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Trip Report

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  • MelB5 Jan 30, 2012 10:52 PM
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Hubby and I spent 1 night and 2 days in LA to see Wicked. I spent a lot of time on the boards to choose where to eat so thought I'd report back.
On our way into town we stopped in at El Tepeyac. Hubby had the original pork Hollenbeck burrito and I had the chile relleno burrito. We were both very pleased. This place knows how to deliver a great burrito! The burritos of course are huge but we both did our best and were able to eat about 3/4 of them. Growing up in SoCal we've had our fair share of delicious Mexican food so it wouldn't be fair to say its the best I've ever had but still very satisfying. And, of course Manny is what would keep me coming back over and over again. He sat down with us several times and chit-chatted with us, he gave us not one but 2 shots each of tequila and generally made us feel so welcomed. I know we'll be back.

For dinner we made reservations at Cleo. I wanted a nice date restaurant that also had amazing food. I asked here on Chowhound and you all delivered with this suggestion! I LOVED Cleo! The interior space is beautiful. I loved the huge photos. I will say though that they really pack in the tables here. If I were a larger framed woman, I think I would've been sitting on the lap of the people next to us. This would be my only complaint as it made it sort of awkward to have a conversation as I knew the tables on either side of us could hear every word. Still, I drank a cocktail straight away which took the edge off the awkwardness and we were able to fully enjoy our meal. We started with the lebaneh with feta. It was served with a warm and delicious bread. I could NOT get enough of this stuff! I knew I was filling up too much on that bread but I didn't care! I could eat that stuff everyday and be happy! What should have come out next was the brussel sprouts that I read so much about and the pumpkin salad. Mysteriously, these dishes never arrived. When we told our server at the end of the meal that we never did get these dishes she seemed confused and was apologetic but all was well because we were STUFFED by the end (we'd just a few hours earlier had those El Tepeyac burritos) and we were out of time (didn't want to be late for the show) so we assured our server it was fine and we were perfectly happy without those items. Gives me a good reason to return as I really did want to try those brussel sprouts. Anyway, the next dish we received was the grilled octopus with potato. This was very very good as well. Hubby enjoyed it more than I as I felt the seasoning was your basic run of the mill seafood rub. But, it was still very enjoyable. Next up was the lamb sliders. These were very good as well. Greasy but good. Being that it was a slider I can't say that it wowed me but it was yummy nonetheless and I wouldn't hesitate to order it again. Next came the mushroom flatbread with gruyere, chile, and wilted arugula. WOW!!!!!! Absolutely delicious! I only wished we'd had more room in our stomachs. We simply could not finish this but I've been dreaming about it for the last 2 days and I will probably continue thinking about it until I return for more! Lastly, we tried the sticky toffee pudding that I'd read so much about. I could only manage 2 bites but I from what I read I honestly expected more. It was good but not great in my opinion. I also had 2 cocktails during this meal. The vinebury and Cleo's kiss. Both were good but I'd have to give the edge to Cleo's kiss. Service here was perfectly acceptable. Our waitress was cute, bubbly, and friendly.

I know this is a food report but I must note that after the show we went for some post-show drinks at the Library Bar at the Roosevelt. Hands down the best cocktails we've ever had. It's a real art form what they do with their ingredients there. We had 3 cocktails each here. You just tell them what liquor you want and a little about what flavors you like and they work their magic. Each drink was bold and unexpected and amazing.

After all those drinks we thought we should do our part to lessen the hangover with some greasy grub so we went to 25 degrees. It's the 24 hour burger joint at our hotel (Roosevelt). We shared our customizable burger (we chose cheese, mushrooms, jalepenos, and grilled onions). Ok so yes I was verrrry buzzed by this time and it was 1:30 in the morning but that was a DARN good burger!!! We also shared an order of the sweet potato fries which complemented the burger perfectly. Hubby also had the Guiness milkshake. Guiness milkshake! Need I say more?! I had a sip and it was delicious! We had fun quoting John Travolta in Pulp Fiction with the $5 milkshake quote (although this was an $8 milkshake). The service here was very good which is surprising considering the late hour and the "just returning from the bar" patrons. Speaking of this though we were surprised that given the fact that this place is open 24 hours with the entrance right on Hollywood Blvd that there wasn't a rowdier, seedier crowd. I absolutely loved the vibe and the decor. If we had a place like this here in the Palm Springs area, you'd find me there OFTEN!

Sunday morning we wandered down to Hungry Cat. I wasn't particularily hungry (see above) but we'd heard so much about this place that it pained us not to try it. It was the brunch menu and I was suprised (and a little disappointed) by how many dishes there were that were not seafood. Yes, of course there were the oysters but with all the drinks the night before that wasn't sounding too good right then. So, hubby ordered the chorizo frittata which was very good but not knock your socks off amazing (I know I guess we should've stuck to seafood) and I had the best fish taco of my entire life. Luckily there were 3 so we each had one. I am not sophisticated enough to pick out the flavors but there were some in there that were unexpected and SO good!

On our way out of town that night, we stopped at Philippe's. I ordered the lamb double dipped and hubby got the roast beef double dipped. It seemed to me that chowhounders prefer the lamb but hubs and I both thought the roast beef was the real winner here. It should be said though that I am a recovering vegetarian so the lamb was just a little too...I don't know...lamb-y for me. I will say that the mustard there MADE that sandwich! Whoa! That stuff was YUM!

Well, that's it! I still don't know how we managed to fit so much food in our stomachs in such a short time but we did it! Next time, I plan to up the budget so that we can finally dine at Providence.
Thanks again Chowhounders for all your help in planning this little getaway.

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  1. Impressive Power-hounding. Thanks so much for reporting back. I have a question for you, MelB5: I wonder how you came up with choices like El Tepayac, 25 degrees, and even Philippe's considering that you "spent a lot of time on the boards ?" It seems to me (and I expect to get shouted down by many lovers of these horrible places) that the purpose of this board is to alert visitors like you NOT to go to these joints and to steer you to better choices, chow-wise. Places like these -- and, of course, grossly, Pink's -- are where one gets steered by everyone BUT chowhounds. Next time I hope you get to try pumpkin salad and b. sprouts at Cleo, both are impressive, and far worthier IMHO of your time (and calories) than grease bombs like El Tepayac, 25 degrees, and even Philippe's. I think you will enjoy Providence as well.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Ciao Bob

      Lots of hounds here of impressive credentials (based on their published likes and dislikes in LA and beyond) enjoy the places that Mel ended up both trying AND liking. Sounds like Mel & her husband enjoyed their food just fine at El Teyayac, 25 Degrees and Philippe's.

      1. re: Ciao Bob

        Ciao Bob-Yes, I guess I should've clarified "spent a lot of time on the boards....for me" a busy working mom of 3 young children. So I did what research I could. Also, I should note that our young(ish) age, budget, and time constraints prevent us from being real foodies but we hope to one day claim that distinction and we are getting there one meal at a time! :) So, this report should be read with that in mind.
        I did find plenty of posts that agree with you that Pinks is terrible but I am suprprised to hear that chowhounders don't recommend the other two.I thought I found plenty of favorable posts by chowhounders of El Tepeyac and Philippe. That combined with the fact that they seemed to be LA institutions and that is why we went.
        But, as we're always looking to combine cheap, local, dive-y places with a nicer meal when we travel, I'd love to hear your picks for some better choices the next time we are in LA!!!
        As for 25 degrees, I never planned on going there so didn't check in with Chowhound prior to our visit. That was simply a "those drinks were really strong so I need some greasy carbs to soak it up, its right here in our own hotel and is open at 2am" spur of the moment decisions. I'm still glad we went. I enjoyed the vibe as much as the food.
        I always try to find the good in whatever I do, so even though I didn't like my sandwich at Philippe's and I probably would choose to try another sandwich place next time, I'm still glad to say I've been, and I did love that hot mustard and am glad I got to try it. Same goes for El Tepeyac. I wouldn't necessarily drive out of my way for the food alone but the fun and welcoming atmosphere that the owner provides will bring me back.
        I do thank you for your feedback and look forward to hearing your suggestions for next time!

      2. It is more like a mutton dip, lol. I love lamb so it doesn't bother me, but I wouldn't recommend the Lamb dip to someone who's not into lamb funk. :)

        I can't believe they are raising their coffee prices! Occupy Phillipe's ;)

        1 Reply
        1. re: AAQjr

          Ha! Mutton dip. Totally agreed!

        2. Wonderful review! And you ate at some of my favorite places. I am so sorry you did not get the Brussels Sprouts at Cleo, one of the great dishes of the last year (or more) in my not so humble opinion! But I am glad you loved it as I do and that you had such a wonderful chowweekend!

          1 Reply
          1. re: Tom P

            Thank you Servorg and Tom!