One of LA’s top cheesesteak spots is far from what you’d think of as the city’s foodie hotspots. Housed in a humble storefront on the corner of 39th and Figueroa, directly across from the coliseum and a half block from the USC campus, Figueroa Philly isn’t the posh hautespot you’d find in Silverlake or Westwood. Faux wood communal tabletops and rustic industrial décor simply aren’t a fit in an area that far away from the yuppie hustle and bustle, not to mention that any true Philadelphian would balk at seeing a cheesesteak spot all dressed up in such a way.
Figueroa Philly sticks to its roots, or rather, borrows the roots of your classic east coast hole in the wall. Rib eye steak, Amorso rolls shipped directly from Philly, and of course your ever-popular cheese whiz. The only thing that owner Danny Hizami, who bears an interesting resemblance to Ray Romano, ‘LA-ified’ about the place was the sourcing of high-end ingredients. The meats and cheeses—the real cheeses, at least—are all Boar’s Head, veggies are fresh, and of course everything is cooked to order.
While Figueroa Philly has been open since 2010, the property where it resides has been in Hizami’s family for more than 40 years. And because he has the ridiculous advantage of owning his restaurant outright, he’s got the freedom to charge less and experiment more. He’s assembled a small but loyal team that’s been with him for nearly two decades, and they’ve hatched not just a slew of indulgent cheesesteak offerings, but also a secret menu that unlocks even more.
Your classic cheesesteak, or the ‘Famous Figueroa Philly,’ has your classic rib eye steak, onions, peppers, mushrooms and cheese whiz. Branch out a bit for a New Yorker with Pastrami, mustard and pickles, and in any case get an order of onion rings, delivered in massive quantity and fried to a perfect golden brown. Things get interesting on the secret menu, where the Yin Yang essentially combines the two orders and the Philly fries turn carne asada fries on its head.
These carnivorous compilations are joined by the up-and-coming Hot Cheeto cheesesteak. Exactly as it sounds, this new-age concoction melds crushed hot Cheetos into the whiz, plus a few on top for good measure. Similar to Doritos mac ‘n’ cheese, if it sounds good then you’re going to love it. Also be on the lookout for an eating challenge with 'The Frankenstein,' a massive double cheesesteak with hot dogs, french fries, onion rings, pepperoni, peppers and onions.
Figueroa Philly is located at 3850 S Figueroa St, Los Angeles, CA 90037. Open 10a – 8p 7 days a week. Avg. out-the-door price for cheesteak, split side and a drink is ~$15/person. For more information call (213) 748-9073 or visit FigueroaPhilly.com.
Bone Kettle is a rare entity that boasts true respect to its South Asian origin in addition to an elegant ambiance that speaks to Old Town Pasadena. From the outside, Bone Kettle is another haute spot, with a clean, chic look that inevitably brings in the posh crowd that fills the place to the brim. The food, however, tells an entirely different story—one that typically comes from hole-in-the-wall spots with cheeky décor, questionable health ratings, and an equally eager following that knows this is the closest you’re going to get to true Asian cooking without crossing the Pacific.
Family owned and operated, Bone Kettle owes its culinary mastery to Executive Chef Erwin Tjahyadi, whose Le Cordon Bleu training and apprenticeships under Wolfgang Puck and Trey Foshee earned him a Zagat 30 Under 30 distinction. Tjahyadi’s recipes come from his mother and grandmother, as well as his own time in Indonesia, with French technique weaved in ever-so-delicately.
These time-honored cooking techniques certainly show, with Bone Kettle’s namesake bone broth elevating the restaurant up with the ranks of Pasadena’s finest. Cooked for 36 hours in a signature blend of spices, it’s served with tender ramen noodles and a sprinkling of vegetables, with add-ons from crispy tempeh to fatty brisket and the beloved braised ox tail. You’ll find a bowl in front of virtually everyone from that posh Pasadena crowd, where flavor clearly prevails over elegance as patrons sip and slurp their way to satisfaction.
The menu expands far beyond the bone broth as well. Chef Tjahyadi incorporates equally deep, bold flavors into small plates like buttery bone marrow, oxtail dumplings finished with seasonal mushrooms, and the char kway teow, a mix of noodles with prawns and sweet sausage that speaks slightly to chow mein, but with a distinct flavor profile says something new and different. Entrees include crab fried rice and garlic steak nasi goreng, where the steak is so rich with garlic and holds such a perfectly crispy finish that you just want them to bring the whole slab to the table
An array of wines, beers and sakes complete the experience, as well as some intriguing housemade mocktails such as lychee dragonfruit lemonade and a simply heavenly novelty that mixes yuzu, blue hibiscus and raspberry syrup.
Bone Kettle is located at 67 North Raymond Ave, Pasadena, CA 91103. Open 11:30a – 2:30p and 5:30 – 9:30p 7 days a week. Avg. out-the-door cost for split appetizer, entrée and 1 – 2 drinks is ~$70/person. For more information call (626) 795-5702 or visit BoneKettle.com.
The wondrous flavors of New Orleans have assimilated with the Angelino palate through Preux & Proper, bringing a quaint-yet-stylish, casual-yet-classy taste to on one of DTLA’s busy thoroughfares. ‘Colonel’ Josh Kopel and Executive Chef Sammy Monsour have created a masterful experience with Cajun-inspired dishes and elegant SoCal panache, striking patrons with a cultural intrigue that gets this place popping night after night.
The humble entrance off Spring Street transports you straight to NoLa, frozen drink machines and all. Walk up the stairs to enter Proper Dining Hall, where everything on a plate sticks to its Cajun roots while the bustling bar, lounge and dining area screams hip LA. Craft cocktails go far beyond NoLa’s hurricanes [the drink, to avoid any confusion here], such as the rising sun, with Japanese whisky, egg white and yuzu; the voodoo queen, with Jamaican rum and jerk bitters; and the mezcalarita del diablo, with ancho syrup and chipotle. Step onto the restaurant’s small balcony after a few of these and you may see someone down below asking for beads.
Preux & Proper dishes out sizeable portions, with featured shared plates like the grilled yellow street corn, a take on Mexican elote, as well as a chicken liver pate that spreads beautifully over grilled baguette. The southern fried section, however, really takes it home. The fried whole game hen, essentially a high-end version of chicken and biscuits, is a meal to remember, with a sweet, crunchy coating, fluffy biscuits and a honey finish that makes it all come together. For an additional splurge, go for the 36-hour prime boneless beef rib, a melt-in-your-mouth indulgence complemented beautifully with mashed yams and crispy parsnip chips.
Preux & Proper is located at 840 S. Spring St, Los Angeles, CA 90014. Open 4 – 10p Mon – Wed, 4p – midnight Thu, 4 – 11p Fri/Sat and noon – 9p Sun. Avg. out-the-door cost for split appetizer, split charcuterie, entrée, split dessert and 1 – 2 drinks is ~$105/person. For more information call (213) 896-0090 or visit PreuxAndProper.com
Benjamin Brown is a seasoned restaurant writer and hospitality consultant, serving up SoCal's hottest food news and reviews.