June 2014

Papa Cristo’s – The Gyro is King

by Franklin on June 26, 2014

Papa Cristo’s has been an LA fixture as long as I can remember. The green painting along the Pico/Normandie street walls made it quite distinct in the area. It all started with a market opening in 1948. Owner Sam Chrys wanted to bring Greek goods to Los Angeles, importing everything from Greece. Not only until the 1990’s did Papa Cristo’s develop into a restaurant. The business is still family run and is overlooked by the 3rd generations. The same quality and standards are still met today. Papa Cristo’s is the epitome of Greek food in Los Angeles. If you want legitimate Greek food that tastes good, this is the place.

We started off with the spanakopita. The dough was flakey and delicious — the inside spinach and cheese mix was perfectly balanced. It is a rich filled pastry, and after 2 bites, I was sick of it. Definitely, some hot sauce went a long way with this pocket of dough and filling.

Above all items on the menu, the lamb gyro is a must order. Everything in this wrap is perfect. Even the tomatoes tasted delicious. I literally took a bite of the tomato and thought to myself “wow, this tastes like a tomato”. All the other times I ate a tomato, it tasted like nothing. This is when I knew the ingredients used are all so fresh and of the best kind. The pita was warm and fluffy and soft as a pillow. The best part of course was the gyro meat. It had the right amount of spices and saltiness, and the cooking made it the perfect crispy crust on the outside. All together with the vegetables and the tzatziki made for an outstanding gyro.

The spinach pizza in hind sight was a disappointment. The same filling for the spanakotpita was used for this pizza. Pita bread stood in place of the pizza dough, and the spinach mixture was slathered on. Then it was generously topped with feta and then baked. The pita does not make for good pizza dough, and the spinach mixture was just overwhelmingly rich. The feta did not help with this at all. Again, some jalapenos or hot sauce would have worked wonders on this.

The Galactobaklava was such an interesting concept, and just had to try it. At $1.50, it was well worth it. The baklava filled, phylo dough wrapped, custard filled dessert had an array of flavors and textures. The crispy from the phylo dough, and the custard made a nice contrast. The baklava on the inside was just over the top. This was a perfect ending to a perfect meal. A scoop of ice cream on the side would have been better, I suppose.

Papa Cristo’s remains to be my favorite spot for Greek food. The market place is always fun to browse around and see. I always know the olives and feta are the best of the best. And the gyro is world class. I like how even after all of these years, Papa Cristo’s strives to be the best, and stayed the same over the past 60 years. Papa Cristo’s is The Greek Food in Los Angeles

Papa Cristo's on Urbanspoon

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Oh the milky bun. Being one of the food trends of 2014, the milky bun is a hit that started in Orange County. AFTERS Ice Cream shop in Fountain Valley started it all. Started by two trend setting clothing designers, the milky bun is a simple recipe. A somewhat warm donut stuffed with cold ice cream. That is all. Honestly though, ice cream and donuts is the golden combination. It’s like brownies and ice cream, but better? Yeah, I would say so.

I had to get two milky buns. I waited in a somewhat short line for it, though still out the door, I had to get my wait’s worth. I got the jasmine milk tea milky bun and cookie monster milky bun. The cookie monster is cookie monster blue, and has chunks of Oreo and chocolate chip. The ice cream itself was very good. I especially liked the jasmine milk tea ice cream. It had that clean taste and wasn’t too sweet. I wasn’t a fan of the cookie monster. It had a very chemically taste to it that wasn’t pleasant.

The Milky Bun is a good concept, but I rather have good ice cream just by itself than it inside a doughnut. The doughnut itself is quite unimpressive. I would rather have really good ice cream and top it off with a regular donut from my local donut shop or a Krispy Kreme. I like the concept a lot, and it seems to be quite popular with the crowd. I’m telling you though, if someone figures out how to make really good donuts and ice cream, that will steal the show.

Afters Handcrafted Ice Cream on Urbanspoon

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Oh yeah! I totally forgot I went to Whiz. What did I think of it? All Hype. The small corner shop is barely a restaurant, but a restaurant nonetheless. With a park picnic benches outside, customers are probably just taking things to-go. Honestly, Whiz was just “alright.” I took my friends here excited to just try their cheesesteaks. Most of us (all of us) were pretty much on the same boat about Whiz. “Just whatever.”

Check out the pictures below. We got a regular cheesesteak, jalapeño cheesesteak, along with cheese fries.



Honestly, this spot is overrated. The meat wasn’t all that great, the cheese sauce needed work, and the bread was definitely not Amoroso rolls. The spot is small, and a bit of a hip spot. The food though needs a lot of work. Better than most cheesesteaks, but definitely not the “it” spot. Next stop, Boo’s!

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Coffee Code – The Sweet Life

by Franklin on June 16, 2014

Coffee Code, to me, was a stumble. Wanting some dessert after dinner, this seemed like the perfect spot. The fun atmosphere and unique atmosphere is what made this place attractive.


We had the white chocolate latte and cafe con leche. Both were velvety smooth and sweet. It was a perfect sweet dessert style coffee for our waffle. The little bits of toffee in the care con leche was a nice touch. These dessert coffees were a nice change from the super dark straight black coffee I have every morning.

The mochi waffle was quite nice. It had a chewy texture like mochie, but still had the added bready consistency of a waffle. Layered with ice cream and whipped toppings, this waffle was definitely meant to be a dessert. I absolutely loved the texture of this. Though a bit soggy from the toppings, the inside was where the magic was.

Coffee Code was a nice place to hang out and a have some coffee. It offers pretty much waffles and coffee. The simplicity of it all just makes it a specific destination. What’s a better trifecta combination that coffee, ice cream, and waffles? Can’t really think of it just yet.

Coffee Code on Urbanspoon

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Bäco Mercat – Josef Centeno’s First Baby

by Franklin on June 11, 2014

I am starting to love Downtown. Not only are there tall skyscrapers and interesting architecture, there is a rich history and a huge redevelopment going on. Not even 10 years ago did you have this many people living in Downtown Los Angeles. With the people came newer and better shops and of course, restaurants. This is an exciting time for restaurants in downtown. Some of my favorite restaurants are on downtown, one of which is Baco Mercat. Chef and owner, Josef Centeno has an impressive resume. He worked at Daniel in New York. He was also the executive chef a Meson G and Opus in Los Angeles. After building on his concept, he opened Baco Mercator in 2011. With his successes, he opened Bar AMA in 2012 then Orsa & Wilson in 2013. Needless to say, Chef Joseph Centeno is on a roll. First, let’s take a look into his first baby, Baco Mercat.

We started things off with a root beer & chocolate bäco pop and Grear’s lemonade. The root beer was quite interesting. It tasted. Dry much like root beer, but had a very distinct chocolate after taste. Imagine drinking root beer with a tootsie roll in your mouth. That’s pretty much what it tasted like. It was uniquely refreshing and delicate. The Grear’s lemonade was nice as well. The added carbonation with the lemonade gave the drink a nice fresh taste–perfect pair with the fatty pork belly sandwiches.

We order the original. This had pork, beef carnitas, and salvitxada sauce. All wrapped in their famous baco (flat bread), the sandwich at first bite is amazing. The soft chew of the baco and the crispy fried pro belly counter each other nicely. The added meat of the carnitas gives this sandwich the extra depth. For me though, the salvitxada sauce put this over the top. The romesco style red pepper sauce gave the sandwich a nice zing and zest. If you were to only get one back sandwich, this is the one to get.

As an avid beef tongue connoisseur, I had to get the beef tongue schnitzel. The beef tongue in this back was quite nice. It’s as tender and soft as beef tongue should be. The beef flavor was extenuated by the harissa, smoked aioli, and pickles. The mixture of flavors from the beef tongue and aioli with harissa was such a good combo.

Sitting at the bar, enjoying my drink and baco sandwich, I realized how great downtown is. West LA, Beverly Hills, and Mid-City aren’t the only places in LA that have exciting restaurants anymore. Downtown is the future, if not, the present. Josef Centeno has been on a roll with his string of restaurants. What the future hold for him and LA is quite exciting.

Bäco Mercat on Urbanspoon

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Gordon Ramsey, the restaurant mogul is on a roll. Planting seeds in Caesars Entertainment properties, Chef Ramsey has his name on most of the Las Vegas properties. From a steakhouse in Paris, and an Irish Pub at Caesars, the TV star’s sure has a repertoire of making money involving food. Now, Gordon Ramsey takes on the all mighty burger. As mentioned before, Las Vegas has one too many steak restaurants, but the burger isn’t getting much love. Every other restaurant serves burgers, but finding a gosh darn good burger is Vegas is hard to come by. The restaurant lies right near the entrance of Planet Hollywood. The look and feel of the restaurant was that of a high end sports bar. It is Gordon Ramsey we are talking about after all.

The Roasted Jalapeño Poppers was a must. The menu stated that there was “one fiery surprise.” The surprise? Of the many jalapeno poppers, one of them is left whole without the insides (seeds and all) cleaned out. Think Russian Roullete with spicy stuff. Honestly, the “special” one wasn’t that much spicier. The cheddar bacon inside the jalapenos was delicious. Bathing in their individual shot glasses filled with cheddar ranch, every bite had a lot of flavor and a lot of sauce. A bit salty at times, but the spicy salty mixture was welcome.

To cool off our tongues, we ordered the Shake #4 — layers of crème brûlée pudding and an oreo shake topped off with an Oreo cookie was perfect. The custard filling was smooth and sweet. Mixed with America’s favorite cookie with some cream, this dessert shake was quite satisfying.

Put an egg on a burger, and I am sold. The Farm Burger was a recipe for a perfect burger. Included was duck breast bacon, English sharp cheddar and a fried egg. The beef was impressive in the quality and the way it was cooked. Perfectly medium rare, the inside was pink with no signs of raw meat and no gray meat. The duck bacon was a nice touch, but my favorite was the runny egg. It served as a nice sauce for the burger and rounded out the saltiness really well.

Every burger needs a side of fries. We ordered the parmasean truffle fries, and did not really care for them. Maybe because I really like thin shoestring fries, and hate thick cut fries. The parmesan was good on it, but the best part was the truffle aioli. With real chunks of truffles (because we all know Chef Ramsey hates truffle oil), the sauce made all the difference. Dunking these thick cut fries in the sauce was almost like cheating. The fries could have been from the freezer, but still delicious.

I had a few bites of he fresh roasted Chili Dawg. When I saw the list of ingredients, I knew I had to order this. It had roasted fresno pepper, jalapeños, cheddar cheese, avocado, red onion, and was topped with chipotle ketchup. It was a chili cheese dog, like the ones from Pink’s or 7-11 — this was a chili pepper dog. The chilies were not spicy though, which was a good thing. It gave a nice sweetness with a little kick. The bun was amazingly soft, and I appreciated it. The actual hot dog was a little salty — actually, a lot salty. It was really overbearing, and had to sauce it up just to cover up the saltiness. It was a nice snappy frank though, and the flavors really worked well together.

Dessert came a second time, and the gourmet burger and hot dog ended with Sticky Toffee Pudding. I had the sticky toffee pudding at Gordon Ramsey Steak at Paris, and it was freakishly delicious. The Push Up Pops version wasn’t as refined, but just as delicious. The salted peanut ice cream mixed in with the sticky toffee was a great mixture. This salty and sweet mixture served up in a push pop was fun to eat. I remember eating Flintstones ice cream from these things as a kid. I would prefer to eat it with a fork on a plate, but the delivery was kind of cool and nostalgic.

It looks like Gordon Ramsey has a hit. It does suffer in the identity department. The decor inside seems cheap yet classy, but still exudes sports bar, but not. At the end of the day, the food is all that really matters. It surely doesn’t have that Gordon Ramsey refinement, but the food is still superb. Definitely, this could be a contender in being one of Las Vegas’ best burgers.

Gordon Ramsay BurGR on Urbanspoon

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