Archive for September 2011

Lunch Links (The “Beef Salad” Edition)

Beef Salad from Esaan Thai. Photo courtesy of The Minty.

  • BEV HILLS Brooklyn Water Bagel Co is going kosher [Squid Ink]
  • CTOWN Pho 87 makes the best spring rolls ever [Umamimart]
  • DTLA Clifton’s Cafeteria will be closed for 3-6 months [Eater]
  • DTLA Wraps & Rolls Vietnamese now open on 11th [The Minty]
  • DTLA The beef salad at Esaan Thai is a nice light lunch [The Minty]
  • HWOOD Vegas transplant Fukuburger is set to open next week [Eater]
  • LOS FELIZ House of Pies makes a great burger [AHT]
  • MAR VISTA Pepy’s Galley makes a great corned beef hash on Weds [Eaten Path]
  • MID CITY The spicy sausage at Wirsthaus is great [Treasure LA]
  • SAMO 5 Questions with Bru’s Wiffle [Unemployed Eater]
  • WEST LA Tusjita says no ramen until end of October [Grub St.]
  • WEST LA/WESTWOOD The best Persian food in L.A. [HuffPo Food]

Shin Sen Gumi Takes the Battle For DTLA Ramen Supremacy Right to Daikokuya


One can’t help but feel like there is a full scale ramen invasion going on in Los Angeles right now.  Jinya attacked the woefully unoccupied Valley and Mid City territories, while Yamadaya took their Torrence army north into a Westside previously dominated by Santouka- and will soon dispatch another force to Westwood, where Wakasan is the only ramen lunch to be had.  We are all eagerly awaiting Tsujita’s first move in West L.A., and even Hollywood seems to be under fire.

But none of those battles compare to the throw down that is about to take place in Downtown L.A. Love it or hate it, there is no dispute that Daikokuya is the best bowl of ramen in DTLA. But now that Shin Sen Gumi, a Hakata style ramenya with locations in the South Bay and San Gabriel Valley, has opened up an outpost in Little Tokyo that is all totally up in the air.

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El Jacalito Brings Oaxacan Home Cooking to Culver West


Last month’s lunch at the Bill Esparza approved Gish Bac on Washington near Crenshaw gave me a serious craving for mole.  Ordering mole in L.A. is always a crapshoot, but Gish Bac’s red and black versions are everything you hope for when you go all in on a new place.  Thick, complex, fragrant… it’s the kind of sauce that sticks with you for awhile, giving you hope that greatness might, just might, be found in any old Oaxacan place in any part of the city.  And it was that optimism that brought me into El Jacalito, a tiny little joint on Washington near Centinela in Culver City.

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PROFILE: L.A. Lunch’er “Kathy”

As is customary on Midtown Lunch, every Tuesday we profile a random reader to get their recommendations for the best spots to lunch near their work. This week it’s Kathy, a writer searching for sweet Indian balls.

Name: Kathy

Age: Too old for George Clooney

Occupation: Freelance Writer/Resident Blogger at

Where in L.A. do you Work?: I have a home office, but I travel between Pasadena, Downtown and Westside a lot to cover events or meet with potential clients.

Favorite Kind of Food: Japanese, Italian, French and Chinese comfort food (e.g. savory Tang Yuan soup and Hainan Chicken); charcuterie, salumi, things that might become extinct (like abalone); but I’ll take a well-marbled steak and baked potato anyday.

Least Favorite Kind of Food: Things with floating red oil on top like chili fries or those $1 Chinese “express” heat lamp places around town.

Favorite Place(s) to Eat Lunch: Many of my favorite lunch places have closed over the years, such as The Coffee Table in Silver Lake. They used to make this wonderful German potato salad to go with a burger or sandwich. I’m a huge fan of Euro Pane Bakery (two locations) in Pasadena for their chicken salad sandwich (made with yogurt instead of mayo) or open-face egg salad sandwich; Philippe’s for their lamb dip; Farfalla in Los Feliz for their Rigatoni Al Tre Funghi or Gnocchi; San Sui Tei (313 E 1st St) in Little Tokyo for their Bento lunch combos and Favorite Place (115 W. Wilson Ave.) in Glendale. All their sandwiches are excellent (I like the “From Russia with Love”) and their rosewater lemonade is legendary!

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Libra’s Early Bird Special is a Meat-tastic Deal


People ask me all the time why Midtown Lunch is limited to under $10 lunches.  The answer I usually give is this: because the original goal for this site was to be a resource for people looking for something a bit more interesting out of their everyday lunches.  Not business lunches with the boss.  Not birthday party lunches for your spouse or co-workers. But a cheap lunch that could replace those cop-out meals that tons of people rely on daily- from Chipotle, California Pizza Kitchen, and {insert boring salad place here} every single day.

Sure I’ll make the occasional exception for the $11 all you can eat buffet, and once you add tax and tip a ton of the lunches I love come out to more than $10. But the rule speaks more to the heart and soul of a place than to a hard $$$ amount.  I guess what I’m saying is I will make exceptions for the extraordinary deal.  One that hits you instantly in the gut, while your brain simultaneously tries to figure out how a restaurant can stay in business and still charge these prices. Libra- a Churrascaria in Culver City- is one of those places, offering a meal which would cost $25-35+ anywhere else in L.A., for just $15.  And did I mention it’s all you can eat?

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Lunch Links (The “Pupusa and Papaya Salad” Edition)

Thai Town Mash-Up. Photo courtesy of Garrett Snyder.

  • BEV HILLS Bibigo should be open in December [Grub Street]
  • DTLA The selection at LAX-C is not as good after 1pm [The Minty]
  • HWOOD Chick Fil A is now open, and the early lines were insane [Eater]
  • HWOOD Krua Siri‘s papaya salad goes great with Lempira’s pupusas [Squid Ink]
  • KTOWN If you are order ala carte Taenung Sootbul can be under $10 [Mattatouille]
  • SAMO Isaac Toast has moved from Westwood [Grub Street]
  • VENICE First look at the now open Wursthurche [Grub Street]

Two For One at Honey’s Kettle: If you're a fan of Honey's Kettle Fried Chicken, you'll want to check out today's Groupon Deal.  Get two fried chicken lunches with coleslaw and pickles ($20) for the price of one ($10), and it's good at both of their locations.