With the LATimes.com "Foodie Nirvana" article clutched in our hands, we boarded at the Highland Park station on the Saturday after Thanksgiving for our adventure in Eastside dining.
With the LATimes.com "Foodie Nirvana" article clutched in our hands, we boarded at the Highland Park station on the Saturday after Thanksgiving for our adventure in Eastside dining. It was a crystal clear, warm, stunning autumn day that reminds us Midwestern transplants just why we live here in Los Angeles.
The Gold Line ran exactly as advertised and we stayed in our same seats all the way to the end of the line, the Atlantic stop. All along the way there were Metro staff in their orange and white vests loaded with smiles, maps, brochures and coupons to give us.
Backtracking to the East LA Civic Center stop, we launched off to the intriguing Moles La Tia, which was tantalizingly described as having the widest selection of traditional and experimental moles in town. Mole sauce comes from Mexico and dates back to the Aztecs. It contains ground spices and chiles, and historically also has chocolate. But we were starving, and after we discovered that the restaurant was almost a mile from the station, we hopped back on the train and went on to Tamales Lilianas, located just a couple of blocks from the Indiana stop.Â
This is a popular placeâ€”the line ran out the door. It was worth the short wait, though. The chile verde and pork tamales had a fluffy, soft masa filled with mild green chiles and lots of shredded pork. The menu has a great variety of dishes, but everyone we asked said the tamales and the posole were the ones to order. We did, and were not disappointed. Everyone we encountered was friendly and warm towards us, from fellow customers to the wait staff.
Restored and fortified, we went on to the spacious Mariachi Plaza, where we tracked down the Primera Taza Coffee House for a Fair Trade latte. This tiny coffee house is located within steps of three of the recommended restaurants: La Serenata de Garibaldi, La Placita del D.F., and Birrieria Jalisco. I imagine that a bit later in the day with the Mariachi bands playing and people out enjoying Saturday night, this is quite a lively scene. But we were off to see all that we could see before sundown.Â
Next stop, Pico/Aliso, and Purgatory Pizza was right across the street from the station. Let me just say that the pizza by the slice was tasty with a nice, thin crust--but Carmela's ice cream, made on the premises, was life-changing. We tried strawberry sorbet, cranberry-orange with thyme ice cream and cardamom ice cream. Wow. You have to go. The flavors are based on what's available from local farmer's markets, so every day is a surprise. The flavors are clean, intense, and even a standard like the strawberry sorbet was a fresh experience here.
These fall days end so soon! The light was slanting down and we were up for one last stop. It had to be Union Station, the centerpiece of public transportation in Los Angeles, of course. The 30-foot-high Christmas tree just inside the main entrance was fully decoratedâ€”the first holiday tree I've seen this year! A celebratory drink at Traxx bar and we were ready for the short trip back to Highland Park.
We were impressed by so many things on our little tour: the clean and attractive stations each one unique, the friendly Gold Line staffâ€”in fact, the friendly people we met everywhere. The food was great, the adventure was a lot of fun. And we barely scratched the surface of the wealth of food and sightseeing to be accessed just a short walk from each station stop.