Ask Mr. Gold
Question: Around this time of year, my grandmother used to go out into her garden and denude her tomato plants with the tenacity of locusts: big or small, ripe or not. The ones that were hard enough to bounce, she sliced and cooked in bacon grease. I always thought it was kind of disgusting, but I have been missing it, believe it or not, and I am definitely too lazy to grow any tomatoes of my own. I know it’s unlikely, but given all the restaurants in Los Angeles, there must surely be a restaurant that does something like this.
—Scott, Canoga Park
Answer: Your grandmother, I am assuming, was from the South. And Johnny Reb’s is something of a Southern theme park on Long Beach’s northern edge, a noisy evocation of a pan-Dixie roadhouse that may have been around only a decade or so, but feels as old as time. The plywood floor is worn through to near its last ply, and drifts of peanut shells reach almost ankle-high where they have been tossed down from the tables... this is the place to go for fried stuff. And though the fried catfish is exemplary, the fried pork chops juicy and crisp, the hush puppies oniony and profoundly low-rent, the green tomatoes here are just great — firm, bright-green things dipped in cornmeal and fried, then topped with crumbled bacon — simultaneously sweet, tart and savory. 4663 Long Beach Blvd., Long Beach, (310) 423-7327.
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