I recently took advice from a magazine, no, not dating advice from Cosmo (please), but local-exploring advice from Los Angeles Magazine. After reading an interesting feature on “York Boulevard” in this month’s issue, I was completely intrigued. I had never heard of this stretch of road lined with eateries and funky shops. I didn’t even know where it was. The article said northeast LA. How mysterious! I made a plan to check it out this past Sunday with a good friend, who, little did I know grew up in this ‘hood! “Yeah, that’s Highland Park!” she said. “I haven’t been in forever!” Fabulous. I would get to see it for the first time and she would be able to explain the changes.
Parking was super easy, York Boulevard was our bitch for the next couple of hours. We started with brunch at Highland Café. They have an Alcove ordering system. Order at the front, and the food is delivered. Nice. I obviously had to get a regular coffee, provided by Handsome Coffee Roasters, those sly bastards. Then we decided to pick one savory item and one sweet item and share. The only way to order at brunch for two! We settled on the Breakfast Burrito and the Challah French Toast.
The Burrito: Scrambled Eggs, Avocado, Seasoned Red Potatoes, Cheddar Cheese, Black Beans and Ham (personal addition). Wrapped in a Sun-Dried Tomato Tortilla and served with housemade Salsa.
Review: Everything you would want your breakfast burrito to be! I don’t usually do a flavored tortilla, but it wasn’t bad. The salsa was amazing! It had a fire-y kick that I wasn’t expecting. If I were to improve it, I would have added more cheese...but when don’t I want more cheese?
The French Toast: Two slices of house-baked Challah Bread dipped in banana infused batter topped with maple syrup, powdered sugar and fresh fruit.
Review: I love me some french toast, been eating it for as long as I can remember. Unfortunately, I did not taste banana in the batter, which I was looking forward to. It sounded interesting! Also, the syrup was served on the side and was cold. Aside from those two things, it was good french toast! The bread itself was the right temperature and it was accurately soft in texture. It was topped with strawberries and bananas, which didn’t bother me. Good, not great, but good.
Overall Rating ***
Donut Friend, the whimsical, specialty donut shop, was a must try, but we had to digest brunch first. After checking out some of the stores, it was time to eat again. Wow, they really have something going on. We walked into a gourmet donut extravaganza!
The Donuts out for show in the display case were the...
- Nutella Vision (Nutella and a dash of olive oil inside a traditional donut, topped with sugar glaze and a pinch of kosher salt)
- Rites of Sprinkles (cake donut topped with chocolate icing and sprinkles)
- Dee Snider (peanut butter, strawberry jam, and a bit of sriracha inside a traditional donut)
- Dag Nutty (cake donut with chocolate icing topped with nuts)
- The Cro-Magnum (The Donut Friend version of the Cronut, croissant meets donut rolled in cinnamon sugar a la churro)
Those were just the ones on DISPLAY...but Donut Friend doesn’t stop there...oh nooooo...they have a whole menu of specialty donut creations, then also give YOU the option of the DIY donut! You can choose everything from the donut type, fillings, toppings, glazes...you name it! There’s cheese and bacon to be added people! It’s NUTS! Dough-NUTS! (hehe)
I did what any self-respecting Food Pervert would do, I ordered one of the display donuts and one of the specialty donuts. The Jets to Basil which is a crazy donut sandwich and the Cro-Magnum, their spin on the "cronut". I was confident with my choices.
After photo-shooting the hell out of those donuts, I realized I was still too full from brunch to shove any sugar, donut love in my mouth. I was going to wait until I got home to really savor this magic in private.
Jets to Basil: Traditional donut filled with goat cheese, strawberry jam and fresh basil topped with sugar glaze and balsamic reduction.
Review: Did that really happen? Did I really taste one of the best things I have ever put in my chomp hole? WOW. That was a taste experience I will not forget. The goat cheese, jam, and basil all swirled together as the dough of the nut cushioned their fall to my palate. All elements disappeared in a matter of sweet seconds. It’s three days later and I’m still thinking about it. Knowing it exists, is now a huge, delicious problem.
Cro-Magnum: The Donut Friend "cronut" with a dash of churro.
Review: Butter, butter everywhere. You judge a cronut on the amount of butter you can taste. The best croissants are the butteriest, same goes for this croissant hybrid. Every bite was buttery and the cinnamon sugar dust bath added that special churro flair. Another donut that I didn’t want to stop eating...ever.
I will go back, and I will keep going back until I have tried every single donut creation Donut Friend has to offer. Mark my words.
Overall Rating *****
As an Oregonian, I can confess that York Boulevard possesses a bit of a "Portlandia" charm. It definitely reminded me of the quirky fun streets in Northeast Portland. Coffee shops, vintage stores, donuts, guys with mustaches...the whole thing. I loved it. Next time I should go in the dark. I hear The York is known for cocktails and good times.
I only participated in a little bit of what of Highland Park has to offer, but I look forward to building my bond...one donut (or maybe three donuts) at a time!