Sunday, November 16, 2008

My California Adventure... Part One: Eating (and drinking) my way through Los Angeles...

I wouldn't necessarily consider myself a foodie. How could I? I don't even eat seafood much less any other strange, smelly, odd shaped, weirdly textured, unsavory morsels for that matter... But I like what I like, and when I like it, I eat it... lots of it (well, until I get tired of it!). So during my 11 days up split up between Los Angeles and San Jose, I was able to try a lot of places I always wanted to and eat things I couldn't normally get here in Hawaii (or are in short supply). So here's my takes on ALL the places I ate while I was up there...

  • In-n-Out ( My first eating stop after my 5 hour flight in first class (I have to say, the pastrami on the plane was terrific, you couldn't ask for anything more... toasty rye, melty cheese, juicy pastrami...mmm!!!) didn't disappointment my in the slightest. In truth, I probably should have had the double double, animal style (with onions for the uninformed) combo mean, but I went with a simple cheeseburger, fries, and a chocolate shake. Like the menu, simplicity at its finest. The only problem about me eating here was the fact I bypassed Pink's Hot Dogs... when the line was short... and there was parking... I know, BAD ARAN!!!
  • Daily Grill ( I didn't eat here, just too stuffed from the In-n-Out, but we did have some happy hour drinks here. Brice had the Kobe burger and chicken sliders, and some fried calamari (he didn't eat lunch andthey were kinda smallish, but decent). Seemed like a pretty lively after work spot in Downtown LA. The menu looked good also.
  • Pinkberry ( After hearing so much about Pinkberry from commercials (the AMEX Plum card) and California friends who spoke highly about it, I decided to taste it for myself. This isn't TCBY, or Milano Freezer (which I will talk about later), or Yami Yogurt... but it's closer to Yami than anything. It isn't sweet at all; tangy is the operative word here, like your typical yogurt, but colder. The coffee one wasn't so coffee-ish (and more expensive), so I got the original, plain with some chocolate chips... A refreshing snack before my lunch at...
  • Adonis Restaurant: One of the things I wanted to do while I was up in California was to avoid eating the "typical" Hawaii/ Asian things (Japanese, Chinese, Korean) and get Mediterranean food. So on Day 2 in LA,, mission accomplished. Adonis was a Med/Greek food place. I got a meat dish (I forget what it was called) with spiced pita. We also ordered some hummus and were given pickled vegetables to snack on (olives, radishes, peppers, carrots). Let me just tell you, we waited a LONG time for the foor and the restaurant was empty. The food was good, the service was unparalleled. But the piece de resistance was the baklava... tender, flaky, not too honey drippy/syrupy... SOOOO GOOD!!! (It's from the Baklava Factory, a store all over SoCal, a little pricey, but very good!)
  • Chandra ( Ok, so I went against my "thing" about eating Asian while up in Cali. Fortunately, it wasn't one of the big three... it was Thai... and I don't normally eat Thai. I had me a BBQ beef salad. It was quite tasty. Others had the pineapple fried rice, which I was able to try and that was pretty good also. It wasn't mind blowing, but it wasn't bad either.
  • Milano Freezer ( So yeah, they have one of those here in Hawaii, but I needed something to settle my upset stomach. A strawberry, pineapple smoothie was good going down.... as well as coming back up... (but that's another story).
  • Subway: Yeah, I ate here... same... whatever...
  • E's: To meet up with my friends, we ventured off to Old Town Pasadena. Let me tell you, it was pretty bumping out there, a place I would like to return to and try other places. A lot of the places were very clubby, so we decided for the more laid back E's. Again, for some reason, it was dead in there, our group made up about 75% of the crowd. We ordered an app sampler (Buffalo wings, quesadillas, potato skins, nachos... nothing special). I think we hit that spot on an off day because it looks like a bar/club with definite promise.
  • Unnamed Taco Stand in Downtown LA: It doesn't have a name, but the tacos were AWESOME!!! A dollar a taco, and worth every penny. You have the choice of carne asasa, chicken, pork, chorizo, beef tongue, and another meat (which I forget)- I tried the first 4... the carne asada was probably the best, but the pork and chicken were awfully close. Throw on some salsa verde, hot sauce, grilled AND raw onions, radish, cilantro, and a squeeze of lime and you've got an unbeatable late night snack!!! In fact, I went back to this place three times in the time I was in LA.
  • The Yardhouse ( After going out in Pasadena the night before, I went back the following afternoon to meet up with Tina and her husband. After finding no inspiration, I settled on The Yardhouse. Yeah, same as here in Hawaii. I had the French Dip. Again, tasty, but no big.
  • Olive Garden ( After seeing all those commercials and hearing about how good Olive Garden was (or is), I defintiely needed to see what the hype was about. Apparently everyone else wanted to go that night too because it was absolutely packed to the hilt. It was about a 30-40 minute wait. When we were seated, our server was friendly and attentive. I had another appetizer sampler of toasted ravioli, mozzarella sticks, and fried zucchini. I'd been wanting the toasted ravioli for some time, so it did not disappoint. The all you can eat salad and breadsticks were great as well... so much parmesan cheese on the salad... yumm-o!!! I didn;t actually get pasta there, so I can't really tell you if those were worth they hype, but from what I ate... it was very good!
  • Suede Bar & Lounge ( So after coming back from San Jose, Brice and Su decided that we were gonna go out that night. Feeling up to it, we started the night here in downtown LA. It seemed to be a very happening spot. Cool colors, chill people. We had some small plates: The butcher's plate with assorted salamis and procuitto, a hummus and pita platter, and guacamole with tortillas. All were very good and reasonably priced during their happy hour.
  • Union Cattle Company ( After the small plates at Suede, we headed out to Hermosa Beach to check out the nightlife there. Feeling a little peckish after a couple of drinks and just apps at Suede, we figured to eat something a little more substantial here at the Union Cattle Company. A place known to be frequented by some Lakers, this seemed like a chill hang out with some good smells emanating from their grills. Because I can't decide on anything, we all chose to get MORE apps (I have to say you get to try many more things ordering apps over complete meals!). Marinated Tri-Tip jalapenos, the babyback rib sampler, and the mixed grill skewers were chosen and lemme tell you, if there's anything better on that menu... damn!
  • Sangria ( We did not eat here. It was all business at Sangria: DRINKING. The Long Islands were strong, the girls looked good (we met some out of towners from Kansas), and the music was solid. I regret not having more time out here to have fun, but I did enjoy my time at Sangria.
  • Doc Brown's Chicken ( Being at Universal Studios, the options were limited. Chicken was the choice, and while it wasn't the greatest chicken ever, it was pretty good for some amusement park food.
  • Hard Rock Cafe ( Again, we were forced to go "chain" since options were limited at the Universay City Walk. But hey, it could be worse. The food here was very good, large portions, friendly staff, and all the rock memorabilia you can shake a stick at. Since I was in Cali, I decided to go Cobb Salad... always a good choice :)!!!
  • Panera Bread Company ( My last meal in California was from here, the Chipotle Chicken Sandwich. If I lived out here, I would probably frequent this place over a Subway or Blimpies.

So that was my Los Angeles portion of the trip, foodwise anyway... up next is my food choices up in San Jose...

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