Progressive Eating Tour of Beverly Boulevard: Consumption, Chefs and a Side of History

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Food Tour Los Angeles

Beverly Boulevard between La Brea and Fairfax Avenues has become a culinary hotbed.

Even with 13 years (and thousands of meals) under my belt, Los Angeles continues to amaze me. The sprawling city has a phenomenal depth and breadth when it comes to food, history and culture. With that in mind, I’ve enjoyed organizing and leading tours of distinct neighborhoods like Santa Monica, downtown, Highland Park/Glassell Park and east Hollywood. On July 25, my mission was to spotlight four top spots centered on Beverly Boulevard.

Food Tour Los Angeles

A golden knight greeted guests at Eva, sunflower in hand. It was an auspicious start to the leisurely tour, which covered 1.2 miles, point to point.

Food Tour Los Angeles

Eva chef-owner Mark Gold was a gracious host at his seasonal, highly-personal restaurant. After my introduction, which referenced his prior posts at Water Grill and the Patina Group, he described how much he enjoys the “freedom” of owning his own restaurant. If he’s not getting enough covers – which was the case on Tuesdays prior to introducing his Beer and Bird special – or if he wants to host a one-off culinary event, like we enjoyed, he can pull the trigger right away.

Fried Chicken Los Angeles

Each chef or owner introduced a single plate, treat or drink on the tour. Chef Gold offered guests family-style servings of juicy, buttermilk-brined fried chicken. He fries his chicken in a mix of Canola oil and duck fat, the secret weapon.

Corn Los Angeles

Gold’s seasonal side involved creamed corn with béchamel and bay leaf. The corn originated at Brentwood Farms and rated more than double the sweetness of average corn on the brix test.

Food Tour Los Angeles

Chef Neal Fraser and wife Amy opened BLD along Beverly Boulevard in 2006, offering refined comfort food all day long. Neal Fraser and chef Diana Stavaridis walked from table to table to discuss the restaurant and the day’s dish, steamed mussels in a tomato, white wine and chile broth that came with a slab of crusty grilled rustic bread.

Although the focus was clearly on consumption, since our route practically radiated history, I thought it was important to stop at a few points to share some key facts.

Some of our stops spotlighted recent Los Angeles restaurant history. At 7360 Beverly Boulevard, I discussed GRACE, the higher end restaurant that the Frasers recently closed. They’re working to reopen in the rectory of downtown’s Cathedral of Saint Vibiana, a spectacular setting for a restaurant.

The GRACE space will house R26, which is a casual, higher-energy offshoot of Rivera from chef John Rivera Sedlar, restaurateur Bill Chait and designer Eddie Sotto. 26 refers to the number of predominant Latin cultures that Sedlar will draw from. Top flight bartenders Julian Cox and Kristina Howald are developing the cocktail program. R26 should open in Fall 2010.

Food Tour Los Angeles

Knowledgeable MILK sales manager Jesse Furman presented frozen treats at Bret Thompson’s sugary wonderland.

Ice Cream Los Angeles

Tour participants selected from several options, including watermelon sorbet sandwiched between a pair of macarons, with chocolate chips subbing for “seeds.” People also indulged in blueberry yogurt ice cream pops, ice cream “drumsticks” and coffee toffee ice cream sandwiches.

From MILK, we walked west, passing the site of Pan Pacific Auditorium, which was built in 1935, housed 6000 people for ice skating, USC basketball games, auto shows and more before the LA Convention Center rendered Pan Pacific Auditorium irrelevant in the early ‘70s. The building was in limbo for years before succumbing to a 1989 fire. Eventually a rec center arose in its place, in the original style, along with a surrounding park.

Across the street, we spotted Cobras & Matadors, a tapas concept opened by restaurateur Steven Arroyo in 2004. The space previously held Boxer, where Neal Fraser teamed with Arroyo in 1995. Boxer is where Fraser first became an Executive Chef and restaurant owner.

Arroyo also owns a sandwich shop next to Cobras & Matadors called Potato Chips and is about to open Taqueria Escuela in his office around the corner. Just like Potato Chips, this was named for a vintage sign Arroyo found, in this case a metal crossing guard that says “Despacio, Escuela,” which translates to “slowly, school.”

CBS Television City currently resides on the southeast corner of Beverly & Fairfax. From 1939 – 1957, the location hosted Hollywood Stars baseball games. The minor league team played before 12,000 fans at Gilmore Field, which was built by oil tycoon Earl Gilmore, he of the Gilmore family that continues to own The Original Farmers Market.

The stretch of Fairfax between Beverly and Melrose has been popular for Jewish residents since the early 20th century. It might be hard to imagine now, but Boyle Heights used to be L.A.’s Jewish capital, with César Chávez Avenue previously called Brooklyn Avenue. Eventually, Jewish immigrants moved west to Fairfax. Canter’s Deli even moved west from Boyle Heights in 1948, after 17 years in business.

Food Tour Los Angeles

The Golden State owners Jason Bernstein (pictured) and James Starr were both in-house for our final stop. Bernstein, the California-inspired cafe’s resident beer expert, passed out pint glasses filled with radlers. A radler, which was new to most tourgoers and a welcome sight for people who had visited Germany during the summer, is a traditional summertime mixture of lemonade and beer that proved to be oh-so refreshing after our Beverly Boulevard stroll.

Thanks to the participants, chefs and restaurateurs, and the writers who helped to promote the event, for making my progressive eating tour of Beverly Boulevard a success.

Which neighborhood would you nominate for a future progressive eating tour?


Joshua Lurie

Joshua Lurie founded FoodGPS in 2005. Read about him here.

Blog Comments

[…] is my first Food GPS walking tour and it made me wish I had attended earlier. I’d definitely go on another one. Not only did I […]

This is my 4th (yep!) event with you and they are always amazing. I meet the most interesting people, sample the best food, meet the greatest chefs in LA and have an all around great time. Thanks again Josh.


Thanks for all your support. I hope to see you at the next Food GPS event.

Looks like a terrific walking and eating tour! Unique and fun.

sounds like a fun walking, learning and eating tour — though for some reason every time I see consumption my first association is tuberculosis, maybe I watched Moulin Rouge once too often.

H.C., that’s funny to hear you reference tuberculosis. Who knows? Maybe some medical sites will link to my post. hope to see you at the next Food GPS tour or event, as long as you’re back on the omnivore wagon at that point.

What beer did Jason at Golden State use in conjunction with the lemonade?

MK, That’s a great question, and a question that I probably should have answered in the body of the post. He used a Port Road to Helles bock, but he’s flexible.

Josh, you have a great reputation for your fun events all the way to South Florida. Keep up the great scrumptious descriptions and mouth-watering photos!

[…] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Jo, Daniela Galarza. Daniela Galarza said: sorry i missed it! by @FoodGPS […]

This sounds like it was a great time. Sorry to have missed it since it was right in my neighborhood. Hope to make the next one!

This was such a fun Sunday afternoon. Can’t wait until the NEXT one!

Jo, thanks for joining the tour. Glad to hear you had a fun time. And yes, there will be more tours and events soon.

Esi, I sure hope you can make it to the next Food GPS event.

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