People are always asking me: “How can I gain thirty pounds or so?”
Well the answer is more complex than it sounds. Alas, once you dispense with the obvious, the Buckets of Chicken/Frozen Ding Dong/ Beer plus Chili Fries you’ll find you are just not truly fullfilled. What you need is a blowout Lunch or Dinner at a tried and true tacky L.A. landmark restaurant – no Moderne, arriviste or trendy spots in this list!
The Original PANTRY — Downtown L.A. Late afternoon best if you don’t like Crowds. Since you are power eating and arrived suitably famished – take the counter seats… hey I love to watch em cook steaks! Try the RoastBeef or the Pot Roast, piled high with either corn/peas/Green Beans. No booze, but that Cole Slaw is pretty darn good! Hold Off on the bread & save the room for the Fried Potatoes (ask: Well Done) and Extra Brown gravy, please. Truck driver tested and approved – this lunch “ain’t for wimps”.
the Steak and Egg whites, or the Hamburger steak (a best buy),
the Pork Chops. Ummmm — Steaks…are a bit pricey for such a divey atmosphere.
I suggest you Stick with the Classic Homestyle menu items.
On 8th and Figueroa, a one way (North) street. Harbor North 8th St. Exit dumps you practically in the parking lot. Open 24 Hrs, Also known as L.A.’s oldest restaurant.
Burrito Force Majeure – at El Tepeyac
Compared to this, Tito’s is utterly tasteless…
If you take the 10 East past the Downton where it merges with the 5 and zoom off to the right to exit on Cesar Chavez East, you’ll be in the Heart of East El-Lay. Keep going East about 1.5 Miles and turn left (watch for Cemetary) on Evergreen and head up towards the small hill past the school and church respectively. Then turn right into the parking lot at El Tepeyac.
El Tepeyac Café
|812 North Evergreen Avenue
Los Angeles, California 90033-2620
El Tepeyac frequently has a WAIT. It also has a separate To Go Order window in the Back. It is popular during the week with lawyers and truckers, and uh, Mexicans.
Parties of 3 or more may have to wait for a table – or get it to-go…
It also has a counter. Gleefully skip past the waiting throng for the nifty counter seating, almost always available for 1 0r 2 gluttons. DO NOT order chips and salsa or guacamole, the portions are so HUGE! Trust me!
There is No Booze, unless the owner (Manuel) offers you and your girl a free shot of tequila on the 20th anniversary of the restaurant. Happened. This is a BURRITO Restaurant. While many will order chili colorado or taquitos (ghod!) I say BUNK! This place makes spectacular burritos, and there are quite a few varieties!! Start there first.
Manuel’s Special — the Big One, the one USC Football Players have trouble finishing! Could feed a family of Five…the most I ever polished off was a fairly consistent 2/3rds, and I can really eat. Now I can barely make it thru 1/2 on a Good Day! When I promised a suitably arrogant biker pal “if he could finish it – it was FREE!”, he went as far as you need to go while starting to look ill…that was 9/10ths. Porkus Maximus.
Nyah ha ha ha! This is full bore mexican food, spicy, but not truly “hot”. Their salsa is usually way too hot – however the food is “just right” no salsa/sauce needed.
None the less, this mother of all burritoes is stuffed with rice, stewed pork chunks, sauce, smothered in more pork chunks and cheese. About the size of a Football or small sheet cake. Plan to take some home to feed your local army. Ask for the SALAD with your burrito, it’s free… I Always prefer 7-Up, in CANS. Ask the Gal to rinse the dockworker urine and diesel sediment off the top of the can – uh “can you rinse off the top?” will usually suffice. I swear I started this trend. Microphobia means HARDER work for Everyone – and more of it too! Update~ Manuel’ now serves more pedestrian soda style pop from a gas charged, “filtered” tap water spigot. Hrummph!
Work your way as fast and purposefully over the Burrito as you amass pork poundage.
Yea, it will be good, and there be guacamole pockets aboundin’. Arr.
Barring sudden heart attack and with the help of at least two 7 Ups you’re ready to box up the remainders for the kids or freeze it for when the urge hits again.
Drive home, then try not to move or breathe. Much. Have acid reflux and antacid tabs handy. Yo! Also stay off the “Best” furniture for a while, avoid open flame etc. You know the drill.
When you come back – ye should try these Burrito D-Lites:
Machaca – watch them skillit fry up cooked shredded beef then add a mess o’ onions and some eggs to bind it altogether, yep its so good it’s almost health food! Ummm Beefy eggy onions in a burrito – mega protein, not good with Guac.
Okie Burrtio – A spicier variation on the Burrito theme, hotter red sauce, normal size.
Hollenbeck – A half size Manuel’s Special – Plenty for Most normal humans. Named after the local Police Station – so it goes.
Note about re-heating the Frozen Manuel’s Special Burritos:
I have found that you do not want to Microwave them because it will cause the Guacamole to turn Bitter, and that the ‘Reetos tend to dry out also. Instead I saute the Burritos in a No-Stick Pan (low heat) and always add more liquid in the form of Salsa – a big dollop or 1/2 jar if needed and mebbe a bit of extra chedder to boost the Goo factor…heat slowly and this minimizes the effects on the Guacomole. If more liquid is needed while you saute, add water or Beer.
NEXT – The MONDO TOSTADA and Variations…
EARLY WORLD (Pool hall name: Squirr-ely World)
Always Hot Food, Never a Wait, orders never screwed up…Amazing…
Wouldn’t the ideal cafe… be resonably priced, maybe a few bucks over the regular cafe fare, but have really consistently excellent food? A place where you can get Breakfast, Dinner, chinese stir-fry, Greek and mexican dishes? Well how about — the GIANT TOSTADA at EARLY WORLD in Brentwood….
A genuine 1970’s style “discovery”! One of my favorite dishes has always been the the California style tostada, in the big crisp shell, with fresh romaine lettuce (no raddichio please) great salsa dressing on the side, avocado, cheese, rice and beans at the bottom, and covered with grilled chicken , or Turkey. No sour cream needed!!
I order mine with the cheese melted on top – over the Chicken (or de turkey) – for I am a fan of all things cheesy. I must say~! Then I order a really Big Bowl o’ Salsa. Yum-my!! I drink some of the salsa juice Gazpacho style, just for the Rush…A Heineken is a good choice with this meal. I so happy now. Ralph!
But wait theres MO!! The Tostada would be enuff reason to visit Squirrely World, but amazingly, several other nice Dinners are also perfectly prepared.
> Chinese Chicken Stir Fry….slightly sweet soy style stir fry of fresh veggies and chicken. Healthy and different. Better pickup a burger on the way home, just to counter the low fat karma…
> Vegetarian Omellete w/ Egg Whites, Jack Cheese Zucchini/mushroom…
One of my favorite omellettes, ask for the Hash Browns (woo!) and coffee is decent too. Seriously Depleted? Then order a side o’ extra crisp Bacon, or howzabouta bowl of “Sliced Bananas in Cream” . Just go ahead and spoil yourself! We did!
> Chicken Tacos….Juicy soft chicken Tacos, filling , lots’o Bird in these big babies. Simple,well made food. Again. Buttery rice on the side. Se habla comfort food?
Also good are the 1/2 Chicken dinners, the Greek Dishes and combos, the Greek Salads, the Tuna Salad. Actually I have yet to find an item on the menu that wasn’t satisfactory or find the kitchen on an “off” day. It just comes to the table done right every time, hot and tasty!
Not much of a dessert spot, walk East on Montana to local coffee bars if you crave sugar… Squirr-elly World is great food for Mom, Dad and your friends. Not fancy or first date material, more like steady weekday dinner spot and brecko favorite.
Location: On San Vicente, South West of its intersection with Montana Ave. Enter rear parking lot off Montana – squeeze into one of < 10 spaces against the big wall on the west corner of the lot. Parking spots are marked, street parking on Montana is “iffy “. Weekend AM is busiest time. Closes 9pm Sharp!
NEXT – The Westside diner jewel called:
THE APPLE PAN
(pool hall name: Der PANZER…vegan name: the DeadPan)
On Pico, off Westwood there lives a wee burger/pie/sandwich shop that didn’t die when it was supposed to, born over 50 years ago and going strong. Reason? They own the land, no landlord to raise rents 2000% and make the business financially unworkable.
First off, this is a tiny place – with limited seating…and it gets busy ie. LINES FORM.
Da ting is, there are 2 sides the the Apple Pan, the LEFT and the RIGHT. There are 2 waiters, one one the LEFT, one on the RIGHT. Pick a side and wait there. DO NOT cross over to the opposite side when a counter seat presents itself as you will have to rudely cut people off to get to that seat, who will be rushing to get seated. Pick a side a STAY THERE Goddamut!
Sure some some >jerks/clods/lawyers> may argue otherwise, but you can always slyly spill ketchup on their dockers….so get with the program, this is a bifurcated restaurant..!
OKAY uh, now that the basics are out of the way, here are the Quirks:
THERE IS NO
Smoking, Tomatoes, Shakes, Blueberry Pie, Double burgers*, Souvenier T-Shirts or take Home Menus….*They charge double price for a “double” burger, which is insane, because they count the patties….so just get two burgers instead….
A great Hamburger and Tuna San, smoky ham and Swiss…Strong Double Brewed Up-all-night Coffee, fast Service, wonderful apple, berry and cream pies…made daily, and open late! Zowie!
THE JOHNSTER METHOD
I…get there LATE, order a Steakburger with Onions, and -2- slices of Tillamook. No sauce
(a tomato relish is standard) for me as it hides the onion kick!…7 up or the coffee — if not too late. I sit on either side as I don’t play firm favorites with the waitrons. They’re all good! Allow five minutes to consume de boigah, den order anudder one! Some are Faster than Others….Sure Gordon is the big imposing born to sling cheeseburger man-god, but I also like Manny and the other guys who work fast and serve cosnsistently delicious food from the simple limited menu. Tired of Beef? Get the Tuna on rye toast, add Swiss Cheese if really hungry…ask for extra Olives, then stuff the excess tuna into the olives. Still looking? Get the big ham and swiss sandwich! Really good smoky ham, makes a good take-home sandwich. TIP: No mayo keeps the sandwich drier for storage.
Update: Gordon has since retired to a tropical zone. It is now the “Jorge” era, an accomplished cheeseburger destroyer who confessed he once ate 14 over a 12 hour period. I told him I once had three but considered a fourth. We are in good hands.
The burgers use premium beef retrieved by from a meat locker situated at middle of the counter. When you order one the waiters will toss it on the grill. 2-3 cooks are usually busy making the sandwiches and burgers. Mid-day and late nite there is no waiting…
DESSERT? Of course you can’t lawfully resist a fresh Boysenberry or Chocolate Creme or Apple Pie ala mode…they are that good. I recommend you try this: Get a slice o’Apple with -2- slices of Tillamook cheddar to GO. They will give you some warm sweet spicy sauce you can add to the pie; I prefer just add a dash…At home place the pie in your Toaster Oven Mini Broiler and push the toaster button. Tip: set toaster to DARK! Using about 4 Clicks of the Maximum Toaster heat, broil the pie a bit so that the cheese forms a hard shell over the pie…don’t burn it….then Omigod you have hard shell crispy apple pie pastry thing with crunchy chedder bits. I should also point out that the banana cream pie is outstanding!
1) They get low or run out of certain PIES at night, usu around 10pm or so…
2) They be mighty busy at lunch time and dinner time, esp weekends – 15 min+wait possible.
3) Strange regular customers will carry on with extended conversations with the waiters late at night, making me wish the place served BEER.
4) One burger is often not enuff for the journey, best have another and skip dessert…or….
5) You can take pie home, you monstrous toad-butt!
6) Additional hidden Apple Pan quirks may puzzle you for years…why no t-Shirts? Why can’t I get SOY milk or a BLT? Are there other Apple Pans in my city? NOT!
7) They are Closed on MONDAYS. This is often a painful learning experience.
8) The tasty coffee, fresh cream and friendly ambience may cause you drink five cups o’coffee and stay up till 4am…
Why closed Mondays? First, they gotta rest SOMETIME, and hey, when the obsession kicks in and you start driving over on a “don’t wanna cook Monday”, that’s when you know you’re hooked! Absence makes the Burgers taste better. Or, perhaps it’s a 1940’s marketing ploy!?
On Pico, one block east of Westwood in W.L.A.
Daytime Parking can be tricky…after 6pm Bank Parking OK
$$$ OPEN 11-Midnight, Tues-Wed-Thurs and Sunday, open till 1am Friday-Sat.
NEXT – George’s Burgers on Lincoln
…it says burgers – but the chicken dinners/tacos are a definite value leader…!
OK we are slumming a lil’ bit BUT there’s this CHEAP corner grill stand called George’s Burgers , with good parking right thar’ on Marine and Lincoln. It’s popular with the locals, the neighbors and sure, the kind of people Jesus would hang out with: G-boys, mobile mattress operators and the like, salt of the forehead type truckers…the post institutional …and deep fry food devotees of all creeds.
But the keen clear-eyed Chrisitian looks past these Great Society anomalies to concentrate on FOOD VALUE — and spots a $4.79 HALF CHICKEN which includes WASP approved thick fried White Toast – buttered, or the soon to be Law tortillas (once the Burger Wars are over). Then the Bonus Calorie Round, as the well cooked flame broiled bird is set upon a big basket of french fries and fried zucchini in a 50/50mix or all zucchini (yes!) if you prefer.
And to think some people eat chicken strips! Yeesh!
A generous side of Ranch dressing for the included iceberg lettuce salad or selfmade gooey chicken taco creations at your own risk TIP: Ask for dressing on the side, for Buffalo Wing style Dippin’ …The whole thing is made fast and hot and easily suvives a 15 minute or so drive home nice and hot. But say, you are going to pick a few OTHER items, like the evil old-fashioned PATTY MELT with onions or the enormously meaty yet simple (soft) chicken taco, with about double the white chicken meat you’d expect. One will do! TIP: Get it with the Salsa! The menu items are priced cheaper than Starbucks drinks! On weekend mornings whole families show up for the Blueberry pancakes, a universal favorite generally credited to the ALIENS or the British, depending on which ships you were taken up on.
CARBPACKERS TIP: All this extra to-go food helps keep the Bag Hotter, reducing Global Warming caused by you having to reheat food because it didn’t have “company”. Experienced Real chicken destroyers can put away the Half Chicken and one Taco.
And probably 30-40 oz. of beer. Sure I Koo Koo Roo – but this is the chicken Price king, while still good. Not gourmet food, but a good place to watch calories fry, then drive home and eat while watching TV! WOW! This really helps reduce ambient thoughts!
Father Everardo Crispe’ , the patron saint of Fried Food interjects: “The Taco, you see is merely a metaphor – a metaphor you can EAT!”
Next up, Cafe 50’s – the original 50s style place that’s actually edible…
Continuing our elegant sub-stripmall eatery cruise a mile or so further South, is
…a popular weekend breakfast hangout, but more importantly, a critical vendor for old, wornout and fantastic recipes like POT ROAST or JOE’S SPECIAL , ie …Scrambled Eggs and ground beef or turkey, with onions and a dash of parmesan, blended into cooked spinach. Naturally the menu chock full of fifties references – and this results in a fairly wide range of well made and truly nifty diner style items. It’s a throwback in need of a paint job, but they make satisfying old time meals.
Naturally one MUST add SOUR CREME for the full Polish Joe’s effect…
Another missile aimed at your midsection is the Monster Burger , not to be confused with the monsieur boor-gear they serve in Paris Las Vegas, no sir! This is the Double Cheese Avocado Bacon burger that lubes BOTH arteries just faaaahn . Get a crispy italian dressing on the side salad to quell the toxic cheese and grease shock . Oh, and they have really deadly malts and shakes, also Heineken, which ever so slightly more deadly, uh statistically. A lot of old time favorites like sandwiches, salads, Grilled Melts and low cost dinner plates after 4pm abound. And there is the M-Friday Breakfast Eggs/Bacon/Toast cheepie breakfast for those who like to dine on their leftover laundry room change.
In the 80’s I once saw Mark Mothersbaugh there, he was paying for – yup – Bacon cheesburgers to-go…thus “bringing home the Ba-con” — BUSTED!!!!
…another time (same decade) I saw Danny Elfman and his Oingo band pal eating at the counter one afternoon. I “kinda” recognized them and asked:
…are you guys musicians…?
Danny nodded and said yes. I said cool or something, and went back to my food. Shmuck! I should have shot him a HAIRY EYBALL LOOK and then moved one or two counter seats away – acting creeped out. But he probably wouldn’t have gotten the joke…
Don’t forget the excellent Turkey Burgers and the Big Boppers Special – a unique alternative to the omellete, try it with egg whites only!
PARK at the RiteAid/Ralphs. Cross at the light.
Use extra care at night as hey – this is Venice , the Chinatown of WLA…
Next on the Tasty Carb-o-lis-cious trail…
Ultimate Classy steakburger in Culver City
My buddy whose mom owns a polynesian restaurant INSISTS on this being the ultimate burger! Could secret Steak drippings and other flavors be employed to spike this burger into flavor Nirvana? The meat is finely ground, perfectly cooked, served meejum rare.
Expect a dark old style restaurant in an odd triangle of Culver City with older greyer waitresses, and experienced chefs who serve steak and Italian dishes that are reasonable, with a $12.95 gourmet hamburger that’s outstanding (get it with grilled onions), and fantastic steak sandwich. Full bar, cold beers (and icy Heinekens), booths. Crackers instead of bread – a mid-western trick. I loved the great Italian classic dishes! Very home made looking and tasting. Good enough for dates and Father’s day, a truly awesome place for fans of burgers and the thrill of good/great Italian food. On Jefferson and Sepulveda in the Triangle. Plenty of Parking, Adjacent to Del Taco.
Petrelli’s 5615 Sepulveda Blvd, Culver City, CA 90230
…Next, Bacon Mulitas on Figueroa near USC…
In the shadow of a Jack in the Box just feet from the darkest sections of the Greater USC/Exposition Park Area is a strip mall mexifood sensation that serves the Mulita, which wouldn’t be so damn special except for the….INCREDIBLE BACONY FLAVOR !!!
OK! So they are called Pork Mulitas aka “Quesadillas on Steroids”…
JUST GET TWO. They come w/ avocado.
Ya see when they carve the roasted pork meat of the rotating rack and toss it on the griddle to BACONIFY IT — it turns into a extra crispy cheese avocado double layer bacon taco whammy that has to be tried to believe! It’s like the crack of Pork.
Somewhat like like a soft corn Taco but they put another corn taco on top so it holds more goodies and sauce – which you can add from the dozen or so salsas and sauces available. They have the old tyme carrots and onions, a Green Goddess Dressing and several salsas. I like the Green Goddess dressing over the pork Mulitas then a chili rellano/enchilada combo with some rice, beans and cheese. The beans are especially good. Great texture. This place is very affordable and popular with the SC crowd.
A Mellow pork afterglow will ensue after your crispy pork and avocado Mulitas have vanished mysteriously. There is no booze here, but it might have gotten in the way of these unique flavors. Try the Seafood and the 30 or more other variations on fresh food ala’ Mexicana that are practiced here.
Now I wouldn’t send my Mom here alone – but I’d bring her takeout. She loves Pork. And is willing to talk about it! Did I mention these insane Mulitas are 3 dollars?
Drive East on the 10, preferably after 9pm WHEN THE TRAFFIC IS MOVING…ARR! Head for the Harbor (110) Freeway South and take it *but* fool the airborne surveillance robot following you and whip to the far right to holeshot the Adams Street Exit that comes up just as you merge/collide with the Harbor Freeway. Stay in any lane as it will merge with Figueroa, the famous gateway to USC, the Shrine Auditorium and Exposition Park, where Porgy and Mudhead matriculated. Drive past the Shrine and look for the Fast Food infected areas. Keep Going! On the Right – a Jack in the Box~! Park next to it or in the little shopping center if available. The area is well patrolled but can be very busy on the weekends with a few unlicensed salesmen hovering in the shadows around the do-nut shop. Stay in the LIT Areas! Do Not Engage the helpful locals <outside> the taqueria unless you are writing a book, “jonesing” or both. Grip your woman firmly and walk in a proud but tolerant Caucasian manner (as practical) into the restaurant at the Crux of this L-Angled urban corner. There will be people in line most eatin’ hours! Head in through the 100% non ethnic glass and aluminum 7-11 style doors and study the Menu as well as the glistening Wheel of Pork – you will be assimilated!
OTHER TREATS: Smug and self confident Angelenos can also enjoy the special thrill you get when you see earnest students spending their last 6 dollars on food cuz that’s what’s left after your frat bro scores your 19 year old butt the 12 pack of brews you need to make it to Saturday. And that less than 4 hours away!
LA TAQUIZA Restaurant
3009 S Figueroa St, Los Angeles CA 90007
NEXT…Asian Fusion designer tacos invade Main Street.
Komodo offers a highly evolved and imaginative take on affordable, asian-fusion cuisine. They evolved past and beyond their wild gourmet taco truck roots and now feature a restaurant in -2- locations – one in W.L.A.and one South of Chaya Venice on Main Street.
A mix of 5, 10 and 13 dollar range entrees and combos, consisting of Steak (and more steak) seafood, chicken and vegetable only dishes, crafted into genuinely unique items.
The “Komodo” taco (shown at top) has steak, a jalapeno aioli, coupled with a colorful corn and sweet red pepper salsa, very juicy and sweet; you are pre-destined to eat at least two! The ingredients seem to be grade A and are very fresh. Staff very friendly and glad to be servicing you (I like that, blase is for the birds).
The Best Value entree might be the ten dollar choose your style burrito which includes a taco of your choice. I got the massive Komodo Steak burrito (just like the taco) and along with it a shrimp taco, spicy with a delicate texture and unique flavor.
Or maybe it’s the 4 tacos of your choice – also for a Ten Spot. Like I got on my first visit. Trouble with the 4-some is that it’s hard to keep the lil’ tacos hot very long, some heated plates would help. I think I will try to get two at a time to prevent undue cooling…
This restaurant may be an Ideal Take Out for folks in the area since many of the meat items would re-heat well…Words like “original” and “amazing” keep popping up.
Like the Top Sirloin w/ Seared Quail Eggs, Tater Tots & Garlic Aioli. Not your Homey’s taco resturant, this place has culinary cajones. Many complex garnishes and touches elevate this food to a genuine gourmet level. Serious Steak lovers should consider the Buffalo Salad, gobs of steak pieces mixed in with crisp bacon, cheese fried tater tots, more cheese, more bacon, and finally a few pieces of green something or other sprinkled on top so you can pretend it’s a salad. Outrageous. The humble burger has taken a serious hit here, the Buffalo salad makes an IN N’ OUT burger look like boring stadium food.
There are several interesting Salads, Ahi Tuna and Salmon centered dinners, some items with a more asian focused recipe. However it’s hard to beat the fun of colorful Finger food like their “artistic” tacos. Oh and try the meaty Meat Balls! They are tasty and meet all indoor sports regulations for MBL (meatball league) gamers who like to pop a quick “blouse shot” now and then during halftime.
OK so it’s too new and asian-futurist to be uber-hip (yet) but you’ll have to look pretty hard to find a more innovative menu in this price range. You sure won’t find that next door.
Komodo! I wish thee well on their first year in Venice.
Beer and wine is planned. I hope the prices stay low.
8809 West Pico Blvd, West LA
235 Main St, Venice
310.255.6742 til’ 9pm
<Stay tuned for Moore, Roger>