I’ve been a big fan of Tatsu Ramen ever since they opened up on Sawtelle two years ago, and clearly I’m not the only one if they’ve survived the competition on that street. It’s especially good in the summer time, when their soup-less naked ramen is a great alternative to the heavy-osity of Daikokuya and the Tsujitas. And their hot ramen is not too shabby either. So when I heard they were opening a new location on Melrose near Highland I wasn’t too surprised. But with a new location comes a new(ish) menu, and one of the new items was a huge surprise.
Archive for 'Mid-City/Miracle Mile'
Hart & the Hunter is one of my favorite restaurants in all of L.A., not just for their smoked trout, their ridiculous biscuits, and their addictive chicken cracklins. But also because you could get at least two of those three things during breakfast and lunch, even though it was pretty clear from the beginning that they were probably only serving food during the day to satisfy some kind of contract with their hotel landlords. Naturally the lunch menu also sported a few of their more popular salad offerings (brussels, cauliflower, pickled shrimp) and you could get their hangar steak as a salad’ish bowl. Certainly not the food that earned them a reputation as one of the coolest restaurants in the city, but good enough to get us hardcore fans to schedule lunch meetings and coffee meet ups there.
Well, just short of their one year anniversary, Hart & the Hunter has revamped their lunch menu and it now actually has a few things that might make the dinner crowd a bit jealous!
It will probably surprise nobody to learn that there was a time, before my lunching was professionalized, when hot roast beef sandwiches served with fries from a beachside shack was one of my once a week go-to lunches. Kelly’s Roast Beef on Revere Beach was about a ten minute drive from the radio station I worked at, on the north shore of Boston. And we made that drive often. Not just for roast beef sandwiches of course. On the days you were feeling particularly rich there were also lobster rolls, whole fried clams, and pretty much everything else you’d expect to find at a New England seafood shack. Some days it was cold and windy, and keeping the pelicans away from your fries was a constant struggle. But sitting out on the beach on a work day eating a roast beef sandwich is still probably one of my top 10 weekday work lunches of all time.
So imagine how excited I was to hear about Top Round Roast Beef, the new roast beef sandwich place on La Brea and Olympic. In the month or two since they’ve opened I’ve heard a lot of talk of it being a “better version of Arby’s”. But I have no love or nostalgia for the bologna of roast beef. I was hoping it would return me to the beach.
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.
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.)