Pete's Cafe and Bar
400 S. Main Street
Los Angeles, CA
8.31.06 - Thursday, 12:00 PM
Myself + 1 guest (Noah)
Pete's Cafe and Bar sprang up earlier this decade, and to me, it's was a big neon sign that downtown LA - most notably, the bank district - was now officially a yuppie's mecca. I don't mean that in a bad way, necessarily, but this homey, brick-filled watering hole seemed to solidify the transformation of the area, for better or for worse. In the early days, Pete's struggled a bit, as the locals weren't enough to fill the spacious venue's tables night after night. These days, however, it's a vibrant, happening locale for visitors and residents alike. Downtown is a different world now, and Pete's had impeccable timing.
I had the chance to swarm in for a lunch catch-up session with Noah recently, and it was my first visit in eons. Filled to the brim with hipsters, suits, and tourists, I barely recognized the place - noisy, vibrant, and not a homeless person in sight. I could expound on the good and bad aspects of the neighborhood gentrification, but in the end, when I sit down to eat, I just want a good meal and a good value. Could Pete's deliver, even amidst the maylay and chaos?
The menu is a tasty specimen, full of old standbys (salads, burgers, sannies), and a few enticing/unique offerings (curried egg salad, asiago/goat cheese mac & cheese, mussels with chipotle cream). The prices, however, are just too high. $12 is the average for a regular sandwich, and if you want special fries (yes, yes I DID want special fries), that's an extra $1.50. It gets expensive rather quickly here. Service was super efficient and cordial - absolutely no complaints there, except the staff really was *busy*. Noah and I had a tough time deciding, but in the end, our choices were ample and tasting.
Sodas and Ice tea - nothin' exciting here.
Wine list is small, and not overly impressive.
Curried Egg Salad Sandwich
* Served on ciabatta bread, with garlic fries
Good, definitely not great - I wanted more curry, to be honest, and this sandwich just teased me. Really heavy on the mayo, too - to the point where I was so conscious of the fatty spread, I couldn't only eat about a quarter of the sannie.
Now, the garlic fries? That's a whole 'nother ball game. Land SAKES these were good! Not flash-fried with garlic oil, as I expected, but instead served with OODLES of chopped garlic, basil, and tomato. I would go back for the fries alone - SO good.
Bacon Cheddar Burger
* Served with cheddar, applewood smoked bacon, lettuce, onion, and tomato, and a side of fries (non-garlic)
A very healthy/fat/juicy burger with a so-so bun. His fries were ye old standby, and couldn't hold a candle to my garlic goodness. Still, he loved this, and I thought it was above average for sure.
RESTAURANT REPORT CARD - Pete's Cafe and Bar, Visit 2
Ambiance - C+
Service - B
Food (Taste) - C+
Food (Presentation) - C
Wine/Drinks - C
Value - C
Vibe/Energy/Scene - B+
Overall Experience - C+
Final word - Decent food, killer fries, lovely service, but prices that just don't quite compute.
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