California by Food

LA Pier

Three weeks ago, I had the pleasure of visiting the L.A. area for about 5 days. Since Nicole is off galavanting in Tanzania, I’ll use this week’s post to give you all a tour of L.A + Palm springs… by food!

First of all, congratulations to Celia + Stefan! The trip was for their wedding, and it was so wonderful to see them both. The wedding was a blast, and I’m so happy for the two of you!

Second, thanks to Jasmin for housing me during the trip! She not only gave me a free place to crash, but played tour guide and chauffeur the whole trip. She was also responsible for most of the (excellent) restaurant choices! Now, onto the food.

Burger Lounge

The first stop of the trip was at Burger Lounge in Santa Monica. This small Southern California chain is all about “using healthy ingredients produced in a sustainable environment.” All of their beef is from local farms and grass-fed cows. I ended up getting a venison (or was it elk?) burger with goat cheese and a side of super tasty fries. The burger was cooked properly (still pink in the center), the goat cheese was melted and creamy, and the fries were crispy and seasoned with tasty herbs. I was also really pleased to see that their sodas were imported all the way from my home state, Maine!

Burger Lounge burger Maine Root soda

Chego!

Chego pork belly rice bowlThis was definitely the most interesting restaurant we went during the trip. Chego! is the sit-down location (we went to the Chinatown location in Far East Plaza) of a food truck fleet called Kogi BBQ, which is a Korean-BBQ-meets-Mexican-food mix. Most of the dishes are rice bowls, with tasty meats such as pork belly or prime rib tossed on top alongside a mountain of herbs and a fried egg. I loved the food, and I loved the style of the restaurant – no frills, simple, and delicious. To give a sense of their style, if you want your food to go, they just give you aluminum foil to put over your bowl of food. And don’t forget your bottle of Jarritos!

Chego storefront Chego to go

SilverLake Ramen

Silverlake Ramen Tonkatsu Spicy RamenSilverLake Ramen is a small japanese ramen rastaurant located in, you guessed it, SilverLake (America’s best hipster neighborhood – proof in this photo I took while in the neighborhood). It takes home the trophy for my favorite restaurant of the trip. In fact, just looking at these pictures gives me cravings strong enough to make me assume I’m pregnant. Seriously. I can’t look at these without getting intensely sad that I can’t go back right this second.

SilverLake Ramen pork bunIn any case, I was a ramen virgin before this trip. I didn’t make it to a ramen bar when I visited Japan and hadn’t gone to any in North America, and that was a huge life mistake on my part. Between the mounds of noodles, the rich broth, and the delicious toppings, there’s no chance you won’t finish every drop in your gigantic bowl. For reference, I got the Tonkatsu Spicy Ramen with pork belly, which is a spicy pork broth with green onion, spinach, seaweed and bean sprouts. I also tried Megan and Jasmin’s dish (They ordered the same dish, but I can’t remember what they got) and it was just as good.

SilverLake Ramen gyozaWe also ordered deep fried gyoza and a pork belly bun (I know I know, so much pork belly on this trip. Is that a bad thing?), and while they were delicious (though maybe get the gyoza grilled instead of deep fried), what I can’t stop thinking about is the ramen.

Seriously, go get some right now.

Las Casuelas Terraza

Eventually, we had to leave L.A. to head to the wedding, which was in Palm Springs. Our first night there, we went for Mexican food at Las Casuelas Terrraza, a gigantic and very beautiful restaurant along the main strip in town. With an excellent array of food and a big drink menu, Las Casuelas is a great spot for a full meal, a night of drinks, or anything in between (they also often have live music in a gigantic outdoor seating area). Warning – their portions are enormous. I ended up with a bowl-sized margarita and one of their combination plates, which seems like it’s really just 3 full entrees. I ordered the three item combination with a burrito, tamale, and a tostada. All three were delicious, but the tostada wasn’t that exciting – I’d probably get an enchilada as the third next time.

Las Casuelas Terraza Combination Las Casuelas Terraza margarita

The Sandwich Spot

Sandwich Spot Thanks for the MemoriesOn the day of the wedding, we needed a quick lunch and ended up at The Sandwich Spot. It’s tucked between the two main streets in Palm Springs on Palm Canyon Drive behind a British pub, and has some seriously good sandwiches. Good enough that the restaurant, despite being a simple sandwich shop, has been rated as one of the top 50 less expensive restaurants in America!

Megan and I got the “Thanks for the Memories” which had hot turkey and and cranberry; Caroline got the “Frowzy Redhead”, a meatball sandwich; and Jasmin got the “Royal Hawaiian”, a chicken, pineapple, and teriyaki sandwich. Everyone’s consensus  was that the fillings were fantastic, but it was the bread that really made the sandwich. We talked to a fellow working there who said they got the dough delivered in from a bakery and baked the bread in house that day. Awesome.

Sandwich Spot Frowzy Redhead Sandwich Spot Royal Hawaiian

The Final Word

Go eat in Los Angeles. ASAP.

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