downtown

Eggslut – Quick Lunch, Long Line

by Franklin on February 10, 2015

Call someone a slut, and you are asking for trouble. Take someone to Eggslut, and you are just the best friend ever. I remember having Jury Duty (the worst) and we were on our lunch break — I headed straight to the Grand Central Market. It is great to see Downtown flourish and the revival of the Grand Central Market a couple years back is a true testament to that. I knew I had to give Eggslut a try. I think the name itself is just intriguing enough. This is a long overdue post so don’t hate me if the details are a bit foggy.

I ordered the Fairfax with bacon. The soft scrambled eggs were so delicate and smooth and the addition of the chives made it extra special. The cheddar cheese melted nicely and mixed in with the caramelized onions and sriracha mayo. I am glad I added the bacon as it gave the sandwich extra saltiness and flavor. The warm Portuguese bun was the perfect bread to hold everything together.

The Slut is a dish of coddled egg on top of a smooth potato purée. It is then poached in a glass jar and served with toasty crostini. Now they serve it with a baguette. The coddled egg mixed in with the potato puree was so buttery and delicious. Was I supposed to eat it on top of the bread? I didn’t see a use for it. The egg and potatoes in the glass jar were all that I needed — I just didn’t see a need for the bread. If the mixture was a bit more savory or salty, I would like to eat it with the bread. Just think of very buttery mashed potatoes with a nicely poached egg on top, topped with salt and chives. It is so simple and delicious.

Eggslut has some lines when it is lunch time. My wait was only about 10 minutes. Sitting there at the bar, enjoying my sandwich and poached egg was memorable. The ingredients were so pure and simple — the preparation was the star. Alvin Cailan, creator of Eggslut now has a ramen shop called Ramen Champ in Chinatown. I can’t wait to try that in the near future.

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Semi Sweet Bakery – The Crullant

by Franklin on November 11, 2014

Semi Sweet Bakery in Downtown is one of the many places to get cronuts in Los Angeles. Dubbed the name, “crullant”, theirs was more of a hybrid between a croissant and a French cruller. Behind Semi Sweet Bakery is Sharlena Fong, a New York based pastry chef. The cafe bakery was small, chic, and filled with so many baked goodies.


The Crullant was quite nice, and one of the best “cronut” renditions I have had. It was delicate and not too sweet. I liked the fact that this tasted clean and more like a pastry, not oil. A lot of cronuts have that fried oil taste, and I appreciated that this one didn’t have that taste. The glaze was not too much, and gave the crullant a perfect sweet taste. I also liked that there was a lot of layers from the pastry. It gave it a nice texture and flavor.

The Peanut Butter Ding a Ling was tasty. A spin on the Hostess Ding Dong, this one was quite decadent. The peanut butter filling combined with the rich chocolate flavor went so well together. I’m not really a ding dong fan, but this rendition was quite delicious.

Semi Sweet Bakery is almost a perfect bakery. They have some top quality pastries and nothing is too over the top. The ode to the ding dong was nostalgic and the crullant is nearly perfect. Next time, I must try the maple bacon sticky bun.

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The Original Pantry Cafe – Breakfast, Done

by Franklin on September 3, 2014

I’ll make this short and simple. I will try to do this blog post a little differently — It will all be pictures less the words. The Original Pantry has been feeding Los Angeles for a long time now. Joining the likes of Downtown eateries Philippe and Cole’s, they are a landmark. The food is plenty and delicious and the diner is always busy. It is cash only. Enjoy the pictures.

Country Potatoes and Eggs.

Cheese Omelet and Potatoes

Pancakes

Plate of Bacon

I came here on the morning of my birthday. My breakfast literally kept me full until dinner time. I started the day right. Heck, I started the year right. Maybe I’ll make this a birthday tradition.

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Themed restaurants are cheesy. Public School is literally a school themed restaurant/gastropub. They have composition notebook lookalike menu and a clipboard with the beer menu. Other than that, the restaurant decor is pretty much like any other. What I don’t get is why the theme? I guess it’s a good thing that the “school” theme isn’t just all in your face. I suppose the little hints of the school theme is fine. They should however have the food speak for itself.

The Cutting Board featured a selection of cured meats and artisan cheese. The cheese included a gouda, swiss, and cheddar. The meats were prosciutto and a chorizo of some kind. I liked the addition of the marcona almonds. It gave the whole experience a nice crunch. Eating the different cheeses with the honey and fruit preserves was delicious as well. Though it came with a large variety of items, I would have liked a more variety of meat or just a larger quantity.

The wild mushroom and taleggio lavash was quite delicious. It was probably my favorite of the night. The extra thin, almost cracker like crust was light and crispy. The mushrooms and the creamy taleggio mixture almost mimicked Campbell’s cream of mushroom. It was savory and rich. The mix of the arugula and parmesan shavings gave it an extra depth of flavor. This pizza like dish was quite delicious.

I am a sucker for anything fried, and of course, calamari is one of my top fried delights. the fiery calamari was exceptionally good here. Using a mixture of flour and cornmeal for the batter, it gave it an extra crunch. Though the crunch from the cornmeal seemed to be a fake “crunch” and would liked it to be more fried to a crisp. Dipping these in the togarashi and ginger aioli gave it a nice zing and spice, but not too spicy. A spicier variation in the sauce would have made this calamari stand out more.

The cauliflower and cheese dish was well received. As an avid cauliflower hater (I blame Yoshinoya), the only way I would eat them is if its fried, or covered in cheese. In this case, the cheese sauce did a good job in making the bland cauliflower edible. The addition of the bacon bits on the side and the bechamel made this a rich dish.

Public School is you everyday bar / eatery. They don’t have the outstanding dishes and selection as the other restaurants. School Food is more of a safe choice — better than most, but still generic. They have locations neatly separated — 310 in Culver City and 805 in Westlake Village. All they need is one near Hollywood and they have LA pretty much covered.

Public School 612 on Urbanspoon

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Ina ve been hearing such good things about Cafe Dulce, and seeing all the yummy looking photos, I had to give it a visit. During my dreaded two day jury duty visit, my 1.5 hour lunches made it a time to urban hike the crap out of downtown. Mindlessly walking, I ended up in Little Tokyo. It was either Spitz (the safe choice, and the choice I should have made), or elsewhere. Of course my curiosity led me to Cafe Dulce.

I ordered the Spicy Korean Cheesesteak. I don’t know why I ordered it. It. Just sounded good and though it would be. The marinated beef, homemade slaw, kimchi, provolone cheese, and their secret hot sauce between a stale roll was my lunch. The beef was thin, tasteless, and there wasn’t much of it. The house made slaw was not crunchy or tasty, and the kimchi somehow worked against the sandwich. I was definitely regretting not going to Spitz as I took each bite.

To cheer myself up, and to try their baked goods, I ordered a bacon donut hole. Honestly, this wasn’t that bad. It was soft, sweet, salty, and gave satisfied my craving of something at least somewhat tasty. I guess I was a better off not ordering lunch here but just getting some donuts and baked goods. Lesson learned.

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Bäco Mercat – Josef Centeno’s First Baby

by Franklin on June 11, 2014

I am starting to love Downtown. Not only are there tall skyscrapers and interesting architecture, there is a rich history and a huge redevelopment going on. Not even 10 years ago did you have this many people living in Downtown Los Angeles. With the people came newer and better shops and of course, restaurants. This is an exciting time for restaurants in downtown. Some of my favorite restaurants are on downtown, one of which is Baco Mercat. Chef and owner, Josef Centeno has an impressive resume. He worked at Daniel in New York. He was also the executive chef a Meson G and Opus in Los Angeles. After building on his concept, he opened Baco Mercator in 2011. With his successes, he opened Bar AMA in 2012 then Orsa & Wilson in 2013. Needless to say, Chef Joseph Centeno is on a roll. First, let’s take a look into his first baby, Baco Mercat.

We started things off with a root beer & chocolate bäco pop and Grear’s lemonade. The root beer was quite interesting. It tasted. Dry much like root beer, but had a very distinct chocolate after taste. Imagine drinking root beer with a tootsie roll in your mouth. That’s pretty much what it tasted like. It was uniquely refreshing and delicate. The Grear’s lemonade was nice as well. The added carbonation with the lemonade gave the drink a nice fresh taste–perfect pair with the fatty pork belly sandwiches.

We order the original. This had pork, beef carnitas, and salvitxada sauce. All wrapped in their famous baco (flat bread), the sandwich at first bite is amazing. The soft chew of the baco and the crispy fried pro belly counter each other nicely. The added meat of the carnitas gives this sandwich the extra depth. For me though, the salvitxada sauce put this over the top. The romesco style red pepper sauce gave the sandwich a nice zing and zest. If you were to only get one back sandwich, this is the one to get.

As an avid beef tongue connoisseur, I had to get the beef tongue schnitzel. The beef tongue in this back was quite nice. It’s as tender and soft as beef tongue should be. The beef flavor was extenuated by the harissa, smoked aioli, and pickles. The mixture of flavors from the beef tongue and aioli with harissa was such a good combo.

Sitting at the bar, enjoying my drink and baco sandwich, I realized how great downtown is. West LA, Beverly Hills, and Mid-City aren’t the only places in LA that have exciting restaurants anymore. Downtown is the future, if not, the present. Josef Centeno has been on a roll with his string of restaurants. What the future hold for him and LA is quite exciting.

Bäco Mercat on Urbanspoon

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Spitz (Little Tokyo) – Topped Fries Make Me Happy

by Franklin on February 6, 2014

It all started with two Occidental College graduates. On a semester abroad in Spain, there were Doner Kabobs everywhere. Doner kebabs are basically minced meat that is cooking on a spit. The meat rotates and caramelizes as it spins on the broiler. Upon graduating, the students opened up their first Spits in Eagle Rock, just a mile away from Oxy. I am more familiar with the Little Tokyo location, and only been to this one. The food is always amazing and the ambiance, artsy as usual.

I always get the street cart doner. Freshly carved lamb Doner meat accompanied by romaine, onions, cucumbers, green pepper, and tomatoes create this tasty wrap. With garlic aioli and fried lavash chips, the sandwich wrap is zesty and delicious. The kicker is the tzatziki and chili sauce. The meat is seasoned perfectly and the veggies and sauce all come into play perfectly.

My most favorite thing here is the street cart fries with the works. First off, the fries are perfectly crusted and crispy. Instead off traditional potato fries, theirs are a Cajun style. Topped with garlic aioli, feta, onion, green pepper, tomato, olives, peperoncini and chili sauce, this be easily be one of my favorite “topped” fries dish in Los Angeles. I opted to add chicken Doner meat, and everything was perfect. Each bite had a little bit of everything — think crane asada fries, except its chicken fresh off the spit and Mediterranean ingredients. I absolutely loved the feta as it gave a nice zest to everything. The veggies were an absolute must to keep this gut buster in check.

Spits is one of those places where you just dream about. Sometimes, the cravings are too strong and you just need your street cart fries and Doner fix. The zesty taste from the Middle Eastern ingredients is too addicting. Bordering the downtown Arts District, the minimalistic industrial design with funky metallic designs makes this place fresh and casual. The home of the doner kebab is where it’s at.

Spitz on Urbanspoon

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Syrup (Downtown) – Waffles and Ice Cream

by Franklin on January 18, 2014

Downtown is such a dirty place. You have the coexistence of the rich and poor, and everyone in between. Cars wiz by, polluting the air. The buildings are old, dingy, and most of them block out the sun. With urban development slowly making things better, downtown is certainly looking up. Eats in downtown are starting to get better too. A certain dessert spot has got me scratching my head though. Syrup on Spring St. isn’t really anything special. For some odd reason, it seems to be quite popular. They have their signature desserts and coffees, but nothing is spectacular. Well, their waffles are nice…

No, their waffles are not nice. In fact, their waffles taste like nothing. In another fact, I’ve had better at a brunch waffle bar, at El Torito grill. Now, the waffle bashing will stop. Maybe I was a bit mad that they ran out of their signature blackberry jasmine ice cream. But seriously, it’s just a bland waffle with fruit and whipped cream, with a side of ice cream. Aren’t Liege waffles supposed to be dense and sugary? Syrup needs to take a few pages out of the Waffles de Liege truck.

Honestly, don’t go crazy over this stuff. The upstairs lounge area is cool and all with their board games and what not. If you want to lounge it up with your friends over dessert, stay home, bakes some cookies, grab the ice cream, and whip out Monopoly Deal. Your night is right again.

On a totally random note, but still contenting on about how dirty downtown was, I crossed paths with an actual street rat that day. Not to say that Syrup has a rat problem, but I just saw a rat just roaming around on the street. The only street rats I really know of are Ratatouille, or Aladdin, but to actually see one in real life was kind of cool. Cute in a way, but dirty as can be, the street rat made my day. Why I was looking into maybe buying a condo in downtown is beyond me.

Syrup Desserts on Urbanspoon

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I always pass by Border Grill on Figueroa on a daily basis. Right across from the Bonaventure Hotel, where Bona Vista Lounge and L.A. Prime is, this corner of Figueroa and 5th street always reminds me of these restaurants. Border Grill though, was always a “must” whenever I passed by, and I can’t tell you how many times I thought of just stopping right in front, sitting down, and ordering something. All I needed was that push from Border Grill to make an appointment.

To start off, we had chips and salsa. The chips light and airy, and the salsa was fresh. My favorite was the mole salsa. It had a nice complex rich flavor.

The Yucatan pork was interestingly delicious. The achiote pork was slow roasted in banana leaf with a mixture of caramelized onion and orange. Sitting on a plate of cinnamon honey lime yams, the sweet and savory factor worked. The pork was succulent and the yams were smooth. The caramelized brussel sprouts were a bit odd on this plate. I felt like another green would have suited this dish better. I did like the pineapple jicama salsa on top for that added crunch. Eating these with tortillas made me really full. A side of rice would have been lighter and would have complimented the dish nicely.

It was happy hour, and the beer-battered sustainable fish tacos were quite impressive. Topped with an avocado crema and salsa fresca, the fried fish was offset by the cool avocado and salsa. The other taco, carne asada was good too. Topped with caramelized onions, salsa fresca, and guacamole, it was like the perfect taco. The beef brisket tacquito was delicious as well. The meat was slow roasted, then the tortilla was fried. Topped with a spicy slaw, guacamole, and salsa fresca, the crunchy fried “taco” was a whole lot better than the ones I get at 7-11. It seems like anything topped with their addicting guacamole was delicious. These tacos were quite impressive, and at $3 a pop during happy hour, it was a great deal!

For desser, we had the churro tots. Just by the name churro tots, I had an idea of what these were going to be. I was surprised to find out that these bad boys had dulce de leche infused inside of them. Not only that, but the three dipping sauces of chocolate, caramel dipping sauce, and whipped cream was an added bonus. Not only did these things have dulce de leche inside, and not only did it have a dipping sauce, it also was dusted with cinnamon and sugar, like a churro should. These sugary fritters were incredibly sweet, and a great ending to our meal.

“Should I have just went with the happy hour menu?”, is what I thought to myself. In hind sight, I think I should have. I enjoyed the tacos and the bar food type items. They were cheaper, more delicious, and had guacamole on it. How could I not like that? Honestly, Border Grill is better as a bar. Especially located in Downtown, there were a lot of working professionals gathering here for drinks and good Mexican food. The price is right and the atmosphere is perfectly casual and stylish. I wouldn’t mind coming here more often after work to grab a beer and some tacos. Just don’t forget the guac!

Border Grill on Urbanspoon

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Summer is birthday time. Most of the people I know, including myself have their birthdays in and around summer time. My birthday dinner? Mine was at L.A. Prime. After much debating and planning on where to go for my birthday, L.A. Prime was a nice fit. It was a steak house, and a carnivore like me would be happy here. It wasn’t one of those steak houses of all steak houses houses (STK, Mastros, Mortons). It was inside the Westin Bonaventure on the 35th floor, which meant the views were spectacular. Just the elevator ride alone to the 35th floor was memorable. I drive by this building almost every single day, and not once have I stepped foot inside. It was cool to see Figueroa from atop and realize, that is where I make a right turn. You notice a lot when you are up this high. I realized I am so blessed and lucky to live in a great city and to be able to eat great food.

We started off with their complimentary bread. The bread was plenty (they refilled it for us) and had a variety. They had a regular french bread, pretzel type bread, herb crisp, cheese bread, and a fruit and nut bread. On the side was butter an an olive tapenade. The bread was a nice start of the meal. My favorite was the pretzel type bread. It was soft and chewy, kind of like a bagel. It was nice to eat some fine bread and butter with a nice cup of sparkling mineral water, overlooking the city.

To go with our bread, we ordered the lobster bisque. Hearing that LA Prime had some awesome lobster bisque, it was a no brainer to order it. The seafood essence was totally overwhelming. The chunks of lobster were plenty, though the lobster flavor was a bit lacking. It looked and felt like lobster, but I couldn’t quite taste it. The creaminess helped a lot with the overall balance of the dish. More spices would have helped with the single noted flavor profile.

We were ready for the main course. The steak! I had my share of steaks, from all cuts of the bull. I am very particular about my steak. It has to be the right texture and have a nice flavor. We opted for the 22 oz. Bone in rib-eye. The steak itself was a nice cut of beef, but I did not like it. The steak was cooked to my liking, medium rare, but there was one huge factor that made me dislike this steak. It wasn’t necessarily burnt, but the steak’s outer crust had a char that was way too overpowering. It had a layer of soot and char, the whole steak didn’t taste like beef at all. It felt like steak, I bit and chewed it like steak, but the char on the outside made it taste very bitter and carbon like. I mean, good barbecue has a nice char-coaled, almost burnt to a crisp outside, but that gives flavor. This was was just all char without the flavor.

The sides were a different story. I am a sucker for mac and cheese, and theirs was decent. Though a bit watery, the noodles were cooked perfectly. It could have been more cheesy, but I can’t complain.

Their creamed corn was different than most, but still amazing. Other places, the creamed corn is more creamy, cheesy, and sweet. This was was more on the corn side as it had a nice crunch. It wasn’t quite creamy nor sweet — more like creamy corn than creamed corn. The creamy corn was a good condiment to the steak.

It was my birthday after all, so the restaurant treated me to a small dessert. This was an amazing treat. The chocolate moose was rich and fluffy, I almost thought it was a really moist cake. The chocolate decor was good to look at and delicious. I really felt special that night.

LA Prime at the Westin Bonaventure is a nice steakhouse. Though their food needs a little bit of a reform, the people who eat here aren’t here the “to die for” steaks and sides — they are here for the view. Yeah, I could have paid almost the same amount at a proper steakhouse, but I would have forgotten about it the next day. Everyone comes here for the amazing view of the city. Taking that elevator ride up, sitting down, looking at the city in the city during sunset, that is what we come here for. That is what I remember. It was a beautiful night, and a wonderful birthday.

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Los Angeles is changing for the better. Downtown especially, neighborhoods not so hospitable a few years back are now going through metamorphosis. Condos are being built all around downtown and the the urban boom is in full effect. This sudden migration of people moving to the city is good for business as well, especially the food business — people have to eat somehow. The Pie Hole in the Los Angeles Art District is exactly what the urbanites needed. They are a little shop that serves coffees, teas, and of course, pies. Located directly across from Wurstküche, it is around some other popular eateries in the area. With the day’s menu written on butcher paper, and with white walls and concrete floors, they really took the minimalistic approach in design. This type of “charm” suits the area well. This is The Pie Hole.

Having eaten lunch elsewhere, I skipped the savory hand pies and went straight for dessert. I ordered their 2 popular pies — Mexican Chocolate and Maple Custard. Of the two, it was difficult to choose a favorite. The Mexican Chocolate had a very unique chocolate flavor. The filling was creamy and thick, and the topping of whipped cream had a coffee flavor to it. Together, it all worked well. The chocolate had a bitter and acidic flavor. The crust was crumbly and cookie like (think cheesecake crust) — it was great with the chocolate filling. The maple custard on the other hand, had a phyllo dough style crust. Drenched in butter, it was flakey, doughy, and dense. The maple custard filling though, was my favorite. It was gooey and sticky, kind of like hardened maple syrup. Though it was similar to the filling in pecan pie (minus the pecans), the filling wasn’t overly sweet. It was a perfect pie. All I needed was some whipped cream. I guess in the end, I liked the maple custard better.

It was a treat to have tried the pies at The Pie Hole. Certain not your average hole in the wall, The Pie Hole is unique and found a nice little niche in the city. Serving hot drinks and desserts as well as savory items, the menu is plenty yet not overwhelming. They definitely serve some delicious pies — don’t expect to go and get a whole pie for a party either. They are more of a place for orders on the go or a small bite to eat with friends. Thank to this spot, pies are cool again.

The Pie Hole on Urbanspoon

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After glowing reviews about a new, hip sandwich spot in Downtown, I immediately put Blue Cow Kitchen in The List. Having eaten at Casa, the restaurant the preceded Blue Cow, I was a bit skeptical. I wasn’t too fond of my last visit to Casa, and finding out that it went out of business didn’t surprise me. It was exciting to find that Mendocino farms is venturing out and starting a sandwich spot / bar. Ultimately, I was hungry and wanted to see what all of the fuss was about.

When I read that a New-American happy hour joint was serving pork belly bahn “mini” sandwiches, I was surprised. The bahn xeo taco shells were made of some kind of crepe batter. The filling of pickled vegetables, herbs and sweet aioli were familiarized by my taste buds, but the taco look alike made this fun to eat. The pork belly was fatty, though not too fatty, and the meat was tasty. This was a perfect little package.

The Blue Cow Mendo steak sandwich was better than I thought it would be. Grilled to a perfect medium, the steak wasn’t tough at all. I always don’t like steak sandwiches that don’t bite off with your teeth. You are left pulling the steak from your teeth like a barbarian –this sandwich wasn’t so. The meat was tender and flavorful from the marinade and super thick. Topped with roasted tomato, and caramelized onions, it gave it enough complexity. The candied bacon was lacking, but the arugula and cilantro spread rounded out everything well. Grilled rustic white bread was a perfect choice for this rustic sandwich. Pickles, picked carrots, and cauliflower in between bites made this a perfect steak sandwich.

My carnivorous side kicked in, and I wanted more meat. We ordered the Pitman Farm’s duck wings. Intrigued at first, I was a bit disappointed in these. The duck wings confit are grilled with an aji amarillo glaze. The glaze was tasty, and the dipping sauce was a nice accompaniment. My only gripe about this dish was that it came out looking half eaten. Maybe it was because it was so “off the bone” tender, but all of the meat was literally off the bone. I honestly was looking for something like regular chicken wings, but from a duck. Nonetheless, the meat was buttery smooth and delicious.

The name got me — pink eggs and ham. These eggs marinated in beet juice, outer egg whites turned pink. Using Mendocino mustard for the filling, the taste was exceptional. These were up there with some of the best deviled eggs I ever had. Topped with double smoked bacon and candied jalapenos, it was a delight, rich with flavor. I’m glad the name caught me because I would have missed out have I not ordered these.

After an interesting “small plates” kind of dinner, there was something called Ooey Gooey Cake. It isn’t on the menu, but something called Ooey Gooey cake has to be good. It was almost like a tres leches cake, without the wetness. The creme fraiche and strawberries were a nice addition to the cake. The cake itself was dense, yet fluffy, and not too sweet. It was a great ending.

I was surprised with their dishes. The small plates made it easy to try a lot of different things. The atmosphere is nice inside and outside. I felt like I didn’t fit in. Everyone was in suits and business attire, and there I was with jeans, and a t-shirt. It didn’t matter because the vibe of the whole place wasn’t stuffy at all. Even at the end, the waitor gave us the check and a little sketch book to draw in. I flipped through and saw a bunch of doodles and writings everyone did. One in particular caught my eye — it was a duck without its wing because, well, we had duck wings confit. I thought little things like that made this place so relaxed and was a fun dining experience. This new sandwich and happy hour hot spot gets crowded after 5 PM. I came for the food, but most come to drink. Either way, you come, sit, and “Eat Happy”.

Blue Cow Kitchen on Urbanspoon

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Downtown Los Angeles is full of history and good food.  Nickel Diner is popular amongst the urbanites as a breakfast spot, though they serve lunch and dinner as well.  Located in the heart of Downtown Los Angeles, and neighboring the Skid Row Housing Trust, the atmosphere can cause a bit off-putting.  Anyone not used to Los Angeles might a bit turned off by the transients and solicitors.  But come on – you are in Downtown. This is my city, and I love it.  The buildings a bit worn and the sign is ancient, but once you enter, it is a whole different story.  They offer burgers as well as breakfast items.  What they are known for, more so, are their bacon maple donuts.  Bacon on top of a maple donut, that is indigence upon indulgence.

It didn’t surprise me when I ate the bacon maple donut first.  More so a dessert item, I figured the bacon on it gave it enough of savory status to make it an appetizer.  Never having tried it before, it was a novelty.  The taste though worked.  Bacon with pancakes and syrup immediately came to mind. The sweet and savory really worked, though I would have liked the bacon to be crispy.  It was a great start to my Nickel Diner experience.

I heard much rave about their mac and cheese.  I am on the never ending hunt for the best mac and cheese in Los Angeles, so ordering was a must.  Theirs, named Smac and Cheese came with roasted tomatoes and bread crumbs on top.  The top layer was crispy and crunchy, and the inside was piping hot.  After a bit of cooling off, the cheese and noodle concoction was tasty. It wasn’t creamy really, but it was cheesy it its own way.

I ordered the Hangover Helper, and no, I did not have a hangover.  A play on the hamburger helper, this dish had everything you can ask for in one pile.  The pile included scrambled eggs, bacon, Italian sausage, potatoes,and was topped with pepper jack cheese, avocado, and salsa.  Yeah, that is a lot of stuff all on one plate — delicious too.  My favorite though, was the salsa.  Something about the salsa on top was addicting. It rounded out the meats and cheese very nicely.  Without that salsa, this dish would have been missing something.

My Nickel Diner experience was a pleasant one.  The food was on point, and the bacon maple donut was memorable.  It was nice to have breakfast in Downtown as there aren’t too many places to choose from.  Looking at the buildings and absorbing the history of Downtown Los Angeles was comforting. Locals living inside Downtown are lucky to have such a down to earth establishment inside the city.

A little spot on Diners Drivers and Dives. Here is the clip.

Nickel Diner on Urbanspoon

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It is always nice to eat with family.  Being Dine LA Restaurant Week and all, we all wanted to take advantage and have lunch.  Since restaurant week comes in 3 courses and 3 dishes to choose from, the trio, my brother, cousin, and I went to Bar + Kitchen. Perfectly situated in Downtown, it was a nice spot located inside the O Hotel.

For appetizers, we were given picked vegetables.  The carrot sticks and cauliflower were tangy in this salty and vinegary brine. It went well with a lot of the dishes we had, especially the meat.

We all started off with the maple chili glazed pork belly appetizer.  It was kind of small, but it was made up in taste.  The chili glaze was not too spicy or sweet.  Just right.  The pork belly was fried and placed in small cubes.  There was a lot of fat on the meat. Though I shouldn’t complain about pork fat, the pickled vegetables were great to cut the richness of the fat.

My dish, the jidori chicken was better than I expected.  The chicken was not dry at all and the skin was perfectly crispy.  Impressive! The fried crispy brussel sprouts, grapes, and apple slices. were a great addition to the dish. I felt the dish was missing some kind of starch.  Some rice or mashed potatoes could have completed this plate a little more, but in their defense, the chicken was great.

My favorite was the shrimp and grits.  Though it came in small portions, the taste made up for it.  The grits hats a nice grainy texture and the spanish chorizo ragout was perfectly flavored on top of it. The shrimp was cooked with amazing flavor; it had a nice savory flavor and not over cooked.  This dish was simply delicious.

My least favorite was the mushroom toast with leeks.  It had a fried egg on top which was nearly burnt on the bottom.  The whole grain mustard on the bread was a nice touch. It rounded out the meaty mushrooms and eggs with the toast.  The arugula salad needed some extra dressing or vinaigrette, but was still tasty for this meal.

The dessert is where Bar + Kitchen exceeded my expectations.  I was beyond happy with all of the desserts.

I had the apple bread pudding with with ice cream and walnuts.  The bread pudding was nicely baked, and not too mushy. It still had a cake like consistency, but held its own as bread pudding.  The ice cream on top and the walnuts just finished everything off nicely.

The warm chocolate and peanut butter cake with peanut brittle and vanilla ice cream was possibly my favorite.  The cake was moist, and the peanut butter flavor after each bite was so distinct and intense. Chocolate and peanut butter were definitely made for each other.  And again, you can forget about the ice cream on top.  Perfect.

The butterscotch pot de creme was the fanciest looking.  The creme inside of a glass jar with whipped cream on top was visually appetizing  Eating it with the biscuit cookies was a perfect combination.  You had the crunch and “crust” like texture from the cookies, and the filling from the pot de creme. I thought the butter scotch was going to be too sweet, but it was a bit mellowed out somehow.

Not only was it good by themselves, but having each element on one spoonful was heaven.  A little butterscotch creme, whipped creme, peanut butter chocolate cake, bread pudding and a piece of butter cookie; delicious!

Bar + Kitchen really surprised me.  The outside of the hotel looks a little run down, but inside is a different story.  And the food is even better.  Who would have though this spot would be so delicious.  I guess that is the beauty about restaurant week.  It kind of forces you and give you that extra push to try new restaurant. I was a bit skeptical with all the bad reviews and all, but I am glad I went to Bar + Kitchen.

Bar & Kitchen (O Hotel) on Urbanspoon

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Bottega Louie – Downtown Los Angeles Shows Us Its Exquisite Grandeur Side

June 27, 2011

Sometimes you anticipate things and everything falls into order.  You imagine how the day will go, how everything will be, and it is.  There are days you hope for the best, and it turns out to actually be the best. I had the highest of hopes for Bottega Louie, and I can honestly say that […]

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