The neighborhood of Toluca Lake is a gem. I would call it a “hidden” gem except that it is kind of smack dab in the middle of everything. It’s about halfway between NoHo and Studio City, and is home to the Trader Joe’s that the boyfriend and I frequent (and occasionally spot a B-List celeb or two at). We’ve tried a few of the restaurants on the main Riverside strip – Malbec, Soo Ra Thai, Moe’s, and my alma mater uses the Falcon Theatre for their final senior showcase. I even have a personal training client just off the main drag! Despite all of this, we don’t spend a ton of time exploring; usually just a quick in and out, on a mission. I blame this on LA’s poor walkability and lack of solid public transit. In NYC, NoHo to Toluca Lake would be one or two subway stops, or a quick bus that comes every 10-15 minutes. Here, the subway takes you all the way PAST Toluca into Universal and you’re lucky if buses run every 30 minutes. But enough griping about transit.
Normally we grocery shop on Sunday nights, but in observation of Memorial Day (and general laziness), we post-poned until last night. I had been on set all day and wasn’t fed lunch (story for another post) so I was STARVING. I noticed the Grilled Cheese Truck parked across the street and pointed it out to the boy… who suggested we have it for dinner. Sold.
I’m familiar with the truck but I hadn’t eaten anything from them until last night. The menu is solid, offering a wide variety of grilled cheese combinations on different types of bread, including a couple of sweet dessert choices, and their signatureMacaroni & Cheese with Sharp Cheddar, BBQ Pork, and Caramelized Onions. I had a hard time deciding between the goat cheese and brie options, but ultimately went with the Herbed Goat Cheese with Roasted Butternut Squash, Cranberry-Pear Relish, and Spiced Pecans. The boy got the Mac & Rib, and we also got a half order of tater tots to share.
My sandwich was delicious; it tasted like the Thanksgiving of my vegan days. Nutty carbs from the bread and pecans, sweet from the relish, savory from the cheese and the roasted squash tying it altogether. Swoon worthy. I tried a bite of the short rib and it was also really good. Tender meat, slightly sweet from the BBQ sauce and solid mac & cheese. The tots were spot on; crispy outside, tender in the middle with a hint of salt and just enough grease to feel “naughty.”
Now, we knew the truck wouldn’t be parked on Riverside just for the heck of it; there had to be a bar around. Sure enough, tucked between store fronts was an adorable wine spot we had never seen called Spin the Bottle.
We wandered in while waiting for our food and were greeted by a very friendly bartender who offered us a taste of whatever we desired. The menu had a variety of options both from the bottle, and on tap (so cool!) including my favorite – Pinot Noir (this one from Banshee). I got both a taste and a full glass of it. I also tried the boy’s taste of Grenache, as well as the Syrah/Sangiovese blend that he ordered a glass of. The pinot was vibrant and juicy, and the PERFECT temperature, which I’m guessing has to do with their tap system.
Glasses ran between $8 and $14 dollars, with a flight tasting option, and some snacks as well. We drank our wine with our sandwiches… super classy. We spoke with owner Doug LaGambina a bit and he mentioned that he’s planning on bringing the Grilled Cheese truck back at least once a month this summer (perhaps twice) and will also have the Urban Oven – an artisan pizza truck.
Spin the Bottle started as a pop-up wine tasting studio, with the majority of their events taking place at Hollywood’s wood and vine. The Toluca Lake location has been open since December 2013 and has wine available for purchase, as well as a bar for tasting.
Not having a place like this in NoHo (sadly), we certainly plan to come back, perhaps to a Tuesday Tappy Hour (wines on tap are $5/glass from 4p-7p) or a Friday Flight Night (though I can’t really figure out what this one entails other than the flight is pre-selected). Like and follow them, plus sign up for the newsletter to stay on top of all their events and specials. Especially the food trucks. Yum.
*Opinions expressed are my own. I was not compensated for this post in any way, and have no affiliation or relationship with the businesses mentioned.