Thursday, May 10, 2012

Eating in LA: Three more Great Places in Downtown LA

Food Friday is back! This time with four more places to check out while you're wandering around Los Angeles. This time I'm going to cover the classics, a good new pizza place, and a hole in the wall that was good but definitely more on the adventurous side of dining. I'll have all three additional places after the break, but for now....

...we have to start off with classic sandwich of Los Angeles: The Roast Beef Sandwich from Philippe the Original. Philippe's has spent 104 years serving hungry Angelenos and this sandwich has been on the menu for 94 of those. It first appeared in 1918 for a dime a sandwich (When they celebrated 100 years of business back in 2008, that price even made a brief comeback). Simply put, Philippe's is an institution and it is not going anywhere. If you visit LA, you have to visit this place which is easy because it is right by Chinatown, Olvera Street and Union Station.

Philippe's is known for being delightfully anachronistic. The menu is a combination of classics like the sandwiches, coleslaw, and lemonade and crazy holdovers from another era. Care of a pickled pig's foot or egg? No problem. How about a single olive? That's a dime, please. Half a peach? Sure thing. Coffee? Up until this year, it was $0.09 a cup. Today, it is still less than two quarters. The women behind the counter look like they were dressed by someone running a restaurant in the run up to World War II and with a place like this, there's no real need to update the interior much. Everything feels old, well worn, and permanent. It's as if they carved the place from a single piece of stone, leaving an unchanging shell in which they run indomitable Philippe's restaurant that we know today (The saw dust on the floor is a nice touch).

It also doesn't hurt that the sandwiches are actually good. I recommend that you ask for your sandwich double dipped (they dip the sandwiches whole into au jus, instead of providing a cup). Asking for it double dipped means more of that great flavor in the bread, without it being soggy. You can add whatever you want to your meal from there, but you have to get the sandwich. 

After the break, three more restaurants including one super hole in the wall by the convention center, another LA institution, and some damned good pizza. 


The next place I'd like to talk about is a great little cafe/bakery in Little Tokyo. Cafe Dulce was recommended to me by a local I was working with at the American Planning Association conference there in LA and what caught my attention when I went in was their home made whoopie pies. It's pretty tasty although you're in for sticky fingers if you take it out in the heat.

The cafe is part bakery and part coffee house. Their coffee is roasted locally by LA Mill and the iced latte I had had decent flavor. The lattes that I saw poured looked nice and the staff seemed to take pride in the coffee they served. It's good and there Vietnamese coffee was proclaimed "probably is the best cup of cà phê sữa đá inside the city of Los Angeles". Not bad.

For food, the cafe offers a mix of Asian-fusion bakery items and sandwiches. There are bacon donuts beside green tea donuts and the spicy Korean cheesesteak sits right beside a classic Caprese sandwich. For those interested in just a taste of the bacon donut there are bacon donut holes available.

Finally, we have The Escondite, which is located at 410 Boyd Street. Unfortunately, I only have this single picture because of the low-light, but this was the best burger of the trip, hands down. The place has a great ambiance that feels a little like an old time saloon. I would go back in a heart beat for another "Slim Pickins".

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