2, 5, 10, 101, 134, 710. No, they're not this week's winning lottery numbers. They're the numbers of the freeways on which we drove Saturday for the 6 Freeway Food Marathon.
Coming from different parts of LA, we met up at Tacos Baja Ensenada
on Whittier Blvd (which is Route 72
for those who are counting).
The bright green and yellow building invitingly offers the start of the marathon.
We order two tacos each: one fish and one shrimp. We grab large fresh peppers and eagerly await our number to be called.
The fish, shrimp and veggies are on display to prove their freshness. Although TBE is known for their fish I would bet that their steak, chicken and pork are all terrific.
The tangy slaw that tops each taco is something I could happily eat by the spoonful.
The shrimp are battered and fried as we order them.
The tacos are big compared to many of LA's taco trucks and stands. They're messy and well worth the drive.
We continued on the 710 to the 10 towards Alhambra.
Ten minutes later we arrived at Lee's Sandwiches
, a popular California chain specializing in Vietnamese
and European sandwiches.
In a bold move I ordered an avocado smoothie. It wasn't terrible, but definitely not something I'd order again. We split two sandwiches between the three of us- Lee's Combination and Special Combination.
All the bahn mi come with house pickle (daikon and carrot), onion, jalapeno, cilantro, house mayonnaise, salt, pepper and soy sauce.
Lee's combo has sliced jambon (ham), headcheese
and pate. The Special has "pork roll" as well. The sandwiches were very tasty, with the non-American combinations working together beautifully. The bread was nothing special and we likened the overall experience to the Vietnamese Subway. That said, I'd invest now before it blows up (they have 29 locations with 3 opening soon). We didn't finish the sandwiches and wrapped them up for a post-marathon snack.
We drove down Valley Blvd to a perennial food marathon stop, Wonton Time
It always amazes us how many shrimp they can pack into their brilliant dumplings
We normally buy their sauce, which goes well on anything (pasta, burritos, salads, sandwiches), but Jitlada brought so much heat the night before we opted against it this time.
It was a warm day and when we returned to the car we were almost knocked out by the pungent odor the leftover bahn mi left in the car. We rolled down all the windows in hopes of clearing the trash-like smell left by the pickled vegetables, onions, head cheese and pate...
On to 10 to the 5 to the 2 to Eagle Rock for dessert.
We passed Eagle Rock's Milk
in hopes of later visiting Milk
on Beverly Blvd and comparing the two
but we didn't make it past Auntie Em's Kitchen
. Auntie Em's has a good reputation for breakfast, lunch and, most importantly, cupcakes.
Big red velvet and coconut cupcakes sit aside an open faced cajun turkey sausage breakfast sandwich (served on grilled ciabatta bread with Gruyere cheese and scrambled eggs, served with a side of our housemade Harissa Sauce).
Banana rum cake next to previously mentioned cupcakes. Note the colorful plates.
The red velvet falls perfectly between Sprinkles and Vanilla Bake Shop in terms of cream cheesiness. (VBS is too cream cheesy and Sprinkles isn't enough). I've yet to try Dainties to compare fairly.
The rum flavor was powerful but not overwhelming. If we weren't at the end of the marathon I definitely would have finished it. They also have mini cupcakes but we split the large ones.
As is always the case with LA-based food marathons, freeways are a major part of the story. It's still a great example of how diverse LA is. To go from an entirely Spanish-speaking neighborhood to an area almost completely devoid of Mexican food in ten minutes. One of the many reasons I love traffic-less LA. Good luck doing this marathon during rush hour.