Ms. Tomato has been hanging in Los Angeles, high on a hill in what the American Planning Association has named "one of the top ten great neighborhoods" in the U.S.--Echo Park. One of L.A.'s oldest communities, this is the original home of Charlie Chaplin's production company, and the site of the ginormous evangelist temple built by infamous preacher and Foursquare Church founder Sister Aimee Semple McPherson. Sister Aimee is known for all manner of spiritual hijinx, as well as staging her own kidnapping/drowning so she could canoodle, in peace, with her accountant. But then again, we're all sinners--doesn't mean we can't tell other people what to do!
Ms. Tomato discovered this vibrant neighborhood in the early 90's when she moved into an adorable little clabbord cottage, right off Echo Park Blvd., to which fresh paint was applied nightly.
Graffiti is a fascinating and rich form, at least it brought in a good amount of police attention. Like pesky houseflies, the helicopters nose-dove our yards back then, burning laser-bright lights into our bedchamber windows each evening around 11pm, making certain there were no young Latino men hanging about wearing white t-shirts.
This was the flavor of Echo Park back when it was the real thing -- when all of us, including the purposefully-bald young men and their mysterious skin art, convened around the tamale lady's grocery cart each Sunday morning, sipping horchata. Ahhh, the good old days!
It's still a great little town. And one of the great things about it are its surroundings: downtown and Little Tokyo, KoreaTown, SilverLake, Glendale--all these food lover paradises are within a five to ten minute drive. Some of our standby's are listed below.
1) Beverly Soon Tofu: the place in KoreaTown to get bubbling tofu soup in iron cauldrons. It's hard to spend more than $10 a person and the array of pickles are filled and refilled as needed. Flintstone furnishings, nestled in the corner of a strip mall on Olympic just West of Vermont.
2) Casbah Café: Silver Lake's best bet for fresh mint tea, or strong latte and a camembert baguette sandwich, a French cannelle pastry, a piece of creamy quiche. Opens at 6am daily and has tons of atmo, with picturesque Morroccan goods for sale. Sunset Blvd. at Hyperion.
3) Hollywood Farmer's Market and Tamale Stand: Start at Ivar and Sunset Blvd around 8am Sunday morning for the best goods and the fewest people. By 10am it's a zoo. The tamale stand that sits east of Ivar sometimes has a long line, but worth it...frozen or hot and ready, they come with a choice of sauces like black bean, or corn and chile.
4) Daikokuya: downtown in Little Tokyo (blurry art photo above in lede) there are few places to park, then you'll probably have to wait in line for your bowl of noodles, but we have to say, it's worth it. If you eat pork. The broth is ladled from a pot of bones large enough to bathe in. Cheap, lots of food. On East 1st Street, west of Central.
5) Café Stella: overpriced, but it's still Silver Lake's answer to a real French bistro, all moody and ghosty eroded mirrors, wooden bar and decent wines by the glass. Escargot, frites, grilled artichoke plied with butter and garlic, et al. At Silver Lake Junction on Sunset Blvd.
Tune in next post for the rise of the Sexy Vegan.