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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
(818) 848-1655

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  1. cool! I've always wondered about this place, but figured "nah--it's in deepest darkest BUR, how good could it be?"

    btw, as DU says, it's the corner of Alameda & Victory, but if you Googlemap or Mapquest it, they say somewhere on the other side of the 5. oy!

    1. 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.

      1. 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:
        Mambo's Cafe
        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.

        1. i've been in this liquor store many many times but i've never been brave enough to try the food. what a great discovery you made!

          1. 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!

            1 Reply
            1. re: symbebekos

              Oh, I agree -- Robin Hood (in Valley Glen -- we're not Van Nuys, we're not we're not we're NOT!) is much better F&C, but I'm just so happy to have something to chow on near work!

            2. 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.


              2 Replies
              1. re: tapeop

                Larry's Hot Dogs has very good fries lately. On Burbank Blvd near California Street

                1. re: jackattack

                  I just had them on Saturday - cooked well done with chili and cheese. YUM!! Their chili dogs are also really good.

              2. Really enjoyable write up. Will def try this place next time I'm in the mood for fish-n-chips (which isn't often...)

                1. Any update to this place? Was thinking about checking it out at lunch.

                  1. K, dropped by today, pretty awesome.

                    Fish cooked very well, moist, flavorful; nice crunch to the light batter (my preference).

                    Fries were meh, but the fish was excellent. Lots of people coming in to order the F&C. 9.19 after tax.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: ns1

                      The fries may be inconsistent, but the fish has always been tasty. I'm less picky about fries than fish.

                    2. Thanks for the info, but I have no reason to switch from Rocky's!

                      Rocky's Fish & Poultry
                      1212 N San Fernando Blvd, Burbank, CA 91504

                      1. 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?

                        Mr Taster

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Mr Taster

                          Funny, I'm actually in Burbank today but ate lunch at Pho Hut in Glendale since I was dependent on the people with the cars (took the train in). I don't know -- next time I'm up and it's not raining, I'll try it out.