Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Asking Eating L.A.: Best Echo Park restaurant?

Liz and Nina ask, "Which Echo Park restaurant do you like the most? I know there are at least 3 new ones (15, Lot 1, Park) ? Do you have a preference?"

So far, I'd have to go with The Park. I also think Elf Cafe is awfully sweet, even if the cooking isn't the most sophisticated. However, I haven't gotten to Lot 1 yet -- I've been waiting for them to straighten out the air conditioning issues and get a liquor license. Columnist Joel Stein told me the other night that he had a wonderful meal there, but wasn't so crazy about the rest of the trappings.

I've been to 15 twice, and although it certainly provided a good alternative when it was practically the only decent restaurant in the area, the food isn't very original and it feels kind of bland and corporate. Oh, and the $15 before 7:00 special just went up to $19.

I reviewed The Park for the Los Feliz Ledger last month. Here's some of the review:
The Park strikes the right balance between funky Echo Park and gentrifying Echo Park, although decor verges on the overly minimalist. The bonus is that with free corkage, diners can bring good wine and eat lavishly for around $60 a couple.
While the menu ambitiously runs the gamut of pastas, Latin-inflected dishes, vegetarian selections and comfort food, it's remarkably successful for the range it covers.
Don't miss the mini cornmeal pancakes with seared shrimp as an appetizer; the chipotle butter pairs nicely with the gently sweet pancakes. A hamburger or homemade veggie burger is just $10 for the basic version; add cheeses, bacon or mushrooms for $1 per topping. Super-skinny fries are nicely browned. A special of duck confit is a meltingly tender portion paired with a soft tamale filled with rajas (mild chile strips) and savory onions. The chef pulls off the Southwestern-style dish admirably, and the duck falls away from the bone with no tiresome excavating involved. A peach cobbler special with vanilla ice cream is serviceable but could be more flavorful. Service is friendly if a little awkward -- one server enthusiastically announces "Ta-da!" each time she presents a dish to the table.
The Park has its finger on the pulse of Echo Park -- tasty but not pretentious, with a dash of Latin flavor and several nods to vegetarians.
As for the older spots, I used to like Barragan's but suffered digestive distress from the greasy tacos last time I went there. Freres Taix is a great historic spot but the food is blah, and Masa is terribly inconsistent, although it has its fans. Anyone brave enough to try Phnom Penh?


Ellen Bloom said...

It's not fancy, but the Rodeo Mexican Grill on Sunset between Logan and Lemoyne, is still one of my favorites. You can have the most divine sauteed shrimp w/ rice, beans and salad for under $10. They serve great breakfasts too.

Anonymous said...

Tried Phnom Penh years ago after drunken Yee Mee Loo escapades. Even after one too many, when I wasn't at my most discriminating, it was *bad*.

carter said...

And now with Centeno leaving Lot 1, it's a good time to wait and find out who will be personing the stove before venturing there. They have not received a C.U.P. yet, and so alcohol will be at least 3-4 months away, maybe more.

Allison said...

unfortunately the best eating in echo park is still on the street (taco zone, the blue corn quesadilla lady on echo park ave, elotes). the park and 15 (haven't tried lot 1 yet) are decent but not good enough for me to become a regular. i really wish someone would open a restaurant that would actually cater to both the long time local residents and the newer transplants. that's probably impossible.

HerbyN said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
HerbyN said...

let me get this straight... a restaurant that calls itself "15", and then aggressively markets the fact that they offer an early evening pre fixe meal for $15 has upped the prix fixe price to $19? they are kidding, right? i mean, really...

does this mean that they are changing the name of the place to "19"??? note to restaurant owners... if you over-promote a gimmick, you might want to stick with it or you risk losing some credibility with your customers. in any case, as Pat correctly points out, this place has never been all that remarkable to begin with. not bad, just not remarkable.

oddlyme said...

Went to the park tonight and fought my husband for the last bite of the shrimp/corn cake appetizer. Yum!

Is the place free? No. But if you like wine, the no corkage makes it poossible to have a really nice meal, with wine, for at least $20 less than other decent places.

I tell myself that Pasadena's cafe Bizou, with it's $2 corkage and $1 salad is quite a deal, and it is, but with their entrees heading towards $20, the park is a very nice alternative.

Anonymous said...

went to this Rest based on this review - it was sweet and food good
only they now charge $10 for corkage
DRAG but still it was nice place and waiter was very good - i would go back and will - didnt realize review was written 2 years ago