Missing from SCV’s food landscape is a tried-and-true French bakery. Baguettes. Batards. Flaky croissants.
If you find yourself headed out toward Ventura, Café Ficelle, located off the Main Street exit on the 101 fills the French pastry void in Santa Clarita.
The boulangerie and patisserie serves up breads and sweets and offers heartier items including crepes, the croque-monsieur/madame, and breakfast and lunch sandwiches. Though we’ve only been picking up items, we can imagine the cavernous eatery busy and bustling when we used to do things like…brunch.
We’ve made the drive to Café Ficelle a couple times for takeout pandemic treats. (There is another location in Camarillo, but we’ve only been to the Ventura outpost.) The croissants are American-sized (aka HUGE) —buttery and flaky; there’s a crunch on first bite and are chewy on the inside. The chocolate croissant has an extra drizzle on top for those who prefer a more-than-less approach to the sweet treat. The almond offers a generous layer of sliced almonds on top with a dusting of powdered sugar (which isn’t necessary, but doesn’t take away from pastry.
Other offerings include a Breton cake, the Kouign-amann, which is difficult to make with intricate layers of butter, dough, sugar and then more butter. The sugar becomes sticky and carmelized, adding the sweet to a a denser version of the croissant. Café Ficelle’s version is more cyclical and airier than the other Kouign-amann we’ve tried (there’s a hole in the middle where wavy layers meet to create an almost flower-like design). But whatever, the cafe’s is a buttery, decadent delight.
For savory items, SCVFoodie can attest to the hearty ham and Gruyere croissant and their homemade version of the English muffin, which has the crunch of corn nuts (yep) sprinkled on top.
Once this pandemic is over, we can’t wait to sit in the cafe, slowly sip our cappuccinos and taste its croque madame, but until then, we’ll order takeout and pretend we’re in Paris.
Jazmin’s Bakery, a longtime staple of downtown Newhall, offers a quick breakfast option with a kick. Amid the racks of cakes, pastries and desserts are their croissants.
While their chocolate croissant is good, look for one marked with a jalapeño slice on top. That’s the one you want. It’s baked with a sausage patty, cheese and jalapeño slices inside.
It’s filling (carbs + protein + fats) with just enough heat that wakes up the tongue. Eat it just the way it is; or, if you have time at home, cut the croissant in half, scramble or fry up a couple eggs and stuff them inside. It’s large enough to share, too. (Unless you have a gargantuan appetite.)
The jalapeño sausage croissant won’t break the budget at $3.50, either.
Martino’s Bakery has been a Burbank staple since 1926, when Victor and Eva Martino started a pie business in their garage. More than 90 years later, the baked goods are still enticing crowds—especially their signature teacakes (available in both regular as well as cranberry and blueberry flavors).
The original version of the little square cake is soft and moist on the inside with a hint of vanilla or caramel, and topped with a sugar glaze that hardens. The fruit-enhanced versions are closer to muffins than the original tea cake, but just as tasty.
If you still aren’t convinced that a drive out to Burbank is worth it for these tea cakes, then the prices—$1.69 (original) to $1.79 for the cranberry/blueberry flavors—just might.
Just remember to order ahead of time online so your order will be ready for an even safer, physically distanced pick up.
Happy New Year! 2019 just flew by, but in reflecting upon the ups, downs and adventures of last year, many highlights centered around good food. Some dishes were fancy schmancy. Others were simple delights made special by the company or context. In no particular order, here’s what tickled our taste buds and surprised us in 2019.
Beef Soup Noodles
On assignment for another publication, SCVFoodie checked out the mom-and-pop operations of Dai Ho, a Taiwanese noodle shop in Temple City that was awarded a Michel. The beef noodle soup makes for perfect comfort food especially during the SoCal winter.
Chilaquiles and a Cinnamon Roll
The Old Town Junction in Newhall, which has already established itself as one of Santa Clarita’s go-to eateries, offers phenomenal weekend brunch items. Why spend Saturday or Sunday mornings waiting in a ridiculous Egg Plantation line when your chances are better at the Junction? We had a memorable meal with the chilaquiles (tortilla chips, slow-braised short rib, fried egg, crema, picked onion, serrano, queso cotija over black beans and topped with cilantro. And as a shared breakfast/brunch dessert item, we opted for the so-much-better-than-Cinnabon roll (for the table to share, of course.)
Did you ever have breakfast envy? Mr. SCVFoodie ordered this delightful flavor bomb at Cici’s in Tarzana, and my club sandwich order was really good, but not this good. The pancakes, powdered sugar, almond slices and whipped cream were a strawberry lover’s dream. Cici’s has an extensive menu (re: HUGE) and we can’t wait to try all the strawberry and blueberry pancake options..some day.
We would have never have known about Annie’s Sweet Oven were it not for a friend who lives up the street from this small strip mall in Sylmar (off the 210 at Yarnell). It’s a simple bakery and cafe, and this egg, spinach and cheese breakfast croissant was amazing. The croissant was flaky, buttery as any good croissant worth its salt should be — and at $5.75, it was a bargain.
Lobster and Clam Rolls
Doug’s Seafood is a family-run market and restaurant that has grown in popularity over the years in Bonita Springs, Fla., located near the cities of Ft. Myers and Naples. The Maine transplants have brought wicked good New England style seafood to Florida, and their lobster rolls are some of the simplest and best ones we’ve tried. (We’re partial to the Connecticut style —hot and served on a buttered roll — instead of the Maine roll, which is served cold with mayo.) On a recent trip in November, we tried something different: Their clam strip roll. The battered and fried clams were tender, not chewy and immediately transported us back to the clam rolls we had growing up in New England and the Northeast. It was that good. Plus, the clam roll was way cheaper ($7.95) then the hot lobster roll ($15.95 for a small to $26.95 for a large).
Summer Vacation Eats
Eating Through Amsterdam and France
This summer, SCVFoodie was fortunate enough to go on a Rhine river cruise that started in Amsterdam and ended in Bern, Switzerland. As you can imagine, we ate pretty well throughout the two-week trip, particularly in France. Highlights include a fresh goat cheese salad in Lourdes, France, near the foothills of the Pyrenees mountains to Dutch pancakes at a street fair.
Oedipus Beer and Arancini in Amsterdam
Dutch Mini Pancakes in Amsterdam
SCVFoodie found these mini Dutch pancake puffs (poffertjes) at the Albert Cuyp street market. Served hot and topped with powdered sugar, these tasted like what would happen if a funnel cake and a popover had a baby. The video below shows how they’re made.
Tarte Flambée in Strasbourg, France
The city of Strasbourg, France, has been governed by France or Germany, with rulers fighting for and taking over several times. Located in the area formerly known as Alsace, in northeastern France, the food in Strasbourg is reflective of both cultures. We had the opportunity to create our own thick-cut bacon and onion tarte flambée at the Brasserie Dauphin as part of a tour activity. It’s a very thin-crusted dough topped with crème fraîche, bacon, onions and seasoned with salt, pepper and nutmeg. It was fired in a pizza oven for a minute or two, and it was fresh, hot and as simple and tasty as you can imagine it to be.
Lourdes, France: Country Cuisine
Lourdes is located in the south of France in the foothills of the Pyrenees mountains; it’s closer to Barcelona than Paris. The region is known for its lamb, chicken, trout and cheeses like the Pyrénées and le Barousse and Basque influences. The city is filled with tourist cafes and brasseries, but for the most part, we were pleasantly surprised with the food. The three best items were the chicken risotto from Le Geneve; a goat cheese salad and a croque madame (a grilled ham and cheese sandwich — a croque monsieur — with a fried egg) at random street cafes. While those restaurant names are forgotten, the dishes certainly aren’t.
Key West is located approximately 90 mi. from Cuba, so naturally, we wanted Cuban food and coffee while in town for two days. We stumbled upon Key West Cuban Coffee, which seats about a dozen people. The cortadito was strong and perfect, and the midnight sandwich (medianoche) with its roast pork, ham, mustard, Swiss cheese and sweet pickles was more so as served up on a soft, sweet egg bread. Never judge a book — or restaurant — by its covers.
Pierogi Spot opened in 2019 on Golden Valley Road, offering Polish comfort food like pierogis, sausages, cabbage rolls, stews and soups. It’s a terrific family-owned restaurant. The pierogis come with a daily soup and salad, so on our visit, we tried the creamy dill pickle soup. Not being huge fans of dill pickles, we were a bit skeptical, but it was not sour or acidic. The soup was creamy and comforting and perfect for winter.
Sluttiest Brownies in West L.A.
B Sweet Dessert Bar on Sawtelle has been around for several years, and the Sluttiest Brownie has been there from the beginning. On a recent Christmas shopping trip to West L.A., we stopped in for a treat. B Sweet’s known for its rotating bread pudding flavors each week, but this brownie is a classic. The five-layer dessert includes a brownie, chocolate chip cookie, Oreo cookie, graham cracker and marshmallow. It’s rich, decadent and delicious as it sounds.
Though tamales are eaten for breakfast and dinner all-year round, there’s always a bigger demand around the holidays. And if you’re lucky enough to be part of a family assembly line making them for Christmas, then nothing beats tamales made with love. BUT, if like SCV Foodie, you have to buy your tamales, we found another go-to spot in Santa Clarita.
In addition to our personal favs like Jazmin’s Bakery in Newhall and Me Gusta at the Sunday farmer’s market at College of the Canyons, Tamales Express is a great new option.
Located near the intersection of Soledad Canyon and Sierra Hwy., the small eatery has a limited menu focusing on…tamales: beef, chicken, pork and cheese with jalapeño. Open for about three months, it took over the space of The Cajun Belle bar.
On a recent Sunday morning, we got there about 10:30 a.m., and they were already out of the beef, so we tried the chicken and pork. The masa was moist and the fillings were generous. Unlike some tamales, which need to be drowned in salsa or sauce, the Tamales Express offerings didn’t need a thing.
Both had a little spice, but if we had to pick a favorite, we’d choose the pork. Its heat complemented the flavors of the savory and tender pork.
Now here’s the best part: The tamales were $2.25 each. Compared to the $3.50 at the farmer’s market, they’re a real bargain. A dozen from Tamales Express runs $25 — perfect for pre-holiday ordering.
Tamales Express 18283 Soledad Canyon Rd. Santa Clarita, CA 91387 661-360-7751
Despite its full name—The Alamo Rotisserie—most SCV residents just refer to the restaurant in Granary Square as “The Alamo.” The eatery has been serving up economical, no-frills Mexican food since the ’80s, and judging from the crowd on a recent summer night, it’ll hopefully be around awhile longer.
While the cramped inside of the restaurant looks like it hasn’t been remodeled since the ’80s, most customers choose to sit on the patio anyway to enjoy cheap pitchers of beer or margaritas. (They do have a full liquor license, but other than shots, a Jack and Coke or Rum and Coke, the mixed drink choices are limited. (We once asked for a 7&7 after spotting Seagram’s 7 on the shelf, but were met with confusion.) So stick to the beers on tap or margaritas.
Now, the food: It’s not the best Mexican food ever—but it’s cheap. On [Taco] Tuesdays, the soft street tacos are $1 each. The two chicken tacos we ordered recently were filled with good-sized chunks of chicken, as seen below.
If you haven’t checked out The Alamo in awhile, go back. Have a beer on the patio, people watch and try to make it on a Tuesday if you can.
The Alamo Rotisserie 25946 McBean Pkwy., Valencia (661) 254-3131
The SCV Fish Market opened about four months ago in little strip mall behind the Chevron on Bouquet Canyon and Soledad roads.
Its name is a little misleading because it’s not a market, per se. In fact, its fish case isn’t too tantalizing; it lacks a finesse in showcasing the items for sale. But we’ll venture to guess that most customers aren’t interested in buying the fish to take home and cook it themselves. Why would they when SCV Fish Market can turn out delicious New Orleans’ seafood fare?
SCVFoodie dropped by this past Saturday afternoon. And while the place wasn’t packed, the restaurant did a steady number of walk-in and phone orders. While there’s grilled or fried fish, shrimp, oyster combos on the menu board, we opted for the full-on Big Easy fare: the Filé Gumbo.
The small order of the stew ($9.50) came with a ton of chicken sausage and crab mixed with Cajun/Creole herbs and spices. (We didn’t get shrimp, but the generous amounts of the other proteins made up for it.) The dish, which wasn’t too thick or too watery, was served with white steamed rice on the side. Mix in as much or as little rice as you prefer for an even heartier meal. The smokiness of the sausage complemented the flavor of the crab (which you have to bust open by hand).
Even though we asked for the food to dine-in, the gumbo was served in a to-go plastic container, and the rice was served in another plastic container. We were then given a third cup to mix parts of both into. It was a little awkward, but we made do.
While we heard that people are disappointed that the SCV Fish Market doesn’t serve a traditional English fish and chips with malt vinegar, we wanted our readers to be aware that this is Southern/Cajun fair. Hush puppies, collard greens and red beans and rice are on the side menu, which would nicely complement one of the Po’ Boy sandwiches we’ll get on our next visit.
SCV Fish Market 26234 Bouquet Canyon Rd., Santa Clarita
Opens at 11 a.m. Monday through Saturday, noon on Sundays
Late last year, 85°C opened its Valencia location, introducing many Santa Clarita residents to the “Starbucks of Taiwan” and its Taiwanese-style pastries, desserts and savory baked goods. While there are a number of yummy offerings at 85°C, SCVFoodie has become a little obsessed with one particular item: 85°C’s version of the kouign amann (pronunciation: kween ah-mahn).
With its origins in Brittany, France, the traditional Breton butter pastry has only a few ingredients: sugar, salt, flour, yeast and LOTS of butter. Also called the “caramel danish” at 85°C, the kouign amann is a flaky, croissant-like pastry with a caramel coat and a powdered sugar dusting. The layers are folded to take on a muffin-like shape.
At 280 calories, the indulgence isn’t too bad for an occasional treat. And for $2, it’s a steal. Frustratingly, the pasty is not always available when we stop by 85°C, which is probably a good thing for SCVFoodie’s waistline.
Brunch…smunch. If you’re looking for something a little different to do with mom this Mother’s Day, then consider the carb fest …A Tutta Pizza—L.A.’s pizza festival—taking place on Sunday at the Hollywood Palladium. The event is part of the L.A. Times’ Food Bowl, a monthlong celebration of L.A.’s food scene.
Check out the festival’s details on SCVFoodie’s sister site, Pop Radar LA and read below on two ways to enter the raffle to win a pair of general admission tickets.
There are two ways to enter the Pop Radar LA/SCVFoodie raffle to win a pair of GA tickets to …A Tutta PIzza! on Sunday. Simply email editor email@example.com with the subject line: I love pizza! Or if you follow @christineziemba on Twitter, just Tweet “I love pizza!” at her. That’s it! And we’ll draw one name on Friday morning at 10 a.m.