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Eater LA says Union is “essential”!

July 7, 2015

Thank you to the Eater LA who named Union one of only 38 essential restaurants in all of LA. (And we’re in Pasadena!) We’re so honored to be on this list. You can read the full article at this link or see their write up on Union below.
Make reservations to dine with us today at this link or by calling 626-795-5841

The 38 Essential Los Angeles Restaurants, July 2015

Matthew Kang
Spanning Westside to Eastside, with eateries clustered around the best dining neighborhoods, this collection of elite restaurants aims to answer the question, “Can you recommend a place?” Eater will continue to update restaurants every few months, adding in eligible places that have been open for at least six months. There’s no particular order, except that the first 33 restaurants are listed alphabetically.
In this summer 2015 edition, Bucato comes off after the Evan Funke’s departure, getting replaced by Zach Pollack’s dynamic and ultra-popular Alimento; Chi Spacca also gets removed because of Chad Colby’s depature, making room for Bruce Kalman’s Union; longtime gastropub vanguard Father’s Office makes way for the newer Butchers & Barbers; Gjelina gets replaced by newer sister spot Gjusta; Bell’s La Casita Mexicana comes off for the Valley’s most ambitious vegan restaurant The Gadarene Swine; late night hang Jones Hollywood takes over all-day specialist The Sycamore Kitchen; and Sugarfish gets replaced by Palms kaiseki specialist N/Naka.
Union Restaurant
Bruce Kalman has opened the restaurant that Pasadena has always wanted, and needed. A seasonally inflected California-Italian restaurant, Kalman does everything from housemade pasta to innovative appetizers to hefty mains like the epic porchetta. The wine program is also top notch.
37 E Union St
Pasadena, CA 91103


June 18, 2015

We certainly don’t want you to die, but do agree that if you must retire from this mortal coil, eating a bowl of our squid ink garganelli is a must before you go. Thank you Thrillist for including us. Coming in at #6 is our pleasure. Make a reservation today! And please enjoy the full Thrillist article at this link or read it below.


You know all the things you’ve gotta do in LA before you die, but what about all the things you’ve gotta eat before heading to the big traffic jam in the sky? Here’s our list of 50, from Apple Pan’s hickory burger to an ice cream sandwich at Diddy Riese.
1. Chorizo breakfast burrito
Cofax Coffee Shop
It may only be less than a year old, but this small coffee shop’s chips-and-smoked-potato-laden breakfast burrito has become a defining member of the city’s hand-held tortilla-wrapped community.
2. #19
Langer’s Delicatessen
MacArthur Park
The most iconic pastrami sandwich in the city is also its most delicious. Yep, we said it.
3. Tonkotsu ramen
Multiple locations
By far the most well-known Japanese noodle-and-broth combo in the city, and even with the city’s ramen explosion, it’s still one of the most delicious.
4. Crispy rice salad
Silver Lake
Yeah, it’s got the word “salad” in the name, but you can get this unctuous dish with an egg and sausage. Which you will. And you will be very happy you did.
5. Seared Salmon Right Away
Sushi Ike
Available only at the bar at this raw-fish institution, the Seared Salmon Right Away melts on your tongue and makes you truly wonder why you’ve ever eaten second-rate sushi before.
6. Squid ink garganelli
This hole-in-the-wall Pasadena farm-to-table restaurant has rapidly become one of the city’s go-to tables, and this dish — with lobster, fennel, and truffle butter — is its shining-est star.

7. Chianina steak
Chianina Steakhouse
Long Beach
It’s worth exploring Long Beach to end up at this classy steakhouse, which grows and butchers its own meat, serving up limited servings of each cut that’ll clean out your wallet in the most delicious way possible.
8. BBQ pork belly sandwich
These slider-sized morsels have become the signature dish at Jon & Vinny’s signature restaurant — the rest of the menu changes around them, but a meal there without these fatty blasts would be sacrilege.
9. Chopped fruit w/ chili powder and lime juice
Any street vendor with them
New York people may brag about their street-vendor hot dogs and pretzels, but who needs those when you’ve got juicy watermelon, mango, jicama, and more, acid-ed up with lime and spiced up with chili? Not you. Not. You.
10. Omelette
Petit Trois
It’s simply called an “Omelette,” but this perfectly buttered, Boursin cheese-stuffed fluffy egg dish is much more than that: it’s Ludo Lefebvre’s way of saying “I’m not just a TV-star gimmick.” And after one bite, you’ll agree.
11. Short rib
Odys & Penelope
This dinosaur-sized bone-in hunka-hunka-delicious meat isn’t just one of the best BBQ dishes in the city, it’s one of the best dishes in the city, period.
12. Hickory burger
Apple Pan
West LA
Thankfully, nothing at this WLA burger institution has changed since 1947: the space-wasting counter-only set-up, the old-school servers, and this burger — legendary for its smoky, classic flavor.
13. Pork xiao long bao (aka soup dumplings)
Din Tai Fung
Multiple locations
That first bite, when your teeth puncture the surface of these perfect, thinly doughed pockets of soup and meatball, and the broth hits your upper lip, burning it ever-so-slightly in the process? Nirvana.
14. Chicharron quesadilla
Oaxacan Quesadilla Cart
Echo Park
You may have a hard time finding this woman, but you NEED TO FIND THIS WOMAN, who hand-makes blue-corn tortillas stuffed with chicharrones, cheese, and some sort of magic insanity that makes you go “where the hell have you been my whole life???”
15. Strawberry donuts
Donut Man
“But, it’s like a pie filling made from fresh strawberries stuffed inside a donut,” say haters. To which you’ll say, “DUDE IT’S LIKE A PIE FILLING MADE FROM FRESH STRAWBERRIES STUFFED INSIDE A DONUT!!!!”
16. Baseball Steak
Pacific Dining Car
Downtown and Santa Monica
Is this the best steak in the city? It is not. Is this the best steak in the city at 3am inside a relic from the 1950s where you’re treated like Frank Sinatra in his prime? Yes. It is most certainly that.
17. Whole snook
Coni’Seafood/Mariscos Chente
Inglewood/Marina Del Rey
These brother-sister restaurants both serve the same delectable signature dish: a whole flayed fish, fresh from Mexico, served with stewed onions and homemade tortillas. Put them together: perfection.
18. Chicken kafta plate w/ eggplant salad, hummus, and baba ganoush
Pita Kitchen
Van Nuys
Anyone who’s lived in The Valley is either a Pita Kitchen disciple or has wondered what the hell the out-the-door lines on Van Nuys Blvd are all about. Well, here’s the thing: they’re about these spiced chicken patties, this mushy, flavorful eggplant, and this perfectly oily hummus. Two pro tips, though: pay the extra $1 for a third side (baba ghanouj!) instead of stomach-filling rice, and avoid, at all costs, the same-named ripoff restaurant on Wilshire.
19. Uni Dynamite
The dirty secret of Roy Choi’s excellent Korean menu is that the best stuff is actually NOT in the pots — rather it’s side dishes like this gooey, savory, creamy uni-and-rice dish.
20. Shrimp taco
Mariscos Jalisco
One bite of the shrimp taco and you’ll understand why this truck is one of the most lauded cheap bites in the city.
21. Half-chicken
Zankou Chicken
Multiple locations
There are a lot of things you don’t know about this beloved Middle Eastern chain, but here’s one thing you do: its chicken (and ohGodthat garlic sauce) are absurd.
22. Half-chicken
Dino’s Chicken and Burgers
Multiple locations
Another half-chicken? Yep. But Dino’s — a series of roadside cafes that look about as nondescript as possible — couldn’t be more different than Zankou; its deep-red Mexi-ish bird is covered in a vinegar sauce that makes it truly moist all the way through. Pro tip: order extra sauce and let it seep into the fries or rice below for an insane carb-bomb side.
23. Tsukemen ramen
Tsujita Annex
West LA
Why not get the frothy, thick tonkotsu ramen? Because the dippable tsukemen gives you the ability to have as much — or as little — broth on your noodles as you want, plus the inevitable leftovers travel better.
24. Chinese chicken salad
Chin Chin
Multiple locations
The Chinese chicken salad is one of LA’s defining dishes, and the version at the gentrified Chinese chain Chin Chin is one of its defining variations, thanks to a gingery dressing, an abundance of nuts, and — oh yeah — not one, but TWO types of crispy fried noodles.
25. Hoecake
Barrel and Ashes
Studio City
Its BBQ meats may be divisive, but no one who’s been to this new-ish meat-centric spot can deny the buttery, gooey hoecake, which is essentially a cornbread if cornbread were made of dreams instead of corn.
26. Smoked salmon pizza
Beverly Hills
Its glory-est days may be behind it, but Wolfgang Puck’s flagship restaurant is still an emblem of Hollywood decadence, and this now off-menu signature dish was once the height of LA’s food scene — and one bite in, you’ll understand why.
27. Bacon breakfast burrito
Lucky Boy
As notable for the fact that you’ll get yelled at as you try to order it as it is for the monster amounts of crazy-good bacon that the guy yelling at you will eventually stuff into it. Mmmm.
28. Godmother
Bay Cities Italian Deli & Bakery
Santa Monica
This is pretty universally considered one-of-if-not-the best sandwich in all of the LA area. If you haven’t had this meat monster yet, what have you been waiting for? Really, WHAT?
29. Smoked fish platter
Wexler’s Deli
Downtown LA
There are so many things we could recommend at the Grand Central Market, but this platter of freshly smoked fish hits the soul in the same way as Eggslut — without the line.
30. Dodger Dog
Dodger Stadium
Chavez Ravine
You’re really not allowed to call yourself an Angeleno unless you’ve had a Dodger Dog. Extra points for finishing it, saying, “that’s not as good as I expected,” and then immediately ordering another one.
31. French dip
Is Cole’s or Phillipe’s the best French dip in the city? That’s a debate we don’t want to take a side in.
32. French dip
Philippe the Original
Told you.
33. Office Burger
Father’s Office
Culver City/Santa Monica
Love it or hate it, Sang Yoon’s defining dish set the stage for LA’s reputation as a burger mecca, and still stands as one of the best ground meatwiches in the city.
34. All the salads
Hummus Bar
It’s worth the drive to this strip mall for two things: the skewers of meat at Kushiyu, and this Mediterranean restaurant’s salads, which come with any entree order and fill the table with everything from eggplant to chopped liver, all dippable with their piping-hot homemade bread, which is sort of a mix between lavash and pita. It’s outstanding.
35. Al pastor taco
Leo’s Taco Truck
Multiple locations
This taco truck mini-chain’s rotating, pineapple-aided rotisseries of meat make for tortilla-stuffed perfection; there are hundreds of trucks in the city making al pastor tacos, but Tacos Leo stands out completely from the rest.
36. Albacore belly
Multiple locations
What, you’ve only ordered the set sushi meals? Then you’ve missed out on the real treat: this absurdly flavorful bite, which has to be ordered separately. It’s worth it. Completely.
37. Chicken and waffles
Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles
Multiple locations
There are a ton of variations of this dish all over the city, but Roscoe’s is definitive, and still stands out for crispiness, balance, and being open late on Friday and Sat. Which never hurts. (And usually helps.)
38. Ice cream sandwich
Diddy Riese
It’s a rite of passage to stand in line for an hour at this nearby-to-UCLA spot, asking the entire time you’re in line if it’s really worth all that standing around for a $2 ice cream sandwich. And then you take a bite, and, yep, it totally is.
39. Short rib taco
Kogi BBQ
Multiple locations
This dish essentially started the food truck trend. It’s an amazing mesh of flavors, and all that time ago — like, five years — it was groundbreaking. Now, it’s just super tasty.
40. Fish dip
Son of a Gun
When they opened Son of a Gun, Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo wanted to recreate the flavors they remembered from fish shacks in Florida, and they knocked it out of the park with this fish dip, going so far as to import the crackers they use to give it a hit of salty authenticity. Pro tip: even if you don’t love Tabasco, it adds a killer vinegar extra to the already-great flavors.
41. Charcuterie platter
So many spots in the city offer platters of cured meats, but Bestia’s is all made in-house, which means the process is carefully curated, and the meats are that much better for it.
42. BBQ chicken pizza
Mulberry St Pizzeria
Multiple locations
Some people may complain that the pizza here is too floppy, and yeah, it kinda is. But the ingredients in its BBQ chicken variation are top-notch, and the serving size is massive, and once it’s in your mouth, who cares about that flop anyways?
43. Chili cheeseburger
Original Tommy’s Hamburgers
East Hollywood
You could go to any of the Tommy’s locations and leave happy, but if you hit the original-original-really-guys-we-mean-the-original spot, you’ll be super-duper-double happy. (Until about five hours later.)
44. Mole negro
This sort of formerly under-the-radar Oaxacan spot just won a James Beard Award for having killer mole. Seriously, if that doesn’t get you in the door, what does?
45. Kimchi fried rice
Walter Manske’s gorgeous restaurant has gotten praise for its dinners, but the real move is to go for brunch: the pastries are insane, and you can order this monstrous bowl of egg-topped, short rib-laden spicy rice and then… nap. You’re definitely gonna nap.
46. Garlic knots
C&O Trattoria
Going to C&O for a big-group dinner is unavoidable, and surely someone will complain in the comments below that the massive pasta plates are not up to snuff with other Italian joints in the city. Who cares? The free garlic knots — which come both with every dinner and for whomever is waiting outside for a table as well — are, like, insanely, insanely great.
47. Lasagna
Dan Tana’s
West Hollywood
That said, if you do want Italian, and you don’t mind dropping some dough, classic Italian steakhouse Dan Tana’s still satisfies, especially when you’re ordering something as classic as meat-stuffed lasagna.
48. Fried chicken
Honey’s Kettle
Culver City
It’s the #1 fried chicken in the city according to the most expert of experts. Do you really need another reason?
49. Green mussels curry
Jitlada Thai Restaurant
You put one of these in your mouth and it explodes with spice and flavor. Then you repeat. Then you repeat again. Then you sip some Singha. Then you repeat again.
50. Danger dog
Any random street cart
Because if you’re gonna have your last meal, it may as well be bacon-wrapped and topped with onions, jalapeños, and mayo. Right?
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Jeff Miller’s glad he’s not dead yet, because he’s ready for 50 more. Watch him hit ’em at @jeffmillerla on Instagram and @ThrillistLA on Twitter.
1. Cofax Coffee Shop
440 N Fairfax Ave, Los Angeles
2. Langer’s Delicatessen
704 S Alvarado St, Los Angeles
3. Daikokuya
327 E 1st St, Los Angeles
4. Sqirl
720 N Virgil Ave, #4, Los Angeles
5. Sushi Ike
6051 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles
6. Union
37 E Union St, Pasadena
7. Chianina Steakhouse
5716 E 2nd St, Long Beach
8. Animal
435 N Fairfax, Los Angeles
9. Petit Trois
716 N Highland Ave, Los Angeles
10. Odys & Penelope
127 S La Brea Ave, Los Angeles
11. The Apple Pan
10801 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles
12. Oaxacan Quesadilla Cart
1246 Echo Park Ave, Los Angeles
13. The Donut Man
915 E Route 66, Glendora
14. Pacific Dining Car
1310 W 6th St, Los Angeles
15. Mariscos Chente
4532 S Centinela Ave, Los Angeles
16. Pita Kitchen
14500 Ventura Blvd, Los Angeles
17. POT
3515 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles
18. Mariscos Jalisco
3040 E Olympic Blvd, Los Angeles
19. Tsujita Annex
2014 Sawtelle Blvd, Los Angeles
20. Barrel and Ashes
11801 Ventura Blvd, Studio City
21. Spago
176 N Canon Dr, Beverly Hills
22. Lucky Boy
531 E Walnut St, Pasadena
23. Bay Cities Italian Deli & Bakery
1517 Lincoln Blvd, Santa Monica
24. Wexler’s Deli
317 S Broadway, Los Angeles
25. Cole’s
118 E 6th St, Los Angeles
26. Philippe the Original
1001 N Alameda St, Los Angeles
27. Father’s Office
3229 Helms Ave, Los Angeles
28. Hummus Bar & Grill
18743 Ventura Blvd, Tarzana
11288 Ventura Blvd, Studio City
30. Diddy Riese
926 Broxton Ave, Los Angeles
31. Son Of A Gun
8730 3rd St, Los Angeles
32. Bestia
2121 E 7th Pl, Los Angeles
33. Original Tommy’s Hamburgers
2575 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles
34. Gueleguetza
3014 W Olympic Blvd, Los Angeles
35. Republique
624 S LA Brea Ave, Los Angeles
36. C&O Trattoria
31 Washington Blvd, Marina Del Rey
37. Dan Tana’s
9071 Santa Monica Blvd, West Hollywood
38. Honey’s Kettle Fried Chicken
9537 Culver Blvd, Culver City
39. Jitlada Thai Restaurant
5233 W Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles

LA Eater touts the Cavatelli!

March 26, 2015

Thank you to The Eater for highlighting Chef Kalman’s Ricotta Cavatelli! You can make a reservation to try it today by going to www.opentable.com or www.table8.com. We look forward to serving you! You can read what LA Eater had to say below or read the full article at this link.
17 Rabbit Dishes to Try Just in Time for Easter
Crystal Coser on Mar 25, 2015
This year, the cute, cuddly rabbit that so characterizes Easter is hopping right on to your dinner plate.
There is no doubt that rabbit meat is trending, with chefs across town capitalizing on its delicate flavor. A cursory taste of rabbit is, like many relatively exotic meats, reminiscent of chicken, but a deeper examination reveals a whisper of gaminess that’s bringing complexity to a whole slew of creative dishes in Los Angeles. From juicy bacon-wrapped rabbitchettas to spicy Sichuan diced rabbit, here is your list of 17 rabbit dishes to try just in time for Easter:
6 Ricotta Cavatelli at Union Restaurant
Chef Bruce Kalman’s Pasadena gem is known for thoughtfully-sourced local produce and handmade pasta, both of which set the tone for Union’s ricotta cavatelli with rabbit sausage, broccoli, cranberry beans, and Sicilian pistachios. The rich, nutty notes of the dish serve as a canvas upon which the herbaceous rabbit sausage shine.
Screen Shot 2015-03-26 at 12.18.39 PM
(Pic from LA.Eater.com)

Tonight on Bravo’s ‘Best New Restaurant’

March 18, 2015

Have you guys been watching ‘Best New Restaurant’? Quick recap if you’ve missed it. Last week we battled against The Pines, another great farm to table restaurant from Brooklyn, NY. In tonight’s episode Tom Colicchio will decide which 4 of the winning 8 restaurants will move on to the semi finals. Continue reading…

Darin Dines… at Union

March 2, 2015

Chef’s Night Out Visits Union

February 26, 2015

KevinEats Visits Union

February 25, 2015

Thank you to food blogger KevinEats who recently came into Union. If you guys want the FULL low-down on Chef Kalman’s back story, Kevin goes into the most detail on our chef’s history we’ve ever read. He also lays out an extremely detailed menu review, dish by dish with awesome pics of every selection. You can read a partial article below, but you should follow this link to read the piece on his blog which will showcase all his amazing photos. Continue reading…

Eye On L.A.: Best Places To Eat This Holiday Season

December 15, 2014