Monday, March 27, 2017

Wilson’s Words of Wisdom: March Round Up

This month, I did a lot of dining. Like, a lot. Probably way too much, if the way that all the clothes in my closet now fit may indicate. But, there’s a silver lining to every cloud. And while I may have gained 100 pounds, it wasn’t in vain; I found five amazing restaurants — from creative Mexican cuisine to outdoor brunch spots and women-owned Ethiopian eateries — to share with you, that I’m sure you’re going to love as much as I do.

Check them all out below, and leave your recently found favorite destinations in the comments section below!

Where to Eat: Viva Hollywood

Right in the heart of Hollywood, Viva Hollywood debuted this month, in all its glitz and glamour. The newly opened upscale restaurant has taken over what used to be Eva Longoria’s longstanding Beso restaurant, remaking the two-story space into a light and airy oasis, with a lounge-like feel. Viva features luxurious Mexican food and classy cocktails. Definitely try the Arugula Caesar Enselada — the Mexican version of a Caesar salad, with cilantro croutons, red peppers and a spicy yet creamy cheese Caesar dressing — and tacos from the taqueria, made with some of the softest, tastiest tortillas out there (pictured above). Viva’s other highlights: a piñata room (you really gotta see it to believe it) and a jammin’ live salsa band, each and every night.

For more information

Where to Eat: Cocina Condesa

Another noteworthy Mexican restaurant I checked out this month was Cocina Condesa, on Ventura Blvd. in Studio City. It literally has the craziest, coolest combinations of ingredients. Like, would you ever imagine chewy spiced mango bits and crunchy crickets — yes, crickets — in your guacamole (pictured above)!? Can’t believe I’m saying it, but it's actually amazing! There’s also a ton of delicious antiojos, a.k.a. appetizers, perfect for sharing, including the Ceviche de Pescado, Street Corn and Chicken Empanadas. And, the creativity doesn’t stop with the food; the signature cocktails hold their own, too, smoothly blending super fresh fruits, juices and purees with bold ingredients like grapefruit bitters and cinnamon simple syrup. Tip: definitely order the Pineapple Express drink, a pleasant juxtaposition of smoky mescal tequila and sweet pineapple juice.

For more information

Where to Eat: Firefly

Remaining in the Studio City area and literally a mere few feet from Cocina Condesa, sits Firefly, a restaurant / lounge that somehow manages to be simultaneously chic and chill. IMO, one of the biggest selling points of Firefly, is its semi-enclosed outdoor patio, pictured above. It’s absolutely gorgeous, complete with a fireplace and secluded, tucked away seating areas. While weekend brunching at Firefly has been a thing for a few years, head chef Perry Pollaci only recently came onboard last Fall, but he's been shaking up the menu ever since. Now on the brunch menu: items like the lobster and farmer’s market veggie scrambles, the Thick Cut Brioche French Toast and an assortment of indulgent pastries, including flaky croissants topped with almond butter and chopped almonds.

For more information

Where to Eat: Leona

After debuting the updated version of my Top Black-Owned Restaurants, Bars, Lounges & Eateries list last month, it was promptly brought to my attention that I forgot to include one place in particular: Leona in Venice Beach. And shame on me, because how could I forget to add this wondrously adorable place? Low lighting, high ceilings, white exposed brick walls and a smooth soundtrack of old-school R&B, neo-soul and chill rap, makes this one-room restaurant feel quite quaint and intimate. There’s a seasonal rotation of eclectic dishes, and, the detail is in everything — right down to the presentation of the food on your plate. No hard liquor (yet) but there’s still a respectable selection of wines and beers.

For more information

Where to Eat: Azla vegan

And finally, in honor of Women’s History Month in March, I'm adding Azla vegan to this March Round Up list. Spanning two generations, a mother-daughter duo is making history by running this casual eatery housed in the Mercado La Paloma, which is an incubator for first-generation business owners, just south of DTLA and east of USC. Owner Nesanet and her mother Chef Azla cook up vegan Ethiopian food that's colorful, healthy and filling. They also have an adjacent store, where you can pick up goodies like spices.

For more information


  1. These look like great options! Especially Leona. Got to support Black businesses! #BLM

  2. Your reviews are awesome! A lot of these pics just make me want to pack up my bags and go on a mini tour. What would you say has been your favorite foodie destination thus far?