Category Archives: American

LudoBites 007: The Man with the Golden Pan, or Live and Let Dine

Last week, I found myself playing host to two friends from Germany visiting L.A. for their first time. On their last night in town, they asked me to join them out at a few bars before their flight in the morning. I had to politely decline, of course, knowing full well that I had previously scheduled a reservation for Ludobites 7.0 at downtown’s Gram and Papa’s, a slot that had taken a fair amount of wrangling to a obtain. I explained to them with great gusto the importance of a Ludo Ledfvre dinner: a renowned chef creates a menu only available for a few weeks, served in a guest location, with seats that fill up faster than a Bundesliga finals match. It as a bit odd explaining a “pop-up” restaurant, much less one that was booked solid in less than a few seconds, to someone to whom the concept was completely foreign.

So, that brings up the obvious question. Why is so much importance placed on a single, near inaccessible meal? Is it simply assigned value because of economic scarcity, like with diamonds or Beanie Babies? The hell I knew. It was my first Ludobites, and given the meteoric rise in popularity chef Ludovic Lefebvre has seen after the debut of his reality show, Ludo Bites America, I wouldn’t be surprised if it was my last. I had read over the accounts previous dinners rapturously, and was eager for the answers to these questions as anyone else.

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Frugal Find of the Week: Crenshaw Fish Market

So this is from a weekly feature I’ve started for LAmag.com which profiles a place where the food is great and prices are low. Hope you enjoy!

From LAmag.com’s Digest Blog >>

Fried Shrimp and Cajun Catfish

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5 Hood Burgers in 5 Days: Straight Outta LA

Hood Burger 
[hood bur-ger]

-noun 1. A large hamburger consisting of multiple thick beef patties as well as the addition of highly caloric toppings, including but not limited to: cheese, bacon, pastrami, egg, hot links and chili.

     Forget what Jimmy Buffet says, the best cheeseburgers aren’t found in paradise; they’re found on the mean streets. Products of tough neighborhoods where money is often tight but stomachs aren’t, hood burgers are a unique category unto themselves. The current LA burger dichotomy generally falls into two categories: the fast-food style burger with a thin, tightly-packed patty adorned with basic toppings; and the gourmet burger, featuring a larger, loosely ground patty featuring higher quality meat and more upscale ingredients. Somewhere between the two lies the mutant, bastardized world of the hood burger. If classics like Apple Pan and Pie n’ Burger are Babe Ruth or Mickey Mantle, then perhaps these are more like Barry Bonds or Mark McGwire: beefed-up, highly divisive, and of questionable sanity. Hood burgers can be found in many parts of the U.S., but some of the best examples are found here in Los Angeles. After all, they don’t call it Burger Town for nothing. Here are five of the best, sampled over five days. Continue reading

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Soul (Food) Searching: R&R Soul Food & Dulan’s Soul Food Kitchen

Fried Chicken, Greens, Mac n' Cheese, and Yams

     When it comes to Southern cuisine in Los Angeles, the lion’s share of attention goes to barbecue: long-winded debates comparing the soot-covered barrel smokers of Bludso’s or Phillip’s, or the proper peppery tang of Big Mista’s secret sauce. And if barbecue isn’t the topic, then perhaps someone will bring up Roscoe’s Chicken n’ Waffles, a southern-style greasy spoon that is by any measure a Los Angeles institution know for it’s half-hour waits and celebrity endorsements as much as it’s food. The truth is Los Angeles is home to an impressive collection of traditional Southern Soul Food restaurants that extend well beyond the BBQ shacks or the heavy-treaded diner chains slinging plates of chicken and waffles. Though soul food can trace it’s origins to African-American culture, it has undoubtedly woven itself into the national palette as nostalgia-inducing comfort cuisine: crunchy fried chicken smothered in onions and brown gravy, stewed greens seasoned with tender pits of pork, cloyingly sweet pieces of peach cobbler topped with ice cream. Dishes are cooked low and slow and, as any southern chef will insist, rely on care, patience and heart in order to be called true soul food. Continue reading

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Bru’s Wiffle: A Waffle For All Seasons

Meatball Waffles... For Breakfast?!


      Is it really possible to dislike waffles, the most utilitarian of all breakfast staples? As the late, great Mitch Hedberg insightfully observed, “waffles are like pancakes with syrup traps.” Seeking to extend the waffle beyond it’s humble breakfast origins is the oddly-named Bru’s Wiffle in Santa Monica, which opened late last year. The quiet café wouldn’t be out of place in a spring Ikea catalogue: an open, airy space brightly decorated in pastel colors and simple oak furniture. Much in the same vein as it’s spunkier sister restaurant Bruxie’s Waffle in Orange, a former burger stand which has become an all-hours favorite amongst Chapman undergrads, Bru’s operates on the premise that waffle consumption is appropriate for both all hours and all tastes. Continue reading

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Tokyo 7-7’s Last Meal: A Farewell to Omelettes

The Tokyo 7-7 Special

     As some of you may know, December 18th was the last day of business for one of Culver City’s most unique and beloved eateries. Much has been said about Tokyo 7-7, a small shop pigeoned-holed by parking structures and the burgeoning classier eateries of downtown Culver. It is an odd pastiche of a diner to say the least: serving both Japanese comfort foods as well as American greasy spoon mainstays at prices that echo a time when Members Only jackets were worn without a trace of irony. Tokyo 7-7’s other-worldy nostalgia lasted 27 years with compromising to the pressures of a changing world. Not bad for a place where the waitresses total checks on abacuses and sell packs of cigarettes from the behind the counter between slinging plates of spam and eggs.
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Thanksgiving on a Bun: Could Soul Burgers Be LA’s New Best Burger?

    I thought I had heard rumors that a burger like this existed somewhere. But perhaps I had only dreamt of it, tapping into some kind of burger collective unconsciousness. Whatever lead me to Soul Burgers certainly felt like destiny as I couldn’t have been more excited by what I saw on the menu. Yet, as the lone diner inside a small burger shop directly across the street from Inglewood’s Hollywood Park Racetrack I have to admit I was feeling quite anxious. I  had waited 15 minutes and my food had yet to come out of the kitchen as I sat staring at the portraits of Motown legends plastered on the walls. I worried that I had built this burger up to an impossibly high standard and soon the reality would arrive: a soggy, cold, misshapen lump from a restaurant that hadn’t been open for more than 6 months. I couldn’t have been any further from the truth. Continue reading

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George’s Coffee Shop: A Classic Diner with Seoul

     If some young indie director finds himself location scouting for his next mumblecore flick he could do a lot worse than George’s Coffee Shop, a cramped and unassuming Korean-American diner tucked away in a sleepy Culver City strip mall. With its weathered 1970’s sign and it’s outdated décor, George’s is the quintessential LA greasy spoon that has changed little but its prices (paced with inflation of course) since it first opened. Similar to its kindred sibling across town, Tokyo 7-7, George’s menu is filled with a few unique ethnic quirks that make it much more than the apparent sum of its parts. The diner is run by an older Korean couple, both of whom seem to have developed a harmony with the often hectic weekend breakfast crowd. They sling plates and clear tables with an efficiency and calmness that speaks to how long they’ve been at it for. Don’t take personal offense when the no-nonsense waitress/matriarch approaches your table holding her pen and note pad with a demeanor that suggests she may hail from somewhere north of the 38th parallel, that’s just the way it’s done at George’s. Continue reading

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