Thursday, November 25, 2010

Mediterranean Cafe, South of Echo Park

A favorite place of mine is Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. A lovely, rustic, tropical paradise in the Mexican Riviera.
This year, along with a thousand other restaurants, there was a new little gem on one of the out of the way streets in Zona Romantica.
The Mediterranean Cafe and Bakery, run by Patty Saxonis (who, by the way, hails from Las Vegas) is a wonderful find. Patty, who looks a little closer to a showgirl than someone who would be slaving over a hot stove, is an extremely talented chef and an incredible baker.
The food is Greek and Italian and prepared fresh right in birds eye view in her open kitchen. Wonderful flavors.
The highlight is her baked goods. Cakes and pies, which, the dessert tray has no less than 8 to 10 freshly made that day! Choosing one is not easy, but I can vouch for the Pumpkin Pie made with real Vermont Maple, yummy.
Patty also gives private cooking lessons, will host your special event, and if you need a special cake for an affair, I can tell you, she's an amazing cake baker and decorator. What a cute little cafe on a side street in the Col. Emile Zapata neighborhood of Vallarta. If you are planning on being in Puerto Vallarta, I can highly recommend this restaurant, you won't want to miss it.

Mediterranean Cafe And Bakery
Jacarandas 211A
Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, 48380
Phone: 322 172 2221
Mon - Sat: 11:30 am - 9:00 pm
We feature Greek and Italian Food, Bakery and Catering services.
Restaurant is available for private parties!
FaceBook Page Mediterranean Cafe

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Eat Fresh, Local

Local is a restaurant in SilverLake started by Chef Jason Michaud, formerly of Vida, Traxx and Cobras and Matadors. He uses local grown organic ingredients.
This is the kind of healthy comfort food you wish you could prepare at home.
Delicious ingredients all from local farmers markets. He uses organic meat, cage-free eggs and free-range chicken.
The place is very green, as he uses recylable and biodegradeable packaging, and recycles his cooking oil. Also, he only uses water from the Natura Water system.
The salad bar is filled with organic vegetables and sold by the pound.
Breakfast and Lunch are served everyday. On Monday they close at 3 p.m.
Dinner is served Tuesday to Sunday starting at 5 p.m., with a lovely mix of menu items,consisting of chicken, fish, lamb, pork or vegetarian dishes, and always with a few specials.
My favorite appetizer is the Butternut Squash Corn Fritters served with honey butter. Incredibly yummy!
This is another of those restaurants that once you've been, you will definitely return.
Local is at:
2943 W Sunset Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90026

 (323) 662-4740

Friday, October 15, 2010

Disappointed in The Lazy Ox

There are good and bad experiences at Restaurants, and last night was not a good one.
Three weeks ago we made a reservation at the Lazy Ox, a downtown restaurant that is supposed to have excellent food, but we never got to find out.
Why? Because when we arrived we were led to a table that was on their sidewalk patio.
Some sidewalk patios are okay,  but this one had  blaring heaters, and the building next door had extremely bright lights. Not pretty at all.
We definitely figured with a reservation we would be inside the restaurant itself. Especially with a 3 week in advance reservation. Anyone without a reservation could've sat in that horrible spot as there were plenty of empty tables outside.
But no, we couldn't get a table inside for at least another 45 minutes.
We asked about sitting at the bar to eat, however there were 3 of us and the spaces that were open at the bar would've fit 2. If they had offered to ask any of the people that were sitting already to move one seat over, that would've been fine, but they didn't.
The Lazy Ox Canteen  241 South San Pedro Street
Los Angeles, California 90012

I don't think we will be returning to find out how good the food is. Why would we try again when there are so many other really good places in the area.
The evening wasn't a total waste though as we ended up at City Sip for a delightful wine and then back to the Elf Cafe for a second time to discover how creative they are with vegetables! Sorry that I cannot recommend the Lazy Ox.

Elf Cafe
2135 W. Sunset Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90026
 (213) 484-6829                                             CitySip
                                                             2150 W Sunset Blvd
                                                              Los Angeles, CA 90026
                                                                   (213) 483-9463

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Around The Park

Scenes from Echo Park and the Lake

Welcome To Echo Park
(All Pictures Click to Enlarge)

Eat your veggies!

Everyone that knows me, knows I'm definitely not a vegetarian. As a child, there were some vegetables I wouldn't touch with a 10 foot fork! As I've grown older I don't think there is any vegetable I wouldn't eat, but when it comes to going out to eat my last choice would've been a vegetarian restaurant.
Well, that has changed.
In Echo Park over 2 years ago a Vegetarian Restaurant called The Elf Cafe opened. There is no sign on the front, but it isn't hard to find. We tried to get in, but the place was tiny and the wait was longer than we actually wanted to wait to eat.
Last night, by chance, after wining at City Sip, which is across the street, we looked in and there were a couple of empty tables.
The Menu lists if an item is Vegan or Gluten-Free for those that only eat certain things.
The influences are Moroccan, Mediterranean, Greek, French and Indian. The flavors are all wonderful, and I actually didn't miss having a slab of meat with the dish.
The food does take a while to come up, so that was the only down side, plus it's cash only, for those of you who may go and only bring a card.
We started with the appetizer Lentil Beans. I'm a fan of lentils and these were wonderful. Then we each did a vegetable tart. Superb vegetables (your choice) in a pastry shell. Excellent!

I highly recommend this for those of you that either don't eat meat, or want to try something that is different and delicious.

The 3 owners were in a band, Viva K, and decided to open a restaurant. What a change!

They are open Wednesday to Sunday, 6 to 11 p.m.

They now take reservations, and will soon expand into the space next door, which will expand seating.


Elf Cafe
2135 Sunset Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90026

The Cats

I had to put the owners of the house up. They act like they own it!! Stella is the Shaded Tortoiseshell Persian and Max is the Brown Tabby Rescue

Their own website is at

Victorians in my 'Hood

Originally spelled Angeleno Heights, Angelino Heights is second only to Bunker Hill as the oldest district in Los Angeles. It is a small quarter situated in  Echo Park. It is noted for it’s amount of Victorian homes. (The house on the left was used in the TV series ‘Charmed’).
Angelino Heights was the City of Los Angeles’ first recognized historic district. Angelino Heights is bordered by Westlake on the south, Echo Park proper on the west and the north-west, and Elysian Park neighborhood on the east and north-east. Its boundaries are roughly Echo Park Avenue on the west, Sunset Boulevard on the north and east, and the Hollywood Freeway on the south. No major thoroughfares run through the district.

Il Vino Per La Gente - CitySip

Ah, vino and in a lovely atmosphere. Our first Wine Bar in Echo Park is City Sip,
a marvelous little Bistro with excellent wine!
Along with the above, there is a very friendly staff, who can clue you in to the art of picking an excellent wine to go with any food type.
Nicole, the owner designed a marvelous atmosphere in the space on Sunset Boulevard.
The accompanying food, cheese plates and other delightful small dishes go very well with the large selection of wines from different areas.
Be sure to check this place out soon, you'll be delighted, guaranteed!

City Sip

"Wine for the People"

2150 West Sunset Boulevard

Los Angeles, CA 90026

(213) 483-9463

Park It!

   The Park.

This is one of those places that cannot put out a bad meal! Not one, and we've eaten there many times since they opened.
The menu changes with the seasons, every 3 months. Some of the highlights were Pork Belly in caramel sauce, which when I read it, thought it would be like a pork dessert. Well, was I wrong, the caramel sauce was a wonderful partially sweet accompaniment to the pork. I will never stop talking about the Brisket, which was made in a delightful wine sauce.

Owner and Chef Josh is a culinary wizard. The restaurant originally started without a wine license, so they started 2 nights of Speakeasy specials that have remained even though they serve wine now. Tuesday nights, a 3 course dinner is $15. This consists of a meat entree or vegetarian dish. These 2 specials are not on the regular menu.

Friday nights are 3 courses for $20, and consist of everything on the regular menu. The Wednesday
night special, which has gotten wildly crowded is the $10 Burger for $5, and once you have it
you understand why it's really a $10 burger!

This is a restaurant with affordable delicious food. One appetizer, the Szechuan
Fried Calamari is a standout. It has a sesame soy glaze and is served with
wasabi, spicy and unique.

You can check out their menu on their site, and I've had it all and can say it is terrific.
Check it out at 

The Park is located at 1400 Sunset Boulevard at the corner of Douglas Street, one block from Dodger Stadium in lovely Echo Park. Get there.

Xoia - Vietnamese gone good

Last night was the opening of Xoia Vietnamese Eats, on Sunset Boulevard in Echo Park. By 8 p.m there wasn't an empty table to be had. Formerly, for many years, the location was a paint store.

You can't tell that anymore by the decor. The art on the walls was done by the owner of Xoia, who was an artist first. (See Article Below) The food was terrific. We had the Beef Tacos, which are made with Pho, and the Spring Rolls, which are very light and flavorful. Then we each had a bowl of the soup, lots of noodles and wonderful flavors in each.

The menu and hours are limited now, but in about one week, we were told, the menu and hours will be expanding.(Menu and hours have been extended and now include lunch). I have not had Vietnamese food prior, and can honestly say it was delicious. This is one restaurant we will be returning to!

This is an article that was on

How does a Mexican-born conceptual artist open up a Vietnamese restaurant in Echo Park with a menu that includes classic noodle dishes as well as pho-flavored tacos? For Jose Sarinana, the answer reflects not only his interest in food and cooking but his life as well. The public will get a chance to sample the 34-year-old’s combination of cooking techniques and cultures beginning this Friday when his new restaurant – Xoia Vietnamese Eats – is scheduled to open in Echo Park. Sarinana’s transition from artist to chef started about four years ago when he found himself cooking for other artists over a wheelbarrow-turned-barbecue grill during an artist-in-residency program in Maine. “People were coming over to see what kind of food I was cooking,” Sarinana said. “They didn’t care about my art anymore.” While Sarinana made mostly tacos for his fellow artists, the Angeleno Heights resident also had a strong love for Vietnamese food that grew out of his relationship with his wife, Thien Ho, who he first met on the tennis courts near Echo Park Lake when both attended Belmont High. Ho’s family is rooted in the Vietnamese city of Hoi An, which boasts its own unique regional cuisine and dishes. It’s the flavors and foods of Hoi An that Sarinana drew inspiration from to create some of the dishes for Xoia. While Sarinana does more roasting and braising than is common in Vietnam, his cooking got rave reviews, even from Ho’s parents. That’s when he realized that “I might be on to something.” After returning from Maine, Sarinana took a break from sculpture and painting to start a family – the couple have two toddlers – and help tend to the couple’s Silver Lake nail salon, Gloss. When it came time to get back into the art studio, Sarinana realized he got more enjoyment out of making meals than art. In a matter of days, Sarinana and his wife decided that he would open up a Vietnamese restaurant. They spent one night looking for a location and came upon the former Par Paint store at the corner of Sunset Boulevard and Lemoyne Street only a few blocks from their home. Soon after they had signed a lease and committed themselves to opening their first restaurant. “You got to be a little crazy to do this,” Sarinana said. Once in the kitchen, Sarinana discovered that some of the skills and philosophies he used as an artist served him well as a cook. As an artist, he often used the scraps and leftover material from one artwork to create another. “When I started cooking, I realized that cooks do that to,” said Sarinana. Thus was born the Xoia pho taco, which features the meat used to flavor the restaurant’s pho soups. “It looks just like a taco,” Sarinana said. But “the taco meat has got all the pho flavor from the broth.”The menu at Xoia will remain dominated, however, by Vietnamese favorites – such as pho soups and banh mi sandwiches – as well as some more uncommon regional dishes, such as Cau Lau noodles, which will require Sarinana to import noodles and other ingredients from Vietnam. There will also be other novel dishes, such as a “bunrria,” which combines a Mexican-style birria meat stew on a bed of rice noodles. “That was my wife’s idea.” Sarinana said. “I thought it was weird and then I had it, and I had it twice and by the third time I got it. It just tastes good.”
Xoia Eats 1801 W. Sunset Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90026
Review from the day after Xoia opened, it's still excellent! Expanded hours include Lunch.

You wanna Pizza This

Looking for good pizza in Los Angeles is like looking for a needle in a haystack.

You know it's there somewhere, but it's not easy to find. In business since the '60's, Pizza Buona has the absolute best in the west.

The original owner passed away a few years back, and a friend of the family took it over. His wife was taught by the original owner, and she makes one consistently amazing pie!

If you are near Sunset and Alvarado, make it a point to stop in.

Pizza Buona
2100 W. Sunset Boulevard
(213) 413-0800

L.A. Downtown - The Nickel Diner

What can I say about this Gem that hasn't already been said by everyone who's ever eaten there.
What a great place, that was originally a diner with the same name in the '40's. Or as Diner as it can be in the middle of a block in downtown L.A. Growing up in Jersey, we had those aluminum train car looking things that were the real diners of another era.
But, sadly, most of them are gone, or over re-modeled to look more like a restaurant than a diner.
The food at the Nickel, where do I begin? While they are famous for their Maple Bacon Doughnut, that's only a small part of what's cooking here.
I was just in again Saturday night, and once again had the Beef Stew with Mushrooms, which is served over Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes. One of the greatest dishes, as far as I am concerned, on the menu. The flavor is incredible!
But, believe me there isn't a bad item in the place. I finally tried the Chicken Pozole. I'm a big fan of Pozole, and this one did not disappoint me in the least, wonderful!
The Hamburgers, Double Stuffed Chicken (which is incredible), the Catfish and the Grilled Veggie Pasta Puttanesca (which is one of the better pasta dishes around) are some of the most flavorful meals you will ever have. Desserts, wow, you will want one of everything. Red Velvet Cake is a highlight, but every one is a delicious treat.
The two women who own it are doing incredible things with some very basic dishes. I could make this at home, but believe me, it would never taste the same as their version. The seasonings, vegetables, choice of ingredients that they use, are comfort food above and beyond what is out there in other diners.
I highly recommend if you are in or near downtown Los Angeles, that you make a point of going for Lunch or Dinner. You will not be disappointed.
Nickel Diner 524 S. Main Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012

Houses in the Heights

Angelino Heights has a lot of really gorgeous houses. Here's a few: