When it comes to proximity to good food, not all court locations are equal. If you're lucky (well, relatively so), you'll be assigned to Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center on Temple Street the next time you receive a summons calling you to your civic duty. It's adjacent to the new-ish Grand Park that extends north to south from Grand Avenue to Spring Street, well-suited for a quick outdoor lunch for one. It's also within reasonable walking distance to Little Tokyo or Bunker Hill, home to some pretty exciting new restaurants.
You'll want to opt for the latter, because you might as well take advantage of your circumstances, turning lemons to, well, you know. Best to avoid the courthouse cafeteria altogether, which rated two and a half stars among Yelpers. To help you steer away from lukewarm lunches sanctioned by governmental agencies, we gathered four noteworthy spots with one eye on your watch and the other on your wallet. Turn the page.
Before you reach Grand Central Market, you'll first get to Badmaash, right across the street from the headquarters of the L.A.P.D. Lunch is a pared-down edition of dinner selections, featuring rice bowls with the tagline “Lunch in a Mumbai Minute.” There are five entree choices, including a tandoori chicken in tomato fenugreek curry dish known as burgh makhani. All rice bowls come with yogurt raita and pickles of the day for $10 each. If rice bowls don't seem appealing, there's a short list of regular menu items like the chicken tikka poutine. It's a jumble of thin-cut fries double flavored in masala, first tossed in a spice blend version then doused with sauce, then topped with slices of grilled boneless chicken and chopped cilantro. Lunch hours begin at 11 a.m. daily. 108 W. 2nd St., Los Angeles; (213) 221-7466.
It's hard to make a bad order from the selection of braised and roasted meats on full window display at Tacos y Tumbras a Tomas. You can always ask for help — at which point, the folks here will quickly construct you some tacos with salsas you may not have thought to add. There are tortas and burritos on the menu, but you'll find the tacos here are more than satisfying for a quick lunch. Meats — carne asada, carnitas, birria, regardless of choice really — are liberally given per order, piled onto the requisite corn tortillas. Considering the portions, the menu is better priced than other selections at the market. Grand Central Market is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. 317 S. Broadway, Los Angeles; (213) 620-0477.
2. Cafe Dulce
It's a pretty straight, convenient shot from courthouse to cafe. For some, lunch is never complete without baked sweets. The bakery-slash-cafe has an array of whimsical pastries — Fruity Pebbles donut holes! — but the menu of sandwiches and salads has been given as much attention. The peanut kale salad is distinctly sophisticated, with chopped kale, red and green cabbages tossed with diced serene chili peppers, sliced tomatoes, mint, grated Parmiggianno-Reggiano cheese and a peanut dressing. It tastes healthy enough to justify having a red bean donut with your latte. Hours are 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. 134 Japanese Village Plaza Mall, Los Angeles; (213) 346-9910.
1. Sticky Rice
Odds are that an open seat at the Sticky Rice counter will be next to impossible to snag during the lunch crush. The trick then is to get your food to-go and enjoy it at the park. The menu is simple with four, maybe five, options each day — all come with a side of sticky rice and, for some, papaya salad. The barbecue chicken combo will be recommended if you inquire, and you'll soon see why. It's an easy dish to enjoy, chicken grilled with enough char to balance the sweetness of the barbecue sauce. You'll want to save room for mango sticky rice: chef Johnny Lee steeps sticky rice in coconut milk before adding fresh mango slices and a coconut cream sauce to finish. Grand Central Market is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. 317 S. Broadway, Los Angeles; (213) 624-2378.
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