Monday, June 2, 2014

Monday, June 2, 2014

Best of L.A.

10 Best Pastrami Sandwiches in Los Angeles

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Mon, Jun 2, 2014 at 6:01 AM
Langer's pastrami - ANNE FISHBEIN
  • Anne Fishbein
  • Langer's pastrami
Finding a pastrami sandwich to eat in Los Angeles has never been a challenge. From Boyle Heights to Tarzana, there are burger stands, dedicated pastrami shacks and classic delis, all offering sandwiches made with the salty smoked meat. Lately, with a renewed interest in all things house-made, you can also sample the Jewish staple in more unexpected places, like chef-driven restaurants.

Pastrami is the pinnacle of cured meats. Brisket of beef is salt-brined, spiced, hot smoked, chilled, steamed then sliced and served. The multiple steps were devised before refrigeration, and ensure it comes out transformed, tender and flavorful. The version most of us know and love is the unique creation of the Romanian-Jewish immigrants of New York. As the people who made it and loved it moved west, the pastrami sandwich came along for the train ride. By the time it got here, it was ready for chili peppers, less spices, an Italian roll, (the oh-so-not-kosher) cheese slice and at some point lost its strict affiliation with Eastern Europe and became open to interpretation from all cultures.

Some of the best around is being made in ugly drums by Korean-Americans, are ethically made with organic, grass-fed beef, or appear in a quesadilla at a hipster taco joint. It can be found topping burgers and fries and some rebels are making it with salmon. The meat can be thick (hand-cut) or thin (machine) sliced. Lastly, you will find all of the meat piled high on to rye bread or an Italian roll. For our purposes, we didn't care if it was on a roll or sliced bread, but did judge the quality of the bread. (Rye bread is iconic, but not nearly as common as an Italian roll.)

Choosing a "best" pastrami was exceptionally difficult. Langer's has been at the top of the list for years, but we found a few contenders for the crown.

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Friday, May 30, 2014

Govind Armstrong - KEVIN SCANLON
  • Kevin Scanlon
  • Govind Armstrong
Where the Chefs Eat is an ongoing series in which we ask a local chef to give us his or her favorite dining options. This week, we check in with Govind Armstrong. 

Like many of us, Govind Armstrong has a list of favorite eateries to match different needs. Rather than nerd out on the food alone, the chef of Willie Jane and Post & Beam has recommendations for all kinds of occasions: happy hour, a place to sit and work, or a fancy night out. Or perhaps just a really good taco. See below for Armstrong's five L.A. restaurant recommendations.

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Thursday, May 29, 2014

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Food Politics

Sriracha Factory in Irwindale to Remain Open

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Thu, May 29, 2014 at 1:26 PM
click image Sriracha inside the Irwindale factory - COLIN YOUNG-WOLFF
  • Colin Young-Wolff
  • Sriracha inside the Irwindale factory
Irwindale, you just dodged a flaming hot bullet that would have solidified your status as the lamest city in America. The Irwindale City Council has finally thrown out a nuisance lawsuit that threatened to shutter the Sriracha plant within its city limits, allowing the hot-sauce manufacturer to remain open. 

Huy Fong Foods, maker of the iconic chile sauce, has battled the City of Irwindale for months to keep its factory running. Residents complained that fumes from the plant were making them sick. The standoff created panic and hoarding among fans of the hot sauce with the rooster on the bottle and the cute green cap.

On Wednesday, May 28, city officials dismissed a lawsuit over the fumes filed by the city itself against Huy Fong in October, and dropped its declaration of the factory as a public nuisance, according to the San Gabriel Valley Tribune

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Jidaiya ramen - A. SCATTERGOOD
  • A. Scattergood
  • Jidaiya ramen
We have the Japanese-language free magazine Weekly LALALA to thank for many things, notably the Ramen Festival that has twice brought thousands of ramen lovers to Los Angeles to slurp bowl after bowl in our permanent sunshine. Starting tomorrow, the magazine is doing it again, sponsoring not a giant event but your own personal DIY ramen festival in the form of Ramen Week.

For one week, from May 30 to June 5, Weekly LALALA is giving you coupons for half-off bowls of ramen at 31 ramen-yas across Los Angeles and as far as Costa Mesa, Irvine, even San Diego and Las Vegas. Maybe a excellent weekend for a noodle road trip. Although if you can't drive further than Torrance and Gardena (or even West L.A.), you'll do pretty well, too.

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Pac City Brewery - MIGUEL DURAN
  • Miguel Duran
  • Pac City Brewery
The San Fernando Valley has waited a long time for a brewery to call its own. While Central L.A., South Bay and even the San Gabriel Valley have grown into craft beer mini-meccas over the last four years, the Val - home to the oldest homebrew club in America - has been left to ride the coattails of the few 818-area-coded brewpubs in Agoura.

No longer is this the case, thanks to Pac City Brewery in Pacoima, the first microbrewery to legally make beer in the flats of the San Fernando Valley since, well, ever. As far as we know. (Fireman's Brew, based out of Woodland Hills, contract brews its kegs and bottles and the liquid made at the Budweiser plant in Panorama City hardly qualifies as beer).

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South Pasadena farmers market - A. SCATTERGOOD
  • A. Scattergood
  • South Pasadena farmers market
Farmers market: South Pasadena Farmers Market

When: Thursdays, 4-8 p.m.

Where: Meridian Avenue and El Centro Street, right next to the South Pasadena Gold Line Metro

Launched about 16 years ago, the South Pasadena farmers market has gone through some dramatic changes in the past few years. After the disbanding of Mission West Association, which ran the market for years, the City of South Pasadena needed a new operator. A five-year contract was awarded to the South Pasadena Chamber of Commerce, which took over operations in 2010.

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Leila's grilled Scottish salmon - SCOTT ANTHONY EVERTS
  • Scott Anthony Everts
  • Leila's grilled Scottish salmon
A common complaint from people who live in the West San Fernando Valley and points beyond is that there's a dearth of fine restaurants for a special meal out. The fans of Leila's in Oak Park would beg to differ.

It's been 15 years since Leila's was launched in a nondescript suburban strip mall, and in that time the restaurant has amassed a loyal group of regulars. The eatery has expanded twice, from 35 seats to 60 and, most recently, to 95. The growth has taken place thanks to word-of-mouth, without any advertising.

"My motto with my staff is, when customers come in, you need to look at them as if they're guests visiting your home," owner Peyman Afshar says. "If you do your job right and people feel comfortable and they have an enjoyable experience all around - they're going to tell their friends."

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Chef Miles Thompson, center, in the kitchen at Allumette - ANNE FISHBEIN
  • Anne Fishbein
  • Chef Miles Thompson, center, in the kitchen at Allumette
Yesterday afternoon the news came in that Allumette, the Echo Park restaurant, will close at the end of next month. It's a surprise, certainly, but also almost as much of a surprise that the restaurant lasted as long as it did.

I don't say this dismissively - I'm a fan of chef Miles Thompson's cooking, a fan of bartender Serena Herrick's cocktails, and a fan in general of weird little restaurants in up-and-coming neighborhoods that play by their own rules. But those restaurants are a gamble, always. From the first meal I ate at Allumette I worried that its days were numbered, not because it was flawed (which it was, slightly) but because it was so unexpected. 

"I feel very lucky to have had the opportunity to explore cuisine at Allumette and can't express enough how much I appreciate those who have championed us over the last year and a half," Thompson told me yesterday. "It has been an incredible experience."

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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

click image Buffalo wings - MALCOLM BEDELL/FROMAWAY.COM
  • Malcolm Bedell/FromAway.com
  • Buffalo wings
What's it going to take, Ron Foster?

Another 50 people have suffered salmonella poisoning linked to Foster Farms chicken just since April, according to the Centers for Disease Control's latest report on the outbreak that started over a year ago. That's right - Foster Farms has been allowed to continue putting tainted chicken on the market for over a year.  

The new cases appear to be linked to fresh, retail chicken, not chicken that had been kept in home freezers for months. That means Foster Farms' plants are still contaminated with virulent bacteria.

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Lincoln Fine Wine - B. RODELL
  • B. Rodell
  • Lincoln Fine Wine
Three Bottles, One Shop is a series in which we take a peek into a Los Angeles wine shop and ask the owner to pick and describe three great bottles on offer. Have a shop you'd like to see featured? Email brodell@laweekly.com.

Lincoln Fine Wine has the feel of a wine shop that's been around for ages. The storefront space is crammed with wine - every inch of floor taken up with boxes, every inch of wall crowded with bottles. It's reminiscent of the kinds of stores you'd stumble upon in New York City or Paris, down some old city street, that's been there seemingly since the dawn of time. 

But Lincoln opened only in 2008, in what used to be a down-and-out liquor store. Since then it's grown to be a fantastic neighborhood wine shop, with a selection that's impressive in more than one way. In the back of the store, a glassed-in cellar holds bottles from all over the world that a serious wine collector might be thrilled to come across in such a setting (many of them hard to find elsewhere). Out front, the sheer volume of choices, at every conceivable price point, guarantees that you'll find something to your liking. 

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