Los Angeles

Catch LA’s Hoagie Wave with This Punk Rock, Philly-Style Pop-Up

West Coast hoagies are worth a shot (especially when East Coast expats make them).

The Washington Post/Getty Images
The Washington Post/Getty Images
The Washington Post/Getty Images

Buying lunch out of someone’s cooler on the sidewalk is nothing new in LA. Usually, that means tamales or tacos de canasta, and for a brief period in the chaotic 2010s, it may or may not have meant a couple of cans of black market Four Loko that a young entrepreneur had stashed from when it still had caffeine. Today, though, the line that snakes around the asphalt ring of Echo Park Lake has assembled for something a little different-hoagies. A real-deal version of the iconic Philadelphia sandwich had been relatively hard to find in LA, but no longer. The hoagie wave is upon us.

The man behind the cooler at the lake, Josh Agran of Delco Rose Hoagies, is surfing down the face of that wave with a pile of immaculate Delaware County (aka Delco) style sandwiches. The forearm-length hoagies come tightly wrapped in thick brown paper, the better to hold in the oil and vinegar that coats the shredded lettuce, tomato, red onion, and pepperoncini on top of thinly sliced cold cuts and provolone on a baguette. It’s a simple formula, but Agran’s version is perfect-sharp from the vinegar and pepperoncini balanced with a slick of good olive oil, anchored by precisely calibrated slices of cold cuts, all supported by a sturdy baguette from Jersey native and fellow hoagie enthusiast Andy Kadin of Bub & Grandma’s¬†bread.

The result is something alchemical, a sandwich balanced just so powerfully evocative for anyone who’s spent time in the greater Philly area. If you ask him about his goals for the sandwich, Agran will cite his inspiration-a long-closed South Philly market called Maria Calla Deli that sold the hoagie of his dreams, which was a little more slender and balanced than the stuffed ones you see at lots of modern spots.

Then he will describe a feeling he wants to evoke, a mix of nostalgia and bliss, and he may even pull up a photo from Eric Wareheim‘s Instagram. The multi-hyphenate Philly native rolled through a couple of early Delco Rose pop-ups with a crew of hometown friends and captured music producer Alex Goose in a moment of rapture, mouth full and eyes closed. It’s an unmistakable feeling, a sensation worth chasing, and one that Agran is always trying to create.Agran’s hoagies are tightly constructed and carefully designed to take you to a higher plane of Delco-style ecstasy, but he never really meant to get into the sandwich business. He’s a punk musician, the guitarist for Paint It Black, and a rocker at heart. But one fateful day, he decided to make a few hoagies for his coworkers at the gourmet market Cookbook; they were a hit, and word got out.

The Philly network in LA is a powerful thing, transplants united by boundless pride in their hometown. Agran was thinking about popping up with his hoagies, but the logistics and the capital required to get going seemed overwhelming; buying ingredients, developing a process, testing ratios, and finding the right location were all daunting tasks. That’s when his Philly friends stepped in.

They largely helped by staying on top of him about it, encouraging him by repeatedly asking for hoagies. They also provided some material help, too by testing, assembling, and helping him nail down his ordering system. And in the case of Lindsay Rose Medoff, by providing a location-she’s the owner of Suay Sew Shop in Frogtown and offered him a prime spot at her shop, right off the LA River Bike Path. He picked a fortuitous date-Super Bowl Sunday, and in honor of the Eagles, he made about 60 sandwiches and set up his table for the first time. It was a smashing success, and he’s been off to the races ever since, mostly popping up at Echo Park Lake but occasionally bouncing around the greater NELA area, in Highland Park or Hermon, or the middle of a trendy stretch of shops along Sunset Boulevard.

Delco Rose usually only pops up once a week, now on Saturdays as of early August. But if you’re looking for a hoagie on other days, there are some alternatives in town that will more than hit the spot. Here are a few of our favorite other hoagies in LA.

Photo by Ben Mesirow for Thrillist
Photo by Ben Mesirow for Thrillist
Photo by Ben Mesirow for Thrillist

La Sorted’s Pizza

Silver Lake
Owner Tommy Brockert is an LA native and a die-hard fan of the LA sports teams, which you can clearly see all over the shop, from names of dishes like the Mamba Pizza to the name and branding of the place itself, inspired by Tommy Lasorda and the Dodgers. But the hoagie section of the menu is full of bangers that evoke East Coast classics, especially the Stepfather. The sandwich was inspired by Bay Cities’ legendary Godmother, and it has all the ingredients of a great hoagie. The ingredients are in proper proportion, heavy on the meat and sauce and wrapped in perfect house-baked bread, which hits the ideal sweet spot between firm and airy.

Boo’s Philly Cheesesteaks

Koreatown
Philadelphia’s other iconic sandwich is in the restaurant’s name, but the hoagies are the low-key draw for East Coast expats at Boo’s these days. Philly sandwiches are in owner Andrew Ahn’s blood-his father’s first job in the US after emigrating from Korea in the ’70s was at a cheesesteak shop, and Ahn has been bringing that fully legit experience to LA for more than a decade at Boo’s. As you would expect, the hoagie is just right, topped with lots of excellent hoagie dressing and served on a squishy Amoroso roll.

Photo by Ben Mesirow for Thrillist
Photo by Ben Mesirow for Thrillist
Photo by Ben Mesirow for Thrillist

Galco’s Soda Pop Stop

Highland Park
One of LA’s great hoagies has been hiding in plain sight in the back of funky vintage soda store Galco’s. Walk past the rows and rows of weird sodas to the deli counter, where they make an excellent old-school hoagie that has become an essential routine for Philly transplants. The sandwich does fall short on one count, though-they cut the bread all the way through, which makes the eating process a little more precarious than it should be, with toppings sliding out the sides. But when you’re pairing the excellent hoagie with a neon Green River lime soda, it’s a forgivable offense.

Gjusta

Venice
If your tastes run a little fancier-and if you’re spending a lot of time in Venice, they probably do-the high-end hoagie you’ve been looking for is the one at Gjusta. They bake the bread in-house, of course, and it’s pretty magnificent, a ciabatta/baguette hybrid that fits just right. The proportions are tight like the hoagies at Delco Rose, balanced and not overstuffed, made with the milder, creamier Fontina instead of Provolone cheese, and the vinaigrette is amped up with a generous smack of oregano.

Gorilla Pies

North Hollywood
It’s not a traditional hoagie, but if you’re looking for a Pennsylvania-inspired Italian cold-cut sandwich that pushes the envelope, the Pittsburgh-style marvels at Gorilla Pies are pretty incredible. The classic cold cuts get a topping of prickly arugula, basil, cherry pepper mayo, and a thickish slab of fresh mozzarella, and the whole thing is built on a fresh oven-baked roll that is basically an extra thick wedge of pizza crust, leopard spots and all.

Photo by Ben Mesirow for Thrillist
Photo by Ben Mesirow for Thrillist
Photo by Ben Mesirow for Thrillist

PS Hoagie

Unknown
One more hoagie looms on the horizon. With a particularly exciting pedigree, the hoagie comes from the aforementioned Eric Wareheim, who has teamed up with Philly legend Joe Beddia for a mysterious forthcoming hoagie project called PS Hoagie. They popped up once at the dearly departed Animal space in late May, and the event was a raucous good time. There was lots of funky wine, a well-heeled crowd, water ice, house-made chips, and two fantastic hoagies, one loaded with cold cuts and also a vegetarian version with broccoli rabe and roasted mushrooms. The future of the endeavor isn’t clear yet, but it’s sure to be fun as hell.Want more Thrillist? Follow us on¬†Instagram,¬†TikTok,¬†Twitter,¬†Facebook,¬†Pinterest, and¬†YouTube.

Ben Mesirow is a Staff Writer at Thrillist.

Los Angeles

How to Spend a Weekend in Topanga Canyon

Nature and the arts collide in this beloved canyon community.

Hanan Isachar/Corbis Documentary/Getty Images
Hanan Isachar/Corbis Documentary/Getty Images
Hanan Isachar/Corbis Documentary/Getty Images

Situated in the Santa Monica Mountains and known for its vibrant creative community, Topanga is one of Los Angeles’s most prized destinations for art and outdoor enthusiasts alike. And while LA boasts its own sprawling landscape of fun to tap into, you’d be remiss to miss a chance to explore this tucked-away collection of state parks, and cafes, and restaurants-especially when it all rests just 20 minutes away from the city. From a quaint caf√© with dazzling canyon views to a world-renowned, open-air theatre, here are the best ways to pass some time in Topanga now.

Photo courtesy of Inn of the Seventh Ray
Photo courtesy of Inn of the Seventh Ray
Photo courtesy of Inn of the Seventh Ray

Friday

Book dinner at Inn of the Seventh Ray
Owner Lucille Yaney opened this iconic restaurant in 1975 after spotting the property on a drive through the canyon with her late husband Ralph, and it’s safe to say she had a good eye. The land perfectly fits into Yaney’s vision of a romantic, alfresco dining space with tables tucked into cozy nooks and gazebos, all beneath canapes and fairy lights. Today, Yaney co-owns the venue with executive chef consultant Brad Miller. Together, they continue to fulfil the restaurant’s original mission to serve pure, natural foods reflective of the season’s best. That approach appears in dishes like 8-Hour Black Vinegar Braised Short Rib with creamy rosemary polenta, duck bacon Brussels sprouts, and caramelized onion and fig jam; Roasted Mushroom Toast with oyster mushrooms and sherry tarragon cream; and Beets & Whipped Black Pepper Creme Fraiche. Consider the carbs here. Pastas and sauces are made in-house and from scratch, as is the bread (available regular or gluten-free), an order of which you won’t want to miss. Check out the wine list, too, which offers a robust organic and biodynamic selection that has helped the restaurant garner some impressive accolades in recent years.

Check into Topanga Canyon Inn
In addition to plenty of excellent Airbnbs available to rent in the Canyon, there’s Topanga Canyon Inn, a charming bed and breakfast comprised of two Mediterranean-style buildings-Casa Blanca and Casa Rosa-both built by the owners. Guests can enjoy bespoke design details in each room, along with gorgeous mountain views from their own private balcony. Come morning, join other travellers for breakfast, served daily at Casa Rosa.

Saturday

Get coffee at Café on 27
Ready your camera for a coffee date at this AM eatery and caf√©, where ample (and busy) outdoor seating offers some of the Canyon’s best views. A full breakfast and lunch menu is available (complete with hearty orders like eggs Benedicts, soups, and club sandwiches), but for lighter morning fare, spring for a pastry and any of their specialty drinks, such as the turmeric latte or Moroccan mocha.

Bradley Allen Murrell/Shutterstock
Bradley Allen Murrell/Shutterstock
Bradley Allen Murrell/Shutterstock

Hike Topanga State Park
Spanning 11,000 acres and 36 miles of trails, Topanga State Park is the largest state park within the Santa Monica Mountains and one of the world’s largest parks within city limits. Visitors can access the grounds via more than 60 entrances. Once on the trails, enjoy sweeping vistas while exploring the region’s range of plants, habitats, and wildlife, including several resident bird species.

Grab lunch at Topanga Living Café
Guided by their Topanga upbringing and need for a community gathering spot with great eats, sibling team Agustina Ferguson and Bayu Suryawan opened this daytime eatery in 2016. Ever since, locals and visitors have found refuge in the caf√©’s warm, airy space and nourishing, hyper-fresh fare-all California-inspired with global influences. Check it out in plates like the Island Style, a breakfast salad with Balinese corn fritters, a poached egg, and house-made chilli jam, or the tacos (Baja Fish or Baja Shrimp, Carne Asada, or Kabocha Squash), made-to-order and served on handmade tortillas. If you’re seeking something shareable, try the Farmers Market Crudite, a seemingly humble order whose bright beet hummus reminds us that eating your vegetables is, indeed, very cool. And take a drink to-go. The team here takes great pride in their coffee (organic espresso, courtesy of their iconic pink La Marzocco machine) and a lineup of made-to-order smoothies, juices, and teas. Shop your way through town
Visitors can stroll through the town centre’s most popular shops for various fun finds, including Moona Star, Pebbles, and Topanga Homegrown. Be sure to stock up on specialty, local snacks at Canyon Gourmet and satiate your sweet tooth while you’re at it. The organic soft-serve there is a must. Pro tip: Top it with any of their artisanal syrups for a winning combo, namely, the vanilla with cardamom.

Photo courtesy of Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum
Photo courtesy of Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum
Photo courtesy of Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum

Catch a show at The Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum
This beloved open-air theatre has hosted productions for decades and is recognized worldwide for its Shakespeare interpretations. In addition to its annual summer season, which includes works like Macbeth and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the venue hosts concerts, rehearsals, and classes throughout the year for budding actors and playwrights of all ages.

Snag a slice at Endless Colour
This family-run pizza joint specializes in from-scratch pies with clever topping combinations (think purple potatoes, fontina, and truffle oil in the Purple Molly Potato or spinach, leeks, and goat cheese in the Super Greens). Bring some friends, order a pie or two, and check out the drinks list, which includes offbeat options like orange wines and hard kombucha.

Photo courtesy of The Canyon Bakery
Photo courtesy of The Canyon Bakery
Photo courtesy of The Canyon Bakery

Sunday

Check out The Canyon Bakery’s “Sunday Funday”
Situated on the grounds of the aforementioned Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum, this bakery specializes in naturally leavened breads, pastries, cakes, and cookies using locally sourced, whole grain flours. There’s a takeout window on Sundays, from 9:30 am until the bakery sells out. A strong following lines up for favourites, such as whole grain croissants and gluten-free pizza, so be sure to arrive early to get your fill.

Try tacos to-go at La Chingona
On your way out of town, grab some tacos at La Chingona, where a team puts forth fresh, organic, gluten- and dairy-free tacos. Orders range to include options like grass-fed beef (carne asada), shrimp (wild-caught), and soy chorizo and can be fashioned into plates beyond tacos, too (think tostadas, salads, and bowls). Open only on Tuesdays, Fridays, and Sundays; this taco stand sees good demand. Plan accordingly, pending your travels, especially to savour an order or two of the churros.

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Nicole Schnitzler is a contributor for Thrillist.

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