So I believe Louisiana Fried Chicken has opened a location here in AZ on a couple of occasions. I remember reviewing one awhile back in Phoenix during my Urbanspoon days and then it abruptly closed without any notice when I tried to return. So the Chandler area is now their newest experiment. Louisiana Fried Chicken & Wings actually came out of LA in the 70’s and has over a hundred locations in the US. The Louisiana name comes from how the chicken is cooked – Cajun battered and deep fried. They also have fried shrimp, chicken tenders and fish. There are several entree combinations to choose from with or without sides and whatever quantity you want. Side items include mashed potatoes, okra, red beans & rice and coleslaw. There’s a bit of an Asian influence with rice combinations and egg rolls. And they have gumbo too! The family pack combos must be popular because there were several people waiting in the lobby for large to-go orders. The restaurant itself isn’t very large but pretty clean. I thought the chicken was pretty tasty with just a hint of spice and a nice soft crunch to it. They have bottles of hot sauce available that you can spice your chicken up with. Overall Louisiana Chicken is a nice fast casual chain if you are looking for a quick affordable bite of some Cajun chicken (a 3 piece combo will run you about $8). It will be interesting to see how they do in Chandler across from Food City. Btw… they have a couple different slices of pie for dessert and boba tea.
As a frequent out of town guest of Grand Central Market, I try to find a new spot to eat every time I visit. Top Chef’s Ilan Hall’s vegan ramen joint was the perfect spot for me this trip. The site of several patrons sitting at the counter hunched over a large bowl of curled noodles in a delicious steamy broth with chopsticks in hand drew me in. Ramen Hood usually has a decent sized line that moves somewhat quickly. You basically order your bowl and do your best to find a seat at the counter or one of the surrounding tables in the market. Menu choices are various ramen bowls, some sides and some add-on’s for your ramen (vegan egg, bean sprouts, oysters, mushrooms, etc). They also have a combo special that includes ramen, a side and a drink.
I eat anything spicy and went for the Spicy Ramen. They have a variety of small plates to choose from for a side and I chose the avocado toast (a new thing I’m really into) for mine. The Spicy Ramen isn’t super spicy but they have plenty of ingredients on the counter that you can add more spice to it. The broth is very rich and milky because it’s made from sunflower seeds that are roasted and pressure cooked to obtain its natural oils. They also simmer kelp, white miso, onions and mushrooms in the broth. My Ramen bowl was fantastic and full of all types of flavor. The egg that is added in is vegan. The avocado toast was a pleasant surprise. It was one of the best avocado toast I have ever had (and I made my own creations at home). I’m not vegan and was really surprised how flavorful and filling everything was. I also enjoyed sitting at a counter and watching the kitchen staff work their magic. This was a really nice visit to the Market and Ramen Hood. I’m looking forward to a future visit.
Last year I visited Grand Central Market for the first time. I’m a huge lover of marketplaces that showcase today’s newest food adventures. Toward the end of my day, I saw this huge line of people waiting for a sandwich from a place called Eggslut. I had heard of this place before on a food show and made the connection. I made it a point to come back someday to try one of these delightful breakfast sandwiches and see what the hype is all about. Today I’m in LA and took a stroll down to the marketplace to jump in line with everyone.
I don’t think it is a mistake that this place is called Eggslut. It’s risqué, sexy and it grabs your attention. A West Hollywood food truck converted to a restaurant (and owned by chef Alvin Cailan), Eggslut showcases their love and passion for eggs. They only use cage-free eggs in their menu items (cage-free hens have shown to produce more of an orange color to their yoke due to the abundance of greens and insects in the birds’ diet). In 2014, Eggslut was named one of the top 10 new US restaurant’s by Bon Appétit. Being located in the heart of LA’s foodie scene (Grand Central Market) has been the perfect start for their first endeavor as a restaurant.
Cook preparing some Sluts
Their signature menu item is the Slut. It’s a coddled egg served over a potato purée in a glass jar and served with slices of baguette. My wait time was approximately 45 minutes on a Sunday afternoon. It wasn’t horribly long and I enjoyed people-watching the marketplace and observing the cooks do their thing at the grill. Because it was my first time eating here, I went with their popular Fairfax (eggs, cheddar cheese, caramelized onions and sriracha mayo on a brioche bun). I would say it took about ten minutes for me to get my sandwich after ordering. I was also fortunate enough to get a seat at the counter. The Fairfax is freaking amazing! The cage-free eggs are really light and fluffy and the flavors of the sriracha mayo and onions really come together nicely. I hope someday to try the Gaucho sandwich too (seared wagyu tri-tip steak and eggs on a brioche bun). So is Eggslut worth the long wait? For me, I didn’t mind because I planned a couple of hours into my day to eat here. Even though the sandwich was outstanding, it still only took me a few minutes to eat it. So it really depends on the person and their day. For any die-hard foodie out there, definitely make a stop here someday in your lifetime.
Patsy D’Amore was the first to bring pizza to L.A. at the Casa D’Amore restaurant in 1938 after making pizzas in New York and Boston. Patsy moved his oven from the outpost he had on Catalina Island to Los Angeles and opened up the first pizza stand at the Original Farmers Market in 1949. His famous Villa Capri restaurant was a regular hangout of the Rat Pack in the 50’s. His daughter now keeps the family legacy going with this location at the Farmers Market. They make New York style pizzas and the lasagna and calzones are made up fresh daily. Amore means “heart” in Spanish and these guys love to say they make their pizza from the heart. In typical New York fashion, I grabbed a slice to go after a full day of sampling at the Market. The pizza wasn’t bad. Not much different from what you grab to go on some corner in Manhattan. I think what the draw for me was their long history with Hollywood. I’ll give their full menu a shot another day.
¡Lotería! Grill first opened in the LA Farmers Market by Jimmy Shaw in 2002. Now there are five locations across LA. Jimmy wanted to put true Mexican food on a plate after seeing so many Americanized versions of it all over Cali. Lotería is a type of bingo game in Mexico that uses game cards with images that represent Mexico. Many of these images are posted all over their restaurant. I read a guide of best foods to try at the Market and their popular nachos made the list. Some of their other favorites include the Chicharrón de Queso (pork dish), the tacos and their signature Guisos (slow-cooked stews). They also have a full breakfast menu for the early risers. Even though I was just sampling today, this mini nacho plate packed a punch. It consisted of corn tortilla chips, black beans, Pico de Gallo, jack cheese, tomatillo Salsa, onion and cilantro. I love nachos that just ooze with cheese and this one didn’t disappoint. The staff was great and it was fun to sit behind the counter and watch them passionately cook up some great food. I hope to grab a full meal next time around.
Nat’s Early Bite Coffee Shop and Diner is a long time favorite of mine. It’s my regular stop when I’m in the Van Nuys area. They do breakfast and lunch (but known for their breakfast) and are a local favorite. This place has a long history (three decades in the Sherman Oaks area) and has a cool story about the original owner selling the place to one of his busboys. They actually have several Eggs Benedict variations. Some of the favorites are the Corned Beef Hash Benedict, the California Benedict and Canadian Bacon Benedict. On their menu you will also find a killer chilaquiles dish and a Jewish matzoh brie. Breakfast is served all day and comes complete with either a cinnamon roll or a muffin. The line for a table is pretty long on the weekends. But Nat’s is one of those places you don’t mind the long wait because next door is a classic antique toy store that has some really cool stuff that will take you back to your childhood. Most of the people waiting in line hang out in there. Portions are huge and don’t let how the place looks outside turn you off.
Our Own Corned Beef Hash and 2 Eggs
Next Door to Nat’s is Big Kid Collectable Toy Mall & Retro Store. It’s located within the same strip mall and sells an eclectic variety of vintage collectibles, toys & ephemera in a retro space. It’s a great place to hang out while waiting for your table and to relive your childhood.
Greatness is not “WHAT WE HAVE” Greatness is “WHAT WE MAKE”
Another Soul Food Chain hits the Valley. Louisiana Fried Chicken is a franchise/chain birth out of L.A. with a New Orleans southern influence to their food. I picked up a Groupon to this place and decided to check it out. Soul food is pretty popular these days with restaurants everywhere adding chicken and waffles to their menu. It will be interesting to see how LFC does coming off the heels of Lo-Lo’s which made soul food a hit here in the valley. The fried okra was great and I loved the sweet potato pie. Overall it was a decent experience. (Note – they have a tendency to close at odd times whenever they run out of chicken or have A/C issues. I tried to return for a second visit and it looks like they have closed permanently. Oh well.)
– from their website
Joe Dion was the founder of Louisiana Famous Fried Chicken. Dion came to Los Angeles from Michigan in 1957 with nothing in pockets and inclination to work in restaurants. After a month in his garage with a 30 pound fryer, experimenting with a recipe he says he obtained from New Orleans chef Paul Prudhomme, he arrived at a product chicken in a Zesty Cajun batter fried to a soft crunch and finished with a slight, spicy heat.
3 Piece Pac (with Fried Okra and Mashed Potatoes with Gravy)
It’s been awhile since I’ve been this excited about a movie. But after seeing the trailer to Jon Favreau’s new movie CHEF, I was hooked on seeing it. One reason – food porn. I seriously was salivating as I saw the previews. Plus I was a cook for ten years in the restaurant business and I understand life in the kitchen. Cooking for me has always been both therapeutic and a passion. This is the story of Carl Casper, a cook in L.A. who is trying to rediscover his passion for cooking. He ends up going on road trip in a food truck with his son to get his passion to make amazing food back. The film ended up being a great movie and easily one of my favorite ones of the year. In addition to having a great cast, CHEF also has a great soundtrack. I ended up going with my favorite foodie friends that I love to eat out with. My friend Kim is a personal chef and my other friend Pete is (in my opinion) the top restaurant reviewer in Arizona. He and his wife Monica eat out at different restaurants all over the valley. We had a blast and I look forward to seeing it again!