Los Angeles

We went to Gelato Bar after hanging out in the Thousand Oaks of all places. On the way back to LA, we stopped by Gelato Bar in Studio City for some ice cream (I meant gelato). The gelato shop was quaint and very old fashioned looking. The small shop was a little difficult to find. As they were close to closing, the workers there were quite rude and we just knew they wanted to close shop. The crazy thing was, after we went in, there was a flood of people wanting to get their gelato right til’ the last minute.

Their gelato was quite tasty, but not the best. I had a taste of a cream and blood orange mixture that was good. I love the combination of something fruity or tart with a side of a cream base. The “peaches and cream” effect, as I like to call it is very pleasant. I had the dulce de leche and dolce amaro. The sweet caramel flavors with the creamy base notes really rounded everything nicely. Also, the pirouette toppers was a nice touch. If you are in the area, Gelato Bar is a nice stop for good gelato. I’ve had a lot of gelato in my life of blogging, and this unfortunately is just not special enough.

Gelato Bar on Urbanspoon

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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 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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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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Some days, you just have to treat your body good. As a food blogger, I eat some gut busting, heart unfriendly meals. Fried pork belly this, carbo-rich that, and anything fried, laden with butter, sugar, and Nutella is the name of the game for a food blogger. Sometimes, you have to treat your body right. The Veggie Grill offers some awesome vegetarian dishes as well as salads. The extra needed healthy foods really regenerated my digestion and rejuvenated my body. For a moment, I thought to myself that I can eat like this every day. Eating healthy is important indeed, and The Veggie Grill makes it a little easier to handle.

Kale has been a huge part of my healthy diet these days. Back in the day, it was only good for food decor, but now is considered a super healthy food. The All Hail Kale salad was wonderfully zesty and flavorful. It included marinated kale, quinoa, red cabbage slaw, corn salsa, and agave-roasted walnuts. I switched out the ginger papaya vinaigrette for the lemon vinaigrette. I am not a fan of sweet dressings at all. The lemon vinaigrette was fresh and the flavors popped. The bitter greens and the acidic flavors melded together to great a healthy dish.

For some, there is no substitution for beef. At The Veggie Grill, substitution is the only option. As a natural carnivore myself, eating the boca protein “beef” in the All-American Stack burger was a shocker. I know it wasn’t meat, but it really tasted like beef. If someone had to make a meat substitute to be the closest thing to meat, this would be it. It just had the consistency just right and flavor. Topped on this gorgeous burger, it really didn’t feel like it was missing anything. Topped with grilled veggie steak, pickles, lettuce, tomato, crispy onion rings, and thousand island dressing, the “burger” tasted quite like the real thing. With the addition of sweet potato fries, nothing was missing. I know having fried onion rings and fried sweet potato isn’t quite the healthy meal you were looking for, but come on. Compare that to a full on fatty beef patty, and this is quite healthy.

The Veggie Grill is probably my go to healthy joint. It has some great options for meat lovers like me. The salads are on point and always offers a fresh option for everyone. They even have protein style bowls and entree plates as well. This is indeed a perfect place for a vegetarian looking for some meat.

Veggie Grill on Urbanspoon

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