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Restaurants & Bars 2

La Ballona/Newport Seafood - lengthy!

Will Owen | May 31, 200502:23 PM

Another deliriously delicious weekend! Around 2:30 Saturday Ms. T and I were in Culver City to visit the Museum of Jurassic Technology, but first, being really hungry, we walked around that neighborhood looking for grub. Plenty on offer, but La Ballona looked both inexpensive and uncrowded. Good choice! Big room would be unappealing if they hadn't painted it a nice ochre. Okay chips, but a very spicy and garlicky salsa. We decided on the two-item combos: T opted for cheese enchilada w/verde and a pork tamale, no salad; I went for the pork tamale, a chile relleno and the salad (included). Got HUGE platters, and instead of the usual tomato/lettuce garnish each one had a big handful of chopped carnitas strewn over it. Hey, my kind of place!

The salad was just iceberg with some token shreds of carrot, but the red vinaigrette was nice and it hit the spot. The rice and beans were well above average, we thought, and both the enchilada and the chile relleno were just about the best we'd ever had. I have to say that I think the chile itself was from an Ortega can, and you know what? I actually preferred it to the fresh ones I've been getting elsewhere. The tamales were a little dull in comparison, but good solid fare. One of the best features was the price: each of those platters was just $7.50, and they were hefty enough so that we didn't even bother with supper that night!

Sunday night we met the posse for another pigout at Newport Seafood in San Gabriel. This time we got one of the fixed-price meals, the $38 one, to which we added their wonderful $10.95 "French-style" beef. This got us the catfish hot-and-sour soup, clams with spicy sauce, Kung Pao chicken, sauteed pea sprouts and a whole steamed fish. The table was ridiculously crowded and we made a great big mess, but DANG it was good! The Kung Pao chicken was sorta boring in this crowd, though it would have been very good by itself elsewhere. The clams were plump and tasted of sea, the beef was to die for (and the lettuce laid under it, slightly wilted and dripping with sauce, is a treat on its own). It's too bad they bring such a huge pot of soup - it's excellent, but there's too much other stuff here, and it frankly ain't so great when it's cold. The steamed fish was tasty, though it hadn't been very well scaled and the bones were a hazard. Still, for well under $20 apiece with a quite generous tip, we waddled out a very happy bunch of gluttons indeed.

And then, after walking around the Mission District to relieve some of that stuffed feeling, we got in our cars and went to Twohey's for dessert!

La Ballona: 3843 Main St., Culver City

Newport Seafood Restaurant: 835 W. Las Tunas Dr., San Gabriel

Twohey's: Huntington Drive & Atlantic, Alhambra

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