When Urban Garden first popped up on Fairfax last year I heard mixed things about the fast casual Mediterranean joint from the owner of Mercantile and Delancey. Hosted bloggers seem to like it enough (shocker!), while real customers complained a bit about the price. But the thing I heard the most about was how confusing the menu was. Always up for a dissecting-the-menu challenge I finally got myself over to Fairfax for a good old fashioned falafel and rotisserie chicken face stuffing.
Archive for 'Mid-City/Miracle Mile'
When Hollywood Pies first started “delivering” pizzas from a parking lot near Robertson and Pico 2 years ago I was intrigued. How could I not be? All the heavy deliciousness of a Chicago style deep dish, combined with the heavy thrill of a nighttime drug deal.What could be bad about that? I’ll tell you what. Like any good pusher, they only sold pizzas at night! So I waited. And waited, hoping that one day I’d be able to satisfy my daytime fix with a Noon order of one of their much praised pies.
Well, that day has finally come. They finally opened a sit down, brick and mortar location (a pizza dispensary, if you will) and they’re open for lunch on Fridays and Saturdays from Noon to 3pm.
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?
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.)
If you were one of those people (read: cheap bastards like me) who found the menu at Short Order, the Nancy Silverton backed burger concept in The Original Farmer’s Market, to be way too expensive for a casual lunch- a reprieve has finally arrived. Short Order has announced the launch of lunch specials. Now $14 will get you a grass fed cheeseburger with a side order of house fries or their signature spuds, plus a soda. For $3 more you can get a beer instead, $7 more will get you a cocktail (the special is also offered during happy hour.) It still doesn’t exactly feel cheap, but at that price it’s a lot easier to swallow than it was when the same lunch would cost you $18+. And, I’m down with any deal that forces me to order those spuds.
Short Order, 6333 W 3rd St. 323-761-7970
Since I moved here from NYC two years ago I’ve been on the hunt for a replacement for my beloved Jamaican Dutchy, the Midtown cart that introduced me to the wonders of jerk chicken, curry goat, and most importantly stew peas. The Kassava Truck was good while it lasted (it’s gone now), but I still can’t bring myself to go to their restaurant- mostly because it’s too expensive for ML purposes, but also because a little part of me is sure that great Jamaican food is not going to be found in the shadow of the Beverly Center. Nope- for that your best bet is to head to Mid City where Carribbean restaurants dot Washington and Pico in a way that makes you wonder when the “Little Kingston” sign is going up.
Natraliart is the go to favorite in the neighborhood, but I was a bit underwhelmed on my one visit. And it’s a bit too expensive. So when Lunch’er Garrett pointed out this quick little mention of Kaboom on the blog Food GPS I was intrigued. When I saw their prices, I was downright excited.
I didn’t grow up eating fried chicken in California, so the nostalgia factor of the Pioneer Chicken on Olympic and San Vicente is a little lost on me. I don’t have any fond memories of eating the grease bomb that is Pioneer as a child, nor did I ever go through the shock of discovering that my local Pioneer had been replaced by a Popeyes, or feel any sadness when the original Echo Park location closed a few years ago. And even though the location on Olympic is one of only 3 locations left (and the only within Midtown Lunch’ing boundaries), there are some who claim that it doesn’t taste the same as the original locations. It’s not a surprise considering that the actual chain itself hasn’t really existed since the 90s, and the remaining franchises are all owned and operated independently.
But none of that really mattered when Lunch’er Garrett recommended Pioneer as one of his favorite places to eat lunch in Mid City. I had driven by that kitschy chuck wagon sign so many times, trying to think of a good excuse to stuff my face with fried chicken that couldn’t possible be as good as Honey’s Kettle, or Roscoe’s, or even, ironically, Popeye’s. (I freakin love Popeye’s.) Garrett’s rec was just the excuse I was looking for, and now that I’ve been I can think of 5 amazing reasons I’ll be back to Pioneer. (And one of them involves Korean fermented soy bean soup.)