Ellen's Restaurants

L.A. Is My Beat - The Restaurants of Los Angeles as I experience them

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


In Saturday we drove over to Atwater to visit Tom and Claire. We had planned to go out to dinner somewhere in their neighborhood. I asked them to surprise us with a place. We ended up going to a restaurant I've wanted to visit for years! It's called Polka and it's in a mini-mall at the corner of Colorado and Verdugo Road on the border of Eagle Rock and Glendale.
Tom and Claire
The owners have turned a boring mini-mall space into an Eastern European, homey and cozy restaurant. There are burgundy lace curtains on the windows, obscuring the views of the city; lots of European knick-knacks and paintings covering the walls; charming little lamps on every table and they serve your food on old-fashioned, colorful china.
The menu seems authentic. I am one-quarter Polish and I love Eastern European cuisine. Two minutes after you sit down, the waitress (ours was Kasia) brings you the soup of the day. On Saturday it was a very flavorful pea soup, followed by a delicious salad. Claire and I both ordered the special Polka tea (which has a shot of bourbon in it). Polka does not have a liquor license, but you can bring your own bottle of wine for a $3 corkage fee. Claire and I also both ordered pierogi for dinner. Claire had the sauerkraut & mushroom combo. I had some potato & cheese and also some pork and chicken pierogis. They were delicious. Tom ordered bigos, which is Polish stew, a mix of stewed sauerkraut, mushrooms, Polish sausage and chunks of pork. Larry ordered the mild kielbasa. The sausage looked slightly graphic sitting on the plate, but it was really delicious. All meals were served with rice and vegetables. Our meal also included dessert of vanilla pudding, topped with fruit and whipped cream.Needless to say, this was a hearty meal!
Special Chocolates for Preferred Customers
The service was good. The staff friendly. The prices were reasonable. Everyone else in the restaurant seemed to be having a good time. I'd definitely go back. Thanks, Claire and Tom for introducing us to Polka! Next time, we'll bring our own accordion!
4112 Verdugo Road, LA, CA 90065
(323) 255-7887 or (323) 255-1000

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Chichen Itza

Mr. Larry and I went out to dinner on Saturday to a place that had been recommended. The restaurant is called Chichen Itza. We had been to their other, less fancy restaurant in the Mercado La Paloma food court on Grand Ave. while we were on our L.A. Conservancy Mosaic Tour a few months ago, but I didn't connect the two until I read about that online. The restaurant is named after the great pyramids on the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico.

Chips w/Bean Sauce and Tomato Salsa (gratis)

Surprisingly, Larry ordered the exact dish that Mary Jo had for lunch that day at the Grand Ave. location, Papadzul (Yucatan Style Enchilada) which is four rolled corn tortillas moistened with ground roasted pumpkin seed and epazote sauce, stuffed with hard boiled egg and topped with tomato sauce. I ordered the Questo Relleno which is a ball of baby Edam cheese, carved out and filled with raisins, almonds and caper-flavored ground pork, covered with white and tomato sauce. For our appetizer we had Kibi which are small ground beef and cracked wheat patties, seasoned with mint and spices, fried golden brown and served with Yucatan pickled red onions and cabbage.

Kibi Appetizer


Queso Relleno

Everything was delicious and served beautifully.
The restaurant is located on 6th St. across from the Park Plaza Hotel @ Carondelet St., west of MacArthur Park (site of the recent, violent May Day protest). It's on the first floor of the Asbury Apartments which is a very laa-de-dah and fancy looking building from the mid-1920's. At one time, this area, called Westlake, was a very desireable and high-rent neighborhood. It has gone thru transition in the past few years and is slowly coming back. There is some amazing architecture to view in this district.

Entrance to Asbury Apartments

We didn't have room for dessert at Chichen Itza, but they have three that sound enticing: Papaya en Almabar con Queso which is papaya slices cooked in sugar syrup with aged Baby Edam Cheese; Caballeros Pobres which is bread soaked in raisin syrup; and Queso Napolitano which is a dense vanilla flan with caramel sauce.
Chichen Itza
2501 W 6th Street L.A. CA 90057

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