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Poke Wars Emerge as Mainland Takes Over Prime Santa Monica Real Estate

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Plus Anthony Bourdain’s love letter to Los Angeles, and more

Mainland Poke, Glendale
Wonho Frank Lee
Farley Elliott is the Senior Editor at Eater LA and the author of Los Angeles Street Food: A History From Tamaleros to Taco Trucks. He covers restaurants in every form, from breaking news to the culture, people, and history that surrounds LA's dining landscape.

Poke wars are coming

Things are (surprisingly) heating up in the world of poke, as the traditionally raw seafood dish that has taken over Los Angeles competes for increasingly smaller parts of the city. Case in point: Mainland Poke, which is ready to occupy some prime real estate in Santa Monica, just off the Third Street Promenade.

At first blush this might seem like no big deal, given Mainland’s expansion plans already (they’ve got a first location on West Third Street, another in Glendale, and a third in Marina del Rey coming in a few weeks). But remember that Santa Monica is where Sweetfin Poke first set down their big, rich roots — in a part of town the company still considers to be home base.

The new location at 411 Santa Monica Blvd. puts Mainland just a few breezy blocks from the O.G. Sweetfin, and should only intensify the coming poke wars between the two, and any other players foolish enough to get in the fray. Both are very well-funded companies (though maybe Sweetfin moreso) looking to stand out in a crowded field, and there’s only so much whole fish to be broken down for poke in this city.

Perhaps the bigger question for both is where the state of poke is right now. Can this city really sustain the number of raw fish places that already exist, let alone shoulder these expansions? Only time will tell, but in the meantime expect these turf wars to keep heating up.

Anthony Bourdain’s Los Angeles

Folks keep coming out of the woodwork to praise Los Angeles’ food scene these days, among them the always vocal Anthony Bourdain. The grey-haired god of the food and travel writing world talks with Lucky Peach about why he loves Los Angeles, from the Latino and Asian influences, its affinity for hidden gems, and his own unending love affair with Chateau Marmont.

Salt & Straw adds to West Hollywood

Ice cream continues to trend upward even as the thermometer dips in Los Angeles, with yet another scoop shop making for the area. This time it’s another outlet of Salt & Straw, pushing into West Hollywood next year with a new space along Santa Monica Boulevard.

The powerful Lien Ta

Here’s Looking At You’s Lien Ta is one serious badass, as this Miss Bish profile can attest. Working the floor at one of LA’s hottest restaurants is hard enough even if you don’t own the place, but there she is night in and night out doing it all. Want to learn how to be half as cool? Read along.

Woodland Hills on the come up

Former Cliff’s Edge and Inn of the Seventh Ray chef Gavin Humes is now leading the charge at Tuccio’s, says LA Weekly. The upcoming Italian (what else) restaurant is slated for Woodland Hills, and carries a proposed opening date of December 2.

One year in at Cake Monkey

Beverly Boulevard bakery Cake Monkey has turned one, and to celebrate the beloved local bakers are doing a slew of awesome giveaways this weekend, all based around winning a coveted golden ticket.

Hidden inside an assortment of the bakery’s cakewiches will be five golden tickets for customers to find. Those correspond to a few different prizes, including a free birthday cake, and a $250 gift certificate. The party is this weekend only though, so better get on it between November 18 - 20.