Archive for 'Westwood'

U-Mini is Less Burger For Less Money w/ Less Stomach Ache


If there was a scale created for restaurant inevitability, U-Mini would probably rank towards the top. It was clearly only a matter of time before Umami Burger would attempt to turn their hugely popular mini-chain of sit down burger restaurants into something a bit more fast-food’ish. The idea was as unavoidable as the post Umami Burger stomach ache- that pain in your about-to-explode gut that would normally be considered a deal breaker if the damn burger didn’t taste so good going down.

Something cheaper and quicker would be nice.  Something to compete with Five Guys, In N Out Burger, or (insert feigned surprise here) New York’s Shake Shack. And U-Mini, the fast food tech-heavy burger place that just opened in Westwood by the owners of Umami is pretty much just that.   It’s literally just a smaller, quicker, streamlined version of Umami Burger. In other words, if you’re not a fan of Umami Burger to begin with, don’t bother.  This place probably won’t change your mind.

But Umami fans will find a lot to like about U-Mini, especially those of us whose days are dictated by lunch.  Not only is it almost half the price of a lunch at a regular Umami Burger, the burger is a bit smaller by an ounce or two- meaning that patented Umami stomach ache is mercifully smaller as well.

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Bibigo Finds Its Natural Home… In a Food Court


It’s been over two years since the Korean chain Bibigo opened its first U.S. location in Westwood Village, bringing fast food bibimbap and spicy pork to UCLA students and Westwood office workers.  And while writers who got treated to free meals raved about it, those of us who spend any time in Koreatown were slightly less enthusiastic.  A great Westwood lunch option, no doubt.  But nothing to get overly excited about.

Staying true to its goal of becoming the McDonald’s of Korean food, Bibigo has opened two more L.A. locations since then,  Including a “casual dining” location in Beverly Hills and most recently an outpost at the Century City Mall food court. And even more recently they added a few new items to the menu at their Westwood location, one of which is worth checking out.

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New Anatolia Mediterranean Cafe Replaces Canary on Westwood Blvd.


Westwood lunching has been on fire since the beginning of the year.  800 Degrees continues to rack up fans with their Chip(otle)izza, Yamadaya just opened a new branch on Westwood Blvd just south of Wilshire, and the anticipation over the new Five Guys is palpable on Broxton during lunch. Plus there’s Wakasan, sandwiches that run the spectrum from grossly insane (Fat Sal’s) to grossly refined (Fundamental), and a ton of Middle Eastern food. In other words, Westwood is quickly becoming one of my favorite places in L.A. to eat lunch.  But it’s not all good news.  Canary, an old Persian standby on Westwood Blvd. whose tongue sandwich made it onto JGold’s 99 Things You Have To Eat Before You Die list in 2010, has been replaced by a new Turkish restaurant called New Anatolia Mediterranean Cafe.

Westwood is known for its Persian food (Attari will ensure that we don’t miss Canary’s tongue sandwich too much), and you can find solid Lebanese food at Sunin. But Turkish? That’s a new one. Tasting Table got pretty excited about their funky lamb soup (kette pacha) but I was super curious about their two shawarma spits they had rotating behind the counter, and their $7 lunch special.

Check it out after the jump…

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Prediction: 800 Degrees Will Be Bigger Than Umami Burger


I wasn’t here in L.A. for the opening of Umami Burger in 2009, but I was here for most of the aftermath.  The popularity.  The expansion.  Being named “Burger of the Year” by GQ.  The backlash.  The backlash to the backlash.  But through it all there is one thing that has always been undeniable (even though many burger snobs don’t want to admit it): Umami is a great concept. It’s a great burger.  But there are other great burgers to be had in L.A. and around the country- many of them cheaper than the $10-12 creations at Umami. In other words, it’s not going to be anything that anybody hasn’t seen before in some form.

But you know what you can’t get anywhere else in the country?  A real neapolitan pizza for $6.  And that, my friends, is why 800 Degrees- the latest concept from the Umami braintrust- will be a true game changer.  The first location of what they hope will be many opened Monday in Westwood Village, and considering how smoothly it was running on day 3 I feel confident saying that the place is completely genius. The concept.  The food. And most importantly, the price.  And what makes it even more amazing is that I completely expected it to be a shitshow.

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Fundamental L.A.’s Sandwiches Are Small But Delicious


This might come as a shock to some, but I don’t love sandwiches.  Wait.  Scratch that.  Who doesn’t love sandwiches? I love sandwiches. Of course I love sandwiches.  But I will admit to being slightly prejudiced against sandwiches. I hold my lunchtime sandwiches to a higher standard. In other words, I expect more from my sandwiches than I do from… say… shitty Chinese food. You either have to be the very best at what you do (i.e. the chicken parm from Bay Cities), or you’ve got to be doing something really unique (I’m looking at you Mendocino Farms).  Something that makes me look at the menu and think… ok, this is going to be different and awesome.

Fundamental L.A., the new sandwich shop on Westwood Blvd that replaced Alcazar Express, did just that to me last Monday.  I don’t know if it was their sous vide egg topped BLT, or their house made porchetta that did the trick, but either way I found myself there last Thursday eating my way through half their menu.  And it was so good, I went back on Friday.

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Westwood’s New Sandwich Shop Fundamental L.A. Looks Amazing

Last week Tasting Table did a feature on the newly opened sandwich shop Fundamental L.A. (1303 Westwood Blvd.) and it looks pretty freaking awesome. A porchetta sandwich with sauerkraut for $9. A BLT made with a fried egg pulled fresh from a circulator ($8). A trotters sandwich!?! And apparently the menu is constantly changing (although I hope it doesn’t change so quick I miss out on the porchetta…)

Fundamental L.A., 1303 Westwood Blvd., 310-444-7581

Waffle Chix’s Sandwich is a Ton of Food For Under $10


I don’t know what it is about fried chicken and waffle that gets me so excited- oh, who am I kidding.  Of course I know what it is.  It’s the excuse to pour maple syrup over a piece of fried chicken (and enjoy it with a waffle!)  Now, I know what you’re thinking.  “But Zach, you are a fat bastard.  Isn’t that excuse enough to pour maple syrup over your fried chicken, waffle or no waffle.”  Yes.  I suppose it is.  But doing it in a sanctioned environment somehow makes me feel better about myself.

So when I heard that Waffle Chix, a new fried chicken and waffle place, had opened in Westwood I figured I’d take one for team and go check it out.  You know… for you guys.

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