Lunches at Good Girl Dinette & Son of a Gun

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Even though I’ve lived on the east side of Los Angeles for almost a year and I spend a good amount of time in both Eagle Rock and Pasadena, Highland Park–an up-and-coming neighborhood and home to my favorite podcaster, Marc Maron–has eluded me. That is until two weeks ago when I met my food writing friend Tien Nguyen (she co-wrote the Roy Choi cookbook L.A. Son and has appeared on my podcast) for lunch at The Good Girl Dinette, a place owned and helmed by Chef Diep Tran.

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Birthday at Bestia, Dinners at Chez Emily, The Hart and the Hunter & The Coconut Club

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When you look at these pictures, you’re not going to believe me when I tell you I’ve been on a bit of a health and fitness kick lately. That’s right: five days a week at the gym, salads, chicken breasts, the works. My strategy, though, is to reward myself on weekends and birthdays and at dinner parties–haha, I know you’re rolling your eyes–which is how I can justify what you’re about to see. Because last week I turned 35 and Craig surprised me with dinner at a restaurant I’ve been dying to try ever since I first heard about it: Bestia in downtown L.A.

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My Ever-Morphing L.A. Restaurant To-Do List

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[photo taken at Gjelina]

On my web browser I have a folder called “LaFOOD” and any time I see an article or a blog post about a restaurant I want to try, I save it to that folder. As you can imagine, after two years here, that folder’s grown quite unwieldy. I was just about to organize it for myself when I thought: “Why don’t I turn it into a blog post?” So what follows is a list of L.A. restaurants that I haven’t been to yet with links to the stories that inspired me to bookmark them*, organized by cuisine. Of course this list will grow and morph over time as I check off places and add new ones to my folder; but for now I think I have my work cut out for me. (* Note: some of the links are just links to the restaurants because I must’ve bookmarked them after hearing about them out in the world. Also, sometimes multiple restaurants link to the same article because that’s where I heard about them all.)

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Two Years in L.A. (A Reflection)

Today’s the Jewish New Year–Happy New Year, you Jewish people, you–but it’s also, basically, our two-year anniversary of moving to L.A. Last year, around this time, I wrote a post called “One Year in L.A.: A Reflection.” It’s a pretty fascinating thing for me to re-read because, at the time, we were about to go back to New York for Craig to shoot The Skeleton Twins and I could barely contain my excitement. The gist of that post was: L.A. is fine, but I’m a New York boy through and through.

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I Ate My First Pupusa Two Weeks Ago and Didn’t Tell You About It

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Look, it’s Friday, and I need to get something off my chest. Two weeks ago? I ate the first pupusa of my life at the Atwater Village Farmer’s Market and didn’t tell you about it. I’m sorry! Things just got busy and I had to tell you about that toasted almond gelato and how to squeeze a lemon without getting the seeds everywhere. But look, here we are now, and it’s time to make amends. Let me tell you about my pupusa (isn’t that a Missy Elliott lyric?).

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The Salty Turnip and Egg at Ruen Pair

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Jon Shook, of L.A.’s Animal and Son of a Gun, once told L.A. Weekly his favorite places to eat in L.A. One of them is one of my favorite places to eat in L.A., Ruen Pair, where I almost always get the same thing: the Prik King (see #9 on the list of my favorite places to eat in L.A.). Shook, however, goes for a different reason: “You gotta get #106,” he told L.A. Weekly. “The salty turnip and egg. It will blow your brain out coz it’s super cool.”

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Sneak Peek: Our New Kitchen

Hey, check out the kitchen above…I hope you like it because that’s our new kitchen! After a frantic search that lasted three weeks (ugh) my friend Nick e-mailed me a link to an apartment in Atwater Village on Wednesday morning. The funny thing about that is each morning I would wake up and the first thing I would type into Craigslist would be: “Atwater Village.” It’s absolutely my favorite neighborhood in L.A.: cozy, charming, scenic and home to both Proof Bakery and Canele, two of my favorite places here. Nothing worthwhile turned up and the few that did turn up I would make myself go see, only to be disappointed because the places–while well-situated–were really dirty/dusty/musky inside. Craig wasn’t having that.

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The Ultimate L.A. Street Dog & Big Gay Ice Cream

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The snap of a Pink’s hot dog, celebrated by the likes of Jonathan Gold and Calvin Trillin, has never done much for me. In fact, I had one many moons ago when I was visiting L.A. and that was enough for me, thank you very much. I’m a New York street dog devotee: a warm, soft dog straight from the steam bath might be gross to some, but for me it’s heaven. The less it snaps when you bite in the better. I was ready to write L.A. off in the hot dog department until I ran into my friends Doug and Bryan of the Big Gay Ice Cream Truck here outside Lindy & Grundy. They told me their truck would be parked on Sunday in front of a gay bar, Faultline, and next to it would be a woman who makes the best hot dogs they had ever had in their lives. I should swing by and say hello.

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