Kid Hit Menu Items: Parents love the price, and kids dig the food served on $5 Burger Night on Wednesdays at The Park in Echo Park. The combo includes choice of side (outstanding fries, potato salad, side salad or cole slaw) with lettuce, onion, pickles and tomato. However, the $1-2 extra toppings can easily add up. The $4 broccoli rabe and roasted cauliflower from the “snacks” section of the menu seem indulgent compared to the burger deal, which regularly costs $10. I wouldn’t say this is a mind-blowing burger, but it hits all the right marks. Veggie burgers are also an option, or from the regular menu try a side of potato latkes ($6), vegetarian croque monsieur perhaps without the radicchio and escarole ($8), and Jidori chicken breast entrée ($15).
Adult Perks: As far as the burger is concerned, customize it with sauces, choice of three cheeses, applewood bacon ($1.50 extra), or “umami” additions such as caramelized onions or mushroom + garlic. (The umami components aren’t quite intense enough for me.) Or pick from several signature burger pre-set combos. The Park has a small and well-described wine and beer list, plus nightly specials posted on the blackboard. All wines are available by the glass, and bottle prices top out at around $33 with no particular focus on any specific region. (Skipping the half-bottle of Chateau de Rouet rose would help keep down the cost of a mid-week dinner.) Salads include wild arugula, butter lettuce, or Caesar.
Pros: Super laid back friendly service, very casual, grassroots DIY kind of vibe. Tables are spaced decently apart with some room in the middle, so this place can definitely accommodate strollers or wandering toddlers. The front entrance is flanked by two compact patio seating areas, which also can be explored if empty. Servers will gladly bring over coloring books to tear pages out of (or leave them attached, if you like), and take-out boxes filled with crayons to share.
Cons: Tight parking! The lot has about four spaces shared with other businesses, so get there early and have luck on your side to score one. Street parking is on Sunset Blvd. and on Douglas. It’s a long way to circle the block to get back on to the south side of Sunset by the restaurant. Outdoor seating is an option, but the picket fence enclosure is still close to a somewhat busy corner. I’m not a big fan of eating right next to dumpsters either.
Changing Station: No, but big single bathrooms.
High Chairs: Yes
Parking and Access: Street parking (see above). No stairs or any grade-change impediments.
Other Tidbits: My friend says The Park reminds her of a down-to-earth neighborhood restaurant you’d easily find in Chicago. You’ll find little pretension and not much to gripe about, unless you’re categorically opposed to touches of gentrification in Echo Park. (To play devil’s advocate, this location is at the base of Angelino Heights, which is the city’s first HPOZ and a pocket that’s been a demographically mixed for many years now.) The décor, with delicate outlines of trees and other art on the walls set against black and white floors, won’t win any AIA RDAs, but it works given the context and prices. What matters here is the sincerity of the mission and food. The Park falls somewhere between the Kitchen and Blair’s in Silver Lake; more ambitious than the former, less upscale than the latter. (I unfortunately can’t yet vouch for how it compares to the nearby Alston Yacht Club about which people speak highly.) A shelf of well-worn cookbooks by the entrance hints at honesty and quality, while communally shared coloring books and boxes of crayons kept nearby sends another welcome message. It’s a tableau that says a lot about the Park.
1400 W. Sunset Blvd., Echo Park
Hours: Tuesday – Friday, 11 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.; Tuesday 6 – 10 p.m.; Wednesday & Thursday, 5:30 – 10 p.m.; Friday, 6 – 10 p.m.; Saturday & Sunday, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., 5:30 – 10 p.m.