We did things a little differently this year with our Best of Los Angeles issue — we focused on what makes 28 L.A. neighborhoods so great. To help us figure that out, we turned to local experts in each of those neighborhoods for their recommendations on what they love best about where they live.
From the chef who shared his favorite wine shop to the hip-hop group that divulged their special-occasion Japanese restaurant to the famous comedian who told us everything she loves about her 'hood, here's some of the best advice you could hope for — from the people who know the most about their corner of L.A.
Silver Lake | Madeleine Brand, host of KCRW's Press Play
When you meet Roe Sie (pronounced “Roo See”), it's hard not to be swept away by his relentlessly upbeat can-do-ism. I met him at his house socially a while ago, and first he eagerly showed me his chickens (OK, normal — it's Silver Lake), then he explained how he makes his own bread (again, normal: Silver Lake). Every day. And he mills his own grain to make the bread. We capped off the tour with a visit to his homegrown tilapia farm, which is somehow connected to the chickens because their poop goes to feed the greens, which feed the fish. I left feeling — well — lazy. Three years later, Roe has turned his home passions into a store on Sunset Boulevard that caters to other DIY Dr. Doolittles and people like me: dabblers. I make granola (because public radio), and the oats I get from him are 1,000 percent better tasting than the Quaker Oats cardboard. The King's Roost sells heritage grains, many of which come from local farms. You can either grind the wheat berries there into flour or buy a mill to do it at home. You can also buy a yogurt maker, stuff to make your own candles and soap, everything you need to can and/or preserve and/or pickle. And if you don't know how to make bread, candles, soap, kimchi, etc., he teaches classes there on the weekends. In other words, when North Korea decides to light it up, you'll be all set.
3732 Sunset Blvd., Silver Lake, 90026; (323) 426-9769, kingsroost.com.
See all our recommendations for the best of Silver Lake.
Echo Park | Ava Shire, Echo Park native and owner of Neighborhood Salon
When I walk into Cookbook, the glow warms and excites me and smells waft into my nostrils, causing my mouth to water. I used to have fantasies as a child of owning a small grocery as cute and well-rounded as Cookbook. They have sandwiches of the week — both veggie and carne — the tastiest coconut macaroons dipped in chocolate, and all your gourmet and healthy, small-grocery needs presented in an attractive fashion. Everything sits in wooden bowls, on wooden tables, in wooden crates and small cold cases. There's also an herb section and glass jars of serve-yourself pickles. Pleasing to the eyes as well as tastebuds. I love their birdseed bars, which are sweet and nutty with a hint of butter — decadent. It isn't like any other small grocery I've been to and surpasses the quality of a large chain. It's a boutique grocery — a gift shop of food.
1549 Echo Park Ave., Echo Park, 90026; (213) 250-1900, cookbookla.com.
See all our recommendations for the best of Echo Park.
Highland Park and Eagle Rock | Maria Bamford, comedian and star of Netflix series Lady Dynamite
You must be 5'6″, 135 pounds and 46 years old to ride this ride. And have 4 bucks, the cost of a large cold-brew coffee at Cafe de Leche. AND YOU'RE OFF! Suddenly, you're making connections with staff Chad, KB, Julia, Max, Julia, Keaton, Carmen, I'm sure I'm forgetting someone, owners Anja, Matt!
AND THEN! Right next door is the Felix and Oscar of Highland Park — it's Robey (Virginian) and Robbie (redhead Australian) of Pop-Hop bookstore, who will invite you to an event later tonight! And they have a curated selection of memoirs!
ONWARD! Up 50th and a left on Fig to Book Show and its kind owner, Jen Hitchcock! Yes! It's a walk! But you've had COLD BREW! And friendly Jen has new feminist titles and an in-store psychic! And YAY, PINS!
CIRCLE BACK! To Read Books on Eagle Rock Boulevard! THERE, under the kind and quiet watch of Debbie and Jeremy Kaplan, who have a TREASURE TROVE of used book–ery and an extensive current magazine selection, and conversation! Jeremy is a WRITER and Debbie a LIBRARIAN! And though you have been on a 3-mile round trip journey and the initial rocket fuel of delicious cold brew is burning OFF, they have the perfect place to sit (an old couch with Florence the Dog) and realize how lucky you are to live in a neighborhood that has 3 (THREE) INDEPENDENT BOOKSTORES within 1 square mile of your house.
Cafe de Leche: 5000 York Blvd., Highland Park, 90042; (323) 551-6828, cafedeleche.net.
Pop-Hop Books & Print: 5002 York Blvd., Highland Park, 90042; (323) 259-2490, thepophop.com.
Book Show: 5503 N. Figueroa St., Highland Park, 90042; (213) 438-9551, bookshowla.com.
Read Books: 4972 N. Eagle Rock Blvd., Eagle Rock, 90041; (323) 259-9068, readbookseaglerock.com.
See all our recommendations for the best of Highland Park and Eagle Rock.
Mount Washington and Glassell Park | Greta Morgan aka Springtime Carnivore, musician
When I was a kid, my mom called fruit “earth candy,” sprinkled bee pollen on our oatmeal, and used the slogan “nutritious and delicious” to describe everything she dished out. Trips to diners were almost unheard of, which is maybe why I love the diner experience so much as an adult. Patra's Charbroiled Burgers is my fave local all-American dive. It's a little grimy, as a good diner should be, and refreshingly un-hip compared with the newer restaurants popping up in this neighborhood. I drove by it at least 200 times and only ventured in one day when my car was in the shop and I needed to find lunch within walking distance from my studio space. Little did I realize I was about to stumble on my favorite low-key gem. After Patra's was featured on Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution, they gave their menu a facelift and now serve grass-fed burgers and veggie burgers on whole-grain buns with side salads of shredded cabbage. Whether you're a vegetarian or a carnivore, you can snag a delicious meal for under $6 with practically no wait time and no attitude. For a health-food kid like me, this place is the perfect balance — the Jamie Oliver menu feels decadent and sensible at the same time, so you can enjoy a burger at Patra's without inducing a fast-food hangover.
2319 N. San Fernando Road, Glassell Park, 90065; (323) 225-9944, patrasburgers.com.
See all our recommendations for the best of Mount Washington and Glassell Park.
Los Feliz | Matthew Kaner, wine director and partner of Bar Covell, Augustine Wine, Good Measure
Every morning, I order two double espressos, and the staff at Bru Coffeebar caught on to that REAL QUICK. So much so, if there's a long line to order, often the barista will start pulling my shots before I've even paid and hand them to me in line. Gangster customer service! The vibe at Bru is very customer-driven. There's always a lot of people coming and going from the super busy crossfit gym next door, and on any given morning there will be three to five people with Final Draft open working on their scripts or screenplays. Good thing there's free parking in the lot in back!
1866 N. Vermont Ave., Los Feliz, 90027; (323) 664-7500, brucoffeebar.com.
See all our recommendations for the best of Los Feliz.
East L.A. and Boyle Heights | Fernando Arevalos, founder of Boyle Heights Area Brand and the Boyle Heights Area Brand POP UP Shop
When I tell somebody about the size of the burritos at El Tepeyac Café, they don't believe it. It's like two humongous tortillas filled with meat and they just put it in the middle of the table on a really big tray with everything on it. I guess the meat that's ordered the most is the machaca, which is like eggs mixed with shredded beef. That's what people come for. People go there to eat a really, really big burrito and get a picture up on the wall and buy a shirt or whatever. Saturdays and Sundays the place is packed. There's a line outside. Everybody goes after church. It's one of the places that's been here for years. The family is from here. The owner's from here, he grew up here, the kids went to Roosevelt. They have been a part of the neighborhood for a long time. I'm 36, and the place was there way before my time. They have other dishes at Tepeyac, traditional stuff like taquitos, spicy enchiladas, quesadillas and rice and beans. You're gonna order a burrito. When you walk in, you're gonna look over at the other people's table and you're gonna be like, oh shit. Grab yourself three friends and go try the burrito.
812 N. Evergreen Ave., Boyle Heights, 90033; (323) 268-1960, eltepeyaccafe.com.
Glendale | Shavo Odadjian, bass player for System of a Down
You can't go wrong at Carousel — everything there is so good. Because I go so often, I just sit and they bring me a little bit of everything and I love it all so much that it's hard to pick a favorite. I start with Mediterranean tapas (called mezzas): hummos, mutabbal, tabbuleh, labeneh, and a variety of yogurts and cheeses and pickles. They also have different salads, rices and delicious breads. One of the best things is the cheese fateyer boreg, which is dough stuffed with cheese and spices. The kofta and basturma are both great, and the soujuk comes flambéed at the table. I wasn't lying when I said I couldn't pick a favorite. If you like meat, the barbecue is insane. Beef shawarma and chicken shawarma are amazing. Kebabs are to die for. Beef kebabs melt in your mouth like butter. They have such a variety and they are delicious. If you just want something quick, you can't go wrong with a chicken sandwich with garlic sauce. It's definitely a staple. The basturma ricot is like Armenian pastrami with cheese in paper-thin dough. Amazing. They have a variety of vegetarian and vegan foods, so they serve all kinds of diets, too. Fattoush salad is my favorite salad. It has cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, peppers, parsley, spices, toasted pita chips, mixed with this crazy vinaigrette. To end it they bring you this amazing Armenian coffee (which they know you are gonna need) and it comes in a cool clay decorative cup. The atmosphere is also special — as soon as you step through the door, it feels like you're walking into Armenia. There are pictures and artifacts of the old country on the walls. The decor makes me forget I'm in Glendale. Everyone is very friendly and it's very clean. I go as often as I can with friends and family and we have parties there. If we don't have the party there, then we have them cater it. I've taken meetings there with Dr. Drew, Adam Corolla, Wu-Tang Clan, my management team, Rick Rubin and all sorts of people. It's amazing bringing people from other cultures who wouldn't think of going to this place and seeing them enjoy this food.
304 N. Brand Blvd., Glendale, 92103; (818) 246-7775, carouselrestaurant.com.
Want experts' tips for downtown, Koreatown, Chinatown and Hollywood? Read on …
Chinatown | George Yu, executive director of the Chinatown Business Improvement District
When I arrived in Los Angeles from Taiwan there was very few dining choices, especially for Mandarin, non-Cantonese, cuisine. Chinese Friends has been owned by the same family since the building and the restaurant opened in the 1970s. It's not Americanized Chinese food. The foodies are starting to rediscover it, along with the families that have been there for generations. It's the Mandarin version of comfort food. It's just very steady. This place is not fancy [or] opulent. But it's clean. It's just taking recipes that have worked well for dozens of years. My go-to dishes are the house special shrimp, the Shanghai-style fried noodle and the mu shu pork. And the egg rolls. Talking about Chinese Friends has made me want to go there right now.
984 N. Broadway, Chinatown, 90012; (213) 626-1837, chinesefriendsrestaurant.com.
Downtown | Danny Fuentes, founder of Lethal Amounts
When you think L.A. has lost its grime and the PC police have you in fear of offending some micro subculture that was invented 10 minutes ago, you will find there's hope in places like Sam's Hofbrau. It's a little haven of debauchery in downtown L.A.'s warehouse district. Not only can you get a slice of half-decent pizza while watching a few dozen girls fighting for poles from which to swing, you just might see your high school girlfriend dancing there, too. Sam's holds no discrimination — from the obvious butt implants to cesarean scars, you see it all here. But don't get too fresh or the girls will beat your ass in the parking lot if you step out of line. It might be a bikini bar but don't let that fool you — the metal detectors are there for a reason. Tread lightly.
1751 E. Olympic Blvd., downtown, 90021; (213) 623-3989, samshofbrau.com.
Fairfax | Dena Stein, co-owner of Canter's Deli
Pan Pacific Park isn't L.A.'s most beautiful, picturesque or undiscovered park, but we love it as the living, beating heart of our neighborhood. As longtime Fairfax dwellers, one of our favorite things to do with an afternoon is pack up a bunch of bakery treats (and of course some pickles) from Canter's and hit the awesome playgrounds. During the day, we love playing in the side-by-side playgrounds in the north part of the park — one for younger kids and one for the older ones, which makes it easier to keep an eye on two energetic humans running in different directions. At night, our favorite activity is cheering on our friends playing in the L.A. Women's Municipal Basketball League, which is filled with hilarious comedians who are also extremely skilled and competitive players. Within Pan Pacific's sprawling blank canvas, a diverse mashup of piñata-bashing birthday partiers, aromatic charcoal grillers, pint-sized little league players (yay Wilshire Warriors!), impromptu Frisbee stoners and passionate futbol champions crams together. Hidden behind the touristy behemoth of the Grove, Pan Pacific is where the city locals find a little piece of suburban life.
7600 Beverly Blvd., Fairfax, 90036; laparks.org/reccenter/pan-pacific.
Koreatown | Far East Movement, hip-hop/electronic music group
Jeju Japanese Restaurant is a hidden gem at the corner of K-town. It's near Union and Gus's World Famous Fried Chicken; there's not a lot in that area yet, but it's growing. You know it's good because it's packed with older Korean customers. They have live crabs stacked in an aquarium and serve Korean-style sashimi. Bring your appetite — they start with clams and oysters, then work to fish stew and sashimi and soft-shell crab, then take it even further to a full grilled fish. Feels like the courses are never-ending. This is our special-occasion spot.
4100 W. Pico Blvd., #108, Arlington Heights, 90019; (323) 731-3030.
Hollywood | Anna David, author, TV personality and addiction/recovery expert
Groov3 is a form of hip-hop dance started by this guy Ben Allen. Learning dance routines is incredibly challenging, but Ben Allen has figured out a way to break down a routine so anyone can do it. He teaches it at the Edge, a professional dance studio in Hollywood, and at the Sweat Spot in Silver Lake. In the summer, he teaches on the roof of the Montalbán Theater. It's only $12 to $20 a class, and there's a live DJ. The range in age is probably 9 years old to 65. So you're doing it and some little kid who looks like he learned to walk a year ago is killing it. There are super fit people, and people who are just starting to get in shape. I know I sound like I'm in a cult, but people are just grinning ear to ear and high-fiving each other. At the end of every class, you pretend like you think it's over, and everyone shouts, “One more time!” People get so excited. It's not just a dance class, it's a movement.
Edge Performing Arts Center (and other locations), 6300 Romaine St., Hollywood, 90038; (323) 962-7733, groov3.com.
Mid-Wilshire | Gloria Allred, discrimination attorney
Maria Vasconez is the owner and hairstylist of Hair Designs on Wilshire. She is the best hairstylist I have ever had. She is very professional, has won many awards, is very reasonable, is extremely talented, runs on time and is a very caring person.
6300 Wilshire Blvd., Unit 148, Carthay, 90048; (323) 782-9300.
West Hollywood | Marsea Goldberg, gallery director of West Hollywood art space New Image Art
I have been swimming at West Hollywood Aquatics Center off and on since the 1980s. It still has the vibe of West Hollywood before gentrification. Most everyone in the pool is Russian, French or model-perfect gay guys. Everyone is nice: the lifeguards, the old people in the slow lane, the Europeans and guys in the fast lanes. It can be terribly crowded or you have your own lane, but Friday evenings are the best. There is a wonderful coed Masters Swim program that meets there, too. I love walking from the parking lot after swimming and seeing the huge mural by Kenny Scharf adjacent to the epic West Hollywood Library, which was in conjunction with MOCA's 2011 “Art in the Streets” exhibition. That always makes me feel good — and the parking is free! I don't swim there often, but when I need to swim laps and it's a warm balmy night, it sure beats being stuck in traffic.
647 N. San Vicente Blvd., West Hollywood, 90069; (323) 848-6538.
Want experts' tips for Venice, Santa Monica and Culver City? Read on …
Culver City | El Mac, public artist
I've walked around the mural Space Moonscape at the Culver City DMV probably hundreds of times over the years. When you drive by it, it just looks like some random space scene. It doesn't necessarily come across as anything transgressive. There's this whole theme of the future and sustainability, and there's a lot of stuff in there, talking about energy independence. Then you get closer, you look at the details, you notice a lot of little things. Like the fact the astronaut has a Mexican flag on the shoulder of his suit. Or there's a close-up of an astronaut's helmet, with a reflection of a pachuco — a zoot suiter. The muralists, Los Dos Streetscapers, were from East L.A. They're obviously infusing Chicano culture into the mural. It's part of a longer tradition of Chicano muralism, which L.A. is famous for, and social realist murals — institutional murals that are really for the public, and uplifting. Murals that really reflect the community. And they're not necessarily bland and soulless. There's some depth there.
11400 W. Washington Blvd., Culver City, 90066; (800) 777-0133, dmv.ca.gov.
See all our recommendations for the best of Culver City.
Malibu | Jefferson “Zuma Jay” Wagner, Malibu city councilman and surf shop owner
For stand-up paddle-boarding [SUP], Latigo Beach is great. Latigo is protected from the wind. It gets a little bit of west and south swell. It's a slow wave for guys who are beginning to get waves. It's easy out and easy in. But it's got a slow enough wave that an SUP guy can figure it out before going to Malibu [proper].
Latigo Shore Drive and Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu, 90265.
Santa Monica | Sang Yoon, chef-proprietor of Father's Office and Lukshon
I grew up in Santa Monica and to this day my favorite Santa Monica spot is Bay Cities Deli. The Godmother sandwich fueled me through high school and it's still something I crave.
1517 Lincoln Blvd., Santa Monica, 90401; (310) 395-8279, baycitiesitaliandeli.com.
See all our recommendations for the best of Santa Monica.
Venice | Harry Perry, the world-famous, rollerblading, turban-wearing guitar player and boardwalk fixture
I've been going to Gold's Gym for decades. I'm a fitness fanatic. Without fitness, at my age, there's no way to do it. You can't stay out in Venice eight hours a day without fitness. I try to go to Gold's every morning. It's open seven days a week. The only day it's closed is Christmas Day. It has great equipment, great trainers. It's an atmosphere where people are serious about working out, not just being social. It's just a great environment if you want to pursue the fitness lifestyle. It's a place where people go to reinvent themselves.
360 Hampton Drive, Venice, 90291; (310) 392-6004, goldsgym.com.
West L.A. | Kate del Castillo, actress
Brentwood Restaurant & Lounge is one of my favorite places in the city because of its perfect location and family feel. The moment you arrive, you are greeted by impeccable staff and the most divine of managers. Depending on the occasion, I either reserve a table for business meetings or sit at my favorite spot by the bar with friends until late night. The crowd is incredible, but the privacy and service are the true reasons this restaurant is my choice for dining in Los Angeles. The highlight of any night is the combination of the house white wine and a fun hello from my buddy Cuba Gooding Jr. And, Brentwood Restaurant, thank you for employing Latinos as we are hard workers who strive every day to make a better living.
148 S. Barrington Ave., Brentwood, 90049; (310) 476-3511, brentwoodrestaurant.com.
Want experts' tips for West Adams, South L.A., Long Beach and Inglewood? Read on …
Inglewood | Rick Famuyiwa, director of Dope and Confirmation
My favorite part growing up and still when I go back is Market Street. That's where everyone wanted to go, whether it was to get clothes or your hair cut. It was the center of action and what I'm hoping will become the center again as Inglewood transitions. The Inglewood swap meet is still going strong there. That's where you get your knockoff Guccis and Louis Vuittons and sneakers — when you want to get your gear straight, you hit up the swap meet. And Vajra Books and Gifts has everything from used books to old vinyl and jewelry. I shot a scene from Dope in front of it, because it's such a beautiful and unique building. Now you have the Rams and the Chargers and maybe the Clippers coming in, and it's going to change the city — but I hope it can change while maintaining the spirit and magic of what I remember growing up.
South Market Street, Inglewood, 90301.
Long Beach | Chhom Nimol, lead vocalist of Dengue Fever
If you've ever visited Southeast Asia, sat on the side of the road sipping noodle soup from a cart or eaten a 25-cent noodle stir fry and thought, “This is unbelievable!” then you are going to be sad you've never heard of Phnom Penh Noodle Shack. You'll find authentic Cambodian breakfast noodle dishes for very inexpensive prices at their family-owned restaurant, which was built into the Tan family's house in Long Beach in 1985. My favorite dish is the rice porridge with a side of cha quai (fried bread), and the knom sakieu (meat bread) is so good. “The Shack” is no secret to the Asian community in Long Beach, and there's always a line on the weekends. Lucky for everyone, after so many years, they are opening a second location in Cerritos this fall.
1644 Cherry Ave., Long Beach. (562) 433-0032, thenoodleshack.com.
South L.A. | Jessica Legaux, co-owner of Harold & Belle's Creole Restaurant
Lula Washington and her husband, Erwin, founded Lula Washington Dance Theatre in 1980. It's so much more than a dance studio. It helps you shape the person you become. It proved that professional dance could be for people who looked like me. Back then, the perfect ballerina wasn't the African-American body type. I started at age 9 or 10. We always began the morning with ballet, then jazz and tap after that. When we came back from lunch we would do two hours of African dance, which was intense. We also learned modern dance and tumbling. We would perform all over Los Angeles — even at the Hollywood Bowl in the summer. The old space, on Adams Boulevard, had a narrow staircase and felt like a house, with different rooms. Then they moved over to this state-of-the-art space — it's more on the level of the company that they really are. It's a very inclusive place. When it came about, it was primarily founded for African-Americans to have a place to dance professionally. But now they pull all ethnicities into their company. It's very impressive what they're doing. It's a really big deal.
3773 Crenshaw Blvd., Crenshaw, 90016; (323) 292-5852, lulawashington.org.
South Bay | Michael Fiorelli, chef at Love & Salt in Manhattan Beach
Barsha Wines and Spirits is fantastic. I love everything that the shop has to offer. The owners, Adnen and Lenora, are a husband-and-wife duo, and they really make sure that any visitor who comes through their doors has a great time and experience. They are so passionate and knowledgeable, and it shows in every element of the store, which feels welcoming and homey. The wine selection has such range and they offer some really esoteric brands that you won't find in the supermarket. If I'm ever in charge of bringing wine to a party, I head straight to Barsha to pick up something fun. They also have a killer selection of whiskey and bourbon and a wine bar/tasting room where you can stop by, have a taste (they do wine flights) or enjoy some snacks. Barsha is Tunisian slang for “abundance” or “a large quantity,” which is so fitting since they have so many amazing goods packed into one little shop!
917 N. Sepulveda Blvd., Manhattan Beach, 90266; (310) 318-9080, barshawines.com.
See all our recommendations for the best of the South Bay.
West Adams and Leimert Park | Jamal A. Moore, hairstylist and owner of VIP Services by J-One
Rancho Cienega Recreation Center's got a lot of programs, they do a lot of good stuff for the community — all types of sports, from basketball to football to baseball, soccer, tennis, handball. They've got an indoor swimming pool. I go there three or four times a week to work out. They have a set of bars to do pull-ups and calisthenics. They have a track to run on. On the field, they do kickboxing. You might see guys dragging a sled or cheerleaders from Pop Warner. It's a place where you can go and not worry. There's a lot of security there — you can go and not worry about gang violence. Bring your family out. You don't have to worry about how athletic you are. They welcome everybody, from the heaviest guy and the heaviest girl to the most athletic guy and girl.
5001 Rodeo Road, Leimert Park, 90016; (323) 290-2330, laparks.org/reccenter/rancho-cienega-sports-complex.
Want experts' tips for the San Gabriel Valley and San Fernando Valley? Read on …
San Fernando Valley East | John Tejada, techno artist
Tucked away in a small industrial street, MacLeod Ale Brewing Co. is a welcoming place and features a bit of old-school and new. Cask ales, something I've never seen offered here before, are unique and creamy, while modern brews, from light to hoppy to stouts, cover a contemporary range of tastes. Daily events and food trucks make it a great Van Nuys evening hang. The Deal With the Devil IPA is my current fave.
14741 Calvert St., Van Nuys, 91411; (818) 631-1963, macleodale.com.
San Fernando Valley (West) | Stefanie Drootin-Senseney, bass player, Umm and The Good Life
Hidden in a corner of an unassuming Northridge strip mall, and with an equally unassuming name, $10 or Less Bookstore is more than just a place to find cheap reads. Its wide, well-organized selection has something for everyone: a dreamy children's section, a carefully curated assortment of comics and graphic novels, a fun collection of vintage books, and a variety of fiction and nonfiction, stretching from the standard to the specialized. The atmosphere is casually cool, with the total lack of pretension that is a hallmark of the Valley. The community is reflected throughout the store, from the local art that covers the walls to the frequent in-store events such as book signings, weekly storytime, open mics, etc. (the annual “A Very Potter Birthday” is my children's fave). The personalities of the staff are apparent throughout, with handmade signage and an eclectic playlist that adds to the homey vibe.
8978 Tampa Ave., Northridge, 91324; (818) 701-0047, 10-dollar-bookstore.com.
San Gabriel Valley | Johnny Lee, Side Chick chef
My first visit to Delicious Food Corner was years ago when I was still the chef at Sticky Rice Grand Central Market. The dining room was slightly cramped but it was nice that all the waitstaff spoke Cantonese. I immediately knew I was going to like the place. This restaurant made me relive my memories of a typical Hong Kong blue-collar morning. All the classic Hong Kong breakfast staples were present, such as traditional Cantonese rice noodle rolls, fried crullers, and rice congee in at least a dozen permutations, cooked the way I like — broken down until it's almost like a smooth puree. On the other end of the spectrum were the Western-influenced foods originating during the British colonial times but considered just as classic. It's dishes like macaroni noodle soup with Spam and fried eggs, or scrambled egg and corned beef hash sandwiches, or pineapple buns split along the sides with thick slabs of butter. It feels almost wrong that there is a possibility the cuisine may be forgotten by my peers of Cantonese origin. Many of us don't cook the foods our parents and grandparents cooked for us. We were encouraged to study mathematics and the sciences, as these were subjects deemed more valuable to the prosperity of the family. As I look to the future now, I can't think of anything more valuable to preserving our culinary heritage. Because if we don't cook the food of our predecessors, how can we carry on their culture?
2329 Garfield Ave., Monterey Park, 91754; (323) 726-0788, deliciousfoodcorner.com.
Pasadena | Porochista Khakpour, author
Orange Grove Boulevard is my favorite street in the world. It's worth walking down its entire stretch, preferably around twilight, when the old vintage street lamps light up. It's been called “Millionaire's Row” for ages, though it's a lot of midcentury condos next to some famous Craftsman homes, like the Gamble House. You can also see the Wrigley Mansion (yes, the same Wrigley of the gum), where the Tournament of Roses is headquartered (this street is the path of the annual Rose Parade). I'd follow Orange Grove to Colorado and turn onto the Colorado Street Bridge, also known by us locals as “the Suicide Bridge.” It's pretty notorious and haunted — a lot of people have killed themselves there and continue to, and it is the site of Lana del Rey's “Summertime Sadness” music video.
Orange Grove Boulevard, South Pasadena to Pasadena.