This past weekend I had the chance to explore some places close to my home in the Conejo Valley and realized how lucky I am to live so close to the gorgeous Pacific Ocean. While I love traveling and exploring new places, it’s always nice to reconnect with a pretty cool place in my own backyard.
My first stop this weekend was a Saturday night dinner adventure with my friend and sorority sister, Krisse, who’s living at home in Palos Verdes while she gears up for life as a teacher! We headed out to 4th street, Santa Monica to taste the inspired Mexican cuisine of Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger at Border Grill. Feniger was endearing on a recent season of Top Chef: Masters, and my desire to try off-the-beaten-path places and my insatiable palate for Mexican food made Border Grill the natural dinner destination. The food and drinks were delicious – our margaritas (made with aged tequila, need I say more?) were citrusy but not over-powering. The homemade tortillas, bright and funky decor, and fresh salsa only intensified the unique and rich flavors of the plantain empanadas and carnitas nortenas we sampled. While the food was scrumptious, we have one pretty strong critique of our experience: the food came too fast! We dusted off our appetizer before the drinks got to our table, and I kept looking around to see if there was a reason it felt like they were hustling us out. At the end of the meal, however, all was forgotten when we tried the uber-decadent Aztec Chocolate Cake. All in all, Border Grill was an inspired treat, and the view of the Santa Monica pier at night was the perfect nightcap.
After a strenuous hike in the Malibu Creek State park area, what better way to refuel than with a breakfast burrito, beach-side? Another rec from Krisse, this hole-in-the-wall place was mobbed with Malibu locals. The name of this little jaunt, Lily’s Cafe and Pastries, is beyond misleading. No pastries were to be found and not really cafe-like! The breakfast burrito hit the spot, and this is a place I’ll seek out again. There’s something quintessentially southern-Californian about chowing down on real Mexican food by the beach, basking in the summer sun. Tip: next time I’m going to phone-in my order before I get there, the 20 minute wait didn’t go by quickly!
pch and the canyons.
There’s a lot to love on the stretch of PCH from Santa Monica to where Malibu ends: the big La Salsa man in Malibu as well as the pier, the gorgeous Pepperdine campus, Malibu Seafood, and gorgeous beachfront properties where, as my dad would say “all it takes it dough” to live there. The sparkling ocean water is a treat in and of itself, and the canyon drive I take back home is filled with interesting nooks and crannies. Drives like these are unique to where I’m from, and one of the first things I miss when I’m away.