The Upper West: Highlighting Santa Monica’s Hidden Neighborhood

Santa Monica is saturated with beachside hotspots, but venture further inland to the area’s lesser-known district along Pico to find this gem of a spot. A worldly menu and bustling ambiance make The Upper West a place for the palate to explore and the mind to relax and be itself. The place is trendy enough for any hip LA Foodie to have room to play, but keeps it real for the rest of us seeking a truly satisfying dining experience.

Executive Chef Nicholas Shipp is a gregarious gentleman with fascinating taste. While The Upper West builds its base on upscale American fare, its repertoire expands through Asia, India, Italy and Latin America. Shipp doesn’t try to do too much with each dish though; every item stands out with its own distinct taste, forming a menu that appeals to curious palates and traditionalists alike.

Plan Check Launches
Guest Chef Series

This September-December, renowned burger spot Plan Check Kitchen + Bar launches Comfort Masters, a lineup of exclusive pop-up dining events created by owner/founder Terry Heller and longtime travel and food tastemaker Andy Wang. Also made in collaboration with mobile app and web-based dining guide Table8, the Comfort Masters series will feature meals by acclaimed chefs and up-and-comers alike.

Featured chefs include Michelin-starred Chris Anderson [SO*PA, Palm Springs], James Beard Award-Winner Tory Miller [L’Etoile, Madison, WI], Jamie DeRosa [Izzy’s Fish & Oyster, Miami], ‘The Paleo Chef’ Mary Shenouda, Sheridan Su [Flock & Fowl, Las Vegas] and many others.

Faith and Flower:
Living Up to its Hype?

Faith and Flower is a leader of the pack when it comes to LA’s ‘most talked-about’ dining spots. Hip, stylish and in the heart of Downtown, Faith and Flower knows its market and puts on a good show for those looking to post about the newest eatery they’ve checked off their list. When it comes to the actual dining experience, however, Faith and Flower has an unfairly high bar set before it and, unfortunately, that bar wasn’t met.

Faith and Flower falls into LA’s morass of trendy spots that make a big deal out of average food. The menu itself shies from consistency and identity, and overall the food lacked ‘wow’ for a place so talked-about. There’s a few highlights, like their eggs benedict pizza and farm-fresh salads, but all-in-all nothing that lives up to their elevated atmosphere and price point.

Tom’s Urban: Designed with
the LA Live Crowd in Mind

Tom’s Urban goes hand-in-hand with LA Live’s flux of excitement. An enormous two-story dining room with 75+ TVs is geared to both accommodate and entertain the waves that come before and after the plethora of sporting events, concerts and other huge draws that highlight DTLA’s entertainment scene.

An equally massive menu, as complex as the schedules of the Staples Center, Microsoft Theater at Convention Center combined, caters to virtually every palate out there. And while it may not be a destination restaurant on its own, Tom’s Urban is ‘Just LA enough’ to stand out from its surroundings.

Comfort food provides the base for Tom’s Urban’s labyrinth selection, which puts sports bar fare in a new light with everything from burgers and ribs to pizzas and street tacos. The cocktail list is just as diverse and drinks come out in portions as far as the food. Just try not to let all the people watching distract you from whatever may be on the table.

Elephant Bar Revamps
Brunch Menu

Elephant Bar, a casual chain that covers six states across the West Coast and Midwest, has redesigned its brunch menu to put an interesting twist on morning favorites. Additions such as gooey butter cake French toast, sunrise breakfast tostadas and Philly cheese steak frittata do just that, integrating fun flavors from the restaurant’s lunch, dinner and dessert menus.

Elephant Bar has expanded its drink menu to the brunch side as well. Bloody Marys with bacon and cheese, frozen peach bellinis and classic mimosas highlight a diverse cocktail selection. Brunch patrons are also welcome to enjoy Elephant Bar’s extensive lunch menu, which features more American fare with a global twist, plus a lengthy cocktail list.

LA Food & Wine Festival

The 6th annual LA Food & Wine Festival took place August 25 - 28. Festivities spanned from Santa Monica to DTLA, featuring culinary celebrities such as Emeril Lagasse, Robert Irvine and Rick Bayless. Be on the lookout for extended post-event coverage in SCFNBPro’s October issue.