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

 

 

Indulging in a truly Sublime treat in Atlanta, GA

If I had a choice between sweet and savory, I would always opt for the later. However Sublime Doughnut was a recipient of the Bake Magazine’s America’s Best Bakery of 2012 and earned multiple endorsements from Food Network and The Cooking Channel, so naturally I had to see for myself if I do or do-nut agree with the critics.  :p

Box of doughnuts!

There are two locations in Georgia and one in Thailand, so I went to the original brick and mortar store near Georgia Tech (535 10th St NW, Atlanta, GA 30318). On the outside it looked like any other donut shop in a strip mall; however, one inside you can’t help but feel kawaii and in need of something sweet.

Selection!

After looking at the selection my friend I decided to share three: Chocolate Banana Fritter, Orange Creamsicle, and Fresh Strawberry n Cream. All three were really airy and light, unlike many doughnut shops and before I knew it the box was empty. Although I do think I have a slight preference towards chocolate banana fritter – yum!

Do you have a sweet tooth? Where do you go to curb your sweet craving?

 

XOXO,

Rockstar

Tasting flavors from around the World at the Coca-Cola Museum in Atlanta, GA

No visit to Atlanta would be complete without a trip to the World of Coca-Cola museum and as a first time visitor to the great peach state I made sure to pay them a visit. It’s for all intensive purposes the state drink and as an educator I’m always interested to learn about the origin of something so iconic.

Coca Cola decor and photo opts

Shortly after purchasing the tickets, my friend and I were greeted in the lobby then escorted to a theater highlighting Coke’s campaign for making memories. The short clip had me teary-eyed at the end and we were released to explore the various rooms. There were many digital and interactive experiences as well as ample photo opportunities. One of the rooms also had the original formula tucked behind a highly protected vault.While I don’t regularly drink carbonated beverages in general one of the highlights of the trip was sampling coke products from around the world. They divided the drink areas by continents and my favorites were definitely the drinks in Asia and Latin America, as they leaned more fruity. The Beverly in Italy certainly left an impression on me and I know why the Coke employee was so smug when recommending  this “popular” drink.  Regardless if you drink coke products or not, the museum is pretty fascinating and I admire the entrepreneurial spirit behind coke brand.

Have you tried coke products abroad? What’s your favorite?

 

XOXO,

Rockstar

 

 

Earthy Cheap Beer and Affordable Hangover Food That’s Great Eaten Sober in Las Vegas, NV

I visit Las Vegas annually with my family and while I’ve heard of Ellis Island Hotel, Casino and Brewery I’ve never actually visited The Village Pub. Friends have often posted photos of the cheap eats there so this year I decided to check it out as it was walking distance from my hotel.

Posing in front of the Ellis Island Tree

Upon entering the building, the casino has an old school charm to it, the restaurant had multiple plaques indicating awards it’s won in the past including: Best Microbrewery and Best Cheap Eats. My friend and I decided to share the Steak and Eggs ($11.99 – I’m sure cheaper if we played with the Players Card), a pint of rootbeer ($2.50) and a pint of their seasonal beer ($2.50).

Steak and Eggs

I wasn’t expecting much, but to my surprise out came a what appeared to be a filet cut chunk with my two over-easy eggs. The steak was cooked perfectly medium rare and tasted as if it was from a fine-dinning restaurant – you could have fooled me! The sourdough toast was a nice touch and while the potatoes were forgettable, the overall meal was a hearty-one. The beer was surprisingly very VERY good. I even liked it more than the housemade root-beer that my friend ordered for me. lol I thoroughly enjoyed my experience here and for less than $20 this establishment is a great place to catch up with friends and enjoy a warm meal for cheap.

What do you eat for a late night snack?

XOXO,

Rockstar

Biting into Explosive Flavors at the Best Deli – Zunzi’s in Atlanta, Georgia

My friend and I were conversing with some Atlanta locals on their favorite restaurants and one gushed about Zunzi’s, a counter-served eatery highlighting South African inspired sandwiches. The concept seemed foreign to me, but with a Laotian restaurant standing as one of my top picks (Snack Boxe Bistro Post) in Atlanta , I was excited to see what Zunzi was all about.

Menu and Drinks

While the sandwich shop highlights flavors from South Africa, the first brick-and-mortar location started in Savannah, Georgia (about 4 hours away). With an instant cult following, Zunzi branched out with a second location in Atlanta and I was informed that the masses have yet to discover the legendary sandwiches. On my visit, I was able to order within minutes of my arrival. Works for me!

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The Conquistador with avocado (extra)

There were 5 sandwich options and my friend and I decided to split one of their most popular one – “The Conquistador” with smashed avocado. To the eye this french bread and chicken sandwich seemed very ordinary, but the “Shit Yeah Sauce” was definitely anything but. It really heightens the sandwich experience and in many ways reminds me of Ike’s Place’s Dirty Secret Sauce. The combination of a slightly crunchy exterior and fluffy interior, with the creamy avocado, and tangy sauce gave so much dimension to the chicken and produce. Everything just worked so well together and my friend commented on how quiet I was during the entire meal. Lol

As of today there are two locations, but the manager of this location informed me that they’re planning to expand and potentially move out west. The establishment is the real deal, and if they open up a location close to work I probably would go here once a week, but you heard it here first!

What your go to sandwich order?

 

 

XOXO,

 

Rockstar

Savoring Soul Food on Mary Macs in Atlanta, Georgia

Comfort food is a category I know all to well. It’s when food makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside and preps you for long cat nap, yet I’ve only had soul food a handful of times. Based on rave reviews I’ve visited both Fox Bros BBQ and Sweet Auburn BBQ and both were good, but it left me craving for more. On my visit to Mary Mac’s I was stuffed to the brim and extremely satisfied with experience from beginning to end.

Complimentary bread and Pot Likker with cornbread.

Just down the street from the Fox Theater in the heart of Midtown this historic destination has been serving locals and celebrities alike for over 70 years. While parking can be a challenge it’s definitely an experience you wouldn’t want to miss when visiting. There are multiple dinning rooms in the building and guests are all presented with a sheet to write in our order. Since it was my first time my friend and I were given a sample of complimentary Pot Likker (a soup of boiled turnips). It was soothing, perfect for the chilly weather and the mini cinnamon rolls were so warm and fluffy. I had to stop myself from eating them all.

Two entrees: Fried Chicken Legs and Shrimp & Grits

Mary Mac’s is known for their Fried Chicken and have won countless awards for it. Guests can order different quantities, but my friend and I opted for three legs since we both love dark meat. Each dish is accompanied by two sides. We ordered tomato pie, broccoli souffle, collard greens, and baked sweet potato – the former two were absolutely delicious.

Mary Mac’s Dinning

The fried chicken legs were very moist and tender, but the skin could have been more crisp. However, the generous portions and affordable price-point, and southern hospitality makes me feel like I’m at a family gathering. There’s ample space and would be perfect to host large parties. In a lot of ways this reminds me of Mrs. Knotts Chicken Dinner, but with more Southern charm.

What part of fried chicken do you grab? Legs? Thighs? Breast? Wings?

 

 

XOXO,

Rockstar

Reviewing Alton Browns “Best Thing I Ever Ate – Messy” Pick at the Red Eyed Mule in Marietta, Georgia

Alton Brown is one of my favorite celebrity chef’s so when he listed The Red Eyed Mule as one of favorite messy meals I wanted to check it out for myself. My friend and I visited several hot spots in Atlanta and Snack Boxe Bistro (blog post) was our #1 restaurant. Would Alton Brown’s pick knock-down our current champion? Would it even make the top 3?

Red Eyed Mule endorsed by Irene and Alton Brown

The restaurant is located in Marietta a city about 20 miles outside of downtown Atlanta with morning/afternoon hours (6am-2pm daily). The brick exterior and humble interior  resembled more of a local’s diner than a celebrity chef hang-out, and I was excited to try the coveted Jake’s Sloppy Slaw Burger.

Jake’s Sloppy Slaw Burger and Diner

The burger arrived and I was blown away by juicy patty made with a combination of coarse-ground chorizo and beef. The thick Texas toast was buttered and grilled to perfect – soft on the side with a beautiful char on the outside.  The slaw and sauce gave the crunch and it was so saucy. I loved it!

Verdict: This was definitely the BEST thing I ever ate in Georgia and for $6.25, I’d glad re-arrange my plans to include this hidden gem in my plans.

Whats your favorite “Messy” item to eat and where do you get it?

 

 

XOXO,

Rockstar

 

Sampling Street Snacks at Snack Boxe Bistro in Atlanta, GA

When I think of Georgia I think of peach pie, fried chicken, and any and all good Southern soul food. Gosh, even the amazing brunch at Hen Mother Cookhouse (Stomach Souvenirs Entry) in Alpharetta would fit the bill. Yet, it’s hard to imagine that Atlanta would be home to one of my favorite ethnic restaurants – Snack Boxe Bistro, a Laotian restaurant focused on street food and one of Atlanta’s newest hot, up and coming restaurant.

(Front: Beef Laap; Back: Mok Pha and Khao Poon)

I’ll admit I was a bit skeptical about trying Laotian food from a restaurant that seemed so far away from the country, but after hearing so many rave reviews I thought I’d check it out myself. My friend and I ordered the following items.

Mok Pha ($8) Banana leaf wrapped steamed herb fish

Khao Poon ($9) Red curry pork vermicelli noodle soup (available weekends only)

Beef Laap ($10) Minced salad with rice powder, kaffir, galanga, chili herbs.

And the verdict…

The Mok Pha was super soft and just melted in your mouth and the Khao Poon, a last minute addition was one of my favorite dish of my Atlanta trip! The were so many different textures and taste profiles that made the soupy noodle dish so complex and delicious. It was a little spicy, a little sweet and all the ingredients just worked so harmoniously. You definitely want to order the Khao Poon if you want an explosion of flavors. I’d love to try the cuisine in the motherland.

What country’s food would you be eager to try?

 

XOXO,

Rockstar

 

 

Spreading Holiday Cheer and Watching the Nutcracker Performance at The Shops Buckhead in Atlanta, Georgia

Ti’s the Season! and The Shops Buckhead Atlanta  made short of no expenses when kicking off their holiday festivities. Garlands and trees were trimmed and the floor was even decorated with Nutcracker artwork. Multiple shops also set up stations giving free seasonal treats including fresh pecan fudge, caramel apple, smores, and spiked cider for adults to enjoy. Patrons could also make their own gingerbread house and I had a blast decorating my little dog house. (It was only after I painted it that UGA chant that it’s “Go Dawgs”, as opposed to “Go dogs” – but I digress)

Holiday Kick-Off

I attended the kick-off festivities on my recent Atlanta Adventure (Stomach Souvenirs Entry 1) and this weekend event  featured both local and international guest entertainers. There were carolers who sang both classic and pop music acapella as well as an amazing violinist who played Top 40 songs with an electric flair. When sun-set talented dancers of the Atlanta Ballet 2 performed iconic pieces to Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker. The dance company dazzled the audience with their grace and flexibility all while balancing on their pointe shoes.

More photos from the Holiday Kick-off

Hundreds of people from near and far enjoyed the festivities and throughout the month shoppers can enjoy ongoing weekend activities from 1:00pm – 5:00pm every Saturday until December 15 while shopping for loved ones or for yourself.

What are you hoping to get this Christmas Day?

 

 

XOXO,

Rockstar