The Unvegan

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10 Years of Unvegan
A Quick Bite at Burrito Express
Serendipity at Northern Waters Smokehaus
Twerks and Burritos at Casa Amigos

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Eating Trendy at Natalee Thai

There is a flame in there, you just can't see it.
There is a flame in there, you just can’t see it.

For something new, my friends and I decided to check out Natalee Thai in Palms. The building isn’t exactly decorated in the Thai style and is rather some sort of a postmodern mash-up. Nonetheless, Thai food awaited within.

I first set eyes on the drink menu. In it, there was a crazy-looking flaming drink that seemed to be like a Hawaiian shark bowl. I ordered it with a friend and we proceeded to be amazed as the flame burned and we imbibed the alcohol.

The Himalayan Experience at Tara’s

It's naan-tastic
It’s naan-tastic

Tara’s in Palms is another little restaurant I’ve driven or walked by many times and wondered what great things wait inside. Finally, I was craving some Indian food, so I took a step inside. Now, to be clear, Tara’s isn’t a straight-up Indian restaurant. Rather, it is Himalayan, aka Indian with a twist of Nepalese and Tibetan. I think this gives the place a bit more character than just plain Indian cuisine.

To start the meal right, I asked the waitress what beer I should order. She recommended a bottle of Old Monk beer, so I took her advice. This was a great Indian lager beer that was especially good, because it came in one of those tall bottles that you can only seem to find at ethnic restaurants.

Rethinking Fast Food at Rally’s (CLOSED)

Things between buns should always have double-meat.
Things between buns should always have double-meat.

Edit: This location may be gone, but Rally’s is definitely still a thing.

Some days, typical fast food restaurants just aren’t enough. Enter: Rally’s. It’s like fast food, but with a few little twists. In fact, it isn’t always called Rally’s. Supposedly it is called Checker’s in some strange parts of the country.

What really drew me to Rally’s in Palms was the sign that said “2 for $4 Double Bacon Cheddar Burgers and Double Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches.” After seeing these options, I didn’t even need to look at the menu except to decide which fries I wanted. One thing that sets Rally’s apart from other fast food places is that they have two drive-thru windows, ensuring speedy ordering. In-N-Out could certainly learn a lot from this. They also have a window that you can just walk up to for ordering, if you want to sit in the nice outdoor dining area.

Howard’s Famous Bacon & Avocado Burgers

Eat it.  It's famous.
Eat it. It’s famous.

Nearly daily I have driven past Howard’s Famous Bacon & Avocado Burgers in Palms and wondered what sort of greatness lay within. Finally, I decided to check the place out.

Walking in, I kind of expected the place to reflect the decor of the awesome sign outside. This was not to be the case. Instead, it had a basic booth layout with a counter to order from. I didn’t mind so much, since all I really wanted was bacon and avocado on a burger. I checked out their menu on the wall, and saw all the options they had. In a way, I was hoping they had a limited menu consisting of bacon, avocado and burgers, but instead I found a menu with many burger options and an almost passively bolded lettering of their namesake.

A Crunchy Treat from Let’s Be Frank

Nice, simple, and not cheap.
Nice, simple, and not cheap.

Tucked into a little corner in Culver City, right around the Helms Bakery, is a hot dog cart called Let’s Be Frank. I’d heard some great things about the place, so one day as I was wandering around Culver City, I decided to stop by and have a try.

According to their signs, they don’t mess around with their hot dogs. By that I mean they don’t do the things that most hot dogs do. They use all all-beef hot dogs from grass-fed cows, with no steroids, hormones, nitrates and nitrites (although they probably should start putting the latter two in since they are healthy by my standards). At five bucks a piece, I was ready to be shown an entirely new hot dog world.

Onions were an optional topping for the hot dog, and I politely declined. There was also a sauce available called Devil Sauce. It looked and smelled really good, so I decided to try some out.

Getting it All Wrong at Thai Boom

Is this Pla Prik Pao?
Is this Pla Prik Pao?

Living in close proximity, I’ve ordered from Thai Boom tons of times. I’ve always found it to be a safe bet for Thai food. The best thing about their menu is that they serve their lunch specials all day. This covers a wide variety of food, but aldo includes rice and a fried wonton.

Feeling adventurous, I ordered the Pla Prik Pao, which is sauteed roasted curry with basil. For my meat I chose tofu. Just kidding, I got chicken. I picked up my food from the carry-out and brought it home for eating. When I opened it up, I was a little taken aback. If this was chicken with curry, it was the strangest chicken and curry I had ever seen. On top of that, there were peppers, which most certainly were not included with my dish. It almost distracted me from the fact that there was a tiny little salad in the corner. Almost.

Experiencing Cuba at Versailles

Two half-chickens in one week...
Two half-chickens in one week…

Having annihilated half of a chicken a few days earlier at Medieval Times, my insatiable desire for meat drew me towards another half-chicken. This time it was at Versailles, a Cuban restaurant in Palms. (I really have no idea how a Cuban place is named after a French Palace…)

The menu at Versailles is an unvegan dream. Sure, there is a “Vegetarian Plates” section, but it seems to be placed as an afterthought, just to appease the poor vegetarian crowd. Otherwise, Versailles is essentially all meat, all the time. Because of this, it took me a really long time to decide what I wanted. In the end, I went with what seemed the safest and had the most catchy name, Versailles Famous Garlic Chicken. This is an entire half-chicken, with fried plantains and my choice of rice and beans or moro (a combination of rice and beans that makes me wonder why the distinction exists).

A Late-Night Snack at Del Taco

Looks clean to me.
Looks clean to me.

While never my first choice in late-night food, Del Taco is sometimes just too damn convenient to go anywhere else.

Despite the obvious Mexican origins of it’s name, Del Taco eschews the Mexican fast food norm by tossing in a few American favorites, like fries and burgers.

These additions definitely help cater to the late-night crowd like me, but they also take away a bit of Del Taco’s identity. When I go to a Taco Bell, I know I’m getting Mexican food, but when I go to Del Taco, I can’t be sure of what sort of food I’ll be ordering until I get there.

I found that a good combo involves a selection from their value menu.

One Coin, Two Sides, Part I: Father’s Office

Oh what have they done?!
Oh what have they done?!

For a huge selection of beer, Father’s Office is the place to go. They also happen to have a reputation for one of the best burgers around town. With this in mind, I set off for the Father’s Office in Culver City to get myself a taste of their legendary burger.

On the menu, I saw they had a few pretty good unvegan options, but they had a reputation for burgers and that’s what I had to get. It came with carmelized onions, some sort of bacon substance, arugula, gruyere and maytag blue cheese. This already wasn’t looking good. Then I saw on the menu that the burger couldn’t be special ordered. You either get it the way they make it, or you don’t get it at all. We aren’t exactly talking a steak dinner here, so I felt it was pretty pretentious for a burger. Nevertheless, I felt the need to try the burger.

In-N-Out Burger

It’s no 4×4, but it’ll do.

California has more than its fair share of things to claim for itself. The state is proud of these things. Some (like skateboarding) for no apparent reason, but others are good reason to give California bragging rights. One of these things is In-N-Out Burger, the fast food that never fails to please.

In-N-Out breaks the rules of the traditional fast food restaurants. Even people who say they don’t eat fast food go to In-N-Out. Their menu is so basic that they need a secret menu to make people happy. The drive-thru lines protrude so far beyond the land that has been zoned to them that they have people walk outside to take orders. So it’s a pretty unique place, but what about the food?