Amid pandemic, division and anxiety, just eat your feelings on Valentine’s Day in L.A.
You know what they say: Nothing heals a broken heart or says “I love you” in an era distinguished by a pandemic, political tumult and a struggling economy like a bouquet of fried chicken.
If they didn’t say that before, we’re saying it now.
Pair the anxiety-inducing events of the last 11 months with a “holiday” that’s fueled by emotion and expectations, and it’s clear that roses won’t cut it this Valentine’s Day.
We’re not going to need a chocolate-dipped strawberry. We’re going to need an entire chocolate factory.
Whether you’re celebrating solo, with a partner or friend or with an entire household, we’ve got some recommendations if you’re hoping to eat your feelings and indulge in some self-soothing.
Certain foods can help get the dopamine and serotonin flowing, and really, who’s to say a heart-shaped box full of tacos isn’t romantic?
Cake Monkey Bakery
Never send a conversation heart to do the job if there’s cake. In addition to its usual selection of pies, layer cakes, cookies, triple-chocolate loaves and pastries, the Cake Monkey Bakery is offering a series of Valentine’s-themed sweets. The individual-sized chocolate-and-raspberry cake “heart grams” come decorated with frosted messages such as “I’m Yours,” “BFF,” “Marry Me!” or “XOXO.” Variety boxes include cake sandwiches, cookies and fudge hearts. Heart-topped confetti cakes come in a mini size or a larger version designed for two — or just one very overwhelmed person who lived through 2020.
7807 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles, (323) 932-1142; also 10844 Chandler Blvd., North Hollywood, (818) 508-9579; cakemonkey.com
Din Tai Fung
How could dumplings get any better? Just add chocolate. The Taiwanese dim sum specialists at Din Tai Fung have come up with a dessert take on their xiao long bao: soup dumplings filled not with the signature pork and broth but instead with rich, gooey chocolate truffle. That dumpling wrapper? It’s mochi, still bearing the restaurant chain’s signature 18 dumpling folds.
Locations include: 400 S. Baldwin Ave., Arcadia, (626) 446-8588; 10250 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, (424) 382-1118; 177 Caruso Ave., Glendale, (818) 551-5561; 21540 Hawthorne Blvd., Torrance, (310) 214-1175; dintaifungusa.com
A good pizza can be life-affirming. A heart-shaped pizza you can give to a loved one or therapeutically tear in half on Valentine’s Day? That’s a sign of the times. La Morra is a mobile pizza operation that recently opened a walk-up window, and in advance of Valentine’s Day (and on the day of), you can head to the new, permanent home for heart-shaped versions of the wood-fired Margherita and pepperoni pizzas, available in freshly made or frozen varieties.
8022 W. 3rd St., Los Angeles, (323) 250-3735, lamorrapizzeria.com
Forget a box of chocolates and consider a Valentine’s Day box of tacos from Evil Cooks. The pop-up, noted for its wild dessert tacos and the trompo spinning black al pastor, is serving tacos by the dozen, artfully arranged in large red heart boxes, Feb. 12-14. Each set includes the choice of one or two kinds of meat — though if you’re celebrating a black-hearted Valentine’s Day, the pitch-black pork stained with a delectable burnt-chili paste is the clear choice. A smaller heart box packed with your choice of two dessert tacos also is available. There are no pre-orders for these boxes, so show up early.
2461 N. Eastern Ave., Los Angeles, evilcooksla.com
Chocolate ravioli stands at the intersection of sweet and savory. It happens to be a seasonal (as in February) special at Pasta Sisters, and it’s a dish that checks multiple boxes. Filled with creamy ricotta, salty smoked prosciutto and flecks of walnut, the dough is laced with cocoa. (Are the ravioli heart-shaped? Did you have to ask?) Order it ready-made and tossed in a cheese-and-butter sauce or opt for frozen; either way, it’s available all month long.
3343 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, (323) 870-5271; also 3280 Helms Ave., Culver City, (424) 603-4503; food truck locations vary, pastasisters.com
Ayara Thai Cuisine
You could say it with flowers, or you could say it with a bouquet of fried chicken. The choice is yours. But if reading the words “fried chicken” obliterates thoughts of anything else, you might want to check out Ayara Thai Cuisine. The restaurant is celebrating the season with fried chicken served with Thai barbecue sauce and wrapped in an arrangement of edible greens to form a bouquet. If you’re craving something sweet, Ayara also offers one of the city’s most creative chocolate sets: bonbons in flavors such as pandan, Thai tea, makrut, chili lemongrass and lychee rose.
6245 W. 87th St., Los Angeles, (310) 410-8848, ayarathai.com
Eat your way across L.A.
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