Naughty and Nice – Sarah’s To-Dine List

list of lists

** NOTE ** I do my best to keep this list updated, but restaurants, as you know, rise and fall faster than a cheese souffle. As you browse this list, if you happen to see any restaurants that have closed, please let me know with a comment. Also, I LOVE RECOMMENDATIONS from you, so if you have one for me, please let me know on Your To Dine List over here. Thanks! xo

Back when I was in school, semi-normal people recounted the mundane details of their daily lives or poured out their heart’s emotions and feelings by writing a simple expository letter every night to some invisible friend named “Diary.” Presumably, “Diary” did not mind at all reading about every single inconsequential, boring detail of your pathetically uneventful life or yet again, *rolleyes* about how that fu–king a$$wipe ex-boyfriend totally wronged you into never trusting men or yourself again, just-finally-get-over-it-it’s-been-six-years, okay? (Huh? Blog, what?) That’s semi-normal people who write to their invisible “Diary” friends. Normal people, of course, pay $175 an hour for a live friend named “Therapist.”

I, on the other hand, never had a diary. The therapist is another story, but don’t worry, I’m totally over that lying, cheating son-of-a…Instead, I had a book of lists. I had one of those annoyingly adorable notebooks from Artbox or some other Korean stationery/gift store that had a generic pudgy cute cartoon animal character that looked like Hello Kitty but wasn’t Hello Kitty, and what sounded like an English translation of a Korean haiku that made no sense whatsoever: “flower love make you pretty in my heart.” This notebook, with the pages in each section a different shade of the pastel rainbow from pink to peach to lavender, was my book of lists. On each new page, I would select some topic that captured my fancy and made an associated list. I even wrote the lists in full-blown technicolor with my eek!girlie! gel pens. Most of the time, it was some form of a To-do List or a ridiculous Top 10 Favorites list. Top 10 Songs I Love This Week. Top 10 Places I’d Go for My Honeymoon – was I stupid? Top 10 Characteristics in a Guy – omy, I was stupid! And yes, there were even many lists that were related to food. Top 10 Favorite Snacks. Top 10 Favorite Baked Potato Toppings. If ever I got really crazy, it would be a mad combination like Top 10 Favorite Things to Do with a Baked Potato. Whoa. I was so weird.

I was a weird, freaky freak about lists.

Was? I still am.

It doesn’t come out much on the final output to The Delicious Life, but I have an Excel workbook with more than a dozen worksheets filled with lists. Some of the lists are stand-alone, like an alphabetical list of every vegetable I can think of and a column to check off whether I have eaten it or not. Some of the lists cross-reference lists on other worksheets. Some of the lists are just so embarassingly nerdy to be lists that I will never disclose them. Didn’t I just mention the Lifetime Vegetable List? Crap.

One of the lists that I used to have in that pastel prissy pink princess book was a list of restaurants I wanted to try. The exact contents of that particular list, of course, have long since been outdated, but I still maintain a list of restaurants that I want to try. It’s my To-Dine List. Since one of my New Year’s resolutions was to make a few dents in my To-Dine List, putting the list here on The Delicious Life is a way to remind myself.

This is actually just a subset of highlights from the complete list (which is much longer and extends far beyond LA), and to be quite honest, I have no idea how some of the naughty restaurants even found their ways on to my list. I mean, come on, Bella is Geisha House’s Italian step-sister. But they are there, so I will try them, and I suppose come back here every once in a while to update the list with dates (mm/dd/yy, not guys’ names – LOL!). It would be pretty ambitious and very expensive to try all of these this year, but…who knows? It’s only January, and yes, I have sent my resumé out a couple of times, too.

Sarah’s Los Angeles To-Dine List, 2014

  1. Belcampo Meat Co., Santa Monica
  2. Blue Plate Oysterette, West 3rd
  3. Din Tai Fung, Glendale
  4. Faith & Flower, DTLA
  5. Ham Ji Park, Koreatown
  6. Mari Vanna, West Hollywood
  7. Marvin, Beverly/Grove
  8. Maude, Beverly Hills
  9. Night + Market Song
  10. Nobu, Malibu
  11. Nozawa Bar, Beverly Hills
  12. Pine & Crane, Silver Lake
  13. POT, Line Hotel, Koreatown
  14. Saint Martha, Koreatown
  15. Salt Air, Venice
  16. Scopa Italian Roots, Venice/Marina
  17. Shiki, beverly Hills
  18. Smoke.Oil.Salt, Melrose
  19. Superba Food + Bread, Venice
  20. Szechuan Impression, SGV
  21. Wexler’s Deli, Grand Central Market, DTLA
  22. Zinque

Sarah’s Orange County To-Dine List

  • Bluefin Sushi – check! post pending.
  • Charlie Palmer
  • Marche Moderne
  • Napa Rose
  • Pizzeria Ortica

Lists. I love lists. See? I’ve never been into writing long expository pieces every day about myself and my experiences in a stupid diary.

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  • Lindsay

    what’s funny sarah is how many of the same spots are on my list, too, and also that i’ve been to a bunch of the places you’ve listed, which makes me feel kind of cool, since you’re like a watermark foodie for me!

  • Eve

    I have a list like that too :) I’m down to be your dining companion at any of those dining establishments whenever you want :)

  • sarah

    awww…i can’t believe you called me a waternark, lindsay! that’s rad! thanks! :)

    eve, what’s great is that quite a few of them are on the westside!! ;)

  • Craig

    who would drone on and on about topics no one on this earth would read about… :) lol

    love the list, I am down with you for zankou chicken, i cannot believe that for all the years i have known about it, I have never been there.

    Westside rules…peace

  • Anonymous

    You call yourself a foodie and you’ve never been to some of these places? Sad, dude.

  • Russkar

    Sarah you’ve won the lotto!
    Your sooooo lucky. Some of the Restaurants on your list our outta business or closed. Le Dome, Bastide. Think of the $ you’ve saved? As an added bonus several of your trusty loyal readers(fans) can advise you on which ones to avoid. More $ saved. With the $ you’ve saved maybe you could take all of us to Urasawa(best deal in LA for what you get). Nevermind, I’m tired of Sushi, save the money for a Therapist in case you ever get writers block again, so far you seem to be cured.
    Oh by the way IKE Sushi is ICKY(just like it sounds) so maybe Ryo would be a better choice? More $ saved!

  • sarah

    craigm: zankou! i’ve always wanted to try, and what now…there is one right here on the westside and STILL my big fat lazy butt hasn’t gotten there. LOL!

    anonymous: i would *never* call myself a foodie. i actually DO NOT like that word at all. i am…a glutton. and so, since i am a not-foodie, im not sad that i haven’t YET gotten to these places.

    russkar: but is not bastide going to re-open? that is the buzz in the underground, or so i thought.

    tired of sushi? how could you?! then again, from what i hear, i MUST try all these other sushi places first BEFORE i go to urasawa, otherwise i will spoil my palate forever ;)

  • duckduckgoose

    You have to get going! Some of those are so easy to eat at. You live on the westside and have never tried Lares, Gilberts or Sunnin? I don’t like Zankou, but that’s an easy one too and it’s so hyped you need to form your own oppinion to scoff at others who have the opposite feeling. Have the mole enchiladas at Lares for lunch and pick up Zankou for dinner. The next day have Sunnin for lunch (chicken swarma) and go to Gilberts for the margaritas and mediocre food with nice neighborhood atmosphere for dinner. I really liked Bluebird by the way, maybe lunch the next day. There you go 5 in three days. You’d be hard pressed to spend more than $10 on food at any of those places. You’ll put Rachael Ray to shame, dining on $20 a day.

  • sarah

    omy! i love you guys! i love that you’re 1) offering to eat with me, and 2) giving me some good advice. thank you thank you thank you!

    ddg, is there something at lares WITHOUT mole? i tried mole and i *think* i am not a fan. yeah yeah, what kind of foodie AM i?!?! ;)

  • Russkar

    Your right Bastide is re-opening under a different name and with a modified wine list including Cali but will still have an UGLY corkage policy (don’t allow it).

    Sushi(as you presently know it) will be ruined for you once Hiro(Urasawa) places his unbelievable tiny morsels on your plate, game over!

    Priorities should be:
    La Cachette
    Langer’s #19

  • duckduckgoose

    Carnitas is supposed to be good at Lares, but I don’t eat that. I actually like the vegetarian lunch special that comes with a Potato Taco, chile relleno and cheese enchilada. I think it’s available on Thursday’s for something like $5.

  • BoLA

    shoot! i’ve only been to 5 on your list. muhah! have a lot of catching up to do. ;) i too have a restaurant excel list…courtesy of one of my best friends who loves food as much as i do. i just add to it, make personal notes, and cross things off.

  • susie

    i love your list. looks a lot like my list. this post reminded that i need to update my list!

  • Eve

    I know, westside! Lunch maybe?

  • jason

    A few brain droppings from me:

    – The Counter is awesome.
    – I saw a segment on The Lobster on “The Best Of” on FoodTV. I refuse to go to that place simply for that fact.
    – I found Patina at the WDCH to be a bit disappointing/overrated. I hope you enjoy it more than I did… it certainly made my wallet ache a bit.
    – I love Zankou Chicken, and hopefully so will you. On rare occasions, the chicken is a bit overcooked… but slather on the garlic sauce and peace will be restored. I often fantasize about being in a tub full of their shawerma.
    – I’d sacrifice many small furry cute animals to get the opportunity to dine at L’Orangerie.

    Happy eating!

  • sarah

    russkar: therapist is no.5 on your list, but before josie. LOL! hilarious :)

    ddg: potato taco?!?! i’ve never heard of such a thing! i must try! my gawd, if it’s a taco filled with french fries i might faint.

    kristy: we’ll have to do a comparison…perhaps an outing that’ll knock off a few from BOTH our lists!

    susie: update that list! and of course…get to work on it!

    eve: lunch. happy hour. dinner. all of the above. :)

    jason: how funny – sometimes my opinion of a place changes if ever i see it on a food network show. LOL! okay, actually, onlyif rachael ray eats there.

    l.a.c.: i’ve been to valentino. it was just okay. and i guess you didn’t catch my sarcasm about the diary thing ;)

  • Ellen Bloom

    So many classic L.A. places that you HAVEN’T tried! Shame.
    Langers…excellent pastrami, good painting behind the counter of counter guys, bad neighborhood. Angeli Caffe – Always good, friendly and faboo.
    Gilbert’s El Indio – OK for old L.A. Mexican food a’la El Coyote, but slightly better flavor….great atmosphere and inexpensive….Tacos Por Favor on Olympic & 14th has better food.
    Papa Cristo’s – Delish baba ganoosh and other Greek specialties. The market is chock full of wonderful stuff. Taylor’s…best martini and skirt steak in town for the best price; try the Molly salad. The atmosphere is so 1962…love it. Zankou – only the best chicken in the the hummus, garlic sauce…very fresh pita, but not as fresh as Papa Cristo’s. Can’t get past those beet red roots they serve w/tomatoes and peppers tho’.
    Go soon to all of these places…you’re really missing out!
    Have you tried the Metro Cafe in Culver City? Divine Serbian food. Check it out here:

  • Rose

    How about Zono Sushi? is that on your “long” list?

  • Anonymous

    I also love making lists. My mom is just like that too.

    I make a TO DO list every night before I go to bed, during the day I add to lists – Shoprite, Wegmans, Wal-Mart, Costco, and I have a list of stuff to buy next time I go out. I live by my lists. I get crazy if I lose a list. I also make a list of all the cookbooks I want. I try to make sure to cross stuff off when I buy a new one.

    So it is ok to be a list person. I’ve been one since I was very little. It keeps me sane.

  • MEalCentric

    OMG, that was loooong! And your list wasnt too short either. I think you know what I am referring to ;)

  • Gloria

    Oooh, yeah, if you’re ever up for a random dining partner, I’m always available! I love eating out. And yum, ricotta gnoochi. I went to The Spotted Pig (in NY) and got their gnudi, and it was amazing, and would love to find a dish like that out here.

    Of the places on your list I’ve been to:
    ~Bluebird Bakery is charming. The original owner/chef did just leave, however, and I haven’t been since she left. But they serve wine! Cupcakes and wine! How happy!
    ~Breadbar is awesome. As is Grace, although I haven’t been to the latter since it first opened. Same with Table 8.
    ~I did the mozzarella night at Jar, and am just itching go to back.
    ~Got the worst service EVER at Orso. I’m talking, we were completely ignored by the waitress.
    ~Run to Skooby’s! If only parking wasn’t such a pain, I’d be ther more often. Hrm. Maybe it’s a good thing it’s hard to find parking.

  • MeowMix

    Great list. A lot of the restaurants are on my list as well. Personally, I think The Lobster is overrated…..

    You gotta love the Korean artsy cutesy stuff….I love my veggie tupperware that says, “I love my callots and pees” :)

  • Rachael

    We’ll have to get together and hit a few of those spots!
    (Of course now that I have a “real” job, it may be a mite bit tricker, but hey, at least I can afford to pay!)

  • Rachael

    We’ll have to get together and hit a few of those spots!
    (Of course now that I have a “real” job, it may be a mite bit tricker, but hey, at least I can afford to pay!)

  • sarah

    yes yes! lunch! dinner! drinks! everyone!

    rachael: but you have a real job??!?! wait, you mean food blogging isn’t a real job?!?! i guess that explains why i’ve been waiting so long for a paycheck…


  • hermz

    I forgot about Mao’s Kitchen… Ira used to keep telling me to go there, but I forgot. :/

    We talked about New Concept a while ago. I’m still down. :)

  • sarah

    hermz: mao’s kitchen is in venice so it’s near us. we should go!

  • AdamZ

    Sarah, I’m in almost complete agreement with you – but I can’t get behind Mao’s and Patina. I love Chinese food, but I haven’t had anything I like at Mao’s. I’ve tried their versions of Northern, Southern, and SiChuan dishes and just couldn’t enjoy them. For me it’s worth a drive to Monterey Park or Rowland Heights or wherever. As for Patina, I’ve been there 4 or 5 times and never found anything I’ve loved.

    I’ll volunteer two additions: Campanile and Via Veneto.

    Keep up the list writing. I find it very calming and therapeutic. It also temporarily silences at least some of the voices in my head.

    Fellow foodlover,

  • sarah

    adamz: i have heard both rants and raves about via veneto, so i guess that means i will have to try it for myself! thanks for the rec. and luckily, it’s on the westside ;)

    i love campanile. it moved from this “to-dine list” to the “atf” list (all-time favorites) a long time ago. :)

  • Maure

    I’m adding this to my list of
    favorite lists – if I can find it.

    Zankou is godhead – especially the original in Hollywood, but don’t make my mistake – there’s no valet
    The best way to experience Zankou
    is to put the leftovers in the trunk of your car and leave them
    overnight. Your car will smell like garlic chicken for 6-9 months!

  • Jonah

    Definitely hit Mao’s (don’t forget the zero-dollar corkage for beer/wine/booze).

    For mole, I would suggest Monte Alban over Lares, a couple blocks east of Bundy on Santa Monica.

    I’m with you on the “foodie” designation, I find it to be a snobby term that people use to try to elevate their status as a diner. From chowhound boards, it looks to me like a “foodie” eats where other people tell them too.

  • Eudaimo

    My thots on your spots ;):

    Lares: Good Mexican, but I’ve had better. I had some just the other night, actually. The key dish is to the Camaron El Diablo (Shrimp wrapped in bacon), broiled in hot sauce. [Lie] And only 95 calories [/Lie]

    Wharo: I live around the corner, and it’s delicious, but not phenomenal K-BBQ. There’s much better to be had in K-Town, but this is a great west side option. A bit more “Datey” than most of the K-town Dives I frequented.

    Zankou Chicken – Cheap. Simple. Garlicky. Go.

    And ignore the haters who tell you you don’t love food just because you haven’t eaten here or there. Be it movies, books or restaurants, even the most passionate afficianado can’t get to every supposed classic.

  • Maure

    One more Zankou related tidbit:

    the Hollywood Zankou has menu items
    not found in its’ sister locations.
    Plus Papa Zankou is frequently there to assure quality control.

  • PhilC

    If you go to Lares, try the carnitas. Crispy on the outside and moist and tender on the inside.

  • MarcusH

    I’d recommend you dump Taylor’s off your list. I took a couple friends there based off the glowing reviews on Citysearch and we were VERY disappointed. The decor is retro, but unfortunately so was the waitress. She could have been Flo from Mel’s Diner — if you aged her to about 60. Needless to say, the service was horrid. But worst (and most unforgivable) of all, the steaks were pathetic. I kid you not to say that I’ve had better at Sizzler’s. They were unseasoned, dry and vastly overpriced. Each of us ordered different cuts so we were pretty certain everything there was horrible. This was the K-Town location that we went to, just an FYI.

  • sarah

    marcus h: did anyone try the burgers at taylor’s? i think taylor’s is on my list because i have heard only raves, but always about the burgers!

  • MarcusH

    No, none of us tried the burgers. They might be worthwhile, and we just made the mistake of trying the steaks at a “steakhouse”. ;)

  • Pasadena Foodie Now Living in Chainville

    goodness! i saw your to-dine list and dining index and noticed PORTO’S (cuban bakery; glendale & burbank) is nowhere to be found!! there is food out in the burbs too, ya know!! ;)

    zankou is great! chicken that melts in ur mouth and the garlic sauce…mmmmmmmm. we used to frequent the one in pasadena a lot. it was one of those great bargain meal places, plenty of tasty food (half plate could fill up me and my hubby) at can’t-beat prices. but we moved and didn’t get to eat there as much. when we last visted we noticed the prices went up and it wasn’t quite the deal it once was but it’s still good stuff. worth a try if you haven’t already.

    one last thing, my rec for eats in pasadena: SUSHIYA (spicy crunch and volcano!) and SALADANG (pad thai and green curry!)

    check em out here:

  • Anonymous

    You must check out the new bakery that just opened in Echo Park! Delilah on Echo Park Ave…try the coconut cake, it has a delicious marshmallowy frosting and so heavenly light one could easily eat 2 pieces! :)

  • Sheri

    oh my god. i love a fellow listie when i find one. thanks for this post (really, all your posts) and the list and for putting life into list form for your fellow list lovers, like me!

    p.s. have you read “things to bring, s#it to do and other inventories of life” by karen rizzo? talk about fun with a life of listmaking.

  • Sheri

    oh my god. i love a fellow listie when i find one. thanks for this post (really, all your posts) and the list and for putting life into list form for your fellow list lovers, like me!

    p.s. have you read “things to bring, s#it to do and other inventories of life” by karen rizzo? talk about fun with a life of listmaking.

  • Lesley

    i love your blog… you always make me laugh!

    i would suggest trying:

    girasole on larchmont
    michelangelo’s in silver lake

    all three are small dining rooms, super cozy, and delicious–high quality ingredients and wonderful people behind the food. if you go to michelangelo’s, be sure to ask if they have the burrata special. their burrata can turn my outlook on life around…

  • Lesley

    i love your blog… you always make me laugh!

    i would suggest trying:

    girasole on larchmont
    michelangelo’s in silver lake

    all three are small dining rooms, super cozy, and delicious–high quality ingredients and wonderful people behind the food. if you go to michelangelo’s, be sure to ask if they have the burrata special. their burrata can turn my outlook on life around…

  • andycat

    I would love to see your thoughts on ApplePan!

  • beignet

    i keep a list notebook too. and some of my lists are equally embarrassing. i feel you!

  • Daniel L

    Ludobites! Hello… and i thought you were korean??

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