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Counter: Tehran-style comfort food and a SFV food crawl

It's been another cold and rainy week, which for many of us has been very welcome news. Comfort food seems to taste better, whether at home or cooked by chefs; restaurants are even more of a refuge than during blue-sky days; and we have an excellent excuse to drink hearty beers, especially if they're called things like Storm King Stout.

This week Jonathan Gold reviews Nersses Vanak, an Iranian restaurant in Glendale, where the comfort food in question is a stew called dizi. Bowls of hot soup and flatbreads that are made in the front of the restaurant sounds pretty great, El Niño or no. Meanwhile, Jenn Harris does a food crawl along Ventura Boulevard in the San Fernando Valley, checking out six restaurants in less than three miles. And we check in on a slew of restaurant openings, including Danny Trejo's new taqueria, another Shake Shack, Ricardo Zarate's new project and the second McConnell's ice cream shop. Some closings too: Catch & Release shut its doors, after an eight-month run.

Dizi, left, a dish made with lamb meat, potato, tomato, turmeric and garbanzo and white beans baked in the oven for three hours, at Nersses Vanak Persian restaurant in Glendale.
Dizi, left, a dish made with lamb meat, potato, tomato, turmeric and garbanzo and white beans baked in the oven for three hours, at Nersses Vanak Persian restaurant in Glendale. (Cheryl A. Guerrero / Los Angeles Times)

More reason to head to Glendale

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This week, Jonathan considers Nersses Vanak, an Iranian restaurant in Glendale that specializes in dizi, a lamb and chickpea stew that's a popular street food dish in Tehran. And although you're there for the dizi, another reason to check this place out is at the front of the dining room, where a baker is making flatbreads. It may look rather like an old banquet hall, but the kebabs and mezze are pretty great.

The Fiscal Agent bar director, Kristina Howald, puts the final touches on a Federal Preserves (Fire) drink, with lemon juice, allspice, cured nectarines, pineapple syrup, Amontillado sherry, gin and cinnamon.
The Fiscal Agent bar director, Kristina Howald, puts the final touches on a Federal Preserves (Fire) drink, with lemon juice, allspice, cured nectarines, pineapple syrup, Amontillado sherry, gin and cinnamon. (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

A Ventura Boulevard food crawl

Deputy Food editor Jenn Harris spends a lot of time eating and drinking her way down Ventura Boulevard in Studio City, or at least 2.8 miles of it. The SFV doesn't get as much love for its food as, say, the SGV, but things have been looking up lately. Strung between car repair shops and tattoo parlors, there's an outstanding BBQ place, a vegan tasting menu restaurant, lobster tacos and market-driven cocktails. Maybe just park once and go in stages.

Actor Danny Trejo holds a tray of tacos at his new taco restaurant, Trejo's Tacos.
Actor Danny Trejo holds a tray of tacos at his new taco restaurant, Trejo's Tacos. (Jenn Harris / Los Angeles Times)

Danny Trejo loves tacos

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The actor Danny Trejo (the "Machete" movies, "From Dusk Till Dawn") has been busy of late, and not just making movies. He's been been working on lines of coffee and ice cream and is opening a taqueria, Trejo's Tacos, on La Brea. The menu is designed by a local chef, and there are, gasp, vegan tacos on the menu. If you look as tough as Trejo does, you can put as much tofu in your restaurant as you want.

Chef Ricardo Zarate will open a Peruvian restaurant in the former Comme Ça space thissummer.
Chef Ricardo Zarate will open a Peruvian restaurant in the former Comme Ça space thissummer. (Jenna Schoenefeld / Los Angeles Times)

The return of Ricardo Zarate

Many L.A. diners first discovered Peruvian food thanks to Ricardo Zarate, the Lima-born chef who started Mo-Chica in a food stall in a market near USC. Since the closing of that restaurant, and two others he later opened, the chef has been writing a cookbook and doing a pop-up — and location scouting. Food editor Amy Scattergood tells us that his new restaurant will open later this summer in the old Comme Ça location, which has been empty since chef David Myers left.

Shake Shack's downtown L.A. location will replace the 801 Hill nightclub at the corner of Hill and 8th streets. Above, a Shake Shack in Las Vegas.
Shake Shack's downtown L.A. location will replace the 801 Hill nightclub at the corner of Hill and 8th streets. Above, a Shake Shack in Las Vegas. (John Locher / Associated Press)

Shake Shack comes to L.A.

Yes, this is big news for burger fans. Even more so because the insanely popular burger chain is coming not only to West Hollywood and Glendale, but also to downtown L.A. More lines for you! Shake Shack will open in 2017 on 8th and Hill in an old nightclub space. Whether this is gentrification or evolution is up for debate, presumably over one of those crazy shakes.

Dark and stormy nights were made for dark and sudsy beer.
Dark and stormy nights were made for dark and sudsy beer. (Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

What to drink in a rainstorm

Beer writer John Verive considers what styles of beer to drink now that El Niño is finally here. Barrel-aged beers, Imperial stout, beers that go by the name of Wee Heavy — which is a good enough reason to drink them. We have all summer to drink IPAs and lagers. Now that it's finally cold and rainy out, why not celebrate by pouring something called Storm King Stout?

Jonathan Gold's 101 

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Jonathan Gold’s 101 Best Restaurants, the authoritative annual guide to local dining, is online for subscribers.

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