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A Few Mini-Reviews of Places I've Been Lately - Café Milan, Mel’s Fish Shack, CF Food Kitchen, Marty’s, El Sazon Oaxaqueno

PaulF Apr 22, 2013 11:25 AM

There are a few places that I’ve been to in the last whatever months that I think are worth recommending. Just mini-reviews. I’m only writing recommendations, nothing about places we don’t dig (except one note at the end).

Overall, I’m not sure there is anything here you should drive cross town for – maybe the place in Granada Hills (but maybe I’m just saying that because I drove crosstown for it)? But all are worth it if you’re close by.

Café Milan
205 Culver Blvd Playa Del Rey, CA 90293
(310) 306-0059

Café Milan sits at the end of Culver, almost to the beach. It’s past Tripel (on the same side of the street), but if you reach The Shack you’ve gone too far. It’s in a little shopping center, so there is plenty of parking.

It’s an order at the counter-then they bring you your food type of place. I’ve been there at 830 and it’s been crowded enough, but not too crowded. I’ve arrived at 930 and it’s been much more crowded. I’ve never had a problem getting a table though.

I’ve only been for breakfast, though they have a lunch menu. I’ve been there a number of times lately, though have only ordered three items and tasted a few others off of other people’s plates.

I think my favorite so far is the eggs, sausage and potatoes. Very straightforward fare – the sausage is a spicy hot link, the eggs were perfectly over medium and the potatoes crispy (the remind me of the potatoes you get at Rockenwagner at breakfast, though they aren’t exactly.

I’ve also had a very good breakfast burrito (the same filling is available as a breakfast croissant) and a huge chicken omelet which comes with spinach and avocado. The huevos rancheros has a thick rancheros sauce on it – it’s really good, but not of you’re a total purist. All of the eggs are done really well – you can tell that they are using fresh ingredients all the way around.

They have coffee drinks but if you’re just ordering a regular coffee it’s serve yourself and they have about six different types in thermoses.

Mel’s Fish Shack
4525 W Jefferson Blvd
Los Angeles
(323) 735-7220

Mel’s has some reviews on the board but not that many and it’s new to me and my family.

Mel’s is on Jefferson in sort of a lonely (at least at night) stretch of Jefferson. It’s probably more lively during the day as it is sort of industrial.

At Mel’s, you can order fish dinners or fish by the pound and then figure out your side dishes. You can order your fish grilled or fried. I recommend the fried sole and the grilled salmon, though in my experience it’s all good. (Wasn’t that crazy about the sand dabs, too many bones. I know that that’s the way sand dabs are, but I wasn’t in the mood to battle the skeleton the night we tried them.)

As for the side dishes, we like the red beans and rice and the collard greens. Neither dish is vegetarian, the red beans and rice I believe is made with sausage and the greens definitely have meat in them, though I’ve never bothered to ask what it is.

CF Food Kitchen
16205 Devonshire St
Granada Hills, CA 91344

As far as I can tell, there is only one thread on CH about this place and no one reviewed it. We decided to give it a shot. Keep in mind this is a first impression as I only went once (it’s not my neighborhood).

I took my to CF for dinner because my dad was sick and she needed a break. It was my younger son (17), my wife, me and my mom.

It's a small place in a micro-mall, next to a donut shop, across the street from Smart and Final. It's small, I think they do some catering business as well. Maybe 10 tables, at most. The chef/owner greets you. It's billed as American food.

Wow, what an enjoyable meal. Was it the best meal ever? No. But very good, especially for Granada Hills.

I had jambalaya. It was chock full of sausage, chicken, scallops, shrimp and mussels, served over rice. Nicely spiced, nicely complex, nicely spicy. It came with salad or soup, I had the salad. Very fresh with vinaigrette. My son had chicken gumbo. He loved it. He was concerned it wouldn't have enough chicken, but it was overflowing. My mom and wife shared the Maryland crab cakes. They came with a fresh vegetable medley and mashed potatoes. I tried them and they were very good, good strong crab flavor (though not quite as good as those I had in D.C. recently.) All the entrees came with soup or salad. My wife said the clam chowder was as good as she's ever had, I didn’t try it.

No room for dessert. I had a beer. 80 bucks with the tip.

Marty’s Hamburger Stand
10558 W Pico Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90064

I’m sure a lot of people go to Marty’s but there aren’t that many recs for it, so I’ll do one as a reminder.

Marty’s is a typical hamburger stand, with good, cheap, greasy food. Some people think it’s called “Marty’s – Home of the Combo.”

The “combo” is a burger with a hot dog on it. I think it’s 5 bucks (maybe 6?). It’s good, but not my favorite item. I prefer the hot dogs on their own, both the chili dog and the sauerkraut dog. They split the dogs and really press them down into the grill to get a great char both on the outside and a little on the inside.

I go at lunch and there is always a line – and an interesting mix of women and men with suits (and ties) and firemen/policemen and guys getting off of trucks. The tuna salad on grilled toast is another good sandwich; I’ve had it and a lot of other people seem to order it. Very cheap food, lunch is under ten bucks usually.

El Sazon Oaxaqueno
12131 Washington Pl
Los Angeles, CA 90066

Very inexpensive Mexican food – cash only.

This place used to have a bakery inside, now they are two different store fronts in the same strip mall. I’m pretty sure they have the same owners because if you order coffee and a roll for breakfast they just go next door for the roll.

Mostly, we go for breakfast, it’s between our house and the Farmer’s Market on Sunday when we walk. Sometimes we go on other days and times, too.

By far my favorite dish here is the eggs in spicy tomato sauce. It’s just a fluffy omelet and refried beans just floating in a spicy tomato sauce. No rice, no cheese – just a very straightforward dish. The sauce is, to me, surprisingly complex. It’s not “hot” but it is spicy. They serve it with hot tortillas. As they have a juice bar, I get it with an orange/carrot mix. My son loves the huevos rancheros, my wife’s breakfast choice is the chorizo in tomato sauce; it’s the same as the egg dish I described, but with chorizo instead of eggs.

For dinner, I prefer the chicken with dark red/brown mole sauce. (I’m not looking at the menu, which I can’t find online, so I can’t give the exact description.

This is the kind of food that tastes homemade to me, even though homemade to me never meant Oaxacan cooking.

Anyway, these are just some places that I hope get a little attention. Nothing off the charts, but some really good neighborhood places that I hope others might like trying.

  1. k
    kevin Apr 22, 2013 12:01 PM

    Thanks for the write0-up.

    I'm the one I believe that posted on CF Food kitchen in Granada hills months ago. It sounded interesting when I checked their online menu: crab cakes, beef wellington, steak diane, and frenchy dishes of that ilk.

    1. Servorg Apr 22, 2013 12:36 PM

      Sazon originally popped up on the CH radar quite a few years ago for their Tlayuda's, if memory serves. What time do they open for breakfast? If early enough I'll give them another try.

      11 Replies
      1. re: Servorg
        Servorg Apr 22, 2013 12:39 PM

        Here you go http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/46927 from Jonathan Gold in 1999 (how about that for a long time and ago and a well known name)

        1. re: Servorg
          PaulF Apr 22, 2013 12:44 PM

          I'm not sure what time they open but I'll check next time I'm there.

          1. re: Servorg
            PaulF Apr 23, 2013 09:39 PM

            730 am -- at least that's what they told me.

            The bakery opens at the same time.

            1. re: PaulF
              Servorg Apr 24, 2013 01:31 AM

              Thanks, Paul. That will work for my purposes (that's the same time that Ronnie's on Culver opens for breakfast and I tend to hit them up regularly for their chorizo bowl).

              1. re: Servorg
                PaulF Apr 24, 2013 08:41 AM

                I should have added that we got some pretty good cookies and flan at the bakery last night for dessert. (Technically, I only tasted the cookies. My sons ate the flan -- but they ate it in like 2 minutes so I'm calling that a positive review.)

                1. re: Servorg
                  k
                  kevin Apr 24, 2013 10:12 AM

                  Ronnie's is more suitably appropriate for it's double cheeseburger combo with the cucumber salad.

                  1. re: kevin
                    Servorg Apr 24, 2013 10:15 AM

                    I don't know if they will even serve a double cheeseburger at 7:30 AM, even if I wanted one. lol

                    1. re: Servorg
                      k
                      kevin Apr 24, 2013 11:01 AM

                      That gives me an idea now. That always seems to be close to the hour that I do want that fucking burger. And they way they roll the tax in there too is a beaut.

                      1. re: kevin
                        Servorg Apr 24, 2013 11:03 AM

                        I know what you mean. Every once in a while on a Saturday night I tell my wife that I want to go over to Ronnie's and get that double cheeseburger combo deal and she has to remind me that they are only open for dinner Monday though Friday. Doh!

                        1. re: Servorg
                          PaulF Apr 24, 2013 12:42 PM

                          Servorg -- you do know that Ronnie's is also in the CBH sweepstakes. They do corned beef and cabbage as the Friday special and have CBH there on Saturday and sometimes Sunday.

                          It's a whiteboard special, not on the menu.

                          I'm glad people like Ronnie's. Ten years ago it wasn't very busy -- now you wait for tables on the weekend.

                          1. re: PaulF
                            Servorg Apr 24, 2013 01:04 PM

                            "Ronnie's is also in the CBH sweepstakes."

                            When (if) I get tired of the chorizo bowl I'll have to give it a whirl.

            2. SIMIHOUND Apr 23, 2013 08:15 AM

              Thanks for the write up. I am taking my wife to CF Kitchen soon. It looks wonderful. May I suggest separate reviews in the future? It is easier to find them later on for reference purposes

              1. mucho gordo Apr 24, 2013 11:09 AM

                Is it a coincidence or is Mel's Fish Shack related to the once popular seafood place called Mel's Landing that used to be on Sepulveda just north of Roscoe in CP back in the 70's?

                1 Reply
                1. re: mucho gordo
                  Servorg Apr 24, 2013 11:13 AM

                  I thought that the web site might have something about that if it were the case, but unfortunately they don't have a "history" section: http://www.melsfishshack.com/

                2. s
                  silence9 Apr 24, 2013 02:32 PM

                  Thanks for the review of CF Food Kitchen; I live less than a block away, and it takes me less than 2 minutes to walk to that micro-mall from my condo.

                  Food sounds good and interesting. I guess what has kept me away was the restaurant's name -- always seemed so generic. What else besides 'food' is made in a kitchen, and why use the letters 'CF' at all, if no one knows what CF stands for??

                  Will give 'em a try. Thanks again...

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: silence9
                    Servorg Apr 24, 2013 02:38 PM

                    I'm betting that the CF stands for "Chef Flores" http://www.cffoodkitchen.com/

                    1. re: Servorg
                      s
                      silence9 Apr 24, 2013 02:43 PM

                      Aha! Thanks! I thought perhaps Cuisine Francais, but Chef Flores makes sense. Good catch...

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