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.
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.
When I first saw that a new spot called Brü Grill was opening up just down the street from my office in Pasadena I got super excited. Such is the life of a nine to fiver. It seemed a little upscale for my taste, but I thought it deserved the old college try and I went to find out what they could offer a man like me at lunch.
There’s something about fusion done well that really gets me excited. Throw some Korean BBQ into tacos and I’m sold. Try to make Mexican food Kosher, not so much (don’t underestimate the need for cheese!). But I had never thought of Indian food as something to fuse until I found California Chutney in Old Town Pasadena. This place is all about fusing Indian food with American (and by American I also mean Mexican because, hey, North America).
Tacos tu Madre was blowing up all over the social media a few months ago with amazing-looking burritos that seemed to represent a new level of delicious fusion. Thus, I had to give the place a try and had my best opportunity when out in West LA. They were out of a couple things, but this didn’t impact what I had in mind. There are a number of options and they are all available as a burrito, a taco or a bowl.
Part of me feels like the whole fusion fad is behind us, but that just means that when a new fusion spot appears on the scene and gets good reviews it’s probably worth going to. Thus, the world has Humble Potato in Westchester (and Culver City), which merges Japanese and American food. Fortunately, they offer a whole lot more than potatoes.
Nonetheless, we ordered some regular fries and sweet potato fries just to see how humble they would be. Turned out they were pretty humble. Seriously, there was nothing extravagant about either potato as they both put up some solid flavor without trying to do too much.
As for my meal, though, I ordered the Katsu Sando, which is Japanese for chicken cutlet sandwich. It’s typically topped with HP and tonkatsu sauce, as well as some slaw, but I got the slaw on the side for the ladies at dinner with me. I also ordered a fried egg on the top along with some curry on the side for good measure.
The sandwich was more than just humble, which is good because it was not a potato. The cutlet was perfectly fried, there was just enough sauce on top and the egg was nice and runny. The curry was even pretty good, but not anything special, plus it was packed with veggies for no good reason. Nonetheless, I had never thought to eat chicken katsu as a sandwich and now I can’t comprehend not having that as an option. In that sense, Humble Potato did me good and I would love to get back and take down one of their Hambagas.
Not far from Forest Park is an old industrial part of Portland, which includes a spot called Industrial Cafe and Saloon. We stopped by for some brunch and found the menu to generally be in line with the kinds of brunches I’m used to. There were scrambles, hash and a breakfast burrito, but one thing stood out to me. It was called Chipped Beef on Toast and because I had never seen such a thing I had to have it.
It seems like every day brings the world a new food festival. Some may say there are too many, but I say that is crazy talk and then go on my way to eating at another. The LA Food Fest is one of the biggies and took place this past weekend in Exposition Park – right next to USC making it easy for Metro-goers. As media I got in an hour early and took the time to figure out what looked good, with the help of my trusty assistant.
After attempting to grab dinner at the most popular spot in Saugatuck, Phil’s, we realized we couldn’t wait for a table and made our way to Coral Gables instead. The place was nearly empty, which we took as a bad sign for the food, however, it had a beautiful view of the Kalamazoo River so we knew it couldn’t be all bad.
Sometimes life beats the crap out of you. Other times, it gives you exactly what you want. So when what I wanted was some good new food in Pasadena, Spudds suddenly appeared and fulfilled the latter. You see, Spudds specializes in poutine and I am a man who loves his fries with gravy and cheese curds. Plus, as far as I know, Spudds is the only original (unlike Smoke’s Poutinerie in Hollywood, which as you probably know from reading up here has a number of outposts in Canada) poutine spot in all of the LA area.