Two More Lunch Spots

Posted by Glenn Gritzner on May 13, 2009

Hello Enthusiasts –

Lest you think my lunch quest has slowed, fear not. I’m just trying not to write about it ALL the time. But since I always get asked, here are a couple more spots for you.

The first is a true find. It’s actually somewhat legendary and many of you may already know it, but this was my first time there, thanks to the urging of a fellow Enthusiast.

Hama Sushi

347 E. 2nd St., in Little Tokyo (it’s a hole in the wall, so look hard)

What to expect: Sushi purism. (just made up that word). One U-shaped sushi bar, two guys making sushi. Basically, this:

Who to bring: The person who’s “been everywhere” Downtown but hasn’t been here. It would help if they like places like Katsuya so you can test their true sushi skills here.

For those of you hoping for a web link above, this is not the kind of place that has a website. This is the kind of place where you walk in, and what greets you is a sign, handwritten on a white board, that says “We only serve sushi and sashimi. No noodles. No rice by itself. No tempura.” It might as well have said “We only barely want you to eat here and do not suffer amateurs.” There’s nominally one table up front, but if you come here, you sit at the sushi bar. Period.

All that being said, to the extent you understand them (my Japanese is rusty), they’re reasonably friendly … and the sushi is *so* fresh and good. There’s a reason this place has gotten well known – everything from the BBQ salmon to the hamachi to the spicy tuna roll was expertly prepared … and cheap! The rolls are $4 – $6. The sushi is about the same. You can load up on sushi here easily for under $20, which is rare.

So, if you like sushi at all and haven’t tried Hama, try it.

Pasta Primavera

611 W. 7th, between Hope and Grand

What to expect: Reasonably good, very fast, reasonably priced Italian food. Great for a “get in, sit down, get waited on, get your food, get out” lunch. And it’s comfortable and nice. See?

Who to bring: The person who needs more than casual but less than “too nice” – when you want a sitdown lunch without all the rigamarole.

I am always surprised at how many people don’t know Pasta Primavera. It’s nothing really special, but it fills a really valuable niche downtown: it’s never *that* crowded so you rarely if ever wait for a table (I waited 5 minutes one time, I think), it’s got decent food, you get waited on, and it’s reasonably priced. Not too many places downtown like that. Lunch places are usually an unfortunate choice between time, quality, price, and crowds. Pasta Primvera somehow has figured out how to balance between all those things, and has been doing so for years.

This is just a quick little post to keep your appetite – and your curiousity – whetted. Onward.

So keep your enthusiasm up, and happy travels!