On the chilled and quiet corner of North Virgil Avenue in downtown Los Angeles, hidden under a big green flowering tree, you will find the up and coming, much hyped, brunch spot known as “Sqirl.” Open since 2012, the small, but extremely cute, restaurant offers a variety of different dishes appealing to everyone. They refer to themselves as ‘Bacon serving but vegan friendly’, which makes it a place for everyone to enjoy. They serve an awesome-looking selection of breakfast and lunch dishes to its eager customers, who, knowing what’s coming, are happy to wait their turn in line.
For months now my friends have been going to Sqirl restaurant several times a week for a cool and satisfying brunch. I decided I had to go check it out for myself and see what it was all about. Amongst my friends, Sqirl is known for their ‘Toast” but they do have a variety of awesome things to choose from. I couldn’t wait to check it out! Because I didn’t know exactly what kind of place it was I decided to do some research before I got there.
Like My Humor, Sqirl Has No Reservations
When you walk up to Sqirl restaurant you are automatically greeted by a bunch of people outside enjoying their meal. The place has a chilled out vibe, which means no reservations can be made. First comes first serve. If you want to walk in and order you can, in fact, you have to. In my opinion It’s so much better that way, whenever my friends and I decide we want to go out to eat it’s usually a last minute thing, so if we wanted to just pop in and there were only one table left, we would just be able to take it without someone saying “oh this is reserved for guests who are coming”. Their ‘go with the flow’ attitude attracts a lot of the young LA scene. Definitely one of the cool restaurants in LA.
N Virgil Avenue
The location of Sqirl is pretty central and easy to find. N Virgil Avenue is a quiet street in the City of Silver Lake that contains a variety of different downtown LA restaurants and small stores. No major landmarks on the street, which means there is rarely any traffic. Unlike many places in California, the weather in the area is always warm and welcoming during the day and night, which makes eating in that location much more enjoyable because we have the option to sit inside or outside without having to worry about sweating to death.
The Legendary ‘Jessica Koslow’
The 34-year-old chef-owner of Sqirl, Jessica Koslow, grew up in Long Beach California with her mother. She found inspiration after eating at Anne Quatrano’s Bacchanalia and Star Provisions. After her meal, Jessica went home and emailed Quatrano, who called the next day, and offered her work. A year went by and Koslow learned how to cook with integrity in one of the South’s most honored kitchens.
Pressured by society, Jessica felt that she was obligated to get some kind of degree so she was off to New York with the hopes of becoming a television producer. No matter how hard she tried to admit it wasn’t true, her real dream was food and there was no denying that. She decided to come back to California and take a night job working in a village bakery, and during the day in office. After a few months went by, Koslow decided it was time to make her dream into a reality. In 2012 Jessica opened Sqirl, and now it is considered one of the best restaurants in LA. The hip new place grew fast. The faster it grew the more Koslow became an integral part of the East Hollywood community.
Inside Sqirl Restaurant
Just hearing all of the good things from my friends and reading all of the reviews online, I was impressed with Sqirl without even having set foot inside. As soon as I approached the corner of N Virgil Ave in downtown LA, I was immediately able to recognize the place by its distinct beautiful location, slightly shaded by the flowering Pink Tabebuia tree. The lines were out the door so, I have to admit, I was a bit worried that it would be crowded. However, due to its fast and amazing service the line quickly evaporated! It was definitely full but, surprisingly, not so crowded. We were able to grab a few seats at a table inside and eat by the wall.
My friends and I like to take our time when we order, so sitting by the wall was our best choice, due to the menu being directly above us (They don’t offer paper menus). When I walked inside the restaurant I noticed immediately how clean it was. I was surprised because small spaces that are usually crowded tend to get dirty fast, however, this was not the case.
Something that I liked a lot was that we had the choice to sit outside or inside. Inside gives off the vibe of a more communal eating area due to the table setup. There is only one table in the middle of the restaurant with a bunch of chairs and another bar-like table against the wall. I liked this option because I noticed a lot of people coming to eat alone, Sqirl definitely knows it’s patrons. When you aren’t with a group of people, sitting at a table alone can be uncomfortable and not so fun. However, when sitting at a large table that’s more ‘café style’ you are able to be along side the other people coming to pick up a quick bite to eat who are also by themselves. The outside seating was nice in its own way. People who are sitting outside are most likely eaiting with a group. Small wooden tables for 2 or 3 people are placed outside in a shaded area to try and keep everyone comfortable. Although I chose to sit inside, If you are taking your date out to eat there I would recommend sitting outside because it has a more intimate feeling.
The staff inside and outside was warm, friendly and helpful. I was very impressed with the way that the staff was able to get everyone’s order out fast and on the dot. I didn’t see or hear of a single person who was unhappy with what was going on. Although the area itself is small, the staff was able to utilize the space, making sure that everyone who sat and ate was comfortable and was able to get what they needed.
Menu & Food
Taking a look into the Sqirl menu, I have to admit, I was a bit surprised at the variety of what they offered. They are famous for their different toasts so I, unjustly, assumed that toasts would be the the majority of the menu, however, I was pleasantly surprised. I began looking through their breakfast menu. Their main dishes were Eggs, Rice Bowls, Toasts, different meat side dishes (like bacon), and granola plates along with vegetables. I found myself trying a bit of everything. To give you examples and recommendations on what to order, I’ll list a few of their most popular dishes:
- Famous Damus– Soft Scramble breakfast sandwich, Surryano Ham, Chives on Ciabatta. (sub avocado for a vegetarian version)
- Green Eggs & Jam Tartine – Creamed Spinach, onion jam, “toad in a hole” with wild arugula 10
- Seared Polenta – Spring Vegetables Cooked in Whey, Fried Egg, Greens 12
Although I’m not the biggest egg person, I felt that I had to try some of what my friends were eating. I took a piece of the ‘Famous Damus’ and I have to say, I was impressed. For a simple egg, it was cooked perfectly and full of flavor.
- Sorrel Pesto Rice – A Kokuko Rose Brown Rice, with Sorrel Pesto (nut free), Preserved Meyer Lemon, Lacto-Fermented, Hot Sauce, Radish, French Sheep Feta, and a Poached Egg
- The Stella – The Vegan version of the sorrel pesto rice with kale, but no feta or egg
I had a taste of the Pesto Rice Bowl. For all of those Pesto fans out there, I would definitely recommend this dish. It was filled with different tastes. Although it was pesto rice, there were so many other flavors that the pesto definitely did not override as much as I expected. Towards the end of eating it was pretty sour which I personally liked.
- French Toast – Brioche Stuffed with Jam & Baked “Pain Perdu” Style Served with Creme Fraiche, Add Maple Syrup
- Brioche Toast – with your choice of jam
With your choice of jam & freshly milled almond hazelnut butter
- Chocolate & Nut Butter Toast– Guittard Chocolate & Hazelnut Butter with Maldon Salt
- Avocado Toast – JJ’s Avocados, hot pickled carrots, green garlic creme fraiche, wood sorrel, house za’atar
- Famed Ricotta Toast– Burnt Brioche Toast with House Ricotta, Choice of Seasonal Jam
Being that Sqirl has a reputation as the best brunch restaurant in LA I have to say that I tried almost all of these dishes and loved them all. My favorite one was the Burnt Brioche toast with Ricotta cheese. The jam is seasonal so it changes. I expected the toast to be very sweet but the sweet jam and ricotta went really well together. It was recommended to me to try the plum jam and it was out of this world.
The lunch menu that they offered was definitely simpler but just as delicious! They offer things like sandwiches and salads. A few main popular lunch dishes:
- Green Goddess – Market Greens, Chicories, Shaved Root Vegetables, Avocado, Soft Egg
- Kabbouleh – Kale, cauliflower, Cucumber, Crispy Rice, sumac, aleppo, currants.
- Chicken Salad – Mary’s chicken, Market Greens, Northern California Garbanzos, Straus Cream Mustard Dressing and a soft egg. Served with House Rugbrod
I ordered the Crispy Rice salad and liked it a lot. In just a few words, it was light and bright and all came together in a very tasty manner. If you’re a person who has a big appetite you should get the vegan version because it has mixed greens and avocados.
- Gold – Prosciutto, Fennel, Burnt Baguette
- Romesco – Catalonian dried ancho & Almond Spread, House Ricotta, Greens
- The Dream – The Romesco sandwich w/ Prosciutto
- Roasted Lamb – Urfa Mayo, Arugula, House Giardiniera
- Tomato Jam – Beecher’s Cheddar, Arugula
I have to say that I fell in love with the Warm Roast Lamb Sandwich. It had Tomato, Arugula, and Saffron Aioli. The meat is sliced thin and is super tender making it cooked to perfection. All together the lamb was very tasty and is something I would come back and order it again any day.
Who’s Ready For Drinks?
Sqirl restaurant has a diverse drink menu that will keep you happy during every season. They offer different coffees such as: Heart Parlor Coffee, Ruby Roasters, Ritual, 49th Parallel, and the George Howell. They also offer a great diverse espresso menu. They have Cappuccinos, The “Al Puccino” (which is a Sweetened Iced Cappuccino), Almond Milk Latte , Sweet Latte, and Mocha. I personally enjoyed the “Al Puccino” a lot because it had a sweet taste but at the same time still had the rich cappuccino flavor that everyone loves.
For people who aren’t coffee lovers don’t you worry! They also have a pretty awesome tea menu that offers just as much. You can choose from hot, cold, or herbal tea.
Although it is seasonal, they also have a fresh juice menu. (My favorite). The menu has different types of orange juices, Lemon juices, and ruby red grapefruit juice. Each juice is refreshing with every meal.
Sqirl Review In a Nutshell
The bottom line – This is for sure one of the best restaurants in Los Angeles. It is an incredible brunch spot. The location is so central, quiet, and easy to find. Sqirl can easily become apart of anybodies weekly food routine. I was impressed with the speedy and hard working staff. They were helpful and kind. I thought that I was going to be waiting for a long time but I only had to wait a little less then 20 minutes until I got my food! The Sqirl menu was filled with so many different things for so many different people, that it seems like just about anybody can eat there and really enjoy themselves. The food was superb. I don’t think there was a single dish that I didn’t like.
The legendary Jessica Koslow has created an awesome and relaxing environment that has got the attention of the young and hip community in downtown LA. Offering a great and diverse menu, great prices, and a chilled out environment, Sqirl has quickly become one of the most popular places to grab a quick bite. If you’re looking for a great Silver Lake brunch, this is without a doubt the best place to go!
Make sure to check out our Wokcano Menu review for an awesome Asian-Fusion restaurant!