How to Eat Your Way Through Coachella…


Are you in there Kris Yenbamroong?

If you’re at all curious about the food at Coachella this year, I’ll be eating my through the festival this weekend over on Food is the New Rock an an official Tumblr site for the festival.  Night+Market, Sugarfish, Baco Mercat and Mexicali Taco & Co are just a few of the L.A. vendors added to the festival this year in an effort to up their food game, but I’m sure I’ll also be able to find space for a slice of Spicy Pie, crab fries and a corn dog.  Follow along at www.foodisthenewrock.com 

The Last 5 Things I’ve Eaten at Grand Central Market, and the Next 2 on My List

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The transformation of Downtown L.A.’s Grand Central Market into a world class dining destination has continued unabated over the past few months.  For people like us it was always a great place to eat lunch, with pupusas, pork tacos, and wonton soup that made getting summoned for jury duty that much more bearable.  But with the addition of Sticky Rice and Eggslut, Valerie’s and Horse Thief BBQ it has become an actual lunchtime destination, one that seems ready to deliver on the PR promise of becoming L.A.’s version of San Fran’s Reading Terminal Market.

A bunch has happened since the last time I visited the market, pulling me back for 3 lunches over the past few weeks.  Here are the last 5 things I’ve eaten at GCM (and the next 2 things on the docket.)

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Ugly Drum Takes Their Pastrami Game to Mendocino Farms

It appears as if Erik Black (Campanile, Osteria Mozza) and Joe Marcos (Rustic Canyon, Campanile, Pizzeria Mozza)  have found a semi permanent home for Ugly Drum, their pastrami incubator that first popped up back in September at The Spice Table downtown, a restaurant they both worked at.   Chef Judy from Mendocino Farms noticed, and invited the guys to use her kitchen to do another pop up back in March; which has now turned into a full fledged smoked pastrami tour.  It started yesterday at the Mendocino Farms on Fairfax and 3rd, and will travel in 2, 3 and 4 day chunks to each Mendo Farms branch through the middle of May.

For $12.95 you get thick cut pecan smoked pastrami, with an apple cole slaw, on Il Dolce Forno’s excellent rye bread. There’s also a side of mustard and you can add swiss for $1.  It’s a bit more expensive then the already expensive typical Mendo Farms sandwich, and it won’t necessarily replace Langer’s as your favorite pastrami sandwich in the city, but it’s pretty damn good and worth checking out at least once when the tour passes through your local branch.  (Good luck hitting it up just once.)   The guys are working on opening their own restaurant and there’s talk of this becoming a permanent item on the Mendocino Farms menu after the tour ends.

Check out the full schedule after the jump…

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5 Things I Learned At Taco Madness This Past Weekend

On Saturday afternoon thousands of people gathered in Grand Park downtown for the second year in a row to celebrate L.A.’s diverse taco scenehear who won L.A. Taco’s Taco Madness bracket, listen to music,  stuff their faces with delicious delicious tacos.  The day was beautiful and many tacos were consumed, but only some made a real impression.  Here are 5 things I came away with after a few hours of sampling everything LA Taco’s Taco Madness 2014 had to offer. 

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1. Mariscos Jalisco has still go it.  At this point there should just be a taco hall of fame, right?  Is Mariscos Jalisco’s shrimp dorado taco any worse now than it was when it won Taco Madness in 2012?  Of course not. People are just sick of sounding like a broken mariachi record.  Can we retire these guys and move on, rather than force them to compete year after year only to have people say “Well, it is my favorite taco of all time but shouldn’t we give somebody else a chance?”

Carnitas, Coraloense and corn, after the jump…

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7 Reasons to Hate L.A. Lunching (The “Salad Week is Over” Edition)

I try to be positive here on Midtown Lunch… and I love this city.  The food is amazing, and there’s no better place to be a “Midtown Lunch’er”.    But as much as I love most of the food in L.A. (and will defend it to the death against any outsiders, or natives with an inferiority complex) there are some things about lunching in this town that really annoy me.  Here are 7 of them, LAist style, for your enjoyment…

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All salads should have this ratio of crunchy things to lettuce

1. So, in case using the words “toothsome” and “mouthfeel” didn’t clue you in, there isn’t actually a Salad Week 2014. It was just an April Fools Day joke. But if there was a Salad Week on this site it would probably be our biggest week of traffic of all time.  This is L.A. after all.  That makes me sad… but not as sad as eating a boring salad for lunch.

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2. It is undeniable that Pa Ord’s expansion west to La Brea was a good thing for Thai food lovers who live west of Thai Town.  But we are quickly discovering that not all Pa Ord’s are created equal.  In other words, the ghost of Thai Foon still lives inside Pa Ord #2.  The good news is, you can get crispy pork and chinese broccoli as a lunch special!  The bad news?  That spring roll you get free with your lunch is as terrible as it ever was.  Unless you live in the hood and are ordering delivery, it’s probably worth just driving the extra 2 miles East to Pa Ord #1 or Pa Ord #3 (which, funny enough, might actually be an improvement on the original thanks to the ghost of Ganda!)

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Welcome to Salad Week 2014: Mendocino Farms’ Chinese Chicken Salad

We’re turning a new leaf on Midtown Lunch: Los Angeles this week.  You’ve been asking for it, and we finally listened to the desires of the typical L.A. luncher. Welcome to Salad Week 2014!!!  Every day this week I plan to eat a healthy and delicious salad for lunch and post about it right here.  And to kick things off…  meet Mendocino Farms’ Chinese Chicken Salad.

Even though lunchtime salads and I haven’t always gotten along, there has always been a special place in my heart for the Chinese chicken salad.  Crunchy things are a necessity in any bowl of vegetables I’m going to make my lunch, and the best Chinese chicken salads give you double the fun with both crispy wontons and nuts- if you’re lucky.  So when I got the email from California’s mini chain Mendo Farms announcing their brand new Chinese chicken salad special I knew it had to be the salad that kicked off Salad Week 2014.

The salad features finely shredded cabbage, bright spinach, mixed greens from Scarborough Farms, cilantro, scallions, and a wonderfully toothsome free range chicken breast, topped with almonds AND crispy wontons for that perfect mouthfeel.  The miso mustard dressing is very well balanced as well, sweeter than Tender Greens but not as cloyingly sweet as a lot of the bad Chinese chicken salads around town.  Plus if you ask for your salad to be tossed behind the counter, they don’t over do it, so don’t be afraid to ask!  All in all, it’s a great salad and I wouldn’t be surprise to see it added to the permanent menu.  A perfect kick off to Salad Week 2014…

Mendocino Farms, Multiple Locations (website)