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.
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.
Ah, the fabled Rose Bowl. Host of UCLA football games, THE Rose Bowl, a monthly flea market and now the annual Masters of Taste. As a blogger extraordinaire, I was invited to cover the event, which took place on May 7th and I found it a much easier way to set foot on the Rose Bowl field than winning the Big Ten Championship (and some might say it was much harder than winning the Pac-12 Championship, huzzah!). Food and drink vendors appeared from all over LA to help bring in money for Union Station Homeless Services. It’s a good cause, and surely the now two-year old event is doing a much better job of drawing in money than the annual gala did before it. But enough, let’s talk food.
When I’m in the south, I pretty much need to eat BBQ. Thus, as my trip to Atlanta had nearly reached its conclusion and I hadn’t eaten BBQ yet, I did my best to find a spot close to the airport. Pit Boss came up on the interwebs as a good spot, so I made my way there. It looked and felt old school, which is exactly what I was hoping to find, and judging by the blue collar-looking people I had high hopes.
Right next to perhaps my favorite restaurant in Pasadena (The Luggage Room) and owned by the same people is a spot called La Grande Orange. The menu is very American, French and Mexican, being filled with sandwiches, tacos and, most importantly, a Prime Rib French dip (you know, the most French food of all).
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.
In a city filled with all kinds of fun events, one event (aside from a plethora of farmer’s markets) can be counted on every week. It’s Smorgasburg, which originally started over in Brooklyn, and it’s kind of like a miniaturized, hipster version of 626 Night Market. On my first venture, I made my way to Ugly Drum Pastrami.
Torta is Mexican for sandwich and there is a sweet semi-new spot in Pasadena that deals pretty much exclusively in that hand food from south of the border. It’s called Tortugas, and is either a reference to turtles, an island in Haiti or a national park (the dry one). Regardless, the place has a great variety of Mexican sandwiches and one in particular screamed out to my unvegan belly.
The French Dip is one of food items that is not actually French. You know, like French Fries. In fact, it is originally from LA, with a couple spots claiming to have the original. While French Dips are nothing new to Pasadena, it is definitely new to have a place totally dedicated to those moist sandwiches. That place goes by the name of Harlowe’s.
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.