Archive for January 2013

Is Apollonia’s L.A. Best Kept Pizza Secret?


I think we are finally at the point where we can stop saying that L.A. isn’t a great pizza town.  Mozza, Sotto and Olio can go head to head with any of the best Neapolitan pizzas in NYC, a city which doesn’t even have an 800 Degrees equivalent yet!  Great deep dish pizza can be found at Masa or Hollywood Pies, and slice fans can take their pick between Vito’s, Joe’s, and Mulberry Street.  Even Slice Truck and Pizzanista are good enough.  But I understand where the stereotype comes from.  In New York, serviceable slices of pizza are found on every block of every neighborhood, ready to be eaten on the go for lunch or as a late night booze sponge. New Yorkers have pizza the way we have tacos.

But just like New York has plenty of Mexican restaurants, L.A. has plenty of pizza places.  In every strip mall of every neighborhood you can get a slice. The problem is, more often than not the pizza is pretty terrible.  Gross sauce, flavorless cheese,   and don’t even get me started on the dough.  If you don’t live or work near one of the places above, it’s a sad state of affairs to be a slice fan in L.A.  So when I stumbled into Apollonia’s, an 8 month old pizza shop in the same mid-wilshire strip mall as Jinya I had pretty low expectations.  Not just because I had never heard of the place but… well actually that’s it.  Because I had never heard of the place.  And if none of the L.A. pizza cognescenti are talking about a pizza place in such a high traffic area of town, how good could it be?

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Wah’s Golden Hen $5 Lunch Special Is The Real Jam


If you are a coffee or preserves fanatic then you likely have heard of SQIRL. This tiny daytime only cafe on Virgil and Melrose has taken the L.A. food world by storm over the past few months, with their local and artisanal jam covered toasts, bowls of oatmeal, and sugar free G&B coffee. It’s kind of amazing to see some of the stuff that comes out of this tiny space, and the jam is almost good enough to make you forget how much you’re paying for a piece of bread with preserved fruit on it. It might not be something I can afford to eat every day for breakfast, but it’s a worthy splurge to say the least.

But the price isn’t going to be the thing that keeps me away from Sqirl. More often than not it will probably be Wah’s Golden Hen, the dirty old Chinese food spot that you may or may not have noticed across the street. With it’s sign that touts “chicken & shrimp” Wah’s fits into the neighborhood in ways that Sqirl never could (for now anyway.) And it happens to serve the greatest Chinese food lunch special I have ever found in L.A.

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Lunch Links (The “Food Court Madness” Edition)

The lines in FIGat7th have been long. Photo courtesy of Brigham Yen
  • CULVER CITY The chef from El Camaguary is back on the west side [LAMag]
  • DTLA The new food court inside Fig at 7th has been packed [Brigham Yen]
  • KTOWN Castle 2 has take over Bulgogi House on Wilshire [Eater]
  • WESTWOOD 800 Degress is contemplating a separate to go window [Eater]
  • WEST LA Tsujita to take over old Miyata Menji space [Grub Street]
  • LUNCH Hollywood Reporter Releases its Top 25 Power Lunches in L.A. list [THR]

And speaking of FIGat7th, I’ll be on Good Food w/ Evan Kleinman this weekend talking about all the different options at the new DTLA food court… because… well… I love food courts.  The show airs Saturday morning at 11am on KCRW, or you can stream the episode after it airs on their website.

Evan Funke’s Porchetta Truck Finds Solid Lunchtime Home on Pennsylvania


The stories of this sandwich’s greatness have not been exaggerated. Back in December Chef Evan Funke, formerly of Rustic Canyon and Milo & Olive, launched a Porchetta Truck to hold us over until Bucato opens- his forthcoming Italian restaurant inside Helms Bakery.  The truck launched on a First Friday in Venice and initially felt more like a night time thing; less lunch truck, more gourmet chef pop up.  Early word was pretty great from all fronts, and the price was right ($5), but then the holidays hit and the idea of trying to chase down a porchetta truck for lunch didn’t seem as urgent as it might have 2 years ago.

Fast forward a few weeks, and the porchetta truck has become a lunchtime staple for anybody who works near the food truck alley on Pennsylvania and 26th in Santa Monica.  It still roams around to various locations at night, and you’ll still want to check twitter for exact locations, but at lunchtime you can count on finding them on Pennsylvania and 26th at least 3 days a week.  And find them people have… with some reports of people eating lunch at the truck 2 or 3 times in a single week.

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Mariscos Jalisco and Guisados Both Launch 2nd Locations


Back in May I posted a taco crawl for out of towners and locals alike; a perfect way to enjoy 5 of the best tacos L.A. has to offer, all in 2 hours. The journey starts in Los Feliz with a Baja style fish taco, and ends in Boyle Heights with a fried shrimp taco from Jalisco.  In the middle?  The best guisados, vampiro, and carnitas L.A. has to offer.  It wasn’t so much a recommendation as a glimpse into my demented eating habits.  The way I like to eat my tacos… because after eating at one, I find it hard not to crawl on to the next- each taco so cheap, and so close to the one that precedes it on the list.  The crawl is still the best way to enjoy these tacos, but two of the places have now opened 2nd locations- neither of which are too far from the original (much to the disappointment of westsiders.)

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I Love Doughnuts: I mean, who doesn't.  But should we really be excited about Dunkin Donuts invading Los Angeles?  I got to discuss this important issue with Dan Pashman (of the Sporkful Podcast) on KPCC yesterday. (Spoiler: I think Munchkins might replace Fonuts as the Angeleno in Denial's doughnut of choice.)  Listen to the interview here>>

The Smashburger “Favorites” Menu is For Idiots


The popular Colorado burger chain Smashburger has invaded Los Angeles, generating the requisite amount of excitement from this burger obsessed city.  And while there are some who may have enjoyed a BBQ, bacon and cheddar burger on a trip to Denver, the chain is mostly foreign to these parts.  So when a new location popped up in my home neighborhood of Culver City (on Venice and Overland) I entered with a completely open mind, and a hungry stomach.


When your walk in, your eye is naturally drawn to the “Our Favorites” menu, which contains what one would assume are the most popular or recommended menu items.  But here’s the thing. The first two items on that menu (the “Classic Smashburger” and the “All American Bacon Cheeseburger”) are for total idiots. After two visits and some serious menu studying, I believe I have discovered some pretty large menu loopholes. Now, mind you, I’m not saying Smashburger is bad.  On the contrary, it’s actually pretty great. They get a great crust on the burgers by (you guessed it) smashing them on the griddle and their menu features the kind of toppings that have made Five Guys and Fatburger so popular.  But I’ve checked and double checked the numbers, run the stats through various ordering models and come to the conclusion that ordering one of those two burgers might be the dumbest move at Smashburger (despite being recommended as a “favorite” by the menu.)

Here’s why.

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