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The Curious Palate: A Quizzical Lunch Spot

“The Ubiquitous Octopus?”

“You mean the Palavering Pachyderm.”

“Right — the Uxorious Unicorn.’’

Every so often, a restaurant comes along with a name so unresonant that it flits from consciousness within milliseconds, like the title of a film festival offering halfheartedly translated from Xhosa or the Portuguese. And The Curious Palate, a crowded Mar Vista café, sometimes feels less like a lunch counter than it does a boutique grocery whose fancy products — Suncoast dried beans, La Quercia prosciutto, MarieBelle Aztec chocolate, Intelligentsia coffee, Hobbs bacon, Breadbar loaves — just happen to be available as pressed sandwiches and salads. The Inquisitive Antelope is the kind of place your sanctimonious Berkeley friends lecture you about while you wait with them in line at Pink’s. Vegan four-squash soup with coconut? A chicken sandwich called Juicy Jidori? Please. But the Quizzical Penguin is also a useful addition to this neighborhood, whose previous culinary highlight was probably the chilaquiles at the Mar Vista Bowl. This is a place that makes its four-cheese mac ’n’ cheese, its Cuban sandwiches with Berkshire pork, and its cheese-and-chutney sandwiches with sharp Oregon cheddar better than the ones you’re likely to pick up at Whole Foods. It’s also a bacon-loving kitchen — a soup special one day had a bacon broth as its base, and the egg salad here is topped with baco bits of guanciale.

The Curious Palate: 12034 Venice Blvd., Mar Vista, (310) 437-0144 or www.thecuriouspalate.com.

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