The Unvegan

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Arizona Culinary Hall of Fame 2017
One and Another Citizen Public House
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Spicy at Sauce

‘Santa Monica’

Hounded by Arugula at Huckleberry

Just packing in those greens, eh?
Just packing in those greens, eh?

Brunch, first come-first served and LA is a combination that doesn’t work. Although I am usually asleep until long after brunch time, I have learned that most people are not. Of these people, many like to go out to brunch, causing other brunchers to wait in crazy lines for food. Compounding that difficulty is the seat yourself system employed by places like Huckleberry Cafe in Santa Monica.

I could go on and on about this, because it really is a terrible system, but I’ll get to the food instead…

Boned and Choked at Tar & Roses

A board with options.
A board with options.

Tar & Roses doesn’t exactly sound like a restaurant name. Rather, this restaurant in Santa Monica sounds like a bad indie movie or an alternative to being tar and feathered. But a restaurant it is, and one that my wife and I made our way to when she decided she was craving some bone marrow (insert innuendo here). Apparently the place has become quite popular because our only option was to take a seat at the bar, which was actually fine because it brought us closer to the blackboard.

The Hangover at Snug Harbor

Oh my hangover.
Oh my hangover.

Allow me to start out by dispelling any possible rumor that I was hungover for my brunch at Snug Harbor. Not only do I have a bizarre immunity to such things, but I wouldn’t want such a thing to bias a review. I should also dispel any rumor that Snug Harbor is anywhere near water or a harbor, as it is not, even though it’s in Santa Monica. I will admit that it is snug and I will further admit that what I ordered was called The Hangover.

Just in Thyme Cafe

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What is that crap back there?

To get pick up some pies for a bit of a celebration, we popped into Thyme Cafe in Santa Monica. The place was more packed than any pie place had any right to be, and we added to their packed-ness by sticking around to grab their sandwiches for lunch. The menu boasted about ten different options and some of them were much more unique than I had expected.

Carnitas de Lares

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Nothing out of the ordinary here.

In an unassuming little part of Santa Monica lies Lares, a Mexican Restaurant with an old-timey Mexican look and feel on both the outside and inside. It has the kind of wide menu I’ve come to expect from unassuming Mexican restaurants around LA, but I had heard that of all their options, their carnitas were the bee’s knees. Carnitas are like Mexican pulled pork and usually not my first choice in Mexican food, but I figured I would be a fool to not try them at Lares.

Kid Stuff at Hostaria del Piccolo (CLOSED)

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You take a hot dog, put it on a pizza…

Being a kid was pretty cool. No responsibilities. No money. No rent/mortgage/car payment. And you got kids menus. You know that awesome set of options that were simply meant as a cheaper alternative to the regular menu, but turned out to have the best stuff on it anyway. Things like grilled cheese, chicken fingers and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches were mainstays always a hit. Yet growing up can be tough, and not just because of those silly responsibilities, but also because you can’t quite get away with order PB and J at age 27. Fortunately, all is not lost. Burgers have taken a gourmet turn. Hot dogs are still popular for people of all ages. And then there is a little restaurant in Santa Monica called Hostaria del Piccolo.

Tacos Por Favor, Please

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Por supuesto.

Santa Monica doesn’t exactly have a reputation for good food. And what reputation it does have usually tends to lean on the upscale. But reputation alone does not simply make a city, and Santa Monica actually has a surprising number of little gems hidden in its nooks and crannies. One of these, I had heard, was Tacos Por Favor.

Yet, aside from actually hearing of Tacos Por Favor, I hadn’t really been told what was good on their menu, so when I arrived and found a vast menu full of nearly every Mexican dish I had ever heard of, I was in trouble.

Expiring at Patrick’s Roadhouse

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Quick, before the lettuce attacks!

Through an act of charity (seriously), my lady friend and I found ourselves in possession of a gift certificate to Patrick’s Roadhouse in Santa Monica. The only catch was that this thing expired at the end of December. Being the go-getters we are, we finally made our way there on December 21st to get some brunch. When we arrived, we quickly learned that the whole menu wasn’t being served due to it being the manager’s last day. I’m not sure why that prompted a special menu, but it still looked great and we didn’t ask any questions.

Waffling at Bru’s Wiffle

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Chicken and wiffles?

While “the bun” has undergone many iterations (pretzel, brioche, etc…) and sandwich bread is known for its varieties, there is one bread-like breakfast conduit that still hasn’t really seen much glory as far as being put to alternate uses. It is the waffle, but Bru’s Wiffle in Santa Monica is out to change that. You see, Bru’s thinks that waffles need more of the limelight and they are willing to give it. At Bru’s, you can get a pizza waffle, taco waffles and even “sliders” with waffle buns. Of course, Bru’s offers waffles in their sweet breakfast form, but the savory offerings were really what drew me to Bru’s.

Southern Discomfort at South (CLOSED)

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This passes for southern, apparently.

A couple years ago, the Michigan Alumni Association started gathering at South in Santa Monica. This struck me as strange, because Michigan is about as north as a state can get. Yet, any place willing to host the legions of Michigan football fans was a winner in my mind. Plus, it didn’t hurt to have Abita on tap. But in these years, I had not attempted their food until the past weekend. I heard some bad things, but sometimes you just have to eat.