Roubo’s Place: Why Have You Been Hiding All This Time?
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve driven through the intersection of Hollywood and La Brea, home to the gigantic Raffallo’s Pizza sign (you know it, even if you don’t know it.) Never once did I think to myself, “gee, I wonder if there’s some good food tucked away behind that sign.” I’m sure I’ve looked into the strip mall as I headed south on La Brea from my old apartment on Franklin (how could I not, right?) But it clearly didn’t register… because even though I’ve probably driven by Roubo’s Place a trillion times, the first time my brain actually saw or heard about Roubo’s Place was in this Squid Ink food fight, which had their borscht beating out a tom yum soup from Yai in Thai town.
Cheap Russian food? In Hollywood? With an under $10 lunch special? Yes please.
Roubo’s Place is actually billed as Russian/Armenian food, and the menu lives on the border of the two cuisines (possibly in Georgia?) There’s herring and sujuk, a “Stolichnaya” salad and an “Armenian” salad, chicken kiev and kebabs (chicken, beef, pork and lamb),with most of the entrees in the $11-$16 range. But each day they have a different $6 lunch special (Monday – Chicken Jarko, Tuesday – Pork Jarko, Wednesday – Pajarski Cutlet, Thursday – Beef Liver, Friday – Beef Cutlets) that comes with rice.
The first sign that things were going to be good was the bread. It came out nice and hot, and perfect for dipping into soup…
Since the lunch special is only $6, you can add a $2 cup of borscht and still be well under the $10 ML price ceiling. Not sure if they serve cold borscht in the summer, but this version was hot. It didn’t have that bright beet flavor that makes cold borscht so good, but it was hearty, and flavorful and really soothing on these cold winter days! (I kid, I kid my friends on the East Coast.)
Even better was the kharcho ($2.50 for a cup), a Georgian lamb stew/soup with a really distinct flavor. I could probably have just ordered the bowl of the soup ($3.50) for lunch with some of that crusty warm bread and been a very happy man.
We were there on a Monday, so it was chicken jarko day- an Armenian dish with chicken that had been sauteed with onions and herbs (paprika definitely being one of them.) At first it seemed pretty simple, borderline boring… but the more I ate it the more I craved it. The chicken had a nice tang (lemon juice?) that mixed well with the oil, onions and spices. It was good enough that I’d feel pretty comfortable ordering any of their daily lunch specials (and at $6 it’s not really a huge financial commitment!)
Finally, I couldn’t leave without trying at least one of their dumplings. If you like pierogies, you’ll probably be into the varenniki, but we went with the pelmeni- small dumplings (very similar to Turkish manti) stuffed with meat and swimming in butter. Overall they were totally bland, but that was completely fixed with a big splash of vinegar.
All in all it was everything you’d want from a small Russian lunch spot. Cheap, small, dark and weird, with tables of Eastern European men eating platters of assorted meats. (And, if you’re lucky, a short fat Jewish guy sitting in the corner dipping warm bread into a giant bowl of kharcho.)
THE + (What somebody who likes this place would say)
- Russian lunch for under $10? That sounds amazing. (And I like Armenian food too.)
- Warm bread FTW!
- Both soups are really great, and super cheap. They make a great wintertime lunch.
THE – (What somebody who doesn’t like this place would say)
- What, no caviar? Or blinis? Come on!
- The dumplings were really bland
- I wanted Russian… and this place seems a bit more Armenian
- The parking lot is small and terrible. Good luck! (Entrance is on La Brea just south of Hollywood Blvd.)
Roubo’s Place, 1651 1/2 N La Brea Ave., 323-876-4646