Carousel Restaurant. There are two Carousels, and the Glendale branch may
well be the best, most interesting Lebanese-Armenian restaurant in Los Angeles.
The big, brash room, bedecked with scimitars and other Middle Eastern antiques,
accommodates large parties and dating couples alike — but there’s also a more
intimate patio. The food sparkles with freshness — and lemon. Go for the meze
(cheese borek, muhammara and hummus sojouk) and kebabs (try the yogurt
lula kebab), and also for hard-to-find delicacies such as frogs’ legs, roasted
quail and lamb’s tongue. Check ahead to see if there’s live music. 304 N. Brand
Blvd., Glendale, (818) 246-7775. Tues.–Thurs. 11:30 a.m.–9:30 p.m., Fri.–Sat.
11:30 a.m.–11 p.m., Sun. 11:30 a.m.–9:30 p.m. 5112 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood,
(323) 660-8060. Tues.–Sun. 11:30 a.m.–9 p.m. Full bar, Glendale; no alcohol, Hollywood.
Lot parking. DC, MC, V. Entrées $7.50–$20. Middle Eastern/Lebanese-Armenian.
Casa Bianca. Of all the neighborhood pizza parlors out there, each of them
touted as the best in the Southland, one of them actually has to be the best.
And our vote goes to Casa Bianca, especially if the pizza happens to include the
fried eggplant, the sweetly spiced homemade sausage — or both. The crust is chewy,
yet speckled with enough carbony, bubbly burnt bits to make each bite slightly
different from the last. 1650 Colorado Blvd., Eagle Rock,
(323) 256-9617. Dinner Tues.–Sat. Beer and
wine. Street parking. Cash only. Entrées
$8–$12. Italian. JG $
Camilo’s. Camilo’s started out as a catering company on York Boulevard
in Highland Park — the small attached café was added almost as an afterthought.
But the good Cal-Mex food and neighborhood-friendly prices caught on with everyone
from starving artists to thriving yups, and in no time, the café had outgrown
its venue. Owners Camilo and Amelia Gonzalez have since moved their operations
to a large building smack on Colorado Boulevard in Eagle Rock, and they’ve reclassified
it as a “California bistro” — though to us, it still looks and feels like a friendly
indie coffee shop. There are chilaquiles and eggs Benedict for breakfast, cobb
salads and Cuban sandwiches for lunch, filet mignon and pasta for dinner. 2128
W. Colo­rado Blvd., Eagle Rock, (323)
478-2644. Breakfast and lunch Tues.–Sun. 8
a.m.–3 p.m., dinner Tues.–Sat. 5–10 p.m.
Beer and wine. Lot parking. AE, MC,
V. Entrées $9–$27. California. MH $
Chili John’s. This is wonderful chili, dense and comforting, lean and hearty,
with a cumin wallop and a subtle, smoky heat that creeps up on you like the first
day of a Santa Ana wind, flavoring your breath for half a day even if you don’t
pile on the onions. It also goes strangely well with a cold glass of buttermilk
(which is good, because Chili John’s serves nothing stronger than near beer).
The beans are nice, too, firm and smooth, with a rich, earthy bean taste clearly
perceptible even through the pungency of the chili. 2018 W. Burbank
Blvd., Burbank, (818) 846-3611. Lunch and
dinner Tues.–Fri. 11 a.m.–7 p.m., Sat.
till 4 p.m. Closed July and August.
No alcohol. Takeout. Lot parking. Cash
only. Lunch for two, food only, $9–$12.
Texas-style chili. JG ¢
El Loco del Pollo. The tastiest roast chickens in the Los Angeles area,
if not the Western Hemisphere itself, are the smoky rotisserie fowl beloved by
the Peruvian community, the shotgun marriage of plump birds, roaring wood fires,
and a sharp marinade made with citrus, chiles and immoderate amounts of garlic.
And the best chickens of all may be a couple blocks from the Glendale Galleria
at a restaurant named El Loco del Pollo. With the chicken comes a small crock
of aji, the doctored chile purée that serves as a universal Peruvian condiment,
and maybe some hand-cut French fries, stewed beans, or the mayonnaisey potato
salad that is for some reason a Peruvian standard. It is enough. 230 N.
Brand Blvd., Glendale, (818) 956-5888. Lunch
and dinner Mon. 11:30 a.m.–3 p.m., Tues.–Thurs.
11:30 a.m.–9 p.m., Fri.–Sat. 11:30 a.m.–10
p.m. Beer and wine. Lot parking. Lunch
or dinner for two, food only, $10–$22.
MC, V. Peruvian. JG ¢
Le Petit Beaujolais. This charming bakery and lunch spot is the offspring
of Café Beaujolais, a small French restaurant that opened several years ago on
the south side of the street. The bright, cheerful Beaujolais Boulangerie is delightful
— or, as one friend happily sighed, “paradise.” The breakfast menu has been expanded
to include egg dishes, and the lunch menu, available from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., offers
an appealing selection of soups, quiches, sandwiches and meal-size salads. The
cult favorite appears to be the croque monsieur. A display case of desserts lures
you in with jewel-toned fruit tarts, miniature cheesecakes and glassy-topped crème
brûlée. In another case are baskets of pain au chocolat, pain aux raisins and
croissants. The service is French and good-natured — so good-natured that the
waiters let me practice my rudimentary Berlitz French on them. 1661 Colorado
Blvd., ­Eagle Rock, (323) 255-5133. Tues.–Fri.
7 a.m.–4 p.m., Sat.–Sun. 8 a.m.–4 p.m.
No alcohol. Street parking. Nothing over
$11. MC, V. French. MH ¢
Mandaloun. It is hard not to be a little awestruck by the Lebanese restaurant
Mandaloun. Because while the local Middle Eastern restaurant scene is no stranger
to grandeur, there has never been anything like this place, a gilded gastrodome
of massive kebabs, pita made to order, and outdoor terraces devoted to the baking
of Lebanese flatbreads and the smoking of apple-flavored tobacco. 141 S.
Maryland Blvd., Glendale, (818) 507-1900. Lunch
and dinner Sun.–Thurs. 11:30 a.m.–10 p.m.,
Fri.–Sat. 11:30 a.m.–11:30 p.m. Full bar.
Takeout. Street parking. AE, D, MC,
V. Entrées $12.95–$22. Lebanese. JG $
Raffi’s Place. You go to Raffi’s for its enormous, affordable plates of
Persian-­Armenian food, but you also get canaries singing in the trees, a heated
brick patio, quick service and a location close to Glendale’s best movie theaters.
Everyone comes for the grilled kebabs served with whole charred tomatoes and peppers,
plus mountains of aromatic basmati rice — try the shishlique, or lamb chops. Also
recommended: the lemony hummus and a smoky eggplant dip (baba ganoush) scooped
up with supple, paper-thin lavash. 211 E. Broadway, Glendale,
(818) 240-7411. Daily 11:30 a.m.–10 p.m.
Beer and wine. Validated parking. AE,
MC, V. Entrées $8–$14. Persian/Armenian. MH
Zankou. The chicken sandwiches are good at Zankou; so are the falafel and
the shawarma carved off the rotating spit. But the spit-roasted chickens, golden,
crisp-skinned and juicy, are what you want. Such chicken really needs no embellishment,
but a little bit of Zankou’s fierce, blinding-white garlic sauce couldn’t hurt.
1415 E. Colorado Blvd., Glendale, (818)
244-2237. 10 a.m.–11 p.m. seven days.
Other locations in Hollywood, Van Nuys,
Pasadena and West L.A. No alcohol. Lot
parking. Cash only. Entrées $2.25–$7.50. Middle
Eastern/Armenian. JG ¢

LA Weekly