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LA Weekly Food Critic Besha Rodell Says Her Profession Is ‘Way Too White’

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Plus a departure on Melrose and a Blue Bottle update

A dish from Maestro in Pasadena
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.

The whiteness of critiquing

LA Weekly food critic Besha Rodell penned her own response to Eater’s Bill Esparza post regarding modern Mexican cuisine, and how it can often be trivialized. Esparza’s argument is simply that the thoughtful, resonant cuisine coming from kitchens at places like Broken Spanish and Maestro in Pasadena shouldn’t be compared to tacos you can get on any corner in Los Angeles. They are uniquely different, despite the underlying ingredient and cultural similarities, and often critics overlook that finer point when discussing the two.

As Rodell points out, Esparza isn’t acutely wrong. Privilege is built into the food critic position, and to find a way to be truly balanced in understanding the cuisines you’re talking about it’s often necessary to travel at great expense to the places being discussed. The homogenization of the profession (mostly male, overwhelmingly white, almost exclusively some level of affluent) leads to blind spots that aren’t easily picked up — which, in turn, leads to critiques like the one Esparza lays out.

Barbara Jean moves on

Looks like the Barbara Jean residency on Melrose isn’t going to last for much longer, per the below Instagram post. Mark down Saturday, April 23 as the last day of service at that space.

Roasting in Pasadena

Pasadena’s popular Kings Row Pub is switching things up, turning Thursday into a night of meaty kebabs and naan bread. The restaurant has already been doing roast pig nights for some time, now chef Sundeep Vohra is turning it up with the patio party to coincide with the rise of beverage director Zulma Cobian’s nedw cocktail menu.

Blue Bottle’s new move

Downtown’s gorgeous new Bradbury Building Blue Bottle is having fun this summer, expanding their options to include Strauss ice cream for affogatos and full-on scoops, complete with waffles for maximum enjoyment.

Matador’s insane dinner option

Matador Cantina in Fullerton is going hard with a new $12 three-course set menu every Sunday through Thursday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. The menu features scaled down versions of dessert, entree, and appetizer, but still offers choice and incredible value.

The Petty party

Petty Cash is doing it big for Cinco de Mayo, as you might expect, opening up their doors at 11 a.m. and running all day. The shindig will include a DJ and drink specials throughout the day, with walk-ins only for dinner.