On Saturday we ran (drove) one of the best food marathons to date. It was well-researched, organized and executed. The food was fantastic, portions and speed were perfect and at the end of the day I felt the best I've ever felt after a food marathon (read: not nauseous).
We started in Alhambra, as all good marathons should start in the San Gabriel Valley. (What is the deal with the traffic grid there? The lights are timed so ineffectively, traffic stacks up in all directions and you wait for no less than five minutes per red light.)
Wonton Time was the first stop. The wonton soup was excellent (pictured with fishballs). Quick service, delicious broth with enormous wontons and so inexpensive ($4 per bowl). I added fishballs, which were a little oniony but good. We didn't use their homemade hot sauce until halfway through the bowls which we regretted. Great kick and flavor- I bought a bottle to take home (which I already have spooned onto numerous items unnecessarily).
The Hat is across the street but we opted against it because it is a chain. At some point we might try it, but we had a schedule to keep.
Less than a mile away was stop number two, Ba Le. A small deli in a (now Del Taco-less) strip mall, serving a multitude of custardy, mayonnaiesy dessert-type foods in a deli case. Spring rolls and other baked bread items sat on the counter. We ordered one bbq pork bahn-mi, as on a marathon you can't overdo it at each stop. The meat was flavorful, the baguette was crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside and the jalapenos, daikon, carrots were all fresh and tasty.(I've just learned that we should have ordered something different, so I guess I'll have to go back for the pate).
As this was an 'east of the 110 Freeway-only' food marathon we decided that as long as you could see the 110 it still was considered east. I say this because El Parian is about 200 yards west of the 110 and Staples Center. I can't believe this place hasn't been a pre-game stop for years. We ordered carne asada tacos which were enormous in comparison to normal taco truck sizes (double tortillas, double meat). Although El Parian is a sit-down restaurant (in the most informal sense) it still is taco truck-style Mexican food. We neglected the specialty, the barria (goat), but definitely will be back to try it. The tacos come stacked full of carne asada, which was good but not the best I've ever had. Additionally a plate of fresh tomatoes, onions and cilantro accompany chips, salsa and hot sauce (which was on the vinegary side, but terrific).
We drove by Weeneez which looked really uninspired and continued on to Clifton's Cafeteria. It's been blogged about before and is definitely an anomaly (If you Disneyfied The Shining and served senior citizen center food there).
The banana split pie was the winning choice above the other sugar-filled options (pies, cakes, pudding, and other choking hazards).
Two bites in we threw in the towel- the surrender flag/napkin representing another great journey through gastronomic Los Angeles.
Next stop Las Vegas.
19 E. Valley Blvd, Alhambra, CA 91801
1426 S Atlantic Blvd, Alhambra, CA 91803
1528 Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90015
648 S. Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90014