Tag Archives: ludobites

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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Pop-Up Pupusas in Mid-City: Homemade In The Front Yard

Homemade Pupusas

     Forget Justin Bieber or Jersey Shore, 2010 was the year of the “pop-up” restaurant. New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Boston, Portland, Austin, and San Diego are now all home to various establishments which organize gourmet movable feasts that range from painstakingly elaborate to maniacally secretive. Pioneered in 2007 by Los Angeles chef Ludo Lefebvre, whose Ludobites dinners are now so popular they sell out at rates faster than Coachella, the trend has given birth to a host of chef-driven supper clubs that are unbound by long term commitments both in terms of physical location and culinary style, including the current toast of the LA blogosphere, Craig Thornton, who runs the pay-as-you-like, Hendrix-esque sounding Wolvesden Underground Dining Experience. The word of mouth nature of these restaurants is undoubtedly a good thing, allowing diners to rub elbows with the chefs they admire based on a system in which exclusivity favors culinary enthusiasm rather than monetary privilege. However, like the food truck trend preceding it (which has now reached such a bubble of over saturation that Tim Geithner may soon have to step in) the pop-up scene is not entirely original and rather is the natural conclusion of an idea that can trace its roots to much more modest origins here in Los Angeles. Many could cite inspiration in the numerous taco carts that line Fletcher and Larga on various nights, the cart-pushing Oaxacan “Quesadilla Lady” whose small griddle churns out cheesy blue-corn gems in Echo Park, or even the acclaimed Ricky’s Fish Tacos which quickly progressed from a roadside weekend hobby into a beer-battered phenomenon. Still, I can think of no better example of a true “pop-up” than the small pupuseria and taqueria which opens a few nights every week in the front yard of a residential home just off Jefferson Boulevard. Continue reading

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