Growing up with a mom who is a great home-cook-turned-chef, I learned not to be surprised when a restaurant’s food doesn’t stack up to Mom’s cooking. Still, even with our discerning palates, my little sister Bobbie and I were excited to visit the bustling intersection of Overhill Drive and Slauson Avenue for our Date with L.A.
We parked in the spacious lot behind Hilltop Coffee + Kitchen, my favorite new coffee spot, and I contemplated trying one of Hilltop’s bowls – either the Soul Food Bowl boasting grits, braised greens and charred cream corn, or the Super Food Bowl with curried yams, pickled beets, avocado and kale. However, I realized I was in the mood for traditional down-home Southern food. Instead of ordering lunch, I enjoyed sipping my turmeric latte while doing a little writing at one of the long wooden tables. The Wi-Fi password here is “good vibes only,” and the place lives up to its Wi-Fi mission.
To satiate the soul-food craving, we crossed the street to Orleans & York Deli, a quick-stop restaurant that serves New Orleans favorites such as oyster po’ boy sandwiches, plus the deli sandwiches New York is famous for. I ordered the Creole bowl with chicken, seasoned rice and beans, grilled onions and bell peppers. It did not disappoint. My sister, a culinary whiz like our mom, dug into her shrimp bowl with equal delight.
Next, we walked down the block to Crustees, where Steven, one of the family owners, served up the house specialties: peach cobbler and a savory chicken pot pie. I could only take a few bites of the cobbler because I had filled up on my Creole bowl, but it was as good as my mama’s. My sister couldn’t try anything because of dietary restrictions, but Steven told us that if you call one hour in advance, they can prepare dairy-free and gluten-free options.
Our next stop was Cultural Interiors. The jazz music and the light scent of cinnamon incense welcomed us inside this shop that is meticulously curated with artwork, hand-sculpted masks and homemade dolls – some crafted in the U.S. and some imported from West Africa. We browsed the fabrics and other wares with glee, eagerly anticipating our next home-decorating projects. Cultural Interiors also draws in the community with wine tastings, a book club and gardening how-to events.
We decided to wind-down at Pamper U. Walking into the shop was like slipping into an oasis. A gurgling water fountain, surrounded by a small garden, drew us into the space. I didn’t realize how much tension my body held until I felt the water’s serenity relax it. I sat down and breathed slowly. It was refreshing to do absolutely nothing. I scanned my environment. Plants lined the floors, fragrant oils and candles lined the counters and a second shop, Nails by SaVerne, occupied part of the space. I made a mental note to return for a mani-pedi treatment.
Later that evening, at home, I dove into my carryout chicken pot pie from Crustees. It was the best pot pie I’ve ever tasted.
But please don’t tell my mama.