San Gabriel Foothills
Din Tai Fung. It took Din Tai Fung to transform the soup dumpling — thin-walled spheroids filled with pork, seasonings and teaspoonfuls of jellied broth — into high-tech industry. The soup dumplings at Din Tai Fung are incontrovertibly engineered to be the state of the art, elastic, ultrathin wrappers bulging with the steamy weight of the soup within, served 10 to an order in bullet-shaped aluminum steamers that look like relics of the Taiwanese ’50s. Pick them up carefully, garnish simply with a shred or two of fresh ginger and a few sparing drops of black vinegar, and inhale. 1108 S. Baldwin Ave., Arcadia, (626) 574-7068. Lunch and dinner daily 11 a.m.– 2:30 p.m. and 5– 9:30 p.m. No alcohol. Lot parking. Takeout. MC, V. Lunch for two, food only, $8 – $14. Chinese. JG ¢ Dish. With lots of light, lots of room and smart, friendly servers, Dish is a prime example of the new American coffee shop. Located in the small foothill village of La Cañada, the look is scrubbed-California-farmhouse, the ingredients are fresh, and the all-American menu showcases our national love of sugar, salt, meat and crunch. Have eggs or fluffy cornmeal “jonnycakes” along with applewood-smoked bacon, sausages from Shreiner’s, the local German butchers, or thick slices of baked ham that’s been encrusted with gingersnaps and brown sugar. For lunch or dinner, you can’t go wrong with the Dish burger — a fat, juicy, meaty thing in a grilled-till-crisp sesame bun. 734 Foothill Blvd., La Cañada, (818) 790-5355. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner Mon. Fri. 7 a.m.– 9:30 p.m. and Sat.– Sun. 7 a.m.– 10 p.m. Full bar. Lot parking. AE, D, DC, MC, V. Entrées $7.95 – $15.95. American. MH $ Julienne. Beethoven scherzos skitter through the plant-strewn patio, and regulars park their dogs just outside it. You would expect a place like Julienne to serve genteel luncheon salads, and it does: The Chinese chicken salad sprinkled with crunchy noodles is renowned. But the basic currency of the restaurant seems to be the sandwich, including soft chicken-salad sandwiches of a sort many of us haven’t tasted since the Bullocks Wilshire tearoom closed down. 2649 Mission St., San Marino, (626) 441-2299. Mon.– Fri. 8 a.m.– 6:30 p.m., Sat. 8 a.m.– 5 p.m. No alcohol. Lot parking. AE, MC, V. Entrées $8.95 – $15.95. California. JG $ Taylor’s Steak House. The two Taylors are everything a steak house should be: dark, clubby, with red booths and frosted glass. The drinks are strong, and the menu’s long suit is meat, specifically steak, at very delicious prices. Never mind that you might be the only Democrat or Jew or nonwhite in the room. Get a culotte, the rib-eye, or the big fillet. And don’t miss the Molly Salad, a variation on the lettuce wedge, invented by a former waitress. 901 Foothill Blvd., La Cañada-Flintridge, (818) 790-7668. 3361 W. Eighth St., Los Angeles, (213) 382-8449. Lunch seven days, 11:30 a.m.– 4 p.m. Dinner seven days, Sun.– Thurs. 4– 9:30 p.m., Fri.– Sat. 4– 10:30 p.m. Full bar. Lot parking. AE, MC, V. Entrées $12.50 – $24.95. American. MH $ Zelo Gourmet Pizzeria. Arcadia is kind of a conservative place, but Zelo distinctly is not. The music, played loud, ranges from surf tunes to vintage punk rock, Blue Oyster Cult to Built To Spill, and might as well have been plucked from the iPod of the coolest guy you know. But it’s all about the pizza here, and Zelo’s pizza is a different sort of pie, crust enriched with a little cornmeal, packed and crimped into a high-rimmed steel deep-dish pizza pan blackened from years in the ovens, and baked to a kind of high crunchiness. This rough and tasty cornmeal-crusted pizza was invented at Vicolo, Patty Unterman’s cramped quick-service pizza joint in San Francisco. Zelo chef Mike Freeman, who cooked for eight years at Vicolo, has taken this style and made it his own. A vegetarian pizza, available in both vegan and cheese-bearing versions, is piled with baked eggplant, roasted peppers and mushrooms. Even the plain-vanilla sausage pie is plumped out with marinated peppers, tomato chunks and sautéed onions. This may be the great, undiscovered Los Angeles pizza restaurant. 328 E. Foothill Blvd., Arcadia, (626) 358-8298. Open Tues. – Sat. 11:30 a.m.– 9 p.m. Pizzas, $16, feed two or three. Beer and wine. Abundant street parking. MC, V ($10 minimum). JG ¢
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