Right around the time that Coney Dog was hitting LA straight out of Detroit, Papaya King was also making its way to the West Coast by way of some other city called New York. Never heard of it. Billboards glowed with the words “Papaya King,” yet this native Detroiter largely ignored the hot dogs of New York in favor of those from his native land. But when a Blackboard Eats discount for 30% off came around, Papaya King could no longer be ignored. I gathered a couple hot dog-loving friends and hit the road for Hollywood.
The first thing that should be made clear about Papaya King is that there are absolutely no papayas in the hot dogs. Yes, this is a little disappointing, but there is still very good reason for the name of the place. It is actually named for the papaya juice served there, which predated the hot dogs at the original New York location. That papaya juice is still important, but not nearly as much as the hot dogs.
The little area known as Larchmont in the middle of Los Angeles is LA’s version of Main Street America. Populated mostly by mom and pop shops, it features a few chains and also its fair share of shuttered establishments. In the middle of this strip of Americana resides Larchmont Village Wine, Spirits & Cheese. Though the place certainly has its fair share of wines, spirits and cheeses, the main draw is the sandwiches. The long, yet swiftly moving line is a testament to these sandwiches. They offer only seven select sandwiches and not one of them is extravagant.
Normally, when you hear about a restaurant in a hotel, it is overpriced and pretentious, meant more for business people with an expense account than for the common man. So when I heard that the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel had a delicious restaurant called 25 Degrees, I was a bit skeptical. But then I heard more and more about the place until my buddy over at Burger Conquest told me it was his favorite burger in LA. That was quite a claim for a city filled with the likes of Umami, The Apple Pan and Hole in the Wall, so I took it seriously.
Joining the ever-growing ranks of custom burger joints is a little place in Hollywood, called Juicy Burger. Just opened last year, Juicy Burger quickly earned rave reviews, and in a burger-wild city like LA, that isn’t easy to do. The custom burger concept is something I never tire of, because the very core of the concept protects me from vegetables, but how many do we really need? And what sets Juicy Burger apart from its delicious competition?
Out in Hollywood, there is a little taco stand on a corner called Cactus Taqueria. Having heard a lot about this place, I felt that I needed to stop there to have a Mexican dinner before the Belle and Sebastian concert. I showed up and found the little stand in the corner of a parking lot on Vine. There were a few people waiting for their orders and another few groups eating out in the outdoor, yet covered seating area. It looked like a great place to find a good taco.
Pizzeria Mozza (not Matzah) is one of those restaurants in LA that just kind of nags at you until you realize you just kind of have to go. For starters, the head chef is some guy from the Food Network or Top Chef or something like that. Then, because of that, you have to get a reservation at least 30 days in advance, so you really have to want to go this place and know your schedule for the next 30 days. Just such a time came up recently when the parents were in town (and I knew more than 30 days ahead), so off to Pizzeria Mozza we went to see what it was all about.
On my way to see In the Heights (I’m cultured!) at LA’s Pantages Theater, I had no time to eat any food. I also had no idea what kind of food even existed on that part of town. The Hollywood Strip is quite the foreign territory for me. After parking at a failed meter (score), I whipped out my Urban Spoon to see what it would show me. After sifting through a couple of dead ends, I found Dos Burritos and walked in to see what it could offer me.
Larchmont in Hollywood is a delightful little street that is a nice change from what you would typically consider Holywood to be. There are some great restaurants and shops that usually treat me pretty well. My most recent visit to that street, however, only led me to a meal of disappointment. This came at the hands of the Avocado Grill, a pretty simple Mexican place that reminded me a bit of places like Qdoba.
Some bars are known for their food, some bars don’t have any food (losers) and some bars happen to have food, but aren’t exactly known for it. Capitol City, a semi-new sports bar in Hollywood is one of the latter. Nonetheless, there was a football game to be watched and it happened to fall during happy hour, so Capitol City became my dinner and drinks destination for the night.
First off, their happy hour is pretty badass by the looks. It includes some pretty decent beers, including Blue Moon for four bucks, which is as good as you’re gonna get in Hollywood. Drinks aside, they have some great-looking $5 appetizers, so after downing a couple Blue Moons, I decided to order their wings.
Village Pizzeria in Hollywood is LA’s version of New York pizza. Located on Larchmont Street, it isn’t really a Hollywood-style place at all, which is pretty comforting to someone like me who doesn’t work in the entertainment industry. To test the place out, I went with a friend of mine.
Since we were unable to compromise on a pizza that we both liked, we decided to go halfsies. I got my half in the pepperoni style, while she agreed to the pepperonis, but also ordered a disturbing fungus called mushrooms. Unnecessarily worried, I also ordered some garlic rolls in the expectation that the pizza wouldn’t be enough food for me.