Thursday, September 02, 2004

Taste test: Masa of Echo Park

As the L.A. Times detailed today, Echo Park is littered with more designer shops than ever these days. But the restaurant scene has still been fairly quiet until the recent arrival of Masa of Echo Park, a new bakery/cafe on the same block as the Echo nightclub. Masa took over a former Mexican bakery, and a few nods to the largely Hispanic-but-gentrifying neighborhood still remain in the Cuban sandwich on the menu and the name -- Masa -- which means "dough" in Spanish. They will soon start serving full breakfasts, so for now we were only able to try the baked goods. They are all made on the premises and my almond croissant was on the heavy side, but fresh and not too sweet, perfect with a cup of their Sumatra coffee. The pastries remind me somewhat of the Backdoor Bakery -- probably not made by a pastry expert, but homey and fresh. They are obtaining a beer and wine license and will have Belgian ales and French wines to go with their deep dish pizza, panini, salads and crepes. There are a few intriguing things on the menu -- mussels can be added to the pizzas, for example. A mango, shrimp and salmon salad sounds like a good alternative to the other dough-intensive items. The familiar arugula/walnut salad comes with Manchego cheese, apples and dates, might be a welcome change from beets and Roquefort.
Masa of Echo Park
1800 W. Sunset Blvd.
(213)989-1558

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

my girlfriend and i were hopeful about a new place in echo park when we read about this masa in the times. the staff were all friendly and pleasant, but unfortunately the food was pretty bad and uninspired. the rosemary rolls before the meal were flavorul but dense. the chocolat croissant we shared was tasty enough, but again lacking the light texture you expect from a skilled baker.

she had the mushroom chicken and spinach crepe. the crepe was folded instead of rolled and was crunchy like a waffle cone. the dehydrated spinach, parched chicken, and scant mushrooms came with no sauce let alone seasoning. i had the salad nicoise which was allright, but the giant iceberg leaves that lined the bowl made it near impossible to eat the salad.

on the plus side the coffe was good.

hopefully its just growing pains. we'd love to have a new place to frequent.

Anonymous said...

I will have to try some different baked goods, but the first test was a miserable failure. The baguette - inedible. I think the owner knows the baker is not good on bread as he said something about what a good pastry chef he is. This 'THING' I got from them could have induced blunt force trauma on anyone with a light tap on the head. WE NEED BREAD IN ECHO PARK!

Anonymous said...

I would like to try dinner at Masa, but the fact that the dining room has two televisions blaring from high up on the walls is just too much. I've walked in and right back out a couple of times now, and I wish they would realize that this is no way to attract people looking for a nice meal, especially in the evening.

GET RID OF THE TELEVISIONS!!

Anonymous said...

carmello's was a cuban and not mexican bakery, but it doesn't matter to you guys, does it, we all look alike. and masa is overpriced and not that good. bummer. i miss carmello's coffee, too. they served me some salad and it was wilted and shitty.

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Anonymous said...

we, me and my husband, go to Masa for the FANTASTIC spanish burgers, almost weekly. The burgers are flavorful and the buns are down right delicious. The salad dressing is nice spin on a mustard vinagrette and we find the lettuce always fresh. It is great to have them in the neighborhood. The owners are super friendly. The decor is lacking but the homey neighborhood feeling makes up for it. The owners are sincere in wanting to serve good food and create a welcoming atmosphere. Give the owners your constructive critisisms and they are willing to listen. We love eating there and are thankful they have come to offer variety to the 'hood.

Anonymous said...

I agree with one of the previous posts here about masa.... nice atmosphere (i like the tvs... :)), friendly service... however... the food is indeed uninspired. solid and servicable, but nothing to write home about. the deep dish pizza was particularly pedestrian. great crust, but extremely bland sauce.

i like the vibe there so i'll give them another try, but only when i'm feeling particularly solicitous.

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Dan said...

We just got back from Masa. Didn't go for a long time, I've been in the neighborhood for 15 years and was bummed to see Carmello's vanish.

Masa's piza wasn't great at all. Too cakey, and the sausages were very Vons - and the tomatoes in the salad weren't even up to that standard. They were the pale, tasteless, mealy kind you get in east coast markets in the middle of winter.

We didn't try the desserts, because nothing could top the old place's tres leches.

brendan l said...

we liked the pizza. i loved the crust. and i had a great cup of coffee along with the croissant/bread pudding. it was decadent and amazing. i'm going back.

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