An Ambitious Quest … and some Random Musings

Posted by Glenn Gritzner on April 10, 2009

Hello Enthusiasts –

One of the things I love about Los Angeles is how open we are to new ideas; how a sense of community can come about so quickly and around pretty much anything; how we aren’t hung up on “how they used to do it” or “how it’s supposed to be done.”

Take my little blog here. Sure, friends had encouraged me to do it for quite awhile, and it’s not exactly going to win any Pulitzer Prizes, but I have been incredibly happy about how people have embraced it so quickly. How you are already using my recommendations to explore Downtown and its surroundings. And I love how you are giving me ideas about new and interesting places to try. In short, we’re creating a little community of amateur enthusiasts, and I can’t wait for it to grow.

Along those lines, I got great responses to my posts on places to grab a drink and especially my listing of out of the way places to eat lunch downtown (I continue to hope more of you will post comments on the blog itself instead of just e-mailing me, but I’ll take what I can get). Which gave me an idea for my “ambitious quest” in the title:

I’m going to eat lunch everywhere that serves lunch in Downtown. (and, of course, report back to you on my adventures)

My rough boundaries are: Sunset/Cesar Chavez to the north, the 110 to the west, the 10 to the south, and Santa Fe to the east (to capture the Artists District). But really it will be anywhere clearly catering to the Downtown crowd (so it might include Blue Velvet, for example, even though it’s across the 110).

Rules: no fast food, no food courts, and no large chains – basically, I won’t include places where I have to stand up to order (unless it’s an obvious part of the charm, like Phillippe’s). And, for instance, I may not eat at BOTH California Pizza Kitchens downtown.

But other than that, I’m gonna hit ’em all. When I first thought of this idea, I thought “haven’t I already eaten just about everywhere?” But then I started looking around at all the little sandwich places and barbecue places and holes in the wall that I’ve walked by for years without a second thought. So – now, I’ll really be exploring what Downtown has to offer.

So … I need two things: suggestions and companions! If you’re interested in checking out new places, let me know – I don’t want to eat alone! And I’m gonna do a lot of exploring, but if you know of an especially obscure place, make sure it gets on my radar.

There you have it – my ambitious quest. I don’t have a timeline – I’m not gonna hit a new place everyday or anything. It’s just going to be an ongoing thing. But hopefully it’ll be fun.

(and, depending on how this goes, the next idea might be to get a drink everywhere possible. But let’s take one thing at a time…)

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Another feature I’ll be throwing in from time to time is a sort of “News and Notes” section, relating short snippets of stuff I’ve learned or short items worth being on your radar:

— Seven (the restaurant on 7th & Grand, across from Bottega Louie) is no longer serving lunch. I had them on my “where to eat lunch now” post, but I’ve noticed them boarded up. I ran into Joseph, the owner, and he said they were trying to beef it up as a nighttime place – which it always seemed like anyway.

— Wandered into Lost Souls Cafe the other day. The entrance is down an alley off of 4th between Spring and Main. I wasn’t there for lunch, but I had a delicious crepe – you can choose your own toppings, so I had banana, honey, and Oreo cookie crumbles. It’s totally urban and chill and I want to come back when the instruments I saw were being put to use – it seems like the kind of place where you’d stumble in some night to find a dude rhyming some beat poetry with a guy on bass backing him up and people talking about the latest performance artist in the background. Which would either be pretentious or cool, but worth checking out either way. So next time you’re going to Pete’s again for lunch, do yourself a favor and check this place out. I’ll check it out and give you a more proper review in the future.

— I’ve eaten at Bottega Louie, Downtown’s own Dean and DeLuca, a couple times now (7th & Grand). The food is really good, and they’ve done a good job of making it “upscale casual”. I don’t love the vast expanses of white walls, and it can get pretty loud, but overall, they’re making it work. The pizza is especially tasty and the small plates are delicious. I’ve heard some horror stories (including a comment on this blog) of missed orders, raw food, and whatnot, but they’ve been making up for it by comping the entire table when something like that happens so people will come back after they’ve worked out the kinks, which I’m sure they will. (and I’m gonna wait until then to more thoroughly review them)

— The happy hour at Chaya Downtown is getting insane. I wish I could say it was because of my blog, but mostly it shows what happens when you offer good food and good drinks at reasonable prices – people actually show up. If you go, try to get there early … but go. It’s worth it.

— Across the way, Drago is trying to entice more people in for happy hour with food and drink specials. Haven’t checked it out yet, but I think Chaya is forcing their hand a bit because the Drago bar has always been something of an afterthought.

— And finally, some upcoming posts just to keep you interested: good places to eat outside now that the weather is getting nicer; good places to go for lunch or a drink just outside Downtown when you want a little variety; places I love more than I should (and conversely, don’t love as much as I should); some individual dishes and drinks that are worth checking out even if the place they’re served in is less interesting; and perhaps some parking/walking tips for you non-Downtowners who are getting more tempted by what you read here.

In the meantime, have a great Easter and/or Passover, and happy travels.