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Maddalena Restaurant: Salmon Sandwiches with a Side of History

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Many folks might not know that located within an industrial section of downtown LA sits the San Antonio Winery -- a working winery since 1917. And even fewer people may know that the winery houses a pretty really good eatery, Maddalena Restaurant, within its walls.

The restaurant is part school cafeteria and part semi-fine-dining -- and it's these kinds of quirks that make ventures to Maddalena so appealing. First, diners must walk through the San Antonio tasting bar and wineshop to get to the restaurant. While sipping a flight of wines is awfully tempting, but some bosses might not appreciate you being, umm, sauced at work after lunch.

Secondly, there are no menus to peruse -- only two tables with the actual entrees, sandwiches and salads on display. After looking at the display tables, you head to the lunch line where you tell the sweet old lady behind the counter what you'd like. She yells the order to the back and then you push your tray along the rail to the register. At the register, the servers take over, taking the trays to your seats -- located in a cavernous, but inviting dining area -- and delivering the food later.

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While we've been to Maddalena numerous times, we can't get over how tasty and affordable (around $8) their grilled salmon sandwiches are. The fish is fresh, the lettuce isn't soggy, and the simplicity of the cooking is sometimes hard to find, except maybe at Red Lobster (Yeah so what if it's one of our guilty pleasures? We love those cheese biscuits). Accompanying the sandwich is an order of coleslaw and slender cut French fries that have a perfect crispiness. We love the winery's sauvignon blanc to go with the sandwich. Now while $5.50 a glass isn't bad, if you're with friends, you might want to go in on a bottle: a bargain at $15.

Just don't tell the boss. And bring breath mints.

San Antonio Winery
737 Lamar Street
(323) 223-1401
Open every day from 10 am to 7 pm.
Breakfast Saturday and Sunday

***A Little LA History Lesson: The San Antonio Winery
According to the San Antonio Winery website:

By the turn of the century, Los Angeles was California's premiere appellation for grape growing and winemaking. In 1920, Prohibition jolted the wine industry. The majority of Los Angeles wineries closed forever, but Santo requested permission from the Catholic Church to make sacramental wines. The church granted his request and San Antonio Winery was able to survive. Over 65 years after the repeal of Prohibition, we continue to produce altar wines for religious services. Today, the LA River is paved and the vineyards have been replaced with heavy industry. San Antonio Winery remains as the only producing winery in Los Angeles. Still in its original location on Lamar Street, the Winery is the last vestige of the rich winemaking tradition of this region. In recognition, the city of Los Angeles designated San Antonio Winery a Cultural Historical Landmark.

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Photo by Professor Bainbridge via flickr.