Tag Archives: My Two Cents

i8tonite: A Cheat Sheet to Eating at Women-owned Restaurants in Los Angeles

Women work hard, and that includes being a mother, an actress, or a chef. Therefore, regardless of gender, women should be paid equally, and that’s this year’s International Women’s Day theme: Parity.  It’s the reason we decided to highlight women-owned places – more specifically female chefs of Los Angeles –  for our bi-monthly edition of Food Destinations. Tuesday, March 8 is International Women’s Day.

In the City of Angels, not only are there delicious places to eat, but there are many women creating delicious dining experiences, whether as an owner or as an owner-chef. If you want to choose an eating theme, why not an interesting food tour of women-owned restaurants?

Margarita Manzke, Republique. From i8tonite: A Cheat Sheet to Eating at Women-owned Restaurants in Los Angeles
Margarita and Walter Manzke

Breakfast: Margarita Manzke, Republique:

Start your day at Republique with one of the pastry creations by Philippines Islands-born Margarita Manzke, co-owner of the famed space with her husband Walter. While Mr. Manzke is noted for his French-inspired culinary prowess in the evening, the mornings belong to “Madge.” Her pastries are clouds of flour and butter in the former of buttery croissants, brioches, scones, muffins, and breads. Go ahead and eat her Brioche French Toast, dipped in the egg and served up with fresh fruit. The idea of never eating carbs won’t enter your mind again. Or even better, for something just a little lighter to get the energy going with a cup of the couple’s hand-selected coffee, have a few slices of Ms. Manzke’s daily selection, fresh from the oven, daily served with housemade butter, jam, or honey. Everyday it’s something different – rye, whole cracked wheat, 7-grain, raisin, pumpernickel, sourdough ($4).


  • 624 South La Brea Avenue
  • Los Angeles, CA  90036
  • (310) 362 – 6115
  • www.republicquela.com
  • Breakfast 8:00 am – 3:00 pm
  • Coffee and pastries until 4:00pm


Alisa Reynolds, My Two Cents. From i8tonite: A Cheat Sheet to Eating at Women-owned Restaurants in Los Angeles
Chef Alisa Reynolds

Lunch:  Alisa Reynolds, My Two Cents

In a residential part of Los Angeles, far from the maddening crowd, Chef Alisa Reynolds crafted a small eatery, with a dedicated following – including Beyoncé – cooking healthy soul food cooking, definitely words you don’t hear together. With six tables on the sidewalk and about as many on the inside, Reynolds has become known for her gluten-free quinoa macaroni and cheese, Creole Shrimp and Corn Grits, and BBQ Fried Chicken. Her recipes are still rich in flavor and family tradition, but have lower calories and a higher nutrition value than what she grew up eating. Yes, you can have your mac and cheese, but with a dose of healthy grains as well. What a concept.

My Two Cents

  • 5583 West Pico Boulevard
  • Los Angeles, CA  90016
  • (323) 938 – 1012
  • www.mytwocentsla.com
  • Closed on Mondays
  • Tuesday – Thursday 12:00 pm – 9:00 pm
  • Friday – Saturday 12:00 pm – 10:00 pm
  • Sundays: Brunch only  11: 00 am – 4:00pm


Restauranteur Amy Fraser and Pastry Chef Maria Swan: ICDC. From i8tonite: A Cheat Sheet to Eating at Women-owned Restaurants in Los AngelesSnack: Restauranteur Amy Fraser and Pastry Chef Maria Swan: ICDC

Last year, co-owners Amy Fraser and Pastry Chef Maria Swan created a loving ode to ice cream, donuts, and coffee (ICDC), right next door to BLD (Neal Fraser’s eatery — Amy’s husband’s place — with breakfast, lunch and dinner). Out of the gate, the freshly churned cream made into adult type flavors such as the Guiness with Bourbon Fudge Ripple, and the Grapefruit Campari, or the Salt and Pepper Donut, or Beer Nuts and Pretzels have become an immediate hit — sort of like a Stars Wars sequel. Everything is handcrafted and single-batched, so once a flavor is out – it’s out for the rest of the day (or even the week). Therefore, you keep coming back hoping to catch that favorite flavor – but never quite making it, so it’s discover another taste – which keeps you coming back for that, and before you know it – you are in a 12-step group saying, “Hi, my name is (your name here) and I’m an ICDC addict.”


  • 7454 1/2 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90036
  • (323) 746-3346
  • http://icdc.la/
  • Monday-Friday, 11am-10pm
  • Saturday and Sunday, 11am-11pm


 Susan Feniger: Mud Hen Tavern & Border Grill. From i8tonite: A Cheat Sheet to Eating at Women-owned Restaurants in Los Angeles
Chef Susan Feniger

Dinner:  Susan Feniger:  Mud Hen Tavern & Border Grill

Long before the Food Network was stuck on Guy Fieri road trips and Bobby Flay contests, Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken were broadcast to millions of homes. Then, the gourmet duo known as Two Hot Tamales showcased mostly Mexican but Latin flavored cuisine in an epicurean setting at Border Grill. Prior to that – in the long forgotten eighties — the cooking partners had another nationally-recognized establishment named City, changing Los Angeles’ culinary landscape much like Spago’s Wolfgang Puck. Milliken and Feniger still operate Border Grill together in Santa Monica – but Feniger wanted to explore other tasty riches and opened the much-lauded Street in Hollywood – showcasing global cuisine. After a couple of years, Feniger morphed Street into Mud Hen Tavern – a cozy neighborhood eatery and bar. Whether you are eating at Mud Hen Tavern or the legendary Border Grill, the food you are tasting isn’t just by a female chef but by an historical figure in the culinary realm. Delicious food, farm-to-table, nose-to-tail — Susan Feniger has been there, done that, and thankfully is still cooking some yummy eats.

Mud Hen Tavern

  • 742 No. Highland Avenue
  • LA, CA 90038
  • (323) 203 – 0500
  • www.mudhentavern.com
  • Sunday – Tuesday 5:00 – 10:00pm
  • Wednesday – Sunday 5:00 pm – midnight

Santa Monica Border Grill

  • 1445 4th Street
  • Santa Monica, CA  90401
  • http://www.bordergrill.com/
  • Sunday – Thursday 4:00 – 10:00pm
  • Friday – Saturday  4:00 – 11:00pm

The end. Go eat. 






i8tonite: A Cheat Sheet for Dining in Los Angeles’ PicFair Village

i8tonite: A Cheat Sheet for Dining in Los Angeles' PicFair VillagePic Fair (Pico-Fairfax) Village is a demographically rich neighborhood, one of Los Angeles’ true and last assemblies of people with different cultural backgrounds — African-American, Latino, Asian, and Caucasian, middle-class and poor – some very wealthy.  It’s not one of the communities that LA decided to christen by its ethnic majority, such as Koreatown, Little Ethiopia, Thai Town, Historic Filipino-town, or Little Armenia. It’s a quiet microcosm of the United States and is a showcase of classic Southern California architecture along its wide, tree-lined streets with stunning Spanish duplexes and red-shingled single family homes built in the 1920s. At one time, the area was home to many upper-class African American families.

Extending from Hauser Boulevard on the east, Crescent Heights to the west, Olympic Boulevard on the north,  and to the south, Venice; I lived the longest in this area – meaning that for seven years of my life, I lived in one building, one spot – so I hold this place very dear to my heart.

i8tonite: A Cheat Sheet for Dining in Los Angeles' PicFair Village

In the early to mid-aughts, the region started to become youth-oriented and a small coffee shop opened — Paper or Plastik — along with a restaurant called Bloom. Both of these places focused on local residents for support. Neither had a public relations campaign or had the local papers tout how good they were, although it did happen eventually. They became a part of the community’s multi-cultural quilt by just being there.

Pic Fair is a great neighborhood for an afternoon stroll or a quiet place to get away from the rest of City of Angels.  You won’t find the paparazzi hiding behind bushes. This is the real L.A…young families with their strollers, same-sex couples walking their dogs (and strollers), a diverse mix of people in a quiet urban enclave getting along with the rest of the world….peacefully.

i8tonite: A Cheat Sheet for Dining in Los Angeles' PicFair Village
CJs Cafe
  • Breakfast: CJ’s Café.  This is an institution. I can’t be for certain but at one time it was an African-American owned diner, much like its highly-touted neighbor Roscoe’s Chicken & Waffles down the street. There are two locations, Pico and Baldwin Park…but this is the rock-star. They make up fresh juice smoothies. Saturday and Sunday the place is packed until after 3pm; during the week it’s easier to get a table.
  • My suggestion: Huevos Rancheros or Chicken Wings (with honey) and Eggs.
  • Price: Varies. Nothing over $12.95
  • Hours:  7:00am – 4:00pm
  • Address:  5501 West Pico Boulevard
  • Phone Number: (323) 936 – 3216
  • Website: http://www.cjscafe.net/
  • Lunch:  Olson’s Swedish Restaurant. Opened since 1948, it was recently purchased by Christian Kneedler, the former maître‘ d of Dan Tana’s, a famous Hollywood, checkered table-cloth eatery. A Swede by birth, he took over the place and has transformed it into a Southern California outpost of Swedish tastes. Along one wall is a bulk bin of Swedish
    i8tonite: A Cheat Sheet for Dining in Los Angeles' PicFair Village
    Olson’s Deli

    candies and the menu offers better than Ikea Swedish meatballs and, of course, house-cured gravlax. They also have a large menu of cheeses and deli meats such as the dense and meaty goteborgskorv, a form of Swedish pate.

  • My suggestion: Their Swedish pancakes – which are more like a thicker crepe or a thinner pancake – are stunningly delicious. Served warm with preserves such as lingonberry on the side just like in Sweden.
  • Price: $8.00
  • Hours: 10:00am – 5:00pm, Monday – Sunday
  • Address: 5660 West Pico Boulevard
  • Phone Number: (323) 938 – 0742
  • Website: www.olsonsdeli.com
  • Snack Time:  A family-owned neighborhood place, Paper or Plastik is the coffee joint that started it all. Like the song goes, “my milkshake brings all the boys to the yard”…so it is with coffee and hipsters. Each time I go in here, the eatery has small changes – such as the pastries have gotten better, a little flakier and more butter; although they don’t make them here. The iced-coffee is heavy and will put hair on your chest…just the way I like it. With great Wi-Fi, it’s easy to do research and write your next screenplay, to meet a
    i8tonite: A Cheat Sheet for Dining in Los Angeles' PicFair Village
    Paper or Plastik

    friend for a mid-afternoon snack, get a caffeine fix or an afternoon glass of wine. At one time, the menu had been created by Chef Jeremy Fox, a one-time chef of Napa Valley’s Ubuntu and winner of Food & Wine’s “Best New Chef”.

  • My suggestion: The iced coffee. Although, they now have a beer and wine license.
  • Price: Expensive, clocking in at around $3.50 for a 12 ounce cup. But really black and really caffeinated. It will make you the Energizer bunny.
  • Hours: 7:00am – 10:00pm
  • Address:  5772 Pico Boulevard, LA, CA 90019
  • Phone Number: (323) 935 – 0268
  • Website: http://paperorplastikcafe.com/
My Two Cents. i8tonite: A Cheat Sheet for Dining in Los Angeles' PicFair Village
My Two Cents
  • Dinner: My Two Cents. Healthy soul food.
  • My suggestion:  Soul food normally conjures up images of heavy-battered fried chicken, grits and collards with bacon. Here, Chef Alisa Reynolds removes some of the butter and lard by using a lot of vegetable stock. It’s quite good and doesn’t have the heavy richness that you expect of a soul food restaurant – but make no mistake, this is soul food. My Two Cents serves up gluten-free fried chicken, small tender shrimp and grits…and my favorite, the grit fries. There is nothing like these grit fries….I know they can’t be that healthy…but they are sooo delicious.
  • Price: $5.00 Grit Fries
  • Hours: 12pm – 10pm. Closed on Mondays.
  • Address: 5583 West Pico Boulevard, LA, CA 90019
  • Phone: (323) 938 – 1012
  • Website: www.mytwocentsla.com

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i8tonite: A Cheat Sheet for Dining in Los Angeles' Picfair Village

The End. Go Eat.