I’m a die-hard foodie. I hunt out every local cart, truck, farmer’s market, pop-up, and Mom-and-Pop-hole-in-the-wall to sample their kimchi-marinated, locally-foraged truffle tacos with charred shiitake ash. So it is with some trepidation I admit my guilty pleasure…
I love chain restaurants. Always have. Always will.
That’s why when I got the opportunity to go to the new Cheesecake Factory opening at Santa Monica Place, I didn’t blink. Though I’d never actually been to a Cheesecake Factory before, it was everything I expected, in the best way.
Something I’ve come to accept as a foodie in L.A, is that most of the time great food comes with terrible service. At some point “Hip” became synonymous with “Rude and apathetic.” As if great chefs treat service like a test; if the food is good enough we’ll keep coming back, even if the disgruntled hipster server gives us the finger. Luckily that is not the case at the Cheesecake Factory! We were warmly welcomed into the massive space by an army of hostesses who showed us to our seats.
Our friendly server flew in as we looked over the drink menu. There were certainly the silly-fun, sugary, neon slushies I’d expect at a chain, but as a welcome surprise, they had Venice Duck IPA, an often hard-to-find, delicious micro-brew made just a few blocks away.
There was also a variation of a Whiskey Smash, which is normally Whiskey, Lemon, Simple Syrup, Mint, and often some sort of muddled fruit. They ditch the mint and add passion fruit and Aperol, one of my favorite Italian Amari (Bittersweet Herbal Liqueurs.) It was quite refreshing. The drinks came out faster than if I’d poured them myself.
The food menu options were bountiful, with something for every palate: Salads, pastas, sandwiches and burgers of every shade under the bun. My guest ordered the Cuban Sandwich.
I ordered the Fried Mac-N-Cheese Burger, a choice soundly applauded by our server. Some blessed genius had decided to take their fried mac-n-cheese balls and plop one right on top of a cheeseburger. I took the first bite and gooey mac and cheese exploded into my mouth, which made the kid in me giggle. Needless to say, the food portions were positively gargantuan. We could easily have split one of the entrees and still left stuffed.
But of course we left room for CHEESECAKE!
If you’re shopping in Santa Monica Place and looking for a filling, friendly, fun place to bring the kids, I’d recommend stopping by The Cheesecake Factory. You’re sure to get a warm smile, quick service, and a big plate of delicious!