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Posts Tagged ‘food’

I remember the night I first tried Baco Mercat…and it was love at first bite. I was at the DTLA Artwalk in late 2011, and I knew Baco was coming…but not sure when they would be open. It just so happened that they decided to soft open that night. It was all about being at the right place and the right time. Since then I have been to back to Baco many times with various friends and my man of course. I remember when I first took him to Baco it had only been open a few months and told him that it was one of my favorite places, I was worried that maybe he wouldn’t like it. Turns out I had nothing to worry about, he’s a Baco fan.

The other night, he had to go to DTLA to pick up his new Hedley & Bennett apron (my man is a chef…I don’t think I’ve ever revealed that on this blog before – pretty fitting right?) and decided to have an impromptu date night by taking me to Baco Mercat.

Some time ago, when I last went to Baco I had ordered a bunch of other dishes besides my usual original baco, and was so disappointed. Its been a long time since I’ve been back, but this time I decided to just stick with my usual. The baco is a flatbread sandwich with crispy pork belly and carnitas. It is one of my top five dishes within the City of Angels. I could eat one of these everyday. So good.

Here is what the inside of the original baco looks like. There are some greens and an amazing sauce. The baco has tomato but I don’t care, its THAT good.

I’m not sure why I’ve never blogged about Baco Mercat…I have tons of photos from various meals in my Flickr photostream…but on this particular night we had a new dish that I’m absolutely in love with. I love bone marrow, and I’ve had it at Bestia, Mozza, Father’s Office, in menudo, and many other places. But this preparation was different…on the menu it said “crispy bone marrow” and curiosity got the best of me.

What followed was beyond my wildest dreams. Fried bone marrow served with lentils and grapes. So buttery…so different…so amazing. This trumps shrimp toast from Son of a Gun as my favorite dish in LA right now. Wow. Its not for everyone but if you love marrow and want to try it in a different preparation, head over to Baco Mercat asap. This. Wow.

I love Baco Mercat. I love Bar Ama. I love DTLA.

Baco Mercat

408 S Main St

Los Angeles, CA 90013

(213) 687-8808

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A couple of months ago I took a quick 18 hour trip to San Francisco with my parents. In those 18 hours I ate a lot of great eats. I would have blogged about it all, but as luck would have it? I forgot my camera (and my wallet) in my travel bag, which I left on top of my bed. All I had the whole weekend was my cell phone. So if you follow me on Instagram you saw photos from the trip, but otherwise, no go. One of the most memorable eats was the ice cream from Smitten. Ice cream that is made to order using a special Kelvin machine. The shop was constructed out of a shipping container and judging by the line, a cult following. I fell in love with that ice cream and its all I could talk about when I got back. It was so fresh and clean tasting, and it was by far the best ice cream OF.MY.LIFE. I wondered how long it would take to get a liquid nitrogen ice cream shop in Los Angeles, and lucky for me (and you) the time is now! Open merely a few weeks ago, Ice Cream Lab has found its home a few blocks from Sprinkles and Rodeo Drive, and judging by the lines last weekend, people are loving it.

They only had 6 flavors total, including one seasonal flavor and one special. Naturally I went with the special: Coffee Brittle. Coffee. Chocolate Brittle. Almonds. Perfection. They have Intelligentsia beans on the shelf, so I wonder if those are also used for the ice cream. Either way, it was GOOD! So good!

So, essentially your dessert starts out in liquid form, then they pour it into these machines, add some liquid nitrogen, and before you know it, it becomes ice cream! You can actually taste the milk and it is creamy. So fresh. So clean. And yeah, you can see all the magic happen right before your eyes. Don’t worry, the “smoke” wont hurt you. Some kids in line were totally getting a kick out of it though!

Pro Tip: Don’t trust an atom! Cute.

If you love ice cream and want to try a new take on it, check out Ice Cream Lab! I really liked it and it will hold me over until I can get back to Smitten.

Ice Cream Lab

9461 S Santa Monica Blvd

Beverly Hills, CA 90210

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Last weekend I was strolling Beverly Hills, and just as I passed the Sprinkles cupcake ATM, something new caught my eye. Beverly Hills now has (what I believe to be) its first juice ATM! It comes courtesy of Kreation  Organic Cold Pressed Juicery (located next to Sprinkles). This pressed juice craze has been taking over the city as of late, but I thought you guys would like to see a picture of this ATM! I think it’s pretty cool! I didn’t actually buy a juice from the machine because I was on my way to ice cream, but for $7.50 you can get your juice 24/7 at Kreation. The shop itself is gorgeous and they have a beautiful garden wall to the left of the ATM. Worth checking out. They have a bunch of location but this one is in BevHills.

Kreation Juice

9609 S Santa Monica Blvd

Beverly Hills, CA 90210
(310) 777-3450

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I used to be at the top of my game, bringing you the latest and greatest in SCV before anyone else…however the reason I haven’t kept you guys up to date is because nothing had opened recently that had inspired me to dust off the old bloggy blog (I had forgotten my password, quite frankly). That was until last week when my bro Hsiawen sent me a text while I was at work. It was simply a photo of a chalk menu board and instantly I was intrigued. I demanded an address, and hoped it was in SCV. As a brother would do, Hsiawen had me in agony as he texted me photos of his food, but still no address. Notice, this is my attempt to give Hsiawen full credit for being FIRST to discover this new place, okay?

By the time my school day ended, Hsiawen had texted me the address, and as soon as the final bell rang I drove to the spot, walked in, and knew I was in for something good. But before I continue, let’s take a walk down memory lane to this post from 2009. Remember Fish Tail? Remember how excited I was about them opening up in town? The only place slanging poke bowls in Awesometown! Best! Anyway, back to the present.

So as I walked in, instantly I saw the familiar faces from Fish Tail (admittedly it has been a while since I’ve been to Fish Tail, but its back on my radar now). Well, the same way they brought a new concept to SCV three years ago, they have done it again with Rustic Eatery. The menu is quite simple, but I quickly learned they were doing things right. For example, they make their own bread every day, rustic and french, and spent weeks perfecting their hand cut fries. This space used to be a Red Brick Pizza, but the only thing that remains is the oven, and they certainly put it to good use for their bread, croutons, and other menu items.

Making bread isn’t an easy task, but Min (one of the owners – along with his brother Alex) was committed to perfecting his bread, and talks about the trial and error of learning how to make the bread actually rise.

This is truly a “mom and pop” – well in this case “brother and brother” type of business, which is my favorite kind to support, especially when you can see true drive and passion behind opening a restaurant in SCV. Bringing something good to the people of Awesometown besides the same ol’ chains and pretentious eateries. There is a feeling of family at this place, and the owners are so humble. It is so refreshing.

So anyway, as is the case when I like a place in SCV…I wont stop talking about it, and (humble brag) its a cool feeling when you can just text your friends and ask if they want to meet up at a new place, and they agree without even asking what kind of food or what its called. I guess being named one of SCV’s 40 Under 40 gives me klout!

Just like I did for Fish Tail in January 2010 I organized a get together at Rustic Eatery really from one day to the next. Last Saturday about 20+ of my closest friends gathered to check this place out. This place is casual and kid friendly too! And the best part is, everyone loved it! Colbert Bump!

I’ve been there a few times now, often with friends, and I’ve tried most of the dishes. I like the rice bowl and the plates, but I think my current favorite is the ribeye prime cut sandwich, salt and pepper, provolone, on rustic bread. It is served with a side salad which is top quality lettuce and it even has grapes. Fancy.

Here is Mrs. SCV herself! Eve Bushman of Wine 101 fame!

I went there for lunch with Jason and he had the tofu, so they do have vegetarian options available.

I’m also a big fan of their fresh cut fries with the aioli they make themselves.

If you like sweet potato fries they have those as well.

Essentially, you pick your protein and then you get to pick how you want it. Even on top of a salad! Notice their croutons they make in house!

Also of note? They have pork belly. Its amazing to me how hard it is to find a place slanging pork belly in Awesometown. Seriously, something that can be found so easily in LA, yet in Valencia, its like trying to find Waldo!

It is hard to describe what kind of food this is. It does have some Asian influence in the sauces that they make in house, and in the rice bowls. Asian influence can also be seen in the shabu cut ribeye and other dishes. I would suggest just going in there and checking it out. You can’t go wrong, really.

So, I’m totally fangirling over this place, and remember my posts on this blog can never be bought and I can’t be bribed – but if I like your place? I really know how to show it. Trust. I think its just because I’m so happy to have something NEW and REFRESHING in Valencia and I’m all for supporting local small businesses, which is why despite my seemingly cold black heart, when I realized this place didn’t have a website yet, I asked if I could try to make one for them for fun (ie no charge – I have a day job), selfishly just to see if I could. So, turns out creating a site isn’t that hard (thanks Wix!), I used photos I was going to use for this blog post anyway (that’s why they may look familiar), and I think this was my good deed for the holiday season. Maybe Santa will be good to me this year.

You can check out their website (and my amateur skills) by visiting their site here: Rustic Eatery. And then, since it was so EASY I decided to make a landing page for my own site using Wix as well. One of these days I’ll revamp this blog. That’s next on my to-do list. For now, check out (shameless plug) Lady Ducayne!

Anyway, back to Rustic Eatery! I have to reiterate what Lisa said at our meetup Saturday. THANK YOU Min and Alex for opening up in SCV and giving us some new options! So, SCV? What are you waiting for?

Hustle on over to this place and check them out. Keep in mind that they are fairly new and still finding their way. At lunch it tends to get busy, but its worth the wait! Its been a while since I’ve been so happy about a new place in town, and its good! Promise! You can thank me later.

Did I mention they have Orangina and Mexican Coke? JACKPOT!

(Parting gifts courtesy of Scott Groller)

Rustic Eatery

25343 Magic Mountain Parkway

Valencia, CA 91355

http://www.rusticeatery.com

Sidenote: If you happen to be visiting Santa Clarita from out of town because of Six Flags Magic Mountain and need a place to eat before heading into the park, or perhaps on your way home? This is a great alternative to the usual fast food places. Its essentially the same exit as the one you take for Six Flags, and super close! Pro Tip!

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V and I talk about food a lot. We’ve been friends for what feels like ever, and I think food has kept this friendship going. So since I’m on summer break and he has a weird work schedule, we were lounging around on a lazy Tuesday and figured we should venture out. After the original Freddie Smalls plan fell through, we decided instead to just check out Black Hogg. Then I remembered we had recently been talking about Kevin Eats latest post on something called the Vagrancy Project. We didn’t have a reservation, and it was last minute, but we had read there was an a la cart menu at the bar, so we would go check it out and see if we could get in. Even though I don’t drink, I don’t mind bar seating if it means I get to try a new place.

After confronting some terrible traffic, we made it to 1320 Echo Park Avenue (just one block up the street from the famous blue corn quesadilla lady) and found a place that seemed to be undergoing renovation. After being assured we were at the right place by a mystery man out front (we also saw him when we were leaving but have no idea what his part is in this project) we went up the stairs and into the restaurant. The super nice waiter asked us if we knew about what goes on at the Allston Yacht Club on Monday and Tuesday nights. After telling him we were there for a la cart, and were prepared to sit at the bar, he said that if we didn’t mind, we could sit at a table and still order dishes off the menu.

He led us to a table that was right up against the brand new window that had just been put in. It offered great lighting and a great view of the hustle and bustle of Echo Park. As we looked over the menus, V pointed out they had a non alcoholic drink. Since I don’t drink alcohol, it was a pleasant surprise. House made white grapefruit soda. So fantastic.

Here is the drink menu.

V had a summer beer.

We browsed the menu and decided on four dishes. However they were out of the ribeye, so we ended up with three dishes and then dessert.

First dish was the chorizo.

Second dish was the scallops.

Third dish was the merguez. This was so different and full of different flavors. Definitely my favorite dish of the night. I can’t wait to have this again.

For dessert we had the cheesecake, which I really enjoyed.

At the end of our meal, we were glad that we decided to stop in and get a taste for The Vagrancy Project. We will definitely be coming back for the tasting menu very soon! Oh, and by the way, we still ended up going to Black Hogg afterwards, but this meal was definitely the topic of conversation.

The Vagrancy Project

Monday/Tuesday

1320 Echo Park Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90026

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As most of you are aware, I have been working towards my Masters degree for some time now. Last Thursday was the culmination of our Masters program, so my classmates and I decided to have celebratory dinner, and they ended up picking Rattlers as our dinner spot.

Our real celebration will be in January after the graduation ceremony, but on this particular night Rattlers was close to home and everyone was in the mood for BBQ, so off we went.

Now, I am well aware of the strong dislike that some of my foodie friends (pretty much only Mike) have towards Rattlers, but I like to go there for their weeknight specials after work. For about $10 you get meat, a side, and a trip to the salad bar. On Wednesday they have tri tip, and since we went on a Thursday, the special was ribs. Great! And what do they put in those rolls? Those rolls are fantastic!

Was it a perfect dining experience? No. Especially for one of my friends that just had a dinner full of fails.

She said her straw tasted bitter, her plate was dirty, and her meal took forever. However, it was our last night of class and it was nice to hang out with my classmates in a non academic setting for once!

Most of the dinner conversation was somewhat depressing because my classmates were talking about the lack of teacher jobs out here in Santa Clarita. If anything it made me realize just how lucky I am to be working full time within the district, because they have not had the same luck. Donna is highly optimistic that things will look up soon. I felt really bad because I know that they would all make excellent teachers, and they are all fully credentialed. So, I quietly ate my salad that was a result of my trip to the salad bar…

Here is someone I don’t talk about a lot, but she is one of the most amazing people I have ever met. I first met her way back in the day when I started my credential program and now into the finalization of our Masters program. She was always an advocate for our cluster and was the voice of the group. When one of us was losing hope thinking we wouldn’t get through it, she was there to encourage us. I don’t think we would have all emerged from our program as well as we did, had it not been for Donna constantly helping us out with her words of wisdom.

Now, on to the food! Some of my classmates shared the potato appetizer, which looked okay, yet took FOREVER to come out.

My drink of choice at Rattlers is the Shirley Temple Lemonade! It is really fresh and excellent! Love it!

And here are two views of the same special. Shawna likes to put a lot of BBQ sauce on her ribs – and eat with her hands, because as she pointed out, they are ribs…

I just ate them as they came out and used a knife and fork. Either wait, I ate them all and was really happy with my meal. A total bargain at $10!

I have been eating at Rattlers ever since I was a child! Their old location was extremely popular and stood the test of time. I think it was just the “go-to” place for many years because there weren’t that many options in town. I have been to their new location (near Walmart/Sam’s Club) somewhat often because it is on the way home from work, and there is always a wait! So, I guess that even when the food isn’t the best, good service and good prices will lure people in. Oh, and those rolls! I could eat those rolls for days!

So, I conclude this post with a photo. Cheers to Higher Education! And to the conclusion of our Masters Program. I will wait until after the graduation ceremony, and until after I have my degree in my hands, to comment on what I thought about our program as a whole…stay tuned sometime after January…

Rattler’s BBQ

26495 Golden Valley Rd

Santa Clarita, CA 91350-2973

(661) 251-4195

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Back on February 1, 2009 I visited Sabor and fell in love. First to review and all that jazz. This was a local restaurant unlike any other. It was authentically colonial Mexican food. The kind of food that you found at more formal sit down restaurants deep in the heart of Mexico. It instantly reminded me of my travels to San Miguel Allende, years ago.

The service was great, the decor was amazing, and the food was legit. Quickly, I told all of my friends that they had to try this type of food for themselves. Sure, Tortas in Newhall is authentic, but this is a completely different type of authentic. Mike reported having a great meal there. Hsiawen did not like it. Carrie still does not like it, and neither does R.E. These were the specials today. Filete de Huachinango en salsa pipian? In Valencia? Wow!

I had not been back to Sabor in many months. Maybe around 5 months. I just got too busy, and my work schedule did not allow me to go there for lunch anymore. Plus, I work across town. This is not a weekly place by any means…because it isn’t cheap. It’s actually kind of expensive…I also think I was reluctant because the 5 or 6 times I had eaten there were fantastic! What if it had gone downhill since then? I wasn’t ready for the disappointment.

Today I found myself out and about and hungry. I also found myself at the Bridgeport Marketplace. And the next thing I knew, I was seated in one of those comfy booths.

My waiter was the same guy (Luis) I had back in Februrary and subsequent visits. He was as nice and polite as before. Already this was a good sign! Within minutes of being seated I had warm chips and fresh salsa at my table. Fantastic!

There was great detail taken in every aspect of this restaurant, from the decor (some of which was actually shipped in from Mexico) to the plates and even the glasses they serve the drinks in. No detail was overlooked. Even the menus represent Mexican leather artistry.

In fact, when I walked in I saw this display by the door full of marigolds, which is the typical flower used for Day of the Dead celebrations.

I love Mexican cheese. You know this. So when I saw quesillo on the menu, I had to try it. It was served with decorative tostadas and green chile sauce, and cost $8. Would I order this again? Probably not, but I did eat most of it. It was just okay. Chonchis noted a chemical taste. I also noted an odd taste, but figured it was just the sauce or something. 

When it came time to decide on what my main dish would be, it was a tough call. I’ve had the enchiladas, the carne estilo Puebla, and ceviche. However, today I decided to go with what I had ordered back in February during my very first visit, which was the arrachera. It was priced at $21 which is really steep for lunch…

The arrachera and the appetizer were served with freshly made (warm) handmade tortillas. These tortillas are really good, and you can really taste the authenticity, however they only serve you two tortillas at a time…

My arrachera was excellent. It was cooked perfectly and it had great flavor. It was probably better than the first time I had tried it. Excellent! Really, this was AWESOME!

It is served with rice, beans, guacamole, and rajas con cebollas y crema. I don’t like peppers, so I did not eat it or taste it. Chonchis tried it and she did not like it. She really enjoys rajas con crema, so this was major!

We had two completely opposite lunch experiences today. I liked my food, Chonchis did not. She ordered a tortilla soup that came out cold, but I think she liked her chiles rellenos. When I said that I really enjoyed my meal, she was quick to point out that all I really liked off my lunch plate was the meat, as I did not eat the rice and beans or the rajas. She has a point…

A lot of people complain that Sabor is really expensive, and maybe even too expensive. A couple of examples. A burrito will cost you $14. I have never ordered it or seen it, but I’m assuming it is pretty big and most people probably share it. I also do not believe they have a children’s menu. I don’t drink, but I heard people at other tables ordering beer and other drinks, so for sure that will drive up your bill. I never take a picture of the receipt, but for the sake of this post, I did.

I’m starting to agree, Sabor is expensive. Yes, the service is great, the restaurant is beautiful, my food was good, etc. Sure, I could have just ordered a taco combo, but I wanted arrachera. Even though my meat was good, it isn’t something that I could order on a weekly basis! This restaurant certainly will not be part of my weekly rotation, or even my monthly rotation. Is it a special occasion place? Yes, probably. I could come back just for enchiladas, but then I wouldn’t feel it was worth coming here JUST for enchiladas. Does that make sense?

They have a really nice outdoor seating area which provides a great ambience. I still like Sabor. I really do. I still believe that the cuisine is the most authentically Mexican in Valencia, and perhaps Santa Clarita. I have yet to find another local place that is serving authentically colonial Mexican food, and this is a nice addition to have so close to home. It just isn’t as accessable to everyone, price wise. If I am going to spend almost $30 for my meal, then I rather go to Ciudad or somewhere else in LA.

Sabor Cocina Mexicana

23953 Newhall Ranch Rd
Valencia, CA 91355

(661) 259-9002

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