Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Original Pantry Cafe

When you find yourself in the area of Ninth Street and Figueroa with raging hunger roars, The Original Pantry Cafe will definitely soothe the savage beast. As a bonus, you can count on some quality people watching to go with the quality chow.

The Pantry is open 24/7 and has been for more than 85 years, as noted by the sign on the door that says "Through a door which has no key, you will enter a cafe which has never been closed since 1924."

I went with a breakfast special on this visit, even though it was afternoon. The bacon and cheese omelet with spicy salsa, crunchy-on-the-outside hash-browny potatoes and grilled toast was awesome! The toast is about an inch thick and is heated with the rest of the meal on the griddle. YUM!!!

It's quite a hoot to be a lookie-loo and check out both the crowd and the food they selected. Remember, they're open around the clock, so there's always an interesting mix of locals and tourists, hipsters on their first visit and seniors recounting times gone by, office workers and partiers needing some comfort food. I was delighted to watch the pot roast, pork chops, pancakes, and mac and cheese plates go by to families and the solo eater reading the paper, and the Pantry burgers served to the guys in suits and ties had me planning my next trip. Let's go now!!

Click here to go to their Web site.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Philippe's French Dip

In my circles, there is still some disagreement on the real first and best French dip restaurant in Los Angeles, Cole's or Philippe's. I won't speak for all of LA, but Philippe's French Dip is first in my arteries!

I love everything about Philippe's, including the sawdust on the floor, the community tables, the bank of five working phone booths - yes, the old school wooden ones with the little seat inside - and the little railroad museum display on the way to the restroom.

Then there's the chow. Here you see my fantastic roast lamb sandwich with the slabs of bleu cheese, which I piled high with the sloppy cole slaw right after I snapped the picture. Dang! The melange of flavors and textures was intense! I looked away from the dessert offerings (you know, the Lent situation), but I have had some tasty pies from that counter, and I'm sure I'll have future pie opportunities at Philippe's.

So give Philippe's and Cole's a try. As you can see, I've already drawn my line in the sawdust!

Click here to go to Philippe's Web site.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Señor Fish

I was doing my Census Bureau training yesterday, and one of my colleagues came back from lunch with an Arby's cup. I started on the "ummmm, Arby's" tangent, strategizing if I should go after class, or if I should go for lunch tomorrow. On my drive home, I snapped back to reality and remembered that I both shun fast food from chain restaurants and have a responsibility as the Cruise Director to eat someplace bloggable. Today, that place was Señor Fish.

Señor Fish has several locations around town. South Pasadena took care of me this visit, and I've also eaten at the one in Little Tokyo. I went with the two taco combo with the beans and rice, selecting an Ensenada-style fish and a potato version. Dang! Where do I start?! The fish taco was fantastic: lightly battered huge chunks of fish with loads of cabbage, sauce and tomatoes that tore right through the two corn tortillas. Then there was the awesome potato taco. I'm not sure what I was expecting, but it turned out to be a potato wedge wrapped inside a tortilla then fried and topped with the cabbage and fixins. Following up with the beans and rice, and I was one happy gal asking "Arby's who?"

Click here to go to their Web site.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Angels Flight

What's a girl to do with a Metro Day Pass and two quarters burning a hole in her pocket? Get to Pershing Square and walk over to Angels Flight, the reopened historic funicular on the Hill Street side of the Grand Central Market.

Angels Flight is the world's shortest railway, and it started operating on Monday after being shut down for nine years. It dates back to 1901 and has been at this location since 1995. If you haven't seen it in action, it's like a "push me, pull you" balancing act. One car is at the top and the other is at the bottom, and they both start moving. The one-way ride takes just a few minutes, then the car goes the other way. It's quite a hoot! It was fun to see office workers, families and "old timers" riding during this opening week. For a mere 25 cents, the novelty alone can't be beat. Check it out for yourself!

Click here to go to their Web site.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

St. Patrick's Day at LA Live

Truth be told, I’m fonder of my Scottish slice of DNA than my Irish slice. But on St. Patrick’s Day, the Celtic blend kicks in, and it really doesn’t matter. I decided to commemorate my heritage with the green-wearing masses at LA Live, downtown by the Staples Center. Bagpipers were on the agenda, and that usually means men in kilts, so you know I was there!

Big St. Patrick’s Day celebrations now remind me of my first real group celebration of the “holiday.” I was in New York on Spring Break during senior year of college, having an informational interview at a radio station. I was preparing to move to NYC after graduation and wanted to get some ducks lined up. During the interview, the huge St. Patrick’s Day parade came down the street, and no one noticed until we could hear the pipes up in the office. Everyone stopped, watched and listened while the bagpipers passed by, then went back to business. It was the strangest thing, and one of my fondest March 17th memories.

Today’s celebration included a dancing leprechaun (their introduction, not mine), the LA Police Emerald Society Pipes & Drums (and the kilted men), a marching band from Dublin, and Ken O’Malley & The Twilight Lords playing traditional jigs and tunes. That’s Ken playing the mandolin in the picture with the leprechaun. In short, it was a fun event enjoyed by a very diverse crowd, and just the sort of event LA needs in our sometimes boiling-over melting pot. What can we celebrate next?!

As a wrap up, I did move to NYC the morning after graduation, but “the music died” for me in the radio world before I even got to give it a real spin. And that’s OK, because the consolation job at Grey Advertising still opens doors for me, which leads to a whole different kind of green.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Sushi & Teri

OK, I'll admit it. I am not an adventurous sushi eater when I'm eating solo. It's much more fun to order dragon things and eel and blackened cod and the like then share it. When I'm dining alone in sushi environments, I go with a bento box. Sushi & Teri at the Japanese Village Plaza Mall served up a fine sampler!

I was in Little Tokyo to see the Textured Lives exhibit at the Japanese American National Museum, which focuses on Japanese immigrants adapting their traditional clothing to the working conditions of Hawaii's plantations, while maintaining their cultural connections. An interesting note that caught my eye was that the obi belt was tied a certain way to keep a growling tummy at bay.

Of course, thinking about this made me hungry, so I walked across First Street to the Plaza Mall. I've eaten at Sushi & Teri before, so I bellied up to the sushi bar in the back - it's always fun to watch the chef - and ordered my salmon bento box. The tempura veggies were really fresh and hot, and the California rolls and nigiri pieces delish, so at least I dabbled in the sushi world. And, it's making me crave some sushi sharing. Who's with me?!

Sushi & Teri does not have a Web site. Their address is 116 Japanese Village Plaza Mall, LA 90012. Phone is 213-687-8368.

Click here for the Japanese American National Museum's Web site.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Downtown Art Walk

Looking for an excuse to wander the streets of downtown, peek into the various galleries, and take advantage of lots of food trucks? The Downtown Art Walk just might be your thing.

Scheduled the second Tuesday of each month, this time about 40 galleries participated. I strolled the core area area between Broadway and Main, and Third and Ninth streets. If a gallery was open, I popped in. I did a couple of laps, as there's no real set schedule for the Art Walk, so I caught different ones at different times. It was a wacky roll of the dice!

My favorite space this time was The Hive Gallery on Spring Street. They had multiple artists displaying "Alice in Wonderland" themed pieces. I loved this 3D piece, specifically Alice's Heat Miser hair as she's falling down the rabbit hole. The Cheshire Cat and playing cards appeared throughout the artwork. Fun and very timely, as the movie with Johnny Depp was just released.

I also liked the open-air lot with the artisans selling their t-shirts, jewelry, paintings and other crafts, along with the crucial kettle corn folks keeping the blood sugar momentarily modulated.

Now, for the food trucks. I know they're all the rage right now, and they were out in force. Much to my disappointment, I did not see the grilled cheese truck during my stroll. But, I did see Italian, kabobs, burgers, hot dogs, pizza (shouldn't they team up with the Italian truck?), tacos, and ice cream trucks, strangely parked in clusters. Maybe the more, the merrier?! Who knows? What I do know is that the Art Walk was an eye-opening experience, as I saw artwork I probably wouldn't have seen otherwise, and I saw my city in a whole new light. Well done, LA!

Click here to go to their Web site.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Olvera Street

When was the last time you visited Olvera Street, the birthplace of Los Angeles? I love strolling the aisles, mentally selecting my luchador mask, and seeing the festive papel picado banners, tissue paper flowers, and the beautifully decorated traditional clothing.

I'd never walked into the Avilo Adobe before, and it was cool to see how Angelenos lived in the 1840s. It is the oldest existing house in Los Angeles, and you can visit it for free, right there on Olvera Street.

And, you can't leave before getting a churro. This one was hot out of the fryer, not heat-lamped like some churros I've choked down. As I gave up cake, cookies, pie and ice cream for Lent (I'm not Catholic, but "Fat Tuesday" was a little too relevant this year!), the churro was a delicious escape from my snacking restrictions.

Also, the Blessing of the Animals is coming up the Saturday before Easter. Check that out for even more fun on Olvera Street!

Click here to go to their Web site.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Art's Delicatessen & Restaurant

Last Saturday, I visited an art museum. Today, it's all about Art's Delicatessen & Restaurant, where "every sandwich is a work of Art." Gotta love it!!

I was meeting a friend for some lunch before heading out for a big adventure. She was totally craving the vegetarian reuben from Art's Deli in Studio City. Vegetarian reuben is not an oxymoron; they use avocado and tomato instead of the usual carnivore options. I could see that working in a pinch; however, today was not my day to stray.

My sandwich definitely took a lap around the meat counter. Note the cheery red pastrami, crisp cole slaw (substituted for the standard sauerkraut), swiss cheese, and russian dressing on toasted rye bread. My sandwich and heaping pile of crispy fries WAS a delicious work of Art!

I now have Art's delightful calendar hanging on my fridge. Grabbing it was a self-imposed distraction away from the black & white cookies. Oh, look, shiny! And out the door. I'll save the b & w cookies for another adventure.

Click here to go to Art's Web site.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Venice Beach

I have a love/hate relationship with Venice. Today's visit was all love!

See, I lived there for more than six years. In fact, my first night in my first Venice apartment was January 16, 1994. Why is that important? The massive 6.6 magnitude Northridge earthquake hit in the early morning hours of January 17, 1994. Welcome to the neighborhood!

The love part revolved around the cool ocean breezes, running on the beach, rollerblading and riding on the bike path, and the freakshow being in town 24/7. The hate part included all the people coming to my neighborhood for the aforementioned breezes, beach, bike path and freakshow. Many a time my garage was blocked by some "outsider" thinking it was okay to park there. ARGH!!

As a visitor, it was great to shop for sunglasses, check out both henna and ink tattoos, give a shout out to rollerblading/guitar playing street performer Harry Perry, watch the enormous weight lifters and the "White Men Can't Jump" basketball players, and not scoff at the Jody Maroni Sausage Kingdom. As Jody started his conglomerate on the Venice boardwalk, here it doesn't feel like "airport" food. They served me the breakfast burrito - stuffed with andouille chicken sausage and french fries instead of hash browns - even though it was 2:30P. Awesome! The love was back, so I went home. Venice and I have agreed to be long-distance friends, and neither of us will push our luck.

For the record, after more than nine years, South Pasadena hasn't thrown any huge earthquakes at me yet. I'm knocking on wood with my other hand while I hen-peck this post...

Click here for a Venice Beach Web site.