Thursday, April 26, 2012

Expo Rail Dining on the Cheap - 7 VIDEOS

All aboard! Let the Chintzyiest Chef be your culinary conductor for a tasty ride to cheap dining along LA's latest transportation hub: the Expo Rail Line. This post is for the locals and curious tourists who explore this great city of Los Angeles using public transportation.

Our long overdue rail system has finally arrived in Baldwin Hills and Culver City, and the latest stops are right in my neighborhood! It's an 8.6-mile, 12-station track with 10 new station stops, traveling parallel to the Santa Monica 10 Freeway from Downtown to Culver City.

To celebrate, I've compiled some of the videos I've previously shot of local inexpensive eateries within walking distance of  three close-by station stops. And, after each video is a link to my original post with an exact address, so you can easily google map these fine fooderies!

The Expo Line opening ceremony is downtown on Friday, April 27th, with free admission Saturday and Sunday. The Freeloading Culinarian will be riding the rails this weekend with camera in hand to record the festivities.

I've been riding the rapid transit rails on each opening day, including: the Red Line from Downtown LA to North Hollywood; the Purple Line to Mid-Wilshire; the Gold Line to Pasadena and East LA; and now the Expo Line that runs from Downtown LA to Culver City.

To give you an idea what is in store this weekend, just check out the video below of my ride on the Gold Line to East LA from 3 years ago. (I will also be shooting footage of the Expo Line's opening day, so check back here to see some new video.)
East L.A. Subway - Video
For complete blogpost click here for the address, photos, and a full review.

First up is the Crenshaw Boulevard stop. There are a couple of cheap and delicious restaurants on this colorful street: Earlez Grill for fabulous hot dogs and Chef Marilyn's Soul Food Express.

To reach Earlez Grill, just step out out of the rail car at Exposition and Crenshaw and you are there! The Saturday special beef and turkey dogs will set you back just $1.25 - that's lunch for about the fare price of a one-way Metro ticket! I can also recommend the specials: on Mondays, it's the Special Veggie Dog for $2: it's a grilled plump wiener that tastes way too good to  be meat-free.  Friday's Special is a fiery Beef Link for $2.50.  I'll just let Duane, the proprieter of Earlez Grille, give you the lowdown on his grilled wiener fiefdom in the video below.

Unfortunately you only have a couple of months to eat at Earlez in this location. The transit authority is paving this tube steak paradise to put up a commuter parking lot. I hope Earlez Grille stays nearby in the hood.

Earlez Grille  - Video
For complete blogpost click here for the address, photos, and a full review.

Also near the Exposition/Crenshaw stop - when you walk three blocks north on Crenshaw - is Chef Marilyn's Soul Food Express.   Chef Marilyn, a former Lakers cheerleader, cooks up some real Southern-style cuisine, including: Mac and Cheese, Collard Greens, Smothered Chicken and Pork Chops,  Baked Fish and of course, Fried Chicken and Catfish. They even have a slew of 99 cent specials (the ones I always get), including: Hot Links, Spinach and Black-eyed Peas. These are some of the best meal deals around.

Soul Food Express - Video
For complete blogpost click here for the address, photos, and a full review.

Moving further west, the rail stop at La Brea Avenue is adjacent to the venerable Popeye's Fried Chicken. While not locally owned, this tasty fast food join fits the neighborhood of Southern transplants hungering for cheap fried fare. On Tuesdays, you can't get cheaper than the 2-Piece Special for 99 cents. You'll get a spicy or regular seasoned leg and thigh, and it's finger-lickin' good. Just watch the video below of: "My 99 Cent Dinner with Nuno."
Popeye's 2-Piece 99 cent Fried Chicken Special - Video
For complete blogpost click here for the address, photos, and a full review.

If you hanker for another low-cost Southern treat, you can walk off the fried chicken to get to one of the best bargains in the city.  Take La Brea one city block south to Rodeo, then head east to (Martin Luther) King Boulevard. A short 2 blocks later, you're at Cajun's Fried Chicken, were they offer a hearty Gumbo for $1. It's a satisfying serving loaded with sausage, chicken, bay shrimp, veggies and rice, in a spicy flavored broth, as the closeup videography below will attest.

$1 Gumbo - VIDEO
For complete blogpost click here for the address, photos, and a full review.

Those rail riders with a sweet tooth - or a sweetheart to impress - can continue west to the next stop at La Cienega Boulevard. From the elevated train stop there, you can see the original headquarters of world-famous See's Candy, just a half-block South on La Cienega. You'll smell the roasting nuts and melted chocolate before you get there.

This is the original building where the classic scene from "I Love Lucy" - in which she stuffs her face to keep up with a fast-moving assembly line - was shot in the 1950s. It's still open for business, with so many new flavors to try.  Of course, samples are free, and I've had plenty!

 I Love Lucy Chocolate Assembly Line - VIDEO

The last low-cost Expo Line eatery shown here is in Culver City, so you won't be able to reach it by rail until this summer, when the eastern-most stop is due to open at Venice and Washington Boulevard in June. Just a block away, walking east on Washington, is the Helms Bakery, which anchors a collection of shops and eateries including Father's Office, which grinds out the best burgers in town if you believe half the local bloggerati and newspaper food reviews. But they're too expensive for this miserly chef. Instead, I head right over to the  hot dog hut in the parking area for grass-fed, free-range and hormone-free beef, pork, veggie and poultry wieners from Let's Be Frank.

The simple setting belies their organic and artisanal creativity. These unique hot dogs are dang good -- even the toppings are locally sourced and homemade. For about $5 you get a larger-than-average tube steak -- that is more ground sausage than your typical ballpark frank.

 Let's Be Frank - Video
For complete blogpost click here for the address, photos, and a full review.

With all these tips, you're well-equipped to enjoy the Expo Line without blowing the budget. So hit the rails to start exploring, and Bon Appetit!  

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