Bacoshop, the Platform, and the Next Wave of Culver's Transformation

Is downtown Culver City a food desert? On its face, the question is absurd–it is loaded with restaurants. But are any of them any good?

Culver City used to be, well, a bit of a hole. Things began changing in a big way in 2006 when Tender Greens opened. Many changes followed–the northern Culver Blvd. drag is loaded restaurants with pleasant outdoor seating. The Southern side is similar, also has an Arclight, and a bunch of what used to be considered “upscale” chains. Nearly ten years on from Tender Greens’ opening, the truth is that the food in Culver is mostly poor and out of date. The chains are awful. Places like Lyfe Kitchen, sake house, and Meet in Paris are all okay. They are nice places to sit and have a drink with friends. None is a food destination.

A surprising amount of restaurants have gone out of business in downtown Culver. Chop Daddy’s, the place Bacoshop is replacing, isn’t even the most recent. The side streets are littered with closures. Burger Lounge, another mediocrity open on Washington, is almost always empty. Picnic LA, at the corner of Culver and Duquesne, is actively terrible and empty most of the time. Will it last the year?

The platform provides some…well, interesting changes. There’s a $6 taco place. An ice cream place from New York. A place that sells belts starting at $275 (what, you don’t want a bison belt?), There are acai bowls. A soulcycle. More stuff is going in. This is a different wave than the 2006 one–it feels a bit like a hostile invasion by the Abbott Kinney set. However, the good places are crowded, despite its off-the-beaten-path location. In the modern food age, people will travel for quality.

Word out of Eater yesterday is that Baco Mercat is opening a takeaway shop called Bacoshop in the space on Culver Blvd. where Chop Daddy’s was. Putting aside the many disputes over the food at Baco Mercat, I have always enjoyed the bacos for what they are–tasty sandwiches with unique fillings, but nothing to go nuts about.

All of the closures in Culver have surely scared places from opening there. But I think the closures are almost all explainable in terms of quality. When something good_ opens, it is pretty packed. Do the Platform and Bacoshop represent a positive trend of good places coming into Culver City? Or will these places shutter as well? It will be interesting to see what happens.

Does anyone on this board have a go-to place in Downtown Culver? Am I missing any truly great place to eat, whether it is casual or expensive? If so, I’d like to know!

aren’t hatchet hall / maple block in CC?

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Hanjip, The Wallace on Main Street are both excellent. Also, +1 to the two places @Ns1 mentioned.

I’ve enjoyed The Cannibal–its butcher shop sandwiches are living under the shadow of Gjusta, but I’ve spoken to the staff and they’re proactively trying to improve, bringing in different breads, increasing the portion size, reducing the price on some of the items, etc. They just started dinner service with an interesting menu.

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Hatchett Hall and Maple Block are not in downtown Culver City.

I’ve only eaten there twice, but I loved Sambar.

half of the OP’s paragraphs say Culver City the other half says DT Culver City

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Hipster/Expensive or not, I enjoyed Loqui’s tacos and really enjoyed walking around and peering at the new offerings and the folks milling about the complex. Did not try Cannibal’s stuff, but very much enjoyed looking at the deli and menu and restaurant space. The leather shop reminds me of some insanely pricey place in NYC’s Soho or Meatpacking where you go to look and wonder who the fuck shops there.

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@deedubs - I liked Sambar, too. Although, I only went the once and haven’t really been itching to go back.

@Ns1 - I think it’s a valid point bringing up those two places. I’d also throw in Lodge Bread and A-Frame off the top of my head. Maybe even Sunny Blue, because why not? So, in effect, there seem to be two transformations happening in Culver City. One Downtown, one on Washington Blvd. A tale of two cities, split by her majesty, Sepulveda Blvd. And between the two, I find myself on the Washington stretch much more often.

I haven’t tried Loqui or Cannibal yet (but intend to soon), but at the moment, of the Downtown CC ish places, I’d probably only pick Mayura to be on my team. And then if we’re extending it a farther east, the likes of Father’s Office, Pinches, Lukshon, Bar Nine, Bar & Garden.

I want to like Downtown Culver City. It’s walkable, parking isn’t terrible and there are a lot of options. Maybe these new places will be the spark. Still, lately my main use for DTCC has been as a shortcut en route to somewhere else.

I don’t recall Sambar being talked about much here but everything I had was pretty good and the goat curry excellent and the punches and cocktails were great as well.

At Taste of the Nation this weekend, Sambar served an interesting take on the ubiquitous yellowtail crudo by painting it with a holy basil mix, almost like a southeast Asian pesto. I really liked it, and most of their other dishes I’ve had at other food events.

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Honey kettle

I agree about wanting to like Downtown CC and whenever I get a couple hours to myself, I go there and then feel a bit lost regarding where to actually eat. I don’t get much time to try many places, so all of my visits to places are only very occasional. If we’re talking outside the downtown area, I would say that I was really impressed with Humble Potato the couple times I went.

When I get a chance to eat in the area on a weekday, I go to either Loqui, Sunny Blue, or Guerilla Tacos.

Say what you like about the quality of food in CC…but out of date? Sometimes I wish LA had more the mentality of foodie destinations where restaurants could offer and perfect the same recipes over decades or more…

The reason all these places keep closing is that there simply aren’t enough patrons to support them all in the first place. The CC restaurant row on Culver can do a good lunch business among the studio workers able to escape the cubicles for a short period of time. The dinner shift is a tougher sell, especially weeknights.

I think there are some great local options. Both Samosa House branches are technically in CC and still excellent. Blaze pizza and Pieology offer acceptable fast cracker-crust pizza, but my favorite remains LaRocco’s with their inventive slices (try the kale pizza). Everyone considers Sepulveda a wasteland, but 5i is a local favorite and the Burmese food at Jasmine Market is awesome. (I also like the sandwiches at Sorrento but can’t handle the abuse.) Ugo and KayNDave’s are very good for some dishes. The two standouts on that stretch, however, are K-zo and Native Foods (motto: even vegan food is yummy if you deep-fry it) - which has now closed, making the OP’s point, I suppose. When you also add in Lukshon and the other choices at the Helms complex, you can do pretty well in CC I’d say.

But for the most part, I think a lot of still-good places have closed simply because of over-saturation.

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You lost me at Ugo. Yuck.

KaynDave’s might be the single worst mexican place I’ve ever eaten at. I’m told at one point in the past it was okay. It is honestly terrible now. I got a chilaquiles dish there at breakfast; the eggs were killed, plain chopped tomatoes with no seasoning, cheese not melted, bland salsa, storebought chips. It is basically “mexican ingredients” from Ralph’s with Margaritas. And I agree with the poster below–Ugo is straight up awful.

fwiw, i’ve enjoyed sambar and k-zo numerous times.

imho, the thing to get at kay 'n daves is a custom-made margarita, i.e. one made to your own specifications.
they use freshly squeezed lime juice, which, imho, is critical.
also, they have some good tequilas available.

have never considered actually eating any of their food.

I have to admit, I do find the question a little absurd, mostly because of how it’s framed. A “food desert” has a specific meaning, and whatever you think of Culver City, it doesn’t meet that definition – or even come close.

That complaint aside, there are many places I frequent in that downtown area. Off the top of my head, that list includes, Loqui, The Cannibal, Father’s Office, Honey’s Kettle, Yalla – and I’m sure there are more.

I don’t know if any of those places qualifies as “truly great,” but they do serve good food at a price I’m willing to pay, and they’re usually full of people. I can think of lots of areas with options that are fewer and far worse.

Just a general response. I think the problem with DT Culver City is that the number of places considered worthy to FTC folks is relatively small considering how many storefronts offer food in one form or another - maybe this is what the OP is feeling?

Another issue is, what does one consider to be Downtown Culver City? To me, it runs approximately from around Duquesne to the west, Venice to the north, maybe a block south of Culver to the south, and around Ince to the east. To me, The Platform is already pushing the boundary to the east, and the area around Hatchet Hall is technically/politically Culver City, but it is neither geographically Culver City, nor is it even in the same solar system as Downtown Culver City.

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Just a twee off-topic, but… bula, I normally find your posts and writing so incredibly clear and wonderful that I had to ask: how is the area technically in Culver City but not geographically in Culver City? By geographically, do you mean that it’s not the area most people have in mind when they think of Culver City?

Culver City had a strong taste for usurping tax goldmines around its outlying area, particularly back in the days when the Westside was relatively undeveloped, except for oil fields and farm land. I think it was through MGM Studios and Helm’s Bakery that the CC govt realized that sizeable businesses bring in sizeable tax revenue.

Hughes Aircraft on Jefferson - what is now Playa Vista - was an example of the CC govt usurping islands of surrounding areas by “gerrymandering” these unconnected areas in order to gain tax revenue. Most of Playa Vista is now part of LA, but I believe the LA Clippers training facility is still part of Culver City.

Culver City extended Washington Blvd to what is now the Costco shopping center back in the day because it started out as a dog racing track. The govt offered infrastructure to the dog racing track (paved roads, electricity, water, POLICE), making travel to/from the location safer and easier for money-laden gamblers and workers alike. This increased patronage - read gambling revenues - at the track, and CC raked in higher tax revenues.

The areas directly adjacent to Washington Blvd - what is now Del Rey and Mar Vist -were not revenue producers at the time. In fact, they were viewed as potential burdens to the govt because it was sparsely populated and somewhat unruly back then. With this in mind, the CC govt only annexed a narrow strip of land along Washington Blvd, connecting the main part of Culver City with the dog racing track.

The dog racing track is long gone. A roller skating rink took its place, then a Hughes Helicopter facility, then a failed swap meet led to the huge lot’s dormancy. It’s resurgence as what is now the Costco shopping center, has once again turned the far west outpost of Culver City into a gold mine, with Washington Blvd being the river that flows the gold into the govt’s coffers.

Never to sit still, the CC govt has spent a fair amount of time rejuvenating Washington Blvd from its east border around La Cienega, to its west border around Lincoln. If CC is responsible for maintaining and providing services for this long narrow corridor, it might as well generate tax revenue as well.

Anyway, many who have lived in this part of the Westside for a long time have a pretty good grasp as to what areas are politically LA or Culver City. Some areas may have a Culver City zip code but are actually LA, and vice versa. Most consider the areas along and around Washington west of the 405 to be Mar Vista or Del Rey because, other than a relatively narrow strip of real estate that is north and south of Washington, these neighborhoods are geographically part of Del Rey and Mar Vista. Del Rey is to the south of Washington for the most part, while Mar Vista is to the north.

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