Cheap, Healthy, Fast Food at Roy Choi and Daniel Patterson’s LocoL in South LA – Dining on A Dime

People who live in neighborhoods like
South Central Los Angeles don’t always
have a lot of options when they’re going
out to eat, because it’s kind of a food
desert. It’s typically just fast food or
things you get hit the corner store:
chips, snacks, sodas. Chefs Roy Choi and Daniel Patterson collaborated on a new
restaurant called LocaL where they aim
to give inexpensive health for menu
options in neighborhoods that need it
the most.
What they’ve done is really a new sort
of unheard of concept where you have
this very inexpensive quick service and
yet also chef-driven restaurant in areas
that have not received attention from
chefs in the past.
We’re heading to LocaL right now and I
can’t wait to try the different options.

“Hi, how are you today?” I’m good, I’m Lucas, what’s your name? “I’m Kaitlyn.”
Hi Kaitlin, nice to meet you. Looks like you have a lot of really good looking things
here. “Yeah so everything is really
popular, it’s all you know based on what
you like and what you prefer.”
So maybe I could try, maybe I’ll get a
bowl, I’ll try burger, maybe I’ll try like a
little bit of everything, is that cool?
“Yeah for sure, these two are my favorite
burgers.” Those are yours? Okay great.
So why don’t we — you said the messy beef chili bowl right? Ok so let’s try that.
“Do you want turkey or beef, sir?” Let’s try turkey.
Yeah let’s get a cheeseburger.
Let’s do this to a french toast,
the egg in a hole, let’s try the beef and onion gravy, and
let’s get a flat bread. “So your total’s
going to be $22.89.”

How long’ve you been working here? “I’ve
been working here since it opened.”
What do you like about it? “The people, I
love being in my community,
the food is great.
I eat here every day. We don’t have anything like this over here at all, and they also
brought a healthy option, and they brought something that we just don’t have over
here, so it’s like the best of both
worlds. So it’s really cool to be here.”

This neighborhood hasn’t seen especially
a lot of chef-driven restaurants, do
you think that’s something that the
neighborhood is embracing? Do you think
that’s something that the neighborhood
wants? “I think it’s really
more of a question of why haven’t we
seen this before?
I think there comes this assumption that
people don’t want this,
and what we found is people want this,
and they need this, and they need it at a price
that’s affordable. I think with
Daniel and Roy, what we’ve seen is two
people who are using their abilities,
what they’re good at, to implement some
kind of change, like to literally
give a finger to the system,
you know, in their way, and help people.
They’re actually creating a living wage
for people on staff,
you know, and that helps to bring back
a neighborhood, ’cause now you have money
flowing and they have more money flowing in the immediate community. We start
here with this idea and you’re looking
at health, and changing, creating
opportunity financially, it only helps
but to bring other businesses in.
Hopefully those other business that
come in have the same mind state of
being a part of the neighborhood.
At the end of the day it’s a choice, and all
anybody wants in any situation in
anywhere in the world is a choice.
So hopefully we’re providing good
choices for people. A lot of
times your force fed bad food. I give it up to the two chefs having a similar idea.”
Absolutely. “And I give it up to
the people here.
I give it up to the neighborhood, I give
it up to all the customers, and literally it’s
not just one person, one idea.
It’s literally a bunch of people coming
Thank you very much, appreciate it. “Thank you.”
Looks delicious.
So why don’t we just start digging in.
Since breakfast is the first meal of the
day and this is the only breakfast item
we got…
I think I’m gonna have myself a little
piece of french toast right here.
That’s pretty decadent.
That’s pretty sweet, absolutely bathed in
this maple tasting syrup, but it tastes
real good. I like it a lot.
I would eat it for breakfast. I like and
I think maybe there are some of you like
me out there,
you get a bowl of pasta that’s really
good, whatever kind of sauce or
deliciousness is leftover you just want
to grab a piece of bread from the center of the table,
and sop it up.
That is this. So you just get a
big old scoop full of beef and onion
you can see the little pepper flakes in
there, it’s everything you wanted to be.
It’s like if your mom made a roast and
whatever the drippings were, it’s just an
intense beef flavor with the onions and
the peppers as well, except for you get a
whole cup of it.
I’m sort of in heaven with eating stuff
like this. And it’s two bucks!
We’ve got a burger, every place needs a
That’s a good burger. I think what sets
this apart, because it’s got a really
interesting relish on it. It’s got this
green onion, this scallion relish.
It’s nice to have a sour, nice to have an
acid flavor to counterbalance fatty and
salty and in this case that’s exactly
what it does and it really
sort of completes the flavor profile of
the burger. Big messy chili bowl, weighs a
hundred pounds.
This looks very tasty. A lot of people I
think will maybe crucify me for getting
turkey chili instead of beef chili. I
gotta say though I like turkey chili!
I couldn’t eat say an entire thing of
this if it were just beef turkey. It’s
lighter, it retains the flavors of the
spices I think equally well, and it’s
just a lighter meat that I feel like I
can eat more of.
Remember when I said breakfast is the
first meal of the day?
Breakfast is the first meal of the day
and this is the only breakfast item we
I lied, it’s the middle meal today so
here is a breakfast sandwich.
You know what this reminds me of? So this, you can see the different layers here.
This reminds me of like the tamago sushi
you get.
It’s just that kind of like dense cube
of egg in this case it’s not sweet its
salty and you’ve got this machaca beef.
Now what machaca beef is it is a
reconstituted beef, but it’s
like a pulled beef.
You’ve had a pulled pork sandwich, this
is pulled beef.

This is great, this is a great breakfast
You know a lot of what LocaL is trying
to do is to say, you know what, a lot of
places have a lot of fast food stuff
that’s bad stuff, that bad-for-you stuff
that’s mass-produced, and we’re going to
do riffs on at least some of the menu
items and produce better tasting and
healthier and in a lot of cases less
expensive versions. I like that a lot.

Hey, I really hope you enjoyed this
episode of Dining on a Dime from LocaL
in Watts in South LA.
If you’d like to watch more, please click

William Babineau

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