If you ride the Metro regularly, or more likely, tell yourself that you should be riding the Metro regularly, the recently opened Exposition line should come as exciting news. Culver City residents now have the western terminus of L.A.'s rail system at their doorstep (somewhat), which means a journey downtown is now estimated to take around 30 minutes. But why rush it? The Expo line is dotted with places to stop off and explore, including a selection of restaurants that should make you excited to do your civic duty. Here are five of our favorites on the Expo Line Food Crawl:
Nearest stop: Expo Park/USC
Located in Mercado la Paloma, a condensed mini-mall just south of USC, is this humble spot dedicated to capturing the flavors of Mexico's Yucatan peninsula. There are panuchos, little discs of corn plastered with refried black beans; Lebanese-influenced meat pies topped with spicy pickled onions called kibi; and, the specialty of the house, cochinita pibil, a spiced hunk of pork splashed with orange juice and spices, wrapped in banana leaves, then steamed to tenderness.
Nearest stop: Expo/Crenshaw
The Expo line will drop you off right at the doorstep of South L.A.'s chili dog king, a fast-food joint ran by the Earlez family, which serves spicy hot links ladled with viscous beef chili, chopped onions and strands of melted orange cheese. The pastrami sandwich, smeared with mustard and dill pickle chips, isn't bad, either.
Nearest stop: Farmdale
Mel's is one of the oldest O.G. fish-fry shacks in South L.A., a place where sizzling hot hushpuppies as plentifully as paper napkins and the motto "You buy, we fry" is adhered to like a yogi's mantra. You can choose from fillets of catfish, orange roughy or red snapper dredged in cornmeal and fried crisp or grilled and dabbed with butter and lemon.
Nearest stop: Expo/La Brea
Would you ever imagine that an unassuming bakery in Mid-City would be home to some of the finest and airiest baguettes in Los Angeles? In the morning there are colorful, cream-filled pastries and rich croissants, and later there are selection of minalismist sandwiches, including one spread with a decadent duck paté made in-house.
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Nearest stop: La Cienega/Jefferson
Jay Nelson Jr.'s family-run smokehouse might just be a few minutes away from downtown Culver City, but its makeshift coop of patio fencing, corrugated siding and stacks of firewood make it feel like classic roadhouse barbecue. The spareribs are dense and smoky, and come slicked with a dark sweet sauce.