Since our road trip down south over Christmas, I’ve officially been bitten by the road trip travel bug. It’s so exhilarating to drive through different landscapes of the country, get acquainted with numerous cities, and track down amazing foods, all in a matter of days. You gather so many impressions and memories, which really makes it seem like you’ve had a longer vacation than you actually did. Now that I’m familiar with the whole road trip thing, spending an entire vacation in just one city seems so tame. I highly encourage you to try it!
An opportunity recently presented itself for Rene and I to travel to the west coast. I had a handful of personal days left for this work year so we decided to go for it. We flew to Los Angeles, rented a car, drove up the California 1, stopped in San Francisco, went to Yosemite, and drove back to LA – phew! I know it sounds like an awful lot of driving for six days’ vacation but it was actually okay, and very relaxing, too. I’m so excited to share the sights and tastes of this trip with you – starting with LA.
Beautiful Santa Monica Beach
Superba Food and Bread is a bakery/cafe/restaurant in Venice Beach, where Rene and I enjoyed dinner during our stay in LA. I may not be too familiar [yet] with the California lifestyle, but I can tell you that this place embodies whatever it is well. Their restaurant combines natural elements – like wood and ample sunshine from floor-to-ceiling windows – with pops of bright color and graphic art, to create a welcoming, beautiful, airy space. Superba’s menu changes seasonally and features tons of gorgeous local produce. Most of the menu items are meant to be shared.
The meal started with a divine, freshly baked baguette. Then, the octopus salad – a melange of frisee, celery greens and radicchio with young potatoes and meaty bites of octopus in a Dijon vinaigrette – which we loved. Bitter greens are a great, refreshing start to a warm weather meal.
Sourdough toast with zingy muhammara, creamy burrata and pickled radish.
Smokey marinated and wood-grilled rainbow carrots with crispy quinoa – the perfect example of how to turn a ubiquitous vegetable into something exciting and desirable.
House-made papardelle with lamb-prosciutto bolognese and lots of Parm. Ah-mazing.
Restaurant interior (Photo from Superba’s Instagram page)
Street art near Venice Beach
Panoramic view from Santa Monica Pier
Once we had solidified the logistics of our travels, literally, my next thought was, We’re gonna have breakfast at Sqirl! I first learned about this LA breakfast paradise (like many others, surely) via this 2014 Bon Appetit article. Sqirl is famous for its near-burnt brioche toast smothered in berry jam (both house-made), porridge, seasonal veggie-packed breakfast rice bowls, baked goods, and a buzzy hipster scene; there’s a line out the door at all times. How it works is, you place your order at the counter, get a number, and a server brings over your food in a few minutes. This allows the restaurant – which was a lot small than I had imagined – to get people in and out quickly.
We started with a warm strawberry-oat scone with plenty of jam and butter. I also had a cafe au lait with creamy house-made almond milk.
Asparagus-arugula quiche with gem lettuce salad.
Burnt brioche stuffed French toast with creme fraiche and strawberry-thyme jam.
Overall, I really liked Sqirl and it lived up to my expectations. It has a distinctly Californian vibe, and their simple yet satisfying fare is exactly the kind of food I’d make myself. If you ever make it out there, be sure to pick up a jar of jam to take home – it will revolutionize your weekend toast game.
Have you ever visited LA? What were your favorite places there?