Monday, May 26, 2008


1751 Ensley Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90024
When I was a child growing up in Calexico, my tastes were a bit on the unrefined side. I guess I wasn't so bad mom and grandma would cook everyday, and my family would share a late lunch together. My mom would cook anything from black bean clams to lengua guisada. I had the best of both worlds, with my mom cooking Chinese delicacies one day and Mexican food the next. We seriously had Mexican neighbors asking my mom to cook up some frijoles or tamales for them.
Some days, my mom or grandma would be too tired to cook. So at least twice a month, we hit the golden arches. Actually, there was this one point when I was in sixth grade, we frequented the Establishment everyday for a month. That was during the steak sandwich special time, where they would give you a free steak knife for every steak sandwich you bought. I'm not sure if it was my mom's cheapness coming out or what, but she collected those knives like jewelry. They lasted well into high school, so maybe she was onto something. With all this said, I have to say growing up, that was the best sandwich I'd ever had. The tender steak on that funky bread just did something for me. Since then, there have been a few comebacks of that sandwich, but it's never been the same. Also since then, I've had a few more sandwiches. My tastes have matured, to say the least.
So many sandwiches in LA. I know it's not like New York, where there's a deli on every corner. But there is some serious quality here. Bay Cities, Factor's, Langers, Phillipe's...really good stuff. For some reason, though, I always crave Clementine's rare roast beef sandwich. I almost feel bad that my favorite sandwich isn't from a deli, with their stacked meats and huge portions. But this sandwich is spot on. The chewy, crusty bread with tender and thinly sliced rare roast beef topped with baby arugula, whole grain mustard and horseradish mayo is such an amazing experience. On the side are thinly sliced pickles that are slightly sweet and sour, a perfect accoutrement to the sandwich.
In addition to the sandwich, they have an entire menu of salads, sandwiches and baked goods. That's another thing...I don't feel like I have to order a sandwich when I come here. I have many options, and that makes me feel good. They also have great soups, mac and cheese and other dishes that can be taken home and heated. The vibe is really mellow, and the crowd ranges from moms with newborns to businessmen in suits.
Even though I still have a soft spot in my heart for that McSteak sandwich, I know that memory must remain a memory. I've moved on...and Clementine's rare roast beef sandwich has nudged it aside in my heart. Please note, though, that there is no free steaknife with the rare roast beef sandwich.

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