When we drove into downtown La Verne on this particular Sunday evening, the streets were barren, businesses closed. It was pretty much dead. It was like something out of a movie. I noticed La Verne University was across the street but school’s out for the summer. Where were all the other residents?
We couldn’t find the Pappas Artisinal at first, driving around a bit. The signs are not up yet (restaurant opens today at 11am!) as we were invited to a friends and family night by Chef/Owner Travis Flood, formerly at Landmark in Corona del Mar. Austin (The Hungry Dogg) and I were huge fans of Chef Flood’s menu at Landmark and were saddened to see him go, but were undoubtedly excited when we received the invitation to go check out his new venture.
When I opened the doors to Pappas, I was taken aback, simply because of what I had experienced on the streets and whatever was surrounding it. The decor was really cool! High ceilings with natural lighting highlighted a really impressive space utilizing the natural and emphasizing the eclectic nature of this establishment.
The menu is simple. Chef Travis serves sandwiches. No nonsense, gourmet style, tasty sandwiches created with meats he personally roasts to perfection. There were beef roasts, pork roasts, chickens on the rotisserie…. and the smells wafting from the kitchen were making my mouth salivate.
The sandwiches are served on a metal tray. Portion size is generous and hovers around the $8.50 mark. In all honesty, I probably couldn’t finish an entire sandwich in one sitting. If you also order the Baked Potato Fries (which I highly recommend) you can be sure it’ll fill even a big man’s appetite!
These baked potato fries are so good I couldn’t stop eating them. I’m not a huge fan of potatoes because I’m not fond of the texture, but once fried, I’ll chomp on them like there’s no tomorrow. These delicious slices are first a whole potato baked, then sliced, before thrown into scalding oil to create that crispy texture on the outside, yet still retaining that soft potato-ey center which I don’t like on its own. Together, it is heavenly!
We tried a handful of menu items and I’m picking out my favorites! Banh Mi Pork Belly was so tender (Austin actually has a photo of me “stealing” a piece while Chef Travis was cutting it up) and topped with aioli, carrots, daikon, sprouts, jalapeno, peanuts, curry and herbs, it was better than most banh mis I’ve had because the do chua, or pickled carrots and daikon still retained a lovely crunch and wasn’t so overly pickled it overwhelmed the sandwich.
El Pastor is exactly what it sounds like, my favorite Mexican taco filling of al pastor, a whole pork butt seasoned with achiote, cumin, pineapple to give it that rich, slightly sweet taste (the photo above depicts Chef holding the al pastor on the spit), and together with pickled red onions, cabbage and cilantro, this was easily one of my favorites of the night.
If you are something of a traditionalist, then The Traditional will most likely be your pick. Beef sirloin topped with crispy shallots and horseradish is kicked up a notch with parmesan. Great textures in every bite. A bit messy to eat but every bit worth wearing a napkin bib for.
I liked The South American using the same beef sirloin as The Traditional, but slathered with a deliciously kicked up chimichurri. Fresh flavors of parsley, garlic and the addition of chilis makes it the spicy delight that is totally up my alley!
Really sad Chef Travis has moved to LA County and so far from me, but truly happy he has found a home where he is creating delicious food and I hope the people of La Verne will embrace him with the same warmth and passion that he exudes to everything that he does.
2232 D Street
La Verne, CA 91750