Los Angeles Area rss

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

Downtown’s Great Mexican Bakery

The new panaderia at Grand Central Market is a fab addition, says joe. One triangular pastry yields a filling of what seems like pineapple-coconut paste. Or try the tamales, especially tamales de elote (corn). They’ll knock you down, especially with the crema, promises abrahamincpt.

La Adelita 6 [Downtown]
in Grand Central Market
317 S Broadway, at 3rd., Los Angeles
213-628-0777
Map

Board Links: finally, a high-quality panaderia downtown

Tlapazola Branches Out

Tlapazola Grill has a new location down around Marina del Rey, and the kitchen and staff are up to speed in their first week in business, says Just Larry. It’s a good thing, because the crowds have turned out for Cal-Oaxacan fare like top-notch barramundi over vegetables with lime-caper sauce, nontraditional crab cake, spinach crepe, and good vegetable tamale with mole coloradito.

First courses are $7-8, mains $12-16. Glass of Zin or Syrah, $6.

Tlapazola Grill [Beaches]
4059 Lincoln Blvd., at Washington, Marina Del Rey
310-822-7561
Map

Tlapazola Grill [West LA]
11676 Gateway Blvd., at Barrington, Los Angeles
310-477-1577
Map

Board Links: New Tlapazola Grill dinner

Move Over, Here Comes Big Papi

When Big Papi’s opened over July 4th weekend, without so much as a sign out front (a giant neon wurst still sits on the roof, a vestige of the previous tenant, the late lamented Atlas Sausage) it did a booming business simply on the strength of the aroma of smoke and meat from the barbecue pit outside, which perfumes the neighborhood for blocks.

The BBQ is the real deal, and the meats were excellent even dry. Says GVDub: “Their rub was superb–a hint of sweet, a hint of spice, a hint of salt, all nicely balanced by the kind of smoky flavor that only comes from the proper ‘low and slow’ cooking over a well-banked fire. The pork ribs were fall-off-the-bone tender and the beef ribs were appropriately chewy, but not overly so. The chicken was beautifully permeated with smoke, tender, and still juicy.”

The sauces were really good too, more vinegar-based than sweet (Memphis rather than Kansas City), setting off the meat’s natural sweetness nicely. The hot sauce doesn’t blast its way through your mouth, but lets its heat sneak up on you.

pizzafreak raves about the chopped pork sandwich, but wasn’t quite so keen on the mild sauce that comes on top. “The pork was out of this world, wonderfully charred on the edges, the meat just a bit pink, fabulous aroma, wonderful taste.”

Sides keep up the high standard–mustardy, herb-flecked potato salad; creamy, rich coleslaw; slightly smoky, not-too-sweet beans; and perfectly done greens.

It’s a classic family-run joint, and there’s pretty much always family hanging out there. Since the only furnishings are four picnic tables, eating in is naturally family-style.

OK, not everything is perfect at this joint–the beverage assortment is limited to Pepsi products and Mexican sodas. Still, the menu seems to be a work in progress–cornbread is coming, and the owner says he’s working on getting a larger pit. Dare we dream of whole barbecued pigs??!!

Plates come with choice of two sides. Small is $5-6 depending on the meat; large $8-9. “The Hookup” combo platter is $12, and you can also get meats by the pound.

Big Papi’s Rib Shack [East San Fernando Valley]
10626 Burbank Blvd., at Willow Crest, North Hollywood
818-506-7960
Map

Board Links: New Q in North Hollywood
Big Papi’s further review

A Nice ‘L’ at BLD

Well, BLD (from the owners of Grace) just opened, and Chowpatty was one of the first hounds to try it and report back on the L.

“Menu was a little less imaginative than I had hoped, but as you might expect from Grace, ingredients and preparation were first-rate all the way. My main quibble was the prices–I guess this isn’t the ‘90s anymore!”

Hemp seed-crusted tofu salad with Asian greens and grilled shishito peppers ($12) is light and flavorful with a soy dressing. The hemp seeds give a nice crunch. The menu could use some more salads–does anyone really want bean and bacon soup right now? Turkey burger with Gruyere ($12) weighs in hefty and looks mighty good.

Dinner is the same as lunch, plus grilled half chicken, hanger steak, or grilled salmon with two sides each.

Several of the sandwiches–Wagyu burger, short rib sandwich, and pork sandwich–are over $15.

The former Opaline, thrn former Cafe Capo space has been nicely updated–again–and now has an airy, open layout, with the former bar area serving as the entrance.

BLD Restaurant [Midtown]
formerly Cafe Capo/Opaline
7450 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles
323-930-9744
Map

Board Links: BLD for lunch review

New Arrivals in SGV

Mr. Lee has opened a Monterey Park branch for their Vietnamese sandwiches (we believe the report is for Mr. Baguette, per info below), and sickman reports the roast beef banh mi and baguette are great as usual.

When it comes to banh mi, Professor Salt is fond of Banh Mi Cho Cu, adding that most of the top banh mi shops are great at something (bread, iced coffee, desserts) but not everything. Top Baguette, Mr. Baguette, and Banh Mi Che Cali are all good to try.

And coming soon to Valley Boulevard–Beard Papa! In the same shopping mall as Mei Long Village. Soup dumplings and pork pump, then cream puffs. Mmmmm…

Mr Baguette [San Gabriel Valley]
400 S. Atlantic Blvd., at Harding, Monterey Park
626-288-9166
Map

Banh Mi Cho Cu Bakery [Little Saigon]
14520 Magnolia St. # B, at Hazard, Westminster
Map

Top Baguette [Little Saigon]
9062 Bolsa Ave., at Magnolia, Westminster
714-379-7726
Map

Mr Baguette [San Gabriel Valley]
8702 Valley Blvd., between San Gabriel and Rosemead, Rosemead
Map

Banh Mi & Che Cali Bakery [Little Saigon]
15551 Brookhurst St., at McFadden, Westminster
714-839-8185
Map

Banh Mi Che Cali Bakery [Little Saigon]
13838 Brookhurst St., at Westminster, Garden Grove
714-534-6987
Map

Banh Mi Che Cali [San Gabriel Valley]
8450 Valley Blvd., Walnut Grove, Rosemead
626-288-5600
Map

Mei Long Village Restaurant [San Gabriel Valley]
301 W. Valley Blvd., between S Del Mar and S New Aves., San Gabriel
626-284-4769
Map

Board Links: New Mr. Baguette opened today in Monterey Park
Beard Pappa coming to Valley Blvd.

Wrapping Up the Farmers’ Market Tour

Dommy has finally finished writing up some hounds’ (sort of) recent tour of the 3rd and Fairfax Farmers’ Market (see link at end for earlier posts):

There are a bunch of bakery stands at the market, but T&Y stands out for its beautiful loaves of rye and other hearty Eastern European breads. Challah is gorgeous, not too soft, and probably would make great French toast…if it lasted that long at home.

Magee’s makes their own peanut butter ($5.50 for a small container), churning it expertly so it never separates. The nut flavor is in-tense! No salt, though…BYO.

Littlejohn’s is one of the reasons the Farmers’ Market is considered one of the city’s most chowish destinations. There’s no better fresh toffee around. Unfortunately, the chocolate that covers it isn’t as high in quality. Pralines are good for some, but oh-so -sweet. English toffee, $16.95/lb. Pralines, $2.35 each.

If you feel the need for picnic fixings while wandering in the Grove of commerce, head to Monsieur Marcel. OK, it’s overpriced, but you can get good cheese ($10-24/lb) and good olives–barely ripe tiny ones, big green ones stuffed with almonds, and shrively oil-cured ones that melt in your mouth ($9/lb). Skip the bready, gummy baguette and get some crackers to go with that cheese.

Bob’s is often named as a doughnut fave, but Dommy found the fried hunks o’dough disappointing. The lauded apple fritters, she says, have hardly any apple and taste fairly standard. Glazed, jelly, and bar doughnuts are Krispy Kreme-esque, light and fluffy. If you like that kind of thing. As for their crumb doughnut, it’s nothing compared to the version Sepulveda and Centinela, she says.

Tbilisi and Yerevan Bakery [Fairfax Village]
6333 W. 3rd St., at Fairfax, Los Angeles
Map

Magee’s [Fairfax Village]
6333 W. 3rd St. # 624, Los Angeles
323-938-4127
Map

Littlejohn’s English Toffee [Fairfax Village]
6333 W. 3rd St. # 432, Los Angeles
323-936-5379
Map

Mr Marcel Gourmet Market [Fairfax Village]
6333 W. 3rd St. # 236, Los Angeles
Map

Bob’s Coffee & Donuts [Fairfax Village]
6333 W. 3rd St. # 450, Los Angeles
323-933-8929
Map

Board Links: Doing the Farmer’s Market–ALLOF IT!! Pt. 4: Magee’s Nuts, Bob’s, Mr. Marcel, Little Johns and the PROOF!

Madame, You’re Beautiful!

The croque madame at Bluebird Cafe is a thing of beauty, says Bob Brooks–good bread, good prosciutto, good creamy mornay sauce. And not too big (you know, French women don’t get fat); just the right size for a super-rich sandwich. The egg may be cooked on the firm side, though. Beautifully ripe tomatoes and fruit come on the side.

All the sandwiches are excellent, adds Dommy–a lot like those at Surfas’ cafe (see also ChowNews #211), but more variety. The grilled vegetable sandwich is truly tasty. Plus, delicious cupcakes–chica recommends red velvet and carrot cake.

Blue Bird Bakery [Culver City-ish]
8572 National Blvd., at Hayden, Culver City 90232
310-841-0939
Map

Surfas [Culver City-ish]
8777 W. Washington Blvd., at National, Culver City 90232
310-559-4770
Map

Board Links: Bluebird Cafe–Culver City

Punch Knocks Out a Good Onion Ring

The former Royal Star is now a sleek, clubby joint by the name of Punch Grill. Flat screen TVs, a nice bar area, and new booths define the look. The menu is inoffensive, perfect for the bar crowd (or an upscale office lunch)–salads, soups, pastas, entrees, and sandwiches. Says southbay hound, onion soup is good and hearty, Maui onion salad with avocado and manchego good but skimpy. Caesar salad, solid. Seared ahi sandwich and grilled chicken sandwich are both nicely executed, but the real standout is the onion rings–light and crispy, with a peppery hint. Some of the best in LA.

Punch Grill [Beaches]
3001 Wilshire Blvd., at Stanford, Santa Monica 90403
Map

Board Links: Punch Grill–Wilshire and Santa Monica (review)

“Pizza” by Another Name: Lahmajoun

Lahmajoun is kind of like a Middle Eastern pizza, a crispy flat crust smeared with seasoned ground meat. They’re best, of course, straight out of the oven. Go to Sasoun Bakery, and you’ll likely see people waiting around for fresh, hot and delicious lahmajoun. Sasoun also has pretty good boreks, triangular savory pastries filled with cheese or spinach.

But Burger Boy swears that Partamian has the best lahmajoun in the city.

And Koko’s Bakery has great breads, lahmajoun and boreks, says Tom Swift.

Sasoun Bakery [East San Fernando Valley]
625 E Colorado Blvd., at Glendale Ave., Glendale
818-502-5059
Map

Sasoun Bakery [East Hollywood]
5114 Santa Monica Blvd., at Normandie, Los Angeles
323-661-1868
Map

Abraham Partamian Armenian Bakery [South LA]
5410 W Adams Blvd., at Burnside, Los Angeles
323-937-2870
Map

Koko’s Bakery [Pasadena-ish]
1674 E Washington Blvd., at Oxford, Pasadena
626-798-2543
Map

Board Links: Turkish Pizza??

Me, You, and BBQ

It’s not quite Kansas City style, but the BBQ spare ribs at Thai ‘N I are almost as tender and every bit as tasty as the best baby backs, says kdoc. These things are Flinstones-huge (about 9 inches), and have a distinctly different flavor from traditional American BBQ, but they’re outrageously tasty. The chicken is also top-notch. And you’d never get pad thai or mee krob at an American BBQ joint.

The green salad has a nice-and-tangy ginger vinaigrette, and their wonton soup is unusually garlicky and rich, with delicious chicken-stuffed wontons, says davinagr.

A rib-chicken combo is $10.

Thai ‘n I [West San Fernando Valley]
17544 Ventura Blvd., at Encino Ave., Encino
818-783-8424
Map

Board Links: Thai ‘N I BBQ review–Encino