What happens when you put a Philly cheese steak joint in North Hollywood, north of Victory Boulevard? Apparently an amazing place to grab a torta. At least that’s what I was told when I set out for an adventure during lunch at work one day. I found myself at a tiny little standalone building with just a handful of tall tables and a great looking selection of sandwiches. It was called Philadelphia Steaks & Hoagies and I was pretty sure I was in for a treat.
Since the US is a big mishmash of immigrants, it’s no secret that just about all of our food is “ethnic” in some way. Yet, there are some types of food that aren’t exactly easy to find. Hungarian is one of these and it’s really no surprise, considering that only .5% of the US population is Hungarian American. I’m not part of that .5%, but definitely feel a connection to Hungary through my Hungarian step-mom. So when I learned that there was a Hungarian restaurant called Maximillian’s quite literally a couple blocks from my office, I made my way there at my first opportunity.
With a place like Panera, I’m fortunate to not have to give much of a back story. It’s all over the place, and there’s good reason for it. They make some great breads and soups. And they make those other things that often come with breads: sandwiches. When I trekked out to Panera in North Hollywood, it was the sandwiches I was after.
Up in North Hollywood, the prospect of a new restaurant is always exciting. And when the theme of that new restaurant is pie, the excitement is off the charts. So in honor of Pi Day (March 14th) I ventured out to Republic of Pie with a couple of coworkers to see what they were all about. Republic of Pie has a total coffee shop feel to it, with a few couches here and there, an exposed ceiling industrial look and an iPad in place of an old-fashioned register. The number of people sitting around on their MacBooks drinking tea really helps drive the point home. This is a good thing, because no one wants to feel like they are in North Hollywood and this feels much more like Seattle or Portland.
In a display of mercy, a work event of mine ended last week at a little Jamaican restaurant in North Hollywood called Coley’s. As it turned out, one of my bosses had been Jamaican all along, but none of us knew it. Yet, Jamaican boss or not, I had been wanting to check out Coley’s for a long time, as it sat in that weird area of town that seemed just a bit far for walking, but too close to hop in a car for.
Da Burger Boss is part of the newer wave of food trucks and while they aren’t brand new, they’re still plenty new to me. Their schtick is naming burgers after mob terms like The Strongarm, The Collector and so on. It’s an interesting schtick that has produced some interesting-looking combinations, but the sole reason I found myself waiting for Da Boss was to partake in The Patrolman.
You see, The Patrolman is no ordinary burger. Sure, it’s filled with a half-pound patty, bacon and blue cheese dressing, but after that the burger goes in a frightening and exciting direction. First is the cran-apple reduction, which is not crazy on its own, but when you throw in the grilled glazed donut bun, things get goddamn nuts. Yes, I said a grilled glazed donut bun. I was unsure of how any degree of this would be pulled off and figure it was worth the 9 bucks to find out.
Did you know there was a big Thai contingent in the valley? And I’m not talking about a string of Thai restaurants, I’m talking about a spot in the north end of North Hollywood where signs for auto repair shops and dry cleaners are both in Thai as well as English. Here, on a stretch of Sherman Way is a restaurant called Krua Thai, which Jonathan Gold once claimed to have the best Pad Thai in LA.
Hot dogs: the edible version of man’s best friend. Genius in conception and pretty easy to do well. But to do a hot dog great takes some skill and some food trucks have taken this easily portable meal to the streets to some success. Up in North Hollywood, The Wien brought its truck over to my office one day and I thought I should give it a try and see if it could compete.
In the grand explosion of gourmet food trucks, tacos have found themselves mixed with all sorts of craziness, from Korean BBQ to fish and grapes to kung pao chicken. Yet, in all this food truck excitement, the bastard cousin/side dish of the taco has been left behind. Yeah, I’m talking ’bout Shaft…err…nachos. But along came The Nacho Truck to remedy this sad predicament. Before this truck arrived at my office, I knew nothing of it, so my expectations were pretty low. Yet, as someone who doesn’t keep nearly enough track of food happenings in LA anymore, it is certainly possible that The Nacho Truck had simply flown/driven under my radar.
By name and color, No Tomatoes! has the makings of an amazing food truck. The name implies an amazing lack of the vegetable known as the tomato (I don’t care if it’s anatomically a fruit, so is a cucumber and you don’t see anyone calling that a fruit) and the orange coloration that enshrouds the truck makes it look beautiful. Oh and if the name doesn’t give it away, it serves up Indian food. But hidden in this supposed gem of a truck is deception. For there is one dish at No Tomatoes! that actually contains tomatoes: Tikka Masala. So while they were serving up lies with Tikka Masala, I looked to other options.