Throughout the LA area are places called Tom’s, Tommy’s and any other variety of that name. They all specialize in chili-covered food and while Tommy’s is supposedly the original, Tom’s has done pretty well for itself. Tom’s just opened up a Pasadena outpost that is pretty much a diner, but also claims to have Greek roots. Thus, I was hoping this could be like the Coney Islands of Detroit in my youth.
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.
Oh the park at Echo Park. While it is unquestionably a Mecca for local Hispanic family picnics, it is also unquestionably working hard to attract the local hipsters. Hence, Square One at the Boathouse exists literally in the boathouse where people can rent paddle boats and serves up some good-looking if not exciting-looking food.
Independent Brewing Company opened up in Squirrel Hill earlier this year to little fanfare. Yet, it has been on my list of places to visit for no reason other than that I love independent beer. Then, when I heard they had food to go with that beer I was sold. Then when I saw how little food was actually on the menu I was unsold. But then when I saw the menu would get expanded on Tuesdays I was sold again. It was a real roller coaster ride.
In the rundown city of Tucson, Arizona there is an oasis known as the University of Arizona. Within this oasis is a spot called Frog & Firkin, which my wife remembers fondly from her days as a wildcat. So, with only one meal to eat we made our way to that oddly-named “English” Pub to see if they had anything to offer beyond nostalgia.
Mexican food and subs seems to be a combination prevalent in Buffalo. In trying to account for this, I’ve come to the conclusion that both are delicious after a few drinks. Still, a lot of things are delicious after tossing a few back, so I’m not quite sure how this combination formed. Nonetheless, the curiosity brought me to Elmwood Taco & Subs in Elmwood Village, where they have another surprise to throw in with the tacos and sandies.
I first learned of Legume in Oakland shortly after arriving in Pittsburgh. At the time I was told that the name “Legume” didn’t exactly stand for any sort of vegetarian-ness and meats galore abounded there. In fact, Legume does its best to adhere to a whole-animal policy in which they will do their best to use every morsel of edible goodness in an animal in their dishes. Because of this, their menu often changes and they are prone to running out of dishes.
Where Philly has cheesesteaks, Pittsburgh has Primanti Brothers, which is both a restaurant and a term for the sandwich style that represents the city. Rather than just throwing cheese and steak into a hoagie bun and calling it a day like on the other side of the state (I mean seriously, cheesesteak is delicious but hardly revolutionary), Primanti Brothers sandwiches are rich with blue collar history and innovation.
When you think of brunch, do fries, mac and cheese and waffles come to mind? Okay, maybe the the waffles, but when the brunch destination is Point Brugge in Point Breeze, a Belgian gem of a restaurant, it would be a shame to limit yourself to typical brunch options. That’s why we didn’t, and it turned out to be a mighty good choice.
Shortly after moving to Pittsburgh, my friend and site designer alerted me to the existence of a hot dog place called The Original Hot Dog Shop in Oakland that had been around since 1960, which may not be old for Pittsburgh, but is damn old having come from LA. I like hot dogs and originals, but unbeknownst to me until showing up for lunch was that The Original Hot Dog Shop (also known as the Dirty O) is more of a late-night haunt than a lunch stop. Nonetheless, I wanted a good hot dog and was happy to eat it in a dingy spot with great late-night character in the middle of the day.