mushrooms or the rarebit, so if you’re with a group, split it all. Then get the beef Bourgignon, which you don’t even need teeth to eat. We also like that you can go plant-based without sacrificing the pub flavor (they’re using Impossible meat, too).
backyard bowl (2 images)
You’re here for: A very healthy breakfast or lunch. If you live and/or work in Santa Monica or Downtown, this needs to be in your weekly rotation.
You’re dining on: They make breakfast bowls using the best ingredients, and they still come out like frozen yogurt. But there’s no dairy thanks to their homemade cashew milk. We’ve been hooked on their PBJ porridge bowl, made with quinoa, cashew milk and berry preserve.
You’re here for: Respite from the beach and to watch a game.
You’re dining on: Some short rib nachos and a fried artichoke, to be washed down with copious ales (the selection rotates).