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Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Pot Holder Cafe

The Pot Holder Cafe
3700 E Broadway
Long Beach, CA 90803
562-433-9305

So, I'm in Long Beach on a Saturday morning and we're trying to find a place to eat that is open.   The Potholder seemed like a good place to try- a nice neighborhood diner.  The sign said closed but the door was open.  They were preparing to open and quite frankly the server didn't seem too happy to see customers walk in about five minutes before they officially opened.

Anyways, The Potholder is a big place that has the last three units of the building and by the time we left almost all the seats were taken.  So it's a popular neighborhood diner.
Frankie's Special; two eggs over hard, two strips of bacon, two pancakes, $5.95.  I'm really not a breakfast person.  I to eat out for lunch and dinner instead of breakfast.  But, when I do go for breakfast, it's my usual eggs and bacon and maybe some toast or pancakes.

I always get my eggs over hard, I hate runny eggs.  These eggs were cooked pretty well.  The yolk or the white were cooked, maybe slightly overcooked, but that's fine.  The eggs did lack salt, which is a basic seasoning.  The bacon was the standard bacon you get from the supermarket, nothing special or great about it.  But, the bacon was slightly undercooked.

But, the pancakes were awesome!  They were cooked perfectly-light, fluffy with a nice sweetness to them.

Service was below average.  While the orders came out quickly and we didn't lack for anything, the lady who maybe the owner or manager wasn't too friendly.  Like I said she wasn't too happy we came in five minutes before they opened.  If they didn't want customers coming in, maybe they should lock the damn door!!  If they want customers they need to be nicer to customers and cook the food better-overcooked eggs that lacked salt and slightly undercooked eggs?  Come on now.

I wouldn't go back to The Potholder, unfriendly service and poorly cooked food, though the pancakes were great, isn't a recipe for a return visit.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

La Creperie Café

La Creperie Café 
130 Pine Ave
Long Beach, CA 90802
562-437-8648

What an interesting contrast; a Hooters restaurant turned into La Creperie Cafe!  Yes, that's what happened in Long Beach, when Hooters moved from Pine Ave to The Pike area.  This is actually the second La Creperie Café in Long Beach, the first being in the Belmont Shore area.  They are copying the model of George's Greek Cafe who opened another location on Pine Ave. in addition to the George's Greek Cafe in Belmont Shore.  I have heard good things about La Creperie Cafe and decided to give them a try.

La Creperie Cafe is very elegantly decorated restaurant, with it's high ceilings, beautiful chandeliers, and dim lighting this makes for a romantic dining spot. 

Dipollo crepe, $10.95: Fresh wild mushrooms, herbs de provence and mozzarella with chicken in a sherry cream sauce.  There are all kinds of crepes on the menu and I decided on the dipollo.  The crepe itself was good with a nice firm yet light texture.  The mushrooms were cooked perfectly.  But, everything else was lacking.  The chicken was too dry and tough, the sauce was bland, just adding some salt would have improved the flavor.  I wasn't impressed.

Service was pretty good.  Our server was very helpful and nice, though he was slow to refill drinks.

I was disappointed in La Creperie Café.  I was expecting more flavor and got bland, overcooked food.  I won't go back.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Ranch Town Market & Deli BBQ



Ranch Town Market & Deli BBQ
1112 N San Dimas Ave
San Dimas 
909-599-9424

Finally!!  After many attempts trying to get the BBQ spare ribs from Ranch Town Market & Deli BBQ, they finally had spare ribs today.  How did I know that a liquor store had BBQ?  Well, while eating lunch at Capri Deli in Covina, in December of 2011, somebody mentioned the BBQ at Ranch Town.  So I went there on a Saturday afternoon about two weeks later but, they were out of spare ribs.  The next time I wanted to go, I called before going and they still didn't have any ribs. This happened about four more times, I called each time and each time they told me they were out of ribs. Today I called and they finally had the ribs!!!  So I drove down there and finally got to try the BBQ.

Ranch Town is a huge liquor store with a deli counter at the back.  The deli has a good number of sandwiches on the menu.  They also have fried chicken on the menu.  But, I came for the BBQ and quickly placed my order.

Half rack of pork spare ribs, $12.99.  Six center cut ribs, there were well seasoned, a good bark, pretty well smoked-making for some tender ribs.  But there was very little amount of meat on these ribs.  I've had four pieces of ribs that had more meat than this batch of six ribs.  But, overall a good example of BBQ.  
Pulled pork sandwich, $6.99.  I normally don't get pulled pork but figured I could eat half the ribs and a portion of the pulled pork and save the rest for dinner tomorrow.  The bbq sauce is too sweet for my tastes and the pulled pork was drowning in it.  There was too much fat and gristle, but the lean meat was pretty good.  But, the BBQ sauce just overwhelms the flavor.

The people were generally nice when I called asking if they had BBQ.  But, actual service was ok.  They weren't that friendly, just going through the motions.  When I ordered the ribs, the young lady asked the lady in the back, in Spanish, if they had ribs.  I was going to cuss out everybody in that damn store if they didn't have the ribs.  Luckily, the ribs were in stock!!

While the BBQ ribs were good, it was a bit pricey for the amount of meat on the ribs and not so good that it was worth waiting about nine months to try it.  I won't go back any time soon.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Dorados Ceviche Bar-Closed


Dorados Ceviche Bar
440 S Atlantic Blvd
Monterey Park, CA 91754
626-282-8784

After my visit to Guisados I knew I wanted to try Dorados Ceviche Bar as soon as I can.  Well, I was driving back from LA, and saw the exit for Atlantic Blvd. and decided why not go to Dorados Ceviche Bar.

Dorados Ceviche Bar is a good sized place, but their signage is pretty small!  They only sign that mentions Dorados is on the window just to the left of the front door.  It would be tough to see if you're driving on Atlantic.  But, it reminded me of Cooks Torta, with it's small signage. Yes, Cooks Tortas, Guisados, and Dorados are owned by the same owners.
Ecuadorian Ceviche tostada, $4; fish-talilpia, shrimp, and imitation crab with corn and cummin.  There wasn't that much imitation crab meat or corn but overall this was good.  All the flavors blended well together.  The ingredients were all fresh.  This was sweet and less tangy than other ceviche but I liked it. 
Shrimp Ceviche tostada, $4.  This had shrimp, tomatoes, cilantro, red onions, and lime juice.  This was good, but nothing outstanding or great.  Maybe I was expecting too much, but I wasn't overwhelmed.  I could have gone to many other places and gotten the same quality of ceviche.

Service was good.  The young lady who took my order was nice, friendly, and helpful.  She knew the menu-knew what was in each ceviche and took the time to answer all my questions in a friendly manner.

I enjoyed Ecuadorian Ceviche tostada, but the shrimp ceviche tostada left me underwhelmed.  I wouldn't have any real problems going back, but I wouldn't rush back.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

At Last Cafe

At Last Cafe
204 Orange Ave
Long Beach
562-437-4837

At Last I have tried At Last Cafe!! I first knew about At Last Cafe shortly after they opened in 2008 and it's been on my list of places to try. But, I still didn't go try it. I've heard good things about At Last Cafe and I was looking forward to having dinner here with a friend I haven't seen in over two years.

When At Last Cafe opened, it was a very small restaurant and you needed reservations. But, they recently expanded and while I would still suggest reservations, you maybe able to walk in and get a table without waiting too long. But, parking in the area is a tough to find. There is only street parking and it's a crowded neighborhood.

Green Goddess Salad, $5.75, avocado, cucumber, and herb dressing. This salad was awesome!! This was a mixed green salad that was very fresh and the dressing was out of this world. A light buttermilk type dressing with good flavor. A huge portion that makes it perfect as an entree salad. Luckily my friend and I split this salad, otherwise I wouldn't have room for the entree.

3 Cheese mac and cheese, $8.75. I had heard lots of great things about their mac and cheese. While the macaroni was cooked perfectly, I thought this was bland and they were pretty stingy with the cheese. Some parts of the macaroni was just the pasta, very little to no cheese. Sure, it's a big portion, but not worth the price and didn't come close to living up to the hype.

Stir Fried Fresh Vegetables, $8, broccoli, squash, eggplant, spinach.

I hate egg plant and I asked the server what kind of vegetables came in this dish. He mentioned squash and broccoli. Then I asked "Is there eggplant?" He said no. Well out comes my dish and it's filled with broccoli, squash, a few leaves of spinach, and EGG PLANT!! If my friend didn't love eggplant, I would have sent this back. My friend ate most of the eggplant. The veggies I ate were well cooked and seasoning in a soy sauce. They were a bit undercooked, they could have cooked for about 2-3 more minutes. This dish was ok, but if you take out the eggplant, this was a pretty small portion.

Service was good, except for the fact that the server didn't know the menu and what comes in the stir fried veggie dish. I asked the server if there was any eggplant in my stir fired veggie entree and he said no. But, in fact there was a ton of eggplant. I don't really care if they don't know the answer when I ask. But, they should go and find out the answer. Isn't it pretty easy to go to the kitchen and ask the chef what comes in a certain dish? What if somebody had a food allergy? Not to eggplants, but nuts or something else that could seriously injury or even cause death?

I was looking forward to my trip to At Last Cafe but I was underwhelmed. The green goddess salad was my favorite by far. The other two items I ordered missed the mark or was just ok. While the prices are good and the portions are big, I won't be going back to At Last Cafe. Very overrated!!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Guisados

Guisados
2100 E Cesar Chavez Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90033
(323) 264-7201

Guisados is owned by the same people who own Cooks Torta. They also opened a ceviche restaurant not far from Cooks called Dorados Ceviche Bar, which I will be going there soon.

Guisados is located in the Boyle Heights section of Los Angeles, and in the 18 months it's been open, Guisados has been a hit for the foodie crowd. That becomes clear when you walk into Guisados and the douchebags with Ed Hardy jeans are mingling with the Latinos who live down the street.

Interesting trivia; East Cesar Chavez Ave. used to be Brooklyn Ave.  




All tacos are $2.50. They also have a taco sampler, $6.50, that includes 6 mini tacos.
I got the fish-grilled tilapa, shrimp and the tinga de pollo-chicken. The tacos come on a pizza pan and are hot!! The flour tortillas are freshly made and grilled. They are much thicker than any tortilla I've had. They really need to be, to hold up the toppings they offer.

The fish taco was grilled tilapia with a very spicy hot sauce that just overpowered the flavor of the taco. The tilapia was grilled perfectly. The cabbage was cut in bigger portions than the shredded cabbage of other fish tacos, but was fresh and had a nice flavor. The creme was nice attempt of adding a coolness to the taco. But, the hot sauce just overpowered this taco. I will order this again without the hot sauce.

The shrimp taco was great!! There were about five small sized shrimp in the taco. There were a ton of grilled red and green bell peppers which added a ton of flavor.

But, my favorite taco was the tinga de pollo-chicken!! This was awesome, a well balanced, nothing overpowering, taco. That was filled with shredded chicken that is cooked in a stew with tons of flavor!! The avocado added a nice coolness, but the taco wasn't spicy at all.

Service was very good. Nice friendly staff who know their menu inside and out. Ask them what comes on a taco and they know.

I would go back to Guisados anytime and try their other tacos. They are well worth the $2.50 price, good portions and good quality meats and fillings. A true gem in Boyle Heights.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Al & Bea's Mexican Food

Al & Bea's Mexican Food
2025 E 1st St
Los Angeles
323-267-8810

Al & Bea's Mexican Food is a Boyle Heights institution, that has recently became better known to the rest of LA when the Gold Line Extension opened a few years ago. The Mariachi station is 2-3 blocks away and foodies have blogged about Al & Bea's bean and cheese burrito. So in Labor Day I decided to give them a try, giving traffic and parking wouldn't be too bad.

So I arrived at Al & Bea's quickly since there was no traffic and parking was pretty easy to find. Located near a very busy intersection, 1st and St. Louis, you can tell Al & Bea's has been serving the neighborhood since 1966, the sign says so. You order at the window and you can eat at the covered patio which has about 6-8 tables.

Bean and cheese burrito with red sauce, $2.99.

I didn't want anything fancy, so I just got the bean and cheese burrito with red sauce, $2.99. The burrito was filled with chalky beans and very little cheese! How can any Mexican restaurant screw up beans? These beans were undercooked and lacked flavor. I mean if Del Taco or Taco Bell can get a bean and cheese burrito right, why can't Al & Bea's? The amount of cheese in this burrito wouldn't top most tacos, much less this burrito.

Service was ok. Nothing great but nothing bad.

Going to Al & Bea's Mexican Food is something everybody should experience, but one trip is more than enough. The burritos are bad and aren't worth the price. I would rather go to Del Taco and get a bean and cheese burrito for $1, than drive back to Al & Bea's!

LA Weekly listed the bean and cheese burrito at Al & Bea's one of the 9 best burritos in LA!  WTF were they thinking?