A few months ago, a sign appeared in North Hollywood for a soon-to-open restaurant called Otis Jackson’s Soul Dog. The sign claimed “premium hot dogs & soul fixins” and while I wondered who the hell Otis Jackson was, I figured that this place wasn’t just serving the hot dog meat, but also the souls of the animals in the hot dogs. But, with Vicious Dogs just a 3 minute walk down the street, this was going to have to be a damn good hot dog to compete.
Once upon a time, a friend of mine hooked up with a Puerto Rican lady. Afterwards, he proclaimed that he was “in foreign territory…literally.” Unfortunately, as an American he failed to realize that he was not in foreign territory at all. At least not since 1898 when the US won the Spanish-American War. Similarly, Puerto Rican food is so different from other regional American food that it almost feels like foreign territory, but after eating Mofongos in North Hollywood I realized this is some regional food I’d like to see more often.
Occupying the courtyard that formerly contained NoHo Royal Garden is a place called Rain Forest Cafe. While I’m not sure how they were able to get away with using that name, I do know that the rain forest referred to is that of Brazil, so it should definitely not be confused with the more mainstream Rainforest Cafe. Claiming to be a Brazilian Churrascaria, I was certainly interested in what would be offered.
On the corner of Magnolia and Laurel Canyon in North Hollywood, there is a Taco Bell. Across from that Taco Bell sits Yum Yum Donuts. And just next to that Yum Yum Donuts is a burger joint called Big Time. Although it has the looks of a hole in the wall, Big Time occupies its own piece of real estate and has looked inviting to me ever since I began working in North Hollywood. Some of the best food in the world comes from places like this, so I was excited to find out if Big Time was one such place.
In the realm of places in North Hollywood that are in walking distance, there is one place I have avoided for a while. It’s called Eclectic Cafe and the reason is not because I’ve heard bad things, but I’ve heard expensive things and “expensive lunch” is not often a term that finds itself in my vocabulary. Nonetheless, I recently had reason to eat lunch there and was curious what I would find.
The Federal Bar in North Hollywood just opened last month and it wasn’t a moment too soon. North Hollywood has desperately needed some bar variety, because you can only go to Big Wangs and Pitfire Pizza so often. Plus, The Federal Bar is not simply a bar, it is a gastropub featuring a tasty-looking menu just waiting for an unvegan visit. The visit came on St. Patrick’s Day, when my coworkers and I were in dire need of a beer and didn’t want to wait in line anywhere. We were amazed to find The Federal Bar had a surplus of seats available and sat down to see what it was all about.
One day outside of my work, a new truck appeared. It was called Bera’s Custom Cheese Steaks and since the best cheese steak I’ve ever eaten came from a food truck, I thought Bera’s was definitely worth a try. They have a surprisingly robust menu for a cheese steak truck, ranging from Thai Chicken Steak to Stromboli Steak. But as good as some of these looked, I was thinking more about the “Custom” in their truck name.
For lunch one day, I happened to notice the Patty Wagon truck was parked outside my office. This seemed like a fun lunch, so I checked out their menu and found a few burgers that looked good. I was a little sad to see that they only had mini-hamburgers, but really happy to see that they weren’t falsely calling them sliders. Each mini burger was in the realm of 3 bucks, which seemed a little pricey, but they did look interesting. A few of the burgers looked really good except for a vegetable here and there. When I went to order, I was told they couldn’t change any of their burgers, which was disappointing, but I was able to find two without any reference to a veggie.
In North Hollywood there is a deli unlike any I had ever seen before. Rather than being filled with cold cuts, pastrami or Italian sandwiches, this deli has food with more of a Greek and Armenian flair. It is called Noosh Deli and although not the usual deli, I figured it had to be worth a try. Scanning the menu, I decided any Greek place had to have some good gyros, so I ordered their Beef Gyro Sandwich (with fries and a drink for 6.99). It came with lettuce, tomato, onion and yogurt sauce. I ordered without the veggies and waited 7 or 8 minutes until the sandwich was prepped and ready to go.
EDIT: This place has been renamed as “The Bar-B-Que Bar” and seems the same, but I haven’t been back to re-review it.
A lot of places are known to have delicious BBQ. St. Louis and Memphis are both huge and Texas always claims to be the best, but I have always felt best about Kansas City BBQ. This affinity probably goes back to the only time I went to Kansas City and got some Gates Bar-B-Q in my pre-meat blog days. It was so good I left Kansas City with my very own bottle of sauce. When I started working in North Hollywood, I noticed a place called The Kansas City BBQ Company nearby, but having heard nothing about it I sort of forgot about it. But recently a co-worker claimed it was really good, so an outing was planned and we all took a stroll down Magnolia to see how good Kansas City could taste in North Hollywood.