Daily Dish

The inside scoop on food in Los Angeles

Category: Lunch

Tax day deals for those tax day blues

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Restaurants are offering an edible tax break today. Among them: T.G.I. Friday's and P.F. Chang's. At T.G.I. Friday's, diners earn $5 Bonus Bites cards for purchases (excluding alcohol and taxes) of between $15 and $25 or $10 cards for purchases of more than $25. P.F. Chang's is offering 15% off your food bill. McCormick & Schmick’s Seafood Restaurants is also offering cheap drinks, a $10.40 menu, and diners can get a $10.40 certificate toward future purchases.

$10.40, get it? 10-40?

-- Rene Lynch

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George Wilhelm / Los Angeles Times

Recession Busters: Lunch at the Palm, 'Aperitif Time' at Drago Centro

Drago Italian happy hour: Drago Centro introduces its own version of happy hour with "Aperitif Time," from 4:30 to 7 p.m. Monday to Friday, when specially priced drinks and Italian bar food are on offer. Stella Artois and Boont Amber are $4 each; a Soave Classico and Monica are $6 a glass; signature cocktails Bella Rosemary (gin, apricot brandy, rosemary, almond syrup, lime) and Linea Verde (vodka, cucumber juice, lime, mint) are $7 each; and pizza Margherita, pizza with rosemary and potatoes, and arancini Siciliani are $7 to $8. What time is it? Aperitif Time. 525 S. Flower St., Suite 120, Los Angeles, (213) 228-8998.

The power lunch, for less: Now that nobody's screaming "I'll get it!" anymore when the check comes at the end of a business meal, the less-than-$20 power lunch sounds like a good deal. The Palm restaurants offer a new Business Lunch menu, priced at $17 to $22 depending on location. It includes your choice of starter — mixed green salad, Caesar salad or soup of the day — and entree — twin tenderloin filets, blackened steak salad, chicken Parmigiana, fresh fish of the day, or a Palm burger, served with Palm’s signature cottage fries and fried onions. For dessert, New York-style cheesecake or Key lime pie. See www.thepalm.com for locations.

— Betty Hallock

RECENT & RELATED:

More recession busters

Great wines for $15 and under

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Photo: Drago Centro. Credit: Ricardo De Aratanha / Los Angeles Times

Rivera's sophisticated 3 1/2-star sizzle

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Times restaurant critic S. Irene Virbila on the new Rivera in downtown L.A.:

John Rivera Sedlar, the chef who brought us Saint Estephe, Bikini, and Abiquiu (may they all rest in peace) is back and back in a big way. At the new Rivera within shouting distance of L.A. Live, the 54-year-old chef is firing on all cylinders. Rivera is terrific, one of the most exciting restaurants to debut in L.A. in the last few years.

Go.

I have to confess I took my own advice and ate at Rivera more times than I really needed to. I couldn’t help myself — Rivera’s food is so utterly unique. I couldn’t believe it was actually that good and had to keep pinching myself. But the hyper-talented chef nailed it every time, virtually every dish, a remarkable feat in a restaurant hot off the presses.

Read the rest of Rivera's 3 1/2-star review here. See more restaurant reviews -- including our top rated reviews of the past five years -- here.

Photo: Ringo H.W. Chiu

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A taste of Susan Feniger's Street

Susan Feniger at her new restaurant, Street Chef Susan Feniger, half of the Too Hot Tamales duo responsible for restaurants Border Grill and Ciudad and countless Food Network appearances, will step into her own spotlight Monday when her long-awaited Street restaurant debuts in the former Highland Grounds spot.

Located on Highland, a bit north of Nancy Silverton's Mozzas on the Melrose intersection, Street concentrates on the formula that worked for Feniger's other restaurants -- an upscale take on cultural cuisine. Sticking mostly to Asian-inspired street food dishes, the dinner menu is broken down into small plates meant for sharing, then noodles, stews and curry dishes. There are also entrees made in the wood-burning oven. After Monday's dinner opening, the restaurant will serve lunch and Sunday brunch (the former probably being a welcome treat to the workers at the nearby row of production houses as well as nearby residents).

This past Saturday, Feniger and her Street staff hosted a sampling party. Those in attendance included comedian Will Ferrell. (Diners in the interior courtyard had an only-in-L.A. experience as an LAPD helicopter hovered nearby as it searched the adjacent neighborhood for someone or something.)

Keep reading below as we share a taste of what's on the menu at Street.

Continue reading »

Bye bye, delivery guy -- we've turned our kitchen into a pizza parlor

We turned today's Food section over to one of our favorite foods: pizza. We've got everything you ever wanted to know, or needed to know, about pizza.

Seriously.

You probably think you cannot make good pizza at home because you lack a pizza oven. Well, think again. Times test kitchen manager Noelle Carter shows you how to line your oven with fireproof bricks*** so you can achieve that trademark crispy crust. (You can also watch her do it in the video.) All good pizzas start with homemade dough, so we've got a recipe for that as well as recipes for pizza Margherita (and a no-cook sauce) and potato pizza. We've also got a look at variations on that theme.

But let's say you're not the cook-at-home type, or you want your pizza, and you want it RIGHT NOW. Times restaurant critic S. Irene Virbila takes you on a tour of the best gourmet pizza spots in town and here's a list you'll definitely want to bookmark, as well as a locator map. (And by the way, did you ever wonder how we got from regular old-fashioned pizza to gourmet pizza? Check out this cool pizza chronology flash graphic.)

What's that? You say that you can't get good pizza west of Manhattan? Then check this out. And then check out this list of places were you can buy it by the slice.

Finally, here's a photo gallery look at testing out pizzas in The Times' test kitchen, from start to finish, and here's a recommended wine to wash down that slice of 'za.

(***Note that we said fireproof bricks. If you use the regular ol' bricks you've got piled up in the yard, they could explode. And that's not a good pizza topping.)

-- Rene Lynch

Culinary SOS: Ring in spring with chilled pea soup

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Reader Danya Berman loves the coffee at Silver Lake's LA Mill. But, as she puts it, "the real standout is their pea soup. Delicious! It's dark green, with a deep, earthy taste. I could eat it every day, which is why I'd love the recipe! If you can get it, I would surely appreciate!"

Culinary SOS was happy to answer the call. Thanks to LA Mill, which provided the recipe to Times test kitchen manager Noelle Carter, who adapted it for home use.

Here you go Danya! And here are some other recipe requests we've answered.

-- Rene Lynch

Photo: Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times

Mo Chica: Peruvian restaurant to open in the Mercado La Paloma

Mochica_2The Mercado La Paloma -- a marketplace at Grand Avenue and 37th Street that houses shops, a bakery and restaurants such as the original Chichen Itza -- is about to add a new tenant: Mo Chica, expected to open April 7.

Peruvian-Japanese chef Ricardo Zarate (of Zu Robata and Sai Sai and previously, Tetsuya in London) and Mario Orellana (who has worked at Gjelina and at Lot 1 when it was helmed by Josef Centeno) have collaborated on a modern take on Peruvian cuisine. "We've been playing around with the idea for some time, and this location came up," Orellana says. "I grew up in this part of L.A., and the area's changing a lot. It's a cool market, and the format works in this economy." (Menu items are priced at below $13.)

Expect a menu that changes daily with a selection of ceviches such as ceviche de lenguado (pictured above) dressed in leche de tigre (a mixture of lime juice and a frothy puree of celery heart, ginger and cilantro) with sweet potato and corn, and other dishes such as carapulcra (dried Peruvian potato with pork belly and a salsa of red onion, tomatoes and lemon) and lamb shank braised with cilantro and dark ale and served with black beans and toasted corn.

The mercado closes at 6:30 p.m., but hours are expected to expand. In the interim, Mo Chica will be open from 10:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. daily, starting with Peruvian breakfast. 

Mercado La Paloma, 3655 S. Grand Ave., Los Angeles.

-- Betty Hallock

Photo courtesy of Mario Orellana

Recession Busters: Free burritos and $5 lunches

TheparkMonday brings two new recession-friendly items to Daily Dish HQ:

Echo Park's cozy neighborhood favorite the Park is celebrating it's first anniversary by serving $5 lunches from Tuesday the 17th through Friday the 20th. That means any sandwich and regular side from the restaurant's recently launched lunch menu. Chef Joshua Siegel's low-key restaurant is also launching $5-burger Wednesdays, beginning this week, when ground beef or veggie burgers go for a Lincoln.

The Park, 1400 Sunset Blvd., L.A. (213) 482-9209. www.thepark1400sunset.com.

The Mexican chain Chipotle celebrates the opening of its new Westlake Village location by rolling free burritos from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. for all comers on Thursday the 19th. We can only imagine that lines will form for this one. But if you've got some time, there's really no arguing with a free burrito. Perhaps Chipotle was inspired to this act of media-savvy largess by the smashing success of Denny's, which gave away nearly 2 million free Grand Slam breakfasts shortly after the Super Bowl.   

Chipotle, 5754 Lindero Canyon Road, Westlake Village. (818) 597-1603. www.chipotle.com.

For more Recession Busters, click here.

— Jessica Gelt

Photo: The patio at the Park Credit: Lori Shepler / Los Angeles Times

Deep-fried cupcakes? This Is Why You're Fat

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Do you like to look at pictures of "deliciously gross food" such as this cupcake that has been deep fried and then drenched in chocolate syrup and topped off with sprinkles?

Well, someone out there does. Within three days of launching this month, a blog and website dedicated to food porn -- the aptly titled ThisIsWhyYoureFat.com -- pulled in more than 3 million pages views. (The blog's subtitle: Where dreams become heart attacks.)

"We thought it was a very good idea, but we were both very surprised at how it caught on." That's one of the co-creators -- she prefers to be identified as Creator No. 1 and declines to be identified because she and her partner are in the media and want to avoid making themselves part of the story behind the blog, to keep the focus on the food.

A little mystery never hurt either.

"It started because we were joking about how there are all these really nasty pictures of fatty foods floating around on the Internet. We’re like, "Do people really eat this? Are people posting these photos as a badge of honor?'"

They started collecting images on Feb. 1 and launched Feb. 9, and it's been pinging around the Internet ever since, thanks in no small part to mentions by Time, The Atlantic, the New York Times, etc.

Continue reading »

Batter up: Ten restaurants to sample in Phoenix and Scottsdale

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Welcome to Dodgers spring training 2009.

Please discard any lingering lamentations about tradition and Florida. Arizona awaits, with a shiny new $100-million stadium complex, beckoning fans to forget the economy for a few days and take refuge in the primal pleasures of baseball. Think heat, not humidity; saguaro cactus in lieu of swaying palms; fajitas instead of fried fish. Think Camelback Ranch in Glendale, the new spring home of the Dodgers.

Read more in this week's Travel section, and check out this list of restaurants to sample in Phoenix and Scottsdale, as well as this photo gallery of hot restaurants to try while you're there.

Photo credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times

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Daily Dish is written by Times staff writers.