Archive for March 2013

Wednesdays Are My Favorite Day at La Caridad (After Saturdays)


Growing up in Miami has made my love for Cuban food strong, a love that I will often blindly defend.  If you grew up here in Southern California on salsas and chiles and corn masa and mole, with as many regional variations as there are taco trucks in Boyle Heights, than Cuban food might seem boring to you.  But to me oxtails with rice and beans and maduros is as comforting as my Grandma’s matzoh bowl soup. Pollo Tropical?  My own personal Del Taco.

When I worked in Midtown Manhattan the Dominicans had me covered.  There may have been rice and peas instead of morros, and they put salami in their “cubano”, but there was grilled onions on top of grilled meats, and the fried plantains were plenty fried and plenty sweet.  And that was good enough for me.  Here in L.A., though, Cuban food is like tacos in NYC.  Even the half way decent stuff gets put up on a pedestal by the locals.  I guess what I’m saying is, I like Versailles’ garlic chicken just as much as the next guy but there’s something about that place that has never made me feel 100% right. Like an Angeleno eating a taco in Hell’s Kitchen.

So imagine how excited I was when I read about La Caridad on L.A. Magazine’s food blog.  Oxtails?  Pork shank? Morros?  I’m in.

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Monzo is a Surprisingly Big Improvement Over Fat Spoon


I was a big fan of Fat Spoon when it opened on 1st St. Downtown. Their Italian style pastas with Japanese ingredients, like cod roe and seaweed, filled a nice void in the Little Tokyo lunch scene, and their curry offerings were more than solid. Seemed like it was perfectly situated to pull in the spillover from their perennially packed neighbor Daikokuya. And once you toss in the fact that it was opened by the owners of Lazy Ox and Sushi Roku you would seem to have a recipe for success. Or not.  The place never took off, and during our DTLA noodle crawl last month we noticed that it was being replaced by a udon place called Monzo.

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Lunch Links (The “I Am An Egg Slut” Edition)

Eggslut’s Avo Burger. Photo courtes of Christine Chiao/Squid Ink

  • CENTURY CITY Massis Kabob is now open in the mall [Toddrickallen]
  • DTLA Egg Slut now parks outside of Handsome [LA Weekly]
  • DTLA Gil’s Indian Buffet is pretty good but not great [The Minty]
  • DTLA SGV’s Mr. Baguette is now open in the Bonaventure Galleria [Grub St]
  • KTOWN Mr. Pizza is “authentic Korean pizza” [Slice]
  • MARINA DEL REY Our favorite carne asada fries are #2 in the city [Squid Ink]
  • SAMO Burger Lounge is now open [Eater]
  • WEST LA Another look at the new Hayatemaru Ramen [Grub St]
  • LISTS 5 Essential L.A. Thai Restaurants [LA Weekly]

How is it that Nobody Has Called BS on Chipotle’s Quesarito?

We interrupt your regularly schedule Midtown Lunch programming to bring you a quick rant on a current off the menu item at Chipotle sweeping the blogosphere this month

Please do not take photos of the crime we are about to commit…

My relationship with Chipotle has been a well documented lunchtime roller coaster ride.  They were one of the very first places I wrote about when I started Midtown Lunch almost 7 years ago, and my disbelief over how much people in Midtown loved them led to the creation of my Ultimate Burrito Theory (and how it related to Chipotle sucking.)   A year later we uncovered the absurd voodoo economics behind Chipotle’s listed calorie counts, and that was it.  Chipotle was dead to me.

Fast forward to last year, when my love of Jamie Oliver and hatred of fast and cheap McFrankenfoods caused to me to reassess my  intense dislike of Chipotle.  While I still don’t love the food, I now really appreciate what they are doing in the fast food world. And  acknowledge that if more fast food chains took their lead, the world would be a much better place.  And it was under the banner of this truce that I heard about… THE QUESARITO.  An off the menu Chipotle burrito wrapped in a quesdilla!?!

How could I not?

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Ramen Hayatemaru is Now Open on Olympic (and Spoiler: It’s Awesome)


In case you missed it on Eater at the end of last year, I’ll say it again.  If you live or work on the westside, there is really no reason to travel any substantial distance for ramen.  Want a giant bowl of super porky Hakata style ramen, you go to Yamadaya.  Want something porky, but a bit more refined, or the perfect bowl of Tsukemen (dipping noodles)? You’ll be joining the hordes, waiting outside of Tsujita.  And if shio or shoyu ramen is your thing, then former westside ramen champ Santouka still satisfies.

So when Besha Rodell from the L.A. Weekly wrote about Hayatemaru, Torrance’s new Hokkaido style ramen shop, back in June I didn’t really pay much attention.  But now that the Japanese chain has opened a second location on Olympic and Barrington, I’m all in!

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5 Things To Like About CoCo Ichibanya, West LA’s New Curry House


CoCo Ichibanya, the huge Japanese based curry chain with locations in Torrance and Irvine, has opened their first L.A. location on Santa Monica Blvd. btw. Bundy and Barrington in an old Rubio’s. Even though it’s listed as being in Brentwood, it feels closer to West L.A. which is already home to two pretty popular curry houses. And while CoCo Ichibanya is not good enough to replace Hurry Curry of Tokyo as my favorite katsu curry place on the west side, there are still a few things to like about this chain…

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Lunch Links (The “Essential Lunches” Edition)

Zam Zam Market gets recognized as an L.A. Essential

  • LISTS The annual 99 Essentials list is out and has a bunch of ML favorites [LAW]
  • DTLA Accolades for Men Oh Tokushima keep piling up [Eating LA]
  • HWOOD Fat Sal’s is coming to Highland [Grub Street]
  • KTOWN A new Thai place called Issan Station has opened on Western [Eater]
  • SAMO 800 Degress is coming soon to Wilshire [Grub Street]
  • SAMO Tacos Punta Cabra serves a good fish taco [Squid Ink]
  • WESTWOOD UMini has launched a new menu [Unemployed Eater]