One of the quintessential things to do in Los Angeles is watch a live performance under the stars at the Hollywood Bowl, but the big event never feels quite complete without a little food and drink to accompany it. The spread can be as elaborate as a three-course meal paired with fine wine, to as casual as a selection of Trader Joe’s snacks with a bottle of Two Buck Chuck.
While this year’s Hollywood Bowl shows can't be seen in person due to the pandemic, we can get a little sense of normalcy with KCET and the LA Phil’s “In Concert at the Hollywood Bowl” series, which highlights some of the decade’s best performances. Its upcoming episode, “Musical and the Movies,” will feature acts by Broadway greats like Kristen Chenoweth, six-time Tony Award-winner Audra McDonald, Sutton Foster and Brian Stokes Mitchell.
We’ve cherry-picked some of the city’s best snacks and meals to recreate that picnic experience in the comfort of your own home, from self-assembled cocktail and sushi hand-roll kits to an assortment of delicious pan dulce.
Charcuterie Boards from Lady & Larder
Sarah and Boo Simms, the twin sisters behind Lady & Larder, have perfected the art of the charcuterie board. If you scroll through their gorgeous Instagram feed, you’ll find a cornucopia of cured meats, cheeses, fruits and accoutrements, garnished with a vibrant flower here and there.
However, Lady & Larder isn’t just about looks. The team curates goods from notable American purveyors, like Northern California’s Cowgirl Creamery, Portland’s Olympia Provisions, and Norwalk’s own La Quercia.
Since the pandemic, the duo has opened “Lady Bodega,” an online shop where customers can order to-go sandwiches, salads, mini-charcuterie and -crudités boxes, market produce and good from local artisans. They also started hosting virtual workshops on how to make platters like theirs, and offer a free weekly cheese education series on Thursdays on Instagram Live.
Customers can order their beautiful charcuterie boards (with at least a 24-hour advance notice) for delivery or pickup in Mar Vista. They also have DIY kits that can be shipped across the country.
And if you want to read up on how to make your own stunning board, check out this extensive guide from Fix.
Hand Roll Kits from Sushi TAMA
It’s truly a delightful experience unboxing a DIY temaki set from L.A. newcomer Sushi TAMA. Chef Hideyuki Yoshimoto, who trained at Tokyo’s famed Tsukiji Fish Market for over a decade, carefully selects an assortment of high quality, freshly caught fish for the restaurant.
Sushi TAMA’s sashimi is often rotating, and diners can find in the temaki set a range of favorites, from pristine slices of salmon and tuna, as well as delicate uni and ikura. The hand roll kit is complemented by portioned-out rolls of rice and toasted nori straight from Japan. It includes fillings like thin cucumber sticks and micro-greens. Then comes the fun part: the act of assembling your own hand rolls any way you want.
The restaurant, which is situated between West Hollywood and Beverly Grove, is currently offering outdoor dining and to-go orders, and also has a 10-piece omakase nigiri set and donburi options.
St. Germain Spritz Kit from Big Bar
The team at Big Bar, which is one-half of the cheery Alcove restaurant in the heart of Los Feliz, is known for being thoughtful about their cocktails. Their St. Germain spritz kit is a prime example of that: It makes the act of pretending to be a bartender at home for a night an easy and fun experience.
The spritz kits, which can serve two to four people, come with St. Germain’s elderflower liqueur, champagne and Q club soda. However, the most exciting part of the set is its mini-carafe that has measurements embossed on the side showing how much of each liquid to pour in, and metal spoons for mixing.
Big Bar, which is currently open for outdoor patio drinking and to-go orders (both pickup and delivery), also just launched its midsummer cocktail menu, with drinks like a spicy margarita that pays homage to tamarind candy, and a sidecar transformed into a strawberry dream. Its cocktail kits come with instructions, garnishes and fresh fruit.
And for those looking for a more spirit-forward experience, Big Bar is also offering flights curated by bar manager Eugene Lee and his crew, of the scotch, bourbon, agave and brandy varieties.
Pan Dulce from La Monarca Bakery & Cafe
When you walk into a La Monarca panaderia, it feels like you’ve stepped into the 85C equivalent for Mexican pastries and baked goods. A wide range of sweets like conchas, guava-filled danishes and tres leches cakes fill the glass cases. And then there’s the alluring fragrance of fresh ground coffee, which comes from an organic farm in Oaxaca, Mexico, wafting in the air.
The chain, which has 12 locations, from Santa Monica to Boyle Heights and Huntington Park, is the brainchild of Ricardo Cervantes and Alfredo Livas, two Stanford MBA graduates hailing from Monterrey, Mexico. The partners longed for baked goods from their hometown and conceived of the idea of La Monarca to fill that void.
The bakery is currently open for pickup and delivery. For folks who have a hard time choosing, they have a pan dulce assortment tray that’s perfect for a picnic. And for more substantial items, they have burrito flights with flavors like chicken mole, soy chorizo and chipotle beef; and grab-and-go lunch boxes (with selections of tortas or tacos) that come with cookies, chips and a drink.
Even though you aren’t able to dine directly at the Hollywood Bowl, whose own Food + Wine program is helmed by James Beard Award-winning chef Suzanne Goin and restaurateur Caroline Styne, you can still get a taste of the duo’s food at their Beverly Grove restaurant a.o.c.
Currently open for outdoor dining, pickup and delivery with a full food and wine menu, the nearly 20-year-old restaurant is also featuring a “classic a.o.c. dinner for four,” with dishes like bacon-wrapped dates; a farmer’s plate with roasted vegetables and burrata; roasted chicken; chocolate torta and more.
Directly at the amphitheater, the team is also serving a “Hollywood Bowl Supper to Go” on Thursday through Saturday evenings for curbside pickup or delivery. They have a bevy of three-course dinner menus and two-person family meals, and if diners spend over $125, their food will be accompanied with a free bottle of wine.
Top image: Some food and wine options from a.o.c.| Anne Fishbein