No. 20: Chicken Pie at La Palma Chicken Pie Shop

lapalmachickenpieresized.jpg
ProfessorSalt.com
Chicken pie dinner at La Palma Chicken Pie Shop
This 100 Favorites Dishes feature is all about comfort foods for this writer. Granted, I  include tacos de tripas and fish pho in that category, but it also embraces American classics like chicken pie. In Orange County, old-school American chicken pie is synonymous with La Palma Chicken Pie Shop.

It's a historic coffee shop and bakery that looks unchanged since the Eisenhower administration, and admittedly, the antique kitchen equipment and the vintage chicken-shaped neon sign on the roof holds a great deal of the nostalgic attraction for me. Most of the customers and the employees have probably been there since they voted for Ike.

It's American grandma cooking from a time when Mexican food was called "Spanish" food. Sohisticated big-city people ate in "Continental" restaurants that served pseudo-French food. While those Continental conceits rightfully died by the `80's, La Palma Chicken Pie Shop keeps chugging along with their solid, starchy, Midwestern farmhand fare because it's honest and timeless American food.

Take a pie crust. Stuff it with big chunks of perfectly poached chicken breast meat. There's not a single vegetable inside to contaminate your meat and potatoes. Just chicken meat sauced with yellow presumably chicken-flavored gravy. Drop a ladle of whipped instant mashed potato on your plate, and smother the works in even more of that Goldilox gravy. I call it that because you'll ask, "is it too hot?" No. "Is it too cold?" It's not too anything, but safe, American home cooking lofted down the middle of the strike zone.

The flavor isn't strong enough to scream "chicken!" because absolutely nothing is salted in the kitchen. Be prepared to salt it yourself at the table, and drop a couple pats of butter on everything to add some flavor.  The lack of sodium is the primary and somewhat justified criticism of the food, but there's also wisdom in that choice. They want their primary customers alive as long possible to return on a daily basis.


Click here for our 100 faves from 2010!

The list so far this time around:

No. 21: Mac and Cheese at Ecco
No. 22: Almond Croissant at Layer Cake Bakery
No. 23: ABC Burger at Peter's Gourmade Grill
No. 24: Tripas Tacos at Alebrijes Grill
No. 25: Happy Hour Pho at Pho Thanh Lich
No. 26: Longsilog at Manila Groove
No. 27: Paletas from Nevería Flor de México
No. 28: Any Bánh Mì at Bánh Mì Cho Cu
No. 29: Cheeseburger at TK Burgers
No. 30: Peanut Butter and Jealousy Burger at Slater's 50/50
No. 31: Beef Noodle Soup at Twin Dragon at the Block
No. 32: Bun Cha Hanoi at Pho Quang Trung
No. 33: Blintzes at Moscow Deli
No. 34: White Pizza at La Rocco's
No. 35: #4 at Pieology
No. 36: Veggie Special with Chicken at Chicken Dijon
No. 37: Foie Gras Nigiri at AnQi
No. 38: Short Rib Grilled Cheese at A Restaurant
No. 39: Garlic Artichoke Croissant at Blackmarket Bakery
No. 40: Nuco Mia at New Duc Huong
No. 41: Mantu at Chili Chutney
No. 42: Dipped Italian Beef Sandwich at Portillo's
No. 43: Spicy Wontons at A & J Restaurant
No. 44: Saffron Rice Pudding at Wholesome Choice
No. 45: House Special Pork with Sauteed Kimchi at Koba Tofu Grill
No. 46: Seared Artichokes with Lemon Aioli at Il Garage
No. 47: Green Curry With Pork at Papaya Thai Bistro
No. 48: Mongolian Hot Pot at The Red Pot
No. 49: Beef Rolls at 101 Noodle Express
No. 50: Tlacoyo at El Borrego Sagrado
No. 51: Hard-Shelled Taco at Avanti Cafe
No. 52: Special-Events Grilled Cheese Sandwich at Old Vine Cafe
No. 53: A Big Ol' Plate of Rice With Must-o-Musir at Wholesome Choice
No. 54: Pork Souvlaki at Kentro's Greek Cuisine
No. 55: Toum at Sasoon Chicken
No. 56: Bacon Hash Dog at Berkeley Dog
No. 57: Blueberry Donut at M & M Donuts
No. 58: Tempura Fried Poached Egg at Break of Dawn
No. 59: Mulitas from Tacos Y Mulitas Ruben Truck
No. 60: Pho Ga from Pho Quang Trung
No. 61: Panuchos from Conde Cakes
No. 62: Sandwich and Egg Cream from Benjie's
No. 63: Margherita from TJ's Woodfire Pizza
No. 64: Macaroon at Disneyland
No. 65: The Sputnik at Rick's Atomic Cafe
No. 66: Corn Dog from Disney California Adventure's Corn Dog Palace
No. 67: Bacon Fried Rice at The Loft Hawaiian
No. 68: Charcuterie and Cheese at SideDoor
No. 69: Burger (With Duck Confit) at Watermarc
No. 70: Korokke Pan at Cream Pan
No. 71: Chorizo and Quail Egg on Toast at Sol del Sur
No. 72: Fried Brussels Sprouts at 320 Main
No. 73: G-Style Fries at G Burger
No. 74: Fried Cuttlefish at Benley
No. 75: Roti at Bangok Taste
No. 76: Wet Burrito at 301 Cafe
No. 77: Pork Curry at Miyabi-Tei
No. 78: Bánh Tieu at Bánh Mì So 1
No. 79: Any Sandwich at the Crosby
No. 80: Fish Pho at Pho Vinh Ky II
No. 81: Quesadilla Chilanga at Alebrije's Grill
No. 83: Nem Nuong Cuon at Nem Nuong Khanh Hoa
No. 84: Wild Boar Balinese Sausage at Valhalla Table
No. 85: Comida Corrida at Taquería La Raza
No. 86: Breakfast Burrito at Troy's Drive-In
No. 87: Mandoo at L&M Liquor and Deli
No. 88: Chicago Dog at Chicago Harv's
No. 89: Sweet Potato Tater Tots at Pee Wee's Famous
No. 90: Kaya-Stuffed French Toast at Chomp Chomp
No. 91: Egg Breakfast at Rick's Atomic Kitchen
No. 92: Sticky Rice With Chicken at Quan Hy
No. 93: Beef Koobideh at Hen House Grill
No. 94: $5 Fish Bento at Bentoss
No. 95: Milanesa Sandwich at Piaggio's Gourmet on Wheels
No. 96: Samurai Burrito at Wafu of Japan
No. 97: Carnitas Gordita at Bodega R Ranch Market
No. 98: Spam Musubi at k'ya Street Fare
No. 99: Tortilla Andorra at Anepalco's
No. 100: Lemongrass Chicken, Extra Spicy at Vietnam's Pearl

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La Palma Chicken Pie Shop

928 N. Euclid St., Anaheim, CA

Category: Restaurant

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19 comments
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Sammy
Sammy

love it!  I will go back again.  

Dwayne
Dwayne

At first I was confused by how mediocre the dish sounded, then I noticed the name of the feature: "FAVORITE Dishes."  It's not best, but favorite.  Then I got it.  It's kind of like when Gustavo wrote about not understanding the appeal of Weinershnitzel's Chili dog.  It's not a great chili dog, but whatever it is, people love it.  

gustavoarellano
gustavoarellano

You got it! You'll get plenty "Best of" dishes when our Best of issue hits the streets next month...

Hoov
Hoov

Great discussion regarding the Pie Shop...thanks for all the responses and additional information.  All points of view are appreciated and definitely well taken.  The only commnent I was a little dissapointed with was this one:

"since we know much more about food in OC than you'll ever forget"

C'mon Gustavo...you're better than that. 

gustavoarellano
gustavoarellano

Hoov: Don't pay too much attention to that comment. I only direct it at trolls.

Hoov
Hoov

Point taken.

DanGarion
DanGarion

This is Orange County History. Love the food and I've never seen a reason to salt or add butter to anything on the menu. The only thing I add is a little bit of pepper. Plus you get pie!

Christian Z.
Christian Z.

This place is good to stop at from time to time and, yes, largely because of its historical significance. The people who run this restaurant are not trying to be retro; they truly don't realize that time has passed them by. And that's oddly comforting in a way. It sounds cliched but I really don't mind stopping in there on occasion just to be reminded of a simpler time.

20ftJesus
20ftJesus

I gotta tell yah, the comments thus far are not very convincing.   I might take a pass on this one.  (Shame really 'cause I like chicken pie.)

909Jeff
909Jeff

I think Shuji nailed it from the historical aspect, its one of those places like the silverado cafe, not great but a staple since way back when.  I just ate here 2 weeks ago and I really love this place.  No, you wont go there to get Coq Au Vin... But correct me if im wrong Shuji,  the lunch gets you a cup of soup AND a salad, a pot pie or 3 pieces of fried chicken a scoop of potatoes covered in gravy AND a slice of pie for $6.75. I agree that it is a bit bland but thats easily remedied. 

My advice to 20ft is if you have to drive a long way to get there forget about it... But if you find yorself on the 91 at euclid and are hungry, go for it, you wont regret it.

gustavoarellano
gustavoarellano

Your huge loss!

20ftJesus
20ftJesus

[roll eyes] Oh ya, and that convinces me even more to go. [/roll eyes]

digkv
digkv

If you want a taste of history then go here, it has literally not changed for decades and certain foods can be delicious there.  In a time where food is always supposed to be innovative with new flavors and foams, the chicken pie shop remains unchanged and still great. just try it!

20ftJesus
20ftJesus

Insults?  So far, all I've heard is it's a bit of history, they use no salt, and the food is in the strike zone according to Shuji -- not exactly a ringing endorsement. 

gustavoarellano
gustavoarellano

Should, since we know much more about food in OC than you'll ever forget. Oh, and you not ever having been there? WEAK SAUCE.

digkv
digkv

No the chicken pie isn't great at all really but I feel like it does deserve its place here on the top 100 because of its history.  It's a chicken pie that I feel like even a frozen marie callendar's can top but at the same time when you eat it, it's like tasting history, a recipe that probably has never changed since its opening.  I do find that they have a great bleu cheese dressing they fancily refer to as roquefert, because i'm guessing that's the cheese they use.  They also make my favorite cherry pie, with a flaky sugar topped crust and a bright day-glo red sour cherry filling 

JB
JB

I've been to the San Diego Chicken Pie Company a couple of times (the first in 1990) and these chicken pie restaurants reek with character and atmosphere in the same way Philippe's does near Union Station in LA. 

Sadly, for many older and down-on-their-luck folks, these chicken pie restaurants are their "Pizzeria Mozza" and for that reason alone, they should never go away.  And to me, the gravy [usually the worst part of one of these platters] actually does look good in this photo.  The fact that it's unsalted sounds great.

Even though I've wanted to go since relocating here 6 years ago, I've never been to the La Palma Chicken Pie Shop, and I appreciate the reminder. It deserves to be included in the Top 100 as much as some taco with goat cheese does. 

Hoov
Hoov

I just don't get it...I can honestly say that the Pie Shop is on my top 5 list of the worst things I have ever eaten.  What's the attraction to "absolutely nothing is salted in the kitchen. Be prepared to salt it yourself at the table, and drop a couple pats of butter on everything to add some flavor" or "yellow presumably chicken-flavored gravy"?  Apparetnly I'm alone on this one.

Shuji Sakai
Shuji Sakai

You're most definitely not alone, but I'm not shooting for safe or popular choices. It polarizes opinion strongly, but for reasons that JB and digkv articulate well, it's on my 100 favorite OC dishes.

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