Last weekend Fred 62 in Los Feliz celebrated its 20th anniversary. My first “professional” blog post was about Fred 62’s 10th anniversary, so it seemed fitting that I repost the blog with a few updates. We have also been following Chef Fred Eric’s appearances at food events, so we are presenting a 10 year retrospective photo gallery.
On one of the hottest restaurant rows in town, Fred 62 has managed to hold its own for twenty years. What may have seemed part of a trendy diner fad has slowly and quietly become an old standby. The location is hip, the servers are hip, and the interior is slick. The stylish car culture seats are a nice spin on the usual retro décor. Fred 62 is, in essence, a diner, spun through Fred Eric’s brain, where it rolled around with a little punk rock and your mom’s apple pie.
The hipness has always been tolerable, because when it comes down to it, Fred Eric is a culinary genius. The language he uses to describe the food is whimsical in an overly self-aware kind of way, peppered with in-jokes and pedantic plays on words. Sometimes diversity can be the hallmark of a bad restaurant. But between the Asian noodles, the American comfort food and the creative vegan fare, Fred 62’s variety fits the funky neighborhood. There is something for everyone, and almost all of it is made from scratch.
The menu is standard, with special sections like weekend brunch and late-night drunk dining. One of their specialties is a plate of deep-fried Mac n’ cheese balls with a chili remoulade dipping sauce that is both spicy and sweet. They aren’t too rich or greasy considering the fat bomb concept. Fred Eric is able to be outrageous while still producing food that you could happily eat every day. The salads are original and fun, and a half order is substantial enough for a hearty lunch or light supper. The Thai Cobb salad (you were warned about the puns), which is oddly formed into a square, remains popular, and the fried chicken salad with Mexican flavors is my new go-to menu item.
Sadly, a few of my old favorites are currently out of rotation, like the BBQ Beef Royale, brisket at its finest, slathered with an addictive BBQ sauce that carries a slight kick. The “pastramid” short rib sandwich will do as a substitution, dressed like a pulled pork sandwich with coleslaw and BBQ sauce. The chicken pot pie with fresh-from-the-farm vegetables that I used to eat twice a week when I lived in the hood is now available only as the pot pie of the day on Saturdays from 6pm til 11pm. On a recent visit I was informed that the chicken pot pie is their least popular pot pie. I wonder if it is the unusual pesto sauce.
Fashioned to look like a pop tart, the Punk Tart is basically a southern hand pie. The apple filling comes from genuine apples and is not overly sweet. It is the kind of filling my grandmother would have made. The intense blueberry Punk Tart filling is a little heavier, adding a definite solidity to the pastry and seeping out of the edges of the crust. And that crust is perfect, balancing a little bit of shortbread’s buttery heft with a lightness of a puff pastry. If I could make a pastry like that, I would quit my job and travel the state fair circuit winning blue ribbons.
Fred 62 is preparing to revamp the menu and see if there are any improvements that can be made, while retaining the theme of diner food re-imagined. I suggested they bring back the BBQ Beef Royale, which they promised they might do as a special.
Underneath all of the hip and the hype, Fred 62 is what it is — just a neighborhood joint with good people serving good food. I think that is what has given this place such a loyal following in the dog-eat-dog world of “that place is so last week.” Fred 62’s 15 minutes of novelty ran out a long time ago. Yet there are still people willing to stand outside for a half an hour just to get a table. In the rain.