The Rams are back in L.A. after 20 years away, in a move that many NFL boosters say will boost civic pride and bring revenue to the city. But the most pressing issue is: Where will the Rams eat?
NFL players and spectators alike are known for their love of little meats in buns or blankets and crockpots full of cheese. But even the NFL isn't immune to the emerging foodie culture, and many players have found that their big paychecks, combined with their need to consume a large number of calories, mean the world is their oyster.
Recently, Denver Broncos kicker Brandon McManus started a blog about food on the team's website, chronicling his experiences expanding his culinary horizons at restaurants around Denver and sharing recommendations with fans. Many teams report having a resident foodie or two, the guys who always know the new restaurants, swap recipes and live for sushi — an article on the Houston Culture Map site declared that the Houston Texans defense was a brotherhood of foodies. As for the Rams, in 2012 player Jason Brown left the game to become a farmer in North Carolina (teaching himself to farm from YouTube videos).
While the Rams settle into L.A., undoubtedly missing St. Louis BBQ and starting to explore the wonders of L.A.'s food scene, will players end up blogging about tacos and Suzanne Goin restaurants? If you think you know the Ram player most likely to be L.A.'s own football foodie, leave your guess in the comments. (The team could not immediately be reached for comment on who the biggest food lover on the Rams is, which is weird because it's a very important question.)
The Rams play their first preseason home game at the L.A. Coliseum on Aug. 13, and their first regular-season home game there on Sept. 18. For players and fans who want to venture a little farther afield from the typical sports fare on game day, here are five restaurants near the Coliseum that provide a taste of L.A. and are sure to please adventurous and particular eaters.
Less than a mile from the Coliseum, you'll find this Yucatán restaurant inside the no-frills Mercado la Paloma food court. Despite the casual vibe, this is carefully prepared food — and you'll want to leave plenty of time for both waiting in line (usually) and for the food (always). In addition to the popular marinated pork specialty, cochinita pibil, the menu here features a variety of snacks, such as kibi (ground beef and wheat patties); and large plates, such as mesquite-grilled chicken with beans and rice. Try the light and flavorful fish dish tiken-xic and the housemade habanero sauce.
3655 S. Grand Ave., #C6, Historic South-Central; (213) 741-1075, chichenitzarestaurant.com.
This small downtown restaurant has been earning the admiration of sushi fans for the prime cuts of fresh fish and commitment to Edo-style traditional preparation. The only menu option is the omakase, chef’s choice, and Chef Hiro serves a progression of tsumami (little bites), sashimi and nigiri sushi. For most, dinner starting at $165 per person is not typical game-day food — a meal for two with drinks at Q easily skates past $500 – but if you’ve got an NFL-sized paycheck, this sushi purist spot about three miles from the Coliseum offers a delicious sushi education.
521 W. Seventh St., downtown; (213) 225-6285, qsushila.com.
Just when Angelenos thought they'd seen every variation on the taco, French-Algerian chef Farid Zadi opened his North African eatery, which now features everything from shakshouka breakfast tacos to chickpea tagine tacos and chermoula-spiced barbacoa tacos (not to mention a growing list of nontaco dishes). The interesting menu and mix of flavors here keeps food lovers happy, and this laidback spot offers inexpensive game-day eats a short drive from the Coliseum (two miles).
1436 W. Jefferson Blvd., Exposition Park; revolutionario.com.
The restaurants helmed by chef Ray Garcia have been warmly welcomed since opening in L.A. last year — both Broken Spanish and B.S. Taqueria are already favorites with food critics and diners. A three-mile trip from the Coliseum, Broken Spanish features Garcia's inventive, thoughtful modern Mexican food. This is a spot for snails in mole verde, lamb neck tamales, green beans with grasshopper salsa and pork belly chicharrón prepared like an Italian porchetta roast but with Mexican flavors.
1050 S. Flower St, downtown; (213) 749-1460, brokenspanish.com.
Cole's and The Varnish
One of the oldest restaurants in the city, Cole's has been serving up French dip sandwiches in the same spot in the Pacific Electric Building since 1908 (with one break of a few years when ownership changed), about three and a half miles from the Coliseum. In fact, it claims to be the spot where the French dip sandwich originated. A roast beef sandwich may not be adventurous game-day food, but you can wash the tasty historic sandwich down with masterful cocktails at Varnish, the hidden speakeasy in the back of the restaurant.
118 E. Sixth St., downtown; (213) 622-4090, 213dthospitality.com/project/coles/.