Sunday, January 30, 2011

T&C Hamburgers (South Gate)


South Gate Eatery #2

Apparently, this joint has been serving up subs, sandwiches and burgers for over a 1/4 century.  I remember walking by this restaurant many times as a kid.  Back when I was only knee high, pops would take us to watch the "Christmas Lane Parade" and sometimes we'd pass by this restaurant.  Back in the day, this restaurant was bustling with people and from the outside you could always smell the food and see plumes of smoke emitting from the kitchen's grill.  It's incredible to think that I never made it a point to stop by...until now.  

Sadly, I think this restaurant has lost it's luster.  I would've loved to have come here years ago when the original owner still ran the place and the restaurant was at its peak.  Nothing against the current people behind the restaurant, but the fervor seems to have died down.  

The cook and lady that took our order were extremely nice and chatty.  Unfortunately, as I would later find out, the service ended up being the best aspect about this restaurant.  Being a first-timer here, I asked what they were most proud of on the menu, the best seller - basically, the dishes that bring customers back.  Their response was, "everything is good here."  Wrong answer.  To say, "everything is good," is to say, "nothing stands out."   As it turns out, nothing really did stand out.

My favorite item on the menu was their Carne Asada Taco.  It was loaded with plenty of meat and it had just enough cilantro and onions in it.  One of the things I hate most about tacos, is when my order comes with about as much vegetation as it does meat.  The taco is about the meat!  If I order a taco de carne asada, I expect to see meat with a sprinkling of cilantro and onions on my tortilla.  I do not want to have to dig my way through the vegetation to get to my meat.  But I digress...  I liked that they doubled up on the tortilla and griddled it.  That is my preference with any taco.  One tortilla usually doesn't hold up to the juiciness of a well-made taco and the salsas added to it.  One tortilla soaks up some of the salsa and meat drippings while the 2nd tortilla is slightly more griddled, almost crispy and holds the entire thing together.  I really liked the addition of avocado slices and the tomatillo salsa was good but not freshly made.  What I didn't enjoy as much was the use of seasoned salt to season the meat and the fact that the meat was reheated.  Overall, it was still a decent taco. - 3.5 stars               

The Tuna Melt was okay but nothing you couldn't whip up at home.  It came on wheat bread but the "wheat bread" was just that generic, soft, air-filled white sandwich bread that is basically dyed brown.  You know what I'm talking about!  That stuff that's made from "Enriched" wheat flour and not the real hearty whole wheat bread.  Anyway, the sandwich was okay.  - 2 stars

The Jack Melt was less than average.  It came on toasted rye bread but the quality of the bread comes into question again.  The patty was slim as hell and got lost with all the unnecessary lettuce and tomatoes in the sandwich.  - 1.5 stars   

I paid nearly $16 for 2 mediocre sandwiches, 2 sodas, fries and a decent taco.  I didn't think it was worth it.  Frankly, I would have rather spent my money at Subway.           

T & C Hamburgers.

Jack Melt.

Tuna Melt.

Taco de Carne Asada with Salsa Verde.

Monday, January 24, 2011

What the Dilly-Yo?

I subscribe to all kinds of food related newsletters and one that I am particularly fond of is all about spirits and cocktails.  Most of the recipes I try to replicate from them are spin-offs because I don't have a fully stocked bar.  I try to make due with what I have and for the most part, I'd say I'm successful.  The latest cocktail I shook up is vodka based with cucumber and fresh dill bringing the flavor.  The recipe called for straight vodka but all I had was vanilla-infused vodka.  I remember buying this flavored vodka a year ago or so when a dessert cocktail recipe called for it.  For whatever reason, when a recipe asks for vodka  I use this and quite honestly, I think vanilla infused vodka tastes better than straight vodka.  To my palette, it is rounder in flavor and more subtle in cocktails.  So for my cocktail, I substituted vodkas and I also swapped agave nectar for simple syrup.  I never did like to follow instructions.  Cheers!

What the Dilly-Yo?

2 oz Vanilla-Infused Vodka
1 oz Freshly Squeezed Lime Juice
1/2 oz Simple Syrup
2-3 Cucumber Slices
1-2 Sprigs of Fresh Dill

Muddle the dill, cucumber and lime juice in a cocktail shaker. Add the remaining ingredients and fill the shaker halfway with ice. Shake and strain into a martini glass or coupe.  Garnish with a cucumber wheel and Dill.

What the Dilly-Yo?

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Chichen Itza Restaurant (Los Angeles - South Los Angeles)


Signage above the counter inside of Mercado La Paloma.

Kibi - Ground Beef, Cracked Wheat, Mint & Pepper Patties Topped with Pickled Red Onions.

Salbutes - Fluffy Corn Tortilla,Topped with Lettuce, Shredded Charbroiled Turkey, Pickled Red Onions, Cucumbers, & Avocado.

Codzito - Five Mini Rolled Crispy Chicken Taquitos Topped with Roma Tomato Sauce & Cotija.

Panuchos - Crispy Grilled Corn Tortilla Stuffed with Black Beans, Topped with Lettuce, Shredded Charbroiled Turkey, Pickled Red Onions, Cucumbers, Tomato & Avocado.

Chile Kut - Homemade Habanero Salsa. 

Papadzul - Rolled Corn Tortillas Stuffed with Hard Boiled Eggs and Layered with a Sauce of Ground Roasted Pumpkin Seeds & Epazote Sauce.  Topped with Tomato Sauce & Toasted Pumpkin Seeds . 

Cochinita Pibil - Pork Marinated With Achiote, Sour Orange Juice and Spices then Wrapped and Backed in a Banana Leaf.  Topped with Pickled Red Onions and Served with...

...Refried Black Beans, White Rice & Tortillas. 

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Tom's Burger's #11 (South Gate)


   South Gate Eatery #1

As far as I'm concerned, South Gate has slim pickings when it comes to food.  Up until now, I have pretty much scoffed at the idea of dining out in the city that I see as being devoid of any culinary creativity or inspiration.  Bottom line; Nothing enthuses me here.  As anybody that knows me can attest, I can be stubborn.  Yet, when it comes to food, I'm wide-the-hell open.  So why then, had I turned my back, for the most part, on my hometown's offerings?  Was I so set in my ways that I refused to eat anything in South Gate?  It sounds immature when I think about it.  Conversely, maybe there were [and still are] legitimate reasons for why I have felt this way about South Gate my entire. life.

I am on a mission; to find out, firsthand, if I am correct in my assumption that South Gate is indeed a generic gastronomic abyss...or if I have been completely askew about my initial thoughts about my stomping ground.  For as long as it takes me, with an open mind and an empty stomach, I will try to eat my way through the entire city of South Gate (major chains excluded).  I hope to discover a few gems but I fear I will encounter more fugazis.  We shall see.                 

You would think that the restaurant I have frequented the most in the last couple of years would be amongst one of my all-time-favorites.  Well, it's not.  Tom's Burger's #11 just happens to be located a couple of street lights away from me.  The food is okay, relatively cheap and the portions are usually enough to fill me up. 

My go-to meal here is usually a plain ole burger and fries combo with a bag of pickled carrots and banana peppers.  The burger is nothing spectacular.  In fact, the patty is thin, not very beefy and at times dry.  What I do like about these fast food joints is that the patty is actually charbroiled or grilled rather than microwaved (or whatever it is that they do at major fast food chains).  I like the flavor it imparts and what can I say, I'm a sucker for grill marks.  Anyway, I've also had their chili cheese fries but I get tired of them pretty quickly.  Additionally, I have also tried a few breakfast items as well as their fried chicken dinner that comes with bread, re-fried beans, onion rings and a cheap-ass side salad of lettuce and tomatoes.  Again, the portions are big enough for a hungry guy to be satiated.  Most females, on the other hand, will probably get full and still have plenty for leftovers.     

This is a no frills restaurant and that's okay with me.  I much prefer to support this kind of establishment rather than major fast food chains.  Aside from my yearly McDonald's Fries fix, this is the sort of fast food that I prefer to eat when I get hungry and have little or no time to prepare a meal or think about which restaurant to go to.     


To-Go Bag.

Cheeseburger & Fries.

Cheeseburger Close-up.

Louks (Orange County)


The truck.

Spicy Feta Fries.

Beef Gyro - Beef, tzatziki, Tomatoes, Fries & Red Onions.

Loukoumades with Nutella & Bananas.

Crêpes Bonaparte (Orange County)


 Cool truck with clear view of the cooks in action.

 Participants and subsequent losers in round 3 on the Food Network show.

 In Da Club Crêpe - Bacon, Tomatoes, Lettuce, Mozzarella & Avocado.

Traditional Lemon & Sugar Crêpe.

Damn Frenchies.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Los Angeles Shave Ice Truck (Los Angeles)


It always seems like I run into food trucks when I least suspect it.  But whenever I'm actively looking for one, they're usually farther out than I'm willing to drive.  Funny how that happens.  In any event, I stumbled upon the [peculiarly named] "Los Angeles Shave Ice" truck over the weekend while walking down Melrose.  The menu is straight forward with no apparent departures from your typical shaved ices.  Sorry, but no bacon ice cream, bacon bits or bacon syrups to flavor your ice here - and that's probably a good thing!  But I digress...

I ordered a Tiger's Blood Shaved Ice with a base of  Pistachio Ice Cream, all topped with Chimoy.  For my taste buds, I can best describe Tiger's Blood as having a predominant strawberry and watermelon flavor with slight undertones of banana and coconut.  I liked the shaved ice just fine but I must say I prefer Get Shaved.  Their ice is softer and smoother - almost creamy.  I would still return to this truck in a heartbeat, however.  At about $4 per ice, you really can't go wrong.           

The Truck.  

Their Menu.

Tiger's Blood Shaved Ice with Pistachio Ice Cream & Chamoy.

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Foundry on Melrose (Los Angeles - Melrose)


Something about The Foundry, that my photographs always stink here.


Amuse Bouche - Bread, Tomato Sauce (?) & Parmesan. 


 Bread Starter - Focaccia with Reduced Balsamic Butter & Mini Biscuits with Honey Butter.

 Grilled Cheese with Short Ribs -  Taleggio Cheese, Raisin Bread & Apricot-Caper Puree.

Black Eyed Sue - Vodka, Avocado, Pickled Olive and a Splash of Pickling Juice.  

 Roasted Hanger Steak, Fingerling Potatoes, Spiced Apples & Blue Cheese.

The "Patio Season" Burger - Cheddar Cheese, Hawaiian Bread, Homemade Mayo, Sweet Sauteed Onions, Gherkins...Served with Onion Rings. 

   Spiced Doughnuts - Persimmon Chutney & Ginger Whipped Cream.