A few weeks ago, WYWH flew west to join a few hundred women at the #Girlboss rally in Los Angeles. We spent the day in awe at stories of success, failure, and everything in between.
But there was another unspoken mission on our trip. Our drive in from the airport passed sign after sign: "Little Ethiopia, "Little Bangladesh," "Thai Town", and suddenly we knew what we had to do: eat.
Instead of finding a seat in front of a sizzling Korean BBQ, we opted for the The Bun Shop on 151 N. Western Ave. Small bao shops have found a comfortable home in the coastal foodie cities of NYC and LA, serving fluffy white buns filled with a savory protein of your choice. Baos are perfect when you need a quick bite (or two, or three) that fits in your hand and packs the same satisfaction of any sandwich into just a few square inches. After a long journey from LAX, the mouthfeel of these floury clouds giving way to salty pork and crunchy peanuts was enough to keep us silent for a good five minutes.
The portions here were generous: succulent melty pork belly on one bun, and a thick slab of Spam and caramelized onions on the other. WYWH pretended to debate ordering another -and then ordered another.
With too little time and too many country cuisines left to sample, we never grilled our own meat atop a blazing BBQ grate. As we drove through K-Town later that night, we could only imagine the deliciousness inside fogging up restaurant windows, lit by only their beckoning billboards.
Little Ethiopia lines a small section of Fairfax Avenue, where women stand outside their restaurants, pouring tea into multiple cups at a time and smiling at passersby. We kept going, even though one half of WYWH always foolishly packs for California as if she were going to the tropics and could have used a steaming hot beverage.
Among the red, green and yellow storefronts illuminated with the colors of Ethiopia's flag, we spotted Buna Ethiopian Cafe & Market. The entryway reminded us of a New York City bodega, if the shelves were instead stocked with East African spices and teas.
After over ordering (as WYWH is wont to do), the owner set a platter in front of us with lamb curry, buttered beef and collard greens melting into each other. "Enjoy!" he exclaimed, friendly but wary of our portion size.
Injera, a spongy Ethiopian bread with a taste reminiscent of sourdough, functioned doubly as the plate for our feast and our utensils. We received a hefty pile on the side to scoop, dab and tear apart into our savory toppings as we pleased.
The next night, we Uber'd to Spicy BBQ (5101 Santa Monica Blvd), tucked away in a strip mall on the outskirts of Thai Town.
We were enticed by their Northern Thai specialities, a regional cuisine characterized by complexity, herbaceous richness and dried spices.
A Yelp picture of crusted, spicy pork patties topped with impossibly crispy basil leaves drove us there - and they didn't disappoint. We also buried our faces in khao soi, an egg noodle dish topped with crisped onions and Thai pickles and served in a rich curry coconut broth heavenly enough to bathe in.
After a long #Girlboss day subsisting solely on Sweetgreen salads and almond milk lattes, we hurried to The Park's Finest BBQ (1267 W Temple St) for a deeply satisfying order of coconut beef and smoky, fatty short rib. We skeptically noticed a Guy Fieri stamp watching us from an overhead beam, but after tasting the restaurant's famous bibingka cornbread, we realized it was a dish we could all agree on.
Grand Central Market
(Tacos & Ice Cream)
Due to time constraints and WYWH's belief there is no good Mexican food in NYC (but please prove us wrong!), we headed to Grand Central Market for one more indulgence: tacos.
Among the maze of stalls, we found ourselves at Tacos Tumbras a Tomas. Our thin paper plates overflowed with spicy chorizo, spiced pork skin and tangy, spicy salsa - the generous lime wedges barely hanging on for room.
It was our last meal before heading home, so we glanced over at McConnell's and wordlessly decided to try what TIME Magazine dubs "the best ice cream in the world." The creamy smoothness of our sweet cream and rocky road made it the cherry on top of a feast-filled long weekend.
Try as we might, we still missed some of LA's best ethnic cuisines (Japantown, you're next!), but every meal transported us to another country. In a city as thinly spread as Los Angeles, we found it easy and affordable to charter an Uber to any restaurant we desired.
Not one of our meals was pre-planned; Yelp, simple Google searches, and friendly recommendations led us to a string of wonderful meals. Trust your appetite's instinct when you travel, and you never know where in the world you might end up.