Down in South America, coca means a very specific thing. You know, that thing that gave Coca-Cola its name. But up here in Pittsburgh, namely Lawrenceville, coca is for Coca Cafe which, as far as I know, has no connection to cocaine. Instead, it seems to be very connected to brunch. So, with little concern for accidental drug use, we braved the 45 minute wait and got ourselves in for a little Sunday brunch.
Randomly placed in California, Washington and Illinois is a sandwich cafe called Specialty’s. Why it is placed so sporadically throughout the United States is surely a question someone in their strategy team can answer, but for me the only thing that matters is that when I needed a quick bite in Bellevue, Washington, Specialty’s was there for me.
Brunch, first come-first served and LA is a combination that doesn’t work. Although I am usually asleep until long after brunch time, I have learned that most people are not. Of these people, many like to go out to brunch, causing other brunchers to wait in crazy lines for food. Compounding that difficulty is the seat yourself system employed by places like Huckleberry Cafe in Santa Monica.
I could go on and on about this, because it really is a terrible system, but I’ll get to the food instead…
To many, Surfas is just a super-cool kitchen supply store for people looking to stock their homes or for real chefs looking to stock a restaurant. But they don’t let those supplies go to waste and have a nice little cafe connected to the joint where they can show off what they do. There are sandwiches, salads, burgers and few other things, but they had me at burger. Kobe Burger, that is.
In Sherman Oaks and a few other places in LA, there is a breakfasty-dinery type of restaurant called Jinky’s. But it is no ordinary breakfasty-dinery joint. I mean, sure, it has pancakes, eggs, burgers and sandwiches, but it also has something you don’t really see on too many menus – chili. Twenty different kinds of chili, in fact. Not every variety is available every day, but there is always some sort of chili and Jinky’s finds all sorts of ways to mix it into its extensive menu.
The Miracle Mile is often considered to be a culinary dead zone. In the beginning of the food truck explosion, the trucks took full advantage of the lack of good food to dish out grub to those hungry workers. So when I was meeting someone for dinner and they suggested Yuko Kitchen in the Miracle Mile, I was a little bit surprised. They knew I had a food blog, right? It turns out that yes, they did and they were more than a little concerned about what might happen after I got my hands…errr…chopsticks…on Yuko Kitchen’s food.
A few years ago, I was introduced to The Beachcomber, a cafe in Crystal Cove, just south of Newport Beach. At the time, I had just eaten and couldn’t even imagine having more food, but I was certainly able to appreciate the setting and my cousins seemed to love the food. My now fiancee and I vowed to return one day and that day finally came over the weekend. While The Beachcomber appears to be a hidden secret, the hour-long wait to be seated begged to differ. Yet, while waiting for a restaurant can sometimes be obnoxious, The Beachcomber is quite literally on the beach and the beach is so nice that I would pay money to use it even if there wasn’t a restaurant.
About a five minute walk from the apartment of my special lady friend at Pico-Robertson is a restaurant called Cafe Bella Roma. In the five years that she has lived there, she has never set foot in said restaurant, and since she is leaving the location next month, I was able to convince her to check it out. So if it sucked she could be like, “Good thing I’m getting out of here,” but if it was awesome she could be like, “That’s worth returning to my old stomping grounds for.” Which one would it be?
On my way to work every morning I pass a little corner strip plaza with a huge sign proclaiming that one of the restaurants in there has the best chicken kabob in LA. That is quite the claim, so one day when the girlfriend made the trek to the valley and visited me for lunch, I thought it would be nice to get some Mediterranean food in our bellies. We strolled on over the the little plaza to find the chicken kabob, but when we arrived there was no Mediterranean restaurant to be found. The sign was there, but it pointed to a place called W Love Pizza Cafe. We were confused, but headed in to see if it was the right place.
By suggestion, I went off to the Grand Casino Bakery in Culver City in search of some good Argentinian food. I’m not entirely sure how they wound up with a name like that, which really doesn’t convey images of South American food, but somehow it works in this crazy town of LA.