Without a doubt I believe when Joe Esposito belted out the Karate Kid soundtrack, “You’re the best! Around! Nothing’s ever going to keep you down!” he had 2013′s Top 13 LA Foodstuffs Under $13 in mind. How is that possible for a 29-year old song? I’m not sure. But don’t let that detract you from Unemployed Eater’s fourth annual enumerating of the Southland’s finest frugal food finds. This year the list culls far and wide from our fair city and county. Encino! Atwater Village! Sierra Madre! Miracle Mile! It also spans the gamut when it comes to cuisine. Breakfast! Lunch! Dinner! Snacks! Cookies! Appys!
Reminder of the rules: 1) 2013 must have been the first year I consumed the foodstuff; 2) The restaurant must be in LA County; 3) The item must cost $13 or less before tax.
So, why don’t we just get to it already? 2013′s Top 13…
13. Spicy Sausage Pizza at Wildcraft – At first glance Wildcraft’s Spicy Sausage Pizza may not sound too much out of the ordinary. However, when you scientifically (or regularly) break down the elements you realize what makes this pie transcend the competition. Just enough sauce, housemade spicy fennel sausage, above average cow’s milk mozz, garlic “chips,” provolone and calabrian chiles with a quick finish of sea salt, EVOO and parmesan. All this atop Wildcraft’s unusual, yet exceptional sourdough dough – a dough born of a 100-year old starter from Napa Valley that Chef Tin Vuong and crew nurtured and tinkered for close to a year to perfect. Now stop glancing at the pizza. Eat it already.
12. Greek Yogurt (Plus Toppings) at Go Greek Yogurt – Beverly Hills’ Go Greek Yogurt is not another froyo spot. Go Greek serves authentic Greek yogurt (mostly of the non-frozen variety, but they do offer a few frozen options for those in dire need…) from Greece. The European country where this whole Greek yogurt hullabaloo commenced. Also, as I wrote when I first checked out the spot, Go Greek also distances itself from fellow yogurt peddlers by offering the most impressive toppings bar anywhere. My recommendation: reduced fat yogurt, local figs and blackberries, some sage honey and raw peanut butter chews.
11. Everything at Phorage - Phorage certainly possesses the biggest cajones of any restaurant on this year’s list. They opened a modern, approachable Asian spot… in the former confines of a popular modern, approachable Asian spot. The beloved Chego, no less. Despite the pressures that come with the hallowed digs, Phorage has very much risen to the occasion. Chef/Owner Perry Cheung, along with his fellow owners, Jesse Duron and Eric Cho, felt the Westside lacked quality, affordable Vietnamese. So that’s exactly what Phorage does: pho, broken rice plates, bahn mi and more with locally sourced, sustainable, superior ingredients. Take note: starting this week, every Wednesday they will be doing $25 a head Farmers’ Market dinners.
9. Turkey, Egg and Cheese Sandwich at EggSlut – EggSlut expertly does eggs many ways and you may be tempted to try something out of the ordinary. For example, their namesake, a coddled egg over potato puree. Don’t though. Order the Turkey, Egg and Cheese – a taste bud explosion of an over-medium egg, cheddar cheese, housemade turkey sausage and a honey mustard aioli. Bonus: since going brick and mortar at downtown’s Grand Central Market they now make their own brioche buns (and offer validated parking). I promise you this: it will be by far the most satisfying experience you’ve ever had hooking up with a slut.
10. White Chocolate Raspberry Cookie at Milk Jar - The 2013 en vouge selection here would have most certainly been donuts. Fancy, schmancy donuts. And while I enjoyed my fair share of fried hole in the middles this year, the dessert I enjoyed most wasn’t really fancy, schmancy at all. Rather, a simple White Chocolate Raspberry cookie from new Miracle Mile entrant, Milk Jar. Milk Jar does a tremendous job of assembling cookies that taste at once cake-y, doughy, gooey and a little sugar cookie-y. Next time you’re in, grab a White Chocolate Raspberry and a Chocolate Chip and don’t share with anyone.
8. Classic Butterscotch Ice Cream at Mother Moo Creamery - Mother Moo may be all the way out in Sierra Madre, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth the drive. In the upper LA echelon with the likes of Sweet Rose — both in creaminess and flavor profiles — Mother Moo makes some incredible ‘scream. Whether it’s their classic mainstays like Salted Chocolate (consists of three types of chocolate) and Butterscotch (which is made with a dose of awesomeness) or current seasonal fare like Candied Triple Citrus (three types of local Ojai organic citrus fruits) and Bitter Orange & Chocolate (using the somewhat rare Chinotto orange), they really have ice cream for every palette. Let’s make a deal though: you go to Mother Moo, you bring some back to the Westside for Mother Unemployed Eater.
FOR THE TOP 7 (PLUS MORE PICTURES!!!), CHECK OUT THE UNEMPLOYED EATER.
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UCLA’s Royce Hall, legendary host to a wide range of performances across the performing arts spectrum, served as an apt venue for the pairing of Anna Calvi and Chelsea Wolfe, two lady songstresses with outsized stage presences, with songs that expand upon traditional structures and genres, taking pop well into avant-garde territory.
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