Saturday, June 23, 2012

Eating in LA

I was in Los Angeles last month for a little photography and a lot of eating. Nothing fancy, I was shooting street and wanted to eat accordingly, which I mostly did. It has been a while since my last visit and there were quite a few new places I wanted to try out as well as reacquaint myself with some old favorites. I previously wrote about my visit to Pann's, which never disappoints, as well as the pastrami sandwich at UMAMIcatessen - one of LA's oldest restaurants and one of its most recent. Here are the rest of the highlights:

Pacific Dining Car

Speaking of old my first dinner was at the original downtown location of Pacific Dinning Car, an old favorite and a restaurant that dates back to the 1920's. I had the massive ribsteak. It was the as good as ever although the cost was eye-watering - almost $80! Expensive for USDA Prime, even by NYC standards. I seem to recall the steak costing substantially less on my last visit here, but that was several years ago.
Baseball Steak

More economical at $40, but with less flavor, was the baseball steak, which I also got to try. Cut from the sirloin it doesn't have the marbling of loin and ribsteaks but it does have an honest beefy flavor and when cooked conscientiously it can be quite tender. PDC cook it as well as anyone.

Pacific Dining Car
1310 West 6th Street
Los Angeles, CA 90017

Bäco Mercat
The Toron - oxtail hash, tater, pikle, cheddar, horseradish.
I had a couple of meals here and can't wait to return. I particularly liked the Toron which is sort of a play on the hamburger, constructed of oxtail hash, topped with potatoes and wrapped in  "bäco" - the  bread developed by chef Josef Centeno.

Bäco Mercat
408 S Main St
Los Angeles, CA 90013

Risotto - Braised oxtail, barley huancaina

I ate at Mo-Chica on almost the last night of business at their old location and quite enjoyed the experience. Chef Ricardo Zarat crafts some vibrant and refreshing dishes - bright in color and flavor. I don't think it is unreasonable to assume that the new location downtown will be terribly different. In fact considering that it has a liquor license I would say it will probably be better, all things considered. 

3655 S. Grand
Los Angeles, CA 90007
514 W 7th St
Los Angeles, CA 90014

Cole's P.E.
I finally made it to Cole's P.E. to try the "other" inventor or originator or whatever of the French dip sandwich, Philippe's being the more commonly accepted creator of the form. I didn't find a better sandwich than Philippe's, although it was decent enough, but the real score was that Coles P.E. is also a cocktail bar that serves up some carefully prepared Jazz age period cocktails.

Coles P.E.
118 E. 6th St
Los Angeles, CA.

Of course I had to go to Philippe's just to be sure - it was the same as it ever was. Which is to say timeless and delicious.

1001 North Alameda Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012

Pink's Famous Hot Dogs

I happened upon Pink's with no intention of eating there while shooting on La Brea. Pink's usually has a long line snaking in front but this time there was virutally no wait so I grabbed a chili- cheese dog. It was far better than I remember it, the dog had a wonderful snap, the bun a fittingly squishy canvas. Truth be told it didn't really need the chili or the cheese, I will skip them next time.

Pink's  Famous Hot Dogs
709 N. LaBrea Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90039

Seoul Garden Restaurant

I am not the biggest fan of either shabu shabu or Korean style BBQ, both of which are served at Seoul Garden. But the communal aspects of the dinning experience make them ideal for larger parties, like the six top I joined with my domestic partner the Fashionista. My problem is that I like my meat both rare and intensely seared, something that is difficult to achieve with the measly BTU output of the table grills at most restaurants and impossible when you are dipping your meat in to scalding water.

But Seoul Garden held a welcome surprise for me - after the meat is seared on the grill they make a fried rice at the table using the juices and meat scraps - the result? Some of the best fried rice I have ever had.

Seoul Garden Restaurant

1833 W Olympic Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90006
(213) 386-8477

The Sampler
Fresh made tortillas
I am going to write more extensively about Guisados because it is superb but also because the owner has some interesting plans for the future.  The conceit of the restaurant is encapsulated in the name Guisado which means "braise"- All the fillings are made from fresh ingredients slow cooked to maximize flavor. But perhaps what really sets Guisados apart is the fact the the tortillas are made as you order them making for a wonderfully fresh product. I won't say too much more here except recommend that you get the "sampler"on your first visit.

2100 E Cesar Chavez Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90033

Porto's  Bakery

Since I was flying out from Burbank the plan was to grab some sandwiches at Portos and then head to In N Out for some burgers. Unfortunately by the time we got close to In N Out we had run out of time and had to head to the airport, burger-less. Fortunately the sandwiches at Porto's where both filling and tasty, and the half that I saved was pretty good at room temperature.

Portos Bakery
3614 West Magnolia Boulevard, Burbank, CA‎


STAKE said...

Dear Beef Aficianado,

You, being one of the few trusted resources on the internet regarding the art of the ribeye (the other is Bridgestone from the LTH forum, link below, I felt blessed when I saw your orginal post on Pacific Dinning Car (PDC). I thought god was smiling looking down on me, when my beef idol told me that I could get a top-10 ribeye in LA. Alas, I corraled a fellow beef loving friend, a bottle of one of my favorite Zins, and a cigar to make the inpromtu trip to PDC.
We ordered the over priced ribeyes for them to come out with little to no char, was astonishing! The cast iron at home produces 10x better results. I inquired with the server who said the mesquete grill had been removed, and the use an ELECTRIC grill now!

I find the pics above to be astonishing. I may have to make another trip, or call and inquire about the history of the grill, but there's no way the grill my steak was cooked on is the same one that yours was.

Best regards.

Nick Solares said...

I ordered my steak black and blue and was quite insistent that they char the outside. I believe they cooked it on the flat top to achieve that level of char.

The mesquite grill was removed a few years ago because of a new city ordinances that requires massive filtration systems for the type of cooking. The restaurant roof could not support the weight and would have to be rebuild.