Consider the crispy ground beef taco. If you’re of a certain age, it was probably the first Mexican food you ever had. Maybe at Taco Bell or Del Taco, or maybe during a family “taco night,” where mom would shred lettuce and chop tomatoes, dump the Lawry’s seasoning into a pan of simmering ground round, break out the box of Old El Paso shells, and say “go.” It’s an icon that no amount of char-grilled fresh-Mex can ever throw down, and its apotheosis is Henry’s Tacos. With an aesthetic straight out of The Jetsons or a Shag painting, the SF Valley corner location is worth a visit just to check out the sign. The menu’s tiny: ground beef tacos, tostados (note the retro spelling), burritos, and a taco burger. Some folks like burritos or the taco burger, but I need that essential interplay between crispy shell and savory filling. The ground beef’s subtle season-ing kicks ass all over Lawry’s; the shredded lettuce, compacted into the surprisingly delicate shell, is fresh and crisp; the pile of shredded cheddar is perfectly sharp. Buy the taco; buy the t-shirt; dribble the hot sauce on the t-shirt.
• Studio City / Valley Village • Map it • Print it • Send to a Friend • More Info
I am truly one of the world’s fortunate: Mashti Malone’s Ice Cream Parlor is on my way home from almost everywhere. There is perhaps no more perfect dessert on the planet. Cross-cultural before it was cool, the name is the result of a mashti-up of the former “Mugsy Malone’s” parlor and the cost-consciousness of the two Iranian brothers who bought it and elected to replace only half the sign. It’s hunkered down in the corner of one of LA’s oldest and grittiest strip malls; the bouncers at nearby Lava Lounge are a welcome presence. The specialty Persian ice cream, with exotic spices like saffron, ginger, orange blossom, and pomegranate layered atop the base flavor of rosewater. Though people do eat their ice cream in cones and cups here, I don’t know why. The mode of the house is the Mashti, a scoop of ice cream squeezed between two light, thin sugar wafers. What you want to order your first time in is a Creamy Saffron-Rosewater Mashti. It will take your taste buds to Middle East locales you wouldn’t dream of visiting in person these days.
• West Hollywood • Print it • Send to a Friend • More Info
The Neutra Colony
Silver Lake is an architect lover’s dream. The hillsides are littered with notable modern suburban houses. A good place to start is the Neutra Colony, a collection of 10 houses built by Richard Neutra in the middle of the century. Richard Neutra was one of the early modern architects and was crucial to forming this style that is becoming so very popular once more. As a vast oversimplication: he attempted to balance spacious living with privacy as well nature with architecture. The Neutra Colony is located around the intersection of Earl Street and Silver Lake Blvd. It’s true—you will be reduced to peering thru shubbery! The houses are boxy, with uninterrupted windows and long decks. This was ground zero for Neutra—he lived nearby at the VDL Research House at 2300 Silver Lake Boulevard and had his office just around the corner on Glendale. The VDL Research House is owned by Cal Poly Pomona and is sometimes open to the public. Check out some photos here: http://www.scholarsresource.com/browse/work/2144577871
• Silver Lake / Echo Park / Atwater • Map it • Print it • Send to a Friend • More Info
Tony’s Mexican Grill
The burritofication of Los Angeles seems to be complete, with seemingly every major intersection home to a Baja Fresh, La Salsa, or—God forbid—Chipotle. But tucked away in a strip mall in the northernmost part of Sherman Oaks is Tony’s, a hole in the wall with little atmosphere but terrific Mexican fare. Sure you could get a burrito—and a darned good one, too—but you can also order a spinach, mushroom, and cheese quesadilla or a whole charbroiled trout, with almost everything on the menu costing under $10. Tony’s is run by a family, rather than a corporation, and the food reflects their pride of ownership. The salsas are made fresh daily, the salads incorporate a variety of fresh fruits (check out the Tropicana Salad), and when you eat at the restaurant, your check comes with a delicious, palate-cleansing dessert of fruit salad and a yogurt sauce. The restaurant does not have a liquor license and, I’ll repeat—it has little ambiance. But for booze and décor you can head down Fulton to Casa Vega and eat mediocre tacos and chips. Tony’s is strictly about the food. Que bueno!
• Sherman Oaks East • Map it • Print it • Send to a Friend • More Info
Full O’ Life Natural Foods Market and Restaurant
Before the Trader Joe’s explosion and Whole Foods became the go-to destination for natural foods, there was Burbank’s own Full O’ Life. Opened over 40 years ago, the spot still maintains an appealing anonymity and personalized customer service that you simply won’t find at other health chain stores. The resident pharmacist will share homeopathic remedies for whatever ails you, and the in-store café serves up delightful lunches of the wholesome variety. Shop a wide selection of natural foods, vitamins, supplements, dairy, produce, and cosmetics or just plop down and enjoy a home cooked meal made from all-natural, organic ingredients. The daily specials change often and are out of this world, so be sure to ask. Just don’t ask if they carry Two Buck Chuck.
• Health/Natural • Burbank • Map it • Print it • Send to a Friend • More Info