Magazine article Sunset

Fantastic Ethnic Eats

Magazine article Sunset

Fantastic Ethnic Eats

Article excerpt

Los Angeles is not just a melting pot, it's a cultural stew of fresh and flavorful international ingredients

Without a doubt, the best thing about multicultural L.A. is its food. Immigration policy, burgeoning populations, 80-plus languages in the public schools--even issues as weighty as these fall by the wayside in the face of great grub. And Los Angeles, it can safely be said, has lots of great grub.

By ethnic, we don't mean Italian or French. True, the city has places that can do a great osso buco or whip up a solid bearnaise, but carrying the torch of Europe's grand cuisines is the job of other cities. Los Angeles looks to the Pacific Rim, Latin America, and the Middle East for its culinary inspiration. Its chefs are often recently arrived immigrants. And the price? Always fair, often better than reasonable, occasionally downright cheap.

AN INTERNATIONAL EATING TOUR

With the help of a panel of local experts, we've selected a handful of restaurants that offer a good introduction (but only an introduction) to the city's ethnic cuisines. Try these places and then try a few on your own, but remember not to judge books by their covers: some of Los Angeles's best food is found in mini-malls.

Senor Fish. Fish tacos--what a concept. They allow you to feel virtuous about eating fast food. But fish tacos are not a creation of dietarily correct West Los Angeles. They are straight out of Mexico, a country not exactly known for its, shall we say, spa cuisine. A good example is Senor Fish. This no-frills taco stand looks as if it was lifted directly from the row of fish stands in Ensenada. Like the pescado tacos there, the ones at Senor Fish are served with mounds of cabbage, onions, cilantro, sour cream, tomato, and salsa--the way fish tacos ought to be. At $1.60, this may be the best lunch deal in L.A. Also excellent is the seafood quesadilla with shrimp, scallops, and fish for $6.75. 5111 N. Figueroa Street, Highland Park; (213) 257-2498.

Zankou Chicken. Mexican-style grilled or broiled chicken is so ubiquitous in the L.A. diet that Denny's even has a chain of restaurants called El Pollo Loco to capitalize on its popularity. But Zankou is definitely not Denny's, and this chicken forsakes Mexican flavors for Middle Eastern seasonings. Whole chickens ($6.75) are marinated in herbs and spices, grilled, and served with garlic sauce and two pieces of pita bread. …

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