My previous review of their place in Pasadena was 5 years ago! Monta Factory, is one of the places that not only survived the pandemic, but expanded their presence to a bigger second location in Glendale. The new location is MUCH MUCH bigger with indoor and outdoor seating, a large parking lot, and big photos of the menu items. This is a very casual place, serving everything on either paper or foil plates, and everything is easily made to go.

I invited 2 friends who had never been to either location to join me, so we ordered the Hangry sized Monta platter for $20 with the works on it. We couldn’t finish this platter because we also ordered the small tomato soup for $8 with monta, 2 salmon sandwiches with wild salmon for $15.50, and 2 orders of the cheese Booreg for $2.75 each.

On our visit, the salmon was overcooked in the sandwiches, but a squeeze of lemon helped. 

They offered us a complimentary samples of the Eech salad made with bulgar, tomatoes, red onions, jalapenos, olive oil and spices that was very light and refreshing.

I’ve enjoyed all my meals at Bianca, and brunch last week was no exception. Their seafood salad was one of the best I’ve ever eaten, with tender squid, shrimp, clams, and mussels, all perfectly seasoned and lightly cooked so that the pure flavors sparkled when hit with a squeeze of lemon for $26

The skirt steak sandwich was on special that day and a filling rendition with a nice balance of meat, vegetables, and bread, served alongside a small salad.

Eggplant parmigiana for $20 was exquisitely comforting in a vegetarian way 😉 Service is always impeccable, and if you just keep your sights on the patio, you can image being in Italy instead of Culver City.

Since Bianca is not open everyday for breakfast or lunch, I went with a friend to The Rose in Venice. I think the first time I ate at the Rose was several decades ago, so the fact that this place is still open and still thriving is remarkable in terms of any business, but especially in the restaurant business, and even more so after the pandemic changed everyone’s sense of what was necessary and what was valuable in life. 
Their side salad is a nice way to add some fresh greens when you order something that comes with chips or fries…

like their shrimp burger with a side of homemade chips! The shrimp burger had a nice shrimp shui mai texture, and the bun was good enough to eat on its own. I liked that they used a slice of heirloom tomato and a lively leaf of lettuce in the sandwich.

If you are coming from the gym around the corner, or simply want a power breakfast, they have a Gold’s Special with egg whites, poultry sausage, great mushrooms, spinach, sweet potatoes, and half a ripe avocado!

Service was great from the wait staff and bus person, but terrible from the hostess made me give her my phone number to “waitlist me” and then seated us immediately since there was no one else  waiting for a table! It was a nonsensical move that added on to my displeasure of her ignoring us until we stood at the host stand for 5 minutes. On the plus side, they took care of a safety hazard at the front door that we mentioned upon arrival in the time it took us to eat!

After trying Zinqué for dinner, I went back the following week for happy hour 🙂

Their pan con tomate with prosciutto for $6 was a wonderful introduction to their happy hour menu with a generous portion of prosciutto on marvelous toasted bread.

Perhaps my favorite item on their happy hour menu was the grilled artichokes with a saffron aioli for $11. I could have easily eaten another plate!

I was very impressed by their paté de campagne on poilane bread for $5. The picture is of only half the portion so that I could get a close up of the texture. Served with proper cornichons, all I needed was a little dijon to make this a truly French appetizer!

For the Americans who crave chicken wings, they offered a sweet version for $8.

I was still hungry so I ordered the grilled asparagus for $13

and the grilled shrimp for $17, neither of which was on the happy hour menu, but offered on the dinner menu. Both portions were quite substantial and perfectly done, not over cooked, and nicely seasoned. 

They offer several cocktails and glasses of wine during happy hour for $10-$11, so you might want to get a ride there and back home if you want to enjoy carefree leisurely sipping between 4-6pm M-F 🙂

Zinqué has been on my radar for awhile, but until someone I know actually suggested going, I did not make it a priority. It has moved to my regular rotation list now 🙂

We started with ratatouille socca (chick pea flour snack) for $16. It was a nice version, but the socca was quite flat and crisp, making it more like a Roman pizza, but the flavors and textures were good, and it was a great appetizer to share since each socca is cut into 2 pieces.

My friend Liana ordered the mussels and fries for $23 and generously shared both her mussels and fries 🙂

Another friend ordered the short rib pappardelle for $26. A hefty hearty bowl that needed a bit more cooking time for the short rib to get to the point of tenderness that would have made this perfection. 

I was very happy with my branzino for $34, stuffed with lemon, and grilled until the skin was crisp while the flesh was still tender. It was a gigantic portion, so I shared it with my table mates who all liked it even though they had all demurred at first 😉

I am looking forward to trying their breakfast, brunch, and happy hour dishes soon!

Finding great coffee and great food at the same place is a rare and welcome combination. I wished I lived closer to Dialog Cafe, but the trip to West Hollywood is definitely worth it. Parking can be tricky during prime brunch hours, but you may get lucky with the metered parking across the street or you can park a little bit further on Sunset and walk off your meal:)

Yes, I am a coffee snob, and their blend of expertise and good beans makes an excellent cup of oat milk cappuccino. I’ve also tried their latte and they are equally good for those who prefer a bit more milk (oat or whatever else you might prefer). Their freshly squeezed orange juice is at the cash register counter, if you want something other than or in addition to your coffee.

Their brisket verde breakfast burrito is hearty, filling, and a bargain at $12.95

If you want a standard breakfast plate, called the Westside for $13.95, every component is perfectly executed, from the crisp bacon, to the homemade strawberry jam, and hash browns that set the paradigm for hash browns.

Their brisket is so good, that anything you order with the brisket will be a winner, like this brisket bowl for $14.50 that is like a decadent version of steak and eggs.

I love their vegan kimchi bowl for $13.95 so much that I ordered it on two occasions and both times, I devoured the entire bowl both times! The combination of pickled, fermented, and crunchy textures is one of the best uses of kimchi I’ve ever eaten!

Their protein omelet for $12.95 was so flavorful and full of turkey, spinach, onions, tomatoes, mushrooms, and parmesan that I was full all afternoon!

If you are in the neighborhood, or want to take a short drive, Dialog is definitely a place to stop for a coffee or a bite to eat. The service is top notch, from the people taking the orders at the register, to the food runners, and their sidewalk is dog friendly with plenty of shade.

Picalilli has been on my radar for awhile, and I’m glad I finally taste tested their fusion cuisine on a balmy afternoon. They have a very spacious dog friendly patio, with plenty of heat lamps when Los Angeles gets chilly (that translates to around 50-60F).

I went with a local who had also not tried them yet, so we sent our tastebuds out to explore several plates, starting with the hamachi crudo for $22. It was a lovely presentation with fresh fish and edible flowers.

One the specials was an eggplant and pepper side dish that could easily have been a main course alongside some of the spicy crispy rice salad.

The spicy crispy rice salad for $18 was not spicy hot, but spicy complex that would please any vegetarian looking for something slightly different yet comforting at the same time.

I specifically came on a day they offered octopus, which was beautifully charred and tender, having come from a nice fire and delicate handling. 

I didn’t need dessert, but my friend did, we we ordered the white chocolate blondie for $13 that was easily enough to share, but I graciously only tasted and allowed my friend the indulgence of a double portion of dessert 🙂

They offer brunch, happy hour, and craft cocktails, so there’s still plenty for me to explore next time!

It’s serendipitous when a favorite local place opens up a new outpost in another location that just happens to be a city that I frequent and where I have friends. The gigantic breakfasts at Metro Cafe in Culver City are available in El Segundo with the same people running both places, so it was wonderful to be greeted as a regular in a new location!

Their California scramble served with fresh fruit for $17 is as vibrant and fresh as it looks, and there is no way to finish this plate unless your appetite is gigantic!

They offer a yogurt, granola and fruit bowl for those days when you want something simple. I am always amazed by how ripe their fruit is on all their plates!

One day I wanted something a bit smaller so I opted for 2 eggs over medium with some of their wonderful guacamole with a side of fruit and an English muffin. A bit smaller was still a very filling breakfast plate!

I don’t remember what this dish was because it was my friend’s plate and I didn’t eat it! But it looked beautiful and all my friends know that dining with me means I must take a picture before they taste anything 🙂

Since I’m heading down that way again next week, I’ll have to figure out what the plate was, order it, and taste it!

After seeing several posts about Etta, I was excited to taste and experience the place for myself. The dining room and patio are both beautiful spaces, very open, light, and appointed with classic clean comfortable furniture. There are plenty of heat lamps on the dog friendly patio, and service was impeccable. 

The menu is varied enough for vegetarians and vegans, with plenty of options for meat lovers. Prices are a bit high but not unreasonable. We chose 2 glasses of the French Chardonnay from Bourgogne for $18 each as we anticipated the vegetarian meal we ordered.

I went with a friend with a dog, so we sat on the patio and started with the eggplant appetizer for $16. Served with tahini ricotta, buttered hazelnuts, calabrian chili and herb salad, this was a pleasant appetizer, but I was surprised that it was not served warm. The crunch of the hazelnuts added a nice crunch to the overly fussy combination of flavors.

I was hopeful that the little gem salad for $17 would be better. Served with avocado, cucumbers, and a Creme Fraiche vinaigrette, this was blandly unremarkable.

Hoping for a knockout vegetable dish, this green bean, mushroom, and corn medley could have been much better if it did not have a refrigerator chill on all the vegetables (for around $16). I don’t know why they chose to serve the vegetable sides at room temperature or chilled, but it definitely diminished the flavor of dishes. 

Thankfully the pasta was served warm with fresh basil and tomatoes (around $25) and was done with a light hand in both the preparation and flavors.

It was interesting to eat as a vegetarian and find out if a restaurant does a good job solely based on vegetarian dishes, but I was not impressed by any of the vegetarian food. I think a return visit for some pizza or brunch might sway my opinion to be more favorable. Since I did not taste any of the meat or fish options from the hearth, I might return to see if those options might be better as well. 

People from all over the world settle in Los Angeles and we become a delicious oasis when they bring their food and drinks to their new abode. The Ministry of Coffee or MOC in Westwood has an Australian and Turkish origin in both their drinks and food. I had their delectable Right Start egg white omelet  for $13 filled with kale, spinach, tomatoes, and avocado. Served with a side salad and toast, this was a very filling and healthy way to start my day.

One another day I had a hearty lamb sandwich one morning for $15 on delightful ciabatta bread, with slow cooked lamb, feta, salsa, sumac, tomato and greens that was such an umami bomb and so filling that I had to take half of it to go.

The Irish pub Auld Fella, may not be what you think of when you want brunch on a week-end, but the ambiance on the sidewalk with the street music, and people watching, may have you reconsider. Corned beef hash for $19 may sound boring but the quality of the corned beef elevates this to a crowd pleaser.

8 oz of Waygu steak, eggs, onion, and potato for $29 was un unbeatable bargain because they did each element perfectly.

While we enjoy the comfort of homes, health, food, and safety, others around the world are not as privileged, so please help in any way you can to support those in need with foodmedical aid, or hygiene.

It’s been nice to revisit local Italian favorites over the week-end now that the crowds from the Super bowl and Valentine’s Day are gone. 

The Bianca House salad for $18 is one of my favorites in Los Angeles, combining a simple vinaigrette with arugula, frisée, radishes, carrots, and avocado.

The Kale Minestrone for $18 with pesto is a comforting, filling bowl of vegetable goodness, perfect for a chilly day (in Los Angeles that means under 70 F).

Also the first time I tried their Pollo alla Parmagiana for $26, and it was so perfectly pounded, breaded, and sauced, that I could only finish half of it (I ate the oven roasted string beans and potatoes), taking the other half home. This picture is only HALF of the portion they served!

On Sunday I took out curbside from Pizzana, starting with the Tricolore for $15 with arugula, treviso, endive, cherry tomatoes, candied walnuts, and parmagiano reggiano.

I’m a bit boring when it comes to pizza, going with a classic Margherita for $20 ready to heat and uncut so that I could get a crisp hot crust at home 🙂

Revisiting old favorites is as important to me as trying new places because without repeat patronage, old favorites fade away….

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