Monte 52 has been around for ten whole months, but I’m embarrassed to say that I barely found out about it in July — despite the fact that I drive by it almost daily. In my defense, it is tucked away inside La Tropicana Market, itself a Highland Park gem, where I’ve bought the occasional agua fresca but never ventured to the deli counter … until one fateful day. And that’s when I found it, the best sandwich shop in the neighborhood. Since then, I’ve been making up for lost time by making my way through their delicious, thoughtfully-conceived and well-crafted menu.
Brought to you by the folks behind Echo Park’s The Park, including chef Mitchell Jones who runs the counter, this deli is everything you want it to be. They serve salads, sandwiches, burgers, and soup, plus, rotisserie chicken and french fries. The meat and produce used are quality, portions are sizeable, and a lot of care is put into every order. Amazingly, the prices are still low, with almost everything on the menu costing about $6.
Rotisserie spits ensure that chicken gets a starring role on this menu. The best selling Chicken Bacon Avocado Club earns its status with chunky, pulled pieces of meat layered with thick-cut, present-in-every-bite crumbled bacon. There are also fried chicken, buffalo chicken and chicken salad sandwiches to choose from, but last time, I went with the Torta. The chipotle crema mixed cleverly with black beans and avocado, making it a worthy take on the traditional Mexican sandwich.
Another sandwich with Latino charm is the Cuban. The roast pork was moist, and the mustard, mayo and pickle proportions were right on (although, if you prefer a sloppier Cuban, you might ask for extra of all three). However, as far as meaty options go, I’m partial to the Italian Sub (pictured at the top of the post), a firecracker of a sandwich stacked high with ham, capicola and provolone. The clincher is the mix of spicy giardiniera and chimichurri sauce used in place of the mustard and mayo so commonly used in LA subs. The one strange thing is that it’s served open face, forcing you to eat it like a taco, but I’m going to let that slide.
Vegetarians and vegans (with the help of some slight alterations) aren’t left out, either, and even meat-eaters might end up obsessing over the Grilled Vegetable Sandwich, a pesto-rich, melty combo of raw and grilled seasonal veggies. The Veggie Burger is also a standout with its lightly sweet homemade patty, comprised of quinoa, beans, zucchini and carrots and so good they even sell them on their own in the deli case. For those who love eggs all day, the Egg Sandwich, topped with loads of arugula and accented with carmelized onions, is a winner, and you can even add bacon, sausage or soyrizo.
In addition to my Monte 52 sandwich addiction, I’m also now a daily user of their hummus, which is thick and covered with smoky paprika. I haven’t even ventured into the pickles and relishes because I’m scared I’ll start buying those, too!
Give me strength.
5200 Monte Vista St
Los Angeles, 90042
Valentina Silva writes about food and restaurants. You can also find Valentina’s reviews and stories on her blog, Eastside Food Bites.