My last post was a stop on the way to California over fall break. This time, I will be discussing some good cheap eats I had around LA and next time will be the fancy ones. Some of the places I ate at were a random Mexican stand at a street fair outside a Children of Bodom concert I went to, Chano’s, fig tree, Panini Café, Roscoe’s House of Chicken ‘N Waffles, and the famed In-N-Out Burger.
In-N-Out is owned by a bunch of religious fundamentalists who put psalms on their cups, but that doesn’t stop them from crafting some great heart attacks.
I was accompanied by my friend whom I had come to visit and one of his fraternity brothers. Having lived in LA for some time, they dropped the bomb about a secret menu much like the one at Louie’s lunch (ask for the soup there). Though they only knew one item, they suggested that there were others. Following the suggestion, I got a burger and some fries “animal style”, which meant they were loaded with Russian dressing and pickles. I also got another cheeseburger and a milkshake. Here’s the full list of the secret menu: . However, Wikipedia says “Animal Style burgers include pickles, extra spread [Russian dressing], grilled onions, and mustard fried onto each meat patty.”
As far as the food goes, it reminded me a lot of Five Guys so I’ll compare everything to that. The burgers were juicier, the toppings (excluding animal style) and buns were pretty much the same, the milkshake was fattier and thicker, and the fries were a wee bit soggy and didn’t have that Five Guys crunch or peanut oil flavor. However, animal style is awesome. It’s like a Reuben if a Reuben were a burger. It was delicious and I pray to the god of food that this chain expands to the east.
Next on the journey was Chano’s, where I forgot to take pictures. This fine establishment is a Mexican restaurant that primarily deals in take-out, so that’s what we got. I got some Al Pastor tacos and split nachos. Al Pastor is the tastiest topping you can get on a taco and that’s my unbiased opinion. It’s pork slow roasted on a spit and then topped with pineapple. . They did a great job on it and with the nachos. Such a great job, in fact, that I kept yelling “Chano’s!” for the next few days. It’s also a really fun name to say.
Then came breakfast. We went to Fig Tree which has a special where if you come before 9:00 AM, the whole menu is half off. Though we came a bit late, our food took an hour to arrive, so they gave us the discount anyway. Sometimes it pays to have bad service. Since it was a nice day and I had the beautiful backdrop of Venice Beach and the locals’ hippie-mobiles, I got a mimosa. Decent mimosa, but it’s pretty hard to mess up on them. My friend and his girlfriend were astonished because nobody drinks before 10:00 PM, or pretty much ever, in LA.
Finally, the food arrived, but the wait was worth it. I split the breakfast quesadilla and puffed pancake, while nibbling on the missus’ corn pancake. The latter tasted like cornbread.
The breakfast quesadilla was cheesy and eggy, but not too impressive. The puffed pancake on the other hand was a glorious bastard. This was a dessert not breakfast, but I had no problem consuming almost the whole thing. I had to hold back a bit to save room for Roscoe’s. Inside was a doughy, sugary, center filled with ripe bananas and strawberries. Topped with powdered sugar and maple syrup, it was a diabetics worst nightmare, but oh so tasty. The walls were crispy and gave a very satisfying crunch when shanked. In other words, it was appealing to all five senses.
A few hours later was my trip to Roscoe’s House of Chicken ‘N Waffles.
I bet you can’t guess what I got here.
Again following suggestions, I went for the mac and cheese and sweet potato pie. In retrospect, I’m thankful for his advice, but at the time I had no idea why I trusted a suggestion from this very annoying, meth-ed out, enemy of a friend.
The peppery fried chicken was drowned in southern gravy. Some people don’t get the gravy, but I was glad I did. It was delicious and worked really well the waffles. Their secret waffle batter recipe made a sugary and delicious waffle, albeit somewhat soggy. The mac and cheese was tastefully breaded and baked while the sweet potato pie tasted and looked more like pumpkin pie, though it did have that signature potato skin flavor. Both were delicious, soft, and addicting. I finished everything, but walked around with the worst food hangover/withdrawal before passing out for a few hours.
After waking up, we went to the Bodom show, where I lost my keys, including my car key, crowd surfing. There were no drinks sold inside, so we went to a bar and I had the best Bloody Mary of my life. This lady bartender must have gone through ~7 spices, Tabasco, horseradish, tomato juice, and a very generous serving of house vodka. Of course there was food to be had at the street fair outside. We were in Pomona, but there was still a distinctly different flavor here than in NYC. For example, the street fairs were still going at 11PM, something that would never happen in Manhattan.
These baby tacos were topped with Carne Asada on one and Al Pastor on the other. Of course the Al Pastor was better. So good, I went back for another and chased it with a tasty Tamale at the neighbor stand.
The morning after, we got take-out from Panini Café and had a Panini-style breakfast wrap with a Bloody Mary (decent, but not nearly as good as the one the night before). This wrap was amazing though. The eggs were not under or over done and the smoked mozzarella sold me completely. It all tasted even better with the Tapatio. I thanked my friend profusely for yet another amazing breakfast.
Later, we got some mediocre Pad Thai in Santa Monica. However, we went back to Santa Monica the next day and got some awesome food on the pier at Mariasol. I got an awesome Piña Colada and split some Ceviche and a seafood burrito. They were both loaded. The Ceviche had some cocktail sauce and some Tapatio on the side. All of the squid, shrimp, octopus, and calamari tasted even better with them. The burrito was also amazing with Tapatio. Without though, it still would have blown my mind. It had cheese on top and inside there was more cheese as well as snow crab, shrimp, snapper, and scallops. After eating there, we met an old friend from high school at a bar where I split some snapper sliders with her. If there’s one thing I really miss about LA, it’s the liberal use of fish for everything where the norm here is ground chuck.
Before heading back to school and running into way too many complications (keys), we went back to Chano’s where I got an Al Pastor burrito. It was even better than the taco I got there earlier. Damn I love that place.