Venturing Beyond LAX and Trying Homemade Vegan Food in Inglewood, CA

I recently came back from a work trip to Michigan and while the food scene consisted of  lots of hearty American cuisine, I came back to California wanting something more light and natural. I found this Ethiopian place near LAX called Emma Habesha Restaurant and I was eager to try a beautiful platter of food filled with herbs and spices. On the outside the restaurant blends in with the building surrounding it and my friend and I actually drove past it (and it’s pretty easy to miss); however, once you enter the building you’ll realize that you’ve stepped into an African oasis.

Decor near the front

The interior of the restaurant had bright colors and while cozy and warm, the intimate setting was great for friends to chow down. The menu consisted of nine main entrees all served with injera – a sourdough spongy flat bread. After thoughtful consideration and seeing another patron enjoy a colorful vegan platter my friend and I were intrigued and decided to order that in addition to a lamb stew that was recommended by the waitress. Neither of us are vegan, but we were excited to eat with our hands and sample many different lentil, beans and vegetable flavor profiles.

Combined entrees

We knew the entrees were made fresh and enjoyed conversing with one another as we waited for our healthy meal. Since it was our first time I think they combined the two into one large platter. The Vegan Agelgil Fitfit (vegeterian plate $12) and Ye Beg Alicha (Lamb stew $13) were both wonderful, though the vegetables were definitely the stars! If you’re looking to incorporate more greens and non-red meat items into your diet the price-point is very reasonable and the flavors are incredible here.

After a long flight, what kind of food do you crave?

 

XOXO,

Rockstar

Enjoying Keto Diet Friendly Food at Silva’s Fresh Eatery and Churrascaria in Santa Ana, CA

One of my goals for 2019 was to limit my refined carbs intake and focus on protein and veggies; however it’s been a challenge to find a restaurant that fits a more keto-friendly diet and is also both affordable and tasty. Yet, located less than a mile away from South Coast Plaza, Silva’s Fresh Eatery & Churrascaria (3672 S Bristol St, Santa Ana CA 92704) meets all the criteria and for a very reasonable price!

Cocktails and Salad Bar

Nested in a strip mall Silva’s is a casual, but trendy buffet with authentic Brazilian faire and traditional and fusion cocktails. My friend and I ordered a caipirinha – a rum based beverage with lime and fruit and it was very refreshing. We then headed towards the salad bar to check-out their offerings. I loved that they use locally sourced organic veggies and how brightly colored everything was. The turmeric cauliflower and roasted broccoli were very simply prepared, but acted as perfect accompaniments to the protein offerings. I also tried some freshly fried Pao De Queijo (Cheese rolls) and while they weren’t on my “approved” keto-diet list, they were uh-mazing and I have no regrets poppin’ two – they were so, so good!

Chef cutting meat and our plates

For meats Silva’s had beef, lamb, sausage, chicken, and salmon – so something for everyone, although I loved how moist and juicy the gaucho style sausage was and the leg of lamb was super tender. My friend and I came for dinner and at $26.95 a person seven days a week, the price is a steal for the variety! If you can come during lunch Monday-Friday the price is $22.95! Many other comparable places charge $50 easily!

What’s something you’d never give up eating?

 

 

XOXO,

Rockstar

Wandering through the Piñata District and Grubbin’ on Authentic Cheap Street Food

Earlier this month my friends and I tried out the Alita Experience, a pop-up escape room in Los Angeles (see that adventure here!) . However, we arrived at downtown LA a tad earlier than our scheduled reservation and decided to explore the area a bit. As we drove through Olympic and Central we saw what looked like a vibrant and festive street fair. Turns out we were in the Pinata District and even on a Sunday it was poppin!

Pinatas for sale!

We found free street parking and made our way through the district. There were many shops selling various party favors including candy, decor, and of course pinatas! There were also other miscellaneous vendors selling t-shirts and electronics, yet we were most interested in the food carts/stalls!

Tacos and Arepes

There were many stands selling traditional street food and everything smelled soooo amazing. Grandmas were hand-making fresh tortillas, sons and daughters were carving and/or cooking meats and many things were made to order. After browsing though a number of the carts/stalls we decided to dine-in!

Different Stands in the Pinata District

I was most interested in the bean and cheese arepe as I saw the woman mold and create each one. That stand also had a self-serve condiment bar with super fresh guacamole with the pits still in the mortar and pestle bowl and a ton of other toppings to customize your base. Man… with the melted cheese, freshly fried dough and textures of all the toppings it was a perfect meal and for a bargain. I think I spent like $3 and because it was the end of the day and they were getting ready to shut down the owner also threw in a free drink (Many stands were closing shop around 5:00pm)! I got the horchata while my friends got lemonade with chia seeds. Two thumbs up and I will definitely be back for both the food and party supplies!

When a piñata pops what kind of candy do you rush to grab? Krackle and Crunch are my go tos!

 

 

XOXO,

Rockstar

 

Breakfast? Snack? Dessert? Nutritious and Delicious Bowls in Huntington Beach, CA

I’ve been on a search to find other healthy options to incorporate into my diet and as of today I’ve found an incredibly fresh ceviche at Mariscos Jalisco and super flavorful vegetarian food at Ashiwad The Blessing.  Unfortunately, both options are more than an hour away from me so when I found Blue Bowl, a nutritious assembly-style bowl joint, minutes away from home I knew I had to check it out.

Small Bowl ($7)

I was picking up some food across the way and noticed the new shop. It was almost closing time and there were a ton of people inside so I decided to check it out – so glad that I did. The set-up is very similar to an assembly-line where you pick your base and your cup is handed off to other people in the line.

Assembly Line Set-up

On this trip I decided to go for a small with a pitaya (aka. Dragon Fruit) base with blue chia and freshly ground almond butter. Toppings are unlimited so I loaded up and was super happy with the result. It’s extremely colorful and tasty! Highly recommended and there are two locations.

ORANGE STORE
417 S. Main Street
Orange, CA 92868

Monday-Friday 7:00am-7:00pm
Saturday 7:00am-6:00pm
[ Closed Sunday ]

 

HUNTINGTON BEACH STORE
18051 Beach Blvd.
Huntington Beach, CA 92648

*Soft Opening Hours:
Monday-Friday 10:00am-7:00pm
Saturday 10:00am-6:00pm
[Closed Sunday]

 

What kind of toppings would you put in your bowl? nuts? fruit? honey?

 

XOXO,

Rockstar

On a Roll with “Tasty Food to Go” in Long Beach, CA

Generous portions and an affordable price-point makes Cheap Eats one of my favorite cuisines as it’s good for both the tummy and wallet. I recently discovered this little hole-in-the-wall called “Tasty Food to Go” (2015 E 10th St, Long Beach, CA 90804) and loved everything about it except for the parking – the parking is atrocious, but definitely worth the fight for good eats!

Pad See Ew ($8.75 plus tax)

Recognized by the OC Weekly and Yelps Top 100 Places to Eat 2017 Edition I had high expectations for this restaurant. On the outside the restaurant is a no frills joint with an exposed kitchen and couple of high top counter space for patrons to nibble on their food, but as you enter you can smell all the aromatics making your stomach hunger for just a bite.

Menu and seating area

Most guests called in their order, but since it was my first visit I decided to see all their options and ask for recommendations. They make all their items to order and the portions are definitely abundant. My friend and I ordered the Pad See Ew and Crispy Pork and the former was a homerun. I think the crispy pork was a tad over fried in the 2nd entree, but the flavors on the sauce were dynamite! Another customer who was awaiting her order mentioned ordering the papaya salad prepared the traditional way as a must get – so I guess I know what I’ll be getting on my next visit!

Where do you go to get take-out?

 

XOXO,

Rockstar

Gigantic Japanese Sammy’s for Cheap in Fullerton, CA

Sandwiches are one of the best creations in the whole world and I was beyond excited when I discovered this hidden gem combined my favorite cuisine (Japanese) in one of the greatest lunch-time forms – the sandwich.  I’m surprised that I hadn’t discovered Mr. Katsu (3165 Yorba Linda Blvd, Fullerton, CA 92831) sooner as the price-point is very reasonable and the whole restaurant feel is very up my alley (kawaii and cute kitties galore), yet I’m glad that I did as it’s a fun casual environment to meet up with friends and family.      “Sandwiched” in an unassuming plaza, this small mom and pop shop masterfully builds various katsu creations and if you’re up for an Instagram-worthy and tasty meal get ready! The Habanero Pesto Katsu is their most popular item, but as a certified spice wuss I decided to go for The Original ($9) – with Pork Katsu, Cole Slaw and Katsu Sauce. The sandwich is no joke and thick cut of Texas toast with the crunchy slaw and juicy meat works so harmoniously together.   They also serve potato puffs which are crunchy on the outside and light and airy on the side – a perfect ball of joy, but be careful when eating it. I popped one in my mouth and just realized that it was freshly fried and almost burned my mouth. It’s super tasty otherwise and it also comes with a side dipping sauce.

What sides do you eat with your lunch?

 

 

XOXO,

Rockstar

Tasting the Best Banana Pudding West of the Mississippi in Long Beach, CA

At the tail-end of 2018 I had the opportunity to visit the South and sampled a ton of comfort food and decadent desserts and while the Atlanta trip had some truly divine gems (Droolworthy BrunchSublime Donuts, Soulful Supper), I was not impressed with any restaurants Banana Pudding. Thankfully, I found a Mabels Gourmet Pralines (625 Pine Ave, Long Beach, CA 90802) a local mom and pop shop in California that did not disappoint.   While Mabel’s specializes in pralines (and on my visit they sold out) they also highlight their Banana Pudding with the same care and prestige. The pudding is smooth and there’s fresh cut bananas and Nilla wafers in almost every bite. They use fresh quality ingredients and let me tell you the proof is in the pudding! I love supporting small businesses and I hope on my next visit I’ll be able to try the pralines!

Do you have a sweet tooth? What’s your favorite dessert to eat?

 

 

XOXO,

Rockstar

Devouring Ugly Delicious Seafood Endorsed by Jonathan Gold in Pomona, CA

Mexican food and Socal are synonymous with one another, and some of the best are found in dingy hole-in-the-wall restaurants. During my Anime Los Angeles Trip (ALA Cosplay Post, ALA Ribbon Trading, ALA My Hero Academia Panel), I had the opportunity to try a variety of restaurants including amazing Indian food at Ashirwad the Blessings and one of the best burgers at Daddy O’s Rockin Cafe, but my favorite restaurant on that trip was Mariscos Jalisco in Pomona, CA. If you love seafood you’re in for a real treat!

Botana ($21) and Taco ($2.25)

With a 5 star review average on Yelp and listed on Jonathan Gold’s 101 Best Restaurant, I wanted to see if it’s as amazing as the reviews. With a shabby exterior, you would most certainly drive by and not think twice about going in; however, my motto in “Never Judge a Book By it’s Cover” is one that I always stand by. So, My friend and I shared the Botana ($21) a box of ceviche that included abalone, squid, fish, shrimp, and avocado with chips on the side as well as their famous deep fried tacos. The ceviche ingredients were very simple, but tasted very fresh and I devoured that taco instantly.

Tostado Menu

The Botana has the most variety of seafood, but if you’re dining here alone they offer personal size tostada’s with different combinations of seafood. This hole-in-the-wall restaurant truly is a gem and with 2 trucks and 2 brick and mortar stores.

  1. Mariscos Jalisco  – 3040 E Olympic Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90023 (Boyle Heights)
  2. Mariscos Jalisco  – 753 E Holt Ave, Pomona, 91767
  3. Mariscos Jalisco (truck) – E 10th St and Towne Ave, Los Angeles CA 90021
  4. Mariscos Jalisco (truck ) – S Figueroa St and 140th Street, Los Angeles CA

I’d totally make this my go-to taco shop if I lived closer, where do you go to curb your Mexican cravings?

 

XOXO,

Rockstar

Chowing Down on one of the Best All American Classics in Upland, CA

I love trying new exotic restaurant when I travel and on my recent trip to Pomona I visited Ashiwad The Blessing (post here) and had an amazing experience. Yet, some of my friends aren’t nearly as adventurous so finding a familiar alternative without compromising flavor and taste ranked on top of my list. I found Daddy O’s Rockin Cafe with a perfect 5 star Yelp rating and thought I’d see if this classic diner was going to be a home-run.

Cheeseburger

The menu was simple and focused on few items as they pride themselves in making their burgers fresh and hand picking their produce daily! Naturally, my friend and I ordered a classic cheeseburger and a side of crinkle cut french fries. The burger was delicious, my friend demolished his and soon after I as well. The cheese was melted perfectly and the patty is cooked medium rare keeping it juicy, but the real star was the bread. Oh lord! That bun was a little denser and chewier which really heightened my eating experience. The owner later informed me that they use a potato bun, which differentiates them from other burger joints.

The diner evoked American charm coupled with the rockin’ burger I definitely get this restaurant two thumbs up!

Where would you go to feed a picky eater?

 

XOXO,

 

Rockstar

Vegetarian Convert?! Feasting on an Explosion of Flavors for Cheap in Upland, CA

When I was researching restaurants in the Inland Empire, I read rave reviews about Ashiwad The Blessing. This vegetarian restaurant had a 4.5 star rating on yelp and with a “eating healthy” new years resolution I was curious to see what it was all about. Additionally, it had dinner hours that extended in the late evening (9pm), which also contributed to my trip plans.

Khamni – Appetizer

Located in an unassuming strip mall, my friend and I wandered in to the simple, but clean restaurant. We were seated prompted and our waiter educated us about the diverse menu option. After thoughtful consideration we started the evening with the Sev Khamni ($4.99), a steamed chick pea. This gluten-free appetizer came with a sweet and spicy sauce accompaniment and was beautifully presented.  The portion was very generous as a starter and served as a great introduction for our enormous entree.

Thali – entree

To share my friend and I ordered the Thali ($14.99) – A complete meal with your choice of vegetables (we opted for a seasonal eggplants and sweet potatoe mix), soup, rotis, rice, raita, snack, and dessert (fried donut). This picture doesn’t do it justice in the size of the offering, and the taste was just was full and robust. There were so many complex flavors that I couldn’t help myself but mixing and matching the items. Everything tasted so earthy and there was no meat! Our total for two came out to about $20ish dollars which is so inexpensive considering the portion and taste. I loved it!

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Dining area

I love meat as much as the next person, but after eating this meal I didn’t miss it. I’m not likely to go full blown vegetarian, but I wouldn’t mind incorporating a meal like this into my routine.

What’s your favorite meatless meal?

 

 

XOXO,

Rockstar