A few weeks ago, my boyfriend took me to Masa, a little gem of a restaurant in the iconic neighborhood of Echo Park. The decor was charmingly eclectic. Mark insisted that it was maybe shabby chic, but after a bit of teasing and pointing out the very non shabby details, I got him to go with my description of “vibrant flea” (he’s an architect, I’m passionate about interior design, this is flirting). The service was warm and friendly and you can find a romantic ambiance on a busy Friday if with the right person. Because of the locale, I was expecting to set foot in hipster central, but it refreshingly felt like a mixed crowd. Our server didn’t even seem to mind our lack of fedoras and tattoos ;). With lighting so dim and the hustling of energetic servers, I’m actually quite surprised my low-light snaps turned out so well.
We both started off with a bowl Potato Leek Soup. The broth was rich and buttery and the aftertaste left a surprising peppery zing. Perfect for this weather. Large potato chunks made the soup feel hearty and satisfying. I tend to prefer a thicker broth so I couldn’t help but be a tiny bit disappointed since I went in knowing that Masa served this dish and the broth wasn’t quite what I was expecting. The consistency of the soup was similar to minestrone and with a cream based soup I think I’m just used to something heavier as I was raised on my mom’s stilton potato leek soup. [Form of Flattery UPDATE]
Mark and I shared the Elysian Park Pizza based on our waitress’ recommendation, (we couldn’t decide between it and the Alavaro). It was loaded with Italian beef, prosciutto, and pepperoni. I found the pickled spicy carrot, onion, jalapeno, and bell pepper of the giardiniera especially unique on a pizza. I would gladly order this again. Apparently Masa is known for its deep dish pizza. I’m not a huge fan of deep dish, but Yelp reviewers rave about it so I think I will give it a try on my next visit. Luckily we still had a considerable amount to take home.
This youtube video has been floating around the internet.. while this idea may be clever, I’m sorry, but the necessity of this is lame.. who uses a microwave to reheat pizza at home?! I always bake mine for about 10-12 minutes at 350 while covered with foil and give it a 3-5 minute crisping with foil removed at 400-425. The Elysian Park tasted amazing the next day.
I had super high expectations for this place in the sweets department because “bakery” is in its title. We were planning on ordering a big homemade cookie to go until mark spotted the chalkboard emblazoned with “Warm Croissant Bread Pudding.” The choice was obvious.. apparently very obvious because when we started to mention that we wanted dessert, our waitress turned answered “two spoons and bread pudding” in a passing moment! Once the buttery treat was placed on our table, we knew we were in for an experience. It was a custardy, almondy, caramely, chocolatey masterpiece. The top had a nice crisp crust and the inside was unbelievably moist, almost to a flan consistency. So many things going on in it, and yet it was all very balanced. You must try this if you have the opportunity to eat here.
Masa is a perfect “date spot,” but beware, tables are very small and can get crowded with dishes very quickly. We got there pretty early (around 6 on a Saturday night) and sat right down, but there were a ton of people waiting by the time we left. Don’t expect to have a few drinks while you wait, the bar is directly in front of the entrance and there is essentially no waiting area so it is a pretty cramped space. If the weather is appropriate, outdoor seating is real cute on tiny candlelit tables. They just drained the lake, but it would be a nice addition to your evening to take a quick walk down to the park once renovations are done, or you could always hit up a show at the Echoplex.
It’s an adorable restaurant and I know I will be back for some more of that incredible bread pudding the next time I’m headed to The Echo.