Monday, December 24, 2007
This place used to be Uncle Darrows. Since it changed, I've passed by it for years. I finally checked it out. Hoagies and Wings, 5301 Venice Blvd, LA CA 90019, 323-934-1500, is a small place in my hood. It was a cold night and after ordering I sat there getting cold reading an LA Weekly. The clientele is everyone from folks in Gangsta attire, dates, families and folks who are dressed up driving up in their Benz's. Basically, this was the best Hoagie I've ever had. It was really-really tasty, hot, melty, spicy and chunky. The fries were so-so. I did not have and wings. That'll be on my second trip, soon.
I finally made it to Pann's this morning!!! Yay!!! I drove my girlfriend to LAX so we had breakfast at Pann's, 6710 La Tijera Blvd, LA CA 90045, 323-776-3770. It turns out that those diner scenes in the film Pulp Fiction were shot there. What a really cool place, definitely period architecture and the interior is awesome. Megan Rebeca had eggs, bacon and hasbrowns and I had the chicken fried steak with grits. Grits are like Japanese "Oka-yu" (rice porridge) except they're made out of corn meal and you can put butter in it. I really like it but I don't think I can eat it every morning. The first time I had grits was in Kentucky. My flight came in pretty late at night so the only place open on the highway was the Waffle House. We walked in and sat down. I saw grits on the menu, so I ordered that and waffles, of course. The waitress, in her southern drawl looked at me funny and said, "Honey, are you sure you want that?" I told her it was my first time eating grits and she said she didn't like grits and she was from the South. (it reminded my how a lot of Hawaiians don't like Poi) I loved it and it went very well with the waffles. Back at Pann, our server was very sweet and funny. I asked questions about the interior and photos they had up. She was very helpful. I can't say it was the best breakfast I had but I did really enjoy my grits. I will be back. By the way, I brought back some "Sock-it-to-me" cake. It was delicious. It's a butter cake with cinnamon and walnuts with a sugary glaze.
Caffe Roberto or is it Bellagio Ristorante? Either way, this is a family run place off the 405 and Marina Freeway at 11800 West Jefferson Blvd, Culver City CA 90230, 310-390-5736. The place is notorious for really slow-motion service. The food is old school Italian with a decent wine list. As we walked in and were seated last night, a patron and a waiter were in a verbal fight. I guess it was based on the patron and his family not getting bread served to their table. maybe they asked for it throughout their meal, maybe not. Anyway, the server who I believe is also the owner got pissed off with his attitude and gave him a piece of his mind. Well, maybe this is not professional and maybe the customer is always right but it's kind of cool to see the level of passion the owner had once he was insulted or criticized by the patron. Also, we got our meal within 45 minutes of being seated. I guess that's slow. It would be the last place I would go if I was in a hurry but otherwise the servers were very nice and I talk alot so 45 minutes went by fairly quickly.
Cuban food in Little Tokyo? I was skeptical at first but this place has sort of grown on me. Cuba Central, 114 S Central LA CA 90012, 213-687-3193 has a good array of Cuban cuisine including Cuban steak, shrimp dishes, Cuban Sandwhiches and Mojitos. I'm not sure how authentic it is. I have never been to Cuba but if you're in the DT LA area and want some food and a Mojito, this is your place.
Thursday, December 20, 2007
Last night was a rare rain evening in LA. I got out of the office a little late and while in bumper to bumper traffic on Sunset Blvd., the phone rang. It was my son to tell me that grandma made him and his sister dinner. All of a sudden, traffic didn't look so bad. Don't get me wrong, I love to cook but it's nice to have an unexpected break once in a while. I remembered seeing a chicken place on Glendale Blvd and decided to give it a try. Haitian food in Downtown LA! Ti George, 309 Glendale Blvd CA 90026, 213-353-994 has amazing rotisserie chicken. I walked in and it was rotating over coals inside the main room. The spices they use is so mysterious to me. It's unlike any other chicken I've had. It was absolutely delicious. My dinner also came with salad and platanos fritos. I drank a Malta which was rich, creamy and had an earthy root beer body. It reminded me of Guinness. I am definitely going back soon!
Monday, December 17, 2007
You know, some places puzzle me. You go in, you try the food and it just doesn't suit you. Yet, it's always packed and has been in business for decades. It boggles the mind. It's these types of places that I feel compelled to give a second chance. So I stopped going to this place twenty years ago but there it was yesterday so I tried it again. Nope, the wings and onion rings were greasy, tasteless, and without substance. I will say that their extra-hot hotwings sauce is excellent but the chicken doesn't taste good. I can't put my finger on it. It's like they don't put any seasonings on the chicken before they fry it. It's so odd to me. Nothings for everyone.
Real Food Daily, 414 North La Cienega Blvd LA CA 90048 is a vegan restaurant. The food was fresh and organic. The taste is subtle but hearty. I had a navy bean soup that an excellent beans. The beans where not overcooked and retained their body and substance. I ordered sushi roils with brown rice. It was filling but the taste was a little too invisible for me. I had the house Merlot. That was excellent. The dining experience is fun. It's very festive in there. The view of lovely women was breath taking. Yes, there must be something to vegan cuisine.
Philly Cheesesteak anyone? Wow, this is a extremely meaty sandwich with spices and grilled onions. This is a really filling, drink a lot of soda type of meal. It was great and I took a nap after I finished it. Victor Jr. 10113 Washington Blvd Culver City CA 90232, 310-559-8900.
Back from a major renovation, Sawtelle kitchen is pretty spectacular now. Located at 2024 Sawtelle Blvd, West LA CA 90025, 310-473-2222, they have expanded but kept their groove and menu pretty much intact. The eggplant salad was different or maybe it just looks different because now they have interior lighting and I can see my food now. Everything was yummy. The servers are still sweet and struggling with their English. The walls are still dark moody mustard colored and the food is awesome. Of course, Ii was so happy that they still make the homemade ice cream. I had a raspberry white chocolate ice cream this time. Mann that was good!
Thursday, December 13, 2007
I heard that the view from the roof seating area was very pretty. Well, unfortunately, it was too cold today but our birthday lunch for Jorge Pardo was a lot of fun at Suriyo, which he pronounced "surreal". Suriyo is located at 4114 Santa Monica Blvd, LA CA 90029, 323-662-9052 in Silver lake, right where SM ends at Sunset Blvd.
We had an assortment of Satay's, curries, brown rice, Thai ice teas, etc. It's all good and the service was very sweet. we got there early for lunch so we were the only ones there. The cold winter air made it feel like we were in New York or the Bay Area. The Holiday lights were up and everyone ate till we got sleepy.
I sensed the server ordered the food not so spicy for us but it could have been a little bit hotter for me. The portions where decent and the lunch price is very reasonable. I can't say it's the best Thai food I ever had but it sure was a lot of fun.
Thursday, December 6, 2007
Fisherman's Outlet, 529 South Central Avenue, LA CA 90013, 213-627-7231 is near 6th Street and Central between the Produce District and Little Tokyo. It's most definitely a Downtown LA lunch-time favorite. The seafood is fresh. They fry, grill and broil. I love the clam chowder, especially on a cold day. Today I ordered the shrimp Cesar salad but often I get the seafood platter which is all fried fish and shrimp. What is it about fried shrimp that brings out the child in us? It's just fun and nostalgic to eat here. The lines can get pretty long but they move fast!
Tompkins Square Bar and Grill is on the corner of Manchester and Lincoln, 8522 Lincoln Blvd, Westchester CA. They have awesome hamburgers and a lot of various draft beers. The place gets pretty crowded and on Wednesday evenings they have a Trivial Pursuit Tournament. I enjoy the multitudes of flat screens that are usually on a game. Last night it was the Lakers VS the Nuggets. The Lakers won! It was their first back to back W this season. YAY!!! The owner of Tompkins is a very charismatic man who has so much pride about his place it makes the food and beer taste that much better and the place that more welcoming.
Last night, artists Seth Hoercher, Jeffery James Mohr and I went for a late dinner after our 9-hole-in-the-thick-December-fog golf game (It's a 15 hole course. It used to be 18 but LAX took away a chunk of the course at one point). last night, you couldn't see the hole from the tee and I lost a couple of balls in the fog. It was fun but you knew the few other parties playing couldn't see you either so a couple of times a ball from another party would land near you. No one got hurt, It's all good. In fact, it was awesome; like being in England with werewolves. It was my third time playing golf. I hit a lot fewer divots this time and my arms aren't as sore this morning. The course is across the street more or less from Tompkins. There's nothing like a beer after golf. I guess I've already started some bad golf habits.
Tuesday, December 4, 2007
Marengo Grill, 1830 Marengo St LA CA 90033, 323-225-2425 is in a strip mall across the street from the USC Medical Center. They have a full menu including pizza, pasta, Mexican style dishes, sandwiches, and ribs. The menu is kind of all over the place. I ordered the ravioli special and a Pelligrino. My food was pretty good but Jeff's salad and Lasagna was so-so. You order at the front counter and they bring the food to you at your table. It's a very small, one-room place. They had odd framed photos of the newly constructed USC Medical Center annex in construction as their decor. Each photo, in its glass frame had a tinfoil matte. For some reason, that about sums it up for me.
Monday, December 3, 2007
Photographer David Yamamoto, who loves his BBQ, has been telling me to go to JR's for months now. JR's is located at 3055 South La Cienega Blvd Culver City CA 90232, 310-837-6838. It's where La Cienega meets Fairfax (for you painters out there, it's where Nova Colors is). I met Robert there. I think he's the co-owner or owner but I'm not sure. He was very kind and funny. The interior is clean and old school with lots of photos of celebrities who love the food there. I ordered a pork ribs plate with "hot" sauce on the side. This "hot" sauce cleared my sinuses but it was just enough so you could still enjoy the meat. I have had sauce so hot you can't taste anything anymore and what's the point of that? Lots of meat on these ribs. I got so full. The sides where delicious and the sweet potato pie was excellent. Next time, I am definitely ordering the rib-tips and the Sock-it-to-me cake. Also, they have a HD TV screen playing college football. What more do you need? Thanks Robert!
I thought I wrote about this place already but I guess not. if so, I'm writing about again. This time, we stayed for dinner. They have three kinds of ravioli's; cheese, beef and spinach. I love ravioli. Whenever I go to an Italian place, I inevitably order the ravioli. I fond memories of being in Monterrey CA and watching them make it in the storefront off the pier. So cool. Anyway, Gelatos, 806 South Robertson LA CA 90035-1605 310-659-8069, makes a really good and hearty ravioli that is served in a soup of sauce in a really big bowl. Really, one order is good for two if you plan on having a salad and a gelato with your meal. The people are soo nice there and they really treat you well. They exude that sense that it's a family run place. ...and then there's the desserts. I had a cappuccino gelato that was absolutely delicious. I've been eating it since the mid 80's. I love it. They also have home-made cakes and pies. I love there apple pie. I have never ordered it but but I like the way it looks. The wall of the crust is easily 10 inches. It just looks awesome. I'm sure it's really good. It's hard to pass up the hand-made gelato. You just have a wealth to choose from here.
Friday, November 30, 2007
Joey's Cafe, 8301 Santa Monica Blvd, West Hollywood CA 90069, 323-822-0671, is a cool little corner cafe that has great breakfasts and lunch-dinner meals. I especially appreciate the fact that they serve fair trade coffee. I had a delicious and huge grilled chicken salad, a thick and yummy tortilla soup and chamomile tea. I was there for dinner but I would like to go back for breakfast one of these mornings. I wonder if they have my favorite coffee, Bitches Brew.
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Buster's, 1006 Mission Street South Pasadena CA 91030, 626-441-0744, I was told, was started by two sisters who had a small ice cream business. Now it's a two story, community-oriented, coffee shop with sandwiches, desserts and soups. it's a classic destinations and I am not sure if they still do this but they used to have live music at night. Here's their banana split. it's pretty decent but they didn't have any pineapple syrup or strawberry syrup. The ice cream is alright, not too sweet, which I can appreciate. It comes in a plastic boat, which is very nostalgic.
I remember the first time I went to Papa Dons, 303 Pasadena Avenue South Pasadena CA 91030 626-799-8397, in the early 90's. It felt so hidden but I guess that's because I was so new to the South Pasadena area. They have great salami and meatball sandwiches and their soups a delicious. I think what I like most about the place are the cool folks who work there. It really feels like a labor of love, a family-vibe, and reminder of the Italian population that used to be so large around there and all the way to Chinatown. Galco's, Eastside Deli., Stefano's, etc. There are still places that give you a glimpse of what the LA Italian tradition is rooted in. Pictured here is "The Lite". I didn't get the meatball 'cause I had just eaten a banana split at Buster's down the block.
Monday, November 26, 2007
Artist, Jeff Mohr has introduced me to golf. There's a 15 hole course near LAX and we've been twice so far. My new nickname is "divot". This last time, after 9 holes, we went to a place called Pars for dinner, 5844 W. Manchester Avenue, LA CA, 310-645-6666. This is a funny place in that they have a full Persian menu, full Italian menu and hamburgers. It's actually a nice and cozy dinner atmosphere. We ordered off the Persian menu. We had baked lamb shank and Khouresht Bodemjan (sauteed eggplant and tomatoes in saffron sauce). The food was great. I've had most of it before at David and Mona's but I still haven't memorized the names of the dishes. i did know to spread the butter on the bread and eat it with the raw onions.
This place advertises a lot! We've seen their ads before movies, late night on tv and magazines. I have friends who praise this place and others who say it's overrated. Chosun Galbee, 3330 Olympic Blvd, LA CA 90019, 323-734-3330. we went on a Friday evening and it was packed. We had to wait 20 minutes. They have a small bar so we drank wine while in the lobby with lots of others. Their were couples, friends and families. It was very festive and friendly which was a contrast to the high-architecture interior and up-scale look of the servers and hosts. We sat outside which is well designed to be comfortable and semi-elegant. Our house wines were delicious and the sides was a wide-assortment of tastes including bean sprouts with sesame oil, kim chee and fish cakes. The galbee (bbq beef) was not great meat. Everything else was great. Lastly, the service was excellent but the way the environment was, it really feels like they don't want you to stay long.