Feb 10, 2009

Drag Queen Bingo & Other Pursuits

OR... 3 days in La La Land

I should really just call this “How to Eat Your Way Across Southern California”.

Snuck off to the west coast last weekend to surprise a friend for her 30th birthday. We didn’t really stop eating from the moment my plane touched down – Greek food at Petros in Manhattan Beach, ceviche at Ortegas in Redondo Beach, machaca w/ eggs at Shorehouse Grill in Belmont Shore… but I wanted to share some of my personal favorites:

The best (and worst) of the eating took place Sunday afternoon on a stretch of the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) between Long Beach & Redondo Beach…Our adventure began shortly after polishing off a platter of chilaquiles w/ eggs over easy, corn tortillas & refried beans at the birthday brunch. I say platter because I think if the plate your breakfast comes on is big enough to hold a full turkey then it qualifies as a platter, don’t you? The chilaquiles were delicious (more on those at a later date) and the company was divine, but after a few hours of birthday fun it was time to hit the road. We were headed back to Redondo Beach but we had three very important stops to make:

1. El Gallito Taco Truck
I love taco trucks and this one is my all-time favorite. I’ll admit I haven’t been to every truck in the greater LA area though so if you have a recommendation – I’m all ears. But El Gallito will be hard to beat. It can be found in a parking lot on PCH, really close to the 110, and there’s always a line outside the window (a really good sign if you’re eating from a truck). What to get? Tacos al pastor.

Tacos al pastor can be found a few ways but some ingredients are consistent: corn tortillas,spit-grilled pork & pineapple. Cilantro, white onion, green tomatillo salsa & a squeeze of lime are all optional, but highly recommended. At Los Gallitos you fix your own, but you can always order your tacos “con todos” to get the full treatment. They’re smaller than your typical Mexican joint tacos but at a buck & a quarter each you can afford to order a few. We had literally just left the restaurant so this was strictly a snack stop: one quick taco each while standing in the parking lot. Were we hungry? No. But there’s always room for one little taco. Besides… driving by El Gallito without stopping just isn’t right…

2. Miss Donuts & Bakery (& Mekong Express Chinese Food)Los Angeles is immense. And no matter where you are, it is a certainty that you are AT LEAST 30 minutes away from where you need to be next. Since I don’t drive when I’m out there that leaves me with a lot of time to look out the window while we’re on the road - and you know what I’ve noticed? LA has a crazy number of independent donut shops. And even more interesting… there are quite a lot of Donut/Chinese Food combo shops. Apparently my native LA friends had never noticed this phenomenon. Guess they don’t spend enough time gazing out the passenger-side window… but I needed to check one out. 

We made a quick stop at Miss Donuts & Bakery and picked up a dozen to take home. The donuts come in every old-fashioned flavor you can think of, they’re as
 big as your hand and the box must have weighed five pounds…this was seriously good stuff. They may have been the best donuts I’ve ever had. But then, have I ever had a BAD donut??

3. See’s CandiesOur last stop on the way home was the See’s Candies Store to pick
 up some chocolates I could leave as a gift for my hosts. See’s is a California institution, and it’s not hard to see why… they give you a piece of candy just for showing up! We finished our brown sugar nougat truffles and left with a box of chocolate-covered divinity, maple chips and peanut-caramel clusters. We also left feeling the teeniest bit sick to our stomachs…

We spent the rest of the afternoon moaning about how full we were and rubbing our distended bellies. And you know what? I’d do it all again. You guys free next weekend??

So there you have it… my favorite SoCal spots. Don’t get me wrong, we’ve done the LA-essential stuff: lunch at The Ivy, a stroll down Sunset Boulevard, shopping at The Grove… and those are all nice. But for me, the real ‘scene’ in LA is tacos on the side of the road & donuts with a side of fried rice! 

And yes, there is such a thing as Drag Queen Bingo... 


T.Ro.Dub. said...

Sounds delicious! The tacos al pastor look divine!

Jupiter Cuz said...

I need some of those tacos. NOW! Chicken Man is going to need to whip up a few. Do you think he realizes that my food cravings are being influenced by The Single Gal?

Eleni said...

#1 - I am still full - and you forgot to mention the Mexican dinner, complete with baskets (plural) of tortilla chips and guacamole and an entire pitcher of margaritas that topped off our day of eating.
#2 - I confessed my sins to my trainer and she totally kicked my ass on Monday - I am still sore. I blamed you completely in my confession, of course.
#3 - I wouldn't trade #1 or #2 for anything! I had a great time and already miss you terribly!

Erin said...

That sounds amazing! I hope there are pics too!

Lisa said...

Did you bring any See's candy home to your favorite non-West Coast people??