Archive for the SoCal 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.

Best blueberry donuts?

Posted in SoCal on September 18, 2012 by junkfoodie

If you are ever in Southern Cal (Orange County to be exact) and are in the mood for a good donut, you have to stop off at M&M Donuts in Anaheim (1614 W. Katella,  Anaheim), a few blocks from Disneyland. Go there for the blueberry donuts! These are not some gourmet,  fresh bluberries,  organic gluten-free flour donuts. These are your old-school blueberry cake mix donuts but done right. They are very crispy, almost crunchy on the outside, lightly glazed and perfectly moist insode. They are are cooked dark brown, to order. Yes, you heard me…. to order. They are only avaiable after 9PM, and each order is dropped in the oil when you order it, so the wait can be 10-20 minutes once you order. At 75 cents apiece, definitely worth the wait, so if you’re near Disneyland late at night, check it out!

Original Pantry- LA

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

Steak and eggs at 3:00AM? No problem. Craving grilled pork chops, mashed potatoes and gravy first thing in the morning? Check. This authentically old school diner is open 24 hours, and whil not neccessarily in the under $10 range, the fact that you know you can always get a bite there any day any time qualifies this dDwontown LA landmaek as a junkfoodie Hall-of-Famer.

Country Fried Steak , housemade mashed potatoes, corn($14.50)

Grilled pork chops, hash browns and corn ($13.95)

The portions are huge, and the food is well made, albeit not neccessarily exciting. Portuguese sausage. eggs, hash browns, toast and coffee for $8.95 is something you can’t go wrong with. Anything off the grill or any of the breakfast items are safe bets. Some of the daily specials are worth trying, but are more hit and miss.

What you come here for is the convenience and dependability of a place that’s been open since 1924.You also come for the old school vibe. Some of the waiters look like they’ve been here since the place opened. A few things have changed since I started coming here. They used to plop down a platter of carrot sticks, celery sticks and pickles on a bed of ice cubes. That is gone, but they still feature their “Pantry Set Up”, which is a plate of runny cole slaw and sourdough bread and butter.

Cutting edge cuisine? No. Trendy upscale decor? No. Authentic character? Solid American diner food with huge portions? Yes and Yes. A junkfoodie Hall-of-Famer.

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).