This past weekend, we met up with a few Los Angeles food bloggers for the first time. Well, we actually went to college with two of them, had some of the best Thai food in life a couple of weeks ago with one and ran into another at Joy the Baker’s Virtual Picnic, but we won’t quibble over semantics. It’s fun to get to know people online, and you can really get an idea of their personality through their blogs, but it’s of course better to meet in person. Back away from the RSS feeds and keypads everyone and step out into the real world. You never know what will happen.
On a toasty Sunday evening, we arrived at Chaya Brasserie in Beverly Hills to claim our chosen table in the lounge area. Chaya is a great place for late night happy hours. They’ve extended the generous offerings, so now you can get late night eats from 5:00 pm to close every night of the week. Wine and special martinis for $6, a variety of margaritas for $7 and several small plates ranging from $4-$14. It’s one of the best happy hours you’ll find in LA for price, quality and ambiance. If you’re anywhere nearby, stop in. There are now four locations–Beverly Hills, Venice, Downtown and San Francisco–with their own happy hour listings, so it’s worth it to try each one.
We settled in and waited for the first folks to arrive. Turns out it was Diana from Diana Takes a Bite, followed shortly thereafter by Esi at Dishing up Delights. Finally, we were starting to put non-avatar faces to the owners of a few of the blogs we follow. There was Michael from South Bay Foodies, Jenn from Bread + Butter and Sam the Punky Chef. Kirby from Kirby Von Scrumptious and Liz from Yo Soy! arrived together. Those are the two fellow Tar Heels here in LA! The table was full, and we were ready to eat, drink and chat.
There were only a few nibbles ordered at the table. The two most popular choices were Chaya’s unique crusted calamari (sampled by Amir, Chrystal and Sam) and mini cheese burger sliders with Chaya’s garlic and parsley flecked French fries (ordered by Amir, Chrystal and this time Esi). One interesting note about the calamari is that there are two different versions, if you will. We ordered the dinner size, which is the one you see above. The appetizer or industry menu calamari does not feature puffed rice, and it comes with a jalapeno lime aoili. Just something to keep in mind if you’re were thinking of stopping by.
Of course, no happy hour is complete without a cocktail. Amir guzzled the Guava Martini and a Mojito Martini, Chrystal sipped on a Caipirinha Passionfruit Martini and Michael tried the Pomegranate Margarita and Ginger Margarita. Esi and Kirby were classy with their wines, and Liz kept cool with a couple of beers. Throughout the eating and drinking, conversation flowed nicely on both sides of the table.
Everyone was so helpful at the restaurant. The hostess and our waitress could not have been more responsive to our questions, and the service was really great. It’s always nice to eat out without any craziness, and Chaya has always been a place where we’ve received nothing but really attentive service. Two thumbs up! The head chef was even so nice as to send a platter of sushi to the table for us to sample.
Like all good things, the evening did have to come to an end. It was a ‘school’ night, and most of us had to get up early for work the next day. We got a group shot outside the restaurant just before saying goodbye and headed to our respective cars. Talk of a second meet up was in the air, though, and we’d love to do it again. There were a couple of people who couldn’t make it out this weekend, and of course, we’re sure there are others who may want to meet food bloggers from their city. Can’t wait for the next one!