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

Foie Gras Ice Cream?

Ice cream flavored like caramel salt, coffee, and deep chocolate at Delicieuse practically made westsidegal levitate.

angelatmytable seconds the rave, having tried other flavors like strawberry and maple before settling on Chocolate Millionaire (rich, natch, and dark without being bitter); a mixed-berry sorbet made with absolutely fresh fruit; and the standout, coconut–goat milk. The flavor is full, smooth, and fragrant without being overly sweet.

Hours are limited but may expand this summer. It’s a bit pricey, too, at $3 a scoop.

angelatmytable’s favorite for value, taste, and inventiveness is Scoops, where owner and chief ice creamer Tai Kim has had a burst of creativity lately: foie gras and sweet cream, champagne and Asian pear sorbet, and extra-virgin olive oil and sea salt mousse.

Olive oil is one of the best flavors djquinnc has ever had at Scoops, while the foie gras is subtle … maybe too subtle. Worth a try.

Milk is a real find for a dairy lover, says Pei, who discovered the banana butterscotch ice cream bar on a recent visit. The ice cream is fluffy and creamy, with intense banana flavor. The butterscotch is thin, crispy, and buttery, with shards of almonds. The cost for one big bar: $3.

The owner of Cafe Lucca is devoted to the art of making gelato, often concocting ice cream into the wee hours of the night, says OCBites. As for running a restaurant, it’s not so much his thing.

Das Ubergeek encountered some seriously clueless service and a mediocre caprese sandwich (good filling, crappy tough French roll). Still, he says, the gelato is really good, and so are the madeleines and even an espresso, properly made with good crema.

Delicieuse [Beaches]
2503 Artesia Boulevard, Redondo Beach
310-793-7979
Map

Scoops [East Hollywood]
712 N. Heliotrope Drive, Los Angeles
323-906-2649
Map

Milk [Central City]
7290 Beverly Boulevard, Los Angeles
323-939-6455
Map

Cafe Lucca [Orange County]
106 N. Glassell Street, Orange
714-289-1255
Map

Board Links: OMG the best ice cream i’ve tasted in years Delicieuse
Delicieuse–French Ice Cream in the So. Bay
Hie thee hence to Scoops…
More Praise for MILK
REVIEW: Cafe Lucca, Orange

It’s a Chicago Pizza Showdown

In one corner is Zelo’s, a small but charming spot in Arcadia. It really seems like the family owners put thought and care into it, and the staff is great. There’s a small but well-edited beer selection, and changing specials. Weakness: Pizzas are premade and stacked in a big cooler.

In the other corner, we have Tony’s “Little Italy,” whose owner is from Sicily via Chicago. It moved a couple of years ago to newer digs, and while it’s still not a full-on restaurant, there are a good number of tables, a decent selection of beers, and TVs to watch the game. It’s pretty popular. Weakness: Sausage-stuffed pies appear short on the stuffing.

The ref: Dommy, who cites as credentials her long, pizza-filled sojourns in Chicago over six years.

Zelo’s has really mastered its crust, she says; it’s really the restaurant’s own and not Chicago’s. Cornmeal gives it a corn-y flavor, and the crust is incredibly crisp and buttery. The flavors aren’t typical of Chicago either, where the preferred toppings/stuffings are sausage, green pepper, and spinach. Instead you get roasted garlic, meltingly tender and adding just the right punch to the cheese and sauce; corn and caramelized onion, wonderfully sweet; and spicy sausage and onion, with plenty of meat. Potato and pancetta is divisive—Dommy says the pancetta is overwhelming, but WildSwede loves it, saying the porkiness blends with the tomatoes, plus there’s a bit of rosemary in there.

Tony’s pizza is a hefty thing, not just deep dish but stuffed. Looks did deceive however—the sausage and green pepper pie didn’t have much of either beneath the surface. RSMBob, though, finds the smooth tomato sauce exceptionally fresh-tasting.

It’s a KO for Zelo’s, declares Dommy, but RSMBob sums up the difference between the contestants: Zelo’s has the heart of a Chicago deep-dish pizza, with California flair on top. Tony’s is more typical of a traditional stuffed-crust pie, on a par with the offerings in Chicago.

Zelo Gourmet Pizzeria [San Gabriel Valley]
328 E. Foothill Boulevard, Arcadia
626-358-8298
Map

Tony’s “Little Italy” Pizza [Orange County]
In Vons Shopping Center
1808 N. Placentia Avenue, Unit B, Placentia
714-528-2159
Map

Board Links: Chicago Pizza Showdown Pt. 1: Zelos in Arcadia
Chicago Pizza Showdown Pt. 2: Tony’s Little Italy in Placentia

Not Your Average Java Blast

Coffee, as in that humble, American-style cuppa joe, is getting some of its own back. There’s been a lot of buzz, starting with the Los Angeles Times and the LA Weekly about the Clover, some mysterious, quasi-magical machine that turns bitter coffee beans into gold on the tongue.

The new Groundwork café in the Higgins building downtown has a Clover, and the company is getting two more—probably for the Venice and Cahuenga Boulevard locations.

A Clover cup really lives up to the praise, hounds say, with a pure, smooth, full-bodied yet not bitter flavor. You can choose from any kind of beans they have in-house, and your cup is made to order. Panama coffee is $3.50 a cup.

Kaldi’s in Atwater Village has something slightly different going on: cold press coffee. Soaked in cold water overnight, the coffee grounds are then filtered out to leave a concentrated solution that you can add to cold or hot water for a full cup. It’s definitely less bitter than a regular brewed cup, but doesn’t fill annalulu with lyrical awe.

Groundwork [Downtown]
108 W. Second Street #107, Los Angeles
213-620-9668
Map

Kaldi [Atwater Village]
3147 Glendale Boulevard, Los Angeles
323-660-6005
Map

Board Links: Groundwork coffee: the Clover
Cold Press coffee at Kaldi in Atwater Village

Where Your Skewers Await

Good things come on sharp sticks at Koshiji, a Little Tokyo joint where pleasurepalate was blown away by juicy, smoky pork belly with shiso leaf, and crisp-tender green beans wrapped with pork.

Even before that, you get complimentary fresh veggies and an addictive miso-based sauce that’s great on the skewers too.

Baked sweet potatoes dripping with butter add a nice sweet note to a meal of savories. Garlic that’s grilled until meltingly tender is also a bit sweet.

Proving, at least for this meal, that you can’t go far wrong with anything wrapped in pork (lamb chops and duck breast struck out), okra in pork was tasty. Chicken meatballs and quail eggs are good too.

For dessert, coffee Jell-O is sort of like a twist on a cup of coffee, (whipped) cream on the side.

Koshiji [Little Tokyo]
123 S. Onizuka Street #203, Los Angeles
213-626-4989
Map

Board Links: Koshiji

VN Chow Is in the House … or at Least the SGV

Newish in Alhambra, Nem Nuong Khanh Hoa is straight-up representing Vietnamese food in the San Gabriel Valley, says tvnguyen.

Bun bo hue, noodles in spicy soup, is a house specialty—good stuff. Pho is tasty and the spring rolls a standout. Nem nuong cuon, in particular, is the best in SGV, says ipham.

It’s clean and service is good, but even by the standards of an SGV noodle house, there’s not much ambiance—even some VN pop in the background would be welcome, says bsquared2.

Nem Nuong Khanh Hoa [San Gabriel Valley]
1700 W. Valley Boulevard, Alhambra
626-943-7645
Map

Board Links: Nem Nuong Khanh Hoa in SGV
Pho in Alhambra

The Kebab Around the Corner

The modest little Green Leaf Super Market dishes out surprisingly good South Asian grub, reports mstinawu, who pretty much stumbled across it by accident.

Halal meat and fresh produce are its main business, but there are a few small tables, and all the food is cooked to order—stuff like chicken tikka masala, lamb karahi, and kebabs. Everything is delicious, and the meats are very tender. Green Leaf does go easy on the spices, though.

$15 gets you more than enough food for two.

Green Leaf Super Market [South Bay]
24416 Crenshaw Boulevard, Torrance
310-325-8831
Map

Board Links: Great place for Indian/Pakistani Take Out–Green Leaf Super Market

Shawarma and Then Some

The flavors of Soumarelo are Armenian and Mediterranean, and delicious, says judybird. Beef shawarma is flavorful and herbaceous. Ekra, a kind of eggplant caviar, is mashed with peppers and tomatoes—good enough to eat plain or as a dip. Potatoes, deep-fried with onions, come with a fine dusting of cheese on top—it’s addictive stuff. Like Zankou, they also have roast chicken with garlic paste.

Soumarelo [Pasadena-ish]
1090 N. Allen Avenue, Pasadena
626-791-0999
Map

Board Links: Pasadena’s answer to Zankou

Panuchos, Tortas Ahogadas, and Tlacoyos: So This Is Santa Ana

Chowing around Santa Ana, kare_raisu found plenty that’s Chowhound-worthy.

Conde Cakes is actually a Yucatecan restaurant (disguised as a panaderia). People stop by to start the day with pan dulce and coffee, or steaming hot tamales.

The panucho, a fried corn tortilla filled with black bean paste topped with achiote-tinged turkey shreds, pickled red onions, and a light cucumber salad, has a wonderful combination of flavors and textures. Yucatecan pan de nata is almost like a Bundt cake, and perfect with coffee. They have vaporcito and colado tamales—both simple and excellent. The husband-and-wife owners are planning to offer more comida Yucatecan in coming months, like kibbe, salbutes, queso rellano, and more.

There’s a line outside Ricas Tortas Ahogadas at breakfast, lunch, and dinner for its famed tortas ahogadas—the French dip sandwich of Mexico, with a fiery tomato-arbol sauce instead of beef jus drenching the crisp roll. It’s a beautiful, sloppy thing. Best choice of fillings: carnitas. It doesn’t have the crunchy bits of classic carnitas, but it does have that deliciously musky flavor. Lightly pickled onions are great for contrast; don’t forget the minced onion, cilantro, and lime.

Northgate Market is a chain, but its Oaxacan tamales are authentic down to the leaf of chaya tucked in with the masa. Pork in chile rojo is fragrant, high-quality, and lightly sauced.

Rivas is a tiny shop chock-full of mole. You know they’re serious when it turns out there are only two types: verde and rojo. Both are from Teloloapan, a town in Guerrero.

El Rincon Chilango specializes in Mexico City eats, including the tlacoyo—an oval of masa like a huarache stuffed/topped with some kind of filling. The masa (though from a mix) is crisp and warm, the salsa verde bright and flavorful, just right with salty queso fresco. Skip the flor de calabeza filling—probably from a can. Other specialties de la casa: borrego and tacos de canasta.

The former Nancy Puebla restaurant is now Guerrero’s, but the Pueblan menu is the same, with specialties like Cornish hen and posole verde with pumpkin seed paste and garnished with chicharron. Mole negro is complex and delicious.

Conde Cakes & Bakery [OC]
2050 N. Grand Avenue, Santa Ana
714-560-0844
Map

Ricas Tortas Ahogadas [OC]
Taco Truck at W. Fifth Street and N. Townsend Street, Santa Ana
Map

Northgate Markets [OC]
Multiple locations

Rivas Food Co. [OC]
413 N. Broadway #A, Santa Ana
714-972-0607
Map

El Rincon Chilango [OC]
1133 W. 17th Street, Santa Ana
714-836-5096
Map

Guerrero’s (formerly Nancy Puebla) [OC]
1221 E. First Street, Santa Ana
Map

Board Links: Breakfast in the Yucatan
More chowing in Santa Ana
Guadalajaran love on a (Styrofoam) plate
Turning chilango
Guerreran Notes and Nancy Puebla

A Find in Little Saigon

Pho is not the only Vietnamese soup. The shrimp soup with rice noodles at Quan Vy Da stands out with fresh flavor, says pleasurepalate. With cilantro and lime and even some peppers, it’s a meal in a bowl. They have some tasty rice cakes, rolls, and dumplings, too.

Quan Vy Da [Little Saigon]
9950 Bolsa Avenue, #B, Westminster
714-531-2905
Map

Board Links: Stumbled into this great spot in Little Saigon

Purgatory Has Been Located, and It’s in Downtown L.A.

You can’t go to Purgatory in this lifetime, but Purgatory will come to you. Purgatory Pizza, that is … and only if you live downtown … or are drinking there.

This new spot (takeout/delivery only) is owned and operated by the former chef of Silver Lake’s popular Nicky D’s, and the pies are pretty much like Nicky D’s when it’s on its game, says 9thandBroadway. Crust is thin, sauce is nice and herby, and there’s a spicy option—El Diablo, of course.

A large pizza with three toppings and a couple of sodas is about $20.

Purgatory Pizza [East LA-ish]
1426 E First Street, Los Angeles
323-262-5310
Map

Board Links: Welcome to purgatory
Between heaven and hell