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My return to Don Felix -- a darn good meal ...


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My return to Don Felix -- a darn good meal ...

PaulF | Sep 26, 2012 09:00 AM

Don Felix is on Sawtelle, just north of Washington Place on the west side of the block in Mar Vista. You can almost see Tito's down the block if you walk to the corner.

A few years back -- maybe four or five -- it was a go to place for tacos, particularly the al pastor. They also had amazing red salsa. The restaurant was beyond casual with the menu hanging on the wall. You ordered through a window manned by the cashier from the grocery/meat market next door and then handed a slip to the cook who prepared your food. For whatever reason, I got tired of going there and the place seemed to change hands and for a while they had a sign offering take out rotisserie chicken.

Well, on a total whim I decided I wanted some rotisserie chicken last night so I stopped there on the way home from work with my wife and son. They no longer have rotisserie chicken.

What they do have is a really nice menu with some common dishes that you can get anywhere and a few that are less common. We stayed sort of reluctantly and left dying to return.

The eating space has been refurbished. It still occupies the same space but there are real menus now, with art on the walls and real tablecloths on the tables. Instead of ordering through that window, there is a server (who will go around to the grocery to ring you up).

My wife ordered Plato do Costillitas -- grilled short ribs with rice, black beans and cactus salad. I tried the short ribs and loved them. They were charred, but really juicy. They had a nice spice, that wasn't sweet like short ribs sometimes are in an Asian restaurant. These were cut thin, with the bone still in them, sort of like Korean short ribs (as opposed to the more stew like short ribs you get in a Hawaiian place.) I rarely wish I'd ordered something else, but in this case I had a twinge of regret.

I had something I had never ordered before: Costil a de Puerco in salsa roja. Fried pork ribs with red sauce. It is also offfered with verde/green sauce but the server really recommended the red, noting that she had had it for lunch that day. The smile that came with her recollection sold me.

What an enjoyable dish. The ribs were an inch or two long, covered with juicy meat. I wasn't sure at first whether to knife and fork it or just use my hands and I sort of did both. Really great pork flavor in a great sauce with heat that did not overwhelm, but rather snuck up on you. I guess in retrospect, it was sort of like a chile verde (which I love) except with on the bone rib meat instead of chunks of pork. The spanish rice and black beans were fine, they didn't amaze, but they didn't detract either.

My son ordered four tacos -- al pastor, pollo, asada and I'm not sure -- chorizo maybe. I didn't try any of them.

Another bonus: The corn tortillas were homemade and served hot. This is always a bonus.

They didn't have a take out menu and I didn't take notes. I do know they had a variety of mole dishes, clayudas (for Dommy!), several stews (one of which I tried to order -- a spicy pollo stew -- but they happened to be out of it yesterday), plus some more common dishes like carne asada, grilled chorizo and breakfast served all day.

All in, including a bottle of Coke from Mexico and a cup of tea was about 30 -- we spent 35 with a tip. I didn't ask if you could buy a beer next door and bring it in nor did I notice if they served beer and wine. The portions were more than ample.

All in all, a very inexpensive yet impressive meal that if I had to describe in one word would be "homemade" and I mean that in the best sense of the word. I have to say, it was every bit as good and in some ways better than the meals I've had at E.K. Valley -- which I really like. I do need to return to try some more dishes at Don Felix.

There is some sort of stewed lamb dish offered only on Sunday that read amazing on the menu. I don't remember the name or details.

One last thing: They told me they took over from prior owners about two years ago. They kept the Don Felix name, but are thinking of changing it. It's a name they inherited and they just left up the sign.

3987 Sawtelle Boulevard Los Angeles, CA 90066

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