El Pollo Loco

3 Pcs Chicken Combo

**** (4 stars)

El Pollo Loco has always been my favorite fast food place. It’s healthy (depending upon what you order), tasty, and generous. A three piece combo with chicken breasts, side salad, a heap of cole slaw, corn tortillas and a drink is ten bucks. You can’t beat that! And the salsa bar has fresh cilantro and lots of different salsas. Service was friendly and efficient.

El Pollo Loco
1545 S Western Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90006
(213) 380-2772
https://www.yelp.com/biz/el-pollo-loco-los-angeles-56

Nonna’s Empanadas

Carne asada empanada

**** (4 stars)

These are particularly nicely made empanadas. They’re even branded with their contents! I particularly liked the carne asada. The breakfast empanada was less interesting.

The place is tiny, and it’s a carry out operation. Parking is essentially impossible.

Nonna’s Empanadas
8570 W 3rd St
Los Angeles, CA 90048
(310) 385-0445
https://www.yelp.com/biz/nonnas-empanadas-los-angeles-2

The Little Door

Door

Exterior

Mussels

Sesame Seared Day Boat Scallops, Preserved Lemon Sauce

Chermoula Marinated Grilled Octopus, Preserved Lemon Sauce

Spicy Ahi Tuna Tartare and Shaved Fennel Salad

Patio at night

***** (5 stars)

The extraordinarily romantic ambiance of The Little Door makes it almost a magical dining experience. Divided into many intimate spaces, it feels like you’re dining in a patio, or a forest, or a cottage, depending upon where you sit.

Tuna tartare was a nice starter, but the grilled octopus was even better, extremely tender and flavorful.

The mussels appetizer which my companion had as an entree was huge; she could only eat half!

My grilled scallops were perfectly cooked and accompanied by carrots seasoned with interesting Morrocan spices.

The extensive wine list is extremely reasonably priced.

Service was professional, attentive, and friendly.

The Little Door
8164 W 3rd St
Los Angeles, CA 90048
(323) 951-1210
https://www.yelp.com/biz/the-little-door-los-angeles

The 3rd Stop

Pretzel bites to go

*** (3 stars)

This is a nice little sidewalk cafe and wine bar. The menu is extensive and we only had time for a snack, so I don’t have a lot of data points to go on. But I will say we were there in mid-afternoon, were the only customers, ordered a diet coke and espresso and pretzel bites, and the service was so slow we ended up having to take the pretzel bites to go. So I can’t recommend it if you’re in a hurry.

The pretzel bites, by the way, aren’t what you’re expecting. It’s actually a bowl of fondue with the pretzels floating in it. It was okay, but I wouldn’t have it again.

The 3rd Stop
8636 W 3rd St
Los Angeles, CA 90048
(310) 273-3605
https://www.yelp.com/biz/the-3rd-stop-los-angeles

Toca Madera

Back room

Enchiladas De Mole

Carne asada hot rock

Exterior

**** (4 stars)

This is a very vibrant restaurant with a club-like atmosphere in the front room. It’s loud by design, and louder because of the central bar. HOWEVER… there is a back room (and an upstairs room) where you can find a reasonable noise level and enjoy some very interesting food.

The free chips and salsa were good, and the plantain chips were particularly good, not overwhelmingly tough or banana-y. I’ve had a lot of guacamole in my life, but this was the best I’ve encountered–creamy, and topped with pomegranate seeds and interesting herbs.

The carne asada hot rock preparation was okay, but nothing spectacular; the soft tortillas were a bit more like roti.

The clear standout of the meal was the enchiladas de mole. WOW! This is by far the best mole I have ever tasted. They claim they use 42 ingredients and cook it for 24 hours, and the complexity shows it is worth it!

Service was very attentive. It’s worth noting that server’s costumes may be setting a new record for short hemlines.

Yes, many of the patrons are narcissistic, dressed to the nines selfie-takers making duck faces into their smartphones. But there are also plenty of well-adjusted people enjoying some creative cuisine. My advice is to go early, before it gets too full of itself.

Toca Madera
8450 W 3rd St
Los Angeles, CA 90048
(323) 852-9400
https://www.yelp.com/biz/toca-madera-los-angeles

Badmaash

Interior

Samosa

Chili Cheese Naan

Yoghurt puffs

**** (4 stars)

Badmaash is REALLY popular, and therein lies the problem for me. We really enjoyed the food, but it was so packed and loud it was hard to enjoy the experience.

I highly recommend the butter chicken, whether as an entree, or in the samosa appetizers, which were the best item we had.

The place has probably the worst offering of wines I’ve ever encountered, and I’m including coffee shops; not sure what’s up there. Beer is a better bet, but also limited.

Service was friendly and attentive.

Badmaash
108 W 2nd St
Ste 104
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 221-7466
https://www.yelp.com/biz/badmaash-los-angeles-2

Noe Restaurant and Bar

Popcorn chicken

Tuna tartare

**** (4 stars)

The bar here offers a delightful intimate atmosphere, with live piano music in the evenings, and a nice outside dining area with heaters. The menu is arranged from tinest to largest “small plates” with a wide variety of nibbles to something enough for a full dinner.

There is a small assortment of wines by the glass, and a lot of spirits.

Service was friendly and efficient.

Noe Restaurant and Bar
251 S Olive St
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 356-4100
https://www.yelp.com/biz/noe-restaurant-and-bar-los-angeles

Perch

Patio

Steak frites

Provencal plate

***** (5 stars)

This is a delightful spot to sit outside downtown, with no noise and a great view. There are heaters and a fireplace to keep warm in winter, and clear glass windbreaks all around.

The menu offers a nice combination of small plates and main dishes. We really liked both the tuna tartare and mussel starters, and my Provencal vegetable plate was excellent.

There is a medium sized list of wines, with about a fourth available by the glass. There is also an extensive spirits list.

Service is friendly and efficient, and pricing is reasonable.

Perch
448 S Hill St
Los Angeles, CA 90013
(213) 802-1770
https://www.yelp.com/biz/perch-los-angeles

Tommy’s Original World Famous Hamburgers

Exterior

The grill

***** (5 stars)

There’s nothing quite like an authentic Tommy burger. There are imitators all over town, but none of them get it quite right.

There’s something about the flavor of the strange orange glop they call chili that can’t be duplicated. Frankly the stuff might be terrible by itself, but with the slab of tomato, diced onion, and handful of dill pickle slices, it all seems to go together.

Oh yeah, and there must be meat in there somewhere, although who knows what it tastes like.

The fries deserve a shout out, too. They’re not thick or thin, but just fat enough to have a nice crust and soft inside.

Oh, and don’t get that orange stuff on your hands. It never comes off.

Tommy’s Original World Famous Hamburgers
2575 Beverly Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90057
(213) 389-9060
https://www.yelp.com/biz/tommys-original-world-famous-hamburgers-los-angeles-6

Shakey’s Pizza Parlor

Pepperoni and basil thin crust 9 inch

Mojo potatoes

Interior

**** (4 stars)

I’ve been coming to this location since the 1960s, when Shakey’s was in its heyday, the tables and chairs were wooden planks, and there was a live piano player cranking out honky-tonk tunes, accompanied by “multimedia” in the form of a slide projector!

The planks and piano are gone, but Shakey’s is largely unchanged. There’s a special taste to the pizza here that I really like; I think they use more sauce, and it’s tangy-er. The original thin crust recipe is still crisp and delicious, with just the right amount of chew, and even the pepperoni seems to have a slightly different taste from other places.

One thing that changed–albeit back in the 80s–was the addition to mojo potatoes, and those quickly became a favorite of mine, and still are. Essentially they are thin slabs of whole potatoes deep fried in a concoction that attempts to turn them into fried chicken. Yum.

I’m sad that there are so few Shakey’s left, but I hope this one hangs in there–it was certainly busy the day we visited–because it’s a delightful blast from my past.

Shakey’s Pizza Parlor
6052 W Olympic Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90036
(323) 937-4234
https://www.yelp.com/biz/shakeys-pizza-parlor-los-angeles-6