PROFILE: L.A. Lunch’ers “Shawna & Sonja” (aka the Co-Founders of the L.A. Street Food Festival)

As is customary on Midtown Lunch, every Tuesday we’ll profile a random reader to get their recommendations for the best spots to lunch near their work. I’m a huge fan of street food, so I’m pretty excited to have Shawna & Sonja as our Inaugural Profiled Lunchers. They’re the co-founders behind this Saturday’s L.A. Street Food Festival happening Downtown, and I thought it would be fun to find get their recommendations for Downtown L.A. Lunch’ing.

Name: Shawna (left) & Sonja (right)

Age: Shawna: 35; Sonja: 33 (You know Shawna and I share the same birthday… March 9th!)

Occupation: Shawna: Social Media & Marketing Maven/LA Street Food Fest Co-Founder; Sonja: Cultural Curator/LA Street Food Fest Co-Founder/UNIQUE LA Founder

Where in L.A. do you Work?: Shawna: LA is my office but spending a lot of time lately in our loft downtown near 9th & Main; Sonja: My UNIQUE LA office and studio is in historic downtown LA.

Favorite Kind of Food: Shawna: Slow.. fresh, local, seasonal and prepared with love; Sonja: Anything with carbs… Or butter.

Least Favorite Kind of Food: Shawna: Mass manufactured crap. Oh, and calf’s liver. Goose is so much better; Sonja: Olives. I try them a few times a year to see if my taste buds have come around, but nope, still don’t like ‘em.

Favorite Place(s) to Eat Lunch: Shawna: Downtown… Clifton’s (648 South Broadway) for its awesome décor, strong coffee and classic cafeteria fare; Market for my “Milk” away from home fix, the Thai steak salad and green tea latté; Nickel Diner (524 S Main St) for a naughty maple-bacon donut; Mariscos Jalisco, a truck on E Olympic for fried shrimp tacos; Lazy Ox (241 S San Pedro) for a plate full of crispy pig ears and a Japanese IPA; the Grand Central Market for whatever looks fresh; Cole’s (118 E. 6th) for a dip sammich and spicy pickles; any 213 Group joint for a liquid lunch.; Sonja: Tiara Cafe (127 E. 9th) Chicken Salad Sandwich w/ microgreens, and their chili is the best. Wurstküche’s Bratwurst (800 E. 3rd) with caramelized onions, french fries with their pesto mayo dipping sauce, and a cold beer. Farmer Boys (726 S Alameda St) makes a deadly bacon/avocado/cheeseburger, called “the farmer’s burger”. I think 3 people could share it!

“Go-To” Lunch Place You and Your Coworkers Eat at Too Often? Shawna: Chu’s Chinese Kitchen (111 W 9th St). Cheap, cheerful (greasy, fattening) Chinese since 1971! Their house made chili sauce is a force to be reckoned with; Sonja: This one’s easy – Tiara Cafe! I go in so often I’ve become friends with the owner, Fred Eric, who is an amazing supporter of the community.

The farthest place you’ll drive for lunch on a normal day? Shawna: Between the food, the fodder and the eye candy, Bottega Louie (700 S Grand Ave, Downtown) is always worth the trip; LAMILL (1636 Silver Lake Blvd, Silverlake) for their orange infused cappuccino, the ultimate caffeine fix; Doughboys (8136 West 3rd Street nr Crescent Heights) for piping hot straciatella soup that can’t be beat on a chilly day; Sonja: 5 miles to Dusty’s (3200 West Sunset Boulevard, Silverlake), my all-time favorite place to have client meetings… And brunches. And dates! About 4 1/2 miles to Pho Cafe (2841 W Sunset Blvd, Silverlake), for those rainy days in LA when all you need is a bowl of pho goodness. And about 1 1/2 miles to Homegirl Cafe (130 W Bruno Street, Chinatown), which is a great non-profit youth job program.

If you could work anywhere (just because of the lunch) where would it be and why? Shawna: Florence, Bangkok, Singapore, Marrakesh, Mumbai… somewhere where the street scene’s a veritable buffet; Sonja: Paris 100%. A place where I can eat cheese and bread everyday is a place to call home! But it’s actually the great patio scene and long, leisurely lunches I would love. I can dream……

Is there anything you’d like to ask the Midtown Lunch readers? When was the last time you ventured into downtown LA? There is some great stuff happening down here!

Actually I was just there the other day (does Little Tokyo count?) for my second Midtown Lunch of all time!  But I feel like I’m going to be spending a lot of time Downtown (and now I have plenty of recs to keep me busy.) Got anything you’d like to say to Shawna and Sonja? Feel free to put it in the comments. (Or just wait until Saturday to say it to them in person at the L.A. Street Food Festival!)

And as always, if you would like to be next week’s Profiled: L.A. Lunch’er (or know somebody you’d like to nominate), email me-



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