Kya Bistro

The hubby and I spent a day in Laguna Beach at The Montage Hotel. We sometimes go there when we want to feel extra fancy. The views there are unlike any other. But today’s post is about a restaurant that we found in the area after we left the Montage. I had to yelp this one, and it had to have vegetarian options because my mother-in-law is vegetarian.

View from the Montage Hotel

View from the Montage Hotel

Kya Bistro is known for tapas style dishes, ranging from $2-$14 dollars. We truly loved EVERYTHING we ordered, particularly the tomato bisque, the lamb chops, the steak with the slab of butter on top. The only thing we didn’t particularly enjoy was the sweet vegetables that came with the crab cakes just because it was a little too sweet for our liking. It tasted like bread and butter pickles, but the crab cakes were just fine. All the vegetarian options were great too like the mushrooms, and the salads. All in all we spent about $85 per person, and that’s because we went HAM and ordered everything we wanted. They also have a happy hour as well. Either way, if you are ever in Laguna Beach and want a bite, KYA BISTRO IS A MUST!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Unwind, Tarzana

I used to live in Calabasas, right on the cusp of Woodland Hills, and back in the day there really weren’t many dining options for its residents. In fact, the entire Blvd. in that part of the valley was really sparse in restaurants and bars. However, in the past few years, I’ve definitely noticed an uptick in openings and I bet its exciting for the residents because leaving that part of town to drive…well anywhere really, can be a mission. During the time I lived there, even driving to Studio City was like driving to a far off land, and downtown LA? Fogettaboutit.

I am pleased to say that there is a new kid on the block…..Unwind in Tarzana. It is a restaurant and wine bar. I had the pleasure of dining there and lets just say, the wine God’s have answered our prayers. Yes, there is finally a nice, classy spot to let down your hair and unwind.

The first thing I ordered was a wine flight. Every month, they have a new wine flight, ranging approximately $20 which comes with 4 tastings. Owner Chad says he likes to put unique wines from boutique wineries on the flight menu, wines that you wouldn’t normally think to order. It allows people to expand their palette and repertoire of wine tasting.

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For appetizers, I went with the Ahi Tuna Tacos…a must! It came with two and they were both full sized tacos! Not the little rinky dinks you sometimes get. I hope they keep it that way :)

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Next up is the garlic shrimp which came with a sweet sauce of scalions, almost like a szechuan sauce.

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The third appetizer is the bone marrow! Something that’s been popping up on menus lef and right. Im happy to say they do theirs well. It comes split in two, with a side of pickled onions, grainy mustard, and mushrooms. Probably the best appetizer. If you’ve never had bone marrow that this needs to be a must!

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Heirloom tomatoes and burrata….need I say more??? This was a healthy and refreshing dish. The balsamic sauce is sweet, love the basil, I think you’ll love this dish too.

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As for the entrées , we were a bit torn on what to get. They highly recommended the garlic chicken, however I wasn’t in the mood for chicken so I went with the Parmesan Crusted Sole. Very tasty. Risotto can be hit or miss for me, but I actually really like this one. It was creamy and lemony at the same time, and it surprisingly worked REALLY well together.

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Our second entrée was the lamb chops, which must be ordered medium to rare. Don’t bother getting it if you’re the well-done type. Just sayin! ;)

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Another MUST is the chocolate cake. It takes 20 minutes to make it so don’t forget to put in your order if you don’t want to wait around at the end of the meal. Comes with a side of whipped cream and their homemade raspberry sauce. Wowzerz!

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The ambiance and décor of this place is really nice. I would recommend it for date night, or a place to catch up with friends. Hope you enjoyed this review. Let me know if you have any questions and if you do end up checking out Unwind, I’d love to hear from you, just message me in the comments section below. And if you know any valley dwellers, I’m sure they would LOVE the recommendation, so feel free to share this post with them.

XOXO,

Nellie Christine

Craftsman Bar, Santa Monica

I love checking out bars, from really fancy ones like the rooftop at the Waldorf, to the the diveyest of all places. I love how every bar has its own vibe, ambiance, specialties, etc. On this particular day, I visited The Craftsman Bar in Santa Monica. It is located on Broadway, and if you are not familiar with the area, I would say this in a decent central location, which also gets more brownie points because it happens to be right near the ocean as well. I imagine it is quite beautiful during the day time.

Upon arrival, our lovely host treated us to what is their specialty drink, the Craftsman's Favorite Whiskey Pickle Back Shot. What it is is they give you a double shot of Tullamore D.E.W Irish Whiskey, and a shot of pickle juice. They brine their own pickles for about 21 days. I'm surprised I did it as I'm not a big whiskey drinker but I have to admit, it was actually really run. I love pickles too so the juice was a perfect chaser, washed it down as if it was nothing.

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For drinks, we went with the Strawberry Fields and Angelisco Fizz. Both were tasty, I would recommend them.

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For a side dish, we went with the deviled eggs which I ordered mainly for my husband because I'm not all that into deviled eggs. They fill me up fast and don't leave room for other food but I did try it and thought they were good. I guess its kind of the perfect option if you just want a lot of protein.

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For entrees, we went with the BBQ Burger, which comes with coleslaw, cheddar, grilled onions, and BBQ Sauce. We added bacon and an extra patty for those gainz. We skipped the bun and got this on a bed of lettuce. My husband ate this, he was pleased with it.

I went with the Spicy Crispy Chicken Sandwich, which comes with lettuce, pickles and ranch. I also added the cheddar and bacon to it, skipped the bun and also got this on a bed of lettuce. I ate this and thought the chicken was really tasty. Its not crazy breaded or anything, it actually has a really thin crispy coating which tasted of smoked paprika (sorry Craftsmanbar, did I just give away a secret?). But that's my palate talking, can't help it! I liked that it has a thin coating cuz I just want the taste of he crispy without all the guilt.

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The tator tots are where its at tho! Oh my, I was chowing down even though I promised myself I was only going to have a few. We ordered them spicy which come with a dusting of their spicy pepper blend.

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The Craftsman Bar is definitely a place for locals to go and get unpretentious food and drink. What makes them special is that they serve microbrews from local breweries which I find really awesome so if you’re a fan of beer, definitely check them out for some local microbrews as well!

Wild and Free

Wild and Free is...Rotisserie chicken with a bang! Their mission is to take rotisserie chicken and make it flavorful and fun. They have 4 different unique flavor profiles: Smokey, Wild, Savory, and Original. But being the phatty that I am, I went straight for the fried chicken because...fried chicken. Some things just don't need an explanation. I tried three sides that day, the cous cous, crispy potatoes (triple fried, garlic, parmesan, herbs), and the mac and cheese. Of course my favorite was the mac and cheese. As our second entrée, we did the Caribbean bowl. I liked it but the rosemary did overpower the whole dish. That didn't matter to me because I like the flavor of rosemary, but just a warning to those who don't care for rosemary. Check out all the pictures below and if you've ever been, let me know what is your favorite dish at Wild and Free!

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Xoxo,

Nellie Christine

The Sit Down, Los Angeles

This next place is what I recommend for a really romantic date night spot. They have the cutest outdoor patio equipped with charming tables, tea lights, and they were even showing a black and white movie in the background. It was the perfect setting! And, the food is actually really good too! The margherita pizza, the branzino, the burrata, the blood orange salad, tiramisu, and the bambolini were my favorite....so basically everything? I didn’t try the steak but if I had it would probably be on this list. Honestly you really can’t go wrong with anything. I would order the dishes I mentioned for the second time around. This foodecall is a must!! Especially during this warm weather because you have to sit on the patio. Reservations on a Friday and Saturday are necessary. And ready for the good news? They’re BYOB. You’re welcome! 

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I know I said that this would make a romantic date night spot, but that doesn't mean it's not appropriate for other occasions as well. This would also make for a cute spot to go with friends if you want something more low-key and quiet, or with family members.

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These bad boy bombolinis were to die for and a must order. Even comes with a hot bowl of Nutella. Actually the tiramisu was pretty bomb too but I love anything with a donutty texture so this is my top dessert pick. My husband's top pick was the tiramisu so you can't go wrong with either one...or both!

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The Sugar Factory, Las Vegas

The Sugar Factory! What can I say, this place was dope AF! I've seriously never been anywhere like it. They're known for their specialty shakes and oh-so-sugary cocktails. It says on the wall, it's the "most instagrammed restaurant" and I can see why. First of all, their drinks are absolutely wild!!  Secondly, it has been visited by so many celebs...Kim and Kylie, JLo, Drake, you know, just some B-listers, no big deal.

There are a lot of drinks to choose from, but if you go with a goblet, I recommend the spicy pineapple because the drink itself was really tasty, and the gummies inside are ACTUALLY SPICY!! I actually ended up fishing out all the gummies and asked for a to-go box so that I can continue to enjoy them. Just keepin in real.

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Besides sugary drinks and insane smoothies and desserts, they actually have food that you can load up on before the sugar haul. Because we had literally just had dinner when we came here, we tried to go "lite" and ordered to salad. How very healthy of me.

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But seriously, this place is worth checking out if you're an instagram whore like me. Oh, and if you happen to get like at least 10 friends to go, I would just order the King Kong....the most epic dessert you will ever eat in your life!!

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The Crabby Crab, Sherman Oaks

The Crabby Crab is the only spot I can think of in the valley that offers a crustacean-centric menu like this one. The concept is fairly simple, first you pick your seafood. They offer a wide selection like 3 kinds of crab, lobster, shrimp, mussels, and crawfish.

Next, you pick how you want to Sauce 'Em. The three choices are as follows: garlic butter, lemon pepper, and "the crabby way" house cajun mix.  We went with the crabby way and that is THE way to go. This one was spicy and garlicky as hell, but in a VERY GOOD WAY.

Maybe it was spicy because the third step is to Spice 'Em, and we went for the hottest spice level possible...The OMG! 

So, the food came out in these bags, which were then simply poured straight onto our table and meant to be eaten just like that without plates. Don't worry, there was a clean paper table covering to hold all the goodness, 

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I love love loved the taste of the sauce. And even better was just the really interactive and messy experience that it was. I think this would make for a really fun family experience.

They have other menu items for any fussy eaters, as well as a really awesome happy hour with fun drinks. 

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Since this was my first opportunity to try crawfish, I went for it. But I kind of wish I had a crawfish expert sitting next to me because we were both a little confused on how to eat it. There definitely is more work involved. But the shrimp, and the Lobster were pretty much good to go. 

As I mentioned, I would recommend this place for a family outing, and NOT for date night because it is loaded with garlic so you wanna go and enjoy. Go with your family, don't try to work around the garlic. Just trust me on that one.

Would you do the OMG spice level?! Check them out for yourself and let me know your thoughts!

Xoxo,

Nellie Christine

 

 

Jimmy's Kouzina, Manhattan Beach

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For authentic Greek food, you must try Jimmy's Kouzina. Brother and sister Andrew and Natalie, along with their mom Julie run this restaurant, named after their late father Jimmy. I almost teared up after hearing about their story. Their dedication to serve day in and day out, since they were children is quite remarkable.

Speaking of remarkable, their food was tasty and clearly made with love. No cutting corners. 

We started off with the Saganaki, which is imported Greek cheese made from 100% sheep's milk, served flambé at tableside with their fresh-baked bread rolls. This was quite a show and also very tasty. Forget counting your calories and order this. 

Next, we wanted something healthy so we ordered the Traditional Horiatiki Salata. It sounded authentic and had a box around it on the menu which told me this is important, so had to get it. Right? Plus it gave us the opportunity to try their dolmades without having to order that as a separate dish. They don't call me smarty pants for nothing.

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Next, my friend Stephanie, also the birthday girl, wanted Shrimp, (and birthday girls should always get what they want) so we ordered the sizzling shrimp Kritikos. This dish consisted of 6 shrimp sautéed with Kalamata Greek olives, tomatoes, and garlic, baked in the oven with feta cheese sprinkled on top. This is the dish I thought of when I said they don't cut corners. I thought it was really tasty and done well. Oh, and birthday girl liked it too.

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The moussaka was an interesting dish I saw on their page before going and I had to try it because I happen to find bechamel sauce so appealing. Also, I usually always order moussaka if its on the menu. I can tell that if you like moussaka, you will like this. One thing you might not be used to is what I think to be nutmeg in the beef and the bechamel sauce. It's not bad, but it's not a spice I grew up eating so I can only take it in small quantities.

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The lamb chops were tasty and seasoned well. I would order this again.

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The pizza had an interesting Greek twist to it, instead of tomato sauce they use olive oil. My friend ordered the Venice pizza and I just knew that I would regret having the carbs if it didn't have pepperoni and tomato sauce so I quickly at the last minute requested they make an exception, which they did thank god!

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Thank you for the wonderful evening Jimmy's Kouzina!!

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