Your Favorite New Lunch Spot – and a couple others that are worth checking out…
Posted by Glenn Gritzner on July 29, 2011
Hello Enthusiasts –
Sorry for the radio silence. Life intervenes. You know how it goes.
But just because I haven’t been writing to you doesn’t mean I haven’t been continuing to indulge in my favorite past time: exploring Downtown. So today, I give you 3 new lunch options. A couple have been open for awhile – and I’m guessing many of you have tried them, but others haven’t – and one is brand new … and is my favorite.
But first, the runners up:
This is a little spot on the corner of 1st & Central, right around the corner from good ole’ reliable Senor Fish. In case you’re looking for it, look for this (courtesy of Gourmet Pigs):
The first thing you should know is that the chef/owner was formerly the chef de cuisine at Pizzeria Mozza, so take it for granted that the guy knows how to cook. When it came time to strike out on his own, he opted for food he knew and grew up with – and the connection between skill and passion comes out in spades here. For dinner, it’s a small, quaint sit down restaurant, but we’re talking about lunch here. And here’s why I love it for lunch. First, it’s inviting, almost a respite from the bustle of Downtown. Check it out (thanks, Tasting Table):
It almost feels like you’re entering a little European village restaurant. Second, it’s working the particular mojo of taking attention to detail, high quality standards, and a “fine dining” feel, and applying it to casual sandwiches and soups. So for lunch, you’ll order as soon as you set foot in the door. The person helping you will be enthusiastic and knowledgeable. You’ll look at the sandwiches and think “they sound good, but they’re sandwiches.” Then, you have one … and you realize that this place isn’t phoning it in. It isn’t serving smaller dinner plates for lunch. It’s applying the skill and passion that should be part of every kitchen to that most basic of lunches, the sandwich. That’s rare when you’re paying $8.50. Add in some great side dishes, those brick walls, and some decent company, and you’ll give yourself a little one hour break from your day. You can even grab a glass of wine or two. Not that I did…
Urbano is located at 6th & Hope in the old Wolfgang Puck’s space. I’m not sure why Puck didn’t make it given that it was always thronged at lunch and did decent dinner business … but it never captured my heart, so I don’t really care. The guys who own the Library Bar (and Spring St., a great beer bar on Spring) snatched up the space and put together an urban pizza place that caters to the Neapolitan tradition. If you’re curious, it looks like this from the street (thanks, Pop Sugar):
The baker comes from La Brea Bakery and Campanile, so he knows from dough (which is the big deal with Neapolitan-style pizzas). Here’s what I like about Urbano: it’s not trying too hard. It’s conveniently located, it’s got a great interior, especially for its name (which looks like this, courtesy of the LA Times:)
and it knows what clientele it’s serving. People who want good food, not much fuss, pretty quick in and out, and decent quality. I’m not going to tell you that you absolutely HAVE to try the pizza, but it’s really good pizza in a really nice setting. So if you haven’t trekked over there, make the trek.
But now, my new favorite:
Pattern is so new, it doesnt have a website – the link above takes you to its Facebook page. But it’s located directly on the corner of 9th & Main, in the Fashion District. Loyal readers of this little vanity project will know that I frequently (and mostly jokingly) accuse the L.A. Times of riding my coattails, so turnaround is fair play: I read about them in the Times today and found my way over there for lunch. First, some pix, taken by your very own Enthusiast.
Here’s the outside. This makes it hard to tell how open and airy it is, but maybe the next pic, taken from the inside, gives you more of a sense.
This one was taken from my table. That’s a huge oversize door/window that opens to the outside.
Look at the cool, vintage-feeling bar:
And then this is the entrance area, just to give you more of a sense:
So why is this my favorite? 3 reasons: food, drink, and atmosphere. We’ll start with atmosphere. This is exactly what a restaurant on 9th & Main in the Fashion District should be: open, inviting, yet still urban and with just the right amount of attitude (in a good way). The decor and menu give a nod to the Fashion District (it has vintage sewing machines strewn about the place – “Pattern” … get it?) without hitting you over the head with it. The food is wayyyyy better than it needs to be. Great, interesting sandwiches, and unique dishes like “arepas”, which are traditional Venezuelan corn cakes with simple, delectable toppings. And then it has great cocktails, with fresh, interesting ingredients like combier and muddled serrano chiles. (side note: I also like how more places are embracing good cocktails without making a big deal about it. That’s how it should be.)
You know when you walk into a place and say to yourself “Yes. They got it right.” That’s Pattern. And that was just for lunch – you bet I’ll be back for evening adventures in the near future.
Happy travels and have a great weekend.
114 S. Central, around the corner from Senor Fish
630 W. 6th St. (southeast corner of 6th & Hope)
100 W. 9th (southwest corner of 9th & Main)
I’m sure they’ll get a phone someday