Category: Glendale/Atwater/Eagle Rock
Someone's in the kitchen
4106 San Fernando Rd. Suite A (in Glendale)
Phone: 818-244-4188 | map
The high-contrast wall menu and the smattering of tables in back suggest a take-out demeanor, but there is usually a chair or two open for lunch. Outside is a giant old rotating bucket that I am not claiming was once something else.
Once past the counter there is dark wood, farm scenes, and ceramic roosters, as if Dinah was cooking in her kitchen one day and was gracious enough to invite us kids in for supper. On each table is a small container of what seems like a chutney but is a tangy apple butter.
There are a few basic items: chicken, fish, shrimp, gizzards, livers. I've had the food appear on my table almost a minute after ordering, so I suspect some heat-lampitude, but it hasn't detracted from my experience.
The fried chicken is darkly shiny, crackly and a bit sweet, its pale goodness peeling wetly from the bone. The chicken is not as much of an arterial bully as Roscoe's, being more pressure-cooked than fried, so it doesn't slow you down too badly when leaving.
I am not a fish & chips fan by any reckoning, so I am pleasantly surprised by the fried cod; there is some real flavor here that's lured out, pun intended, byt the subdued batter. It actually doesn't need the tartar sauce, which is a bit relish-heavy.
The sides are fair enough; the mashed potatoes are fluffy, the gravy a cream-of-mushroom color with a peppery bite. It, like the fried chicken batter, smacks of buttermilk. The macaroni and cheese is soft, without baked crust or crumbs, and is quite good but still benefits from hot sauce. The dinner rolls are warm but from the store.
There is a Dinah's in Culver City as well, with suspiciously similar chicken and more of a coffee shop persona. While the two are birthed from the same group of families (the Dinah's in Glendale has been owned by the Pearsons since the year I was born), they aren't really connected.
( Categories: Cuisines (by Region), Glendale/Atwater/Eagle Rock, American, Soul/Southern )
... the fact that I just had lunch at the Oinkster in Eagle Rock. This is not what's killing me.
What's killing me is that the parking lot has a red and black convertible Camaro SS sitting in it. Know who that belongs to?
Guy Fieri. As in Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. Guy Fieri with a camera crew, at the Oinkster.
And here's me, sitting and crying internally over my pastrami, because while I would love the concept of Guy and me knowing each other and, I dunno, eating somewhere in L.A. and comparing food notes, there is no effective way to introduce myself as a restaurant blogger and fellow food enthusiast without sounding like a gushing fan who's getting in the way of the production schedule, and OMG hi I love ur show! and I totally write stuff about food you should check it out!, and can you please get off the set, sir, thank you, sir, can you please... Security!
So I finish my pastrami and leave. Maybe it's Fate stuffing me in the trash can of irony like a playground bully. Maybe it's karma telling me to hang in there because my writing career is waiting in the wings. Maybe my black-shirt-wearing self might appear in the background on DDD or something. Watch for the episode with the Oinkster in it.
*crying in his pastrami*
( Categories: Miscellany, Glendale/Atwater/Eagle Rock )
For lunchtime excursions slightly west of Japan
1100 S. Central Ave. #D (@ Chevy Chase, in Glendale)
Phone: 818-240-1556 | map
Cool green tea walls. Hyper-designed catering posters. A chaotic, colorful wall menu. Light pop and hip-hop drifting from speakers. The owners talking pleasantly in Korean.
What? Korean? Oh, don't worry about that. I will allow that you should not bring a visiting businessman from Fukuoka here for omakase, but Tottori reasonably translates Japanese fare with a nod to the American palate. It means that the spicy stuff is more likely to have that mouth-filling burn from red paste. I know it sounds hand-wringingly apologetic, but I really do get an occasional need for some Japanese-inflected cuisine within my lunchtime radius*.
Get past the peripheral items. The salad is basic and primarily for cooling. The miso soup is standard. The ginger is a rosy blush color, the wasabi properly fiery.
The sushi is not cut thick, but well-formed and fresh, without shredding apart from its own gravity. They do maki (cut rolls) quite well. The Love Love Roll is a favorite here: spicy tuna and avocado with a small scallop atop, wrapped with tuna sashimi instead of rice. The tuna is pliable and tongue-rich, the spicy tuna zingy. The Green Bamboo Roll has spicy crab with a kick, a subdued salmon tempura, and is draped with avocado; the combination is of warm and cold pleasantly chasing each other.
Speaking of Korean-influenced burn, the Red Pepper Chicken is moist with a gentle outer layer that's not quite char, not quite batter. Almond slivers rest on top. There is a slight cronsch, and halfway through, the Korean slow burn starts in on your tongue. The Spicy Chicken dish has more mouth feel, with green and red peppers, but I think the Red Pepper Chicken edges it out.
The ramen is tasty enough, almost orange with spice, its curly chijire noodles full and yellow, but seems too close a relative to some of the packages you might find in the Japanese markets.
The kalbi (BBQ short ribs) are another Korean endeavor, fatty and peppery, with vibrant green scallions. A basic teriyaki dish--chicken or steak--will result in a loosely chopped and well-charred creation that's more reliant on the flavor of the meat than the dark sauce drizzled atop.
* Please don't bring up Todai. Or Octopus.
( Categories: Cuisines (by Region), Japanese, Glendale/Atwater/Eagle Rock, Korean )
More Good Family Eating
6514 San Fernando Rd. (southeast of Western, in Glendale)
Phone: 818-545-0526 | map
The spot must, perhaps, have once been a liquor store or flower shop, its glass-doored metal racks lying dormant along one wall. The occupants of the diminutive kitchen bustle over steaming metal. Floral patterns blare from the tablecloths, louder than the television*. La Charrita feels local. Comfortable. I love these places, and you can probably tell since they make up the lion's share of DILA reviews.
The burritos are solid, neatly wrapped beasts, and no-frills; only beans, rice, and cilantro surround the meat. The soft tacos are aromatic chopped onion and cilantro leaves, and the usual pair of corn tortillas, strong enough to hold the ladleful of meat without tearing.
As for the meats themselves, the al pastor is not red and murky like I look for, but consists of strips of almost carne-asadian grandeur, the spice level subdued. The barbacoa is tender yet robust, and one of the better meats from which to choose. The chicken is moist and has the proper dark parts but is somewhat bland. My favorites are the carnitas, fatty blocks of moist flavor with just a bit of char to the tooth, and the chorizo, a spicy crumble of deep sacrifice-to-Aztec-gods red.
They do not neglect seafood, and neither shall I. The camarones al mojo de ajo stand proudly, arrayed on a bed of rice. The rice is a smoky beige with a red tinge, not spicy or terribly flavorful, but effective support for soaking up all the lovely juices. The refried beans are fresh and aren't covered with cheese (although I do dig on that). The tostada de camarones took me by surprise, being cold like a shrimp cocktail but loaded high with pink, bursting decapoda, at least a dozen, which is quite nice for under five bucks.
Drinks are a little sparse, but there's a refrigerated cabinet of soda. I personally like to get the mango smoothie, a massive frozen thing for which "grand" is the only befitting word.
There's a La Charrita on San Fernando in Burbank... presumably that one is the #1.
* On our first visit, which happened to be on Good Friday, said television displayed a solemnly awesome Iztapalapa Easter ceremony, replete with a panting Jesus suspended thirty feet in the air, speaking breathlessly into a headset microphone. This was followed by a farcical Spanish sitcom.
( Categories: Cuisines (by Region), Mexican, Glendale/Atwater/Eagle Rock, Burbank/North Hollywood, Seafood )
Achieving kitsch nobility without an ounce of Googie architecture or neon, Foxy's holds out across the street from the abominable Americana.
The building is a hulking A-frame of deep brown wood; an inverted peaked ceiling creates the effect of having dropped a ship's keel onto a ski lodge. Twin brass-hood fireplaces gleam from each end, like we're in an Anglo-Saxon longhouse and Grendel's mom is bringing over cookies. The ample covered patio is ideal for large groups.
Brutal iron chandeliers and orange lamps in iron wall sconces further the ambiance, although '80s-era blonde wood furniture sort of knocks it ajar. A brawny white bagel toaster sits at each booth, along with a bowl of about twenty-five tubs of Half & Half.
Foxy's has been one of those not-so-hidden Glendale treasures since three years before I was born*, and since Chef Alfredo started in 1979, they've been doing the sandwiches/burgers/wraps/melts/croissants/breakfasts/salads/faux-Mexican thing with a great deal of flair. It's comfort food, done somehow better than the majority, its demeanor like a diner, the menu vast like a deli.
The soups strike me as spectacularly homemade. The Cream of Mushroom soup? Sweet Lord. I think it's the best CoM soup I can remember, lush and thick with a long finish. The mushrooms seem fresh and hand-cut, not canned. And there's a "Spaghetti and Meatballs" soup? Okay, I'll bite. It's not dissimilar to a cup of albondigas, except with noodles, and the meatballs are looser and more pasta-style. I notice how very tomato-rich it is without being salty.
The crab cakes are light on batter and smooth as a crooner, needing no dipping sauce. The simple Chicken Sandwich could use a little mustard and barely fits on the round whole wheat bun, but otherwise its thick strips of slightly charred chicken meld grandly with the Swiss cheese, with avocado for padding. The Chili & Avocado Melt is a concoction of meat chili, refried beans, tomatoes, diced onions, and more of those fresh mushrooms piled on a flour tortilla, in a bowl with tortilla chips dotted about like crispy monoliths. It's like chilaquiles, but, um, not. It's sort of a "chili and veggies on the run from the law" dish.
For sides, Foxy's has homemade potato chips, resplendently crunchy and airy and which seem "healthy" in a tasty but nonaddictive sense. The fries are airy and crisp too. Neither is heavy on the sodium.
Let's see... Barbacoa? For breakfast or lunch? Indeed. A murky, spicy tangle of shredded beef seasoned heavily with an acidic, saucy tang, it would do quite well on a sandwich. It's surrounded by fairly good rice and plump refried beans with a web of melted cheese.
Ah, a Cappuccino milkshake. It has a deep chocolate presence, and hides actual coffee beans to happily crunch until your heart starts beating like a pair of timbales.
What else... Carne asada Mondays for $5.95? Hells yeah.
Foxy's opens early, stays open until 11 most days, 10 on Sunday and I think midnight on Fridays and Saturdays, but that's not what their website says. However, the website starts playing Dean Martin's "Volare" when it loads, so I forgive them.
* That's two years after Tom & Jerry first aired, and two years before Monty Python.
( Categories: Cuisines (by Region), Mexican, Glendale/Atwater/Eagle Rock, Diner, American, Coffee/Tea/Desserts, Sandwiches/Burgers/Hot Dogs )
Local pizza, Boston style
1504 W. Glenoaks Blvd. (southwest of Western, in Glendale)
Phone: 818-242-1744 | map
A local hole in the wall if you ever saw one: faux brick, Bud on tap, Little League sponsor plaques, rickety steel napkin dispensers which you will use often.
It's Greek/Boston style, which I venture to guess means that the crust is thin, rises high on the sides, is crunchy-soft almost like a pastry, and baked in a pan. I like it almost as much as a New York Neapolitan pie.
I always like to try a pepperoni and sausage, to see how a pizzeria does both. The pizza is even-handed on the sauce, with a solid tundra of melted cheese. The sausages are spicy spheres of joy, the pepperoni typically curled. Despite being bolstered by olive oil, the grease level is high, so can be perilous to tender tummies; to soak up some of the orange stuff, some paper towel dabbing may be in order.
I am elated that the garlic bread is not those sad, soggy little foil-wrapped afterthoughts of which so many pizza joints are guilty. Rather, for a mere buck-seventy-five you get a big honking half-loaf, slightly singed around the edges, of a rusty nuclear orange.
Other things: the Chicken Parmesan Sandwich is hearty and pillowy, the breading very light. The chicken is almost lost inside the red sauce, blanket of cheese, and the thick and crunchy Italian roll. It's fair enough but doesn't generate a desire for dopamine-gland-triggering like the pizza will.
Parking is a small lot, so can be quiet or impossible. Mondays are light around lunchtime, while Fridays are horrid around two.
( Categories: Cuisines (by Region), Italian, Glendale/Atwater/Eagle Rock, Pizza, Greek )