for June, 2010
I’ve always liked Malo, but I really don’t like the crowd it has been attracting. Sounds snobby, I know, but the last time I was there on a Thursday night, I had to endure a table of loud/flashy/drunk executive types, who harassed the waitress, hit on other diners and made a general ruckus. It’s depressing—like when a band you like blows up and suddenly you have to share them…with people you don’t like.
The problem is that I don’t want to give up on Malo. Even after all these years, I still crave their Ground Beef and Pickle Tacos (pictured) more than is dignified. But, if I’m spending more than a few bucks and a few minutes in a restaurant, I also crave a good vibe. And all the Habanero Creme Salsa in the world won’t make up for a bad one.
So, what’s my solution?
Brunch. I’ve been a few times now, and it’s freaking delightful. The atmosphere is laid back, service is extra attentive, and there are Bloody Marias to boot! Could you ask for more on a Sunday morning? There are even open tables on the patio. It’s completely different from the nighttime Malo.
Another high-point is this Pozole dish that’s on the brunch menu. It’s a tasty rendition of the popular soup, complete with poached eggs—like Mexican Hotpot. Lots of smoky flavor. My grandfather’s wife, a pretty traditional Mexican cook, said about this dish: “I don’t know why there are eggs in my pozole, but I like it.”
My grandfather is a Mexican dude from LA, and he was impressed by Malo’s salsa. So, maybe the astronomical price (4 for $12—Ay yi yi!) is worth it.
You can get the Cucumber Tomato Salad at night, too, but the orange-flavored dressing works better in the AM.
Earl’s Gourmet Grub is one of my favorite new places in LA. The Mar Vista sandwich shop offers everything I love—fresh ingredients, uncommon flavor combinations, and unabashed passion.
Take the Tuna Sandwich (pictured above) for instance. It’s an unexpected mix of tuna with layers of thinly sliced gruyere, fig hash and pepperoncini between two slices nutty bread. Sounds like overkill, but somehow the flavors stay distinct and, well, super yummy. Co-owner Yvonne McDonald (her partner is Dean Harada) says that’s all part of the plan: “We put a lot of thought and experimentation into the sandwiches, every element is meant to create the perfect balance for your eating experience.”
The Earl’s concept took shape in a popular farmer’s market stall, where their Pig n’ Fig (Prosciutto, blue cheese, fig hash and arugala) became a hit—it’s still their most popular. Now, in their new brick and mortar digs, they’re keeping it real, making everything from scratch while using mostly organic/local ingredients and all natural meat.
Here’s the Heartichoke Sandwich, so named for its chunks of marinated artichoke and hearts of palm. The cheese is goat, which works well texture-wise with the veggies. Plus, the mildness of the chevre didn’t mess with the tang of the artichokes and pickled onions. There’s also an artichoke-jalapeno spread that I really didn’t notice much, but I did like the addition of nutty-flavored mache.
The Who Dat Crab Po-Boy doesn’t boast the traditional fried filling, but it’s still marked by richness—the baguette is spread with melted parsley butter that mixes with the Canjun mayo and a hefty lump of snow crab. The cabbage adds a cool crunch.
Find your local Farmer’s Market at the Los Angeles Times.
- Noah Galuten names the “5 Most Disgusting Items in Trader Joe’s Freezer Aisle” on LA Weekly’s Squid Ink.
- The Daily Dish has a warning about a new maggot-making fruit fly in town. Yuck!
- On a yummier note, Mattatouille has some tasty pics of the dumpling kind from The Dim Sum Truck.
- Josh Lurie over at Food GPS has convinced me to try the AMMO Sunday Roast.
Have a delicious weekend!
A good mimosa is redundant. You can use the cheapest champagne and any old orange juice, and they’re still alright. But a good bloody mary is a rare and glorious thing. It requires balance—enough vodka to give it punch, enough tomato juice to give it body, enough Tabasco to give it kick, and enough worchestershire (or reasonable alternative) to give it character. A lot of things can go wrong.
Here’s my list of eastside restaurants that get it right:
Edendale Grill (pictured): This is one of my go-to brunch spots for two reasons: the ivy-clad patio all tucked away in the quiet part of Silverlake and the magnificent bloody mary. It’s one of the best I’ve ever had with lots of spice and enough ice that it stays chilled to perfection but doesn’t get watery. Plus, they garnish with lemon, lime and three olives! They used to include celery, but for some reason, they’ve stopped, which is slightly disappointing but not a deal breaker. About their food, it’s not spectacular, but they assemble a satisfying bagels and lox plate, and their BLAT is one of my faves.
When I lived in Alhambra, I ate my fair share of Vietnamese sandwiches. I tried Lee’s Sandwiches (pretty un-remarkable), Mr. Baguette (much better), and a few others up and down Valley Blvd. until I eventually settled on Baguette Du Jour as my Bánh mì haunt of choice. They make a beautiful baguette, and if you eat the chicken sandwich even once, I swear you’ll crave its spicy/tangy flavor forever….like those vampires on True Blood.
Naturally, I didn’t think I’d ever find a worthy rival for my Bánh mì affections, but The Nom Nom Truck fits the bill. I’m not saying it’s better that du Jour, but it’s on par for sure.I can’t wait to work my way through their menu.
I had the Grilled Pork sandwich per Nom Nom co-owner Misa Chien’s urging. I opted not to dress it with any Sriracha in order to get the pure flavor, and even without the spice, it was so delicious. The sandwiches are huge and stuffed fat with marinated pork, cilantro and pickled carrots and daikon. Plus, it’s slathered with mayo, which usually scares me away, but I loved the way it mixed with the run-off marinade.
I got my Coco Fresco from the guy off exit 43 on the 110, but they’re all around right now. Just ask your local street fruit vendor. The juice is sweet with lots of Vitamin C and Calcium. Delicioso!
- Big thanks to Drew at Los Angeles Foodie for the very kind endorsement of Eastside Food Bites. LA food bloggers are the coolest people ever.
- H.C. makes me crave Ramen in the worst way with some delicious pics from The Shojin Downtown on L.A. and O.C. Foodventures.
- Eddie Lin introduces us to the hellacious 7-Patty Burger offered at Burger King in Taiwan on Deep End Dining. Fatty-making American conspiracy? Maybe.
- Oh my god! Oh my god! Oh my god! LA now has a Filipino Food Truck! It’s called The Manila Machine and Catherine over at The Gastronomer has the Lumpia lowdown.
- I really need to take a foodcation to Oregon. The Guilty Carnivore convinces me with a write up of Restaurant Uruapan . A taqueria with a juke box? Sold!
Have a great weekend—eat good stuff!
Just last weekend, we hit up The Lazy Ox Canteen before going to see the weirdly fantastic play 1951-2006 at the Los Angeles Theatre Center. This was the first time I’ve ever eaten by sunlight at The Lazy Ox because usually I’m taking advantage of their much-welcomed late night service (they beat The York by an hour and a half, serving their full menu until midnight thurs-sat), so it felt like a whole new experience.
The time-of-day aspect was only part of it, though. Since opening late last year, their food has gotten progressively better. Not to say that it hasn’t always been good, but while I’ve been blown away by the vibe and beer list, foodwise I’ve rarely been blown away by anything but the burger. I’ve often felt that the concepts were a little ahead of the actual execution in some of the dishes.
That was not the case this last time. All the flavors were so right on, and I was very impressed—I tried all new things, minus the burger, which is a must every time. I know it’s been described on every food blog in LA, but good grief, it’s so damn good. I love that the short rib/sirloin patty is served nearly raw in the center, so that it gets all mushed up with the smooth, butter Carmody cheese and aioli. And then the butter lettuce adds a contrasting crisp coldness. I’ve heard some smack about the bun being too thick, but I’ve got no problem with it because it keeps that marvelous mess under control.
But wait, what was I talking about? Oh, that’s right, the new stuff I tried…
First up were these Ricotta Fritters. My goodness. I mean, of course, it’s fried cheese, and fried cheese is always good, but these were so fluffy and the fact that they were sitting so delicately in honey gave them oomph I didn’t expect. You could hear the slight crunch when you bit into one.
Good pizza doesn’t exactly run rampant in LA, and deep dish pizza is particularly hard to score. Once in a while we order a few pies from Lou Malnati’s in Chicago, but at $40 a pop, it’s not exactly ideal. That’s why I was excited to hear good things about the deep dish at Masa.
I can’t exactly say it’s as good as Lou Malnalti’s or others I’ve had in Chicago, but it was definitely worth the hype. Masa makes their dough and sauce fresh everyday, and it shows. The crust is buttery and flaky. It would be perfect if it were slightly less pillowy–I prefer a denser, crispier edge. That said, it was still excellent.
More so than any other food, I think a pizza can be judged on whether you’re compelled (beyond all logic and good sense) to gorge yourself on it. And based on that barometer, I can tell you this one was a success.