Highland Park gets a Romanian inspired cafe

Photo by Rebecca Schiffman


HIGHLAND PARK — A Romanian-inspired cafe called Parsnip quietly opened last week on York Boulevard. Anca Caliman, partner in Lemon Poppy Kitchen in Glassell Park, and Aracelly Flores, longtime Lemon Poppy Kitchen cook, have partnered to open a casual, counter-service cafe in the former Antojitos Guerrero space. The menu at Parsnip has a stronger Romanian focus than the brunch-centric LPK and will serve lunch and dinner.

Caliman, who emigrated from Romania at the age of 12, says the recipes at Parsnip reflect her food memories from childhood, with some added touches of modern California cuisine. She and Flores, who hails from Nicaragua, have collaborated on the recipes’ development over years of working together. Flores had raised the idea of a joint venture to Caliman three years ago, and it became just a matter of finding the right location. Flores learned that the space at 5623 York had become available as a customer of the beauty salon next door.

Prices at Parsnip are comparable to the location’s predecessor, ranging from $5 for plachinta (stuffed flatbread), to $9 for a hearty plate of beef goulash. The menu includes other Romanian specialties like bulz (polenta dumplings) and sarmale (stuffed cabbage rolls) with a variety of meat, vegetarian, and vegan options. For now, the cafe has 5 small tables spread throughout a small, bright, indoor area, a covered side patio, and sidewalk. The cafe plans to add more seating and house-made lemonades flavored with herbs used in Romanian cuisine in the near future.

Why Parsnip? Caliman calls parsnips the “unsung hero of Eastern European cooking,” adding that they “take to spice really well.” While they don’t take center stage in any one dish on the menu, they play an important supporting role in many.

Parsnip is located at 5623 York Blvd.

Hours: Weds – Fri, 11am – 9pm, and Sat-Sun, 10am – 6pm.

Aracelly Flores (left) and Anca Caliman | Photo by Rebecca Schiffman

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