In the two and a half years that Little Beast has been open, it's become such a staple of Eagle Rock that it's hard to imagine the neighborhood without it. Located in an old house, its tables in the warren of rooms and on the porch and patio are filled nightly with families and couples, and it often has the feeling of a social gathering of friends and neighbors rather than a regular restaurant. Chef Sean Lowenthal, who owns the restaurant with his wife, Deborah Schwartz-Lowenthal (it's named for their son), cooks new American comfort food with hints of his Southern heritage. On his days off, he likes to stick close to home, and many of his favorite spots are in the Eagle Rock and Pasadena vicinity. He was kind enough to share 10 of those spots with us:
10. Little Flower Candy Company
“Little Flower is slinging out super-simple, straightforward breakfast, and a great lunch as well. I tend to go for a quick lunch and get any of the sandwiches, salads or rice bowls. Be sure to take some candies to go.” 1422 W. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena. (626) 304-4800; littleflowercandyco.com.
9. Golden Deli
“Some of the best Vietnamese cuisine that I’ve had in L.A. I think they are serving the best pho in town. Get any of the bánh mì sandwiches. The (44B) Bun Chao Tom & Bo Nuong Cha Gio is ridiculously delicious.” 815 W. Las Tunas Drive, San Gabriel. (626) 308-0803.
8. 101 Noodle Express
“Casual Chinese restaurant in Alhambra that has multiple locations. Everything is good, but the beef roll is insane!” 1048 E.Valley Blvd., Alhambra. (626) 300-8654.
7. El Taquito Mexicano
“This food truck is always parked in the same spot on Fair Oaks Avenue between Palmetto Drive and California Boulevard. They serve all types of tacos with traditional garnishes, from 6 p.m. to 1 a.m. It’s my go-to taco spot on this side of town.” 510 S. Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena. (626) 355-9411.
“Oinkster is always busy for a reason. The Oinkster Pastrami is off-the-charts delicious. I know the other items are great, but this is my go-to order. Oinkster Pastrami Sandwich, Piggy Fries and cold beer. You can’t go wrong.” 2005 Colorado Blvd., Eagle Rock. (323) 255-6465; theoinkster.com.
5. Cacao Mexicatessen
“Hands down the best Mexican food on this side of town. I love the Smothered Carnitas Burrito and french fries with mole. Authentic, clever Mexican food cooked from the heart.” 1576 Colorado Blvd., Eagle Rock. (323) 478-2791; cacaodeli.com.
4. Pollo a la Brasa
“This small Peruvian roasted chicken restaurant is in a tiny strip mall on the north side of Colorado Boulevard, just east of Eagle Rock Boulevard. I love the rotisserie chicken. It’s perfectly seasoned and cooked. I tend to take it to-go.” 2161 Colorado Blvd., #106, Eagle Rock. (323) 255-6322.
3. King Hua
“Kick-ass dim sum restaurant in Alhambra bordering South Pasadena. I know everyone has their go-to dim sum spots, but this one is ours.” 2000 W. Main St., Alhambra. (626) 282-8833.
“Langer’s is one of the few reasons for me to want to leave Northeast L.A., because it’s the best deli in town. The pastrami is ridiculous and the price is high, but it’s so worth it. One of my favorite sandwiches in town. Get the #19. Holy smokes!” 704 S. Alvarado St., Westlake. (213) 483-8050; langersdeli.com.
1. Fiore Cafe and Market
“A tiny 'garden-to-table' cafe in South Pasadena that's baking some of the best bread and creating amazingly fresh simple sandwiches and salads to highlight the bounty of their garden. Get the roasted chicken and burrata sandwich or the Asian chicken salad. If they are selling the crispy pork belly sandwich with fig, get it.” 1000 Fremont Ave., South Pasadena. (626) 441-2280, fioremarketcafe.com.