10 tips for getting the most out of your weekend at The Taste

For the past three years, Mike and I have attended The Taste — a weekend long food festival put on by the LA Times. This year we attended all four of the weekend events to collect the best bites of The Taste 2017.

But patterns started to really emerge this year (that we suspected of being true last year) and we realized, we’ve got a bit of insight into how to get the most out of your weekend pass to The Taste…

1. Show up early

You want to be in line before the event starts. That way you’re one of the first groups of people to enter the event, and the food will be all laid out and plentiful, and the lines will be shorter for a little while. But if you go during the day, bring a bottle of water with you in case it’s hot and sunny (as it usually is in LA).

Look at all those glorious booths ready for us to conquer!!!

2. Go with a group, or at least one other person

That way one of you can stand in a longer line while your partner fetches food from nearby booths with shorter lines. Then you can eat while you wait. If you have more than one friend, one can even hold down a shady spot at a table, while others go fetch.

3. Lines don’t mean anything

All that advice you hear about judging a food vendor by the length of the line? Ignore that here. Because at The Taste, crowd size means nothing. We’ve seen ridiculous lines for bites that were just okay, while the best thing we’d put in our mouth the entire weekend had a just a few visitors. So don’t jump in a long line just because you think that it indicates the best bite at the festival. Along the same vein…

This was a thousand times better at The Taste than it was at the actual restaurant!

4. Bad bites don’t = bad restaurants/vice versa

Along the same vein as line length, there’s little correlation between how good the restaurant is at The Taste and how good they are in real life. Some of our very favorite restaurants in LA have offered up some of our least favorite bites at The Taste. And some of our least favorite restaurants have absolutely blown our minds. And sometimes the bites at The Taste are even better than the actual real version of the dish at a restaurant.

Do as I do, and start with dessert! (Creme brulee donut from Astro Doughnuts and Fried Chicken)

5. Don’t wait to eat dessert

If you’re trying to have your sweets after your savouries, DON’T! Mix it up and grab that scoop of ice cream between your Aqui es Texcoco lamb taco and that ceviche from Ricardo Zarate, because that ice cream may run out before the event is over. (It’s happened to me with Jeni‘s this year and Bulgarini Gelato every year!) In fact, Mike and I recommend training this throughout the year by alternating back and forth between fish and dessert courses in your daily life.

Speaking of ice cream…

6. Go during the day if you like sweets and ceviche

While we love going to the evening events — the lights are twinkling and the air is cool(er) — but we find that the best treats are served during the day! Ice cream, cookies, donuts, and pancakes galore! (These are the bites I sorely miss at night.)

It’s also a ceviche-lovers paradise with fresh bites of tuna and halibut, squid and octopus around every corner.

7. Be disciplined about stomach space

Save stomach space by eating less filler: Don’t eat the all bread. Don’t eat the rice on the side. Once you get the idea of a taste of something, just stop eating it.

Don’t worry, if you feel like you missed out, you can always follow this advice…

8. If you really really really love something, have it more than once

My only regrets of The Taste were not having my favorite things twice (or maybe more). Whether it was because of the lack of stomach space or because I wasn’t thinking straight, I do still remember those glorious bites that I only got one shot at.

Oh, savory donut from Restauration Long Beach, why didn’t I go back for you!?

9. In case of too much spice

Make a note of your nearest Stella station in case you eat something too spicy. In case of no nearby beer, many of the bartenders and wine-slingers are ready and happy to help you out with something special — just run up to them in a blind panic and manage to explain that you’re having a “too much spice” emergency. (This might be based on several real experiences.)

Cheers from our last night at The Taste 2017.

10. Our biggest piece of advice

Ultimately our best advice is: Don’t have any strategy and just eat everything! You can’t go wrong, and you’ll always have a blast.

What are your insider tips for getting the most out of The Taste?

Where to find the best waffles in Los Angeles

If you know me, you know one of my favorite things in this world is waffles. I love them oh-so-much, that I think everything would taste better if it were waffled… or served on top of a waffle… or sandwiched between two waffles… or includes a character who’s also obsessed with waffles.

Just ask Mike, nothing ruins my day more than a bad waffle. Seriously, there will be tears and a sad George Michael/Charlie Brown walk home afterwards.

Therefore, much like our Deeply Important Avocado Toast Quest, is our Search to Quench Megan’s Ever-Present Waffle Craving.

So here are our top places to go when I wake up and desperately need a waffle in LA…

Sweet Chick

Living right down the street from Sweet Chick place has been a blessing and a curse. Every single day I have to fight the urge to have breakfast, lunch, AND dinner here because they’ve combined my three favorite things: waffles, fried chicken, and cherries. (Yes, they have a dried cherry waffle.) But they also have a TON of different waffle flavors. You must go (and bring me with you)!

The Waffle — Hollywood

No big surprise here — an entire menu of waffles in any style. AND, if you can’t decided which one to get, you can order half orders of two different kinds!

Bru’s Wiffle — Santa Monica & Beverly Hills

One of my life’s goal is to order every waffle on the menu at Bru’s Wiffle. Only then will I be able to die happy.

Hayden — Culver City

Hayden‘s cripsy buckwheat waffles are absolute PERFECTION! You know a waffle is amazing when you take one home, eat it cold and plain and love it as much as you did when it was slathered with yumminess. Hayden has several different waffle flavor pairings to choose from. I’m obsessed with their white-miso butter + stone fruit waffle — hell, I’d love their white-miso butter on any kind of waffle. They also have a great savory waffle with prosciutto di parma, honey butter, and a soft egg.

Shaky Alibi — Fairfax District

If you’re a fan of the “liege waffle” style, then you’re going to flip over Shaky Alibi. These waffles are dense and chewy on the inside, lightly caramelized and crunchy on the outside, and there’s many ways to eat them. My favorite is the one covered in berries, but The Elvis (with peanut butter, crumbled smoked bacon, bananas, and a drizzle of honey) is great too!

Marcel Waffles — Food truck

I once walked a Very Long Distance in the blazing Santa Monica sun, just to find the Marcel Waffles food truck to cheer me up on a stupendously bad day. It worked.

More than Waffles — Encino

Yes, there’s more than waffles at More than Waffles… but why eat anything else? The waffles are perfect! (Fun fact: It’s right down the street from my dentist. So this is how Mike bribes me to get me to actually go to the dentist.)

Fratelli Cafe — Fairfax District

Our favorite neighborhood breakfast place is Fratelli Cafe, and they just happen to make a kick-ass waffle in four different combos: basic, banana and Nutella, berry, and savory (topped with two eggs).

Home Restaurant — Silverlake & Los Feliz

Home has a solid-ass good waffle. Especially when you’re hung over. (Might be speaking from experience.)

Animal — Fairfax Distric

For something a little different, Animal makes a delicious cornmeal waffle.

What are YOUR favorite spots to get waffles in LA?

Heaven on Earth exists, and it’s called The Taste

Our very first time at The Taste in 2015.

It was probably somewhere around hour two of our second night at last year’s The Taste event, when I realized “oh my god this exactly my version of heaven.” It was a perfect crisp Los Angeles evening under the glittering strands of lights that criss-cross the fake city streets of Paramounts‘ backlot…

We were slightly buzzed from free whiskey drinks, and more than halfway to painfully full from all the samples from the best of LA’s food scene. I hadn’t felt like that since, well, our first time at The Taste together — as a couple just falling in love — with oxytocin coursing through our veins and butterflies and food joyfully mixing in our stomachs. Everywhere we looked there were booths full of delicious food and drinks, and the “streets” were filled with awesome people who were also having the time of their lives…

We bumped into Phil Rosenthal and his family in a line for epic BBQ, we caught up with fellow foodies we recognized from Instagram…

…and bonded with total strangers about our favorite bites. For three evenings a year in Los Angeles, everything feels right with the world, and we’re never more happy than when we’re at The Taste.

And we can’t wait to go back to heaven on Earth this Labor Day weekend. Wanna join us?

September 1 – 3, the LA Times Food staff and acclaimed chefs and bartenders from all over Southern California are joining forces for five individual events over three days. Tickets are ON SALE NOW: latimes.com/taste

Go on and get your tickets to heaven on Earth, and if you see us walking around be sure to say “hi!”

Eatlanta: These are the best things to eat in Atlanta

It’s no secret that Atlanta is home to some really amazing food. We lived here for a month, ate at restaurants for almost every meal, and found some great places to eat. But there were just certain bites that we kept coming back to you — certain dishes that you can ONLY get in Atlanta. Here are our suggestions for the best things to eat in Atlanta. (And then I want to know about yours!)
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The best date restaurants in Los Angeles (that even pickiest of eaters will love)

Photos from Mud Hen, Petit Trois, and Pizzeria Mozza -- all on this list and more!
Photos from Mud Hen, Petit Trois, and Pizzeria Mozza — all on this list and more!

Recently, a friend texted me:

I need a few good restaurants for a date in Los Angeles, for $50-$100 for two people, that also have a good vibe.

And, though he just asked for just a few, I sent him my top 8 choices for LA restaurants that, if you order right, give you a lot of bang for your buck — culinarily, aesthetically, or experientially. And they’d make for great date places. (Most of these places are in the Hollywood area, because that’s where we’re based.)

One more thing… the friend that texted me is extremely picky, so I catered a bit to his tastes. Which means that these restaurants are great choices if you don’t really know your date’s food tastes. There’s nothing TOO crazy on this list, but even the most “challenging options” have at least one or two recognizable things on their menu. And, if all else fails, the places themselves are all worth the trip…

1. Mardi

The best restaurant for a date in LA that NO ONE has heard about. Seriously, why isn’t this place more popular? It’s a hidden gem, with a gorgeously decorated outdoor space, and incredible food. Whether it’s for brunch or dinner, Mardi is sure to impress. And, added super-perfect date night bonus: If you get cold, you can wrap yourself up in one of their provided blankets and snuggle up together!

2. La Assiette on Melrose

I feel like this place is made for a fun and easy date night. The restaurant is dark and romantic, and the menu is pretty much only steak and fries. They also do this cool thing where they give you “seconds.” While one order of “Steak Frites” — steak + fries + side salad — is $27, if you split it (and, based on my experience you totally don’t need two orders) they add an extra $10. Which is still super-affordable for steak and fries for two! Finish that dinner up with a walk to the 31 Flavors down the street, and you just won date night.

3. Pizzaria Mozza on Highland

This is part of the “Mozzaplex” which consists of three restaurants so good, that Jonathan Gold included them ALL on his list of the best restaurants in LA. Pizzaria Mozza is the affordable one, but that doesn’t mean it’s less delicious! HOLY SHIT, the pizza is fantastic. Get a pizza and a 250 ml carafe of wine — which is basically a third of a bottle — for $35. (FYI: The wine list may freak you out, but if you want a red, according to this post, you should get the La Mozza Morellino di Scansano “I Perazzi.”)

4. Estrella on Sunset

I’m embarrassed to admit how many times I’ve been to this place, both for brunch and lunches that kind of turned into early dinners, because we end up ordering EVERYTHING on the menu. (I highly highly recommend going for brunch, because there’s the king of all brunch orders: The Rolling Stone. But that’s a post for another day.) There’s also that peanut butter and banana toast that kills me. No wait! The mac n cheese! Gah! No matter when you go, the place has got an amazing vibe, as well as an outdoor fireplace, ooh, and succulents everywhere. If you go for brunch, you can split 3 or 4 things plus a french press coffee to share for $50.

6. Mercado on Cahuenga and on 3rd st

I wish this place had a punch ticket for every visit, I’d have a free meal, or at least a free blood orange margarita, by now! It’s what I call a “hipster mexican” restaurant, but don’t hold that against it! It’s really fucking delicious. I recommend their guacamole, enchiladas, and carne asada — all of those are easily split-able.

5. Jon & Vinny on Fairfax

Fantastic #meatballs at #jon&vinnys Welcome to the neighborhood!

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This is what became of Damiano’s. Go for brunch, lunch, or dinner — no matter when, the menu is insanely good. Great pizza, great pasta, great salads, great desserts, great EVERYTHING. It’s just a super-solid little joint that’s sure to please everyone.

6. Petit Trois on Highland

It’s a TINY French place, in the same strip mall with a dry cleaner and a Yum Yum donuts. It’s the smaller, cheaper version of one of the fanciest French places in town (right next door under the “Raffalo’s pizza” sign). Petit Trois doesn’t take reservations, and, since the place is so small, the waits can be epic. Either pop in for an early dinner, or put your name in, then go down the street for a drink at Mud Hen while you wait. Even though it’s suuuuper French — escargot et al — their “Big Mec” has been voted the best burger in LA by, like, everyone — including me. Split a burger, fries, and some wine, while you squeeze yourself, side by side, at their counter. It’s pretty cramped, but very romantic.

Okay, fellow Angelenos… what are YOUR favorite restaurants that give you a lot of vibey bang for your buck?

Awesome AND comfortable dog friendly restaurants in LA

dog-friendly-restaurants-in-la

We got a dog! That’s our girl Pita up there. (Of course she has a food-themed name.) That means we’re now constantly on the lookout for dog friendly restaurants in Los Angeles. Fortunately we just happen to live in a hotbed of wonderful restaurants that allow dogs. Here are our favorite places to dine with our pup that aren’t just a squished collection of chairs and tiny tables, in direct sunlight, outside of the actual restaurant.

Fratelli Cafe — Melrose

Coffee time with #Peezu, who got free treats for being such a good beast. 🙂 #fratellicafe #coffee #dogfriendly

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Fratelli is almost entirely outdoor seating, and so dog-friendly that they have organic dog treats and even a sweet restaurant dog that’s usually hanging out.

Local — Silverlake

This place is entirely outside, but entirely covered and massively dog-friendly.

Larchmont Bungalow — Larchmont

This place has MOSTLY outdoor seating. So you can definitely find a table for you and Fido.

Sycamore Kitchen — La Brea


With mostly outdoor seating, and Jonathan Gold list-worthy eats, Sycamore Kitchen is a dog and food-lover’s dream.

The Fat Dog — Fairfax & North Hollywood

French fries with this fat dog at #FatDog.

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So dog-friendly, dog is even in their name! But bring some sun screen, because the shady spots will probably be taken.

Swingers Diner — Beverly Blvd

There’s copious amounts of outdoor tables, and copious amounts of dogs actually sitting on the chairs at those outdoor tables.

Sandbox — Melrose

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They have a HUGE covered outdoor space (that also has skeeball and Giant Jenga). They’ll also bring you water for your pup.

Wirsthaus — La Brea


You and your dog are welcome to enjoy Wirsthaus’ outdoor “Biergarten.” Extra points for taking a photo of you and your mutt like the one above!

Estrella — Sunset Blvd

This is probably the fanciest place on the list to bring your dog. Estrella’s outside patio wraps around the whole restaurant, is amazingly decorated, and well-behaved dog-friendly.

Home Restaurant — Los Feliz & Silver Lake

Look at the canines on that canine! HOMEdog of the day BUDDY loves HOME! #patiopooches #patiodining #dogfriendly la

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The patios at BOTH Home Restaurants are freaking massive with some shady spots, so you’re sure to find a comfortable place to sit. Plus, from the looks of Home’s Instagram account, there are yummy treats for all!

What are your favorite dog friendly restaurants in LA?

Dark Chocolate Hobnobs: My favorite cookies just arrived from the UK!

I’m generally in love with all things British, so it isn’t surprising when my British friends introduced me to my favorite cookie of all time… which comes from England.

Meet, McVities Dark Chocolate Hobnobs

mcvities-dark-chocolate-hob-nobs

After I had one on our trip to Maine, I immediately went online to see where I could get some more of these shipped to me ASAP. And I found them on Amazon, AND in dark chocolate (the one I tried was milk chocolate, which is not as good as dark choco IMHO). Even the description was adorably British: Continue reading “Dark Chocolate Hobnobs: My favorite cookies just arrived from the UK!”

The best avocado toast in LA (aka. “Our Deeply Important Avocado Toast Quest”)

the-best-avocado-toast-in-la-treatsandgeeks

Like many Californians, we love us some avocados. And Mike and I are constantly on the hunt for the best avocado toast in LA. Or as we call it, “Our Deeply Important Avocado Toast Quest.” So far, here are our top picks for avocado toasts, the places that were “close but not the best,” and the places we still have on our list to try…

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