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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Ethnic Foods of the San Gabriel Valley: Flavors from the South...South America to Southeast Asia


Cuisines covered in previous posts: Mexican, Cajun, Nepalese; Lebanese, Thai, Basque

This week, we'll start south of the border. Way south. Farther south than that.

While there are a few places in the valley to get some good empanadas, for really great Argentinian Food, we like to go get those very meaty steaks and chimichurri sauce at Malbec on Green Street in Pasadena.



It's a steakhouse. A really nice steakhouse, on par with any good American steakhouse but this is the food of the gauchos.

We'll start with the setup pictured at the top of the page...a super-fresh garden salad, French bread with a garlicky, oily, chimichurri dipping sauce, and the bold Argentinian red wine that the restaurant is named after.



Since Argentina is South America's cow country, we have to go with a fork-tender, rib eye covered in savory mushroom sauce and a hearty seafood stew.

It's our pick for Argentinian but it your're looking for something a little more economical, the tortas at Tito's in El Monte give you another excellent choice for this country's cuisine that's much easier on the wallet.

Cuban Food finds it's home here in the valley too at places like Maringue in Monrovia, Mayumba in Rosemead, and Havana Express in El Monte, but it you want really, REALLY good Cuban food, there are two places you have to venture just a bit out of the SGV boundaries to try. 

Just over the line in Glendale is the absolutely legendary Porto's Bakery and Cafe (also with branches in Burbank and Downey) for their pressed sandwiches and desserts you just never knew could be so sweet and delicious. It's not a secret hideaway I'm telling you about, everybody here knows it and you will be hard pressed to find them without a hideously long line.



Down behind the Orange Curtain in the City of Orange lies the Felix Continental Cafe with stunning sidewalk dining around a 19th century traffic circle surrounding a fountain. The food is equally as good as the setting with entrees like paella and roasted Cuban chicken.  



It's delicious and most dinners are under $15.

It was tragic when the war in Vietnam ended and refugees flooded our shores but it was a blessing that we were gifted with the culture and cuisine  that makes up Vietnamese Food here in the SGV.

Now, you can go from end-to-end of the valley and sample some world-class banh mi and pho. There are dozens, if not hundreds, of shops ranging from hole-in-the-wall snack shacks to tony sit down establishments.

Take a drive along Garvey Avenue from San Gabriel to El Monte and you go through the heart of the Vietnamese community here and pass up scads of shops selling the great, slightly French influenced Banh Mi...a Vietnamese sandwich...for under $5.



On cold days, a big hearty bowl of pho (my favorite is the rare prime beef) with mint and spring rolls on the side chases away the bitterest of chills.  Don't forget to throw on some of the valley's best sauce, Sriracha Rooster Sauce...also a product of Vietnamese immigrants and made right here in the SGV...on your food, too.

Again, this is bargain food usually found quite a bit under $10 a meal. It's delicious too.



Darryl
Copyright 2013 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved


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