The Los Angeles Foodie Club: Part Three

Los Angeles FC Foodie Club
Chester, Pa. — Sept. 14: LAFC Defender Jordan Harvey (2) looks on in the second half during the game between LAFC and the Philadelphia Union on September 14, 2019 at Talen Energy Stadium in Chester, PA. (Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images).

Editorial — The third installment of the Los Angeles Foodie Club has arrived. Full disclosure, this edition was a bit more difficult than the others. The success of LAFC has resulted in few changes made to the regular rotation, meaning some within the squad have yet to showcase their talents, as well as personality. However, after a bit of creativity, and research, the main course is plated, and ready to be served.

Mohamed El-Munir: GRAND CENTRAL MARKET (Various)

In fairness, Grand Central Market isn’t a restaurant as much as it is an experience. A collection of Los Angeles favorites with the added bonus of a bountiful selection of produce and spices. Whether its a breakfast sandwich from Eggslut, coffee at G&B, a few cuts from Belcampo Meat Co or ice cream from McConnell’s, GCM has it all. Even if you’re just looking for something to experience while in Los Angeles, a trip to Grand Central Market is a must.

Whether you’re in the mood for something specific, want to try it all, or want to find the ingredients to make it yourself, the Market brings it all. It’s that versatility, and ability to cover all the bases, that brought to mind the LAFC defender, Mohamed El-Munir. The speed he possesses gives him a distinct edge as a defender, and makes him a threat in attack given the play style of LAFC.

If you need him to sit back in defense, containing threats along the wing, he can do that. Need him to help in the midfield, preventing build-ups from even starting, he does that. What he tends to do especially well, is play upfield and into the final third when asked.

While a term typically reserved for attackers, El-Munir is very much a super sub. As different as his play style is to most in the MLS, so is his journey to the MLS. Much like GCM, its those humble beginnings that helped shape him into one of the go-to options in Los Angeles.

 Latif Blessing: GUISADOS (Mexican)

Trying to name LA’s best tacos is a bit like trying to find New York’s best pizza, or the best BBQ spot in Missouri, depending on who you ask you’re liable to get several different answers. However, ask enough and you’ll notice the same names mentioned consistently. For tacos in Los Angeles, Guisados is one such place. Guisos are home-styled Mexican style braises that are cooked for hours, and can be prepared a multitude of ways. Guisados sells 15 types, serving them on small, but thick corn tortillas that are pressed as you order.

You can try the simple Frijoles con Queso, the slightly more complex Chicharron or Cochinita Pibil or take a bite of the underworld with severely spicy Chiles Toreados. Whether you’re searching for something spicy, something refreshing, or even vegetarian, Guisados has it covered and then some.

When this series was still in the brainstorming phase, one comparison came instantly, this one. For me, Blessing was always going to be tacos, not for his play on the field, as much as the personality he brings to the team. While maybe not the heart of LAFC, Latif is most definitely it’s spirit. Whether it’s his goal celebrating dances, jumping into the arms of Carlos Vela after one of his scores, or staying after the final whistle to do laps around the pitch, clapping the hand of supporters as he passes.

Hand me a taco, especially one from Guisados, and I get the biggest smile on my face, a sense of excitement and joy in the moment. It’s the exact feelings I get watching Latif. The energy he brings is contagious, and never seems to lack.

Diego Palacios: HOWLIN’ RAYS (Southern)

The admiration Los Angeles has for all things avocados and tacos, is well noted. However, not too far behind, is the city’s love for all things hot chicken. Howlin’ Rays has scratched that itch for the last several years, and continues to grow in popularity. If you have any doubts that a “simple” chicken tender can be heralded so highly, let the lines that rival a Disneyland attraction, serve as exhibit A. The chicken itself is the perfect combination of a crunchy outside of cayenne-led spices, with an incredibly juicy inside. Don’t let the fast-food ambiance fool you, Howlin’ Rays is one of the best places in LA.

When thinking of Diego Palacios, his play style definitely gives me a crunchy-but-tender, vibe. His ability to come in tough on the physical challenges, while still being nimble and tactful enough to not be reckless. Even with his interviews, he is methodical with answers, while still sprinkling in that bit of spice that comes with his personality.

He may come across as the most unassuming of the back four, but overlook him at your risk. The best part about Diego, is you won’t have to stand in four hour lines to watch him play at The Banc.

Jordan Harvey: VELVET MARGARITA (Mexican)

While most of the players on LAFC seem like genuinely fun guys to hang with, defender, Jordan Harvey, would probably be voted most likely to be seen having a few cold ones with The 3252 after a match. Located in Hollywood, the Goth decor, and dimly lit atmosphere may give off an unnecessarily overpriced night out. However, the wallet friendly prices, and even friendlier staff, prove otherwise.

It’s that surprisingly laid back, humble vibe, while putting together an experience, that brings Harvey to mind. While he is forceful on the pitch, as one of the leaders within the squad, that intensity doesn’t seem to carry over once the final whistle blows. Whether it’s cracking jokes during post-match pressers, or participating in the various LAFC trivia nights and podcasts during lockdown, Harvey exudes the “chill” vibes. Much like Velvet, Happy Hour with Harvey would be an LA experience unlike any other.


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