Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Ethnic Foods of the San Gabriel Valley: Say Goodbye to Europe

Cuisines covered in previous posts: Mexican, Cajun, NepaleseLebanese, Thai, BasqueArgentinian, Cuban, VietnameseEnglish, Belgian, Spanish, JewishGreek, Greek Diner, Hawaiian, SalvadoranIranian, Armenian, AfghaniIndonesian, Korean, Cambodian, American, California Cuisine, Soul FoodJapanese, Filipino, Barbecue

This week, we're going to finish the European cuisines that can be found in the San Gabriel Valley. 

While there's not a real big representation of eastern Europe here in the valley, you can find an outpost of Polish Food and Hungarian Food at the European Deli in Glendora.

There, you'll find an array of exotic sausages along with goulash, pierogis, bigos (a stew), and flaczki (a tripe soup).  

It's a regular deli, too, so you can get an array of sandwiches and everything is served quick and cheap.

French cuisine is pretty easy to find here in the SGV. What's hard to find is reasonably priced French Food.  There are good and expensive French restaurants all over Pasadena like Maison Akira, Cheval Bistro, and the highly regarded but seldom patronized Devon in Monrovia.

While in France, you can find delicious and cheap French food on every corner, here not so much but with a little digging, you can find a bit.

Crepe shops have been popping up with regularity lately. There's the very good Crepes de Paris chain in Orange County and the Inland Empire, Old Town Bistro in Monrovia with some decent food but slow service, and the forgettable Cafe LuMar in Monrovia. 

The best Creperie that we've come across is Monsiuer Crepe French Cafe in Sierra Madre, run by a nice Parisian ex-pat and his American wife, with a nice array of savory crepes, sandwiches, croissants, and desserts but the best thing is their sweet crepes like their salted caramel crepe or their crepe la rouge with raspberries and Chantilly cream. Heavenly, not too sweet, and very reasonable in price.

For a sit down, waitered French place, your options are basically three places that I know of.  Cafe Massilia in Monrovia is not too expensive and has a dedicated fan base. They're OK but I have had better. Remembering that Vietnam was a French colony in the past, it makes sense that a Vietnamese family could run an excuisite, white-linen, French restaurant with fantastic food at reasonable find that at La Vie in Rosemead.

Our go-to French restaurant for great food without breaking the budget is Cafe Bizou in Pasadena. Steak au poivre, Nicoise salad, steak frites, and bouillabaisse are some of the great dishes they have here. Bring your own wine and they only charge a $2 corkage fee.

The last European cuisine we have to cover is Italian Food.  We are well represented here in the valley with the Bitonti family's Domenico's chain, Carmine's in both South Pasadena and Arcadia, Petrillo's in San Gabriel and Glendora, and Caffe Opera and Bella Sera in Monrovia 

There are many more including some big name chains with "olive" in the name but our favorites are listed above. Carmine's and Petrillo's are great examples of family style red-sauce restaurants while you can find more refined cuisines at the two restaurants in Monrovia.

Copyright 2013 - Darryl Musick
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