Friday, November 30, 2007

Joey's Cafe

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.

Papa Dons Deli

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.

Chosun Galbee

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.

El Coyote

El Coyote, 7312 Beverly Blvd, LA CA 90036, 323-939-2255 has been around since 1931. Mann, that's a long time. I remember going there in college. It was as popular then as it is now. There's a kind of "trendy' feel to the crowd. Maybe it's the Hollywood vibe. The food is not too bad. I had a taco and tamale that was really good. The beans were tasty which is always a good sign. My favorite part of the meal this weekend was the Margareta. They have several. I asked the server what he recommended and he said the "Scratch". It was very delicious and high in alcohol content. For $6.50, you can't go wrong. Oh yeah, when we walked in, comedian Bobby Lee was standing in front with some friends. He's pretty funny. We saw him at the iHop on Santa Monica Blvd about a month ago. He was by himself eating an ice cream sundae. I guess he likes to eat out too.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Pizza Buona

Since 1959, this family has been serving old school Italian meals to LA with a lot of heart. Pizza Buona, 2100 Sunset Blvd, LA CA 213-413-0800, sits on the southwest corner of Alvarado and Sunset with a clear shot of the American Apparrel ad that Jose Lopez calls "soft porn". Lunch with Jose is a lot of fun. "That was a lot of carbs!!!" I have friends that love this place and other friends who don't think much of it. The pizza is that chunks of cheese type pizza with a lot of oil seeping between the cheese layer and tomato sauce. It's not your thin crust pizza nor is it your deep dish type but a dimension between the two worlds. I will say that I really enjoyed my salad with italian dressing and the eggplant sandwhich. The eggplant was fried thin and the bread was meaty. The service is family-style through and through. But if you can go with Jose so that you can laugh in between each bite, that would be highly reccomended.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Sweedler/Ramirez Encino BBQ Part II

After two hours in the LA November cold, we were full and freezing having been served tamales, smoked fish, chips & homemade salsa and soda (I had beer from a keg). We decided to leave. It was late and the kids had a basketball game the next morning. Ironically, we didn't get to eat any ribs, roasted chicken, roasted pork or vegetables which was still being cooked when we left. However, we did get to witness the cooked pig. While watching them raise the pig from the pit, my daugher whispered to me, "it's vegetarian time". The next day, they told me, even if they were hungry, they wouldn't have been able to eat the pig. I think I was told it was 160 pounds. Rather huge, It was almost human-like as they hoisted out of the pit and laid it in its body-bag onto the table. The crowd huddled around the table taking pictures as did I. I heard one person laughing "hey, it's still moving' and another who joked, "hey, isn't that Mavis from down the block?"

It's awesome to see this take place. We are definitely City-folk, not being able to stomach the reality of where our meat comes from. I also thought it was cool that Rich had a pit in his backyard just for this type of baking, awesome and impressive. Good times, good times. Note to self, avoid making your guest wait in the cold night for 2 hours before you serve dinner.

Sweedler/Ramirez Encino BBQ Part I

This weekend, my kids and their best friends went to an invitation only BBQ in Encino. We were invited by the notoriously amazing Rob Sweedler, co-owner of Roark Art Supply and culinary master. Not really knowing what the evening entailed, we went hungry and brought with us a cake from Susina Bakery (raspberry-almond tart).

Rob told me about his past culinary shin-digs, manned by friends who owned top restaurants around town and culinary enthusiasts from around Southern Cal. We made our way to Richard Ramirez's home in Encino. It was dark already and already filled with people, families and chefs. We all sat outside. Tables with table clothed covered Rich's backyard. Decorative lights, drinks, snacks and staff filled the air with conversation and laughter.

We sat in the back next to a big dirt mound, which we witnessed latter to be a pit where the pig was being cooked. The chef's gave me a tour of the cooking area. There was fresh fish just caught two days ago in Cabo that was being smoked. We got to taste this later. Oh my God! It melted in your mouth and that smoked flavor is memorable.

We waited outside for two hours and were served chips and homemade salsa. This salsa is the juiciest salsa I've ever had. The tomatoes bursted with flavor and spunk.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Nuvias Restaurant and Papuseria

I think I was first introduced to Papusas by a poet from El Salvador. Only being familiar with "Mexican" food, this resembled a tostada but was much more hearty. The round corn tortilla-like base is warm and soft but a lot thicker than your average Mexican Tortilla. The meats and cheese are inside the tortilla-like base. Then you get a bowl of pickled lettuce and spices and you put that on top. You can put hot sauce on top of that and then you eat it with a fork.

Nuvias, 1525 W. Sunset Blvd., LA CA 90026, 213-922-0577 serves a really good one. They have other dishes on the menu and they have the El Salvadorian Quesadilla, which is totally not like a Mexican Quesadilla but rather like a rich thin cake. Good, home-cooking like El Salvadorian food. You just can't beat it.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Label's Table Deli

There's quite a few places to eat on Pico around Robertson which is primarily a Jewish community. The Museum of Tolerance is a couple of blocks away. I found Label's Table Deli, 9226 West Pico Blvd., LA CA 310-276-0388,, this weekend.

Appropriately, I had just seen the film "Steal a Pencil for Me", a story about two Holocaust survivors and how they fell in love just prior to being put into the concentration camps. They continued communication during their years there and the films about how they survived, in part, due to their love for each other. It was a sobering and endearing film.

Afterwards, I was hungry so I drove down to Pico and decided to try a new place which turned out to be Label's. What a great pastrami sandwhich! Fresh meats, toasty rye bread and just the right amount of mustard. The pickles where fresh and crunchy. I ordered a Matzo Ball soup too. If it's on the menu, it's always hard to pass up and was perfect for the weather, a little chilly and gray. I also bought a couple of kinishes which I heated later at home and ate. One was filled with potatos and the other had corn beef/hash in it.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Seafood Bay

Back in the early 80's when I was in art school, artist Christopher Williams worked at Seafood Bay on Sunset Blvd. Although he was one of our most respected art teachers at Otis, recently a graduate of CalArts along with other artist teachers of ours Stephen Prina and Mike Kelly, he worked at the restaurants at night. We really liked Christopher and felt honored to be able to see him and say hello while eating very affordable and good seafood. It was great and when we could afford it, we would go there as much as possible. I discovered a love for shark steak there. They closed a long time ago and with it a phase of Silver Lake long gone.

Well, there's another Seafood Bay in East LA (no relationship evidentally) at 1240 South Soto LA CA 90023, 323-296-6874 where we had lunch today. They have a fairly massive menu and promote themselves as an "inflation buster".

Well, not so much. Not so much an inflation buster and not so great seafood. However there are some great pluses here. We averaged $13.00 a plate which includes a soda, great bread with real butter, two sides and an average serving of so-so seafood. I guess my romantic memories of the Seafood Bay on Sunset is too high. My fish definitely tasted like it was frozen moments ago. The broccoli was decent and the salad was mediocre. The garlic shrimp was pretty good and I recommend topping the surplus bits of roasted garlic and butter on your bread. It was the best thing about our lunch and worth it. Now I have garlic breath, which is kind of fun to have once in a while.