Friday, June 14, 2013
All photos by Tatiana Arbogast
Bill Esparza single-handedly raised our standards for authentic asada, carnitas, and pastor in L.A. through his blog Street Gourmet L.A. and writing in The L.A. Times and O.C. Weekly. Fueled by fastidious explorations of the regionally rich and diverse culinary culture of Mexico’s many states while traveling as a professional saxophone player, the Stockton native often plays secret weapon as a consultant on other parties’ street food events, intrepid eaters’ television shows, and fancy restaurants State-specific Mexican menus. Next Sunday, Esparza presents his own event, Tacolandia, in a partnership with L.A. Weekly at The Palladium. Priced at $20, the writer promises us, “I’ve put together a tight group of vendors that is a refreshing break from the usual Gourmet Truck fests–not knocking them–I love them and support them for real as I support all street food venues–but it’s nice to offer something different. We also have the best Mexican chefs in town: Rocio Camacho, Jimmy Shaw, Jaime and Ramiro (of Bell’s Casita Mexicana). We have the 4 Baja chefs and stands, Trey Foshee from George’s on the Cove in Coronado, we have traditional mom and pops, and some chefs doing great things with tacos–Wes Avila, Joshua Gil, Laurent Quenioux–can you say…escamoles?–and Ricardo Zarate.”
Tuesday, June 11, 2013
Because Burgers and Rice are as American as apple pie.
There is something about the Asian American Sensibility that sits so perfectly well with Bang for your Burger Buck. Their reputation for hard work and business savvy came after a long road paved by manual labor and unjust exclusion from mainstream society. Being a child of immigrants from a Third world country, I would occasionally get the “remember where you came from” speech and as a result, some lessons from the old country prevail. Lucky for you, value is one of them, and that pretty much sums up Uncle John’s to a T.
A standard visit to Uncle John’s is incomplete without trying the Spicy Fried Pork Chops and Eggs. Chinese food for breakfast? No Brainer. Add eggs? That pretty much sums up the culinary trend of the last 10 years. Just remember to get fried rice on the side. Avoid the tubers, as they just are not up to snuff. Besides you really are missing the point: rice is the starch of choice for the Asian continent, and when in Rome . . . .
Tuesday, May 28, 2013
Barbecue stands strong as the enduring, finger-lickin’ legacy of American roots cooking. Long before Memphis ever pulled its pork, the Arawak were pit-smoking meats in the West Indian islands. Generations before Texans teamed mesquite-smoked brisket with tequila cocktails and white bread, privileged MesoAmericans were pounding pulque and sotol, smoking chilies, and slow-cooking a menagerie of animals that may have included iguana, turkey, and tapir in their subterranean earth ovens. When it comes to our own great city, the great migration of Southern-born African Americans to Los Angeles over the turn of the 20th century leaves our landscape still dotted with sturdy barbecue spots mostly in the Texan tradition, represented today by dedicated, smoker-strapped pitmasters like Neal Strawder of Bigmista’s Barbecue, Kevin Bludso of Bludso’s BBQ in Compton, and The Spot, which until recently showed up with killer smoked turkey necks and slabs of pork ribs at West Compton’s Prayer Assembly Church every other weekend.
This summer, prominent pitmaster Robbie Richter will open Roadhouse L.A. at The Hollywood Improv with backing from Umami Burger entrepreneur, Adam Fleischman. Richter is a Queens native making the move to Los Angeles for his first solo venture. But before a rousing course of California cue-junkies can start crying, “This stuff’s made in New York City!” keep in mind that Richter made his bones on the intensely cutthroat competitive barbecue circuit, contests judged in the strictest seriousness by the Kansas City Barbecue Society that offer champions five-figure purses. Through his work at Manhattan’s Hill Country and Brooklyn’s Fatty Cue, this East Coast pitmaster is among a tiny handful of names responsible for making “New York Barbecue” a term we now think twice about snickering at. Of course, pit-cooking is believed by some scholars to have originally spread to the South from the East Coast (think underground clam bakes in New England), no matter that native Americans had their own form of pit-cooking in the American South West.
Wednesday, May 22, 2013
The Good Life.
Something about taking the 4th/5th street exit off the 10 feels like I’m taking a mini vacation. The beach, the tourists, the fact that I live east of La Brea, all have a hand in doing that. But more important than vacation, are burgers, and Santa Monica has a pedigree when it comes to that department. Father’s Office, Nook, The Counter, Rustic Canyon - I could go on but the point is this: if you are trying to sling burgers in this part of town you need to bring your “A” game. Enter Pono Burger, new kid on the block, chef driven and priced just close enough to be placed in the Bang for your Burger Buck territory.
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
Corner Burger. Lawndale.
Let’s talk about that for a sec.
So unless you work near LAX, get bored with the same old-same old in the South Bay or happen to be in the know for the smokiest & tastiest Chicken Tikka Masala in LA (Al Watan, next door in Hawthorne); you probably have never heard of Lawndale. You probably thought Hawthorne was some show on TNT with the Fresh Prince of Bel Air’s wife. You need to change that thinking. Cuz Lawndale is bringing a signature burger blend and some serious griddle skills in the world of Bang for your Burger Buck.
Wednesday, April 3, 2013
The Village Kitchen: where getting bang for your burger buck also means doing the right thing. The Mayor may not be sitting on a stoop, bugging Mookie to do the right thing like he did on a certain, very hot day in Bed Stuy circa 1989; but he would agree that eating at Village Kitchen is supporting a worthy cause.
Tuesday, March 26, 2013
Food Truck groupies take notice: Levon’s Quality Foods has been parking it on Sunset for the last 30 years and could very well be the biggest secret in Little Armenia. What Kaiser Permanente Doctors and the occasional road crew worker can tell you is that Levon can do a whole lot: Carnitas tortas, Chicken clubs, Cheesesteaks, breakfast burritos, salads and a fair share of burgers.
Wednesday, March 20, 2013
Palm Springs. The perfect getaway for the overworked or out of work Los Angeleno. Surprisingly close, almost as warm as the valley(kidding), and you can tear it up poolside at hot spots like the Ace Hotel – all of a sudden it’s 1996 all over again and you are on “The Grind” with Eric Nies.
Monday, March 11, 2013
L.A. Buns ~ 8237 2nd St Downey, CA 90241
L.A. Buns. I didn’t think much about your name, or much about you at all when I eased through your divey front door. But I should have known when I walked in that if I’m here, it’s because you deftly pull the people in with artisan burger mojo, pride in your quality ingredients, and a menu cast of co-stars that might make Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy jealous.
Friday, March 1, 2013
The Oinkster in Eagle Rock has teamed up with Highland Park record label Friends of Friends for a monthlong collaboration that will see special menu items, limited edition cups, and FoF music playing in the eatery. It all culminates with a Friends of Friends pop-up shop on the Oinkster patio on March 30th.
The “FoF BBQ BFF” Burger of the Month (Burger with the works that includes mac n cheese, pulled pork and other goodies) as well as “Shlohmo’s Peaches & Lean” Shake of the Month, a shake with peaches, blueberry ice cream, blueberry peach compote, and almond shortbread cookie crumble (add your own special ingredients in the parking lot) are up on the specials board as of today.
Thursday, February 28, 2013
The theme song of Magnum PI was dancing in my head and my 1997 Green Acura transformed into a Red Ferrari 308 GTS as I barreled down the 10 freeway toward Hawaiian themed Burger joint Shaka Shack. Expectations were elevated, like riding shotgun in a helicopter with TC, as Shaka has the pedigree of Spago via a chef consult and a baseline burger price that keeps it in the Bang range.