Eat Your Way Through L.A.: Day 3 / by LD



I'm trying to decide how to begin my recap of Day 3: Westside / Santa Monica.

Oh, wait. I think I just did.

More specifically, I'm trying to decide how democratic an approach I take to my recollections. Cool, indifferent observer? Impassioned freak blogger? Somewhere in the middle? After all, those of you who know me well are too well-aware of my distaste for - eh - certain areas within Southern California, namely those that are near the coast, north of Venice but south of Malibu. Didn't click the link, did you? Well, click it and weep. There are few things I get so worked up about (melon being one of them) than How Do You Solve A Problem Like The Westside. (Period! For emphasis!)

So the very fact that Day 3 of Eat Your Way Through L.A. flung us mercilessly into the bowels of Santa Monica Blvd necessitated a gut reaction from yours truly (sidenote, Sheryl Crow, if you truly wanted to have a little fun before you died, you and William could do a whole lot better than watching the sun rise on gridlocked traffic on SM Blvd. I mean, what a waste of a perfectly good sun rise, Sher. And I suppose when you later wanted to soak up the sun you meant from, like, Van Nuys right? Whatever). And all tourette-y bracketed outbursts aside, I'm really trying to hold my tongue here. The last thing The Internet needs is another kook spewing bitter missives at the unsuspecting masses and while I have a burnin' fire in my bones most of the time for (usually) meaningless battles (melon?!), I also have a few friends who have chosen [HOWEVERMISGUIDEDLY] to make the Westside their home. So no disrespect.

But...really? REALLY? The traffic and the crowds and the traffic and oh my heavens, y'all, there are cars EVERYWHERE, everywhere! How and why and wherefore?!

See? Can't do it. Ergo, I'm going to play the cool, professional critic (of the food, guys) on this one and tell you about a couple of delightful places Ashley and I visited on Wednesday
[THEONLYTWOREDEEMABLETHINGSABOUTANOTHERWISEFESTERINGBOILOFACITY]. Our first stop was Apple Pan on Pico for their hickory burger. Red vinyl seats flanked a horseshoe counter facing the grill, and our order was taken before we'd even gotten a chance to set our purses down. Hickory burger, please, and a Diet Coke. No cheese. Thanks. The burger itself is a lunch counter burger in every sense of the term, warm and steaming under a towering stack of lettuce and wrapped in white paper. No plates at Apple Pan - just the burger, a smear of ketchup and mustard, maybe a pickle or two hidden in the wad of lettuce leaves. Eating it, I recalled the burgers at Court Street Dairy Lunch in my hometown, Salem. The fries are crisp on the outside, soft in the middle - but lacked a bit of saltiness. It's a no-frills burger at a no-frills joint, but like many things I've come to expect from the Westside, it's all neatly wrapped in a price that screams, "FRILLS! FRILLS RIGHT THIS WAY, FOLKS!" Our two burgers, two cans of Coke, and a side order of fries between us came to $26, a sum that would easily feed a car full of hungry dudes at In-N-Out - which, incidentally, is arguably the superior burger anyway.

Next on deck was a search for yet another bacon-y treat: the maple bacon biscuit at Huckleberry Cafe. Dense and scone-like in consistency, with an ample amount of bacon baked into its buttery dough, the biscuit was all the things you'd expect from the name: sweet and savory, chewy with a bit of crunch, satisfying without being overbearing. The desserts at Huckleberry looked divine but after our lunch at Apple Pan, we had a one track mind. I've always found reason to scorn breakfast pastries for their unyielding allegiance to sugar (that early in the morning, the only thing my stomach can handle is more sleep or, of course, bacon), and this biscuit is the perfect antidote.

I wish I could say we went to Chinois and Cut and Annisette and Border Grill. I wish I could say the marrowbone flan was life-changing and the tamales equally illuminating. But the truth is, by the time we wrestled our way to the neighborhood, the bloated cavalcades of traffic and block after block of full parking garages had exhausted us. We hightailed it to Venice to meet up with a friend, then took sweet refuge in our beloved Long Beach. After all, the temperature was nearing 80 and we simply couldn't be confined to a vehicular prison any longer. Sorry, Santa Monica. Maybe next time.

But mostly likely not.