Thursday, August 3, 2017

LA Pizza Rankings, August 2017.

A few days ago on Twitter I innocously threw up a very unofficial LA Pizza Rankings. Truth be told, I was in the middle of a poke lunch and I really, really craved pizza. Knowing I wasn't having it that day, I just started to think about what pizza I would have when I could have it. That led to the list.

After a hefty, excitable amount of feedback from you, LA's pizza-eating public, I learned two things: people have their pizza preferences and, more importantly, LA suddenly has really good pizza all over the freaking place. With the Twitter experience opening my eyes, I thought I would revise the list a tick and make it a bit more formal by posting it here on the blog.

(((Something you love not on the list? Tell me about it in the comments or on the Twitter machine.)))

Unemployed Eater's Unofficial But More Official Than Before LA Pizza Rankings, August 2017:

15) Town Pizza (Highland Park).
14) Gjelina (Venice).
13) Hollywood Pies (Mid-City; Go "regular" Deep Dish).
12) Sotto (Pico-Robertson).
11) Pizza Romana (Fairfax/Hollywood; Go pizza and fried chicken).
10) Vito's Pizza (WeHo and Santa Monica).
9) Cosa Buona (Echo Park; Go meaty).
8) Apollonia's Pizzeria (Mid-Wilshire).
7) DeSano Pizza Bakery (East Hollywood).
6) Bestia (Downtown).
5) Jon & Vinny's (Fairfax).
4) Prime Pizza (Fairfax; Go square).
3) Milo + Olive (Santa Monica).
2) Pizzana (Brentwood; Go with their signature pie).
1) Pizzeria Mozza (Hancock Park).

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

A Weekend in Downtown Vegas: What To Eat.

I hadn't been to Vegas in twelve years. That's a long time when you live in Los Angeles as it's only (a slightly painful) drive away. But for some reason or another, I had not returned in many a moon. Then my cousin moved there. And then a band we both wanted to see booked a LV stop. It was time.

But where the heck to stay? What the heck to eat?

The lodging addressed itself pretty quickly when I received an invitation to stay at the Downtown Grand, which is pretty much the cool Downtown Las Vegas hotel. ((Full disclosure: anyone who has read this blog knows I would not write about the hotel if it didn't meet UE standards.)) The DTG is simultaneously both very Vegas (casino, late restaurant hours, pool scene, good looking young-ins and alcohol everywhere) and not Vegas at all (more refined touches, quieter at times, big city hotel feel, SoCal pool scene). If you're not a "Strip Guy," like me, it's a great alternative.  It served as a solid home base for this wingding of a weekend. After all, for all the talk of a hip, youthful Downtown Vegas revival, there's surprisingly few modernized hotels on offer.

Now on to the much, much more important part... the food. If you drive from LA Friday after work, your Vegas visit will probably be broken down into the following meals (in between copious amounts of "liquid meals," of course): Late Friday Night Snack, Late Saturday Morning Breakfast/Brunch, Saturday Afternoon Snack, Big Saturday Dinner and Early Sunday "Breakfast." With these meals in mind, here's where you should grub in Downtown Vegas...

Late Friday Night - Pizza Rock.

After not fun traffic, we grabbed a few beers in the hotel's casino and hit the streets. En route to the Fremont Street Experience, we stopped for a few sizable slices at Pizza Rock. A spin-off of sorts of San Francisco's super popular Tony's (where I once waited, no joke, over two hours to sit), Pizza Rock has both a sit down section and a to-go slice area. Opt for the much hastier by the slice. After all, it's already late and you have a lot of revelry still to get up to. Depending on how much spirit you plan to consume this eve, one or two slices should do the trick. The Pepperoni and "Purple Potato" (pictured above) are your best bets. After you get your slices, sit outside. It's already late and people-watching is at its finest hour.

Late Saturday Morning Breakfast/Brunch  - Freedom Beat.

You'll wake up late Saturday morning wanting to go to popular DTLV breakfast/lunch spot, Eat. But you'll also not want to go anywhere at all. So, like I did, you'll eat at your hotel instead. Freedom Beat is open 24/7, serving what I would say is a Vegas version of LA diner favorite, Swingers. At Freedom Beat, you'll probably over-order. Like, stupidly. Because your eyes are much, much bigger than your stomach your first morning after in Vegas. Just make sure you get their Red Velvet pancake because, fuck, it's Vegas, you deserve it, man. It comes with a maple butter and cream cheese whip that may seem overindulgent, but, again, you deserve it. Don't skip the housemade tots either - which taste like crispy, golden nuggets of mashed potato-scallion-sour cream-y awesomeness.

Saturday Afternoon Snack - Citrus Pool Deck.

Vegas afternoons mean one thing: pool. And pool. And pool. Since available seating can be limited, once you grab a spot you don't move. Like, all day. Sure, there are the constant dips in the pool because, well, it's really freaking hot. Numerous pool bar (or waitress flagging down) visits as well. But since you're not going anywhere, chances are, whether you like it or not, you're ordering at the pool. On the Strip that will cost you a mini-fortune. Downtown Vegas is chiller, more price-conscious. I got the Chips And Guacamole. At $12 it's downright thrifty in LV-terms and a relatively good deal for the sizable portion/quality/value ratio. The order comes with a surprisingly good, freshly made salsa. I also ordered a chicken sandwich which came on decent enough lavash.

Big Saturday Dinner - Triple George Grill.

Located across the street from the Downtown Grand and a block off the Fremont Street Experience, I cannot recommend Triple George enough. What reminded me of a more modern Musso & Frank and clearly styled after San Francisco's beloved Tadish Grill, Triple George is an idyllic regional Vegas spot without the Vegas fleecing. In a town where water costs $10 at a concert (seriously) and most meals are covered via expense and high roller accounts, it's rather pleasing to locate a local institution doing everything right... at the right price.

Once you sit down, order a Yellow Jacket. Immediately. Although it feels seasonally off in the summer -- Honey Jack, ginger beer and pumpkin puree -- it's the best drink you'll consume all LV weekend. It tastes like every great Halloween memory you've ever had, in a light, refreshing manner. Next, summon the Short Rib Ravioli app or the Goat Cheese Marinara. Split a Wedge - which ascends the typical salad via a heavy bacon smokiness. Then go either steak or seafood. I ventured for the above pictured filet, which possesses a marvelous salty crust to it. The exemplary crusted meat was complimented by the waiter-recommended Mushroom Au Poivre sauce. Ask for the fresh cut fries as a sub for the usual mashed potatoes. Plus a side of the Sauteed Spinach, which has enough garlic to scare away all the Vegas vampires.

I will go to dinner every Saturday night I ever go back to Vegas. Additionally, although I wasn't around for it this time, I would take advantage of their weekday Happy Hour.

Early Sunday "Breakfast" - Donut Bar.

Shit, bro. It's Sunday morning. You aren't feeling well. You also fear the traffic back to LA, so sticking around is not really an option with work beckoning early Monday morning. So, as great as a classic Vegas breakfast buffet sounds right now, you need something quick. Go Donut Bar. Unlike the San Diego original, this DB does not have an hour wait on Sunday mornings; yet the same artisanal, lavish donut experience. The Downtown Vegas Donut Bar also serves local coffee roaster, Vesta. Grab two or three donuts per person (and make sure at least one is the Maple Cinnamon Roll, above) and a large ass iced latte for the road.

Final Comment:
What the eff is wrong with the Uber/Lyft sitch on the Strip? How powerful is the cab industry in this town to restrict and enforce such bad conditions and pick up areas upon the ride sharing apps? On the flip side, in Downtown Vegas, the cars pick up and drop off wherever. 

Final Final Comment:
People drink a lot in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

You Should Be Eating This Right Now: Baked Buckwheat Pancake (Friends & Family).

What: Baked Buckwheat Pancake.
Where: Friends & Family (5150 Hollywood Blvd, East Hollywood).

Why: After months of Insta stalking I finally made it out to the new'ish Friends & Family in East Hollywood. Even though it was lunch hour and I had just ordered a Roasted Chicken Salad (also very good/recommended), my dining mate insisted we order a "Baked Buckwheat Pancake" for "the table slash dessert." Not really sure what that was or why we would want it with our meals, I gave him the "Sure, why the fuck not?" nod.

Smart move. Very smart move. I don't think I've ever really had anything like it. It's this delicious battered, Marvel Comics-esque fusion of a regular pancake and a Dutch Baby. Like all good things at restaurants (see: soufflé, deep dish pizza), F&F warns you from the get: allow at least an extra ten minutes for your Baked Buckwheat Pancake. That's because it's no simple cooking process. We're not talking mess hall, pull out the Sam's Club mix, add water and plop on frying pan. Rather, the Baked Buckwheat starts on the stove top, then moves to the oven and then in the middle of the oven baking process, it is flipped. The result is a raised pancake that offers the tasty, fluffy, filling delights of your every day pancake with the girth and hardened edges of a Dutch Baby, plus the distinctive, yet subtle buckwheat flavor.

Although they should never go together, I highly suggest you order one with your Roasted Chicken Salad.