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Restaurant recommendations, new openings, and highlights from the LA Chowhound community.

How Beautiful It Is

Café Bella Roma S.P.Q.R. opened in June, and it’s getting rave reviews like the early days of La Buca.

There’s nothing magically new here, just delicious chow. Chef Roberto Amico, late of Clafoutis and originally from Rome, is trying to re-create a casual restaurant in Italy. The presence of his friendly wife, Lisa, adds to the homey feel.

Crab cocktail is delicious, chock-full of fresh crab with fresh cantaloupe, lemon, and spices, says kotter. Branzino baked in salt is moist and perfect, served with sautéed spinach, potato purée, grilled polenta, and a lemon-caper sauce.

On weekend mornings, they serve brunch—the Italian breakfast plate has sliced meats and cheeses, breads, jam, and Nutella. There are also American-style egg dishes as well as various frittate (“just like an omelette, except ‘omelette’ is French,” says the menu).

They don’t have a liquor license so far; corkage is just $4.

The restaurant is small and cozy, with a comfortable patio. Lots of street noise from Robertson, though.

Café Bella Roma S.P.Q.R. [Mid-City]
1513 S. Robertson Boulevard, Los Angeles
310-277-ROMA
Location

Board Link: Bella Roma SPQR – Review

Make That Double Yum

Yum Cha Café has a new location in Monterey Park, adjacent to Shun Fat Market (south side). It’s smaller than the San Gabriel place but with all the same dim sum (no banh mi, though).

Shrimp balls are very tasty, and so are the barbecue pork flat noodles, which are superpopular and sell out fast. And don’t pass up the brown sugar rice cakes.

Yum Cha Café [San Gabriel Valley]
421 N. Atlantic Boulevard Suite 101, Monterey Park
Location

Yum Cha Café [San Gabriel Valley]
Inside the San Gabriel Superstore
1635 S. San Gabriel Boulevard, San Gabriel
626-280-0978
Location

Board Links: Update on new Yum Cha Cafe in Monterey Park
Yum Cha Cafe—any seating?

Move Over, Orange Chicken

Pineapple fish, as executed at King Harbor, is quite possibly the perfect Cantonese dish, says Das Ubergeek.

The Cantonese tend to blend sweet sauces and fruit with protein, a tradition that in America has led down a slope slippery with cornstarch-thickened sauce, all the way to the orange chicken at Panda Express.

“King Harbor’s pineapple chicken, though, is large, deep-fried nuggets of flaky tilapia tossed with fresh pineapple and a sauce made from thickened pineapple juice. A few carrots lend an oh-no-what-have-I-done Western quality to the dish, but they’re easy to ignore. The fish is perfectly, perfectly cooked—flaky and, most importantly, still moist—but ripping hot.”

The house specials here are pretty good generally, says Tony, especially the squid and the chicken. Deep-fried tofu and pea shoots with garlic are solid too. Just make sure you stick with Cantonese dishes. It’s not quite San Gabriel Valley standard, but little outside SGV is.

King Harbor Seafood Restaurant [Little Saigon]
13018 Harbor Boulevard, Garden Grove
714-636-9103

Board Link: REVIEW: King Harbor Seafood, Garden Grove

Something Like an Indian Burrito

Chutneys’s kebab rolls are something like an Indian burrito—and they make one filling and delicious meal, says Servorg.

Tikka-style chicken, moist and well seasoned, is piled onto a piece of extra thick, fluffy naan. Onions, raita, and a cucumber-tomato mix top it off, and for “salsa” you can grab a minty sauce (light green is mild, dark green is spicy). Ground beef kebab is kind of like a Persian lula kebab: not highly seasoned, but a good alternative to chicken. There’s lamb too.

Rather than a fusion product, it seems like a variation on the kati roll, says anthead, which was invented at a Calcutta restaurant and took the rest of India by storm. But unlike Chutneys’s, the Calcutta version usually has a fried egg tucked inside.

A chicken tikka “burrito” costs $5.41 with tax.

Chutneys [West LA]
2406 S. Barrington Avenue, Los Angeles
310-477-6263

Board Link: Chicken Tikka Burrito

The Smart Choice in Silver Lake, Intelligentsia Coffee

“Could it be that something that came with three dozen donkey carts of hype actually lived up to them? I’d say so,” says Woolsey after experiencing the Yirgacheffe coffee made in a Chemex carafe-filter at the famous Chicago company’s newly opened cafe.

“It was fantastic, too, with no bitterness, a wonderfully clean finish. After slugging down so much bitter, harsh office coffee all day to fuel the drudgery, it was nice to have something so elegant. We were getting buzzed almost like it was wine, not coffee.”

The other fancy option is coffee brewed in a Clover machine. It’s grand, rich, and wonderful, says Suebee. Even an iced latte is distinctive, the espresso strong without any bitterness, and subtly creamy. Hot espresso is just as good, with beautifully formed foam.

The pastry selection is nothing out of the ordinary, but the muffins and breakfast breads are from Delilah in Echo Park, and Bread Bar supplies croissants, minibaguettes, and brioche.

Intelligentsia Coffee & Tea [Silver Lake]
3922 W. Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles
323-663-6173

Board Link: Yes, Intelligentsia Was Worth the Wait: Review + Pics

Awesome Burger Bargains

In an age when pedigreed burgers come with a double-digit price tag, there are still a few bargain gems. Consider the half-pound American Kobe burger at Tops on Colorado in Pasadena—moist, tender, beefy beef; smoked mozzarella melding with caramelized onions like wine and cheese; fresh greens and tomato; and herb mayonnaise just to put it over the top. It comes on a fresh ciabatta roll with the right bit of chew—this sandwich, says JeetJet, would be excellent even without the meat. And how much is it? $6.45, my friends.

Note that we’re just talking about the Tops on Colorado in Pasadena, not the one on Walnut or the Tops Jr. in Alhambra, which have different owners and possibly even a different menu.

Over in Encino, the Stand is better known for hot dogs, but on Thursdays there’s jazz on the patio, $6 bottles of Merlot ($1.50 a glass), and a good turkey burger, all for $13 total, says joea.

High end but worth it: Burger Night (Sundays) at Grace. Burgers (prime, dry-aged Highland beef) go for $18 to $24; the most expensive comes with truffled cheese, and that’s damn well worth it, says tatertotsrock. Blue cheese is kind of overpowering, but the burger is delicious even without any cheese. Unfortunately, the house-made ketchup is a disappointment—you’d be better off smuggling in some Heinz.

Meanwhile, the Apple Pan’s prices have gone up and up over the years, and the burgers now just seem mediocre at about $10 for a where’s-the-beef patty with fries, says Burger Boy. Stick with the banana cream pie, says Diana—creamy, silky, bananas everywhere.

Tops [Eastside]
3838 E. Colorado Boulevard, Pasadena
626-449-4412
Location

The Stand [West San Fernando Valley]
17000 Ventura Boulevard, Encino
818-788-2700
Location

The Stand [Century City]
2000 Avenue of the Stars, Los Angeles
310-785-0400
Location

Grace [Mid-City]
7360 Beverly Boulevard, Los Angeles
323-934-4400

Apple Pan [Midtown]
10801 W. Pico Boulevard, Los Angeles
310-475-3585
Location

Board Links: Tops Kobe Cheese Burger is Tops
the stand in encino last night $13 for a burger and a BOTTLE of wine
Sunday Dinner Deals?
Apple Pan, Burger & fries $10

A Sandwich Oasis in the South Bay

Eschbach is a sort of trad-Euro oasis in an area where it’s a lot easier to get loco moco or okonomiyaki than a good deli sandwich.

The roast beef sandwich comes with a generous portion of meat, a good cheese slice, nice ’n’ fresh tomato, pickle, and lettuce on a Giuliano’s roll—all for $3.75, says DiveFan.

Liverwurst is extremely creamy, and a sandwich is just $2.98, adds Foodandwine. Good pickle, too.

Smoked pork chops and homemade German sausages to cook at home also are great here. Mr Grub is particularly fond of the weisswurst and says all the sausages are better and cheaper than elsewhere.

And Clinton has got to have the last word on this place:

“I brought a wild hog I shot while hunting a while back and had Eschbach smoke the two hams and make spicy sausages with some of the shoulder meat. They did a great job smoking the meat and the sausages were outstanding!”

Er, nuff said.

Eschbach Meat Products [South Bay]
18045 S. Western Avenue, Gardena
310-324-1376

Board Link: Unexpected S.B. sandwich find–Eschbach’s

What, No More Brass Cupids?!

This is your last week to check out the distinctively Bavarian outrageousness of Lowenbrou Keller, which closes at the end of the month after being sold. OK, the décor may be more of an attraction than the German fare, which gets mixed reviews. But how many places look like “Liberace and a German Dominatrix did a pile of blow and then decided to decorate” (rednyellow)?

Lowenbrou Keller [Silver Lake]
3211 Beverly Boulevard, Los Angeles
213-382-5723
Location

Board Link: Lowenbrou Keller Closing!

Down to the Hoof

Heads up, goat-meat-lovers: Koreatown’s Goat House has what you want. There’s goat skin salad, tossed with wild sesame leaves, sesame oil, and chile. There’s goat’s liver, grilled, or, as the real connoisseurs eat it, raw. And there’s goat meat, steamed or stewed.

Steamed goat ribs, carved tableside, have plenty of meat. Just sprinkle on some coarse salt and dip in one of the sauces that come with—pure essence of goat, says modernist.

If you’re both adventurous and lucky, you’ll hit the restaurant on the day it gets its meat delivered; it’s freshly butchered, not frozen. Goat House will have fresh raw goat liver by the slab. Says Mr. Bokum, “Each large mouth-filling bite had a smooth, rich almost creamy texture which only in the final chew surrendered its livery funk. The combination of cool slipperiness and Soju was perfection. This is a special plate of food—completely different and oddly luxurious.”

On other days, you can get goat liver marinated and grilled, topped with chopped scallions, or boiled, which has a powdery texture that may not please everyone.

Goat foot comes complete with gelatinous tendon in a sweetish chile’d sauce. You’ll be given plastic gloves to handle it (each piece is about six inches long), but this is some slippery stuff.

For a sampling of what’s on offer, the restaurant does five different goat specials for brunch, 6 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Goat House [Koreatown]
3732 W. Sixth Street, Los Angeles
213-383-0045
Location

Board Links: goat madness at goat house in ktown
Ktown goat: Thx Modernist

My Big Fat Gyro Sandwich

LA isn’t as well known for Greek food as, say, Chicago, but you can find a good gyro here. Firehouse Greek adds a little twist to its version: After shaving the meat from the spit, they crisp it on the griddle for a bit of crunch, says trojans. “Then when you get it you bite into a garlicky, garlicky delicious tsatsiki sauce that makes the whole sandwich scream hallelujah.” They also make a delish lamb souvlaki (kebab), notes debra.

When it comes to Greek, the great standby is Papa Cristo’s. A bit more expensive than days of yore, but still damn good.

kek is khmer disagrees, saying Papa C’s food is oily and salty. kek prefers George’s Greek, where salad is included with your meal.

The Mad Greek, an oasis on the long, dry trip to Vegas that’s a favorite of estone888, also has a branch in Stanton.

And SecretAsianMan puts in an enthusiastic vote for Mediterranean Delight in Glendale and its fantastic gyros.

Firehouse Greek [West San Fernando Valley]
18450 Victory Boulevard, Tarzana
818-881-3118
Location

Papa Cristo’s [Midtown]
2771 West Pico Boulevard, Los Angeles
323-737-2970
Location

George’s Greek Café [Long Beach]
318 Pine Avenue, Long Beach
562-437-1184
Location

George’s Greek Café [Belmont Shore]
5316 E. Second Street, Long Beach
562-433-1755
Location

George’s Greek Café [Downtown LA]
735 S. Figueroa Street Unit 131, Los Angeles
213-624-6542
Location

Mad Greek Restaurant [Orange County]
12120 Beach Boulevard, Stanton
714-898-5181
Location

Mediterranean Delight [Eastside]
126 S. Brand Boulevard, Glendale
818-543-3272
Location

Board Links: Good Gyros in LA?
Firehouse Greek – Reseda