Archive for the ‘downtown Los Angeles’ Tag

Bombo is da Bomb!   Leave a comment


BombosignOn one side of Bombo Foods is a display case with fresh fish on ice. On the other is a small seating area looking directly into the kitchen of this food stall in Grand Central Market. Half a dozen stools are separated from the cooking area by a small counter, glass and a row of steam kettles.

Each time I visit the market, there’s a huge line for Egg Slut, another food stall. I haven’t wanted to wait, so I don’t know what the allure is, but I loved having a seat at Bombo, with my back to the line and my eyes on chef Mark Peel and his crew preparing food. At one point, Peel leaned over the glass to ask how everything tasted. I had food in my mouth, so I nodded with an enthusiastic thumbs up.


I opted not to have fish, but instead ordered fried chicken with steak fries. Fresh herbs augmented the impressively moist chicken beneath its crispy exterior. The fries were fine, and I liked the tart beet and cucumber salad, which, because of its size, was merely the suggestion of a side dish.

Bombo chicken

The steam kettles are attention grabbers. One of the cooks explained that steam is shot into the kettles from an opening in the bottom with no liquid added. These are widely used on the East coast.


I already know what I want on my next visits – of which I hope there will be many: the mussels, the short ribs, the clams, the ….

Bombo Foods
Four-and-a-half Plates
Grand Central Market
317 S. Broadway
Los Angeles

An Urban Food Court   2 comments


Angelinos have shopped at Grand Central Market in downtown Los Angeles since 1917. Today, they’re also enjoying cuisine prepared by various vendors sharing space with the grocers. My mom recalls going there as a child with her mother and aunts to do much of their weekly shopping for everything from produce to dried beans, from meat to cheese.

There’s still a butcher, but a more upscale one and the same is true of the cheese purveyor. Many of the transactions for produce are spoken in Spanish. Much of the food is traditional ethnic street fare; some is on the trendier side. It’s a food court with character and characters.


Before a recent visit we created a list of the places we wanted to sample: Tacos Tumbras a Tomas, Sarita’s Pupuseria, Texas barbecue from Horse Thief, Sticky Rice and Bel Campo. We made it to the first two and were too stuffed to eat anything else. Well, except for ice cream from McConnell’s.

The tacos were massive: mounds of carnitas doused in a blend of spicy red and green salsas. Although the tacos were huge in size and flavor, the best part may have been waiting in line (line is used loosely here). I didn’t have enough confidence in my Spanish to order but I understood what those beside me were having and what the men behind the counter were asking.


Sarita’s Pupuseeria was also a popular spot and the line (this one appropriately named) moved slowly. While you wait it’s fascinating watching the women make the thick pancake-like shapes. We tried some filled with refried beans, cheese and pork with cheese. The latter was the tastiest thanks to gooey cheese and shredded pork, but it was also the greasiest.

We’re looking forward to another visit so we can cross the other places off our list.


Grand Central Market
Four Plates (and lots of napkins)
317 S. Broadway
Los Angeles

Meals Manufactured One at a Time   Leave a comment


The Factory Kitchen blends so well into the industrial area near downtown Los Angeles that skepticism, and perhaps a little fear, become part of your mental landscape the closer you get to the restaurant. Fortunately, the valet station provides some reassurance; and once you enter the sparsely decorated, but entirely functional space of this upscale eatery, you’re transported to, well not quite Italy, but, at least philosophically, some distance from where your car is parked.

However, the menu does get you closer to Italia than you might imagine even though courses aren’t antipasto, el primo, or el secondo. Instead, they’re more aptly named: “to begin…,” “to continue or share…,” and “by itself.” I began with the pomodori, a colorful plate of heirloom tomatoes with red onion, shallots, basil and doused with a vinaigrette. This was summer on a plate.

Factory tomatoes

The mandilli di seta, previously unfamiliar to me, is a signature dish. Almond basil pesto and fiore sardo are spread on sheets of fresh pasta and folded handkerchief-style on the plate. What it lacked in visual allure is compensated for with silky texture and combined elements of the ingredients.

Factory pasta


From the “by itself….”we ordered the prosciutto, featuring a mound of the freshly sliced meat, on a crown of puffed sage-dough. Awkward to eat, it was like a billowy, elegant pizza. The tonnetto, pan-seared albacore with green cauliflower and other grilled vegetables was creative and enticing.

factory tuna

The Factory Kitchen fits into its neighborhood, until the food arrives. Then it stands out.

The Factory Kitchen
Four-and-a-half Plates
1300 Factory Place
Los Angeles, CA

The Sweet Spot   Leave a comment

Although Semi Sweet Bakery in downtown Los Angeles has savory items as well as numerous tempting sweets, the name isn’t quite right. It’s not partially sweet, and it’s tucked away in small, hard-to-find space not at all like a semi, as in truck; however, the quality and variety of baked goods rides above other, pedestrian bakeries.

semisweet crullant

Semi Sweet is  fun: it features several familiar goodies that can’t be identified by their better-known names to avoid copyright infringements. Take the Crullant: a cross between a croissant and a cruller (but this donut’s baked not fried); or the Pocket Tart, as unfamiliar in taste and texture as it is similar in shape and size to a convenient toaster variety popular among kids. There’s also the Ding-a-ling, a spin on the Hostess snack.

semisweet dingaling

The Crème Brulee Crullant had a slightly hard glaze and was filled with vanilla cream reminiscent of its namesake. The texture was light with just the right amount of sweetness. The Pocket Tarts have several filling options; since I’m almost always drawn to anything with strawberries that was an easy choice. Thin, flakey melt-in-your-mouth pastry crust encased a fine layer of strawberry jam. Ding-a-Lings also come in assorted flavors, but chocolate and peanut butter is a hard combination to resist – and it did not disappoint.

semisweet pocket tart

On the savory side, we tried, at the recommendation of a woman who described herself as a regular since she works a few doors away, the Jalapeno Mac and Cheese Empanada. Yep, macaroni and cheese with bits of the piquant chile baked in flakey pastry. It wasn’t sweet and all, but it was a truckload of flavor.

semisweet empanada

Semi Sweet Bakery

Four-and-a-half Plates
105 East 6th Street
Los Angeles, CA

Comfort (food) Italian Style   Leave a comment


I’m not Italian, but that’s my go-to comfort food and pasta tops the list. At Terroni in downtown Los Angeles, the pasta is made fresh daily on site. There’s little else that can offer such solace when it comes to food.

Terroni is located in a cavernous space that once housed a bank. The ceiling seems to reach several stories. Sculptures hang overhead, a boar’s head and art adorn the wall, the open kitchen surges with activity and the dining room is very contemporary given the historic roots of the building.

Bread is brought to the table in a brown paper bag. It’s old world and clever at the same time. Plus, the bread is soft with a chewy crust. We start with Arancini di Modica. The spin on these rice balls, besides the artful way they’re plated, is the cheese and hearty ragu. There are three of us and four arancini. We’re polite about it, but wish we didn’t have to share the fourth.


I order Maccheroncini Geppetto, which was difficult to say, but easy to eat. The rigatoni-like pasta was suffused with a tomato-based sauce featuring homemade sausage, garlic and fontina. The sausage had a nice spice kick easily absorbed by the pasta. I tasted the Spaghetti al Limone, which was like a lemon grove. Olive oil and parmigiano were part of the mix, but lemon was the overwhelming essence.


The restaurant is beautiful and likely to be noisy when busy; fortunately, it wasn’t on our visit. I enjoy good conversation with my comfort food.

Terroni Downtown
Four Plates
802 S. Spring St.
Los Angeles