Los Angeles boasts some of the best restaurants in the United States, but the sprawling metropolis is packed with so many great restaurants from which to choose it can be hard to know where to begin. An ideal choice is to explore the areas of Brentwood and Beverly Hills. Home to amazing shopping, star gazing and restaurants galore, this section of town can easily fill a day of exploration.
Start with breakfast at Literati Café, located on Wilshire Boulevard in Brentwood. The translation of Literati means cultured or educated and you feel this way just by walking in to the place. Head to the counter where they take all food orders, then with your order number in hand wait for your food at one of the 15 or so wooden tables.
I chose the Literati omelet with spinach, tomatoes and mozzarella. Other ingredient choices could have been bacon, cheddar cheese, mushrooms, salmon, onions, guacamole or shrimp in combinations of three. It was an $11 omelet, but well worth it as it came served with thick sourdough toast and organic mixed greens with a delicious vinaigrette dressing.
Another delicious choice are the Breakfast Tacos for $8 that include three warm flour tortillas with eggs, applewood smoked bacon, cheddar cheese, pico de gallo, white cream sauce and avocados, served with mixed greens.
There are always patrons reading, working on their computers or having intense discussions by the cozy fireplace against the far wall. There is a very intellectual feel about this place. Their coffee is shade-grown and pesticide-free and their mint lemonade is homemade and delicious.
If you happen to be in the Brentwood area on a Sunday, definitely check out the Farmer’s Market. This is held on San Vicente Boulevard on a long strip of grass called Gretna Green Way. It is a wonderful place to get a snack; a lot of Mexican-inspired food is sold there, such as tamales and empanadas. It is also one of the best places in L.A. to buy fresh fruits and vegetables.
For lunch, head south down Wilshire to San Vicente Boulevard, where Nagao’s Sushi and Salad is located in the Brentwood Town Center. While there is a plethora of sushi options in this area, and in California in general, Nagao’s is the best place to go for fresh, delicious raw fish. If you are looking for a light lunch, the miso soup and a salad will suffice. I definitely suggest the octopus salad that is made with baby octopus, cucumber, burdock root, mixed greens and a soy-sauce based vinaigrette.
If you are in the mood for rolls or sashimi, the best are the moonlight rolls 1, 2 and 3. These are made with cucumber on the outside instead of seaweed and rice, and are marinated in a ponzu sauce (a clear, acidic vinegary sauce.) Your best sashimi options are Nagao’s Albacore tuna and yellowtail.
Nagao’s is very small, so come early if you want a table: there are only about 10 tables as well as 12 seats available at the sushi bar.
Afterwards, head down Wilshire Boulevard about 4 miles until you hit Rodeo Drive. Make a left on Rodeo, and you will be in the heart of some of the most famous shopping in the country. While still a touristy and expensive street it is fun to window shop or splurge at one of the high-end, name brand stores. The buildings are a sight to see as well, and the landscaping is beautiful. If anything, at least you can tell all your friends that you went shopping on Rodeo Drive.
Save the best and most expensive meal for dinner. Located in the Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel, is the swanky steakhouse Cut that is known for having Japanese Kobe Beef-a very rare and expensive beef imported from Japan. In fact, it is the only restaurant to offer it in the L.A. area. The restaurant is stark and elegant, and diners can watch the chefs prepare their food in the open kitchen as they eat.
After seated, we were presented with a variety of breadsticks: parmesean or olive oil and rosemary, and a tray of various breads: pretzel, onion focaccia, pumpernickel, or honey and oat bread. After this bread extravaganza, VIP tables would then receive two Kobe beef sliders (mini-burgers) two pieces of raw tuna tacos and two pieces of steak tartare.
For my salad course I chose the simplest one on the menu, which was the Butter lettuce salad. This was a halved avocado as the base, marinated cherry tomatoes and blue cheese, under Bibb lettuce in the shape of a rose and served with a basil and olive oil dressing.
Another interesting option is the Asparagus salad. The base is a piece of brioche toast, topped with asparagus sautéed in butter, and a poached egg. One piece of bacon and butter complete this masterpiece. If ordered, this salad will be presented to you by your server who will then break the poached egg over the asparagus and complete by pouring the butter on top.
For the entrée, we split the Porterhouse steak, which is the only steak made to order for two people. Our medium rare steak was presented on a wood platter and covered in butter and garlic. Our server carved it in front of us, and then split it onto two plates. At Cut, one must order sides separately. I suggest the three ounces of Matsutaki mushrooms cooked in butter, or the tempura-style onion rings deep fried in buttermilk and cayenne pepper.
The dessert menu at Cut is seasonal, but you cannot go wrong with the Chocolate Soufflé with powdered sugar on top. If a full dessert is too much after the decadent dinner, enjoy the complimentary dessert plate with lavender shortbread cookies, chocolate and pistachio biscotti, a caramel and peanut brittle bar, a lemon bar and a chocolate and ginger bar that is delivered to each table.
That’s a great way to end a day exploring some of the best restaurants in Brentwood and Beverly Hills. Try them all: I promise you’ll be glad you did.
What & Where:
Literati Café (12081 Wilshire Blvd, Brentwood; 310-231-7484)
Brentwood Farmer’s Market (S Gretna Green Way and San Vicente Blvd, Brentwood; 818-591–8161)
Nagao Sushi and Salad (13050 San Vicente Blvd. Suite #110, Brentwood; 310-451-7733)
Cut (at the Beverly Wilshire,A Four Seasons Hotel, 9500 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills; 310-276-8500)