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Eating Off the Beaten Track
In and Around Los Angeles

by Jeff Fried

Editor's Note: After a two-year hiatus, Native Philadelphian
and current Floridian resident, Jeff Fried returns to some of his
favorite off-the-beaten-track culinary haunts in the City of Angels.

os Angeles is not a city short on great food; reputation and internet research can surely lead you the way. But if you want to experience something different . . .

Otto's love for music!
Photo credit:
Otto's - Import Store & Deli

2320 West Clark Ave.
Burbank, CA 91506

(818) 845-0433

Burbank: I asked Otto to hold the pickles but when I got my sandwich, guess what was on it? Pickles. Guess what immediately came off the sandwich? Pickles. Fortunately, he held off the mayonnaise. Even in California, it is unacceptable for an East Coaster to eat a hoagie with mayo and pickles. Otto's European and Hungarian Import Store and Deli is an unassuming neighborhood grocery store that makes one of the best Hoagie's in Los Angeles. Each order usually comes with a mini comedy act by Otto himself. If time permits, Otto might even break out his accordion.

9128 West Pico Blvd.
LA, CA 90035
(310) 278-0122

Beverly Hills Adjacent: That's what realtors call the area between Pico and Olympic and Robertson and La Cienega. If you're thinking of moving there, you should know that your city address will be Los Angeles. You might get Beverly in your address if you live on Beverly Drive, but really the only good thing about that is your proximity to the Beverlywood Bakery. This classic Jewish bakery on Pico makes the best rugalach in the United States. I've had rugalach from Miami to Philadelphia to New York and nothing comes close. The only drawback is they seal their pastry boxes really good, so if you think you might want to sneak a few in the car before arriving at your destination, then just have them keep a few out.

3456 S. Glenmark Dr. Hacienda Heights,
CA 91745
(626) 961-9697
Hacienda Heights: About thirty minutes east of downtown is the Hsi Lai Temple, one of the largest Buddhist temples in the Western Hemisphere. Seven days per week they serve an all you can eat vegetarian lunch for just five dollars. Don't let that price fool you, there is a salad and fruit bar, at least five different dishes, soup and hot tea. The main dishes vary regularly and can include vegetables, noodles, tofu, seitan and veggie ham. The temple grounds are beautiful and include the Hall with Ten Thousand Buddha's, a garden with the Eighteen Arhats, a museum and book store.

767 Deep Valley Drive,
Rolling Hills Estates,
CA 90274
(310) 265-0914

Palos Verdes Peninsula: Hip and upscale, yet cozy with very friendly service and fantastic food sums up what I found at Bistro 767. Even though I was spending the night in the area, it would have definitely been worth the twenty mile drive from West Los Angeles. The bistro salad with sherry vinaigrette was fantastic and the filet mignon was cooked to perfection. They have a great martini and wine selection. The desserts were out of this world.

3125 Los Feliz Blvd.
LA [Glendale],
CA 90039

(323) 345-0360

Glendale: On Los Feliz Boulevard is India Sweets and Spices. A great vegetarian Indian food restaurant and market. There are no servers that come to your table. Just go up to the counter and tell the servers what you want and what size. Their pakoras, chan masala and saag were top notch. They have a large variety of dishes to choose from and the staff is very friendly and helpful. They have seven other locations throughout Los Angeles.
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Hilarious piece on your trip to Otto's Hungarian Deli. I thought I was the only non-Hungarian In Southern California who knew the joint, tucked into some little non-descript neighborhood in Burbank. Very true, he makes the best sandwiches is the world, but it is essential to be in there in person - as opposed to ordering over the phone - so that you can ride herd on him with your instructions for the condiments. He is known to get caught up in some obscure conversation about Hungary and completely forget. The best way to enjoy his sandwich is to talk him into playing is accordion while you wolf one down. Let's face it; nothing goes better for lunch than an Otto's Hungarian sandwich with an accordion accompaniment. As Jay Leno would say: 'Only in Burbank."

Charlie Shotton
Sherman Oaks, CA

Ed Boitano's travel blog/review
Eugene Chaplin Introduces Chaplin's World Museum in Vevey, Switzerland

Charlie Chaplin and the Chaplin Museum
Lake Geneva/ Matterhorn Region and Switzerland Tourism recently blew into Los Angeles with the most esteemed guest, Eugene Chaplin. A man of remarkable lineage, he is the fifth child of Oona O'Neill and Sir Charles Spencer "Charlie" Chaplin, the grandson of playwright Eugene O'Neill, the brother of Geraldine Chaplin and father of actress/model Kiera Chaplin.

Go There

Tom Weber's travel blog/review
Treasures of Ireland: The Burren (Dispatch #14)

a dolmen at The Burren

The Palladian Traveler ventures back to the days of fearless Celtic warriors to search for some "stones to take you home" as he files his latest dispatch from the monochromatic moonscape known as The Burren.

Go There

John Clayton's travel blog/review
Buckingham Palace – It's THE Most Popular Tour in Great Britain (Part 2 of a 2-Part Series)

Buckingham Palace exit
Is it more momentous for a Brit to do the Buckingham Palace tour than say an American or indeed any other nationality? Yes, I know that's an odd question, but if you grow up – as I did – in London back in the 1950s, getting inside Buckingham Palace was the stuff of dreams. Hence my surprise at touring BP in 2005.

Ringo Boitano's travel blog/review
Paradise on Earth: The Romance of Tahiti and Her Islands

aurora borealis lights up the night sky near Fairbanks
The first thing you notice is the fragrance. The intoxicating perfume of the tiare flower announces to your senses that you are in a magical place, overflowing with tropical vegetation and soothing trade winds. It is the same fragrance that the English seamen on the HMS Bounty also first encountered; but they came, not for flowers, but for breadfruit, intended as a new food staple for their slaves in the West Indies.

Eric Anderson's travel blog/review
Provence: As Much a Mood, a Spirit as a Destination

Christmas card
"On a Clear Day You Can See Forever" goes the song. Robert Goulet sang it and Barbra Streisand and Johnny Mathis, too, and it surely comes to mind when you stand on a bluff in the Luberon of Provence and stare across at the little hill village of Gordes. The view is the best part; the village's interior itself is not dramatic and stands as a warning of what contemporary popularity can do to the simple homes of 12th century working people.

go there

Fyllis Hockman's travel blog/review
Exploring Venice: Lost and Found. And Special Finds. Repeat.

Venice street musicians
Walking home to our apartment in Venice, we share a wave through the window with the owner of Baba, our local osteria. Leaving for a day of sightseeing, a cup of my favorite pistachio gelato awaits me despite the early hour. At the Bar Dugole, we relax after a day of sightseeing and order the regular: vodka for my husband and Amaretto for me.

Go There

Greg Aragon's travel blog/review
Traveling with Beautiful Boots and a Bison Backpack

Bison Redwood Backpack

People often asked about my favorite travel apparel and gear. This happened to me at the airport recently. One question came as I was putting back on my clothes after going through the TSA checkpoint striptease. Before leaving the area, I heard a soft voice say, "hey, I really like your boots. Where did you get them?" Looking up, I found a uniformed employee staring at my feet.

Go There

Bev Cohn's travel blog
Film Review: "My Hero Brother" – A Tribute to the Human Spirit

a scene from the documentary 'My Hero Brother'

I just spent five days attending the Santa Barbara Film Festival and for the most part, the features, animated shorts, and documentaries were quite professional and compelling. That said, "My Hero Brother," a documentary that was particularly outstanding, told the remarkable and inspiring story about a group of Down syndrome young men and women who go on a two-week trek through the Himalayas with their non-Down syndrome siblings.

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