When Great Balls on Tires first debuted last year, I was concerned that such a name for a meatball truck was a bit of a gimmick. Yet, now that GBOT has lasted through the middle of this year, I felt it was time I tried them out. When I walked up to the truck to see what they had to offer, I found there were only a few sets of balls to choose from. Yet, more than one of these balls looked attractive to me. Unfortunately, all balls came in sets of two, so I had to limit myself to only one ball type.
A few months ago, a sign appeared in North Hollywood for a soon-to-open restaurant called Otis Jackson’s Soul Dog. The sign claimed “premium hot dogs & soul fixins” and while I wondered who the hell Otis Jackson was, I figured that this place wasn’t just serving the hot dog meat, but also the souls of the animals in the hot dogs. But, with Vicious Dogs just a 3 minute walk down the street, this was going to have to be a damn good hot dog to compete.
Once upon a time, a friend of mine hooked up with a Puerto Rican lady. Afterwards, he proclaimed that he was “in foreign territory…literally.” Unfortunately, as an American he failed to realize that he was not in foreign territory at all. At least not since 1898 when the US won the Spanish-American War. Similarly, Puerto Rican food is so different from other regional American food that it almost feels like foreign territory, but after eating Mofongos in North Hollywood I realized this is some regional food I’d like to see more often.
Occupying the courtyard that formerly contained NoHo Royal Garden is a place called Rain Forest Cafe. While I’m not sure how they were able to get away with using that name, I do know that the rain forest referred to is that of Brazil, so it should definitely not be confused with the more mainstream Rainforest Cafe. Claiming to be a Brazilian Churrascaria, I was certainly interested in what would be offered.
On the corner of Magnolia and Laurel Canyon in North Hollywood, there is a Taco Bell. Across from that Taco Bell sits Yum Yum Donuts. And just next to that Yum Yum Donuts is a burger joint called Big Time. Although it has the looks of a hole in the wall, Big Time occupies its own piece of real estate and has looked inviting to me ever since I began working in North Hollywood. Some of the best food in the world comes from places like this, so I was excited to find out if Big Time was one such place.
In the realm of places in North Hollywood that are in walking distance, there is one place I have avoided for a while. It’s called Eclectic Cafe and the reason is not because I’ve heard bad things, but I’ve heard expensive things and “expensive lunch” is not often a term that finds itself in my vocabulary. Nonetheless, I recently had reason to eat lunch there and was curious what I would find.
The Federal Bar in North Hollywood just opened last month and it wasn’t a moment too soon. North Hollywood has desperately needed some bar variety, because you can only go to Big Wangs and Pitfire Pizza so often. Plus, The Federal Bar is not simply a bar, it is a gastropub featuring a tasty-looking menu just waiting for an unvegan visit. The visit came on St. Patrick’s Day, when my coworkers and I were in dire need of a beer and didn’t want to wait in line anywhere. We were amazed to find The Federal Bar had a surplus of seats available and sat down to see what it was all about.
One day outside of my work, a new truck appeared. It was called Bera’s Custom Cheese Steaks and since the best cheese steak I’ve ever eaten came from a food truck, I thought Bera’s was definitely worth a try. They have a surprisingly robust menu for a cheese steak truck, ranging from Thai Chicken Steak to Stromboli Steak. But as good as some of these looked, I was thinking more about the “Custom” in their truck name.
On our way to get some ramen for lunch in North Hollywood, we passed by a place called Twin Castle. The sign looked like it had been there since 1940 and the logo was similar enough to White Castle’s that we thought they might serve up some real sliders like back east. Since the sign said “Hamburgers” we knew at the very least the place had burgers. Our minds quickly jumped from ramen to burgers and we turned around and parked.
One night a friend decided to meet me for dinner in North Hollywood. Typically I get myself out of that place as fast as I can after work, but on this night I was actually a bit excited to try out a place called Little Toni’s. Little Toni’s is a pizza place that isn’t open for lunch, so I figured this would be one of my rare opportunities to try them out. We walked inside and found the place wasn’t just some pizza joint, but an all-out Italian place that was probably pretty good for families. Nonetheless, we were ready to try their pizza.