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1. The Little Jewel of New Orleans
I proudly admit that I am from New Orleans and take pride in my knowledge of creole cuisine and poboys. I can confidently assert that this is the most authentic and delicious NOLA spot in all Los Angeles. The Irish Channel Roast Beef and Cochon de Lait (slow roasted pork) poboys are soon to be legendary. His ½ & ½ shrimp and oyster poboys can not be missed. And the Wagu beef with chanterelle mushrooms and Gruyere cheese poboy is one of the best sandwiches I've ever had in my life. All the poboys are served on Leidenheimer bread he has shipped in from New Orleans. And if you are in the mood get the classic New Orleans muffuletta, Genoa salami, Soppressata, hot Capicola, and Mortadella meats, provolone and mozzarella cheeses, and a house-made olive salad on a sesame seeded Leidenheimer "Moon Bread." If you get a buddy, split a poboy and an order a side of the amazing hand-cut fries you can keep it around $12 and you will be full. And why not have a beignet? Parking on Spring is iffy and we've had a to walk a few blocks and no one complained. Get there early, the noon rush is fast and furious but clears out by 1. Trust me. Just go.
2. Philippe The Original
Philippe's is open at 6:30 for breakfast and the lot is wide open at that time. While the breakfast fare is only average, they do have their sandwiches available and personally I see nothing wrong with a lamb dip with blue cheese or a pork roast double dip and hot mustard for breakfast every once in awhile. All the meats and even the mustard are made in house and they are all delicious. For me Philippe's is one of the few Legendary LA eateries that live up to the hype. (Just wish they had french fries...) Lunch time parking is very difficult, but you can keep it under $12 and the receipts are good.
3. Chichen Itza Restaurant
Chef Gilberto Cetina needs to be mentioned first and foremost. He is creating amazing authentic Yucatan dishes at very affordable prices. Every single thing I've ever had here has been amazing. Two menu items to try first are the Cochinita Pibil, banana leaf roasted pork topped with pickled onions served with rice and beans or the equally delicious Tikin-xic, a perfectly cooked fillet of basa (member of the catfish family) served with a jicama salad. They also offer daily specials, and if the special is Paella, ORDER IT! Chichen Itza is tucked in the back of a market/food court which has many other options, but I can not speak to any of them because it seems pointless to veer of the Chichen Itza course. Another one of my favorite eateries in all of Los Angeles. Parking is usually available within a 3 block radius. And here's a tip, if you are anywhere near the Expo Line it's a short walk from the EXPO/USC station. Can't recommend this place enough.
4. Mendocino Farms
This particular Mendocino Farms is walking distance from LA Center Studios. The line gets long quick so it's best to get there before noon. They offer a very wide variety of specialty sandwiches, “The 8 Hour” Smoked BBQ Pulled Pork and the Spicy Lemongrass Steak Banh Mi are good places to start. They also offer samples of their side salads which is good because there are too many to chose from. Another great spot if there is a vegetarian on the crew. Hopefully they resist the down fall of many places as they over-expand. Truck's not getting anywhere near here and you will go a little over the $12 cap but its a quality sandwich.
5. Mariscos 4 Vientos
3332 East Olympic Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90023 Phone: (323) 264-3565
I'm just sad that I've only known about this place for about a year, that means I've missed 20+ years of amazing meals and great experiences. This spot most definitely earns it's 5 stars. The shrimp tacos are incredible. Get the salsa on the side so they stay crispy as you work on your fish tacos and the Tostada aguachile verde. And did I mention everything is covered in avocados? The rate in which they turn over tables is quite impressive but you're never rushed. And to think all of that is still under $12. Street parking is available but get there early and the receipts are good.
6. Sultan Chicken
311 W 6th St, Los Angeles, CA 90014 Phone: (213) 236-0604 sultanchickendtla.com
Working downtown on location we often find that we need to find a place with in walking distance because there is no way we're going to find a spot. And we owe this discovery to the yelp app. It was couple of blocks from location and they were so accommodating to our crew of 10. And I can say everyone was very happy with their lunch. I couldn't decide so I went with the combo, lule, chicken and beef kabob, all delicious. Not sure when I'll be back in striking distance, but I know this is where I'll be heading. Small place and fills up so go early. No parking, good receipts.
7. Wexler's Deli
Believe the hype! Weller's in Grand Central Market (There's a Santa Monica spot I haven't tried yet) is making everything in house and it shows. The Pickles, the kraut, the smoked meats and fish. All incredible. Try the Reuben with perfectly seasoned corned beef or the MacArthur Park, pastrami on rye with slaw. As with most downtown locations we usually get there when our location is in walking distance. The only warning, the receipts can be emailed or texted to you. As I mention in another review, we may have to start getting used to this trend...A little out of pocket but completely worth it. Great food, incredible service and, well, weird receipts. Oh, and try the potato salad. Incredible...