She SAID: Find Dining

Terri Kennerson

Anyone who eats beyond the usual suspects knows the best restaurants are typically the places no one knows about. Some of the best dishes I’ve ever tasted were at restaurants that were barely held together with flour and water. In Southern California, a new  restaurant opens its doors to celebrity crowds and rave reviews every five minutes. But some of the best finds in dining might never warrant more than a yelp review from one of its loyal patrons.

North Hollywood: Hayat’s Kitchen

find dining 2This Lebanese Restaurant is tucked away so securely, that  you have to actually get out of your car to find it. Nestled in the back of a sometimes questionable strip mall on Vineland and Burbank, this restaurant is a regular hot spot for connoisseurs of Lebanese and general Mediterranean Cuisine. The food is fresh, light, and spiced perfectly. Each dish is prepared by a competent team who often yell at each other in several languages. Sometimes you can detect a bit of English, and occasionally they’ll make eye contact and smile at you as you wait for your food. The portion sizes are huge, and include meat, rice, salad and baklava. If you’re a fan, your biggest challenge will be not eating here every single day. Must Try: Shish Tawok with Rice


North Hollywood: Rustic Spoon

Drive too fast past Rustic Spoon, blink, and you might miss it. This cozy little restaurant makes some of the best Pho you’ve ever tasted. The broth is clear (a very good sign) and savory, and sets the perfect base for fresh veggies and your meat of choice. The staff is warm and friendly, and you’ll never find yourself waiting too long for your meal whether you dine in or take out. Must Try: Pho Ga

Larchmont: Village Pizzeria

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If you’re not actually in New York, finding an authentic New York slice is like the quest for the Holy Grail. Amateurs often mistake a good pie for the amount of cheese or a thicker crust. But the sauce sets the base for the perfect harmony of crust and cheese. Without the perfect sauce, it’s all dough and goo, and no amount of ‘toppings’ is going to change that. Well, the owners of Larchmont Pizzeria are from Brooklyn (their other location is there) and they know what pizza is supposed to taste like. From the first bite, you know you’re enjoying the real deal. The crust is thin and holds just enough sauce to support the perfect amount of cheese. If you’re a rookie, you’ll go for the toppings (and there are plenty), and that’s fine. But when you’re ready to enjoy a proper New York slice, just ask for the plain, take a bite, and enjoy. Must Try: Cheese Pizza

Hollywood: Cafe Gratitude

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Being a vegan is not a rare thing in Los Angeles. Enjoying a truly delicious vegan meal can be. Cafe Gratitude took note, and designed an organic plant-based menu with actual ‘taste’ in mind. When you can’t tell the difference between traditional Indian Curry and Gratitude’s Vegan offering, you know you’ve struck gold. The staff is patient and educated about the menu, which can be overwhelming for a novice. It’s also fun to order, since each dish features a buzzword like ‘serene’ or ‘humble.’ And although the portion sizes trend small, many dishes are deceptively filling. It’s easy to whittle away the day at this cafe, tasting unusual combinations and enjoying the ambiance. Must Try: Humble

Beverly Hills: Sayuri

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Think you know sushi? Think sushi has to be an expensive excursion to truly enjoy the freshest catch? Sayuri humbly asks you to think again. The tiny restaurant is often packed, so prepare to wait for seating in one of the unsteady chairs and tables. But when you get your meal, you’ll understand why a little discomfort really pays off. The fish is fresh, and each dish is made and served to keep your chopsticks moving. The staff works hard to make sure there isn’t a lull between dishes. The most notable thing about Sayuri is the simplicity. Some restaurants will complicate sashimi so much that you feel like you’re eating a stew. But Sayuri understands that less is more, and it’s evident in every single bite. Must Try: Yellowtail Jalepeno


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