The Unvegan

Recent Posts

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

‘El Segundo’

Almost Like New York at Vinny’s Pizza

Meat makes pizza happy.
Meat makes pizza happy.

With a big group, I headed to Vinny’s Pizza in El Segundo. Since we couldn’t fit inside the little place, we were taken outside to an area that looked like it was made for banquets. But this was no banquet, as we quickly learned when we were seated at white plastic tables with white plastic chairs. Since we were such a big group, we ordered a variety of pizzas, including Hawaiian, pepperoni and the dreaded vegetarian for our vegetarian friends.

A Lunch Deal at Z Pizza

Love the paper.
Love the paper.

A coworker of mine was raving about the amazing-ness of Z Pizza in El Segundo, so I went to check it out with another coworker of mine.

The first thing I wondered was how they came up with the name “Z Pizza.” When I heard it the first time, I imagined a group of German immigrants sitting around a dingy New York pizza joint. One of the immigrants is clearly in charge, albeit with a strong accent, and asks the rest of the table, “Vhat vould you like on zi pizza?” Thus, a restaurant name is born.

The Inaccurately Named Stuft Pizza

Not exactly mind-blowing.
Not exactly mind-blowing.

One day I was reading about Stuft Pizza and saw somewhere that they had dollar slices on Mondays. Figuring that was a pretty awesome deal, I called them up to see if the dollar slices still existed. When I got a quick confirmation on the phone, I headed over for a cheap lunch.

At first, I was disappointed because the pizza rotating in the little pizza by the slice heater wasn’t even stuffed. Instead it looked like any other pizza and begged the question of how the place got its name.

Nonetheless, I was already there and determined to eat pizza, so I ordered three slices of pepperoni and waited for the man behind the counter to ask me for three bucks. This sound never came, as the man asked me for a total that far exceeded three bucks.

Getting in on the Free Food Battle with Domino’s

Why can't everything be in a bread bowl?
Why can’t everything be in a bread bowl?

It may not be grilled chicken, but Domino’s┬áhad their own little free food giveaway yesterday. This was done in order to promote their new Bread Bowl Pastas. It was also probably to make people feel better about going to Domino’s again after a couple disgruntled workers attempted to sabotage the company.

I was already intrigued by the Bread Bowl Pastas because they look so good on TV, but I found out they were free, they become more of a necessity than an intrigue. I went to Domino’s in El Segundo, expecting to wait in a long line like I had at El Pollo Loco, only to find one other patron at the place. Of the five pasta choices, only the Chicken Alfredo and Italian Sausage Marinara weren’t tainted by vegetables. After having free chicken for my two prior lunches, I opted for the sausage instead.

Free Grilled Chicken War at El Pollo Loco

It doesn't look like much, but free goes a long way.
It doesn’t look like much, but free goes a long way.

Not to be outdone by the free grilled chicken giveaway at KFC, El Pollo Loco decided they were going to give away some free chicken of their own on April 28th. Rather than simply giving away a free drumstick, El Pollo Loco jumped to the next level by giving away a drummie, a thigh, two tortillas and, of course, salsa from the salsa bar was included. There was a catch, however, that you had to say “I wanna taste the fire” when you ordered. Being my shameless self, I had no trouble proclaiming my desire for fire when I reached the front of the long line.

Within a few minutes, I had received my food. They were working like an assembly line in the back of that restaurant, giving them the edge on KFC for timeliness.

Following Padma Lakshmi to Carl’s Jr.

Not nearly as sexy as it could be...
Not nearly as sexy as it could be…

When I first learned of Padma Lakshmi doing a commercial for Hardee’s, I knew I would have to eat whatever she did. Luckily, her burger of choice was the Western Bacon Thickburger.

Now here is where things get a little confusing. In California, there is no Hardee’s. Instead, there is Carl’s Jr., which is almost exactly the same as Hardee’s. A quick look at their websites reveals only a change in the name. The logo and layouts remain the exact same. There is, however, another twist. At Carl’s Jr., there is no such thing as a Thickburger, rather, it is called the Six-Dollar Burger.

The Original Rinaldi’s Italian Deli

A sandwich of dreams
A sandwich of dreams

Conveniently located on Main Street in sunny downtown El Segundo is The Original Rinaldi’s Italian Deli. From the outside, you see that Rinaldi’s is a no-frills, old school deli.

Inside it’s no different, with plastic chairs and seemingly foldable tables. The menu on the wall has enough unvegan delicacies to delight even the most casual carnivore. Steak, turkey, bacon, sausage and more adorn the various sandwich descriptions, making it hard to decide the appropriate meat for the moment. As soon as I saw the Fatboy, though, I knew it had to be mine. The ingredients were sausage, beef meatballs, pepperoni, marinara sauce and (provolone) cheese. I ordered the 10″ rather than the mildly girlish 6″.

El Pollo Loco

The el bland meal-o.
El bland-o meal-o.

The heart of fast food is its ability to satisfy (at least in the short term) while remaining at impossibly cheap prices. These two essential elements are really quite reliant upon each other, because it is hard to achieve gastro-satisfaction if you think you are paying too much.

On my trip to El Pollo Loco in El Segundo, I had high expectations. Being a fan of Taco Bell, I have always been told to try it. When I arrived, the menu completely confused me. I couldn’t figure out what was what except for the value menu. Having been around since 1975, you would think they could have figured out a way to just show a list of the food they offer, but no. Instead, I stood silent for a long time at a loss of what to order.

Big Mike’s Philly Steaks & Subs

12 inches of meaty goodness
12 inches of meaty goodness

For a good, wholesome cardiac arrest, few food items offer such good chances as a Philly Cheese Steak. Although I have never had one of these in Philly, and may be ill-equipped to judge, I have put down a few of those sandwiches in my day. The most recent of which came from Big Mike’s Philly Steaks & Subs in El Segundo. Typically any restaurant that has “Big” in it’s name is a hit with me, unless it precedes something stupid like “Head of Lettuce” or “Fungus Lovers.”

Keeping things simple, I ordered a twelve-inch Philly Cheese Steak. The sandwich really should not be called this, as it comes with onions and peppers. I mean really, if you’re going to call it a cheese steak, I’m okay with it, just make sure it’s only cheese and steak.

El Tarasco

Before they went soft.
Before they went soft.

Taco Tuesday came around again and I found myself at a divey little Mexican restaurant in El Segundo, called El Tarasco.

Hoping to find a great taco deal like $5 all-you-can-eat or $1 tacos, I was instead shown a menu that listed all the daily combos. Tuesday’s special was three tacos with chicken, ground beef, beans or chunky beef with medium drink. It’s seemingly a good deal until you look at the price: $6.50! These had better be damn good tacos. In an attempt to get variety, I ordered one chicken, one ground beef and one chunky beef. There was no need for me to waste precious stomach space on a bean taco. Remembering the drama from my last taco Tuesday, I made sure to order without lettuce, regardless of whether it already came with it.