Over the weekend I was craving for some authentic street tacos and Taqueria Tapatia (Yelp) in Santa Ana, CA was highly recommended by two of my Mexican friends. Located near Santa Ana College this hole-in-the-wall was a poppin’ place at 9pm. Additionally, it was a cash only establishment and 95% of the clientele looked Hispanic so based on my initial observation it was a good sign for it being a legit experience.
After looking through the menu my friend and I decided to try all their tacos since they were only $1.35 so we grabbed one of each! We did the Al Pastor, Asada (+$.27), Lengua (+$.27), Chorizo (+$.27), Carnitas, Pollo Adobado, Buche, Cabeza, and Birria. After waiting 10 minutes or so the hostess called out our order and the three plates looked so incredibly drool-worthy!
I tried a bite of every taco and suffice to say they tasted very authentic. The meats were juicy and the flavors were distinct. I sincerely enjoyed them although I unfortunately had no idea which taco I tried. LOL However, I do know that I didn’t care for the lengua (beef tongue). I wasn’t a fan of the texture, but all the other tacos were definitely on point and would order again.
What type of taco would you order? Asada? Carnitas? Something else?
I live in Southern California so I have very high expectations of Mexican food so when I learned that Chicago has a thriving tamale scene I had to see it for myself. After extensive research many reviewers gave high marks to “The Tamale Lady” in Pilsen and raved about her hand-made pockets of joy especially the ones with spicy green sauce. A few even stated that there would be long lines bright and early in the morning and that they were worth the wait.
The weather forecasted rain, but since I saw photos of her standing in the snow during the winter months I had no doubt she’d sell her goods in case it poured cats and dogs – and I was right! There was no line at 9am (probably because of the rain and humidity) and she had everything available. I decided to grab a dozen of the tamales with green chicken (spicy) and a half dozen with red pork (mild) to bring back home for my family and friends to enjoy a piece of Chicago. But before packing them up, I took it upon myself to be a guinea pig and taste test one of the red ones. Oh-Em-Gee, it was delicious!! The corn to meat ratio was perfect and the flavor brought everything together cohesively.
I recently went to a “must eat” tamale shop in LA recently, and I would rather have the tamales from THIS lady. For $15 a dozen or $1.25 for a single, I would definitely come back and buy more!
Between the two tamales – if you could only have one which would you pick? Red Pork (mild) or Green Chicken (spicy)?
The global culinary adventures continue on my Midwest Trip! Before heading to Chicago, my friend and I wanted to grab a bite before driving to our next destination. We looked through yelp and found this highly rated mom and pop shop. We’ve tried African in Cleveland, Ohio (Post here) and Lebanese in Detroit, Michigan (Post here), so why not try El Savadorian in South Bend, Indiana? Suffice to say, the food was prepared fresh and cost was dirt cheap!
When we plugged in the address into the GPS we were very confused by the address since we were driving by multiple residential areas and there wasn’t a shopping plaza or some type of communal area for people to gather. Finally, we pulled up at what we thought was someone’s house (there was a small sign) and entered.
The establishment was very bare, but on the far side of the wall there was a beautiful painting of women hand-making some pupusa’s. An elder woman (whom I suspected was the chef, host, and cashier) greeted us at the counter. We each ordered the “Special” and soon we were noming on her freshly made creations. There were three flavors, pork/cheese, bean/cheese, and cheese so we decided to do one of each. These pupusa’s had simple ingredients, but because they were freshly made I thoroughly enjoyed them and for just $7 I’d gladly come back for these cheap eats.
Among the flavors which would you try?
525 N Eddy St., South Bend, IN 46617
As my friend and I continued our Midwest Travels and headed North from our next stop was Detroit, Michigan. Unfortunately it was raining cats and dogs on our visit so we decided to head towards Dearborun, home to Motor Citie’s very own Henry Ford (yes, of the Ford Car Company). Along the way we decided to check out Al Tayeb Restaurant (Yelp), a Lebanese breakfast shop, and fill our tummies with some warm food. Upon entering we saw a mostly middle eastern clientele and were excited to start our day with an authentic breakfast.
We started the meal with some complimentary tea and glanced around the room to see what other tables ordered. It looked like a family style meal with members ordering a few items to share and while my friend and I were only two people we ordered four items to share. It was way too much food, but the colors and taste were worth it!
We were recommended the fool ($7.99) as it was a crowd favorite, along with the Fatteh, cooked chick peas with garlic yogurt and pan fried nuts ($8.99), Hummus ($7.99), and Spicy Potatoes ($5.99). I wasn’t a fan of the fool, but loved making mini pita sandwiches with their fatteh, hummus, and assortment of veggies. It felt light and you could mix and match for different textures and tastes.
What kind of meal would warm you up on a cold rainy day?
Al Tayeb Restaurant 873 Inkster Rd, Garden City, MI 48135 (734) 237-4606
I generally try to refrain from eating theme park food, so I heavily researched local bakeries that were along my route from Cleveland to Cedar Point and found Fragapane Bakery (yelp) as an inexpensive local option. I’d read many positive review, but holy cow! I was not expecting to be blown away by this mom and pop shop. They’re known for their cold subs and while I was expecting a standard subway size sandwich, I was given over a pound of meat that lasted me for three meals! THREE!!!
They use Boar’s Head products and allow you to sample before making your final selection. I couldn’t decided so I ordered the 3 meat combo (teriyaki ham, corned beef, chicken) and with Provolone cheese and mayo. I’m still amazed at how much meat they gave you – and when my friend and I were eating lunch at Cedar Point several people were eyeing ours subs. For $6.99 I was beyond impressed and know that if I make another trip to Cedar Point from Cleveland, Fragapane will surely be my grab-and-go option!
What meat would you select in your sub?
28625 Lorain Road, North Olmsted, Ohio 44070
Fragapane Bakery 650 Dover Center Rd, Bay Village, OH 44140
When you think of Cleveland, OH you probably think of the Drew Carey Show and maybe the Ohio State Buckeyes. It’s doubtful to even consider a predominately Caucasian area to be home to authentic mouthwatering African cuisine; however, after extensive research with many positive reviews I was curious to see if Kifaya’s Kitchen’s would truly be a diamond in the rough.
My friend and I finished a day of exploring Garfield’s Memorial (post here) and another iconic landmark that you will get to read bout next week (!!!) and eagerly anticipated our dinner. We drove up to the hole-in-the-wall with some reservations as the exterior evoked a Chinese take-out vibe. Nevertheless the philsophy of “never judge a book by it’s cover” could not be more true here.
The menu was very simple with one page of offerings. We wanted to sample their goat dish; however, they were out so we settled on a chicken platter with rice and vegetables. For $16.10 we were given this massive plate and a side of salad. The charred chicken was a little dry, but the vegetable stew mixture with their rice was money. My friend and I kept scooping spoonfuls into our mouths. It was so delicious I can only imagine how delicious the goat would have tasted, but we did come at the tail end of the night. Overall, this quaint mom and pop shop was a win in my book and I recommend for locals and tourists alike to check ’em out.
On my Facebook feed I saw video that featured an impressive spread of food laid across several banana leaves. There was rice, meat, fruit among other things and the video made me drool across my keyboard. I inquired about this custom with one of my Filipino friends and he asked if I was interested to partake in Kamayan Feast, also known as the the Boodle Fight. I instantly said yes!!
The video that I watched was a shop located in Anaheim, but this friend said that Nova’s Grill (Yelp) in Covina (while far) would be an authentic experience as he knew the owner and had visited in the past. And as an added bonus this boodle fight was basically $10 per person (minimum of 8 people). My friend make a reservation for 20 and we easily found friends to join in on the fun. We had two tables and were ready to devour everything!
The setup was quite impressive and for this location they gave every participate an entire fish! (!!!). At the center the table shrimp and sig sig (pork belly mixture) were communal offerings and lumpias (egg rolls) were scattered throughout the table. Initially I was hesitant on how to start, but after grabbing with my fingers, tearing pieces, and dipping them in the different mixtures was so much fun! There’s something really satisfying with eating with your hands and not worrying about making a mess. lol
989 W San Bernardino RdCovina, CA 91722
It’s not often that I travel to this part of Los Angeles, but when my friend bragged about this place in great detail I decided to see what it was all about. On Yelp FurnSaj Bakery and Restaurant is one of a few restaurants with a perfect 5 star rating and with over 700 reviews I figure it was certainly worth a trip to see for myself.
The restaurant is situated in a strip mall and while on the outside it looks like any typical shop this casual bakery has a great selection of Lebanese food for all to enjoy. My friend and I shared a lamb gyro plate ($12.99), which included succulent slices of lamb, two sides and saj bread. we could barely finish half and I ordered another cheese bread with honey ($3.99) because I was curious to test it out. There was way too much food, but everything was prepared on the spot so it was all delicious!
For less than $20 and two people can enjoy an affordable and tasty meal with ample leftovers. I can’t wait to come back and try some of the other labneh combinations.
FurnSaj Bakery and Restaurant
11146 Balboa Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 91344
Have you tried Lebanese food? What’s your favorite item?
Sashimi is one of my favorite foods. It’s both healthy and tasty, but often comes with a premium price tag. However, my good friend recommended this uh-mazing fish market – Yama Seafood (Yelp), which serves high quality tuna, salmon, yellowtail etc at a very affordable pricepoint making it the holy trinity meal (Cheap, Healthy, Tasty). As such Yama’s is on my regular circuit of places to eat at when I’m visiting the area.
There’s usually a long line at all peck meal hours (think lunch and dinner time rush) most of the week for Mr. Yama to cut the fish. He’s well known in the Japanese community as being an amazing fishmonger as he takes his time to carefully craft each cut and it’s definitely worth it. I think the two plates of food above was around $60 and super filling for two people.
The quality is very comparable to a $$$ Japanese sushi restaurant, but for a fraction of the cost since you’re not paying for a traditional dinning experience. Personally, I value quality food over a scenic environment, so my friend and I often take the styrofoam plate back to her place to enjoy at home.
911 W Las Tunas Dr
San Gabriel, CA 91776
This post is long overdue, and while I can’t say I’m an expert in Sri Lankan cuisine I know what I like and Rice N Spice (Yelp) has successfully combined mouthwatering profiles at an affordable price-point for all to enjoy. It’s really the best of both worlds, I remember fondly after I had an amazing time at Wondercon (Batman 80th Bday Post, Dark Phoenix Panel Post, Shazam Advanced Screening) I was famished and wanted to end the weekend on a high note with some bold flavors. Rice N Spice did that and while it didn’t follow my traditional Keto diet (Other restaurant alternative: Sashimi Bowl post, Brazillian BBQ post), although they did have vegetarian options it was well worth the calories!
Located about 1.5 miles west from the Anaheim Convention Center, this hole in wall is a small, but clean shop with a buffet set-up similar to an Chinese or Indian fast food joint. You would certainly drive right past it as it’s tucked right in the corner of this no nonsense strip mall, but parking was easy and the hospitality was welcoming.
My friends and I studied the menu carefully and decided on the following: Godamba Roti $11.49 (House-made 1 egg roti and 2 godamba roti served with curry, sambol and choice of protein), Lamprais $11.99 (Rice simmered in brother with boiled-fried egg, eggplant mixed curry, fried shrimp sambol, pineapple curry with chicken, wrapped and baked in a banana leaf), and Kottu $10 (House-made godamba roti mixed with egg, vegetables and chioce of chicken, mutton, or beef curry).
They made my roti fresh and when it came out it was flaky and perfect to dip with the side dishes. My friends who ordered the Lamprais and Kottu were given beautifully presented entrees and all the dishes tasted just as good as it looked, although I think my roti dish was the best 🙂
I’ll definitely be back when I’m attending a convention in Anaheim. The food is plentiful and tasty and I always love supporting mom n’ pop shops.