Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Restaurant Nocturnes VIII - Sandwich Edition, VIDEO

This miserly epicurean is changing into a culinary artist this week. Sandwiches are in my price point, and I'm happy to share my nighttime exploration of LA eateries captured in the latest Restaurant Nocturnes VIII - Sandwich Edition.

My noir-loving camera captures bricks and mortars that specialize in sandwich-slinging all over Los Angeles, from the Westside, where Top Chef's tattooed winner Michael Voltaggio has opened ink.sack, to the East L.A. home of mom-and-pop Mexican Cemitas shops and Torta master builders.

Looking for the best and cheapest Cuban Sandwich in town? I've got it right here -- Porto's Bakery and Cafe in Glendale. The line may be long, but, boy is the wait worth it. A toasted bakery-fresh bread roll is loaded with succulent roasted pork, smokey ham, Swiss cheese, mayo, and sour mustard, with tangy slices of pickle -- hot-pressed and grilled, all for $4.85 (plus tax.)

In downtown L.A., there's a battle over the early 20th century origins of the French Dip Sandwich. Was a French roll first soaked in beef au jus at Philippe The Original on Alameda Boulevard, or at Cole's on 6th Street? Both claim it -- but who cares, as long as they keep making them like it's 1918. Listen in as a Cole's waitress gives this cheapest culinarian the lowdown on Cole's $5 Half Dip with Fries Happy Hour.

Any homesick transplanted  Southerners out there craving smoked meat? Check out my footage of Bludso's BBQ restaurant on Long Beach Boulevard in Compton, where you get perfect Texan-style pit smoked brisket -- tender and juicy slices of beef with a red smoke ring just under the crunchy skin. Order the Sliced Brisket as a sandwich and you get about a third of a pound of beef.  It's like a starkly minimalist Franz Kline  expressionist masterpiece between two slices of white bread. Plain and simple for the incredibly low price of $4.50 (plus tax). Get the sauce on the side so you can drip it on like Jackson Pollock.

I wonder if L.A. first cooked up the $10+ burger? I've yet to buy one on principle, but I've made an exception here, to feature the protein patties of lauded chefs Nancy Silverton and Amy Pressman's Short Order restaurant. Located in the historic Farmers Market at Fairfax Ave. and 3rd St., this newly built shrine to ground bovine, swine and poultry is jam-packed on weekends. Too expensive for me, but if you are visiting with an expense account, it's worth checking out.

After a wallet- emptying $13 Nancy's Backyard Burger from Short Order, I finish my nighttime tour with a $2 Vietnamese Banh Mi from Buu Dien, located on Broadway Boulevard at the end of a Chinatown mini-mall. The French invaded Vietnam before we did, and the only good thing to come out of all the war-mongering is this Asian/French sandwich mash-up: the Banh Mi.(I wonder, with our fiascos in Iraq and Afghanistan, could a Falafel Burger with Cheese soon sweep through the Middle East?) A Banh Mi features improbable combinations of pate and cilantro; sweety pickled sliced veggies (carrots, daikon, cucumber) and head cheese; thin jalapeno slices and roasted pork. Try it once and you will be back, especially for two bucks a baguette!

So fasten your seat belt and let The 99 Cent Chef guide you through neon- washed L.A. to witness the sights and sounds of 13 sandwich makers captured during my night-time rambles through our storied streets. Under the  video presentation below, you'll also find a list, with links, of the featured restaurants in order of appearance.

Restaurant Nocturnes - Sandwich Edition - VIDEO
Play it here. Video runs 6 minutes, 17 seconds.

To view or embed from YouTube, click here.

Click on any name to go to restaurant website or review.
1. ink.sack     2. the Spice Table     3. Bludso's BBQ    4. Cemitas Poblanas Elviita
5. Tortas Las Nuevas     6. Cole's     7. Short Order     8. Canter's 
9. Porto's Bakery and Cafe     10. The Hat     11. Falafel Arax    
12. Wurstkuche     13. Buu Dien

To see more Restaurant Nocturnes, just click on a name:
Restaurant Nocturnes I, Restaurant Nocturnes II, Restaurant Nocturnes III, Restaurant Nocturnes IV, Restaurant Nocturnes V, Restaurant Nocturnes VI, Restaurant Nocturnes VII.

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