“We strive to delight our diners by offering thoughtfully prepared classic dishes that evoke their essential quality and … are exciting and bold.” —Chef Josh Siegel
Echo Park’s commitment to community, homespun culture and local production makes it a personable and unique neighborhood in a populous city like Los Angeles. The Park Restaurant — from its inception, 7 years of seasoning and strong present standing — has maintained itself as a shining example of the neighborhood’s ethos. It truly seems to embody what we’re all about here: delicious, quality food at the right price, lack of pretension and an environment that feels like home with a staff welcoming you in like family.
Opening in March, 2008 with an incredibly modest budget of $100,000 (almost unheard of these days for a new, independent restaurant), Boston bred owner and Chef Josh Siegel created a place with the goal to simply “relax and get nourished.” Though humble sentiments such as these are applaudable in a culinary climate of unwarranted pretension, they seem almost laughable after devouring the epic veggie burger which, I may add, is beyond just simply nourishing. A more appropriate description would be a gustatory eruption so deeply satisfying that the mere presence of aged gruyere and buttery avocado atop the herb-induced veggie patty adorned with delicately crusted onions sends salivating shivers down the spine. And one mustn’t discount the incomparable brioche bun that handles the balancing act of crisp and soft with utter perfection. Top it all off with the impeccably salted crunch of hand-cut Russet fries and any of the Park’s indulgent dips and thereafter you have one hell of an culinary act to follow.
If this isn’t enough to boast about, the classic Park burger wins local hearts and stomachs with its flavorful, brisket and sirloin patty (though it will soon be transitioning to grass-fed beef). We ordered ours rare, topped with blue cheese and applewood-smoked bacon. The patty itself had the perfect balance of outer crisp and a juicy core. And the ambitious additions of generously thick-cut bacon and sharp blue cheese didn’t seem so ridiculous after it melted in a complex symphony of flavor in the mouth.
One would think such a meal would hold a hefty price tag, but believe it or not, thanks to the stroke of genius that is Wednesday Burger Night, the Park (and turkey burger) start at $6 and the veggie at $5. No wonder one would go a little nuts with the add-ons ranging mostly between $1 – $2. Both the Park and veggie burger totaled an astounding $11 each with all toppings included, plus a can of Rolling Rock for $3 (their Burger Night beer special). The Park offers other nightly deals and specialty menus such as 50% off select bottles of wine on Thursdays and BBQ Sundays. The seasonal menu is diverse, fairly priced and delicious as well.
But beyond its scrumptious creations, savvy offers and apparent local success, the Park maintains the personal, grassroots culture from which it was founded. And this is inspiring. That in a day and age of hype, over-promise and under-delivery, a restaurant with a mission so humble and straightforward can still surprise, impress and deliver beyond what’s expected. It is for these reasons that the Park remains of one Echo Park’s most treasured restaurants and a steadfast reminder of what we’re all about.