May 25, 2015

Madera Kitchen

Just like how Manhattanites avoid Times Square, Angelenos avoid Hollywood.  Not because Hollywood is void of interesting characters (far from it), but because its high density of tourists make street-navigating frustrating and parking near impossible.  On the rare occasion that I make a trek to Hwood, it's for a movie at the ArcLight Dome or a show at the Pantages or the Hollywood Bowl.

Yet Madera Kitchen, a restaurant/ event venue located in the heart of Hollywood, manages to stay away from the maddening fray.  In fact, Madera provides an atmosphere that is akin to the laid-back style of West LA.  With abundant natural lighting, open patio space, and cool beats playing in the background, this is a perfect place to enjoy a casual Sunday brunch balanced by the right amount of people-watching.

The eclectic indoor and outdoor design & decor immediately sets this place apart from any other restaurant.  Each "room" in the restaurant creates a vibe slightly different from the other, but is overall welcoming.  Clearly, the artistic interior designers of this restaurant know what they're doing.

The Brunch menu, now available on Saturdays and Sundays, is also heavenly.  Amazing combinations of fresh ingredients coupled with very reasonable prices = a memorable meal indeed.

Plus, bottomless mimosas for $14!

The good news?  The food is as good as it sounds on the menu.

Blueberry pancakes, squash blossom frittata, bfast sandwich.

Blueberry Ricotta Pancakes w/ orange curd, berries, and whipped creme fraiche -- $11

Looks decadent, no?  Though drenched in orange curd and topped with a too generous portion of creme fraiche, the pancakes were surprisingly fluffy and not overly dense.  This was a sweet touch to our predominantly savory meal.

Open-face Breakfast Sandwich -- bacon, eggs over easy, cheddar, jalapeno aioli, arugula, tomato -- $10

For just $10, you can appease your appetite with this beauty of a breakfast sandwich.  All of the contributing players are great on their own (hi, bacon), but combine them atop a toasted brioche and you have yourself a very satisfying dish.

Squash Blossom Frittata w/ cherry tomato, zucchini, smoked mozzarella, basil pesto -- $12

Non-meat eaters, rejoice because there is a delicious option for you too.  Neither dry or over-cooked (both of which frittatas can easily be), this veggie frittata packs in a lot more flavor than expected.  Win.

Chicken & Waffles -- buttermilk waffle, herb fried chicken breast, spicy maple syrup -- $13

Ah, yes.  Fried chicken & waffles -- the epitome of comfort food and the ultimate combo of sweet and salty.  Some may prefer Roscoe's, but the crispy, still juicy boneless chicken breast served atop buttery waffles and with a spicy syrup was a highlight to this meal.

In addition to a great brunch, Madera has happy hour from 5:30-8pm.  Yes, 8!  Plus, the happy hour menu features some special deals depending on the day of the week ($2 sliders Tuesdays, $1 oysters Wednesdays, $5 ceviche Thursdays and $5 flatbread Fridays).  Madera, you're definitely tempting me to frequent Hollywood more than I imagined.  See you again soon!

Madera Kitchen & Bar on Urbanspoon

cuisine: American
location: Hollywood
brunch hours: Sat & Sun: 10am-4pm
happy hour(s): Tues-Fri: 5:30pm-8pm
websites: { MK | yelp | facebook | twitter | instagram }
price: $10-$25
attire: Casual
parking: Street meters (read the signs)

April 06, 2015


Guys, take a look at this breakfast burrito.  Doesn't it look mouthwateringly delectable?  Lucky for you, these looks aren't lying.

When I first went to Cofax, it immediately thought of the Dodgers.  It was an odd reference at first, considering Cofax is located on Fairfax, near WeHo and not near Dodgers Stadium.  But it's great to know that the Dodgers get love even west of La Brea Ave.

Proudly brewing Stumptown coffee.

Chorizo Burrito with smoked home fries, scrambled egg, crunchy tortilla stripes (INSIDE THE BURRITO), all wrapped in a warm tortilla -- $7.

Growing up in LA, I've had my share of breakfast burritos (Corner Cottage, Lucky Boy, Jinky's).  But what sets Cofax apart from the rest, at least for me, is the crunchiness found both outside (grilled tortilla) and inside (crispy tortilla strips) the burrito.  The melted cheese melds the fluffy eggs, spicy chorizo, and smoked home fries all together like an encore-demanding concert.  Game-changer.

I also asked for red salsa inside for an inviting spice kick.

And fresh creamy avocado too, of course.

Blue & white; breakfast burrito & coffee.  The perfect combo, especially when you pair Cofax with Stumptown.  In addition to burritos, Cofax has Donut Snob donuts, and in clear LA fashion, kombucha and select pressed juices.

If you like Golden State (burgers) and Bludso's (Texas BBQ), you'll likely enjoy Cofax because they're owned by the same folks.  They're doing a mighty good thing.

Cofax Coffee on Urbanspoon

cuisine: Breakfast
location: Fairfax
hours: M-Sat: 7am-6pm; Sun: 7am-5pm
websites: {Cofax | yelp | facebook | twitter | instagram }
attire: Casual
parking: Street meters
price: ~$10
notes: Bfast for champions.
other reviews: LAist | LAMag | The Actor's Diet

April 05, 2015

Philippe's The Original French Dipped Sandwiches

Los Angeles is home to 3.8 million people from over 140 different countries, speaking over 224 different identified languages. It's the entertainment capital of the world and boasts a steady climate of plentiful sunshine and cloudless skies.  LA is home to the Lakers, the Clippers, the Dodgers, and the Kings. And though the debate over the true restaurant originator is ongoing, the French-dipped sandwich can call LA its home, too.

Philippe the Original (aka, Philippe's) was established in 1903 and has maintained for over sixty years, its location just blocks from the famous Olvera Street (known to be the birthplace of Los Angeles), historic Chinatown, and Union Station (the largest passenger railroad terminal in the West).  So much history within a 1/2 mile radius!

To make your afternoon of LA history all the more richer, head over to Philippe's to try their iconic French-dip sandwich, which notwithstanding its name has little to do with France, save and except, the glorious French roll from Frisco Baking Company.

Fresh out of the oven!

Breakfast menu... and delicious ice cold drinks for less than $1.

Sandwich Menu, Open daily, and now accepts credit cards.

Gift Shop inside the restaurant.

Busy restaurant counter, so be ready for the hustle bustle, especially during peak lunch hours.

Need to make a call?

Plenty of tables on the ground floor and the 2nd floor.

Salt & pepper the meat (before).

The meat (after).

Meat removed after soaking in beef broth for about 48 hours.

The final presentation -- time to eat!

Lamb with bleu cheese on jus-soaked bread.


Rather than the traditional beef or pork, I opted for the lamb dip.  As you may know, lamb meat can tend to be tough, but probably due to Philippe's special broth, the lamb was surprisingly tender with just the right amount of chew.  I also topped each bite with some of the famous house hot mustard and I was happy as a clam.

House coleslaw (half portion) -- simple but refreshing.

Specialty potato salad topped with cayenne (half portion) with a beet-soaked pickled hard-boiled egg.
This potato salad is unique -- small chunks of potato that still retain a creamy texture.

This hard-boiled egg was soaked in beet juice and jarred. I love beets and I love this egg!

Refreshing lemonade for 75 cents.

There's nothing fancy about this place.  The food is served on recyclable paper plates and cafeteria-style trays.  There are pieces of paper (intentionally) scattered on the ground that resemble hay.  But all of that will be soon forgotten when you taste Philippe's original dip with its slow-cooked meats soaked in flavorful broth, generous slabs of cheese, and crispy-on-the-outside, chewy-on-the-inside French bread.  The dip can be complemented by your choice of sides (soups, salad, coleslaw, beet-pickled egg) and washed down a refreshing beverage.  And after a few bites, you'll start embracing Philippe's unique atmosphere (if you haven't already), which exemplifies homey comfort.
 And that moment, that experience, could also become a part of your own history. 

See you at Philippe's, friends!

Philippe, The Original on Urbanspoon

cuisine: American
location: Los Angeles, CA
hours: Daily, 6am-10pm
websites: { Philippe's | yelp | facebook | twitter | instagram }
attire: Casual
parking: Free lot behind the restaurant and across the street; Street meters
payment: Cash and credit card