Category: Glendale/Atwater/Eagle Rock
Mario's has a lot packed into a small area. The next time I'm making pasta or sandwiches for dinner, I plan to come by here and grab some needed things: wines, pastas, sauces, olive oils, a full deli counter, and drinks (they even have Boylan's Birch Beer). Otherwise, with a daunting menu and a perpetual line of sandwich enthusiasts, this is a lunch spot par excellence and a tempting destination since it's about two blocks from where I work.
The sandwiches are brawny and inexpensive. The bread is soft, dense, and on some sandwiches cut so that there is a "middle slice" running through the sandwich; it will be difficult to extract if you're trying to reduce your jaw-stretching quotient.
The S.O.B. is sopressata (I'm still debating the official spelling on this stuff, and exactly how many pairs of letters are needed), oven-roasted chicken, onion, shredded lettuce, sharply fresh tomatoes, and mustard/mayo. The standard meatball sandwich is firm with very basic--and therefore delicious--marinara; it's a beast that takes some fine-motor skills to consume, with heavy napkin usage. So is the nap-inducing chicken parmesan sandwich.
So far my most likely addiction is the sausage sandwich, with the same marinara, because Mario's makes their own sausage on the premises. It's slightly spicy, has the right amount of snap, and doesn't want to stay within the bread. A dem fine sausage, a dem fine sausage.
You probably won't be getting more than one sandwich for variety's sake, so peruse their collection of pasta salads and sides. The macaroni salad is al dente and creamy, and the red-skin potato salad has a sharp hint of mustard that I dig.
There's a decent parking lot in back, but it's going to be full anyway.
( Categories: Cuisines (by Region), Italian, Deli, Glendale/Atwater/Eagle Rock, Sandwiches/Burgers/Hot Dogs )
One thing I sharply miss about working on the West side is the lunch buffet at Flavor of India on Santa Monica. I am, therefore, jubilant that there is a buffet on Verdugo Road, above Indian-sparse Glendale. It's a local favorite occupying a tiny corner in a strip mall, and it is purely coincidental that its name is a spoonerism of my once-favorite place.
Inside is no less tiny, with ginger-colored walls, paintings of village women and a TV showing subtitled Indian movies. A few carefully selected testimonials and reviews hang above the register; the owners see no need to plaster every acclaim and endorsement they receive. He asks us in a rich tenor if this is our first time here; his wife and head chef is wreathed in smiles as she carefully, perfectly places table settings.
The buffet takes up a fearfully small corner, but manages to fit eight dishes plus salad, dressings and plates. The white rice is essential for soaking up some of the wetter delicacies here. The saag is solid and rich, nothing but spinach and onions and ginger, exactly what saag should be. The daal tarka (yellow lentils cooked in tomatoes and onions) is liquid but hides much flavor.
The vegetable korma is speckled and heavy with peas, and not as vibrant as that at Flavor of India (against which I measure all korma), but the tandoori chicken and chicken curry make up for it, the former red and spicy, the latter tender and forgiving.
They bring you your choice of naan bread; the slightly puffy garlic naan in particular is steamy and garlicky and awesome.
Happily, they have more to drink than the usual masala tea or mango lassi. The roohafza is a summer beverage made from rosewater and milk, and the nimbu pan is lemonade Indian-style, with ginger and lime added.
Lunch ends at 2:30, but they reopen for dinner at five.
( Categories: Cuisines (by Region), Glendale/Atwater/Eagle Rock, Indian )
An independent French offshoot
1661 Colorado Blvd. (in Eagle Rock)
Phone: 323-255-5133 | map
So I'm meeting my friend Jeff for lunch, he who has provided so many excellent recommendations for his Eagle Rock stomping grounds. He's already waiting for me as he always is, with a cup of superior hot chocolate before him. I imitate him, marveling at how well cocoa beans are fused with heat, while also pleased that the place is so casual and unfussy.
Le Petit Beaujolais is across and down the street from Cafe Beaujolais, which used to be the dinner counterpart to this Roche d'Aigle icon. The Cafe is now owned by a pleasant Asian family and is unconnected; the food seems not to have changed at all except that there are fewer baked goods available.
It could just be the fabulous-sounding words crocque monsieur a 'la parisienne', but the French attitude toward what should be a fairly simple ham & cheese sandwich--French ham with melted gruyère and béchamel, a cozy, self-contained hearth burnt on both sides--is comforting. The caesar salad is subtle and crisp. the fries thin, lightly crunchy and dusted with herbs as expected.
The Panino au Proscuitto [sic] is Italian ham, mozzarella, tomato and more sharp mustard. While the ham and and mozzarella are thick and toothsome, it has a little too much gum-scratching crunch, being in a flattened baguette rather than a thinner sort of bread. However, the burger is absolutely riveting, well-assembled and wonderful.
There's a steak & omelette dish for breakfast, which I eye enviously over on Jeff's side of the table; the steaks come hammered flat and grilled nicely rare with a pat of butter atop, the eggs yellow and billowy.
Parking is on the side streets or on Colorado.
( Categories: Cuisines (by Region), French, Bakery/Patisserie, Glendale/Atwater/Eagle Rock, Coffee/Tea/Desserts, Sandwiches/Burgers/Hot Dogs )
Some badger Hugo's, citing tons of other places to acquire taco authenticity in L.A. They're right, of course; go down the street a bit to Tacos Villa Corona, or over to El Tapatio #2, or to the guys open on Fletcher, and that's without leaving Atwater.
But you don't come here for the things you can get elsewhere: carnitas, al pastor, et al. Engage yourself in healthful pursuits, experiment with your vegan side.* Hugo's has played with fillings and salsas and other Mexican-influenced assembly, and has been successful at it.
Gape at the menu in its glory. Pick an item, pick a filling, pick a salsa. Our quick recommendation here is either the Grilled Fish, still with a silvery sheen from being freshly scraped, or the Soy Chorizo with Potato and Zucchini, chopped so finely it's like salsa. There's also chicken, steak, carnitas, and a zucchini/corn/string bean mix. Pass on the not-terribly-interesting al pastor, which has a little too much of a steaky toughness.
You'll just have to go through all seven choices of salsa until you've figured out your perfect taco/salsa pairing. A basic Pico de Gallo, a thick green Jalapeño & Tomatillo, Salsa Cruda, the Honey Chipotle everyone raves about, a moody mole-style Salsa Negra, Salsa Habañero, and a belligerent little red Salsa Arbol. I kinda wish I could sample all those separately; I'll have to ask about that.
I'm still figuring out the soft corn tortillas. They're oddly firm, almost elastic, not the pale, easily-split white fabric that jeopardize so many taco-eating experiences. They're also quite stuck together, so I can't do that taco-filling-shuffle I like to do**. The tortilla chips, though, are crisp, golden and shiny, so I'll try the hard shell tacos next time.
They also do tortas in a comforting way; the torta ahogada has white beans, guacamole, tomatoes, onions, whatever filling you picked (the soy chorizo is the best bet here), and then griddled with honey chipotle.
The other gripe some visitors have is that it's expensive... for tacos. They're a deuce fifty for one, six-fifty for three. Hugo's expects you to go for combos.
The Atwater location has a large parking lot for the stand's size. Hugo's is open from 10 to 10 every day.
* But don't get soy cheese. Vegan cuisine hasn't figured that one out yet.
** I'll explain. Soft tacos almost universally come in two tortillas. I like to slide one tortilla downward a bit and even out everything, so I get a longer bed for my filling. ... what?
( Categories: Cuisines (by Region), Mexican, Vegetarian/Vegan, Healthy/Organic, Glendale/Atwater/Eagle Rock, The Valley )
A frumpled and friendly diner
5056 Eagle Rock Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90041
Phone: 323-478-1440 | map
Armon's no-frills exterior hides an exemplar of vintage "coffee shop" culture, replete with chocolate-brown booths, popcorned ceiling and boxes of cereals along a top shelf. There is an aura of friendly concern; three pleasant Asian women float about talking cheerily with the locals, making sure everyone's morning is suitable, and the guys in the kitchen griddle and fry and toast everything with care.
I always try the chorizo and eggs at any place that offers them, but here they seem like an afterthought; they aren't the most brilliant item on the breakfast menu, so go for the French toast and sausage. The former is flattened more than fluffy, properly singed and egg-battered around the edges. The sausages are small but flavorful beasts. If you put hot sauce on your eggs like we do, you'll be pleased to note the small container of homemade salsa on the table.
I am not usually a hashed browns fan, but Armon's has some kind of secret soul-selling method to these hand-sized wedges of griddled bliss. A moist and yellow interior, with the right amount of crunch to the tooth, they are good enough to eat sans ketchup, although I use some anyway.
There are lunch offerings as well; I found the turkey burger, on a frumpled* bun with swiss and bacon, to be munchworthy, and there's drinkables like Thai iced tea and thick, lumpy, perfect-for-dipping-a-spoon milkshakes. The Thai iced coffee is, when swirled around a bit, perfect... with ice cubes in the shape of mushrooms. That's the kind of detail that makes me nod my head, satisfied that all is right with the world.
There's metered street parking, and unmetered parking if you explore far enough from Colorado and Eagle Rock Blvd.
* I'm unsure of frumpled's status as an actual word, but if it's not, I'm making it a portmanteau of "frumpy" and "rumpled." I can do this because it's Sunday.
( Categories: Cuisines (by Region), Glendale/Atwater/Eagle Rock, Diner, American, Coffee/Tea/Desserts, Sandwiches/Burgers/Hot Dogs )
The office-packed Stocker Square has palm trees carefully positioned between regrettably peach buildings and blue-green railings that were all the rage back in 1989. Shamshiri is folded into a corner of this corporate oasis, and tries stoically to pay no attention to its surroundings; inside is a pyramid skylight, patterned stained glass, a potted tree, and paintings of Persian maids.
Shamshiri is where you go when you want something Persian but aren't in the mood for the Carousels or the Raffi's; their kitchen feels a little more comfortable. You start in on the plate of pita slices with butter and white onion.
I admit to not being a usual fan of ash (Persian soups), but the ash-e-joe is very dilly and minty and leafy, with vegetables, lentils, barley, pinto beans, and topped with kashk (a whipped whey, which Shamshiri does well). It's thinner than you'd expect.
They have koobideh and kabobs, of course, and their plates of it are piled high enough to make your stomach cry mercy, but try the adas polo: chicken baked until falling into shreds and served in a dish full of thin sauce. Tiny slivers of tomato and sliced onion lie next to it, probably for color, and there's a large plate of lentils and basmati rice mixed together with raisins and dates*. The sensation of all the juxtaposed flavors--tender chicken, sweet and firm dates, rice with broth--is sublime, which is a word I usually don't like to use.
Their iced coffee is nicely sharp. Vaguely insulted, it shrugs off the prodigious amount of cream and sugar I add to it.
All of this? Less than twelve dollars as a lunch special.
The Westwood location has a greater sense of self, with vibrantly red walls and sultry artwork.
* Dr. Jones: "It's a date... you eat 'em!"
( Categories: Cuisines (by Region), Glendale/Atwater/Eagle Rock, Persian )