Gracias Madre

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If you were able to catch my last post, I talked about completing a fast which basically boiled down to eating only fruits and veggies for 3 weeks.  Since I’m a foodie at heart, I love looking for new restaurants to try so I just had to incorporate finding vegan/vegetarian options during this time.  I learned that this community is huge and LA offers a ton of restaurants catered to both vegans and vegetarians.  I often opted for places that had dishes like a Tex-mex bowl with rice, beans, sautéed vegetables, pico de gallo and guac. Anything with guacamole and I’m sold 😊.  This was the simplest route to take food wise and easy to find everywhere.  However, I did venture out a few times and stumbled upon some wonderful places.  One being Gracias Madre, offering 100% organic, plant based Mexican cuisine.

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Gracias Madre is tucked away in West Hollywood on Melrose Ave.  I’ve probably passed this place a million times and never noticed it before.  It kind of resembles a nice house from the street view but when you walk in you are totally taken aback.  The décor and ambiance is just so chic.   There was a lounge area with comfy chairs and couches adjacent from the bar area.  The outside dining area had communal tables with the heated lamps for those cooler days/nights in LA along with cute little tables for smaller parties.  From the outside, the space looked so quaint but once inside it was a huge space and very accommodating for the large crowd in attendance that day.

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To stick with my go to bowls that I’d been consuming, I went with Bowl Tres as my entrée.  This bowl has quinoa, kale, roasted squash, white beans, peppers, onions and pesto cashew crème.  Okay let’s start by saying the roasted squash was the best!!! The kale was also very seasoned and added a nice taste to the overall dish. Before I ordered this, the waiter did let me try the pesto cashew crème and I went for it and decided to order this bowl.  I will say I did not know the bowl was heavily dressed with that sauce.  I think sometimes dishes are overly compensated with a sauce to make sure we get a good amount of flavor and I probably should of asked for it on the side to be safe.  That being said, the sauce did compliment the dish well and I was pleased with this entrée.  I heard the drinks are pretty good too so I will definitely be back to give those a try as well.

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A Better Me

With the new year comes all sorts of dieting, fitness goals and abrupt changes to accomplish being “a better YOU”.  I’ve never really been into resolutions for the new year or implementing new life goals for the new year.  However, this year my aunt spoke with me about the Daniel Fast and asked me to participate along with her.  Since she told me this 2 days beforehand, I agreed to fast but with modifications.  I had to mentally prepare for this thing you know since it started on New Years day.  I decided to eliminate all meats, bread and sweets for the duration of 21 days and I started this commitment on January 2nd.

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Just to give you guys a little background about me, I absolutely love food!  It’s kind of my thing being a foodie and all.  I jot down restaurants that I see on my drive home, follow other foodies and see their suggestions and pretty much indulge in anything food related.  So, to commit to this fast was a big deal for me.  The first couple of days were a bit tough because I didn’t realize how much stuff I consumed that had bread as the base and neither did I realize I ate so many sweets.  After the harsh first few days, my body became acclimated somewhat quickly.  The mornings were simple. My favorites were fruit and smoothies.  For lunch and dinner, I normally sautéed veggies and I ate a ton of sweet potatoes and avocados. While on this fast, I learned about various vegan and vegetarian restaurants in the LA area too.  I hadn’t paid attention before but there are a lot of options if you’re a part of the vegan community.

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On the last day, I called my aunt and told her I made it through the fast.  I will be truthful and say I had 2 French fries and 2 alcoholic beverages during the 21 days.  I didn’t commit to giving up fried foods or alcohol but those kind of fall in that “don’t eat category” when I thought about this fast so I just gave those up as well.  Water became my best friend and now I just go for water more now as my first beverage choice as I should anyways. I haven’t even indulged in coffee since the fast ended on 1/23 and I feel pretty good about that since I normally start my day with a fresh cup of coffee.  The fast helped me to see and appreciate a lot of principles that I normally don’t pay attention to.  Discipline, faith and commitment are the biggest ones I would like to mention.  We often doubt ourselves and say we can’t do or commit to something before we even try.  I was so proud of myself throughout this journey because to be frank it was quite tough to go out and order the “healthy food” or all veggies or NOT stop by neither of the 100 donut shops in LA you pass everyday.  I can say I feel better energy wise and overall I just feel more connected and in tune with myself.  Now I will not say I’m not eating meat again but I will be mindful of the intake of it along with other things that I was so use to consuming before.  I’m a continuous work in progress so here’s to a better me!

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More noods please!

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LA is most known for its warm weather year-round.  However, many never mention how cool it gets at night which makes for a perfect time to have ramen.  I started having ramen first in New York which makes perfect sense for the weather there.  While in LA, ramen seems to be best fitting for a late night when the temperature has dropped to the low 50s or even during lunch on those days when its low 60s.  I was on a quest to find the best ramen and so far, I would have to say Kai Ramen has taken 1st place in my books.  I ordered Kai’s Red which is salt based and made with skinny noodles, sliced pork belly, a flavored egg, scallions, stripped black mushrooms, dry seaweed and flavored sprouts; also garnished with red onions. If I’m feeling fancy, I make it a combo and have gyoza potstickers, a salad and a drink for an additional $5.  For the drink option, please try their homemade lemonade.  Just a warning its super sweet but it reminds me a bit of back home when I have it so I always order it with my meal.  The flavors they’ve accomplished with this ramen cannot be put into words.  The broth is beyond perfect with its hint of spiciness, the tenderness of the pork melts in your mouth and the combination of veggies is so complimenting with the pork and flavor from the broth.  I can go on and on about this place.  If you’re a ramen lover like me, give this place a try.  If you’ve never had ramen and are dying to try it, give this place a try.  Kai Ramen does not disappoint.  Check out the gallery below.

 

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Another Day, Another Seafood Boil

If you cannot tell by previous posts, I consider myself a seafood lover.  Since Moving to the west coast, I think my preference for this type of cuisine has gone up just a bit. Not sure why but I could literally eat seafood of some sort in plastic bag drowned in lemon pepper, garlic and whatever house made specialty sauce the restaurant offers.  Sign me up!!!

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Once I moved to California, I liked the fact that I had time to venture into different areas.  Not the popular go to places that I hear about all the time but really stumbling upon other places that were just as good as the mainstream ones.  So here we have the Crawfish Spot, nestled in the West Covina area.  I forget exactly how many pounds of each that I had but crab legss and shrimp along with potatoes and corn is a must for a proper seafood boil.  I tackled this on my own this particular day and had plenty to spare afterwards.  The sauce was undeniably amazing and I tried to finish it all but unfortunately this was a failed attempt.  Here’s a peak at some of the best seafood I’ve had so far in California.  Spread the word.

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Meet me at Mel’s

Mel’s Diner is considered a huge staple here in Los Angeles so it was only right that I made a visit to indulge in some of the diner’s favorite go to entrees.  The décor gives you an Old Hollywood vibe while staying consistent with the ambiance of a true diner.  Busy waiters going through the aisles, a semi open kitchen to see the food being made fresh to order and the infamous jukebox in the corner awaiting a customer to drop in a quarter and select an old tune to take you back to a nostalgic time.

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I decided to try the French toast and my husband went with the old-fashioned buttermilk pancakes.  You cannot go wrong with either choice.  Both entrees were great and just what we had wanted in terms of getting that real breakfast fix.  So far, I’ve seen 2 Mel’s locations; one a block from Hollywood and another in the Sherman Oaks area but I believe there’s a total of 4. The next time you visit California, I would be sure to make a stop here.  It’s open 24 hours and has a welcoming menu of pretty much any craving you may have.  Take a look at some of the snapshots I was able to get from Mel’s.

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Mc’Dowell’s: Home of the Big Mick

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For those who participate in any Halloween festivities, it’s all about the transformation into your favorite character or artist, trying new makeup tricks and showing the world just how creative you can get.  Well Fat Sal’s took this Halloween by storm by transforming their Hollywood location restaurant into the one and only, Mc’Dowell’s.  Also known as the Home of the Big Mick, the place where Akeem’s hard work earned him the employee of the Month in the all-time classic movie ‘Coming to America’.  This movie has to be one of the greatest of all time and to have this concept brought to life for Halloween was a remarkable idea.  We often stress over the perfect costume but to change an entire restaurant and offer specialized menu items from the actual movie was simply genius.

The workers of McDowell’s wore the exact uniforms that were shown in the movie.  All nice in plaid with the golden M stamped on each vest, matching plaid hats and black pants were worn by every employee.  Akeem was showcased as the Employee of the Month with a perfect portrait of himself smiling with complete joy for this accomplishment from a renowned prince.  To add to the ambiance, the movie played throughout several screens in the restaurant while you waited to order and staff members were kindly available to snap just as many pics as you like.  The menu offered the infamous Big Mick, Zamunda fries and the Sexual Chocolate milkshake.  I mean when I say they absolutely nailed this, I mean it!  I couldn’t man down both the Big Mick and the shake that came with a slice of chocolate cake on top so I opted to try the sandwich.  I was a bit hesitant to try this but it did not disappoint.  The Big Mick was made with cheeseburgers, lettuce, onions, pickles, fries and the “special sauce”.  The sauce added a nice flavor and the beef was cooked to perfection.  This place became so popular, even Drake stopped by to indulge lol.  I’m not sure how this could be topped but Fat Sal’s definitely won me over with this concept for Halloween.  If you couldn’t make it, live vicariously through me and take a peek at the gallery below.

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Birthday Bae

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10/27….The best day of the year (to me 😊)  So here we are in October in LA and its peaking at above 85 degrees.  Talk about a good birthday gift.  Over the weeks leading up to my special day, I went over a number of things that I could do and just settled on the fact that I wanted to have loads of fun.  So my first trip for this fun adventure began by making it to the infamous Paul Smith “Pink Wall” on Melrose for photo ops.  I finally made it!!!  Yay.  For my day birthday fit, I decided to work with what I had in my closet.  It was such nice weather so I went with a black cropped top, my favorite ripped jeans from Zara and an all-black suede Steve Madden mule.  If you don’t know by now, I love me a nice mule.  I gave so many retro chic 90s vibes with this look.  I recently cut my hair so that added a different element to this vibe too of course. Although it is definitely fall, LA allows you to dress for the weather not season.

Afterwards, I went for margaritas at Velvet Margarita and decided to give Halloween Horror Nights a try for the evening.  I’m not one that desires to be scared but I went for it and had such a wonderful time.  Of course, a night in a theme park required a quick wardrobe change but overall this birthday was one of the best.  Doing something that was actually fun (including an impromptu photo shoot lol) First birthday in LA in the books!  Check out the great birthday shots I was able to get.

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Frankland’s Crab & Co

Coming from the east coast, moreso NYC, it’s always good to find a place with a tasty lobster roll.  I remember in the summer mostly always wanting to find the perfect roll.  Well here in California, I stumbled upon Frankland’s Crab & Co.  Particularly during DineLA week in which they offered a nice lunch combo that included a drink and an ice cream sandwich; double win 🙂

img_0947So here we have it.  A nice, toasted brioche roll with succulent lobster meat tossed in a melted butter.  This sandwich literally melted in my mouth.  I mean pure perfection.  I was worried about the sandwich not being dressed since I was used to a mayo base but they’ve nailed it over at Frankland’s.  The homemade ice cream sandwich was also a hit.  Way to top off a cute lunch.  As I continue to let you in on my LA food adventures, please mark this one down as a place to try.  I will be coming back for sure!

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The Dog Haus

img_0952I am a true lover of a good dog; hot dog that is.  It’s my go to at the summer BBQ and any sporting event that sells them.  So when I saw Dog Haus and they’re specialty hot dogs, I knew I had to give them a try.  Not to mention their all beef dogs are served on King’s Hawaiian rolls.  This alone should be enough to make you want to try these.  Everyone loves that bread!

img_0955There are a number of variations to try and I went with the Old Town Haus dog.  This one has a smoked bacon wrapped dog with caramelized onions, chipotle aioli, pickled jalapenos and cotija cheese.  Take about a specialty!  The smoky flavor of the dog mixed with the little extra heat from the jalapenos and sweet yet spicy chipotle sauce was a great combo.  I was also able to try one of their burgers.  I cannot recall which one exactly by name but it did have a fried egg on it which always works for me.  Not forgetting the cheese fries that accompanied this hot dog and burger.  Great choice for lunch or dinner and should definitely be adding on your restaurant to do list.

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Don’t Mind if I DO

Living in New York, you quickly learn the trendy spots that take foodies by storm.  We are always looking for the next best dessert, dinner or brunch spot to showcase and recommend to friends.  With that, I present DO.  The place that actually promotes indulging in as much cookie dough as you like.  Yes I said cookie dough.  You know that childhood favorite thing to sneak a taste of right before the cookie batch made it to the oven.

DO serves scoops of cookie dough of all flavors including classics like chocolate chip and sugar or more fancy ones like gimme s’more or peanut butter snickerdoodle; their creative takes on a classic s’more or snickerdoodle cookie.  They also have a handful of other delightful treats like their cookie dough ice cream sandwich, cupcakes, milkshakes, sundaes and freshly baked cookies.  I decided to try the ice cream sandwich which did not disappoint.  I will say to hurry and take your best picture for your insta or snap before the ice cream melts :-).  So now you can still sneak a bit of the cookie dough before you bake a fresh batch or simply visit DO and order it by the scoop.  It’s DOlicious!!