Venice and Sepulveda: Moo Moo Thai, Howard's Bacon Avocado Burgers + Baskin-Robbins
Farley Elliott Howard's Bacon Avocado Burger
Los Angeles strip malls are made for Thai food and burgers. The low ceilings, faded posters and open, smoky kitchens are what give strip-mall eateries their unique appeal. The table you're sitting at probably needs a napkin or two pushed under one leg to balance it out, and there's a 50-50 chance the place you're lunching at takes credit cards. These are strip-mall staples, and burger shops and pad Thai spots execute them to a T.
Case in point: the strip mall on the north side of Venice Boulevard, just east of Sepulveda. There's that Howard's Famous Bacon & Avocado Burgers sign that will always catch your eye, and you can never tell exactly how long the place has been open. A decade? Four decades? Since the Gold Rush? You also can squint to try to catch a glimpse inside of Moo Moo Thai Cafe. That is, unless you remember the old Thai Market that used to occupy the same space. In which case, you may be looking away in disgust.
Here's what we found.
Farley Elliott Moo Moo Thai
Moo Moo Thai Cafe
Whether you tolerate the relatively new Moo Moo Thai Cafe (circa 2011) depends entirely on how you feel about cheap, abundant, steam-table Thai food. If you adore that sticky, spicy, goopy sort of stuff, it never got better than Thai Market, where $5 netted you enough food for about six highly questionable meals. For everyone else, Moo Moo is a welcome addition to the neighborhood.
At around 60 dishes, the menu is large and in charge, with a hefty run of reasonable lunch specials for anyone working in the area. Of course, if you really want to piss off your coworkers, opt for the Herbal Fried Fish, which is a whole, deep-fried trout that's been given the heavy hand with some chiles, lemongrass and cashews. Otherwise, there are curries, thin, dense noodles, crispy pork and the all-important Thai soups.
On the sillier side of things, you can tackle the appetizer menu for wonton-wrapped cheese and carrot balls and a thinly stripped fried mushroom plate known only as I Can't Believe This Is Mushroom. Or, for a curry eggroll sort of amalgamation, the Moo Moo Curry Puffs (pictured above) arrive as seasoned sticks of potato and chicken, wrapped in a thin spring-roll sheet. They're ideal for saucing and plowing through while you wait for your main course to arrive, but with Moo Moo closing at 10 p.m., you'll probably never get to use them for their perfect purpose: soaking up booze. Not that you'd stumble out from a nearby bar and head straight for the Thai food at Moo Moo's anyway. We've already got Pranom for that. Moo Moo Thai Cafe is open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., and it accepts credit cards. 11127 Venice Blvd. ste. 10, Palms; (310) 287-9999.