Archive for 'West Hollywood'

L.A. is Having an Israeli Falafel Moment (Capped Off by NYC Chef Einat Admony’s Visit This Week!)

Between Pico’s Kosher corridor and the Valley there has never been a shortage of good falafel in Los Angeles.  And the past few years have seen some new spots worth getting excited about (Joe’s Falafel in 2012, Hummus Bar Express in 2013). But since the beginning of the year there has been an explosion of new and delicious Israeli falafel joints, enough to make it feel like L.A. might be on the brink of having a falafel moment.  Here are four new’ish falafel places all worth checking outm and, if that isn’t enough, the chef behind New York’s best falafel is doing a series of dinners  in L.A. week.  Details about that are at the end of the post…

The Newly Expanded

IMG_9606Name: Ta-eem
Address: 7422 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles
Phone: 323-944-0013
Falafel in Pita Price: $6.95
Laffa: Yes ($9.95)
This popular but tiny falafel shop on the lunch (and t-shirt) wasteland that is Melrose Ave. isn’t tiny anymore. At the end of last year this small lunch counter with limited seating took over the hair salon next door, and morphed into a full fast-casual restaurant with plenty of room and loads of places to take a load off.  The one thing that didn’t change? The delicious menu of shawarma, kebabs, merguez and, of course, falafel, topped with their vast assortment of salads, and all served on fluffy Israeli style pita or laffa.

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Taco Love on Sunset is Grossly Misnamed


I don’t know what you think you mean when you say the word burrito, but I know what I think of. I think of a tightly packed nugget of perfection. One that is wrapped in paper and/or tin foil and will stand up on its own. I think of something that will never be touched by a fork or a knife, and doesn’t have a “wet” option (if anything, the more dry the better.) I think of something that has more rice than beans, and those beans will be black or pinto, not refried. And don’t talk to me about Chipotle. If I’m in San Diego, you can replace those rice and beans with french fries and I won’t complain. Sour cream and/or guacamole?  Yes please.  And the meat is there to add fat and some textural contrast, not as a vehicle for heavy spices or some kind of chile sauce.  That flavor gets added at the end when you choose which salsa you want to put on your burrito… ideally bite by delicious bite.  Call it a San Francisco burrito, use the word “mission” if you want, but I just call it a burrito when I say I have never had a good burrito in Los Angeles.

That is until yesterday, when I had the burrito at Taco Love- a grossly misnamed new shop on Sunset near Crescent Heights.  Because it’s not the tacos you’ll love at this place. It’s all about the burrito.

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Ink Sack’s New Egg Sandwiches Might Be Their Best


I’ve been a huge fan of Michael Voltaggio’s Ink.Sack ever since it opened a year and a half ago. See, MVolt could have opened a typical sandwich annex next to his popular restaurant Ink, charging upwards of $12-15 for sandwiches that people who eat lunch on Melrose would be more than happy to shell out the cash for. But he went the other way, offering a mostly take out menu of smallish sandwiches for $5-8 with great ingredients and interesting flavors that cheap fatsos like me would like. A pork filled, chicharron topped banh mi. House made corned beef and pastrami. A Cuban sandwich. Sadly, the chicken skin and liver mousse sandwich is gone, but there is still the cold fried chicken sandwich and the Spanish godfather.

And this week they added 6 new sandwiches to their menu, four of which contain an ingredient that pretty much improves anything it touches: fried eggs. And the best part is, they’re available All. Day. Long.

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Talesai’s Lunch Specials Give You a Tiny Taste of Night + Market


I like the cheap “authentic” dives you find in {Insert any Asian country here} Town just as much as the next guy (actually, probably way more than the next guy.)  But I also love when young chefs take Asian food out of the dive dive and into the hipster dive, giving the food a punk rock edge without muting the flavors that made you love the cuisine in the first place. I’m talking your Momofukus, your A-Frames, your Mission Chineses.  So naturally I was a bit excited when Night + Market started getting good reviews. The Thai street food restaurant from Chef Kris Yenbamroong is “hidden” inside Talesai, a West Hollywood Thai dinosaur owned by his parents.  Night + Market is only open at night (naturally), but when I heard that Yenbamroong also runs the kitchen of Talesai I couldn’t help but wonder what kind of lunch you could get at the parent restaurant.

Finding out that they offer a $10 lunch special sealed the deal.

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Tochka Makes an Excellent Lavash Wrap


It’s a sad truth, but many people probably stopped reading this post after the title. Made their mental note (“Tochka = Good. Got it.  Let’s move on.”)  And sure enough, it’s those people that will inevitably leave the comment a week from now telling me how terrible Tochka is.  Because the newly open flatbread sandwiches place on Sunset in West Hollywood is really just ok,  an importantly tidbit that you now know because you actually decided to read on. I wouldn’t drive across town for anything on their menu, but if I worked in the neighborhood there is something I’d go back for.  Something kind of awesome.  Something that I never even really liked, until I tried Tochka’s version…

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Chicken Finger Enthusiasts Should Flock to Chicken Lady Cafe


I don’t hate chicken, but I do reserve the right to hate L.A.’s obsession with chicken. I’ve never met so many people who love chicken, or (the horror) will only eat chicken. Fat man cannot live on chicken alone (unless it’s deep fried, covered in garlic sauce, or sauteed with french fries.) Ok, so maybe hate is a strong word.  I don’t hate chickenterians, some of my best friends are chickentarians. I just like to make fun of them for missing out on all the joys of beef, lamb, seafood, goat (yes goat!), and of course pork.  So if the future me had told the past me that I would end up eating at a place called Chicken Lady Cafe, a catering specialist in the shadow of the Beverly Center, and love it, the old me would have proactively punched the new me in the face.

Chicken Lady Cafe?  Catering?  The Beverly Center?  How did this happen?  I’ll tell you how it happened.  Chicken. Fingers.

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Ta-eem Grill’s Laffa is a Surprising Melrose Discovery


It’s been almost two years since I moved from New York to Los Angeles, and I have to say I’m almost at the point where there is nothing I miss about lunching in the Big Apple. Sure, I’d like to have a decent $2 slice available 15 feet from the front door of my house. And I’ve resigned myself to the fact that there will never be a proper plate of chicken and lamb over rice with white sauce and hot sauce in this city- after all if the Guru can’t really find one, nobody can. But beyond that, I can’t think of too much that NYC has for lunch that L.A. doesn’t do at least as well (if not better, if we’re talking ethnic food.) And that’s especially true now that I’ve discovered Ta-eem on Melrose.

Israeli style falafel is everywhere in Midtown Manhattan, and while I finally found an excellent (albeit expensive) version at Habayit in West L.A., there was still one thing missing from L.A.’s falafel repertoire: laffa. And not the generic, store bought bullshit lavash that a lot of places around here try to pass off as laffa (I’m looking at you Pita Bar & Grill!) I’m talking the fresh baked, super fluffy, gigantic discs of bread that when rolled around falafel make a pita pocket look like a tea sandwich. So when a Kosher friend (apparently real Jews can’t eat pig, but they can have lunch with one) told me that a falafel place on Melrose served up real deal laffa, I got excited. Very excited.

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