It’s no secret that I’m obsessed with food courts, a passion that dates back to my childhood. So I was excited to hear the news that the famous chefs behind La Casita Mexicana in Bell have just opened a new food court concept called Flautas in the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza mall. Like 101 Noodle Express in the Fox Hills Mall or Loteria’s Torta Company in Fig At 7th, it’s just the latest development in a food court renaissance that has been sweeping through Southern California malls over the past few years.
Archive for 'Food Court'
There are few things in life better than a great food court, especially here in L.A. where co-workers’ taste can range from “fat IT guy who will eat anything” to “fat IT Guy who doesn’t eat meat or gluten”. In other words, finding a place that is suitable to all of your friends is damn near impossible in this city, which makes food courts the best. Everybody gets what they want, everybody is happy. Plus, there is never a shortage of (my personal favorite) shitty Chinese food. What I’m saying is, I love food courts. And chances are you love them too- unless, of course, you’re some kind of communist.
So when I heard that DTLA’s new food court inside Fig at 7th had opened I was pretty excited. Food courts have been getting progressively better over the past few years, either by incubating interesting new gourmet concepts (like Century City) or bringing in delicious transplants from ethnic neighborhoods (like the Fox Hills Mall). Fig + 7th seems to be doing a little bit of both. But deciding what I wanted to eat proved a little bit easier than I expected.
If there is a better work day lunchtime set up than the mall food court, I haven’t seen it. What other place can you go with your co-workers (or family for that matter) and everybody be able to get what they want. You’re in the mood for a turkey sandwich but I want shitty Chinese food? Food court can make it happen. You want a salad, but I’m in the mood for- oh who am I kidding. I always want the shitty Chinese food. Point is, food courts have got something for everybody.
Recently food courts have taken to looking outside the standard fast food joint model that has dominated the scene for decades. The Westfield mall in Century City is well known for their upscale food court, which features a number of interesting and kind of upscale options. And I’ve explored the hidden mysteries of the Santa Monica Place food court. But nothing could adequately prepare me for the announcement that 101 Noodle Express, the San Gabriel Valley institution famous for their beef rolls, was now open in the Fox Hills Mall Westfield Mall Culver City. Could this be the Chinese food savior the westside has been praying for?
Midtown Manhattan has got practically nothing on Los Angeles. Go through my list of faves, and there is practically nothing I could get in NYC for lunch that I can’t get here. But there is plenty here you’d be hard pressed to find there (good Thai, good Mexican and great Persian food, just to name a few). But there is one thing I do miss from working all those years in Midtown. Street meat. Chicken and lamb over rice with white sauce and hot sauce is 100% New York City. The halal food street meat plate was invented on the streets of NYC, and it doesn’t seem to have made it past the city line.
Until now? While walking through the Westfield Mall in Culver City the other day I couldn’t help but notice somebody eating a styrofoam tray of food that looked suspiciously like street meat! Could this be the breakthrough we’ve been looking for? Only one way to find out…
When the brand new Santa Monica Place opened up back in August everybody seemed pretty focused on all the new restaurants. Not me, though. I’m strictly a food court man. Sure, I’d sneak a dinner in at Pizza Antica, and I guess I’m mildly intrigued by the dim sum at Xino. But for lunch, if I’m anywhere near a mall I find it hard to avoid the food court. In fact, food courts are kind of the perfect group lunch- a fact I discovered as a child when my brother, father and I used to spend Tuesday nights at the Dadeland Mall Court in Miami. No arguing over where we were going to eat dinner when the food court was the destination. I could have my lo mein (made to order in a wok behind the counter!) from the random Chinese restaurant whose name I can’t remember, my brother could get his matzoh ball soup from Bain’s Deli, and my dad could get whatever he wanted (I can’t really remember what was in his rotation.)
I’m all growns up now, but the same theory still applies. Food court with co-workers is the perfect compromise. Sally from accounting can enjoy her boring salad or sandwich, while you decide between crappy Chinese food, crappy Japanese stir fry, or Hot Dog on a Stick. (Fresh squeezed lemonade and a corn dog FTW!) So last week, when I decided to meet a chicken loving friend in Santa Monica for lunch, there was one perfect option that stood out from the rest: the Santa Monica Place Food Court. And even though I usually go straight for the cheap Chinese food (old habits die hard), we managed to discover a few hidden secrets that aren’t obvious from an intial walk-around.