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I’ve been without a kitchen for two months now thanks to a remodel. And, while of course I’m looking forward to a beautiful new space, the process is slow, and our cooking situation is pretty desperate—no stove, no microwave, no sink. We’re down to a fridge and toaster oven, which makes nightly meals a huge hassle. Eating out every night lost its luster after about two weeks, and toasting for two isn’t as glamorous as it sounds.
Enter our culinary savior: Super King Market. The Glassell Park location of this small grocery chain, specializing in ethnic foods (specifically Armenian and Mexican in this locale) has been saving us from a fate of frozen pizzas for a few weeks now. Super King’s service deli is filled with all the fixings for a nightly mezze feast, including a top-notch selection of hard-to-find cheeses—I recommend the pungent and creamy Bulgarian Feta—and olives. I’m also partial to their dips, especially the jajukh (cucumber-yogurt dip), garlic spread and muhammara, a thick and smoky concoction of roasted red peppers, bread crumbs, walnuts, olive oil, and red pepper flakes.
It’s not that I’m anti fake meat. I actually enjoy a good “chicken” mole or “B”LT once in awhile, and places like Flore and Cinnamon do the veg-meat thing really well. However, there’s a special place in my heart for Echo Park’s Elf Café, where whole foods are the focus of their all-vegetarian cuisine, and there’s no tofu, tempeh, or wheat meat to be seen…or tasted.
With a creative and drop-dead delicious menu, this tiny restaurant with no sign to speak of has become a mainstay on Sunset Blvd. since opening in 2006, and even carnivores like me lust after their eastern Mediterranean fare. There’s nothing I love more than introducing “I-have-to-eat-meat-every-meal” friends to this place and watching their looks of skepticism (read: complete and total resistance) turn into utter satisfaction.
The starters at Elf are very tempting, and I love going with a group in order to justify getting at least two. One must is the Labneh, which I’ve praised here before. The light, fluffy texture and tang of the goat yogurt cheese is the perfect match for the richness of the date and kalamata tapenade that sits atop it. Spread on the whole wheat pita with a bit of roasted garlic to punctuate it, this is exactly what I look for in an appetizer.
I’d only been to Desert Rose once before, and just for drinks, so I was excited when I got an invitation to try it out for lunch. I’d heard good things about their Mediterranean menu and remembered their big patio, a nice refuge from the bustling Hillhurst Ave., feeling very vacation-y.
We started with the Blue Crab Cakes. Crisply fried and super crabby (down with bready filler!), they were served with an addictive citrusy dressing and had a delicious hint of curry. The grapefruit chunks were a nice touch. We paired the appetizer with the Lucid Whiskey Sour, a Maker’s Mark/Cointreau cocktail served in an absinthe-rinsed glass.
I have a major burger compulsion, so I was extra happy when I heard they were serving a Lamb Burger. The patty was very juicy and perfectly pink inside with a healthy slab of feta cheese. I love a brioche bun, and this one had a flaky texture that put the focus on the meat and cheese, which is how I like it.