Chef Jessica Koslow has made Silver Lake home (by way of Atlanta and Brooklyn) since 2008.
Her charming story is already the stuff of legend: She started by making small-batch seasonal jams and selling them at farmers' markets, and now her oh-so-popular restaurant Sqirl is expanding even further.
Come mid-November, a Barbara Bestor-designed annex space will carry grab-and-go items such as coffee, pastries, salads, natural wines and specialty beers. Koslow says, "It's like Sqirl to go: You can get your baguette, bottle of wine or beer—everything you'd want on a picnic." Translation: brioche toast and blondies, minus the weekend lines.
As we await the opening, we asked Koslow to share some of her sweetest neighborhood spots.
Most mornings, Koslow is in her own kitchen. She jokes, "I don't want to sound super snotty and say Sqirl, but that's where I am majority of the time." Her order: An off-menu item. "I'll take cold porridge that we top with granola and a little dollop of jam. It's an off-menu special that the majority of the staff eats, actually." And how does she take her coffee? "An Americano ($3.25) or cortado ($4), depending on how I'm feeling."
Juice: Moon Juice
"I like meals, so it's hard for me to just drink juice," Koslow professes. But when she's sipping between meals, Koslow heads to Moon Juice. Her order: "Their watermelon and tomato juice ($9) is really cleansing. Whenever I have [their] stuff, I always feel clean and refreshed."
Cheap Eats: El Cochinito and Samosa House
Koslow keeps it mostly meat-free when dining out. "I'm always looking for places where I can find a flavorful vegetarian option," she says. "El Cochinito is totally underrated. People don't go there or know about—it's in a strip mall—but it's been around for 30 years and it's awesome. It's such good Cuban food." Her order: "I get the vegetarian plate ($10), but [my boyfriend] Ryan gets the Ropa Vieja ($12)." As for Samosa House, she says, "It's a great lunch option. For $10, you get a huge pile of rice and sides and vegetables, which will carry you through dinner—it's like two meals."
Date Night: Alimento
"Ryan and I live really close to the restaurant, so a lot of times we walk down the hill and just sit at the bar. Technically, [Alimento] is really solid: They make their own pastas, and the flavors are so rich and balanced. Everyone's so nice, and it's a humble, great spot in our neighborhood." Her order: "We'll get a glass of wine and the maccheroncini ($14), the chicken liver ($10) and the tortellini in brodo ($14). They're such great dishes."
Alimento's escolar crudo, Sqirl's burnt brioche toast | Photos: Dylan + Jeni, Tasting Table
Takeout: Night + Market Song
When it comes to never-fail standbys, Koslow calls on the second of Kris Yenbamroong's Thai restaurants. "Ryan and I get a lot of take-out from Song," she says. Her order: Don't judge—"I think that they have the best pad thai in Los Angeles. I know that sounds crazy, but they do a great vegetarian version ($9)." Another favorite is the crab fried rice ($14). "It's not heavy and tastes like they're trying to keep the seasoning to a minimum, so the crab shows through."
Dive Bar: Tiki-Ti
Where to go for a fun night out with friends? She says, "Tiki-Ti is such a great place. It's the oldest family-run bar in Los Angeles. You can smoke in there; there's really bad snacks; everyone that works there is like family; the drinks are full of sugar; and you don't want to drink more than two because then you're hammered."
RELATED Ari Taymor's Downtown L.A. »
Cocktails: Bar Stella
Go here if you're looking for a classy night out. Says Koslow, "They do a really wonderful job. The vibe is good and the drinks are solid. When you want a cocktail, you just want to go out and be in a space like that—have a conversation and know that the bartender is going to take care of you." Her order: "I'm such a Campari fan. If I can get a Negroni ($12), I'll get a Negroni. I like to sit at the bar and savor some me time."
"I go to Broome Street General to pick up linens. I also love OK and Lawson-Fenning. They both carry Sharon Mann plateware. She's a local ceramist who is doing great stuff right now. I just picked up a four-foot cheese board from Lawson-Fenning last week. We did a catering event and I thought, Forget it—I'm just going to buy this $250 cheese board. I showed up and everyone thought that it was amazing. It was such a great purchase."
Please check your inbox to verify your email address.