The Unvegan

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The Food Event 2016

Decent scenery.
Decent scenery.

There is, perhaps, no prettier place in the world to host a food event than the Saddlerock Ranch. LA Magazine knows this and that’s why I found myself at Saddlerock in Malibu for The Food Event on October 16th, 2016. I arrived a bit late so a few stalls were already out of food, but I immediately set to work on eating and drinking.

Below are the highlights:

A Step Up at Oo Kook

A fair welcome.
A fair welcome.

All you can eat Korean BBQ is one of the greatest things (not just food things) ever created. It’s meaty, it’s flamey and it is interactive-y. Yet, not all KBBQ spots are created equally, with some charging a bit more than others. Oo Kook in Koreatown is one of those places that goes beyond the $20 mark, but I was hoping it would be worth it.

Solidly Passable Food at Central Park Cafe

If it weren't for those veggies...
If it weren’t for those veggies…

It’s pretty rare for me to turn to Yelp in the city in which I live, yet, when my step-mom was coming off of an intense battle with the stomach flu and was in need of simple meal, I had little choice. Thus, we found ourselves at Central Park Cafe in Old Town Pasadena and immediately learned that dinner not only did not include the omelet she was looking for, it was actually kind of a fancy place.

Rocking Brisket at Rocklands Barbeque

Plate of joy.
Plate of joy.

While essentially a part of The South, Washington, DC has always seemed much more like a northern city to me. Nonetheless, its southern roots can sometimes be found in a number of places. Rocklands Barbeque in Glover Park is one of those places, because obviously The South is chock-full of great BBQ.

Down South at Squealers Barbeque

Squealing for Indianapolis!
Squealing for Indianapolis!

A quick look at a map may make you think that Indianapolis is a part of The North. You know, the part of the country that won the Civil War. But just a weekend in the city made me think otherwise. When we went to restaurants, we were lambasted for wearing Michigan shirts, because everyone (even the locals) seemed to be Kentucky fans. Yet, there are benefits to The South. Like BBQ. And Indianapolis had a spot called Squealers Barbeque that I just had to try.

No Beans About It Chili Recipe

Core chili ingredients.
Core chili ingredients.

I am a man of strong principles and one of these is that beans have no place in chili. Sorry, that’s not how we did it where I’m from and I intend to keep it that way. To see how this would fly, I recently put together a chili recipe to participate in a chili cookoff and took home the grand prize. So here it is, the Award Winning Unvegan Original No Beans About It Chili Recipe.

Buffalo Billy’s Grill

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Sweet buffalo.

Buffalo is still considered an exotic meat in the USA. Never mind the fact that bison are native to these lands and the cattle we chow on come from Europe and Asia. And because it is “exotic” it often fetches a high price at restaurants and is given the gourmet treatment. This is not the case at Billy’s Grill, a tiny diner-style joint in Sherman Oaks.

A Bacon-Wrapped Smokehouse

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Cheesy blasters!

Smokehouse in Burbank is old school Hollywood. Opened in 1946, it’s the kind of place you could picture Marilyn Monroe, Paul Newman or Audrey Hepburn eating a steak. New Hollywood has embraced it as well, and apparently it is a regular stomping ground for George Clooney. I don’t fit into old or new Hollywood, but Smokehouse is a steakhouse and I certainly fit into that crowd.

Patriotismo at El Abajeno

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The old one-two punch.

You can’t throw a stone* in LA without hitting a Mexican place that someone happens to call their favorite. It could be a shack, a hole in the wall or even an old-fashioned sit down restaurant. The variety seems only limited by the amount of physical space in LA and those damn zoning laws. As I’ve eaten my way through the city, I’ve creativity galore and more Mexican foods than I knew existed growing up on Taco Bell in Michigan. Some have been delicious, while others have failed me. On my latest foray into someone’s favorite Mexican place, I ended up at El Abajeno in Culver City.