Dear Mr. Gold:
Do you have a lunch recommendation near LAX? I'm not opposed to In-N-Out,
just looking for other options.
–Evan Cohen, via Facebook
Dear Mr. Cohen:
Decent food near near LAX: the eternal dilemma. I mean, it's not as if there's a lot near O'Hare besides Superdawg, and people flying out of La Guardia are pretty unlikely to take advantage of the kosher Uzbek strip in Rego Park, but LAX seems to breed a special misery. And I know you're not going to take my advice to grab lunch in the Daily Grill in the Tom Bradley Terminal, because while the fast-service joint isn't bad, the appeal of its first rate iced tea and club sandwiches may be most evident to people marooned on the way home from six weeks in Malaysia. And mentioning the new branch of La Brea Bakery in Terminal 2 may be besides the point, although the takeout is plane-ideal.
So the halal Pakistani joint Al-Watan still has the best tandoor-grilled meats in town as well as an epic dish of curried brains, and is within a ten minute drive. Even closer is the original Lenox location of Mariscos Chente, which is where you want to go for shrimp a la Culichi, in a spicy cream sauce. Did I mention Pann's? Biscuits, fried chicken and chicken-fried steak in a '50s coffeeshop Marilyn Monroe used to enjoy. The Buggy Whip? Sure – it's the last known fortress of Green Goddess dressing. But some people would also send you towards the red beans, smothered chicken, and meatloaf at the M&M soul food restaurant up on Manchester. This would be a fine idea if it didn't make you worry about the plane being able to take off because of the sheer mass of turkey wings in your gut.
Does this bring us to Stuff I Eat? Unfortunately it may. A few minutes away in downtown Inglewood, Stuff I Eat has basically the same menu as M&M, only, y'know, vegan. Made with gluten and everything: carrot un-tuna; jerk tofu; organic soul food platters; and raw desserts. Yeah, I'd rather have the M&M meatloaf too. But polenta grits and Ezekiel sprouted grain buns may be less likely to spark deep-vein thrombosis.