Even though July was relatively gloomy, on the Sunday of my 14-mile Colorado Urban Hike the sun was pretty much out in full-force, which made for a beautiful day to get outdoors plus lots of stops to cool down, hydrate and check out some of the local flavors from Glendale to Arcadia.
Starting my excursion at 8 a.m. with Tiny Nancer, we both deemed Porto's Bakery & Café the perfect first stop to get our hike started on the right foot.
Nancy, never having tried their potato balls, got one of those & an oversized blueberry muffin for breakfast. I opted for their guacamole & cheese omelet croissan-wich, and we splitted a cup of their super-sweet, freshly-squeezed OJ.
My sandwich took a while to come out (during which Nancy & I pondered whether they're churning the butter for the croissant or waiting for hens to lay the eggs for the omelet) but it turned out to be worth the wait. The sesame seed-studded croissant was flaky, soft and surprisingly a tad sweet, and it was a nice combo against the rich guac and the gooey cheese omelet. A dash or two of Tapatio or Cholula hot sauce was all that's needed.
After our satisfying breakfast, we hiked and Nancy, a longtime Eagle Rock resident (who's soon moving to the Big Apple,) schooled me on some local eats worth checking out - including Carousel Restaurant ("Every Armenian I know recommends this place!" she said) to Fish King Seafood Market & Deli and... Sasoun Bakery.
Despite still being full from Porto's, I let myself be talked into trying their hot-outta-the-oven cheese beorek (OK, not all that hard considering the smell of baked bread and the aroma of spices)
. . . which I'm glad I did. Essentially quesadilla's Armenian cousin, I love the pita texture of the bread (crispy crust, fluffy interior) and the melty, Monterey Jack like cheese mixed with cooked onions and savory spices. And at $1.50, flavor- and value-wise it definitely beats any of the chain offerings from the Galleria or Americana (though Nancy herself is more partial to even bigger bargain of Taron Bakery.) Alas, having a belly full of breakfast, I only ate one-half of my beorek, and wound up giving the other to Nancy's boyfriend Robbyjazz.
Heading down Glendale, we spotted a few other curious eateries and meaning-to-tries, such as Rocky's Gourmet Pizza and Zankou Chicken (the latter being one I've still yet to check out -- shameful for an Angeleno, I KNOW.) Ultimately, our next eating stop was at Eagle Rock n Roll Sunday Farmer's Market, where we met up with Gourmet Pigs and her boyfriend as they were waiting for their made-to-order pupusas and tamales. Nancy and I, starting to feel dehydrated, got a watermelon agua frescas from the pupusa vendor. Oh-so-refreshing!
After finishing our drinks and sampling some of the market's fresh & prepared foods, Nancy took us to Eagle Rock Mall to its somewhat hidden gem, Seafood City, a Filipino market offering all sorts of cheap produce and Pacific Island specialty foods, including literally an aisle of ube. I definitely thought about buying something to bring along for the rest of the hike, but decided it wouldn't hold very well in my backpack for the rest of the day. And now that I know where it is, I can always come back.
Fiona, Nancy and I contemplated on getting a snack at local casual faves Spitz and Swork, but ultimately decided on a light meal instead at Four Café (I also thought about checking out Dave's Chillin & Grillin but unfortunately it wasn't opened yet.) Having six in our party (Caroline on Crack and Robby joined us) it seemed appropriate to take advantage of their BYOB policy to buy a little brunch bubbly from neighboring Colorado Wine Company.
Cava Barcino Brut, a dry Spanish bubbly that's a little flinty and a little tart (and appropriate for the lighter fare we're about to get) - and apparently LA Times' S. Irene picked this as an affordable New Year's Eve sparkly to pop. We didn't know it at the time, we just snagged the bottle for its decent price & because it's the last one in the fridge and figure it can't be a bad thing if if it almost sold out.
For my brunching, I considered re-doing my recent delicious order but ultimately went lighter and got their haricot verts deli salad with asparagus, shallots and a bit of truffle oil alongside their chilled heirloom tomato gazpacho with a balsamic reduction. The vegetables in the deli salad were nicely cooked, still possessing a satisfying crunch and loads of flavor with every bite and I love how multi-faceted the soup tasted, with its refreshing sweet-and-sour profile and packed with tons of real tomato flavor (nothing like the anemic-tasting slices found in sandwich & burger chains.)
Of course, between our collective sweet tooth we had to grab something sugary to finish off our meal (I mean, we do need carbs for the hike!) so we shared their Mexican hot chocolate and lavender brown sugar cookies. I liked the former cookie more, which was moist and had the fun spiced chocolate combo. The lavender shorbread-like cookie was good too, but proved too buttery and chalky with subsequent bites -- so I'm definitely glad I was sharing that (I will give Four props though for not overdoing the lavender, which happens way too often at other places and makes me feel like I'm eating soap or lotion.)
After Four, Fiona and Nancy and their b/fs took off from the hike, leaving Caroline and I to hike (and eat... and drink) the rest of our way down Colorado. Our first stop was at Little Flower Candy Company, where I might've bought a bag or two of their delicious caramels except they might melt into a massive molten and sticky blob by the end of the hike. So instead, we got seed bombs from a vending machine outside for a little guerilla gardening later.
Upon arrival in Old Town Pasadena, we deliberated a little bit on our next hydration stop and finally settled upon La Grande Orange for a pitcher of their signature white sangria. For $19, we got 7-8 glasses of the thirst-quenching winey, fruity punch -- a definite bargain any time of day. Caroline, who didn't eat at Four, was starting to get a little hungry so she ordered one of my fave dishes there, their tuna burger (and I got to nibble on some of her fries.) Definitely a nice, and much-needed, respite
While at LGO, Caroline mentioned never having been to Eagle Rock Brewery before -- so I said "WHAT?" and opted to take a shortcut (namely, shaving 3-4 miles and an hour's hike) by riding the Metro Gold Line so we can make it there before they close shop at 6 p.m. The timing worked out just fine, even including a detour to Arcadia residential streets after Colorado Blvd. became sidewalkless, some stray peafowl photo-snapping and a quick stop by Phoenix Food Boutique to pick up some milk custard w ginger for Nancy while Caroline got her red bean mochi on.
With our fast-paced hiking and my semi-manic driving, we arrived at Eagle Rock Brewery right at 5:58 p.m. -- thankfully there were other late patrons and co-owners Steve and Jeremy Raub were happy to serve us (Jeremy even said he saw my tweet and meant to reply that they'll hang around a little while after 6 p.m., awww!)
At Eagle Rock, Caroline got their Solidarity, their super popular dark, mild-flavored beer with a good dose of malty notes. I opted for their recently-debuted Limbo, a saison-style beer with citra hops, which was kind of fun being a little hoppy, a little sour and a little yeasty-funky, definitely putting it in a hard-to-pinpoint limbo position of beers.
After downing our brews and snacking on some peanuts & pretzels that they brought out, Caroline got a growler of Solidarity (picking up some tips from Jeremy about how to store and serve in the process) and we left thoroughly hydrated and little bit buzzed. Realizing we still had our seed bombs in our pockets, we planted them on the grounds outside the brewery. Maybe in a couple of weeks, we'll see them bloom into some wicked wildflowers.
And so that's how the July Urban Hike went down -- another satisfying course where I discovered new places while checking out some favorites too. And already, I'm looking forward to the next one criss-crossing downtown LA on August 29, a relatively shorter five-mile route along Spring, Hope & Grand that starts with a Nickel Diner lunch and hopefully ends just in time for happy hour at one of the neighborhood's many popular and tasty watering holes. Here's the route I planned, hope you can join!
Last but not least, here are Caroline & Nancy's posts on the hike; and the more photos on my flickr set here.
315 North Brand Boulevard
Glendale, CA 91203
625 E Colorado St.
Glendale, CA 91205
Eagle Rock n Roll Farmers Market (@ Eagle Rock Plaza parking lot near Macy's)
2700 Colorado Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90041
Colorado Wine Company
2114 Colorado Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90041
2122 Colorado Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90041
La Grande Orange Station Cafe
260 S Raymond Ave.
Pasadena, CA 91105
Phoenix Food Boutique
1108 South Baldwin Avenue
Arcadia, CA 91007
Eagle Rock Brewery
3056 Roswell Street
Los Angeles, CA 90065