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.