Dune – Los Angeles (Atwater Village)

Dune - Atwater Village - Los Angeles

The Astronomer, June, and I made our way to Dune for lunch last Sunday. I’d been meaning to check out this highly touted Atwater Village falafelria since it was opened earlier this year by the folks who run Elf Cafe.

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June really liked Dune’s outdoor seating and fast-casual service, while The Astronomer and I appreciated that our spread arrived quickly. Efficient service is one of the perks of waiting a solid six months before trying a “hot” spot.    

Dune - Atwater Village - Los Angeles

The menu here is awesomely simple, offering just a trio of sandwiches, a few composed plates, and a smattering of salads and snacks. The Astronomer and I ordered a little bit of everything and enjoyed leftovers the following day.

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China Tasty – Alhambra

China Tasty - Alhambra

Word of made-from-scratch, hand-pulled noodles at China Tasty lured me away from my cubical and to Alhambra for lunch the other week. While hand-pulled noodles are easily found throughout mainland China, noodle pulling specialists are surprisingly scarce in the San Gabriel Valley. Props to the L.A. Times’ Amy Scattergood for unearthing this gem.

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China Tasty makes four different noodle shapes. There’s “standard round” (like spaghetti), “small flat” (like linguini), “medium flat” (like papperdelle),  and “triangle noodle” (like no other). Amy describes the lattermost as “kind of like the noodle version of laminated dough, pulled into layers and cooked until beautifully chewy.” It was my favorite of the varieties we sampled.

China Tasty - Alhambra

First up was the “Szechuan Dan-Dan Noodle” ($5.99). We requested the triangle noodles to pair with this dish.

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Trader Joe’s Mini Sheet Cake

Trader_Joe_s_Sheet_Cakes

I blame my current obsession with Trader Joe’s Mini Sheet Cakes on my friend Quyen. She posted an enticing Instagram of the product a month and a half ago, and ever since then, I’ve consumed a cake a week. While that might sound like an exaggeration, I assure you that it isn’t—my appetite for super-moist cake iced thick with super-sweet frosting knows no bounds.

Trader Joe's Mini Sheet Cake

The cakes come in two flavors: Dark Chocolate Ganache with a “smooth ganache cream cheese frosting” and Chantilly Cream Vanilla Bean with a “smooth vanilla bean buttercream frosting.” Both taste equally fetching and are irresistibly priced at $3.99.

Trader Joe's Mini Sheet Cake

The chocolaty creation, with its tender base and rich topping, tastes like it was baked in Duncan Hines’ or Betty Crocker’s kitchen, in the best possible way, of course. The ratio of cake to frosting, practically one to one, is just about perfect for someone who appreciates her sweets very, very sweet.

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La Azteca Tortilleria – East Los Angeles

La Azteca Tortilleria - Boyle Heights - Los Angeles

As much as I love exploring the San Gabriel Valley’s restaurant scene for my weekday lunches, I was thrilled to discover recently that East Los Angeles is a stone’s throw from my office. Easy access to some of the city’s finest Mexican food is most definitely a lunchtime game changer.

For my inaugural midday jaunt to the Eastside of town, I wrangled a crew of fellow food lovers and headed to one of my favorite spots: La Azteca Tortilleria.

La Azteca Tortilleria - Boyle Heights - Los Angeles

When the shop’s original owners, Alex Bernal and his wife, Maria Rodriguez, retired in 2010 after three decades of making tortillas the old-fashioned way, from scratch and in small batches, their good friends Juan and Candalaria Villa purchased the business and continued the tradition. It’s a painstaking process, to be sure, but the results are truly fantastic.

La Azteca Tortilleria - Boyle Heights - Los Angeles

The difference between a store-bought tortilla and the handmade wonders here is like night and day. While the former cracks as it rolls and tastes like the plastic it’s wrapped in, the latter is hefty yet plush and is capable of curving around copious amounts of pork, cheese, beans, or most likely, all three.

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