If you’ve ever eaten out in L.A. (and if you haven’t, you definitely should), you know that Angelinos are all about the avocado. You’ll find it on sandwiches, on burgers, in the ubiquitous chips and guac appetizers, and – for about the last decade or so – on toast. It should come as no surprise that this city has a serious love affair with avocado toast. And given that L.A. trends tend to influence the rest of the country, it should also come as no surprise that America has quickly followed suit. Here’s how avocado toast became so popular.
Origins in… Australia?
Avocado toast may be synonymous with SoCal, but it actually has its origins “Down Under.” That’s right, the Aussies initially popularized this delicious dish. And here’s another surprise for you: while the dish really became popular in the 2010s, it first appeared on the dining scene back in the early 90s (as someone who came of age during the era of light-up sneakers and Fruit Roll-Ups, this warms my millennial heart). Credit goes to Bill Granger, who first sold avocado toast in his Sydney cafe. For this reason, Granger is often referred to as the “Godfather” of the dish. And, as any of my friends will tell you, this is a toast I can’t refuse!
Social Media Darling
Social media sites – especially Instagram – have a way of catapulting certain dishes to superstar status. The cronut comes to mind, as does the ramen burger (still not sure how I feel about that one, meat aside). You can definitely add avocado toast to that list. The last decade saw a mild Instagram obsession with this Australian export, and influencers helped its popularity spread across the U.S., and the world. And as much as I would like to say I first saw avocado toast at a hip cafe in L.A. or Sydney, I first caught wind of it through an intriguing Instagram post about ten years ago. My, how time flies.
Avocado Toast Backlash
Like any social media star, avocado toast has attracted its fair share of haters. The decadent dish soon became a shorthand for millennial excess. The Cut – a subsidiary of New York Magazine – called avocado toast “the most annoying food on Instagram”. Back in the country of its origin, Australian millionaire mogul Tim Gurner advised millennials to stop buying avocado toast and put that money toward a house instead. My two cents? Like it or not, avocado toast is here to stay. And by making the dish at home whenever you get a craving, you can have your toast and eat it too.
Top 5 Avocado Toasts In L.A.
Now for the question I know you’re all asking: “What are the top five avocado toast spots in L.A.?” After some serious research (i.e. binging), I think I have an answer for you. Here were my five favorite avocado toasts in the City of Angels.
This trendy Westlake cafe serves breakfast all day, which means you can grab some fresh avocado toast whenever you’re craving it (I know I’ve been prone to a few midday avocado toast cravings). With toppings like whipped garlic crème fraîche, scallions, hot pickled carrots, and house za’atar, this is some next-level avocado toast. This is what I meant by “customizable.” Thankfully, they also offer a vegan version that includes sunflower tahini and olive oil.
Lodge Bread Company
Let’s face it, the avocado plays the starring role in this L.A. dish. So much so that it’s easy to forget that all-important supporting role: the toast. But at Lodge Bread Company (a bakery/cafe with multiple L.A. locations), the toast is elevated to co-star status. That’s because Lodge bakes its own bead and serves it in hearty, rustic slices. Topped with purple radish, lemon, EVOO, and cracked pepper, this avocado toast has a true ensemble cast.
If you want an avocado toast that’s a little “extra” (and who doesn’t?), check out Cos&Pi: a self-described neighborhood bakery in Pasadena. One of the things that sets this avocado toast apart is the slightly sweet brioche bread, which offers a good contrast to the oily avocado. The ricotta cheese, Espelette peppers, pickled baby tomatoes, and edible herbs and flowers don’t hurt either.
This upscale Santa Monica diner offers a fantastic weekend brunch, with avocado toast being the main attraction. Here, the base is a grilled olive toast, for that subtle char I never knew avocado toast needed. EVOO and cucumber/onion relish top it all off for a slightly decadent take on a contemporary California classic. And since you’re just a few blocks from the beach, you can swim all those calories off–just make sure to wait an hour!
GTA: Gjelina Take Away
Just south of Santa Monica, you’ll find Venice, a beach neighborhood known for its quirky characters. The avocado toast at GTA – the takeout counter for the neighboring Gjelina restaurant – is no exception. An otherwise standard avocado toast gets a welcome touch of uniqueness from pistachio-hazelnut duqqa: a Middle Eastern spice blend that I fell in love with in Egypt. To me, an avocado toast with global fusion flavors is the most California thing ever. And I’m all for it.
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