Greasy spoons are some of the greatest restaurants in the country – giving people access to hearty food and the gamut of surly to humorous waitstaff. One place you may not expect to find such a place is Ojai, California – which is more known for a level of spiritual pretentiousness than greasy food, yet I found myself at Bonnie Lu’s – a quintessential greasy spoon right on the main drag. Of course, it was next door to a paleo-vegan-gluten-free vomit factory, so I knew I was still in Ojai.
Sometimes I feel like my wife searches the interwebs for places to get bone marrow. Or at least that’s what I assumed when she recommended we go to The Lark in Santa Barbara. Of course, bone marrow was a prominent part of the menu. Fortunately, I am also a fan of that stuff and the rest of the menu seemed intriguing as well.
As with most breakfast places in Southern California, there has to be some sort of Mexican influence. Dawn Patrol in Santa Barbara is no different. So as I stood in line waiting to place my order, I had plenty of time to think about what to get. Like many breakfasts before, I couldn’t take my eyes off of the Breakfast Burrito.
In a city filled with all kinds of fun events, one event (aside from a plethora of farmer’s markets) can be counted on every week. It’s Smorgasburg, which originally started over in Brooklyn, and it’s kind of like a miniaturized, hipster version of 626 Night Market. On my first venture, I made my way to Ugly Drum Pastrami.
In Santa Barbara there’s a spot called the Public Market. It’s kind of like an upscale food court, but most importantly there is a bar that attracts Michigan fans called The Garden. It’s not your typical sports bar, and is a sort of attempt to be a beer or wine garden. Whatever the case, I was eager for some beer and a burger.
The Eatery in Pasadena is undoubtedly one of the city’s hidden gems. It’s off the beaten path and in a building that seems much more likely to house a Mexican grocery store than a fancy restaurant (in fact it does share the building with such a store). But once inside the candles, dim lighting and intimate ambiance scream non-pretentious fanciness. Of course, none of this would matter to me if the food didn’t satisfy my unvegan desires.
Koreatown is so damn big that the only way you can possibly figure out which restaurants are good is by word of mouth. Thus, my buddy suggested Myung In Dumplings, which is essentially a Korean-ized Chinese dumpling spot right in the heart of Koreatown. I think he found it by watching some TV show, which generally means delicious food and I was hoping the TV would lead me right again.
On the way into Taste of the Himalayas in La Jolla, a patron on the way out told us that we had to get the tandoori chicken tikka. There was a strong scent of smoke in the place, which had clearly turned off its smoke detectors a long time ago, and we figured this departing patron must have known what she was talking about.
As you might expect, there are a number of harbors in Southern California. Some are better than others, but the best are full of a series of shops and restaurants. Dana Point has one of those harbors and in fact it harbors a restaurant called Harbor Grill. Most people would expect to get seafood at such a place and that probably would have been a wise decision, but I am not most people.