At long last, Highland/Glasell Park soccer-moms can get their ubiquitously bitter coffee without having to drive all the way to Eagle Rock. Yes, Starbuck’s, with its 15,000 stores in 44 countries has finally deemed us worthy of their coffee. Technically, I believe the address is in Glassell Park, but I wouldn’t have believed anyone who told me York Blvd. would have a Starbucks in the foreseeable future. Let’s hope the new Cafe de Leche isn’t run out of town by the 1,000 lb gorilla that is Starbucks.
Beyond a coffee shop that I don’t plan on ever visiting as I’d rather give my money to Miguel at Antigua or the guys at Casa Blue (which isstill open), Occidental Plaza is also sporting a Long’s Drugs that is already open, and an L&L Hawaiian Plate Lunch joint that actually has potential of receiving my business. Back in college, when I was a frequent visitor to our youngest state (for reasons I can’t disclose as I value my current relationship) Plate Lunch was a delicacy of the Hawaiian hoi polloi that I couldn’t find on the mainland. Now, these places proliferate, but it’s still nice to have one nearby. Personally, I’m looking forward to the Korean spare ribs, chicken katsu, and mac salad. Based on a recent drive-by, it looks like L&L and the Starbucks are opening imminently.
4430 York Blvd.
The readers are really motivating me to get off my ass and do some posting on the neighborhood this week. This time, Heather sent an email with the subject line “I Love Figueroa Produce” (It’s so nice to see proper capitalization in an Email…). Well Heather, I love Figueroa Produce too.
Located on the NE corner of Figueroa and York, and right next to the best Spanglish named business in HP, “Wateria”, Fig Produce is a relatively small market in a space that used to house a Blockbuster Video. The exterior is simple, clean, and unassuming, but the interior represents a microcosm of where much of Northeast is headed. Think a smaller version of Trader Joe’s. Chicken Fajita mixture ($1.99/lb) marinates next to ready-to-grill game hen. Dried fruits and nuts share shelf space with wasabe peas ($2.29/lb) while European cookies offer a less healthy alternative. The produce looked fresh and was priced decently (2 cantaloupes for $1). They even sold the canned coconut milk for my next foray into Tom Kha Kai soup (The first batch turned out surprisingly well). Part ethnic market and part specialty store, its biggest shortcoming is a paucity of baked goods. One small shelf had a few types of bread in it. Figueroa Market doesn’t have enough to be my only grocery stop, but it should save me the 10 minute drive to Von’s or Trader Joe’s in the future.
6312 N. Figueroa St.
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Ah Capitalism. An economic system that has provided us with the miracles of no-freeze cheese, Viagra and Levitra, and pet funerals (seriously, NPR did a story on this yesterday). My point is, where there’s a market for something, someone is likely to be selling. This especially holds true in one of my favorite little entrepreneurial corner of Highland Park. Directly in front of the Food 4 Less (5100 N. Figueroa St.) sit no fewer than six food vendors. Two taco trucks (TakiTacos, reviewed here, being one of them), one esquites and elotes vendor, two guys selling champurrado and tamales from the back of their van, a man selling cups of fruit and yogurt, and a man selling shaved ice. A few nights back I visited and tasted a few of them with the following results: Esquites and elotes are awesome. Creamy, spicy, and a little sweet all at the same time, both of these corn dishes always hit the spot. The main difference between the two is that esquites are served in a soup form while elotes are served on the cob and placed on a stick for you. Both are liberally covered in Mexican cream, lime juice, and chile. The tacos, as always, are deeply satisfying both gastronomically and economically. They grill onions with the meat to effectively soak up any missed grease. Not healthy, but damn good. The only thing I wasn’t a big fan of was the champurrado. It’s a thick drink made with masa and chocolate. It tastes like what you would get if you blended a little chocolate and hot water with a tamale.
This marketplace doesn’t only serve food, it also hawks a few wares. One guy is frequently set up with perfume on an upside-down cardboard box, and another is situated just to the north of TakiTaco selling illegal DVDs. This spot can’t miss when I feel like spending a relaxed night grubbing Mexican food on my couch and watching The Simpson’s Movie complete with the back of some guy’s head and a real laugh track. See you there!
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