You may go in for the English muffins—and they are well worth the trip. Homemade, huge, baked fresh on site every day.
But, you’ll leave with even more.
The food at La Grande Orange is exciting. There just really isn’t a better word for it. The flavors are fresh, with unusual combinations and varieties.
Everything feels just slightly elevated—not in an upper crust, expensive sort of way, but in a ‘we care about you so do everything just a little bit better’ sort of way.
La Grande Orange is in Santa Monica, in a location known for its 1960s Flower Power appeal. It’s an easy stop along the way to wherever your day takes you. It’s one of those rare places where you can stop in for any meal.
In fact, owner Bob Lynn says, ‘People come in for breakfast, come in later for a cookie, come for dinner. They use it almost as a community center.’
That ability to run in and order from the counter, sit down at a tall table for breakfast, brunch or lunch, or wait until after 5 p.m. to be seated in a stunning dining room is all part of the charm.
‘We like to think of La Grande Orange as an extension of your home,’ says Lynn. ‘Breakfast, lunch and dinner we serve what I consider â€˜California Picnic Food.’ It’s food you can eat all the time, any time of day.’
In fact, all of the food is literally designed to be taken out, ideal for picnics, at home pick up meals, or stops on the way to work.
It includes small plates of local Farmer’s Market vegetables, which are unpredictable both in flavor and in variety.
It’s salads such as the Brussels Sprout Salad, with Manchego cheese, almonds and honey-mustard vinaigrette—destined to make anyone a fan of Brussels Sprouts—or the Sonoma Salad, with butter leaf lettuce, roasted beets, almonds, asparagus and goat cheese.
Or, some of the best burgers in L.A.—the Green Chili burger has been nominated, in fact, for that designation. It’s made with roasted poblano chilies, grated sharp cheddar, and chuck roast that is ground fresh every day.
The Ahi Tuna burger is, as Lynn says, ‘Taking a Japanese idea and combining it with the pleasure you get from a hamburger.’
Or, try the Sushi Rolls. You can walk away with California Rolls made with fresh Snow and King crab, or the LGO signature Miso-Glazed Salmon Roll, just for starters. We loved the Sweet Potato Roll with Japanese barbecue sauce. Who would think of putting those together, and yet the flavor was unforgettably good.
Stop in for omelets, pancakes or muffins for breakfast, sandwiches or a selection of soft tacos for lunch, and steaks and more for dinner.
While there, try the Shakin’ Lemonade, a house specialty that is made with Ketel One, lemonade and fresh rosemary.
And, whatever you do, get the English muffins, which are billed as, ‘made exactly as when created in London in the late 1800’s.’ They are made from sourdough starter, with a blend of three organic flours and no fats. The muffins are proofed in the kitchen overnight and sautéed on the stovetop, resulting in what Lynn says is, ‘exactly what an English muffin should be.’
Try them there, double toasted with some of the signature LGO preserves, or take a package home. Split one open and sauté it, or use it to make a sandwich to carry to the office.
It’s that portability that is one of the things that makes La Grande Orange unique. Combine that with the selection of unusual things you just have to try, and the extreme courtesy and knowledge of the staff, and you will be a regular.
Before you know it, you’ll be stopping in to grab a giant apple oatmeal cookie, or a flourless chocolate walnut cookie. Or a banana chocolate chip cookie. Or . . . oh, go ahead. Just grab several to share.
‘It’s all things you recognize,’ says Lynn. ‘There is something for everybody.’
And, while the combinations may sound complex, the food itself is basic. ‘It’s about simple, and quality,’ he adds. In fact, they maintain an herb garden right outside the front door to ensure freshness down to the smallest ingredient.
And, their servers have to be knowledgeable of all of the menu items, to the point of taking a test over what is available. ‘We talk them through the dishes,’ says Lynn. ‘The tests are set to organize their thoughts and help them describe the food to the customer.’
If you come back for dinner, keep in mind it’s got a touch of romance about it, whether you are in the back room or out in front of the bakery cases. In fact, the Phoenix location can claim credit for 11 marriages to date, some of them simply from people meeting while they stood in line for their English Muffin!
Lynn, who is a chef and owner of LGO Entertainment, works with partners from the Lettuce Entertainment Group of restaurants. He created the concept and established the first La Grande Orange in Phoenix, and just opened a new location in Pasadena.
‘I was the middle of five in a family that absolutely loved food,’ he says. ‘I learned that formality doesn’t necessarily mean quality. There is a lot of quality to be found in great casual food.’
He continues, ‘The things that tend to be the most meaningful are also fairly simple. They come from your heart.’
And that, folks, is exciting.capos-restaurant/
See our blog from the Los Angeles tour, here.
Hear more from La Grande Orange here.
Visit La Grande Orange when you are in the Los Angeles/Orange County area:
2000 Main Street
Santa Monica, CA 90405-1010
This is a Raves & Faves Featured Restaurant.