When my friend Steffie Love loves something she will make damn sure everybody knows it and try to spread the infection of curiosity throughout her friends so that we will in turn learn to love whatever it is she loves - bar, book, movie, restaurant, a particular dish - and then lives in the hopes that we will one day indulge with her. Such is the case with Luna Park - a restaurant off Wilshire & La Brea with a very pokey entrance but impressive, quirky digs on the inside. Steffie fell head over heels for their mac and cheese and became such an advocate that despite having never made the trek out there myself I snatched up a Groupon to Luna Park months and months back.
First of all, regardless of everything else, mad props to Luna Park for having a long stretch of time to use said Groupon with an expiration of date of May, 2012. I bought this in May of 2011. Good on you, Luna Park.
I had intended to use this Groupon with Steffie but both of us going down that way just never seemed to come together and when I was driving home from one of my doctor appointments in Santa Monica I suggested LP to my mom, who gladly took me up on the offer.
I was a little disappointed with the sparseness of the menu, but to be fair it was between lunch and dinner. I asked for a dinner menu just to look but our server must have forgotten and I wasn't about to nag him. What was listed was a mix of brunch (which they recently started serving a partial list of for their weekday menu) and lunch items.
Fried Egg Sandwich ($12.5)
Though Steffie always recommended the mac and cheese I just couldn't tear myself away from the innards of the fried egg sandwich: cheddar cheese, bacon, two eggs over easy, avocado, tomato and arugula. It came with a big bed of luscious looking mixed greens which unfortunately I could not eat at the time due to intestinal issues. It should also be noted I do not go for egg or sandwich anything usually so when I order either, let alone a combination of the two, you know I've got a hankering that could rival any knocked-up chick's 3:00am pickle ice cream cravings. This tasted exactly like how I imagined and more. I really didn't need the bacon (I removed a few strips) but one layer of a thicker cut might suffice in the future. Still, this is the best of breakfast & lunch all in one happy, filling sandwich.
Macaroni & Cheese side ($8)
All right, so I couldn't come all of this way and not order the macaroni and cheese because Steffie would just not forgive me. Luckily Luna Park offers a side order - though at a whopping $8.00 you be the judge if that is a side dish kind of price. Broccoli came with it and he offered ham, so I went with that as well. I haven't a clue if I was charged extra for the ham. It was...prettier than it tasted. The cheese separated, becoming a thin, oily sauce at the bottom of the tray rather than cheese that actually stuck to the pasta. The crust was probably the best I've seen & tasted on restaurant mac and cheese since James' Beach in Venice (which is still hands down the best restaurant mac and cheese I've had). The ham was good and I didn't taste the broccoli. After two bites I decided to box it up and give it to my brother.
Any burger over $10 that charges for cheese is a ripoff in my book but mom was in the burger mood so she went for it. The avocado I can sort of understand, and look at that hunk of satin greenery on the plate there. She had Gruyere cheese on it and said it was a damn fine burger. As I bandersnatched some of her fries I have good authority to say those were some DAMN tasty taters and would spring for a side of them if my (hypothetical future) meal did not come with them.
Red Sangria ($9.5)
Their cocktail list is something I would like to revisit in the future, especially since we came in just as the bottomless deal ended (at 3:00pm). It was a sangria kind of day, our warmish winter days being the envy of at least 45 other states and appropriate for sangria. This had a bit of a peppery kick to it - the server attributed it to the Spanish wine it was made with. I enjoyed it a lot.
I have to say that our experience had a dark cloud on it due to parking enforcement that was just calling the tow truck on my mom's car. There are only 2 signs on the incredibly busy La Brea Avenue - one before the row of parking meters and one after - that give mention to the 4:00pm cut-off for street parking. She got slapped with a $158 ticket. There are no signs outside of the restaurant (or on the website) to indicate where an alternative parking area might be. Thank you to the lady server who alerted my mom about the meter maid!
Would I return to Luna Park? I would, there are a number of items I have my eye on trying, but the prices and location will keep me from going out of my way.
Would I recommend Luna Park? Yes! Though it is a bit steep, the prices do reflect a high standard of quality in the food. It's diner food done right.
Luna Park 672 S. La Brea (near Wilshire) Los Angeles, CA 90036 323.934.2110 website