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Accidental tourists on L.A.'s culinary trail

There is no point in following the herd when Los Angeles has so much to offer in every nook and cranny.

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Case in point: The L.A. Street Food Fest sounded so good in theory that, for many, it wasn’t an option. Sad as I was to miss out what was probably a fresh, fun and quintessentially L.A. event, waiting in line for two hours only to jostle hundreds of other hungry people for a $2 sample of food isn’t my thing. 

Having parked in Los Feliz and taken the subway downtown, we were faced with two options: take the subway back to Vermont and Sunset and brunch it with the hipsters, or find somewhere to eat downtown without straying too far from the station.

Or option three: blaze a 6-mile culinary walking trail through L.A.’s vibrant, diverse neighborhoods, from the border of downtown/Echo Park to Los Feliz.

Stop 1: TiGeorges’ Chicken, 309 Glendale Boulevard

I became aware TiGeorges when it turned into a central meeting ground for L.A’s Haitian community following the earthquake that devastated the capital city of Port-au-Prince. But owner George Laguerre opened his restaurant, which literally translates into “Little George” more than eight years ago. Diners can enjoy traditional Haitian items such as spiced chicken with rice, beans and plantains, Caribbean-style bread with tangy pickled herring, and conch sautéed in garlic. Wash it down with thick papaya with milk, fresh lemonade or TiGeorges’ own roasted Haitian coffee.

Note: A recent electrical fire means TiGeorges’ will be shuttered for the next 30 to 60 days, but fortunately no one was hurt.

Stop 2. Taix French Restaurant, 1911 Sunset Boulevard

Nothing follows up Haitian chicken than a plate of buttery escargot or a sinful Croque Monsieur. If you prefer something lighter, stick with a glass of white wine and Taix’s soup of the day

Stop 3: Cowboys and Turbans, 2815 Sunset Boulevard

Street food may be the buzzword of the moment here in L.A., but it’s nothing new in India. Which is why it seems perfectly natural for a restaurant to marry Indian flavors with Mexican styles. The Silverlake location has only been around for a few months, and the original spot, inside the El Rey, opened in 2009. Dishes include tandoori-style quesadilla and burritos and masala cheese fries, but whether high concept can outlast a bad economy remains to be seen. 

Stop 4. Spice Station, 3819 Sunset Boulevard

For a food-vendor concept to really work, it has to fill a niche that is otherwise lacking. And Spice Station is doing just that. Tucked away in a little oasis behind this tiny shop is loaded with every spice you’ve ever heard of…and then some. More than 140 spices, herbs and salts are packed in here, ranging from saffron to smoked paprika to Peruvian pink salt. Spices are practically the stuff currency is made of, so these items don’t come cheap and prices change frequently, but there is literally no better way to experiment with flavors than to explore this little gem of a shop.

Stop 5. Pazzo Gelateria, 3827 Sunset Boulevard

Any place that advertises “fruit, dairy and fresh herbs” is a winner. Gelato is typically lighter and lower fat than ice cream, and Pazzo’s flavors range from the traditional (chocolate hazelnut and dulce de leche) to the whimsical (salty chocolate pretzel or one simply known as “smoky”).

Stop 6. The Cheese Store of Silverlake, 3926 Sunset Boulevard

Take one whiff of the Cheese Store and you’ll be sold. A favorite stop for cheeseheads all across L.A., this little shop carries coveted cheeses from around the world to gourmet sandwiches and a wine collection that includes both affordable and rare finds.
 
Stop 7. Intelligentsia Coffee & Tea, 3922 Sunset Boulevard

I had to break my rule for a taste of the much-anticipated Intelligentsia: I waited in line. For a very long time. If you’ve ever wanted to show an out-of-towner the definition of the Silverlake hipster contingent socializing in the sunshine, any hour of the day, this is the place. Most confusing was the row of Mac-users lining the coffee bar. Really? It seems unlikely they could be getting any real work done, but who am I to judge? (P.S. I had a Moroccan mint tea. It was fine.)

Stop 8. Ye Olde Rustic Inn, 1831 Hillhurst Avenue

If your belly hasn’t exploded yet, cap off the day with a burger and beer at the Rustic. You’ll feel as if you're already home.

 
 

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