Where to Eat Now | Dining | Los Angeles | Los Angeles News and Events | LA Weekly

Where to Eat Now 

Wednesday, Apr 24 2002

Downtown Los Angeles
Highland Park

Ciudad. The design of Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken’s downtown restaurant is bold — those yellow chairs, those retro drinking glasses, those seed-encrusted vertical-standing crackers! The menu is a Pan-American pastiche, complete with Old World footnotes. This means Peruvian arepas and Spanish Merquez sausage and pineapple upside-down cake. Days see lunching office workers; at night, it’s conventioneers and an arty Silver Lake/Echo Park crowd. 445 S. Figueroa St., downtown, (213) 486-5171. Lunch and dinner daily. Full bar. Valet parking. AE, D, MC, V. Entrées $17–$28. Pan-Latino. MH $$ ¨

Cole’s P.E. Buffet. Seventy-five years before anybody thought to dress a squab salad with raspberry vinegar, Los Angeles was known across the country for French-dipped sandwiches, sliced roast meat layered on a French roll that had been sopped in meat juice. Dank old Cole’s, which is the oldest restaurant in Los Angeles and looks every week of it, has the best French dip: roasted brisket, prime rib or pastrami, carved to order, dipped and served on a crusty roll. 118 E. Sixth St., downtown, (213) 622-4090. Mon.–Sat. 9 a.m.–7 p.m. (bar until 11 p.m.). Full bar. Street parking. AE, MC, V. Sandwiches $5.29–$7.29. American. JG ¢

Location Info

La Luz del Dia. The last place you’d expect to find a real Mexican joint is among the maraca vendors and befuddled German tourists on Olvera Street, but there it is (and has been for decades), La Luz del Dia, serving cactus salad to the hordes. Whatever you think you ordered — tacos, burritos, tostadas — you’ll probably get at least one helping of picadillo, the chunky Mexican beef stew that, with its carrots and potatoes, looks like a stew somebody’s mother might have made . . . provided that the mother in question has an industrial-size garlic press and a Thai tolerance for chile heat. 1 W. Olvera St., downtown, (213) 628-7495. Lunch and dinner Tues.–Sun. Beer only. Parking in nearby Olvera Street lots. Cash only. Entrées $3–$8.75. Mexican. JG ¢

Langer’s. The best pizza in America may be in New Haven, the best hot dogs in Chicago, the best espresso off Pioneer Square in Seattle. But the best pastrami sandwich is right here in Los Angeles, slapped together by the truckload at Langer’s Delicatessen. The rye bread, double-baked, has a hard, crunchy crust. The meat, dense, hand-sliced, nowhere near lean, has the firm, chewy consistency of Parma prosciutto, a gentle flavor of garlic and a clean edge of smokiness that can remind you of the kinship between pastrami and Texas barbecue. 704 S. Alvarado St., Los Angeles, (213) 483-8050. Mon.–Sat. 8 a.m.–4 p.m. Beer and wine. Validated lot parking (on corner of Westlake Ave. and Seventh St.). Curbside service (call ahead). MC, V. Entrées $8.95–$12.95. Jewish Deli. JG ¢ *

Nick & Stef’s. Joachim Splichal’s downtown steakhouse pushes the genre’s envelope. The décor is sedate enough. — banquettes wear banker’s gray — but annexed to the dining room is a climate-controlled glass case filled with slabs of darkening, crusting, dry-aging beef — a library of meat. The à la carte menu features 12 kinds of potatoes, 12 sauces and at least as many other side dishes. The outside patio — a sunny clearing in a forest of skyscrapers — may be the best urban dining spot in town. 330 S. Hope St. (Wells Fargo Center), downtown, (213) 680-0330. Lunch Mon.–Fri. 11:30 a.m.–2:30 p.m.; dinner Mon.–Thurs. 5:30–9:30 p.m., Fri. 5:30–10:30 p.m., Sat. 5–10:30 p.m., Sun. 4:30–8:30 p.m. Full bar. Parking in Wells Fargo Center. Entrées $19–$37. American Steakhouse. MH $$ ¤ Ü ‹

Philippe the Original. The place is so much a part of old Los Angeles that sometimes it feels as if it isn’t really a part of Los Angeles, as if it belongs to an older city without chrome. The French-dipped sandwiches of lamb or beef are wet and rich, with something of the gamy animal pungency of old-fashioned roast meat. And if you enjoy the sight of eyes bulging and nostrils flaring as people encounter depth charges of ultrahot mustard in their sandwiches, there’s even something of a floor show. 1001 N. Alameda St., downtown, (213) 628-3781. Open daily 6 a.m.–10 p.m. Beer and wine. Lot parking. Cash only. Sandwiches $4.25-$4.55. American. JG ¢ *


Silver Lake/Los Feliz/Echo Park

Alegria. The best food here revolves around the extraordinary mole sauce: sharp, thick, sweetly complex, with top notes of smoke, clove and citrus, lashed with dried-chile heat, black enough to darken the brightest Pepsodent smile. (It takes two days to make, a million steps, and has something like 20 ingredients.) Dobladitas are corn tortillas folded around melted cheese and moistened with mole. There is also chicken mole, and sometimes a Oaxacan-style special of chicken, pork and plantains cooked in mole. And you can get a side of mole sauce to put on your burrito. 3510 Sunset Blvd., Silver Lake, (323) 913-1422. Open Mon.–Thurs. 10 a.m.–10 p.m., Fri.–Sat. till 11 p.m. No alcohol. Takeout. Lot parking. Cash only. Entrées $5.75–$14. Mexican. JG ¢

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