Good News & Bad in Monrovia
Someone I was talking to at a meeting last night knows of my passion for cool grocery stores, and told me about Dogwood's Marketplace on Foothill in Monrovia. I had some business over there anyway, and besides that wanted to check out the refurbishing of another Monrovia fave, the King Ranch market, so I fired up Old Quicksilver this afternoon and headed east.
Dogwood's is very cool. Mostly produce, with a strong Middle-Eastern slant that gets a lot stronger in the dairy and canned-goods department; I didn't ask, but I'm betting there's some tie-in with our own Lake Avenue Produce, as they have tons of the same Mediterranean/Slavic/Arabic cheeses that LAP used to carry a lot more of, plus all the various pulses, grains and dry legumes. The fresh meat case hasn't much on display, but their beef is halal, and they have pre-packaged leg of lamb both fresh and frozen. There are lots of interesting sausages and pastry items in the freezer, too. I was just on a fruit-and-supper junket, and bought a one-pound-plus bunch of super-skinny asparagus at $1.99/lb, and four Fuji apples at 69¢/lb. Nice and clean, and they have a very interesting salad/fruit bar, a deli and a pizzeria, things that seem to be all the rage these days.
That was just a few doors east of Magnolia, so it was a straight shot down to the mall that has King Ranch in it, on Huntington. The new facade is handsome, if much less interesting than the old one, and inside they've de-cluttered and expanded their bakery and deli, with a big hot case full of Mexican-style charcuterie: carnitas, big slabs of cooked ribs, buche, roasted chickens and more. The old haphazard aisle layout has been reorganized, and it's much easier to find everything now than it was. Unfortunately, one of the things I kept finding over and over was that they no longer have a lot of stuff that I used to go there especially for. No more big cans of Peruano beans (though they have large bags of the dry), and the only salt fish they have now is pollock, either packed in bags or wrapped on trays, whereas they used to have both pollock and cod, with the options of boned, with bone or smoked. I didn't spend enough time there to check out the sauces and pickles, but I hope they haven't weeded those out too. Gotta come back anyway - I need to get some of that cooked stuff to drag home.
I liked the layout of Kings Ranch. But I usually would go there for the ceviche and meat. I like the new tortillaria too. They probably did weed out some of the less mainstream stuff. Try the one in Azusa they might still have the items. Although I heard it will be replaced with a Target soon.
I went to Dogwoods the other night, looking for something for dinner and couldn't get any help at the deli!!! There were 2 people behind the counter, and one was helping a customer very slowly. I hung around for about 20 munites then left, wishing I got some hummus tabuli and pita chips.
I think if I were going to Azusa I'd just head down to Gigante! Which, now that I think of it, sounds like a good idea...
Sorry to hear about the slack service at Dogwood's. Now that you mention it, I did notice that all the time I was looking in the sparsely-occupied butcher case, neither of the guys behind the counter ceased conversing, nor asked if I might want something.
I have been meaning and meaning and meaning to check-out Dogwood's - I drive past it at least twice a week (my vet, er, that is, my animals' vet, is a short block further east) and everytime I think "I need to stop there" but I always have a critter with me and won't leave them in the car while I'm browsing. Sounds like I need to make a critter-less trip (especially for reasonably priced asparagus!). Thanks for the recommendation.
Dogwood's has really blossomed under the new owners. The original owner dumped a ton of money refurbishing the old Margarita's location and spent a lot of time doing it (over a year with no business). Then opening strong, a slow downward spiral to mediocrity. The new management seems to get it much better.
I like the new King Ranch redo. The service at the deli/taco bar is hit or miss though. King Ranch is another success story because they made a killing during the grocery strike and are putting that money back into the stores.
I just visited Dogwood's, and was pretty impressed. It is probably the coolest looking grocery store I've seen, with vaulted ceilings, exposed beams, and midget grocery carts. They had a very neat variety of produce, with some unsual fruit. Potential visitors should take note that it is on the small side.
It was strangely quiet there for a Saturday, though. I had a slice of pizza that was wonderfully cheesey and gooey. Was it a wood-burning oven that heated it up? Not sure, but it was a nice warm oven for a cool breezy day. Either I was lucky, or this is the new "best pizza in LA," or at least a contender. Really great taste, though if you don't like it floppy, don't apply. There was a very comfortable booth to sit in. I took a stuffed pepper to go, and it was also quite good, though a little too meaty.
Service was good, but then again there was no crowd. The guy behind the deli counter was friendly, but a little slow in working the register. I can imagine if there were a line things would back up quickly, as he was the only guy there, apparently.
I would suggest checking this place out if you want a cheap lunch or want to sample some good-looking fruits and vegetables. The sandwiches look like a good deal.