11550 Mexico, D.F.
Dining date: 8/12/17
Quintonil opened in 2012 and quickly established itself on the world stage. The restaurant is currently ranked 22nd in the world, two spots behind fellow Mexico City restaurant Pujol. Chef Jorge Vallejo worked for three years at Pujol under chef Enrique Olvera before opening this restaurant. He also spent a short period of time working at Noma in what has been a relatively brief, but spectacular, career for the 35-year-old chef.
Our party of two was able to squeeze in for a weekend lunch reservation. An 11-course tasting menu is available for both lunch and dinner ($1950 MXN). Given it was lunchtime and we had a large dinner at Pujol the previous night, we opted for building our own a la carte meal.
2100 Sunset Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90026
Dining date: 9/1/17
Cosa Buona is one of the most talked about restaurants openings in LA this summer. The restaurant is from Zach Pollack, who first opened Sotto with co-chef Steve Samson then opened Alimento. Cosa Buona is the most casual and simple of his restaurants so far, meant to be a neighborhood pizza joint. In fact, the restaurant replaces a similarly-named pizza joint (Pizza Buona) which had been at this location for over 50 years.
The restaurant takes reservations for parties of four or more; otherwise, it’s walk-in only. Our party of two came early on a Friday to avoid waiting for a table.
11570 México, D.F.
Dining date: 8/11/17
On my first trip to Mexico City, Pujol was high atop my desired restaurants to try. Reservations fill up well in advance, but I was able to get an early dinner reservation on a Friday that I would be there (OpenTable can be your friend with some persistence).
Pujol chef Enrique Olvera is the most internationally acclaimed chef from Mexico City. The chef opened Cosme in New York at the end of 2014, which was a hit from the beginning, earning the 40th spot on the top 50 restaurants in the world. Pujol, generally regarded as one of the top fine dining establishments in Mexico, is ranked #20 in the world.
The restaurant recently moved from its original location into a modern, new property in March – it ‘s really a beautiful space. I don’t know what the original location looked like, but I felt like I could’ve been in LA or NYC here – virtually all of the diners were speaking English and the music was loud American hits.
1104 Wilshire Blvd
Santa Monica, CA 90401
Dining date: 8/5/17
It’s been a couple of years since I last dined at Melisse. One of the few real fine dining establishments left in the city, the restaurant is still going strong 18 years in. To celebrate their anniversary, the restaurant was running a promotional 4-course anniversary menu for $99 (it felt more like 7 courses). There were a couple of options for each course, giving us the ability to try a number of different menu offerings.
11301 W Olympic Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90064
Dining date: 8/4/17
Kiriko has been a mainstay on the corner of Olympic and Sawtelle for almost two decades. I’ve been to the restaurant once many years ago for lunch. I don’t really remember anything from that visit, but came back for a sushi-focused dinner. We did a sushi omakase which priced out to be about $80 per diner before tax/tip/drinks.
Mugaritz + Saam
SAAM at The Bazaar
465 S La Cienega Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90048
Dining date: 7/21/17
It’s been over 4 years since I dined at the Saam Room, the tasting menu-only private room in the back of The Bazaar by Jose Andres. I’ve appreciated the experimental nature of the restaurant – it never fails to provide something new, exciting, and different with a flair for the whimsical. Andres’ organization recently announced that the Saam Room was closing to re-conceptualize. To mark the occasion and provide a sort of farewell, the restaurant hosted a two-night dinner with chef Andoni Luis Aduriz of Mugaritz. Mugaritz, a well-known restaurant in Spain, currently holds two Michelin stars and is ranked the ninth best restaurant in the world. Aitor Zabala, who will be chef of Somni when it takes the place of the Saam Room, teamed up on the collaboration. The menu was about 20 courses ($250), with Aduriz and Zabala more of less alternating on each course.