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Iconic Neighborhood Restaurants: Glendale

 
All photos: Susan Park
All photos: Susan Park

Glendale, like many cities in California, was once inhabited by Native Peoples. In this case, the Tongva were displaced by Spanish missionaries and Mexicans who claimed land for ranching. They in turn surrendered the land to the U.S. government following Mexico's defeat in the Mexican-American war. Around 1900, Armenians started immigrating to Los Angeles, coming in waves, fleeing genocide and seventy years of regional instability.

Glendale is currently home to one of the largest Armenian diaspora population outside of Armenia, and kebab restaurants are ubiquitous here. However, very few of them serve Armenian food from the motherland. You're more likely to find Armenians serving Lebanese, Persian, Greek, and even Turkish dishes. While Glendale isn't known as a dining destination hotbed, it's home to several legendary restaurants.

 

Carousel: Armenian-owned Carousel opened in 1982 when Brand Boulevard was struggling to gentrify. The fare is Lebanese with over 60 mezze options. The restaurant is lavish enough for huge banquets, a staple in Armenian and Middle Eastern celebrations. There is, of course, a banquet menu with gluten free, vegan, and take-out options. There is live music on Fridays and Saturdays. In other words, no matter what your Lebanese dining needs are, Carousel is there to serve you. The place is often noted as one the best Middle Eastern restaurant in Los Angeles. 304 N Brand Blvd, (818) 246-7775

 

Max's Restaurant: Almost every Filipino person in Los Angeles has eaten at Max's and recommends it to friends curious about Pinoy fare with the caveat that L.A. has a dearth of Filipino restaurants. The signature dish is fried chicken prepared Pinoy style. The chicken is steamed or boiled first then flash fried. The result is an exceedingly thin and crispy skin that's probably the antecedent. Although Max's has dozens of locations in North America, the Philippines, and the United Arab Emirates, the Glendale location feels homey and familiar which is just fine for the large bands of Filipino families who trek from over 50 miles away to eat here. 313 W Broadway, (818) 637-7751

 

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Mario's Italian Deli & Market: For over half a century Mario's has been serving oversized and overstuffed Italian-American sandwiches and pastas with enough red sauce to please the masses. It's the sort of deli that several generations of one family are loyal patrons. Weekday lunch crowds tend to come from the nearby city office employees, police department, and other office workers. Late afternoon and weekend crowds tend to be more destination diners or shoppers looking for Italian specialty ingredients such as ricotta salata and bottarga. 740 E Broadway, (818) 649-5608

 

Dinah's: There are two locations with the name "Dinah." One in Culver City called Dinah's Family Restaurant and one in Glendale called Dinah's Chicken. Both serve the same fried chicken with identical labels on their buckets. Although the two locations have always been independently owned, the restaurants began as a shared idea by a group of friends. One family opened Dinah's in Culver City as more of a diner and the other opened a chicken stand in Glendale. The fried chicken is broasted; a method that combines pressure cooking and deep frying for a less greasy finished dish. Dinah's tends to put proprietary spins on their dishes that make loyal customers fiercely so. Where else can you get pineapple coleslaw and macaroni salad seasoned with dry mustard and fresh garlic? 4106 San Fernando Rd, (818) 244-4188

 
portos

Porto's Bakery: Located across the street from Carousel, Porto's is part Cuban cafe and part international bakery. The Porto family has been selling cakes ever since they immigrated to the U.S. in the 1970s. Initially, matriarch Rosa Porto baked cakes at home. As business gained steam, the couple opened a small bakery in Echo Park and continued to grow into ever larger facilities before opening their 20,000 square foot cafe and bakery on Brand Boulevard. The restaurant, which serves thousands of customers a day, is considered a landmark. At any given time there are multiple lines of dozens of customers angling for Cuban- and American-style sandwiches and baked goods. What began as a humble cottage business has blossomed to a multi-unit enterprise that employs hundreds of people and serves tens of thousands of customers a day. 315 N Brand Blvd, (818) 956-5996

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