Archive for October 2012

Pastor Specialist Tacos Leo Finally Opens for Lunch


Finding al pastor during lunch is not an impossible task. Finding real al pastor?  Now that’s a different story. Most taco trucks offer some kind of version of marinated pork, possibly topped with pineapple- or not.  But finding that real deal, cut from a spit shawarma-like ribbons of beautiful red al pastor topped with fat covered pineapple that’s cut from the very same spit can be more of a challenge. And finding it in the Midtown Lunch boundaries (between Downtown L.A. and Santa Monica) is basically impossible.

Sure, I can always get my fill of real pastor after the sun goes down at the famous Taco Leo Truck on Venice and La Brea (or even at Rico’s Tacos, the new upstart stand on Fairfax and Pico.)  But what about during the day?  Is there some unwritten rule that says you can’t serve al pastor from a spit while the sun still shines?  I’d be lying if I said I didn’t drive by Venice and La Brea on my way to lunch every day hoping that one day I’d see that orange truck, parked  in the gas station parking lot serving up $1 al pastor tacos from their beautiful trompo.  And yesterday my dreams finally came true. (Kind of.)

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Lunch Links (The “Underrated Taco Truck” Edition)

Tacos from La Isla Bonita Truck. Photo courtesy of Great Taco Hunt

  • BEV HILLS Voters will get a free half and half at Burger Lounge! [Eater]
  • HWOOD The crispy pork w/ morning glory is the thing to get at Crispy Pork Gang & Grill [Squid Ink]
  • NOHO Word is starting to get out about Joe’s Falafel [Food GPS]
  • MID CITY Fritzi Dog is now open in the Farmer’s Market [Grub Street]
  • SANTA MONICA ShopHouse is coming to Los Angeles [Eater;GS]
  • VENICE La Isla Bonita is an underrated taco truck [Great Taco Hunt]
  • WESTWOOD A look inside Umami’s U-Mini [Eater]
  • WESTWOOD A sandwich walk through Westwood [Squid Ink]
  • LISTS A Guide to L.A.’s Best Sandwiches [Eater]

Where to Lunch Before Hitting Up the Big Gay Ice Cream Truck

Grape Nuts Topped Ice Cream from Big Gay Ice Cream
Photo courtesy of Blondie & Brownie

You may or may not have heard that one of New York’s more famous food trucks is paying a visit to L.A. next week, and you’d be forgiven for shrugging your shoulders and wondering whether or not you should care. After all the Big Gay Ice Cream Truck admits to serving just “plain old soft serve” that happens to be topped with fancy pants toppings (like olive oil and sriracha.) When they first launched in NYC, I didn’t initially buy into the hype… that is, until I tried their “Salty Pimp”, a chocolate dipped sea salt sprinkled cone with dulce de leche piped into the vanilla soft serve. One bite and I realized why these guys are a favorite of Anthony Bourdain and Andrew Zimmern and pretty much all of New York. And next week we get a chance to check it out, presumably as they test the waters for a possible west coast branch of Big Gay Ice Cream. Should you go check out the BGICT? Definitely.

Want to hit them up during your lunch break?  We’ve posted their schedule after the jump, along with some lunch suggestions within walking distance of each spot…

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Bibigo Finds Its Natural Home… In a Food Court


It’s been over two years since the Korean chain Bibigo opened its first U.S. location in Westwood Village, bringing fast food bibimbap and spicy pork to UCLA students and Westwood office workers.  And while writers who got treated to free meals raved about it, those of us who spend any time in Koreatown were slightly less enthusiastic.  A great Westwood lunch option, no doubt.  But nothing to get overly excited about.

Staying true to its goal of becoming the McDonald’s of Korean food, Bibigo has opened two more L.A. locations since then,  Including a “casual dining” location in Beverly Hills and most recently an outpost at the Century City Mall food court. And even more recently they added a few new items to the menu at their Westwood location, one of which is worth checking out.

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Lunch Links (The “It’s Almost Ramen Season” Edition)

tokushima ramen Photo courtesy of Darin Dines

  • DTLA Men Oh Tukushima puts out an interesting bowl of ramen [Darin Dines]
  • DTLA Spice Table will be closed for lunch until it relocates [LA Mag]
  • DTLA Not everybody loves the pizza at Pizzanista! [Slice]
  • HWOOD The best pupusa in L.A. is at Altlacatl [Squid Ink]
  • HWOOD Storefront makes a great burger [TT]
  • KTOWN We never tire of reading praise of Kobawoo [Squid Ink]
  • MID CITY Kebab Mahaleh gets mentioned in the Times [NYT]
  • SAMO Here’s a sneak peak inside Hummus Bar Express [Eater]
  • WEST LA Noah Galuten visits Clusi Batusi on his new show [The Food Feeder]
  • WEST LA This guy was a little let down by Clusi Batusi & Slice Truck [UE]
  • LISTS The 10 best moles in Los Angeles [Squid Ink]

Jeon Ju Reopens w/ 3 New Stone Pot Bibimbaps


Last month LA Weekly reported that Jeon Ju, the famed hot stone pot Bibimbap specialist that Jonathan Gold calls one of the 60 Korean Dishes that every Angeleno should know, had closed for what appeared to be some pretty substantial renovations. Well, as promised, they were only closed for about a week and a half, and not only did they renovate the interior they also updated the menu. Their back open and instead of 5 versions of dol sot bibimbap, they now have 8- including 2 that will be particularly exciting to vegetarians.

And the best part is, they didn’t even raise the prices.

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Clusi Batusi is Surprisingly Decent, But Can It Handle 800 Degree-Like Lines?


The strip of West L.A. on Sawtelle between Olympic and Santa Monica has long been known as a hub for good Japanese food; the Osaka to Downtown’s Tokyo.  The great Asian hope, in a Westside sea of duds.  And its resurrection as a popular lunchtime destination over the past year or two has been well documented.  But most recently it’s been interesting to see how many non Japanese success stories have popped up on this half mile stretch.  Food options that might not be Japanese, but still appeal to the ever growing Sawtelle crowd.  Whether it’s Korean soondubu from the 7 month old Seoul House of Tofu, the Umami-like burgers at Plan Check, or Vietnamese food at the super packed NongLA, Sawtelle is no longer just ramen, curry and sushi.

But the biggest gamble has got to be the pizza.  Earlier this year Slice Truck brought their New York style pies to a brick and mortar up by Sawtelle Kitchen, and even more recently Clusi Batusi opened their doors, another in a new school batch of pizzerias looking to turn quick cooking Neapolitan’ish pizza into fast food.

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