As I stare at my GrubHub list of restaurants within my delivery area, I can’t help feel a sense of fatigue, monotony, and general apathy toward dinner out of home. I’ve stayed socially distant for over six months now, rarely venturing out, still not dining out. No wonder millions of Americans are suffering from a depressive boredom. (Note: Remember to Google depressive boredom.)
Yet, out beyond our zip codes, fall menus are abundant at restaurants far and wide as lighter fare makes way for earthier, more hearty flavors. ‘But I can’t have it delivered’ my whiny inner voice says, not yet admitting social distancing’s side effect of laziness. Or ‘what if I encounter anti-maskers’ if I eat out?’, my anxiety says to me.
Think about all the reasons you went to restaurants prior to this new world. Yes, it was the socialization, seeing friends, being taken care of and eating a beautiful dinner without washing a dish. Yet, what really made dining special was the food. Dishes prepared by the most talented of chefs, flavor combinations that make angels sing. Those creations are still out there, waiting to dance on your palate.
And here’s the big news, folks. We need to support these magnificent restaurants, chefs, and impeccable dishes. They are counting on us to do different, be different, and work and live outside the box to keep our foodie culture alive.
So, what’s the solution? Get in the car. Take a stay trip. Take out is the new culinary adventure.
RUSTIC CANYON (Santa Monica)
I have a secret love affair with Rustic Canyon, spending many nights mulling over their unbeatable wine list and James Beard-nominated menu by Jeremy Fox and current executive chef Andy Doubrava. From chilled lima beans and caramelized yogurt to baja seabass and a bold grass-fed flatiron steak with spicy peppers, this take out menu is begging to be eaten in your car on Ocean Blvd, with your own drive-in ocean theater at sunset.
Rustic Canyon. 1119 Wilshire Blvd. Santa Monica, CA 90401
BLACK MARKET LIQUOR BAR (Studio City)
There is a reason why Black Market Liquor in Studio City made the list. They nailed the Take Out Menu right from the start. From their classic small plates such as Dill Potato Chips and Malt Vinegar Aioli, Charred Brussel Sprouts, and Smoke Trout on Ciabatta, Black Market offers their Little Market with fresh, uncooked pasta, sauces and other pantry items to create a gourmet meal at home. If this adventure couldn’t get better, they also boast a healthy ‘to-go’ cocktail menu. Check out the Fade To Black. Worth it.
Black Market Liquor Bar. 11915 Ventura Blvd. Studio City, CA 91604
N/NAKA (Culver City)
No matter where you order from, take out sushi in to-go containers nearly always resembles that ‘kind of sketchy, but I’ll still eat it anyway’ case at the grocery store. Enter N/Naka in West LA/Culver City that turned their Bento Box into a work of art. The California Ekiben features local fish mongers, farmers and producers, culminating in a delicious collection of Dungeness Crab California Roll, Fresh Vegetables, Rabbit-Tobacco Smoked Rockfish, and Santa Barbara Uni. This is a certifiable sushi game changer.
N/Naka. 3445 S. Overland Avenue. Los Angeles, CA 90034
No one does brunch like Republique. Let me repeat. No one does brunch like Republique. This Sunday, step in your car, roll down the windows, and take in the California sun for a drive to Mid-Wilshire. Chia Seed Pudding, mouth-watering Omelettes, Kimichi Fried Rice, and their stunning Gioiella Ricotta Toast will make you forget avocado toast ever existed.
Republique. 624 S La Brea Avenue. Los Angeles, CA 90036
Bestia eaten from the comfort of your own home? Yes, please. Their all-inclusive pick up menu is designed to be lightly reheated and shared family-style at home. Dishes include: Butterbean & Squash Puree, Marinated Golden Beets, Osso Bucco Agnolotti and Roasted Stuffed Quail. Set up some twinkle lights in your backyard (or 3’x3′ condo patio) and you’ve got dine at home magic.
Bestia. 2121 E. 7th Place. Los Angeles, CA 90021
What’s the point of taunting you with these amazing delights? Our current world has required all of us to innovate, from businesses to schools to our personal lives. Your world is only as small as you make it. Finding adventure is as easy as a short (or long) drive to a restaurant you may never have been to, always wanted to visit, or is a long-standing favorite that you haven’t visited in a long time. So, put down that food delivery app and pick up an exciting meal tonight. The chefs are waiting for you. Let’s get out there and give back the way they’ve given to us.