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One of America’s Biggest Fine Dining Names Is Scouting for Restaurant Spaces in LA

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Plus, vegan breakfast at Café Gratitude, and the best grilled cheese sandwiches in LA

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A dish at the Willows Inn on Lummi Island.
A dish at the Willows Inn on Lummi Island.
Bill Addison
Cathy Chaplin is a senior editor at Eater LA, a James Beard Award–nominated journalist, and the author of Food Lovers’ Guide to Los Angeles.

With Valentine’s Day around the corner, the Wall Street Journal takes a lovey-dovey look at the relationship between “restaurant-world power couple” Daniela Soto-Innes and Blaine Wetzel. Engaged last March, the two are looking to relocate to Los Angeles where Soto-Innes is opening two Arts District spots with Enrique Olvera in the coming months. According to the Wall Street Journal, Wetzel scouted locations for his own LA restaurant last year. While the project is currently on hold, Wetzel shares that he’s interested in opening a tiki bar with “really good ceviche, poke, fried chicken.”

Soto-Innes, who runs New York City’s top modern Mexican restaurants Cosme and Atla, met Wetzel, the head chef of critically-acclaimed the Willows Inn on Lummi Island, at a pintxos bar in Bilbao, Spain in 2018. Both were in Basque Country for the World’s 50 Best Restaurants awards.

In other news:

— Rise and shine at Café Gratitude, where breakfast is now served from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. on weekdays and 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on weekends. On the early morning menu are vegan takes on breakfast classics including chicken and waffles and frittatas.

— The Spielberg family’s Milky Way restaurant is celebrating its first anniversary on February 18 by giving all diners a 100 percent bounce back to spend on a return visit.

— The folks at LAist contemplate 13 of the top grilled cheese sandwiches in Los Angeles.

The latest episode of the LA Times’s Bucket List enlists the help of chef Sang Yoon to unlock the science behind fried chicken and features Tokyo Fried Chicken Co. in Monterey Park.

— It’s not too late to pick up something sweet for Valentine’s Day. LA’s own Compartés is always a sure bet. The Secret Admirer Series features handcrafted chocolate truffles that spell out a secret message when opened.

— For those who think Valentine’s Day is a horrible day to dine out (overpriced meals, impossible reservations, etc.), Time Out has a list of anti-Valentine’s Day parties around town.