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Travel Guide: Culinary Experience Tour in Los Angeles

October 19, 2018

I recently spent a quick weekend in Los Angeles, and got the chance to take a food tour of local restaurants and hidden gems in downtown L.A.

A few weeks ago, I spent a quick weekend in Los Angeles with my friend Connie. On Saturday, we took a walking restaurant tour of downtown L.A. where we sampled some incredible local gems and amazing food.

Our adventure started out with our culinary guide, Penny, from Avital Tours. As our personal restaurant concierge, we spent three hours with Penny and seven other foodies and stopped for tastings in four restaurants.

The menu, overview and history of the restaurant and chef was discussed prior to and during the courses served while getting to know each other.

Our first stop was P.Y.T. for avocado toast. P.Y.T. is chef Joseph Centeno’s newest vegetarian restaurant. The menu changes frequently, and is inspired by a nearby garden. The avocado toast was like no other, and believe me I have had my share. Plus, I loved the little beet illustrations on the walls!

Next up was Guisados for mole and bistek tacos. Guisados is an authentic yet trendy Mexican restaurant known for its “mom made” braises on corn tortillas. These tacos were a true labor of love, and I have never had better – which is saying a lot, as Mexican food is typically not my preference!

After that, we went to Cole’s for a French dip. An iconic landmark saloon and restaurant dating back to 1908 that is the originator of the French Dip Sandwich. With the original lighting, penny floors and historic photos, it was like walking back in time. And of course, we had a private tour of The Varnish, the small speakeasy located in the back of the restaurant behind closed doors.

For our final stop, we went to Peddler’s Creamery for authentic bicycle-churned ice cream. We each had two scoops or artisan organic and/or non-dairy ice cream. The interior showcased the bicycle used for churning and many of us got on for a ride. I had Mexican Chocolate and Simply Cardamom ice cream. Delicious!

We met at the Grand Central Market, a landmark since 1917 that brings together the many cuisines of Los Angeles. After the tour, we walked through the emporium of restaurants and the produce, seafood and meat vendors. There is something to eat for everyone. Very urban chic! Had I lived near there, I would have never cooked a meal for myself again!

Left photo via Travel Caffeine

Along the way, we learned quite a bit about the history of downtown Los Angeles. We visited the Bradbury Building, many of the old movie theatres, and The Last Bookstore. The Bradbury Building is the biggest architectural movie star in LA and has been the backdrop of many classic movies such as Blade Runner, Lethal Weapon 4 and 500 Days of Summer. It is the oldest commercial building remaining in the city and is a treasure! It has a Victorian court, open cage elevator and gorgeous iron railings. Art Deco at its finest!

The Last Bookstore was in a massive building in a seemingly innocuous area, but was absolutely packed with people. It looked like something straight out of Harry Potter, with books crammed everywhere, forming archways and walls and suspended from ceilings!

Susan Brunstrum
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