Following our dinner the previous night, and faced with another long day ahead of us, we both woke up in serious need of a caffeine boost.
Luckily, the first stop on our list was Cafecito Organico. The café, located in a colorful old Mexican restaurant in Silver Lake, is only big enough to take orders, but they have a large outdoor patio perfect for sipping iced coffee on a hot morning.
We sat outside at one of the wooden “tables” (read: sawed-off tree stump) and enjoyed some early morning sun with our drinks before we headed out for the rest of our day. Laura had the Global Warming—iced coffee with milk and cane sugar syrup—while I had a pour-over of their Guatemala Fraijanes.
After getting recharged, we spent a bit of time on West Sunset Boulevard exploring some of the great shops around Echo Park.
We were particularly fond of the Echo Park Time Travel Mart.
Run by the same non-profit organization behind the Brooklyn Superhero Supply Company, the shop sells everything from sturdy chain mail and barbarian repellant to Evil Robot Memory Erasers; they have everything to suit the time-traveling adventurer no matter what era he should find himself in. Best of all, every purchase supports the 826 Foundation, which provides creative writing courses for kids in urban areas.
We also dug around for records nearby at Origami Vinyl and browsed the racks at Stories Books and Cafe. The café was full of lively conversation when we were there, and you can tell there is a great community built there of neighbors and friends. We could both see ourselves there frequently if we lived nearby.
Heading back towards Hollywood, we stopped for lunch at Jitlada Thai, an unassuming Thai restaurant that belies its Sunset Boulevard strip mall location, and is now famous for Southern Thai cuisine.
Despite its modest location, Jitlada has a cult following among folks like food critic Ruth Reichl. With dishes like Crying Tiger beef on the menu, you should know what you’re getting into here. Laura barely made it out alive and my spicy pomegranate smoothie didn’t help. (Everything was delicious though!)
As soon as our eyes dried, we continued our shopping tour on Sunset by checking out Reform School, a chic shop specializing in items from local artists and designers like hand-made cards, art prints and even toys. It’s the kind of store where you end up thinking of an excuse to give a gift just to buy something. Just down the street, the rows and rows and exotic spices at Spice Station had us drooling, as did the beautiful, bougainvillea-covered courtyard that separates the spice room from the tea room.
Across the street, Bar Keeper was one of our favorite stores of the trip. The store sells barware of amazing quality—from Japanese mixing glasses and bitters bottles—and hard-to- find liquors and bitters as well. The owner, Joe, is a real expert on all things mixology-minded and we chatted with him for a while as we browsed. Imagine our surprise when we saw him and his shop on Storage Wars the next day, helping to appraise a set of cocktail glasses!
We left the shop with a bottle of St. George Spirits Terroir Gin—made in California—and headed home to get ready for dinner.
On our way in, I picked a few lemons from the tree outside of our apartment and made us a couple of Southsides as some pre-dinner tipple.
Our dinner at Red Medicine on Wilshire Boulevard was one of our favorites of the whole trip.
Chef Jordan Kahn was the youngest chef to ever work at the French Laundry, and was on the original crew that opened New York’s Per Se. After that, Kahn worked at Chicago’s famed Alinea, which is definitely evident in his attention to detail and serving ware.
Kahn’s inventive, beautiful food is his homage to Vietnamese food and is often accented with edible flowers, petite picture-perfect veggies, and other intricacies that make his dishes appear like art on a plate.
We were blown away when the plate of foie gras mousse, tete de cochon, beet, kohlrabi, chicory and croissant was placed on our table, and then again when the huge bowl of dungeness crab, covered gently with a turmeric crêpe arrived, looking like it was just plucked from the sea.
By the time our last course arrived—a massive pork shoulder with caramelized black vinegar and goji berry purée—we were stuffed, but one of the real reasons we came was for dessert. Red Medicine was selected by Laura’s magazine as one of the best new restaurants in L.A. this year, and more specifically, Kahn’s coconut bavarois was given a specific mention.
The bavarois was served with coffee ice cream, condensed milk, thai basil and a peanut butter croquant. It was every bit as good was we were expecting. (We also failed to mention their creative cocktail program, including an Aviation cocktail bottled in-house, as well as their great list of Rieslings.)
Even though it was Friday night, we didn’t feel at all lame tucking into our apartment early. After all, as you can see, we had a jam-packed day, and the real fun festivities—our friend’s wedding—were set to begin the next day.
– Ryan and Laura