130 Bruno St., Chinatown
Over the last few decades, Homeboy Industries has built a small empire in Los Angeles founded on a beautiful ethos and impactful mission: to improve the health and safety of the community through jobs and education, instead of incarceration. At Homegirl Café, a Homeboy enterprise (that also sells baked goods from Homeboy Bakery), young women enter an 18-month training certificate program where they learn about the restaurant industry and urban farming while working with a case manager to address other needs, including GED prep, substance abuse, domestic violence, tattoo removal, and legal services. The restaurant they run is as amazing as the program itself; the farm-to-table breakfast and lunch spot serves up soups, salads, and vegan and gluten-free-friendly iterations of classic Latin American dishes. Their tacos are not to be missed–make sure to try their vegan offering prepared with sautéed hibiscus flower, caramelized onions, avocado, cucumber, serrano peppers, and cilantro. There’s convenient parking behind the café, which is perched on the corner of Alameda and Bruno in Chinatown just north of Union Station. In addition to a full catering business, they also have booths at local farmer’s markets throughout the…
1725 Naud St., Chinatown
The mild pandemonium around David Chang’s first West Coast restaurant is entirely warranted. The food is difficult to describe, not definable by any one region or culture. It’s a mishmash of foreign flavors that many will find unexpected and familiar at the same time. Definitely not a repeat of Chang’s greatest hits—there’s no ramen here. Instead, this is an entirely new menu of shareable dishes that are often prepared tableside. The grilled bings (a type of Chinese flatbread), topped with everything from cultured butter to uni, are something we’ve never seen before. Sausage-stuffed peppers with buttermilk and the short ribs with all their many fixings are reason enough to book a table. Call a few weeks ahead for a table, or if you’re just two, go early and try for a walk-in (then get a cocktail at nearby Apoteke while you wait).
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