Tender Greens

Sometimes, I feel a little protective over my very favorite spots--those restaurants that I visit as often as once a week, places where I have to get my fix.  Something inside of me gets greedy and wants to preserve their familiarity, my feelings of ownership about these gems.  But today, I'm feeling generous.  So I'm sharing the latest episode of LA on 20's web series, and this time I am visiting Tender Greens in Santa Monica with my little brother, Sam.

I find that one of the most difficult things about being on a budget is being able to eat healthfully.  Fresh produce, especially organic and sustainably farmed/caught/raised fare just costs more to procure, and sometimes it can feel out of reach for those of us looking to get the most bang for the buck. 

Which is why I really treasure Tender Greens.  Seriously, it's a special place.  Because not only have they created a model where they can offer all of those things--seasonal, ethically raised, fresh, organic food--at an affordable price point, on a large scale, but they go above and beyond by also offering a consistently excellent, inventive specials menu each and every day.  I have had a beautifully cooked piece of cod with braised hen of the woods mushrooms for $12.  I have had delicious and light pea tendril ravioli with a side of arugula salad for $12 for dinner.  Free range beef and pork meatballs in a slowly simmered, rich marinara for $4.

It's cafeteria-style dining, because that's what allows them to offer these really elevated, well-executed, healthy, delicious dishes at that price.  But it feels like a nice sit-down restaurant--they have beer and wine on tap, and seasonal and decadent desserts, including some really good vegan ones.  There are multiple locations throughout LA and in the Bay Area, San Diego, and Orange County, so wherever you find yourself in California, this affordable and healthy option isn't far away.  I really cannot say enough about how cool this place is.  So I'll let the video do the rest of the talking.  Please enjoy!

Son of a Bun

I am extremely excited to announce the launch of LA on 20 a Day’s webseries! I’ve created a series of short videos to help you get a better feel for my favorite places to eat on a budget, and to tell the story of LA’s food scene right now. And of course, to tantalize your taste buds with some moving food porn! Our inaugural episode introduces a new food truck that I am really pleased to have discovered. The concept is simple—good food that everyone can recognize, done right. No strange fusion or spiral foods on a stick. Everything you want between two perfectly buttered and toasted buns can be found at Son of a Bun. I’ll let the video do the rest of the talking! Please watch, enjoy and share!

Many thanks to my incredible production team, David and James Codeglia of Ghostlight, and my multitalented friend and producer, Hesley Harps.


QuicheTake a good look at this piece of quiche. Does it just look like quiche? Well, look again. Because this is the best quiche ever. It’s almost like eating a block of butter and half and half, with a splash of egg mixed in. But not in a gross way. It’s so creamy and rich and light and fluffy at the same time, you would really be remiss to pass up this slice of Forage's melt-in-your-mouth comfort food. Today’s happened to be broccoli, which was delicious, but I have an inkling that the filling is really a secondary concern. I would eat this quiche if it were filled with grasshoppers. Not to offend anyone if you’re into that kind of thing. We also tasted the jidori chicken, with sides of fingerling potato salad and beet and citrus slaw, and a pistachio cardamom shortbread cookie, fresh out of the oven. The shortbread cookie was heavenly, but having just consumed the aforementioned block of butter posing as a quiche, I thought it wouldn't be advisable to eat much of the shortbread. I would recommend both, but not at the same time. The chicken was good, some yelp reviewers have found it dry, but my piece was nice and juicy and flavorful. I wasn’t wild over the potato salad, though there was nothing particularly wrong with it, and the beet and citrus slaw was also nice and fresh but not a showstopper. They do have a lovely iced tea, and they’re the only place in LA that I know of that serves Blue Bottle Coffee, the Holy Grail of beans. It is truly a shame that they don’t offer Blue Bottle espresso, only BB’s signature individually hand brewed drip coffees, but a girl can hope that espresso options are on the horizon. The quiche is $6.50, and paired with a bowl of soup for $4 would make a satisfying and affordable lunch or brunch any day of the week. The protein plates with two sides are slightly steeper at $13.50, but for fresh, seasonal, farmer’s market-inspired dishes, that’s actually a pretty fair deal.