FINALLY, something worth eating in SE Burbank
It's been a week of setbacks for my chow ego, what with the fantastic supermarket dinner at Vallarta and the story I'm about to tell.
It was 14.00. I hadn't eaten because I'd been shackled to the phone since 10.00. I was starving. The problem is that I work near the new Home Depot... they might as well put up "Chow-Free Zone" signs. There's a reasonable Salvadorean place on Victory, but I don't love Salvadorean food. I like El Tapatio, but since I live on the border of North Hollywood and Van Nuys, I'm spoiled for choice of great Mexican food. There's hot dogs from the truck at Home Depot, which I like, but I always manage to get mustard on myself and I have another meeting at 15.30. There's downtown Burbank, but the parking... oy.
So I decided to head down Alameda, hoping that I'd find something before I hit Toluca Lake.
At the northwest corner of Alameda and Victory, the words hit me like a slap in the face: WILLIE'S FISH AND CHIPS. I made a quick right, parked, and walked in...
...right into a liquor store. With a sandwich counter.
Liquor stores can't possibly have chow, right?
Remembering that supermarkets supposedly couldn't have chow either, I walked up, placed an order for fish and chips, the older guy (Willie, I'm assuming) calls to the back for somebody, and out walks Olvis, who longtime Chowhounds will know as one of the guys behind the counter at Fish King in Glendale. The place rose much, much higher in my estimation. He went in the back to get cod, then cut it up and battered it in a plastic bucket right before my eyes. Six big fingers of cod, plus a double handful of steak fries done to order, half a lemon, and a tub each of ketchup and tartar sauce.
It was fantastic. I might ask for them to be a little more well-done next time, but that's strictly a personal choice... fresh, piping hot, flaky, perfectly done on the inside. The fries were perfect -- with that crunchy-chewy bite that only steak fries have -- and not oversalted.
The only real problem is that there are exactly two small tables, and even at 14.05 there were fifteen people there, getting everything from F&C to pastrami sandwiches on rye to oven-roasted turkey on French rolls. Apparently this is not a new discovery for the working people of Burbank, because it was full of everyone from workbooted men with paint on their faces to Armenian guys in velour track suits to a pale, clerkly-looking stockbroker type in an expensive suit.
My lunch cost me $6.99, plus $1.50 for a Diet Coke and tax. I'm thoroughly stuffed (probably won't eat dinner), very happy, and you can bet your Burbank bippy I'll be back, since it's all of half a mile from the office. Finally, something to chow on in southeast Burbank.
Willie's Fish and Chips
Inside the Alameda Market
321 W. Alameda Ave. (NW corner of Victory)
Burbank, CA 91506
This place has been on my radar for years and yet it was just last weekend that I finally drove past the place and saw the words on the side of the brick building. Still have to head in there and give it a shot. Das, I know you're in OC now, but do you know if Olvis is still manning the fryer?
The name "Willie" comes from the previous owner "Dick's" wife. They owned the store for many years and were a charming couple. She was known for her primrose yellow caddy. Their son ran the grill.
Personally i liked the food better "back in the day".......but I do order a sandwich now and then. Not real fond of the current "chef's " moaning and groaning. The gal who works behind the grill counter is a real nice lady though.
They used to sell racing forms.
I stop by every day after working the graveyard shift for a post house on Flower. It's still a nice place to conversate with the local characters.
I drive from north hollywood every sunday morning to do my laundry next door.
Make sure you take your own detergent -- otherwise you can pay high prices for it at the liquor store.
I agree that there aren't a lot of good eating places in the area. I can go on and on about the good ole days but that was then and this is now. What about Johnny's on Flower?
Pecos Bill's is a landmark but the line is LONG during the rush. Yaki's is right up the street. Pretty good chow at reasonable prices. The Ralphs at Alameda and Glenoaks is ok but there is something weird about delis in a grocery store.
If you feel like travelling to the Magnolia District try Pinnochios. Darn good roast beef samiches on really good rolls for cheap.
Sub King at Victory and Olive next to the 7-11 used to be good but they skimp on the meat these days.
Anybody remember Dons Hamburgers on Olive? Best burgers and a pitcher around.
Sadly to note that Genios at Verdugo and Olive got razed last month.
Well there's still The Talley Rand and Lancer's. I eat at both locations occaisonaly but if I ate there every day I would go broke in a hurry.
Franks at the corner of Victory and Olive is a joke.
The Franks in NoHo is gone. As well as Leons.
I'm a basic food group kinda guy. Eggs Bacon Hashbrowns and Toast. For cheap.
Try Norms on Magnolia a coule of blocks east of Victory for good breakfast chow. The breakfast specials are a pretty good deal.
Thank for the blog.
Just had the fish and chips today for lunch, and indeed, it's quite good and a large portion. The steak fries are also good, but out of a bag and nothing special. I do think that Robin Hood in Van Nuys has better F&C, but Willie's is much, much closer to where I am. Next time I'm there I'll try the pastrami sandwich!
I like Willie's, too. But it's definitely to go.
If you keep heading down Victory you'll hit 2 other worthy (at least in my estimation) places in Burbank (well, technically Glendale but who's counting).
One is a decent cuban restaurant:
1701 Victory Blvd
Glendale, CA 91201
Try the Mambo chicken.
The other is the weirdest (good) BBQ sandwich you will ever have. The sauce is really an au jus rather than a traditional bbq sauce.
Pecos Bill's BarBQ
1551 Victory Blvd
Glendale, CA 91201
And since you're now fond of eating out of liquor stores. There's also a liquor store in between Mambo's & Pecos on Victory that sells bbq. No joke. Haven't tried it, yet so I couldn't tell you what it's like.
Maybe a stone's throw from where you are and pretty good lunch buffet place is:
QQ Buffet & Grill
900 N. Central Ave., Glendale (Just north of the 134)
Chinese food, sushi, boiled shrimp and mussels and other Asian and American fare.
$6.99 for lunch buffet($1 for refillable soft drinks)and they got a parking lot of their own.