Los Angeles & Orange County
Ms. GPS was an indispensible help.
I found[url='http://www.pantrycafe.com/']The Original Pantry[/url] without much trouble.
This was in a very, very urban part of downtown LA, and the paid parking across from the restaurant was a necessity. Don't forget to get your ticket validated, unlike some dummy I know.
Seating is a do-it-yourself proposition, with a choice of tables on the left:
... or the counter section on the right:
I elected to sit at the counter, where I could see the action at the grill. Ham steaks grilling on the right; potatos in the skillet on the left:
I ordered a half ham steak with eggs. Service was lightning fast, and my order was in front of me in less than five minutes. I started with a cup of coffee, which was very good. The orange juice, as I was to discover is common in LA, was freshly squeezed (or tasted so).
Here is the ham and eggs:
The ham steak was mild, and not overly salty. I was surprised to notice that the toast (sourdough in this instance), was cooked on the same grill as the ham and eggs, so it started out with a bit of oiliness even before butter was added. The grill must be kept pretty clean, as it was not offensive. The eggs, done "over easy" as ordered, were properly cooked, but had very pale yellow yolks, and a similarly mild flavor. The home-fries/hash-browns/whatever were excellent, with lots of crunchy brown bits.
Well, on to the second breakfast course, at [url='http://www.philippes.com/']Phillipe the Original[/url].
Phillipe's is on the border of Chinatown, and although the neighborhood is on the edge of being seedy, there was a very-much-in-evidence Chinatown neighborhood patrol, and LAPD officers were there for breakfast, too. There is plenty of parking at Phillipe's parking lots both behind and across the street from the restaurant.
This is the view of the counter and front-area seating when one enters:
There is strictly counter ordering, with no table service. I experienced a wait of perhaps five minutes before ordering, and the my order was quickly prepared. I ordered a beef French-dip sandwich, and potato salad. Later on when I read the take-out menu, I found that one could order "single" or "double" dipped. Mine had the top of the roll dipped into a basin of broth, so I presume it was "single-dipped". Here is the sandwich and potato salad:
This was a fairly good roll, with a little bit of "crust" to it. Over all, I found the sandwich to be pretty mild. I realized then that it had none of the famous Phillipe's hot mustard on it. I decided to forego busting into the line to ask for mustard for my half-eaten sandwich. I don't know whether it was an oversight, or whether one is supposed to ask for it when ordering. The potato salad tasted fresh, and was light on the mayo, with a predominantly pickle/relish taste. It was good. The famously-cheap (nine cents) coffee was watery. It finished a distant second to the good brew at the Original Pantry.
All-in-all, it was a good sandwich, and I wanted to finish it, but I was saving room for the next breakfast course, up the street. Before I got there, I noticed the interesting U.S. Post Office Annex:
Here was my next destination:
[url='http://www.cielitolindo.org/']Cielito Lindo[/url] is at the edge of the [url='http://www.olvera-street.com/']Olvera Street Historical District[/url]. This is the oldest part of LA, I believe.
The menu on the wall:
I ordered the #1 combo, but in retrospect I should have orderd the two-taquito special at the top of the menu.
Here is the view of the simple kitchen:
Here are the taquitos, with beans and cheese, covered with avacado sauce.
The avacadeo sauce was served at room temperature. After looking at the plastic utensils, I noted that one of the taquitos had an end sticking up out of the sauce. I threw table manners to the wind, and picked it up with my fingers to take a bite. The hot, deep-fried taquito was cooled off slightly by the sauce, and the sauce was warming up due to the taquito. There was a good bit of crunch, with a savory beef filling. Definitely a "thumbs-up".
Here is one disassembled, revealing the beef interior:
It was time to move on to the next breakfast course, but not before a stroll around the Olvera Street historical district.
Here is the shopping alley which Cielito Lindo anchors:
Lots of touristy stuff, but there seemed to be some quality clothing, particularly women's blouses, and little girl's outfits.
At the other end of the alley was a little square with [url='http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuestra_Se%C3%B1ora_Reina_de_los_Angeles_Asistencia']Nuestra Señora Reina de los Angeles [/url].
I had tried to be Mr. Prepared
, but family obligations had interfered with my carefully scripted schedule, so I ended up doing a BuffetBuster
. Langer's Delicatessen was CLOSED.
What to do... after conferring with Ms. GPS, I went to:
This is the original location of what is now the [url='http://www.originaltommys.com/']Original Tommy's[/url] L.A. chili-burger chain.
While on line, I noticed this large bowl of thickly-cut pickles:
Here is the center of the kitchen action:
There is no seating at this location. If you look at the firstphoto of the stand, you can see the wings of standing-only counter space, stretching for more than a hundred feet. I chased a pigeon off and dined there. Here is my single burger, as served:
Notice the special wrapping technique. This is necessary! A Tommy's chili burger is a messy treat. I maneuvered it around, and assumed "the stance" so as not to dribble chili on my pants.
Judgement: This is a mild chili "sauce". The vegetables and the pickle predominated. I suspect that the double would have had a better balance to the textures and flavors. I saw the fries being carted to the stand from the main building, and they were limp. A good potato flavor, but no texture.
Recommendation: Get the double, and don't bother with the fries.
Next Stop: Killer Shrimp
Darn! It's not just closed on Sunday, it's closed for good!
Well, it was not too far from the ocean, so off to Venice Beach:
The beach itself is quite nice, but the Ocean Walk has to be seen to be believed:
There are ALL types here. I soon spotted what I was looking for:
[url='http://www.jodymaroni.com/index.php']Jody Maroni's Sausage Kingdom[/url] - the original Venice Beach location.
Here is a little bit of history of the restaurant:
I selected a "Hot Italian":
This was quite good. The orange, fennel, wine and cheese blended together seamlessly to create a great sausage that went well with the peppers and onions on the onion roll. I would not have thought that a boardwalk-type place would have prospered with something like this. This location is a zoo, and parking is atrocious, but if you run into a Jody Maroni's elsewhere, I recommend giving it a try. Hopefully the other locations are as good as the original.
Walking back to my car, I stopped in a tee-shirt shop. I almost got this one:
Wouldn't that be great to wear on a hot dog tour?
After standing on line at Original Tommy's and cruising Venice Beach, I was a bit overheated and decided to head back to Orange County. Although it is a chain, there are no Pinkberry shops in Miami, so I stopped in for a cool frozen yogurt, to sample yet another manifestation of the California lifestyle.
[url='http://www.pinkberry.com/html/pbmain.php']Pinkberry[/url] at the Bella Terra mall:
Ultra modern styling inside:
I chose a small Original flavor with mango and strawberry toppings:
I thought that it would be tarter, and with less of a dairy taste, but the fruits were delicious and I had zero trouble finishing it all. It was very smooth, without being too soft. I think that it just might be worth the cost and hype because of the ultra fresh fruit. Of course, being a chain, "your milage may vary" at other locations.
DAY NUMBER TWO
I went to Sunset Beach for breakfast. I think that this is actually in the city of Huntington Beach.
One thing that I noticed in California was the notable incidence of nicely kept-up old cars. Here is a Porsche that turned in front of me when I was crossing the street:
I walked over to the beach to take a look around before dining. Here is the beach, and a view of freighters offshore waiting to come into port. No, this is not a badly exposed shot. There was a distinct morning haze that had not yet burned off.
Here is a view of the crowded beach homes. Those lots look to be very narrow!
I noticed this amazing rental property:
Here is my destination, the [url='http://www.harborhousecafe.com/']Harbor House Cafe[/url]:
I liked this interior. California Diner Chic?
I ordered a Chorizo Breakfast Burrito:
I really enjoyed the burrito. Cal/Mex chorizo is much better than the Miami/Cuban chorizo that I am used to. The cheese and sauce next to the burrito was so good that I had to resist the urge to pick up the last bits with my fingers! The coffee was excellent, and the OJ was freshly squeezed. The potatoes were not very exciting. They were cubed, and with a bit of a crust, but otherwise sort of like a pile of boiled potatoes. If I went again, I would prevail upon the kitchen to smash them down so as to get a better ratio of brown surface to mellow interior.
All in all a very good meal, and I would go again.
Off to L.A. for lunch at [url='http://www.pinkshollywood.com/']PINK'S[/url]!!
Parking was problematic in the area near Pink's, but I found a spot on a side street. Here is a view of Pink's, with the ever-present line:
It was hot, and the line was about 25 minutes long. When I got close to a kitchen window, I snapped this shot:
What is she doing to that sausage?
Before getting my order, I was resigned to eating my food leaning up against a car or something. However, I found that there was a pleasant patio space behind the kitchen:
Here is my food:
The Chili Dog: This is a mild, Hoffy, all-beef, natural-casing hot dog. If you do not demand a NY/Kosher-style hot dog, you will probably like it. The "chili" is a hot dog chili sauce, not a Texas-style chili. This was about as good an example of this sort of chili dog as I have had.
The other sausage in the photo is a "Spicy Polish". This was not very good, in my opinion. It had a mealy texture, and sort of a chemical taste. It definitely was spicy, though! It reminded me of the sausages one finds at carnivals or fairs.
Onion Rings: I would give these a "C". They are pleasant, whole-onion rings with a light batter-breading coating them. They were not crispy.
Bad parking availability and a 25-minute line make dining here problematic for me, but I do not regret making the pilgrimage once.
Next I went looking for the Apple Pan
The first thing that I noticed was this urban mall:
Out of place across the street was:
When I walked up, though, I found:
I did it again! (it was Monday)
Well, as I recalled, [url='http://ogroatsrestaurant.com/']John O'Groats[/url] was just up the road. Sure enough, I found it right away:
The interior dining space is divided into a table area, and another room which I think had counter seating. I ate in the left-hand dining room:
I ordered the Crabcake Benedict:
The coffee and freshly squeezed orange juice were great (beginning to notice a pattern here?). The eggs were perfectly done, and the hollandaise sauce had a good balance to it (I don't think it should be heavy on the lemon for egg dishes). The potatoes, which I would classify as "home fries", can be seen peaking out from under the eggs. They were great; I would give them an "A+". I would rate the crabcakes themselves as perhaps a B-. The crab was overworked, and so had a very fine grain as a result. Perhaps I have been spoiled by similar dishes in New Orleans. But, as everything else was top-notch, I would rate the dish as very good.
As I was staying in Huntington Beach, it was easy to take a ride down Beach Boulevard to Main Street, and follow it to the the shore.
Many of the street light poles sported banners like this:
Here is the city emblem:
What came first, the Beach Boys song, or the city logo?
Here is the HB pier. There is a restaurant of some sort on the end, but I did not make it that far.
Here is a shot of the surf on the south side of the pier:
From up on the pier, the surf did not look very heavy, but note all of the bobbing heads waiting for a wave.
Opposite the base of the pier, at Main Street and Pacific Coast Highway, there is a large, modern shopping and dining structure. Not very Roadfoody, eh?
Just up the street, it gets a little more funky:
I went into the [url='http://www.longboardpub.com/']Longboard Pub[/url] for a brew or two:
You cannot help but notice the surfing motif. Check out the boards hanging from the ceiling:
I started with a pale ale, but a couple of the locals bought me a house favorite, a heffenweitzer
(I think I have that right). Yes, that is lemon, and yes, it was tasty and refreshing. Perfectly suited for the locale. Note the surfboard-type laminations in the bartop.
I had a platter of oysters, which were some sort of Pacific type - note the stripes on the interior of some of the shells. Very good - fresh and briny.
On the way back to my car, I had to snap a shot of this motorcycle:
On the lighter side....
While running up Beach Boulevard from the beach, I noticed this place:
Hmmm... "[url='http://www.wienerschnitzel.com/']The World's Largest Hot Dog Chain[/url]"? (What's with the name "Wienerschnitzel"?) Could that mean that it has the world's best hot dogs? Naaah, that sort of reasoning would mean that McDonald's has the world's best burgers. I had to pull in though, strictly for research purposes. Nothing like this back home.
Here is the walk-up counter:
I ordered a chili-cheese dog:
Small Ballpark-style dog, Cheese-Whiz-type cheese product, and one of those indifferent chili "sauce" concoctions. They are cheap though, I guess, if one has to feed a winning Little League team. Otherwise, I would not bother.
Morning again, and I drove over to Seal Beach to find Ernie's diner, which someone had recommended to me. The GPS took me right in to an angled parking spot, and I strolled right in and got a table. The waitress brought me a menu and coffee, at which time I realized that I was in [url='http://woodysdiners.com/index.htm']Woodie's[/url], not Ernie's! Oh, well, it looked OK.
Here is a picture of the front, which I took after my meal:
After closer examination of one of the signs, I found out that this WAS Ernie's, and that it had evidently been bought out by Woody's.
After my positive experience with the Cal/Mex chorizo sausage the other morning at the Harbor House Cafe, I decided to have the Chorizo Omelet and Biscuits with Country Gravy and Bacon.
The coffee and OJ were both good.
This was a great omelet. It included chorizo, bell pepper, onion, tomato and jack and cheddar cheeses.
The biscuits were a bit doughy, in my opinion, but with the gravy and bacon, I had no trouble finishing them. There are several other bread/toast choices available for the same included price.
When I came in, I was the only customer. I asked the waitress about that, and she told me that, "Folks around here don't get up until 10:00." ONWARD TO LUNCH:
I drove into L.A. to the "Original" [url='http://www.farmersmarketla.com/']farmer's market[/url]. After parking, this was my first sight - not very promising:
Inside was better. I was worried that it might be totally tourist stuff, as I have found elsewhere. That was not the case. There were many little restaurants, a majority with interesting food. Here are a couple:
Moishe's had (amongst other dishes) flatbreads of some sort with various toppings, evidently ready to pop into an oven. Think: Middle Eastern Pizza.
Evidently locals actually shop here, as evidenced by a fishmonger:
... and a butcher:
I found this memorabilia case in one of the aisles:
After wandering through the market, I found my destination:
[url='http://www.du-pars.com/']Dupar's[/url] is an old-time L.A. institution that was recommended to me in another thread. Here is the oak and red-leather interior:
The menu listed certain dishes as being "Dupar's Traditions". I picked the Welsh Rarebit from that list. This was a rich cheese sauce covering toasted English muffins, with bacon on the side. I broke up one of the bacon strips onto the sauce:
This may well have been the best cheddar cheese sauce that I have ever had. The bacon was ever so slightly too well done, but of course it has to be crispy to be able to crumble it up.
Beef and chicken pot pies were also on the "Traditions" list. Now I wish I had ordered one of them too. So what if they thought me a glutton.
Dupar's is said to be known for their pies, so I asked to see the list (which was lengthy). I ordered the apricot, which had raisins and walnuts in it.
This was not a traditional flakey crust. It was more like a sort of shortbread. The nearest example that I can think of is the exterior of a Fig Newton. There really was not an intense apricot taste to it. It was pleasant, but I had hoped for outstanding. I'd give it a C+. I can just hear "Mr. Pie" saying that I should have tried two or three other pies! I probably should have.
I kept driving by this [url='http://www.in-n-out.com/']In-N-Out[/url] on Beach Boulevard.
After all of the discussion on Roadfood.com, I decided to try their version of a hamburger.
Unlike some of the biggest national burger chains, they still keep an open kitchen, not needing to hide the microwaves, etc:
(Yes, that is an actual grill on the right)
Here are my burger and fries:
First off, the photo makes the fries look better than they appeared "live". They were sort of pale, with grey/brown edges. Not very good.
I read here on Roadfood.com that putting lettuce and tomato on a hamburger is something that was invented in California. This is, no doubt, a good example of a fast-food California burger. However, with the bun, "spread", lettuce, tomato and onion, it was hard to detect the actual burger. No doubt very healthful, though, and the veggies were very fresh. As was my thought with Original Tommy's, I think that the double would be more balanced.
When I was over near Beverly Hills, I stopped in at [url='']The Beverly Hills Juice Club[/url].
Someone had recommended it to me, and the name sounded like it would be a fancy juice bar. It was not. It was a 10' x 10' unappealing space, with no amenities for drinking one's juice on the premises. The various juices are evidently squeezed/extracted in the morning, and "bottled" for sale during the rest of the day. There is a glass-front refrigerator at one end, and you pick your selection, pay and leave. I got the white watermelon, and ginger-apple. I slugged the watermelon in a hurry (it had been warm walking around in the sun), and took the apple-lemon-ginger to go. The white watermelon was very mild, but refreshing. The apple-lemon ginger was more interesting. The lemon balanced the sweetness of the apple juice, and the fresh ginger added an exotic kick. I liked it.
Here is one of the juice containers:
If you are in the area, and need some liquid refreshment to go, I recommend the product available here. 100% healthful!
To close out my culinary explorations, I visited Little Saigon in Westminster.
This is the Asian Garden Mall:
Inside, it's like a trip to asia:
I spied the restaurant row, and scouted a couple of places:
Unfortunately, my Vietnamese was not good enough to know how or what to order. Then I spotted a place with translations:
...and handy pictures, too!
OK, I've had bahn mi
before. They're sort of skinny Vietnamese subs. I've never seen so many choices, though. I ordered a roast pork and a Thai iced tea.
Here is the sandwich:
The "roast pork" turned out to be Chinese-style roast pork. Everything was nice and fresh, but it was a bit dry. When I have had Banh Mi in Miami (although I don't know where to get them any more), I like to sprinkle them with Nuoc Cham (hot/sweet/sour/fishy sauce). Maybe they had some available at Lee's, but I did not know to ask.
This is the Thai Iced Tea:
The cashier had asked me whether I wanted "bobo", so I said, "Sure." You can see the black tapioca pearls at the bottom. You get an extra-wide straw so that you can suck them up with the iced tea.
The exotic spices were interesting, but I could not finish it. It seemed to be about 50% sweetened condensed milk, and was just too sweet and cloying for me. THE END
post edited by MiamiDon - 2009/07/04 09:22:32