It's been a week of setbacks for my chow ego, what with the fantastic supermarket dinner at Vallarta and the story I'm about to tell.
It was 14.00. I hadn't eaten because I'd been shackled to the phone since 10.00. I was starving. The problem is that I work near the new Home Depot... they might as well put up "Chow-Free Zone" signs. There's a reasonable Salvadorean place on Victory, but I don't love Salvadorean food. I like El Tapatio, but since I live on the border of North Hollywood and Van Nuys, I'm spoiled for choice of great Mexican food. There's hot dogs from the truck at Home Depot, which I like, but I always manage to get mustard on myself and I have another meeting at 15.30. There's downtown Burbank, but the parking... oy.
So I decided to head down Alameda, hoping that I'd find something before I hit Toluca Lake.
At the northwest corner of Alameda and Victory, the words hit me like a slap in the face: WILLIE'S FISH AND CHIPS. I made a quick right, parked, and walked in...
...right into a liquor store. With a sandwich counter.
Liquor stores can't possibly have chow, right?
Remembering that supermarkets supposedly couldn't have chow either, I walked up, placed an order for fish and chips, the older guy (Willie, I'm assuming) calls to the back for somebody, and out walks Olvis, who longtime Chowhounds will know as one of the guys behind the counter at Fish King in Glendale. The place rose much, much higher in my estimation. He went in the back to get cod, then cut it up and battered it in a plastic bucket right before my eyes. Six big fingers of cod, plus a double handful of steak fries done to order, half a lemon, and a tub each of ketchup and tartar sauce.
It was fantastic. I might ask for them to be a little more well-done next time, but that's strictly a personal choice... fresh, piping hot, flaky, perfectly done on the inside. The fries were perfect -- with that crunchy-chewy bite that only steak fries have -- and not oversalted.
The only real problem is that there are exactly two small tables, and even at 14.05 there were fifteen people there, getting everything from F&C to pastrami sandwiches on rye to oven-roasted turkey on French rolls. Apparently this is not a new discovery for the working people of Burbank, because it was full of everyone from workbooted men with paint on their faces to Armenian guys in velour track suits to a pale, clerkly-looking stockbroker type in an expensive suit.
My lunch cost me $6.99, plus $1.50 for a Diet Coke and tax. I'm thoroughly stuffed (probably won't eat dinner), very happy, and you can bet your Burbank bippy I'll be back, since it's all of half a mile from the office. Finally, something to chow on in southeast Burbank.
Willie's Fish and Chips
Inside the Alameda Market
321 W. Alameda Ave. (NW corner of Victory)
Burbank, CA 91506