Perched on a corner in what is more neighborhood than retail area in Ventura is a restaurant called Cafe Nouveau. The restaurant boasts a pretty great outdoor eating area, but the wait there was nuts so we went inside to what felt like a home that had been converted into a cafe. I set to work at figuring out what to order, but after a quick look at the menu I had made up my mind.
It seems like just yesterday that I packed up my bags in Michigan to move to Los Angeles, but alas it was nearly 10 years ago. A lot has changed in those 10 years, and aside from housing prices and traffic much of it has been for the better. Take, for example, breweries. Michigan was littered with them and I found LA barely had one (San Diego was strong, though). Now, they are much easier to find and have even come around to serving brewery food instead of fancy stuff (I’m looking at you, Golden Road, but glad that you have also fixed yourself up!) Highland Park Brewery is one of the new entrants and I set out to test both its food and booze.
Sometimes all you want to do is watch sports and eat wings. And sometimes there’s not enough time to get home to watch said sports and you have to find the spot closest to your office. Thus, I found myself at House of Wings in La Verne. House of Wings not only had a great variety of wing flavors, they also sported a pretty great happy hour for beer and food.
A lot of good things are happening in Downtown LA these days. One of these things is B.S. Taqueria, which is kind of like a spin-off from Broken Spanish, a restaurant that I have never been to and probably never will. Not surprisingly, it specializes in tacos. After a bit of a wait, we made our way to the back section that felt like eating outdoors at a taqueria in the tropics.
Not long after paying a visit to the hot pots at Element, I went to essentially the opposite sort of hot pot at Lu Gi. Now when I say opposite, I don’t mean in terms of the food itself, but the general setting. Here, the stoves weren’t built into the tables, but were portable and brought out to each table after ordering. It felt like eating hot pot in someone’s home, except for the whole paying of money and whatnot.
It’s really hard to get enough of hot pot, especially when you live in a place with a ton of hot pot options. Element is a shiny and semi-new spot in Alhambra that offers all-you-can-eat and the divided hot pot that almost always seems necessary when I am eating with people who can’t handle heat.
Did you know that May is Burger Month? Well, in all my burgerness it slipped me by, but fortunately Burger City Grill was there to remind me and to invite me out to try a burger, fries and a drink. I decided to take them up on the offer and headed to the location in Downey to see what Burger City Grill was all about.
What I found was a fast casual sort of burger spot along the lines of a Smashburger, Hook Burger and Burger Lounge (sorry, but Shake Shack is in a class of its own). There were some interesting takes on burgers, fries and the required milkshakes and beers. After much thought, I chose the Miami Spice Burger and Sloppy Fries.
Hotels aren’t exactly known for their food. Yet, there has been a trend to try to get better restaurants into hotels and I give those hotels major props for trying. In Pasadena the dusitD2 Constance Hotel has a spot called Constance Perry’s. It’s kind of Asian, kind of American, but definitely not fusion because those dishes kind of stand out on their own.
Could there be a more inviting name for a sausage spot than Bike Jim’s Gourmet Dogs? You’d be hard-pressed to find one, but that only partly explains the rise of this brick and mortar that began as a simple (and yet gourmet) hot dog cart. I went to the location in downtown Denver and struggled to find the right sausage for me.
While in Denver, I found myself at a trendy spot downtown called Hearth and Dram. It’s unquestionably the kind of name that was pulled out of the random trendy restaurant name handbook, but that didn’t change the fact that the menu looked like an unvegan dream. Sure, there were vegetables, but I liked to think they were an afterthought compared to the real food.