Best Of :: Glendale
Best Model Railroaders: Glendale Model Railroad Club
Not long after the end of the second World War, a group of 16 model-railroad lovers began laying miniature tracks in a converted building adjacent to a city park in Glendale. The tiny railroad was so extensive and detailed, it prompted USC cinema students to capture it in a film that has since become a visual record of the Glendale Model Railroad Club's early years. Just 15 years after it was founded in 1949, the GMRRC literally went up in flames when a fire destroyed the original layout in 1963, forcing the burgeoning club to start all over again. Today, the GMRRC is the oldest active model-railroad club west of the Mississippi, with about 25 members building, operating and maintaining a reproduction of the Southern Pacific Railroad's Verdugo Valley Lines. Visitors have a standing invitation to the club's monthly open house, where they can watch the club members, dressed in a uniform of buttercream polo shirts, operate up to five trains traveling between a scaled-down Union Station and a replica of the Tehachapi Loop, a California State Historical Landmark.
Glendale is not exactly known as a hotbed of contemporary art, but nestled in a quiet industrial area off San Fernando Road sits one of L.A.'s hottest emerging art spaces. Located in a former auto body shop, the Pit — named for the sunken area where oil changes used to take place — was founded three years ago by artists Adam D. Miller and Devon Oder. The Pit is part artist-run space, part commercial gallery, combining an independent, DIY spirit with sharp, curatorial focus. True to the space's punk roots, almost every exhibition is accompanied by a Risograph-printed publication — a favorite of the zine set — offering visitors an affordable option to take home. Miller and Oder encourage a multiplicity of voices in their program by inviting outside artists to curate, as with a recent show curated by artist Aaron Curry that featured famed German artist A.R. Penck, crossover cartoon artist Gary Panter and Don Van Vliet, better known as musician Captain Beefheart. Their little corner of Glendale got a bit more crowded with the opening last month of Ruberta, a shared endeavor between five galleries from Mexico, Puerto Rico, Guatemala and Colombia, next door. —Matt Stromberg
918 Ruberta Ave., Glendale, 91201; the-pit.la.
A giant shiny upscale American mall is probably the last place you'd expect to find fantastic food, but in recent years the Americana at Brand has made a vigorous push to change that. You can still eat at the Cheesecake Factory if you want to, but you also can eat some of the best dumplings or ramen in town. It started with Din Tai Fung, the lauded purveyor of xiao long bao (among other types of dumplings), which opened an outpost here in 2013. Then came Bourbon Steak, Michael Mina's upscale steak house. This year, Tsujita, the ramen shop with the longest lines in L.A., opened a sleek ramen spot at the Americana, and so far there have been no lines at this location to speak of. Across the street you can now find Shake Shack and Eggslut. (Eggslut is also famous for its lines at its original Grand Central Market location; here the waits are far less painful.) There's no lack of old-school food court fare at the nearby Galleria, and sometimes that's all you want from the mall. But kudos to the management of the Americana for upping the ante considerably — the food snobs among us with a dreaded appointment at the Genius Bar appreciate it.
Please don't call lahmajune "Armenian pizza." Pizza is a fantastic food, but calling every savory snack on a flat, dough base an "[insert ethnicity] pizza" is lazy and inaccurate. Lahmajune feature a subtly piquant, herby orange-red sauce, slathered modestly on an impossibly thin and toothsome round piece of dough that gets just a bit crispy in the oven. Small flecks of meat complete this food miracle. They're an addictive snack or the center of a meal. You buy a stack of them in a bag and can heat them up at home. Lahmajune Factory does its namesake treat and other savory Armenian baked goods — manakish, beorek, sfiha — incredibly well. The fillings of these snacks can include spicy cheese, spinach, Angus beef, onions, pine nuts and other delicious stuff, and the Factory's friendly counter help will explain the exotic offerings to you. I dare you to buy one of these carby taste explosions and not eat the whole thing while waiting at red lights on the way home.