What could be more on-brand for me than starting a monthly tradition the second month of the year? Sometimes the best ideas just don’t come in time, so here we are in February trying something new. A monthly round up. Favorite things, places, experiences. Random thoughts, reflections cobbled together into a casual post.
This has been quite a month. I started out the month unemployed, a recent grad school drop out, freelancing here and there and being a bit of a nomad. I’m ending the month a year older, and in a new city. New York City. And I start a new job on Monday. It’s been a whirlwind saying goodbye to LA all over again, even though I never really let myself get too settled back in. But this time it’s for real. Pretty rushed, very bittersweet, but I’ll be back.
I’m not one for traditions usually. Or one for birthdays for that matter. But sometimes a tradition can just be a great excuse to eat a damn good meal. Ever since college, I’ve unintentionally started a pattern of eating Thai food on my birthday. It wasn’t a conscious effort, I just realized looking back that more times than not over the past few years, one of my meals on my birthday has been at a Thai restaurant. I mean, I love Thai food and LA has great Thai restaurants, so I’m pretty much eating it every other week. But in this day and age, I say two make a tradition, and so my birthday tradition is eating Thai food.
But if two make a tradition, it’s also now a tradition that I have Petit Trois for a decadent birthday lunch. I mean, what could be more of a treat than a luxurious Boursin omelette with an overly dressed French salad? And because it’s a celebration, why not throw in some rich chocolate mousse for dessert?
what to order: the coffee rubbed ribs, the cauliflower, turmeric fried rice
Some places just feel like home. A little haven in a big city. Where you don’t have to worry about dressing up or down. Where you have a decent chance of running into someone you know, and more likely someone you wouldn’t mind running into. A place that just feels cozy and consistent. Perhaps a place housed in a yellow bungalow with a cute string light adorned patio and a killer menu of Middle Eastern and north African dishes. Where flavors, familiar and foreign (and sometimes familiarly foreign, and foreignly familiar) mingle. Where they serve you a little cup of spiced lentil soup while you try to choose what to order.
Bowery Bungalow is probably one of my favorite restaurants in all of Los Angeles. I don’t go there often enough. Hell, I used to live just a 5 minute walk away and yet I’ve only been a few times over the years. It’s the kind of place I save for special people. People I’d want to share a leisurely dinner with, or weekend brunch. It’s one of those places where as soon as I go inside, I feel like I’m a local. I’m so glad I got one more dinner in before I left. It’s comfort food at its best, and the exact comfort I needed in my farewell.
as someone who already has an unhealthy obsession with light and shadows, this was like my ideal playground
I’m high key upset that LA will keep churning out obnoxiously aesthetic coffee shops while I’m gone. But worry not, I’ll still be saving those places on Instagram and hitting them all up whenever I’m back in town because apparently that’s my only hobby.
Anyways, Laveta is, shall we say, a “destination” cafe. I mean, most establishments in LA are tailored more towards destination than discovery, but this is truly not the kind of neighborhood you’d be hanging out in. Even if you pass by (I guess maybe to get onto the 101?), you’d easily miss it. But of course I spotted this on Instagram and even in my final days in town, was able to find an excuse to stop by.
The first thing I noticed? Instagram husbands in the parking lot. Ok no, so the first thing I noticed was that they had a cute little parking lot (amazing!!!). But close second was the IG husbands getting all the angles for their blogger girlfriends posing with (or without their coffee) in golden hour light. But tbh I can’t even blame them. The lighting is beautiful. And inside, the light dances along the geometric shapes of the concrete. Honestly, their coffee could be shit and bloggers would still come here for the gram (but dw, their coffee is great). If I was staying in LA, if I lived on the east side, I would be spending many an afternoon here.
left: HLAY – the jerusalem bagel, coconut waffle, side of soft scram
bottom: ADB – biscuit sandwich, ricotta blueberry hotcake, crispy la ratte potatoes
Two of the darling foodie favorites definitely live up to their reputation. I had been wanting to go to Here’s Looking At You for a long time, but never made it (let’s be real, the thought of having to drive and park in K-town is deterrence enough). Ironically, I actually had no problem finding parking, and snagged a spot right in front of the door (goodbye luck?). The space was that cool LA loft vibes casual cool that restaurants here just do so well. The menu was an amalgam of various culturally influenced foods, but I ain’t complaining. This is my favorite food. A little this a little that. Borrowing ideas from different cuisines without making it into some bastardized “fusion” food. Also their drink menu (the drinks and the menu itself I guess), super cute.
All Day Baby was one of those new trendy spots that dared open while I was gone. And you bet I made it a point to carve out some time for a nice weekday brunch here as a part of my goodbye tour. What can I say… I love a good all day spot. This place is almost too well-branded. The perfect modern diner. Pops of color. A little retro inspo. Killer biscuits.
Creativity and social anxiety are not compatible traits. And yet it seems like so many creatives have a lot of anxiety around creativity itself. It’s like, we create to survive, it’s our happy place, we do it because it fulfills this need to take something in our minds and bring it to this world. The creative process is well within my comfort zone. It’s what comes after that is terrifying. I create and then I tuck my creation away, hiding it from the attention of others. Afraid to show it, to subject it to scrutiny, too shy to promote it, to fish for compliments. I feel like a fraud sometimes. Always.
But this year I’ve already taken a big step towards just doing it. Biting the bullet and putting myself, my work out there. It was a big step for me last year to finish a creative project (my food zine). I sat on it for over a month before sending it to print. And sat on the box of prints for weeks before finally letting it see the light of day. It was terrifying, I felt so vulnerable. I felt like I had to add a ton of disclaimers, apologizing for taking anyone’s precious time by paying attention to something I made.
But at the end of the day, I realized that no matter what, I did this for myself. I created something, finished something. Started conversations. Met new people. Took one step outside of my comfort zone. It’s hard sometimes, when your day job requires you to think big. But your personal projects have to stay small. There’s a world of possibility, it just takes that first step. I don’t think my sense of vulnerability will ever go away. But I can get used to a level of discomfort, and I hope it will motivate me to keep at it.
So almost a year ago, I grabbed an early before work weekday breakfast at Sqirl with a friend, a coworker, to catch up on life and talk about our futures. It was our second to last week at work (our last days happened to be a day apart, not planned), and we were rolling in at 11 anyways, so figured we might as well go out with a bang and treat ourselves to Sqirl.
Sitting at that bar, squeezed among the morning crowd (literally no one in this city works huh), we talked about her new job, my new grad program, our quitting experience, our bittersweet goodbyes. It was the end of an era.
Fast forward a year later. A year ago we would not have imagined the two of us would be back at Sqirl again, her at a different job from the one she had quit for. Me about to start a job after quitting grad school. It’s crazy how life throws things at you. Sometimes you’re too busy living to take a step back and reflect about how change happens in context. Who knows, maybe we’ll be back at Sqirl again next year, with more major life updates. Not that I’d mind an excuse to get some rainbow toast.
PF candles are sold at boutiques and markets all over LA and beyond, but it’s worth stopping by their dedicated shop in Echo Park.
Whenever I go somewhere new, I try to find something (portable) to bring with me to remind me of where I’m coming from, something comforting, to make a foreign place feel like home. All eating and coffee drinking aside, the tentpole event of this month is me leaving Los Angeles. This time for real. Moving across the country to see if I can fall in love with another city (before I come running back to this city I love and hate oh so much).
As with most things, I’ve jumped off the cliff head-first. Two suitcases in hand and one month of housing figured out. With so many variables, so much up in the air, and not enough room (or weight) to spare in my luggage to do anything meaningful, I decided the least I could do is bring some LA atmosphere to the chaos of New York City. And I figured the most compact way of doing that would be to bring a PF Candle Co candle. Supporting local small business and a less-obvious souvenir from this city I’ve called home.
something old & something new
btw I’m still appalled that Marugame does not exist in NYC, what’s up with that??
In my family, going to the airport is a trip in itself. Granted, we live about an hour away, sometimes more if the 405 is particularly shitty. So we usually try to get some other activities in since we’re already making the drive out anyways.
My flight was a red eye, leaving at 11:30pm PT (which, horrifically, dropped me off in New York at around 7:30am). My parents insisted on dropping me off, and getting dinner before. So I decided to keep it familiar for my last meal. A neighborhood that has been a constant source of comfort over the years: Sawtelle. And, because let’s be real, I wasn’t about to deal with long waits AND LAX on the same night, I decided on Marugame Udon. I had completely forgotten it was Resy’s Off-Menu week, where different restaurants were offering special new dishes. So in addition to my regular, we got a katsu sando. As for my night cap? Matcha sweets at Matcha Village (which also dared open without giving me a heads up).
Then it was off to LAX. Five miserable hours trying to sleep. Another hour and a half stuck in rush hour traffic. A delirious day. And then I was living in New York City. Something I had dreamed about since high school. But I felt nothing but cold and tired. But I’ll warm up. I can’t wait to get to know my new home.
Oh yeah, and the most important thing that I did before I left? Mailed in my ballot. Because even though I won’t be around for Super Tuesday, I want to make sure I participated in it. And ever since 2018, I’ve become a civic engagement cheerleader apparently, so I’ll wear my sticker proudly and all the New Yorkers can suck it because they have to wait:) Don’t forget to vote, everyone!
fangirl of democracy uniform (circa 2018)