Archive for the Road trip Category

Best.Pastrami.Ever!

Posted in junkfoodie Hall of Fame, Road trip, SoCal, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on June 25, 2013 by junkfoodie

Now, I love New York delis as much as the next foodie, but for my money, the best pastrami sandwich lives in L.A….or at least it did until I ate it! The thankfully old-school Langer’s Delicatessen-Restaurant 704 S.Alvarado Street, Los Angeles builds the best Pastrami sandwich I’ve ever eaten. I’ve had pastrami sandwiches all over including at old school NYC delis like Katz’s, Carnegie and Lindy’s. I’ve had pastrami at LA fast food joints like Johnnie’s in Culver City, It’s Tops in Pasadena and various branches of the Hat. I’ve even had pastrami on a hot dog at Pink’s and stuffed into a tortilla with chili ,cheese and hot dogs at Oki Dog, but for my money, nothing touches Langer’s pastrami sandwiches. I’ve had it plain, on rye with a little deli mustard, and it was excellent. This last time, I had the #19, which is a pastrami and swiss cheese, Russian dressing and cole slaw on rye. Perfect! Get the pastrami hand cut! And not too lean. The extra fat is essential to the enjoyment of this sandwich. The unctuous, salty fat surrounded by the crusty edges of the pastrami topped by the gooey melted swiss and topped by the creamy cole slaw on their perfect corn rye is just right. The portion isn’t as huge as say, Carnegie in NYC, but it is better pastrami IMHO. What is the difference between pastrami and corned beef, you ask.? Pastrami is simply smoked corned beef. Why thanks junkfoodie! Anyway, the pickles in New York are better than Langer’s, if that makes you New Yorkers feel better. Junkfoodie says Langer’s pastrami sandwich is “Best In Class”, and in my top 5 sandwiches of all time. Junkfoodie says check it out! photo-4

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Pioneer fried chicken! Get it while you can…

Posted in junkfoodie Hall of Fame, Road trip, SoCal on June 20, 2013 by junkfoodie

Anyone remember Pioneer Chicken? Growing up in the Bay Area, I remember eating at Pioneer locations in Oakland, Richmond and San Francisco. The chain was started in the Echo Park neighborhood of Los Angeles in 1961. By the time the original owner sold the business, he had franchised over 270 locations. There are currently only 3 locations left in the US, all in the LA area. Sadly, the original location in Echo Park clphoto-3osed in 2009. I used to like this location best., but now I prefer the location in East LA at 904 South Soto Street. There is a location in Bell Gardens and one on Olympic, but I haven’t heard good things about them from my Socal Junkfoodie friends. The East LA location sells “BBQ” riblets., fried fish, sandwiches and other stuff, but I’ve never tried them. I stick to the fried chicken and always leave happy. There are always specials painted on the windows outside to catch the attention of the passers by. This time we got the 10 piece leg & thighs for $10.99, an order of fries, mashed potatoes, potato salad and and Orange Bang and we were all set.

It’s all about the chicken here. The chicken is dipped in batter before frying in a pressure cooker (I’m guessing) which causes the skin to puff up into a crispy,salty, slightly greasy layer over succulent and juicy meat….perfect. Just the right amount of crunch, moist enough to cause the combination of juice and grease to run down your chin on your first bite.

This is old school fried chicken at it’s best. IMHO, much more flavor than KFC, juicier than Popeye’s and crispier than Church’s. Junkfoodie says get some before the last locations are gone!

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Baja style Fish Tacos! Junkfoodie is back…

Posted in Mexican, Road trip, SoCal on June 15, 2013 by junkfoodie

Sorry for not posting in so long, but Junkfoodie is alive and well, if a little busy. Let me start this post by saying the best Baja style fish tacos I’ve ever had were in Ensenada, at a little stand way off the tourist beaten path, not far from “La Bufadora” or the “Blowhole”. This was about 20 miles from the center of Ensenada, and the shack, or tent really, had an old American man and his Mexican wife making tacos on what looked to be a couple of old metal road signs over a gas fire. On one old sign, he had hammered an indentation large enough to hold maybe a half cupful of oil, which he used to fry up the fish tacos. He hand dipped the fish, which he claimed was right from the waters which his stand overlooked,  to order in his wife’s recipe batter, and carefully placed it into the hot oil. After turning it a few times, he laid the fish onto two corn tortillas along with shredded lettuce and cabbage, and drizzled the whole thing with homemade crema sauce. A spoonful of fresh pico de gallo, and for $1 US, you had a perfect 3 bite fish taco while overlooking the Pacific ocean. I guess this would be the topic of another post, so let me get to the point of this post.

The closest thing I’ve found so far since then is at Taconazo in the Los Angeles area. Taconazo is a mini-chain started in La Puente, CA back in 1978. Since then, they’ve grown to like 8-9 locateions, and the one I went to was located in South El Monte at 9516 South Garvey Ave.

I ordered the fish taco plate with rice and beans ($7.97 for 3 or $6.38 for 2), the fish ceviche tostada ($3.19) and the small shrimp cocktail ($6.99).taconazo

The comblo plates all come with their signature fried peppers, which are chiles rolled in salt& pepper, then quickly deep fried. The fish tacos were indeed Baja style, with nice, firm fillets of whitefish, battered and fried to order. Eat these quickly as the batter is best wile still hot. The cabbage and sauce need a little help, and the salsa bar is just so-so, but the star of the taco is really the fish fillet. Flaky and moist, it was as close as i could find to those in Ensenada.

ceviche tostada

ceviche tostada

The ceviche tostada ($3.19) was just okay. I had to try it in case I missed out on the next great bite, but the fish was a little tougher than I would have liked, probably because it was marinating too long since it was near closing time. The portion size was pretty decent, and the fresh avocado was a nice, creamy complement. One good thing was that the ceviche was not too watery, so the tostada remained crunchy. I did add a little hot salsa, and it was passable, if not perfect.

coctel de camarones

coctel de camarones

The shrimp cocktail was very good. The shrimp were large, clean and not too tough. The sauce was nicely balanced, not too sweet, with a little tang like I like. The other bits in the cocktail included large chunks of avocado, cilantro,  and shredded onion. I would have liked the cilantro to be chopped, and the onion bits to be larger, but I guess that is nitpicking. The small size cocktail ($6.99) was generous, especially when eaten with the combo plate and tostada. all in all, worth a slight detour if you are near one of the Taconazo locations in Socal. You could certainly do a lot worse for fish tacos.

Tito’s Tacos-Culver City, CA

Posted in junkfoodie Hall of Fame, Road trip, SoCal on May 14, 2011 by junkfoodie

One of my favorite junkfoodie stops in the LA area is Tito’s Taco’s in Culver City. Culver City is one of my favorite junkfoodie cities anywhere, but that’s for another post. Tito’s is an old school Mexican-American taco stand that has been around seemingly forever, and is perpetually crowded, day or night. Forget about soft tacos al pastor, or tortas Milanesa here. This is strictly Mexican-American fast food in the best sense of the word. The beef filling is slowly simmered chili colorado; chunks of tender beef in a deep,  cinnamon colored sauce that’s not spicy at all, but extremely comforting. The tacos are filled with the beef into hard, fried on the premises taco shells, and then stuffed with shredded iceberg lettuce and, if you request it (make sure you do), shredded cheddar cheese. Delicious, almost retro, Mexican-American fast food at it’s best, and the tacos are like $1.70 each plus 50 cents for the cheese ($2.20) The beans for the burritos are your choice of refried, or refried. The beef, bean and cheese burrito costs a whopping $4.15, but is perect with the crunchy tacos to sooth your jaws after all that crunching. The house-fried chips are dumped into the box your food comes in, and is served with their “famous” slushy salsa. Perfect for drizzling onto the tacos.

Not even remotely trendy, Tito’s is the kind of Mexican food most Americans ate back in the ’60’s and ’70’s. It’s little more than a stand with 12 tables inside, and maybe 6 communal picnic tables outside on two patios. It’s always crowded in the 2 ordering lines inside and the 5 or 6 ordering lines outside, but the queues move fast. I’ve eaten here dozens of time, and every time, everyone around me looks very happy, which is always a good sign. A junkfoodie must-stop when in Culver City. Bonus points for sharing a parking lot (almost) with another junkfoodie favorite, Johnnie’s Pastrami (more on that later).

Good Girl Dinette

Posted in Road trip on July 24, 2009 by junkfoodie

Our next stop on our recent LA trip was the Good Girl Dinette in Highland Park. it’s a bit out of the way, but it was 3 weeks old or so when we went, and bills itself as ” american diner meets vietnames comfort food”. How could we NOT try it? It’s a spare, industrial looking place with large plate glass windows in front. It has the original wooden beams and planks, and you could imagine the place once being an old sweat shop or wholesale butcher or something like that. I mean this in a good way. It is not too easy to see at night, as when we went the awning was still rolled up and in a box inside.

 

While perusing the menu, we had their house-made pop ($3.50). Fresh squeezed lime, oranges or grapefruit mixed with spakling water. the lime and the grapefruit were both refreshing, and not too sweet. We ssetlled on starters of Fresh Spring Rolls ($6.25), Chicken Imperial Rolls ($5.50) and Rice Cakes with Crispy Scallion Tofu ($4.50). Interesting, but you’ve probably had better versions of the Spring rolls and Imperial rolls elsewhere.

 I had the chicken curry ($10) served with rice and seasonal greens. Again, just okay. One thing that was better than okay was the Pint-Sized Pho ($5). The pho were floating in a terrific chicken brith, which was more flavorful than any I’ve had made with chicken. If I return, I’m definitely having the large order of Grandma’s Pho ($9), which is, presumably, a larger portion of the Pint-sixed pho.

I really like the concept here, but it’s more of a lunch or snack place than a dinner spot. There didn’t seem to be anything I’d like to order for dinner. It’s perfect for the meal after dinner though. (What, you don’t eat a meal after dinner?)

 

Good Girl Dinette 110 North Avenue 56 Highland Park, CA 90042 (323)257.8980

back in action: SoCal edition

Posted in Road trip on July 24, 2009 by junkfoodie

It’s been a while since my last post, mostly due to laziness and technical difficulties. I recently switched over from my longtime Treo to an iPhone, and during the transition, I lost a lot of the photos taken on my travels. the good news is that I recently was able to recover the shots, AND the iPhone takes much cleaner photos. Here are a few posts from a semi-recent trip to LA.

We had a lot of great experiences on this last roaad trip, but none better than our trip to Dulan’s Soul Food Kitchen Restaurant in Inglewood. Now, if you’ve been to this this neighborhood near the LA Forum, you know that Soul Food is not that uncommon. I’ve had my share of Soul Food, but I think what makes this place stand out was the friendliness of the staff there. The place is a small, homey place with a steam table and counter on one side, and 4-5 tables in the rest of the place. The windows look out onto Manchester Boulevard and all the sights that come with the neighborhood. the staff welcomed us like we were family, and the older gentleman with the gold chains happily rearranged seats and cheerfully moved some diners into other tables so our party could sit together. He was very chatty, and without verbalizing it seemed to think ” What in the hell made you come down to the ‘hood at this time of night to eat here?”

The answer was simple. Oxtails. too bad they were out that night, so I settled for the short ribs ($15.95). All dinners come with three sides, so I opted for the collard greens, candied yams and black eyed peas. Others in our group had the fried chicken ($11.99) and smothered chicken ($11.99) with sides of mac & cheese, mashed potatoes and gravy, corn and okra and red beans. The food was pretty good and the portions were generous for sure. the fried chicken was just average with a mildly seasoned crust hanging onto the juicy meat beneath. Very good, but not terrific. There are several desserts, including a house made peach cobbler and banana pudding, and some interesting looking brought-in cakes and pies. When we were there, I saw sweet potato pie, pineapple coconut cake, red velvet cake, 7up cake and german chocolate cake. I can’t attest to the quality, as we passed on dessert here as we planned to head elsewhere for that.

 All in all, a fun experience, definitely worth the money. They are open for “late-night supper from 8-10PM on Tuesday through Thursday, and 8-11PM Friday and Saturday. Otherwise they are open 7days a week for lunch 11-4 and dinner 4-8. Check it out if you are nearby. .Dulan’s Soul Food Kitchen 202 E.Manchester Blvd. Inglewood, CA 90302 (3100671-3345

Burrito King breakfast, LA

Posted in Road trip with tags , , , on September 13, 2008 by junkfoodie

Here is a pic of my breakfast from Burrito King in Los Angeles. Let me preface this post by saying that Burrito King is NOT my favorite taco stand in LA, but it is my wife’s favorite. They have several branches, but this shot is from their Hyperion location. We often hit the Echo Park location at Sunset and Alvarado late at night, and it’s usually pretty crowded, and fairly safe. They seem to have a more extensive menu at the Sunset location, but the Hyperion location has a serve-yourself salsa/condiment bar which has chopped onions, lime, cilantro and encurtido in addition to several salsas.

This plate pretty much sums up what Burrito King is all about: cheap, plentiful portions of decent-but-not-great Mexican-American food. This photo is of the “Mexican Breakfast #2” or Machaca con Huevos. They describe this as “shredded beef prepared with mild Mexican spices and scrambled with two eggs and served with rice and refried beans”. I topped mine with onions, cilantro, salsa and encurtido (pickled carrots, onions and peppers), and ended up with a serious plate of breakfast for only $4.65!