Archive for May 2012

Joe’s Falafel Ends My L.A. Search For Fresh Baked Laffa


Poor Taeem.  Back in January I was so excited to discover you. Plodding along in the wasteland of Melrose Ave. Quietly serving up a falafel sandwich on that deliciously elusive pita bread of all pita breads: the laffa.  Yours wasn’t baked fresh in house, but I didn’t care. When a dehydrated traveler stumbling through the desert happens upon an oasis, they don’t question how the water was filtered. But sadly, our love affair has come to and end. Because fresh baked laffa does exist in Los Angeles, at a place called Joe’s.  I don’t normally venture to North Hollywood to lunch, but when giant discs of freshly baked pita bread are involved my boundaries tend to become a bit less rigid.

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LA Mag’s Cheap Eats Issue is Required Reading

The annual 101 Cheap Eats issue of Los Angeles Magazine is out, and it’s a veritable who’s who of Midtown Lunching. From Zam Zam Market to Flavors of Belize, Gish Bac to 800 Degrees the issue also has a lot of great lunch ideas for areas that we don’t go to that often, like the SGV and South Bay. And as an added bonus (as if this isn’t the whole reason for this post!) the issue  features a list of 10 Rules to Dining on the Cheap written by yours truly. The list isn’t posted online, so if you’re not already a subscriber you can either try to super squint your way to reading the image above, or quit being such a cheap bastard just this once and shell out the $5 for the issue. You’ll make your money back ten fold on all the great cheap eats recs.

Mo Chica on 7th Opens For Lunch Today!: The day has finally arrived for Ricardo Zarate fans who work Downtown but couldn't find the time to make it to the Mercado de Paloma during lunch time. The new Mo Chica opens on 7th btw. Grand and Olive today at 11:30am. They previewed the new menu of modern Peruvian dishes over the weekend for friends and family, which you can check out here, here and here.

The Perfect 2 Hour Los Angeles Taco Crawl

Left: Starting Line. Right: Finish Line.

Back in February, to celebrate the two year anniversary of Midtown Lunch: Los Angeles, I put together a list of the 21 best lunches in L.A. In addition to being a milestone celebrator and a shameful traffic builder it also meant that I now have a link I can send any friends from out of town when they visit and want to be taken to lunch. Naturally Mexican food dominates the list (6 of the 21 places), but I realized something interesting when a couple of friends from Boston visited last week. Why eat at one place, when you can eat at 5. In other words, there is a pretty spectacular lunchtime taco crawl to be had between Los Feliz and Boyle Heights. And the best part is, you not only get to try 5 completely different styles of taco, but it can all be done in two hours if you don’t dilly dally.

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Lunch Links (The “See You on Tuesday” Edition)

Jet Tila’s Favorite Papaya Salad in Los Angeles

  • CENTURY CITY Bibigo is coming soon to the Westfield Mall [Toddrickallen]
  • DTLA Mo Chica is dead.  Long Live Mo Chica. [Eater;Grub Street]
  • HWOOD An Epic Guide to Thai Town courtesy of Jet Tila [Food Republic]
  • KTOWN Yu Chan serves up a solid bibimbap and naeng myeon [Food GPS]
  • MAR VISTA The Pig and Fig at Earl’s Gourmet Grub is great [SE]
  • MARINA DEL REY Aunt Kizzy’s is becoming a Thai restaurant [Grub Street]
  • WEHO ink.sack is now serving a new pastrami sandwich [Food GPS]
  • WEHO Monday is free burger day at Burger Lounge [Grub Street]
  • WEST LA Spaghetti House is not long for this world [Eater]
  • WEST LA The cha gio are the best thing at Nongla [Squid Ink]
  • WEST LA Tusjita’s tsukemen is one of the 100 best dishes in L.A. [Squid Ink]

A Super Early Look at the Food of NongLA Vietnamese Cafe


Coming to the realization that there is and will never be decent Vietnamese food without traveling to Westminster or SGV is an exercise that can bear some resemblance to the 7 stages of grief.  ”There must be some place that does it well?” “This place really doesn’t do it well.”  ”Why the fuck can’t they do it well!?” “This is never going to happen, is it? Time to get in the car and spend more on gas than I will on the banh mi I’m going to order when I get to where I’m going.”  The problem is I only ever make it to stage 4.   It makes sense that there is no decent Chinese food on the west side, after all it’s tough to wean a person off of chicken lo mein and beef with broccoli. (I should know, even though I love the SGV I’m not completely cured of my General Tso’s addiction.) But Vietnamese food?  That seems tailor made for chicken loving, health food eating Angelenos.  Pho is like a less fatty version of ramen, right?  Bun is just a glorified salad, with grilled meats.  And banh mi.  Who doesn’t like banh mi?

And yet most of the Vietnamese places in L.A. proper and parts west give the distinct impression that the owners spent more time thinking of stupid restaurant names than they did on the menu.   So when I heard that NongLA was opening on Sawtelle, I had mixed emotions.  Could this be the upward turn that leads us to the promise land?

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PROFILE: L.A. Lunch’er “Sunny”

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 Sunny, a Mid-Wilshire marketing person who loves Japanese food but hates Chinese!?

Name: Sunny

Age: 27

Occupation: Marketing

Where in L.A. do you Work?: Academy of Couture Art (Miracle Mile, CA)

Favorite Kind of Food: Japanese

Least Favorite Kind of Food: Chinese

Favorite Place(s) to Eat Lunch: Noshi Sushi for halibut, uni, scallop, and sweet shrimp, Umami Burger (850 S. La Brea) for their truffle burger, and Andre’s Italian Restaurant (6332 W. 3rd St) for small spaghetti w/ all three sauces and extra garlic bread.

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