As Sqirl is to the east side, so is Superba Food +Bread to the west. Long considered one of the most essential bakeries in Los Angeles due to their signature pain au levain (read: classic sourdough) and other baked offerings including pastries, brioche, and cinnamon buns, the Venice flagship is a stalwart spot for the salads and toast fare that defines modern California cuisine. Though they’ve tried additional locations in areas like El Segundo, North Hollywood, and Pasadena with mixed results, this location remains beloved. The perfect way to eat at Superba is to track down a dining partner who is willing to go the plate-sharing route, and select three items: one toast, one salad, and one main.
Splitting those three will reveal the best of what Superba has to offer, from the classic avocado toast on fresh bread with watermelon radish and pickled onion ($13), to the black kale salad topped with pickled golden raisins, dusted with pecorino and pine nuts, and of course, including a generous portion of levain croutons. It might be a salad, but the dose of bread and size ensures it’s a hearty meal on its own, too. But skipping one of their expertly seared plates of chicken or salmon ($24-$26) is a mistake, and diving into an exquisite bowl of cacio y pepe ($20) with tellicherry pepper is the key to turning a sluggish late afternoon around.
I love to head over to the cafe midday on a slow weekday, and take advantage of the ample patio, or the additional parking lot seating they’ve installed during the pandemic, to indulge in a glass of wine in the sunshine. Wine by the glass leans to the $13-$17 range, but the selection is broad and the pours are fairly generous. I’d be remiss not to mention they offer plenty of egg dishes, sandwiches, and even the current all-day menu gets into some fairly standard brunch items like hotcakes ($13), croissant french toast ($14.5) and a breakfast burrito that includes quinoa (!), refried lentils, and greens ($14).
Vegetarians will also feel particularly catered to with a whole section of roast veggie options, just come after 4 PM to hit the dinner menu up for a selections of bloomsdale spinach with lemon, garlic, and parmesan ($11.5), fried brussel sprouts with walnuts and grapes ($12) or baby sweet potatoes made elegant with green tahini and shishitos ($11). Seafood fanatics can seek out the raw bar options — available all day, not just at dinner — including big eye tuna crudo at $17 that’s exquisite. With daily dinner specials and a vast selection of coffees, mixed non-alcoholic drinks (and alcoholic ones), there’s literally something for everyone.
When Paul Hibler opened the restaurant over six years ago, the design elements of the space and industrial-chic indoor/outdoor feel were huge selling points for a local crowd eager for spaces that could stand on their own, aesthetically. In times of COVID, the beauty of the airy, indoor space is mostly on hold, but an attention to detail holds firm: All of the parking lot seating is blessedly shaded, and while plenty of makeshift outdoor tables I’ve dined at recently were creaky or slanted, Superba would never. With a new West Hollywood location coming soon, it will be interesting to see what other measures they take in the new space to ensure it’s equally welcoming, indoors or outdoors.
Take anyone who wants to get a real feel for California-style eating to Superba, out-of-towners or your friend who always wants to be at the hip, well-known spots. Despite their excellent reputation and bakery-forward fare, the vibe at this cafe is never pretentious, a fine line to walk in a city increasingly aware that it is finally getting its due as an American food epicenter. But for even the most casual Angeleno diner, a visit to this west side spot can be a breath of fresh air, particularly for east siders coping with the weight of a long quarantine. Superba always makes the cross-town drive worth it, with fresh bread, gorgeous produce, and hearty plates. Take a fresh loaf home with you to extend the bright spot in your week a little longer.