My first-ever book arrives on shelves Monday, July 20. It’s called Los Angeles Street Food: A History from Tamaleros to Taco Trucks, and you can buy it on Amazon right friggin’ here. Part history, part guidebook, part call to action, LA Street Food aims to be your all-in-one guide to the messy, delicious belly of Los Angeles dining.
To help bring this baby into the world, I’ll be doing a few media things around town as well:
Stepping into Papa Cristo’s on Pico Boulevard feels like leaning into a warm hug, and that’s largely by design. Just look at the mural on the side of the building, or nearly any photo of Chrys Chrys, the affable man behind one of Los Angeles’ most successful Greek restaurants. Arms wide, smile ready. This is a place of familiarity, and has been for decades.
With El Chato, the guessing games are over. I park, I walk up to the ordering window, and I know exactly what I’m going to get: the al pastor quesadilla, with griddled onions on the side. I’ve long ago traded the palm-sized $1 tacos for the $5 quesadilla, arguing with myself that I get more meat, more flavor — and more of that unstoppably smoky salsa — if I spring for the larger order. The thing is a beast to eat, and would by any reasonable health professional be deemed a threat to humanity’s arteries, but there is nothing so satisfying as those first few bites, shoulder-to-shoulder around the trunk of a car under the warm decadence of a flashy action franchise billboard.
That is El Chato. The hunkered-down eating over a trash can or a car hood, the messy parking lot, and the crowds that never seem to dip below 20 people anymore. To eat at El Chato is to experience a Los Angeles that isn’t trying to be anything else — more or less — than what it already is.
One of America’s most prominent craft beer breweries is doubling down on Los Angeles, with plans to open a large-scale production facility well east of Downtown. Lagunitas Brewing Company, which is based north of San Francisco in Petaluma but also has a brewery in Chicago, is among the most recognizable names on bottle shop shelves, having been in the business for nearly 25 years crafting mostly West Coast-style IPAs and pale ales.
On Twitter last night, owner Tony Magee (@LagunitasT) began dropping hints as to the growing future of the brand, eventually revealing that the Southern California location would be held in Azusa, California, a small foothills suburb in the San Gabriel Valley. The city itself currently hosts a population of only around 50,000 people, but is within easy freeway distance of several major metropolitan areas and comes complete with lots of light industrial zoning.
Sitting inside Walter and Margarita Manzke‘s popular French-leaning Los Angeles restaurant République, with its Instagram-worthy tiling, hefty wooden tables, and open kitchen, you might be surprised to learn that you’re actually enjoying a little piece of the Philippines. That’s because there is a République of sorts in Manila, complete with its long pastry counter and winding queue of eager diners. Even the Courier-font menu in Manila is a near-mirror image to the one you might be holding in Los Angeles, filled with dishes like shakshouka and a decadent croque madame. It’s the sort of hearty late-morning weekend fare that’s well-known within L.A.’s prodigious brunch community, but might otherwise seem out of place in Southeast Asia.
A bit of cultural appropriation or outright brand thievery? Not exactly. The restaurant, calledWildflour, is the happy work of the Manzkes themselves, and it’s as busy — and as comfortable — as any of the best places you’ll find on the West Coast. Except this is Manila, one of the most densely populated cities in the world, filled with economic disparities and infrastructure issues and anabsolutely booming urban population, eager to stand side-by-side with the biggest cities in the world.
Firestone Walker’s foray into the Southland has been a long time coming. The move by the Paso Robles beer giant into two adjacent Venice properties was first brought to light back in 2013, and since then it seems like slow going for the brewhouse/taproom/restaurant space. Mostly because there’s a lot of work to be done.
In this city of unending sprawl, a simple drive to your next meal could sometimes take an hour or more. But what if, in just about the same amount of time, you could feed a small army with burgers from more than half a dozen different fast food spots in town?Eight stops, eight burgers, 80 minutes or less.
It’s the sort of once-in-a-lifetime, cholesterol-fueled run only an insane person with a bunch of different death wishes would even attempt. And yet, the playbook is there for anyone who’s wiling to embrace the impossible.
So Danny Meyer has finally listened to public outcry and decided to drop a West Hollywood Shake Shack on Los Angeles? Wonderful. Now listen up.
Despite being one of the most popular burger chains yet to hit L.A., this new location may not immediately be the slam dunk it seems, thanks to what could be some traffic / pedestrian access woes along that stretch of Santa Monica Boulevard. Add in some serious in-state burger loyalty and the city’s penchant for going gluten-free, and all of a sudden Shake Shack seems like it might need an assist before scoring with the locals.
Like any good meal in Los Angeles, sometimes the best require a bit of a drive. That’s certainly true of the fantastic burgers found spread across the wide swath of South L.A., from West Adams to Hyde Park to Bellflower. They’re almost always a trek ideally suited for the weekend, but if you’re willing to drive there are few better burgers found anywhere in the city. Here are ten of the best burger joints in South L.A.