Life in California Day 364: Getting Grub

In the past years I’ve come to appreciate the diversity of food. Gone are the days of four day old pizza on the counter top and old milk in the refrigerator. I actually like sushi, and I’ve tried an array of different beers, though I am still partial to Budweiser and Heineken.

Living in California has exposed my taste buds to foods I long thought of as fish bait and cuisines fit only for yuppies. This newfound appreciation has opened me up to the world where steak and potatoes seem primitive. I have grown. I have adapted. I have conquered taste bud complacency and cultivated and constructed a taste with texture, richness and flavor.

So why do I despair when I find it difficult to locate a joint that serves a decent six-piece with mild sauce? Why do I have to stand at a counter feeling defeated after finding out my six-piece will not be what it ought to be? Why do I have to scream, ‘what the hell is this’ when I look inside a styrofoam plate and see Buffalo wings with curly fries and a side of blue cheese dressing where my six-piece should be?

Y’all know what a six-piece looks like. First you lay a bed of fries. Then you gently spread the perfectly seasoned chicken wings on top. Douse the stack of food with barbecue sauce, top it off with a slice of bread then wrap the entire dinner with aluminum foil. Finally, complete the dinner with a grape pop.

This, my friends, is what a six-piece should look like!!!

Let me not get into the issue of pizzas. California Pizza Kitchen is an abomination to the soul and should be wiped from the face of the earth. The idea of putting eggplant on a pizza is enough to revoke their license.

Pizza should not look like this:

It should look like this.

I know I’ve grown over the past year. And I’m grateful for my new appreciation for Japanese, Mexican and seafood. But my Midwestern sensibilities kick in every once in a while and I do long for the simplicity of a barbecue house. So until I get to Harold’s Chicken Shack or Giordano’s Pizza back in Chicago, I will continue my search here in Los Angeles for a suitable alternative. Pray for me. Better yet, pray for my taste buds.

Discussion Starters:

1. What food dish can you get in your neck of the woods that's hard to get anywhere else?
2. Name is your favorite restaurants.
3. Name a location that you've visited and what we should try if we ever go there.


14 Responses to Life in California Day 364: Getting Grub

  1. Bullfrog Says:
    You have touched, once again, on one of my favorite topics of discussion: food!

    In San Diego, we have access to the best Mexican food around of course. My favorite place is Los Panchos on Washington near 5th. They use fresh tortillas, which is key to ANY Mexican food. Their Hillcrest burrito is the best: pollo asado, pico, guacamole, beans and rice. Some jalapenos and salsa and you are all set!

    There is another place called Cotixan that serves a bean, egg, and cheese burrito (sounds weird but it is good!).
  2. Thawtz Says:
    And that's the second reason i left LA: the pizza! hooevaduhell opened california pizza kitchen need to be shot! that is some of the worst stuff i've ever tasted or seen created. when you get back to the Chi..have a slice of deep dish meat lovers for me, man!

    besides, LA could never be for me... no on out there has a clue how a jew-town polish is supposed to be fixed. that city is just horrible, i tell ya. horrible!
  3. Mahndisa S. Rigmaiden Says:
    04 26 06

    You know Bullfrog:
    Everyone I have ever met from San Diego claims they have the best Mexican food. I just got back from there and think it is an acquired taste. I love the Rosarito Ensenada fish tacos and the barbequed lobsters etc. But I often find the carne asada meat not to have enough salt on it. I like Mexican food in the Valley. And that might be a regional thing because most of the Mexicans here are from Michaocan, and I just love that cuisine!!!

    James, I am feeling you on the pizza. The only place I have found to get a good pizza in Northern CA is Zachary's Pizza in Berkeley (all Chicago deep dish style pizza ONLY) and Cybell's in Oakland, which is a distant second. I LOVE Chicago deep dish calzone style pizza! CA pizza with the tofu is an interesting concept, but NOT PIZZA! hahahahahahah

    About the ribs, well there are a few places sprinkled about that serve good ribs up here, but I don't know about down there. I was told that in San Diego National City has a couple of rib places, but we didn't make it there. Regarding LA, I have no clue!

    Interesting discussion. Talks of food always get my mind a rushing! hahahah
  4. Mahndisa S. Rigmaiden Says:
    04 25 06

    James, you should come visit Northern California. It is colder up here, but we at least have ethnic enclaves where you can get some good Eastern European food like Russian Hill in SF, or Vietnamese food (anywhere) and Mexican-you can get good Mexican food anyplace OUTSIDE of San Francisco. The city of South San Francisco has good Mexican food, but NOT San Francisco proper!
  5. Dave Miller Says:
    Sorry Bullfrog, but I think you meant to say in the US. As I am sure you are aware, there are darn few tortillas made here in the US with lard, the essential ingredient for any great tortilla.

    Also the burrito that we have come to know and love is only available in the gringo style Mexican restaurants close to the border.

    Now for something I miss up here, how about thick, dark mole from the great state of Oaxaca. There is a pretty authentic place in Santa Monica called Monte Alban, but alas, it is not like eating in the capital, listening to the musicians, and enjoying the day as it passes away in front of you.
  6. Bullfrog Says:
    Dave: good point about the lard, Los Panchos tortillas taste exactly like the fresh ones you can get in T.J. and Tecate, so I am assuming they are lard-based.
  7. James Manning Says:
    I've never been a big fan of Mexican food. It's ok but I can take it or leave it.
  8. The Best [ Ghostface ] Says:
    To Jay,

    Southern California has more ethnic diversity than any other place and more restaurants too. You may have to go to south central L.A. to get what you are looking for when it comes to ethnic soul food BRUH! There are some MOM and POP places there that have soul food.

    BY Chance
  9. Bushwack Says:
    James, I have a friend that has opened up a soul food place in LA. I'll get you the Name and Address. If you like soul food, (I call it Southern Food)they have all the traditional southern staples.this is the place to go.
    Mexican food, I'm not a big fan.
    Soul/Southern grub, My favorite.
    There is a place in Riverside where you can get a little of both. Anchos if you are ever in the area, Dinner's on Me.
  10. Another Conflict Theorist Says:
    I'll be honest with you: When I visited LA (Redondo Beach to be exact) a couple of years back I found the food - particularly the Asian cuisine - to be bland. Having spent my formative years in the Chesapeake Bay area, I found that they couldn't do crab cakes right either (Breading? Carrots?). At any rate, just wanted to drop you a comment to let you know I enjoy your work. Keep cooking it up!
  11. bold as love Says:
    I have that old saying type of eating habit- "when in Rome...."

    I have dined on green tree igauna cooked with coconut in central america, they, the green tree igauna, are a protected species now, Oh, guess we ate too many of them. I have eaten just pulled out the ocean raw conch off a jamaican beach, shredded and sprinkled with sea salt and lime. Iam truly fond of goat, and i have eaten my share of insects cooked in various ways.

    Cali is an adventure in dining and I really look forward to my yearly visits- but these days Iam seriously against eating BBQ anywhere outside of the south.

    What's this dry rub shit that is being passed off as BBQ? Also, it ain't BBQ unless it is pork. It is okay to say BBQ style cooked beef, but not BBQ beef.

    There are some places that black folk from the south migrated to and took the recipes with them- Chi-town is one, I'll eat BBQ sometimes when in Chi-town, but the south is BBQ land and always will be- everything else is lacking.
  12. Stevin Says:
    You've got a terrific blog!
    I hope you find a good Italian restaraunt and make the poor owners rich with your dining habits.
  13. Little Miss Chatterbox Says:
    I can't tell you how much my husband and I loooooooooooove Giordiano's Pizza. I left Chicago in 1992 and I still don't like pizza very much unless I can find Deep Dish. We finally got a pizza place here that is similar. It is called the Dish and it is very good but not exactly the same, obviously.

    I found a Giordiano's in Florida so maybe someday they will come to California and Kansas City. We can hope :-))).
  14. Ruminations of a Racial Realist Says:
    I lived in LA for a bit at the end of 2004 - and I've never seen so much amazing food before! (I've spent most of my adult life in the UK and the food there is awful) - I mean there were so many burger places - Astro burger, in and out burger, fat burger! I really liked the soul food and the Mexican food (it was the first time I had tried them). Was also very impressed with the healthy restaurant, "Simply Wholesome".