Our Favorite Markets and Specialty Shops on the Eastside
Andre and I spend a lot of time driving around town, sourcing the highest quality ingredients we can find for cooking. Sometimes, depending on the dishes we plan on making that week, we could run around on a Sunday to four or five different places to get the things we are looking for. We genuinely believe that the ingredients’ quality makes a world of difference in how a dish turns out, especially when cooking the kind of simple food we love to eat. Here is a round-up of our favorite local spots that carry high-quality ingredients that will elevate the dishes you create.
Some of our favorite humans have opened their second retail location in Atwater Village (they also own Individual Medley) called Wine and Eggs Shop. A killer selection of natural-style wine, the best-frozen pizzas by La Morra Pizzeria, the most delicious sparkling juices by Kimino, colorful handmade dumplings by Sanditas, and so much more. Pop in to grab a quick snack or pick up some farmers market produce to elevate your next home-cooked meal.
Andre and I discovered Cookbook Market years ago when we moved to the eastside of Los Angeles. Their first shop in Echo Park is a tiny little hole in the wall that feels like something out of Italy. It’s filled with produce from local farms, fresh bread, a very well curated meat and dairy selection, and simple, seasonal to-go items like roasted salsa, saffron hummus, and cinnamon rice pudding. They have pasture-raised chickens from Marin Sun Farms, the best-dried beans from Rancho Gordo, and organic, unpasteurized miso by South River Miso Company. And, luckily for us east siders, they opened an even larger location in Highland Park a few years back that has become our spot for getting most of our produce now, since the farmers market has become harder and harder to get through with kids during Covid.
We don’t eat a very meat-centric diet, but we head to McCall’s when we want to have some animal protein. The meat they carry is free of growth hormones and antibiotics, and the fish is wild-caught or responsibly farm-raised. They also have a fantastic curation of imported pantry items, and if you ever run out of organic milk or eggs, they have you covered there too.
An institution that has been around since the ’70s, this old-school Italian deli in Burbank offers a wide variety of imported Italian products, including pasta, olives, and jarred peppers, and a deli counter where you can order charcuterie and cheeses by the pound. They also have cannolis, bread, breadsticks, an assortment of little cookies, gelato, and to-go dishes like eggplant parmesan and Italian meatballs in marinara sauce.
The Roma Market, an Italian specialty market in Pasadena, is most famous for what has become known as, The Sandwich, and the man behind it, Rosario Mazzeo. Made with crusty bread, a drizzle of good olive oil, and slices of capicola, mortadella, salami, and provolone, this sandwich has been the subject of many articles over the years, gaining a devoted cult following. For over 50 years, Rosario has run the market, never missing a day of work, and at 81 years old, is a legend to all who frequent his shop.
Silverlake Wine is part of our love story. Andre and I used to go to their Thursday night wine tastings for years before we had kids and even attempted a few once we had them. Besides having an elaborate assortment of wine in all price ranges, they also have some of Andre’s favorite Japanese whiskies and my favorite Red Velvet Cake Monkeys. In addition to Silverlake Wine, check out their other wine shops that include Everson Royce in Pasadena and Highland Park Wine on Figueroa.
Andre goes to the Japanese grocery store, Mitsuwa Market, in San Gabriel about once a month. He always asks tons of questions when he is there, trying to source the best soba, udon, fresh ramen noodles, and sake brands. We absolutely love making Japanese food at home and it’s one of our goals to keep learning and perfecting our culinary skills. We have spent time building out our pantry with high quality Japanese essentials like sesame oil, soy sauce, mirin, rice vinegar, and seaweed. Now, it’s so easy to make a quick cucumber salad or hot bowl of miso ramen for dinner. If you’re interested in cooking more Japanese style recipes, I strongly suggest checking out any of the Mitsuwa market locations across the city.
Lou is the master of finding incredible and rare, natural style wines from small producers. He can answer any question you might have about a particular varietal or vineyard, as he is a real wine fanatic in the best kind of way. The selection at his Los Feliz shop is impeccable, and I have yet to take a bottle home that wasn’t fantastic.