1/11/2013 02:28:00 PM

A Taste Tour of TASTE at Figat7th: Juicy Lucy, Oleego and More

It's not everyday we'd go traipsing through a mall food court to find good food, but with all the new chef-driven spots opening at the upgraded Figat7th complex in Downtown LA, it got our attention. A gourmet burger spot, an LA Korean star going fast-casual, new Indian, grilled cheese and more is just the beginning of what's going on there, and most just opened this last week. Soon there will be another Mendocino Farms, Loteria Grill and Sprinkles.

While we hate the parking situation - to get reasonable parking rates, you have to go down several floors and somehow find you're way to retail entrance (make sure you get validated at one of the shops) - some of these spots are worth a stop, especially if you're already nearby. Here's a quick look (and taste) of what you'll see at Taste so far, in order of our favorite bites.

5. George's Greek Grill
This is a the most typical food-court spot out of them all, as there are already two other similar locations around downtown businesses. The menu is large and varied, with everything from Greek salads to burgers. While we should have just had a gyro - the best barometer if you're going to judge a Greek diner - the gyro fries caught our eye. It's just shaved gyro meet on top of a pile of golden fries with tons of feta cheese. We wanted tzatziki on it or something, but it's quite the bang for your buck. Can feed at least four people.

4. The Melt
The SF-based chain serves nothing but grilled cheese and soup, mostly in combos. We went for the classic cheddar on sourdough with tomato soup. The gal asked if we wanted tomato or bacon (or both) at no extra charge, which we'll never turn down, but it was barely noticeable. The cheese was appropriately melted, the bread was toasted and buttery, but the sandwich was kind of small. It was actually kind of light tasting, and the soup was decent. We've had better grilled cheese, but it's not bad for $10.

3. Indus by Saffron
This is a growing local chain (there are locations in Beverly Hills and Baldwin Park) with a fast-cas menu created by chef Bhupender Singh. It's pretty straightforward Indian food served as rice bowls or in wraps, things like tandoori or curry chicken, with traditional sides (somosas, raita). The chicken tikka masala is really good, nicely flavored, with tender chicken. The naan is made fresh per order, always a plus. Good portion for the price.
2. Oleego by Park's Barbecue
The venerable Koreatown restaurant, a Zagat list-topper, brings its bibibamp, bbq and more to the fast-causal arena. You order a starch, protein, add sauce, maybe some banchan, and it's all served in these two-tier bowls so the protein sits in its own little compartment above the rice. We tried kimchi fried rice with galbi, which was delicious meat, with a ton of hot sauce mixed in. We're fans of quick Korean (Pasadena's Cham comes to mind), especially when we don't have time for the real thing.

1. Juicy Lucy
Chef Paul Shoemaker made quite a burger at his Malibu restaurant Savory, so having an all-burger spot seems like a no-brainer. But you'll only find his cheese-stuffed burgers here since sSavory has since closed. The namesake burger is a great way to start, a well-seasoned beef patty injected with cheese so that when you bite or cut into it, it all oozes out. It's messy - ours was piled high with thick slices of pork belly, tomato, lettuce and grilled onions - but delicious. They already turned off the fryers for the day (apparently it was a super busy lunch). so we did not get the sriracha chili fries, the only disappointing part of our food tour.

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