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.
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
The Dolly Llama is Downtown LA’s newest destination to hop on the Instagram dessert craze. Menu and decor alike were without doubt conceptualized for the sweet-toothed paparazzi, allowing anyone seeking likes and followers to show off bright colors and nostalgic flavors. And yes, the bubble waffle ice cream cones, waffle sticks in every sugary iteration taste great.
The process is simple: choose your waffle type, then choose from a myriad of toppings and sauces, plus ice cream if applicable. Each option gets one sauce and two toppings. The Dolly Llama’s signature is certainly the bubble waffle ice cream cone—a homemade waffle with bumps instead of pockets, set in cone form, filled with ice cream and topped with various accouterments including whipped cream and cotton candy. The ice cream is truly standout, with flavors like horchata, red velvet and cookie monster that are as decadent as they are creative.
Those seeking lighter fare, however, can opt for an original waffle or a waffle stick, which eats like a corncob. The Dolly Llama also serves milkshakes, bottled soft drinks and hot cocoa, hot-chata and hot vanilla. Regardless of your choice, trust that the staff will show off meticulous attention to detail.
Canisters of candy, bright cereal boxes, dressed up bubble waffle cones, neon lights and of course paintings of a llama donning sunglasses give The Dolly Llama a modern feel with a touch of old school, perfectly matching the menu.
The Dolly Llama is located at 611 S Spring St, Los Angeles, CA 90014. Desserts range from $6 – 8. Open noon to midnight 7 days a week. For more information call (213) 283-8615 or visit The Dolly Llama online.
Benjamin Brown is a seasoned restaurant writer and hospitality consultant, serving up SoCal's hottest food news and reviews.