TOP’s Guide to L.A.’s Best Breakfast Spots

Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day. Even if my day starts at 4 p.m. after a long night out. And lucky for me, L.A. has plenty of great breakfast spots that offer up everything from hotcakes to tofu hash. I’d be happy to start my day at any one of these restaurants (and I frequently do).

Nickel Diner

I always start off with a Ball and a Biscuit before digging in to the Sunny Side Cup. It’s baked eggs on polenta with spinach, garlic, and parm. And it’s amazing. Oh. And they’re kind of famous for their homemade pop tarts and maple glazed bacon donuts. I mean…

best breakfast spots


Eating here makes me feel like I’m in NYC, and I love NYC.  Service is attentive, and the brunch items are imaginative enough without being alienating. Try the duck hash or steak and eggs, which is served with a spinach and mushroom herb soft scramble.


Nick’s Cafe

Eat here for the ultimate greasy spoon experience. And for their “Real Food, Real People, Real Diner” approach to breakfast. Their ham and eggs are some of the best in town, and their pancakes taste just like Mom’s.


Brite Spot

I respect any establishment that flat irons its bacon.  And the psychedelic cupcakes are worth the trip alone. Who says you can’t have dessert for breakfast? There are plenty of winning choices on the menu, including seven different omelets, sloppy tofu hash, and oh yeah, a breakfast burger.


The Country Kitchen

Stopping at the Country Kitchen en route to the beach has become a ritual.  Happiness is a warm breakfast burrito. And this Malibu beach shack serves them all. day. long.


Photo via Yelp


Let Them Eat Soup

I love a good soup bowl. Don’t you? Like this vintage double-handled number by Harlequin, which was made especially for yummy creamed soups.

soup bowl

Or this super chic one by the fabulous Miss Spade. Is there anything this woman can’t make fabulous? (Here’s a hint: no!)


I even love soup bowls made out of bread. Gotta love Fisherman’s Wharf and all those gallons of fresh clam chowder…


But what I really love about soup bowls is what goes inside them. During L.A.’s short little fling with rain last weekend (literally the first we’ve seen in months), all I could think about was soup. More specifically, this white bean vegetable soup with homemade bread crumbs. It’s hearty, and healthy, and heavenly on a cold winter night.

And no matter what kind of bowl you serve it in, it’s absolutely delicious.

White Bean Vegetable Soup with Bread Crumbs


1 lb. white beans, soaked overnight or good quality canned
2 each carrots, diced
2 each celery, diced
1 can- 28 oz. tomatoes
1 onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
4 leaves kale, de-stemmed and torn
thyme, rosemary, or sage, some for soup and some for bread crumbs
2 bay leaves
1 cup bread to make bread crumbs
olive oil

Add water, bay leaves, herbs and beans in a saucepan and simmer.  Saute onions, celery, carrots, garlic, and kale until golden brown. Add vegetable mixture to beans and continue cooking.

Puree bread slices in food processor until crumbs form.  Lay out on 1/2 sheet with parchment paper and bake on low at 300 degrees for about 15 minutes, or until golden brown.  Cool and then mix with chopped herbs and olive oil and salt.  Garnish the breadcrumb mixture on top of soup.


It’s (almost) Oscar Night!

Here in L.A., the Oscars are a pretty big deal. Also a big deal? Oscar parties.

oscar party

Photo via Vanity Fair

According to Hollywood lore, the very first Oscar party was thrown by famed talent agent Irving Paul Lazar at the Bistro restaurant in Beverly Hills, where guests watched the Academy Awards on two television sets. The venue changed frequently, but ultimately landed at Spago in 1985, where it famously stayed for almost ten years.

These days, the place to be on Oscar night is the Sunset Tower Hotel, home of the legendary Vanity Fair Oscar bash.


Photo via Vanity Fair/

But don’t let the fact that you don’t have a slick invite to Hollywood’s premiere party get you down. Instead, throw your own fancy shin dig. And glam it up with some gold-leafed edibles. Because if there was ever an occasion to serve some shiny party food, it’s Oscar night.

I love this quick and easy tutorial for the perfect gilded cocktail glass.


Photo via Easy Leaf Products

And also this edible gold leaf garnish, which will make any dish more glamorous.


Photo via Easy Leaf Products

 But if you’re looking for something extra special to serve on Oscar night, my vote goes to this Gold leaf jelly with Amalfi lemon ice cream (click here to get the recipe).


It’s beyond pretty, and even though it may not win an Oscar, it will definitely win some major applause from your guests.


A Whole Lotta Lovin’

valentine's day

Photography by Erin Hearts Court

I’ll be honest – I kind of dig Valentine’s Day.  Not so much the hearts and flowers, bad poetry and enormous boxes of chocolate, but a day to celebrate love? Yeah, I’ll drink to that.

And speaking of love, can I just tell you how smitten I am with this dinner party photo shoot I just worked on with 100 Layer Cake?

It all started with this gorgeous slate dinnerware by Kate Spade New York. I mean…


And then there was this. This! Gold on leather stationery by Bliss & Bone. So damn fancy.


But you gotta know I wasn’t there just to soak up all this prettiness. Those sleek slate plates were made for sexy party food – and yes, that’s my cue.

The custom TOP menu included pork rilletes, pickled shallot and parsley on paper crostini…


And this pumpkin mousse with chai whipped cream and pepita cookie crumble. Be still, my heart.


But we got the party started with this scallop ceviche, one of my personal favorites. I could go on and on about this dish, but since a picture’s worth (well, you know), let’s just cut to the chase. Feast your eyes on this delicious loveliness:


Let’s look a little closer, shall we?


If you’re scrambling for a last minute aphrodisiac to serve this evening, I don’t think it gets much better than this. It’s light, celebratory, and totally sexy. It’s perfect. (Happy Valentine’s Day.)

Scallop Ceviche

 yields 30 pieces

 4 oz. limes, freshly juiced
2 oz. oranges, freshly juiced
2 each scallion, sliced as thin as possible into rings
4 oz. scallop, brunoise
Salt to taste
6 quartsfry oil
Garnish micro cilantro
Garnishfinger lime
Garnishsalmon/trout roe

Mix lime juice, orange juice, and scallion.  (Lime is the major flavor; the orange is there to provide sweetness and balance the sour.)  Pour over brunoise scallop, toss to coat well, making sure there is enough liquid to completely cover the scallop meat.  Allow to marinate long enough to “cook” the scallop.

 To serve, drain most of the liquid and season to taste.  Serve on tostada and garnish with finger limes, salmon roe, and micro cilantro.