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Insider Los Angeles Travel Guide: Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken Crave Pupusas, Italian Sandwiches

L.A.-based street food experts Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken sell delicious tacos and “churro tots” from a trailer inspired by their flagship Border Grill. Here, the co-chefs share where they eat, shop for artsy gifts and tell friends to stay.

Ethnic Food Picks

Old School Truck: El Chato Taco Truck

SF: There’s a truck at Olympic Boulevard and La Brea Avenue that’s been around for a while, and I’ve seen how they’ve given themselves an edge. All the guys working there are wearing the same uniform, they have lights outside hanging from the truck and it’s totally become a scene. Literally around midnight, there are often 30 to 40 people. I’ve had numerous things: tongue tacos, barbecue pork.

Los Angeles Travel Guide: Grand Central Market
Grand Central Market
Photo © Neil Setchfield / Alamy.

Good for Groups: The Food Stalls at Grand Central Market

SF: Mary Sue and I have gone to Central Market forever. We love Sarita’s for El Salvadorian pupusas. You can see them making them right there. They make one with cheese and loroco, a flower with great lemony flavor, and another with chicharrón and beans.

MM: The great thing about Central Market is that it’s totally accessible, with different kinds of food so it's good for groups. There’s also a gordita place we love that sells deep-fried cornmeal pockets.

Los Angeles Travel Guide: Mexicali
Mexicali
Photo courtesy of Mexicali.

Mexican: Mexicali

MM: The business started as a street food stand and the owners went on to open their own restaurant. They have interesting tacos and really made a name for themselves with roasted garlic salsa and other sauces.

Best Sandwich: Bay Cities

SF: This is a great small Italian deli-market. You can get a Godmother, which is one of the great sandwiches in town, with all kinds of cold cuts like Genoa salami, mortadella, capicola, and prosciutto topped with pepperoncini. They bake their own bread.

Los Angeles Travel Guide: Mar Vista Farmers’ Market
Mar Vista Farmers’ Market
Photo courtesy of Mar Vista Farmer’s Market.

Great Variety: Farmers’ Markets

MM: I go to Mar Vista Farmers’ Market on Sunday mornings, and it’s a great place for people to introduce their products. There’s the Korean Vegan stand, a fresh-corn roaster called Foodies and Baba Foods, which has baba ghanouj, Bulgarian feta and all different kinds of hummus like one flavored with fresh basil pesto.

Hotels

The Ambrose

MM: This is an adorable green hotel in Santa Monica that has complimentary taxi service.

Los Angeles Travel Guide: Luxe Hotel

Luxe Sunset Boulevard Hotel

SF: It’s comfortable, not too big and sort of tucked away, but convenient to get to downtown because you’re near the 405 freeway.

Photo courtesy of Luxe Sunset Boulevard Hotel, Bel Air.

Shopping

West Third Street

MM: On Third Street near La Cienega Boulevard, there are a lot of shops including a really lovely men’s store called Douglas Fir where I always find gorgeous shirts, jackets and sweaters for my husband and sons. I am a big fan of lightweight, low-impact and functional household goods and Plastica is the best place for these kinds of things. I’ve found floor mats for the kitchen, wallets, placemats, purses, and more. Noodle Stories is a women’s clothing shop and I love everything from their socks to shoes to scarves to designer dresses.

Los Angeles Travel Guide: Venokado
Venokado
Photo © Leena Creel / Creel Films.

Venokado

SF: They have incredible boutique wine like Black Sheep Finds Hocus Pocus Syrah made in Santa Barbara by Peter Hunken and Amy Christine. Plus, great cards and fantastic gifts like little Obama T-shirts for babies—obviously they’re very liberal, so that have that slant.

Things to Do

SF: One of the great things to do on a Saturday or Sunday is go down to the Venice Farmers’ Market, then to the beach and rent bikes to ride all along the path to the Venice Canals. I think it’s one of those very perfect L.A. experiences.

MM: Downtown has become so much fun that I would not recommend coming to L.A. without spending a day walking around Little Tokyo and all the hip art district shops and galleries. You can stop at Grand Central Market and go to MOCA, or the Temporary Contemporary, which turned out to be permanent. They call it the Geffen Contemporary now.

Feniger and Milliken Name Must-Try Dishes at Their Own Restaurants...

Los Angeles Travel Guide: Border Grill Truck
Border Grill Truck
Photo courtesy of Border Grill Truck.

Border Grill Truck

MM: I can’t resist the Yucatan pork taco. It’s slow-roasted pork scented with banana leaves and cinnamon, with a jicama-and-orange salsa and pickled onions.

SF: The churro tots are dulce de leche churros tossed with cinnamon and sugar and served like Tater Tots with whipped cream.

Border Grill

SF: Crispy potato rajas tacos. They’re just one of those great satisfying tacos, with a chipotle crèma, a corn salsa and a little bit of mashed avocado.

MM: Ceviches. We have an Aji Amarillo ceviche with Peruvian yellow chiles and a sustainable fish that always changes, served with plantain chips and slices of avocado.

Susan Feniger’s STREET

SF: Kaya toast. It’s a Singaporean street food and hangover cure that combines savory coconut custard, a soft-cooked fried egg and Korean soy sauce.

MM: I love the lamb meatballs made with lots of caramelized onions, cayenne and paprika, with date molasses and a mix of Syrian and feta cheeses.

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