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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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