For my big Third and Fairfax roundup, I'm dividing the food stands into three tiers. The top tier are the very best, places worth a special trip to the Market. The second tier are very good; maybe not worth a special trip, but good choices if you happen to be there. Third are the rest..the unexceptional and unexciting.
This week is the top tier. These are my very favorites, the old standbys I rely on most and a new try that impressed me. I'm still tasting, so this list isn't complete and more may qualify for the top tier (and sweet shops will be handled in a separate post). They are listed in no particular order.
This French Bistro started as a small cheese kiosk and has expanded into a full-on restaurant with its own seating and a gourmet market. This French bistro makes the best fondue in LA. They have a traditional Gruyere based fondue, which is good, but the highlight is their signature Fondue Savoyarde which includes other more flavorful cheeses such as Morbier and Roquefort. I also enjoy their moules frite and their croque monsieur. Take pains, though, to avoid their adjacent gourmet market of the same name which is vastly overpriced.
This stand, specializing in Boerek, was a new try for me but one that will definitely enter my pantheon of staples. No, Boerek was not that movie about that guy from Kazakhstan. It is a Turkish pastry served at a stand adjacent to the original Moishe's Middle Eastern stand. It's similar to a rectangular pizza, topped with cheese and your choice of toppings...I can't get enough of the egg. Two eggs, sunny-size up are fried onto the dough. The soft whites and fluid yolks mesh with the cheese and dough to create a delicious doughy, cheesy, eggy delight. I also enjoyed the spinach and cheese as well as the interesting sides like Swiss chard tzatziki and white beans in tomato sauce. As far as I know, Moishe's Village is the only place in LA where you can get this particular, pizza-like version of Boerek (as opposed to the Armenian meat pies of the same name available in Hollywood).
I was a late convert to the Mexican stalwart at the center of the market, and I still think this Mexico City style snack shop tends to be a bit overrated by reviewers, but that may be due to the dearth of good Mexican in this part of mid-city. They make a whopping eleven different type of tacos, but I find their pre-made fillings to be generally underseasoned. Their mole is popular, but it pales in comparison to the excellent Oaxacan moles you can get at numerous locations a mere ten minutes away. However, their chilaquiles (a breakfast dish consisting of fried tortilla chips with sauce) are some of the best in town; I like them with the tangy salsa verde. They also make an excellent version of queso fundido (Mexican fondue) topped with chorizo, which is a dish that's not easy to find in LA. And they do a great nacho plate, of all things, though sometimes the plate could use a few more minutes under the broiler.
Patsy D’Amore’s Pizza
In a city in which good pizza is a scarcity, Patsy's tends to fly under the radar, but this FM stalwart (with mandatory photo of the owner mugging with Frank Sinatra) consistently pumps out good, thin crust New York style pies. The toppings ain't much, so stick with plain cheese.
A relatively recent entrant into the FM, Pampas Grill puts a fast food spin on the Brazilian churrascaria. All of the traditional elements are part of the Pampas buffet: the massive salad bar, the scrumptious cheese breads, fried yuca, feijoda (black bean stew), and of course, the meat. Pampas has all the traditional churrascaria cuts: picanha (garlic beef), alcatra (sirloin), lamb leg, bacon wrapped chicken and sausage (pet peeve: why can't I find chicken hearts at any LA currascaria?) The food is good and it's a lot cheaper than you will pay at any sit-down currascaria.
The French Crepe Company
This creperie dishes out sizable crepes, both sweet and savory. The white flour creates a result that is more akin to a thin, dense pancake than a traditional French buckwheat crepe, but the results are still delicious. For savory, I love the Raclette, prosciutto and cornichon crepe...it's especially good when drizzled with some of their dijon mustard salad dressing. For sweet, I like the Grand Marnier, or just the plain crepe filled with butter and sugar and topped with whipped cream.
I've written before about the great pies at this newly rehabbed diner which anchors the west side of the Market, but Du-Par's is more than just pies. The light fluffy pancakes are an LA institution and they make one of the last great Monte Cristo sandwiches.
So that's my best of the best so far. Next week, I will post my second tier. Meanwhile, I'm still trying stands; so far, I've tried 27 over the last two months. I have only two more to try that I've never been to before and three I need to revisit because it has been a while since I sampled their wares.
Onward and upward...