One of the coolest things about older cities is that they aren’t perfectly planned. Roads aren’t necessarily straight lines and newer buildings stand next to buildings that have stood for more than 100 years. These features add character to a place. Yet, when it’s 90 degrees with 90 percent humidity and you’re looking for breakfast first thing in the morning, it can be a bit frustrating when you find yourself walking down a residential street to find breakfast at a place with a name that is only written in Chinese. Yet, that only made finding 丰盛号 in that alley over on the left all the better.
Look, I’ve already confessed to not being the biggest banh mi guy, but that doesn’t mean I was not eager to find the most badass banh mi that Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) had to offer. Therefore, I knew I had to make my way to Banh Mi Huynh Hoa. The internet informed me that the lines could often be massive, but that they would mostly be filled with locals. But I had a little trick in my back pocket.
Melt It! in Pasadena refers to itself as “A Grilled Cheese Co.” I’m not sure what else would have been expected from a place called Melt It! (except maybe like fondue or a ton of patty melt options, which are basically just grilled cheeses with burgers in them anyway), but I was eager to see what kind of twists this place would make on the old standby.
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.