Dinner – Wolfsglen – October 24, 2023 – Westwood – Los Angeles, CA.

Wolfsglen is Westwood’s historic village – hottest new cocktail, and dining destination!!  I say it’s about time. When I was a teenager, my friends and I would go to Westwood on the weekends and walk around, meet like-minded teenagers, and just always use Westwood as a destination hangout. There were some crime ridden events that happened a while back that turned the tides,  but with Wolfsglen coming in, things have gotten so much better. Now is the time to go and see what Westwood all is about, especially with Wolfsglen’s amazing fun atmosphere, and wonderful food!

The space was a few different popular restaurants prior, but what sets Wolfsgen apart from others in the area, is their unique take on very mindful food. Nestled in a historic two-story building developed in the 1930s, Wolfsglen showcases beautiful high ceilings, modern design, a lush patio for al fresco dining, and private event spaces. They have a revolving digital art exhibit, with great lovely art. Their tables are fun and funky with non-matching chairs, but somehow it all works.

Wolfglen’s Chef Fidel Guzman brings together familiar flavors from some favorite cultures and cuisines in Los Angeles. He loves the freedom that this position offers him.  He was the Sous Chef at SBE, and more recently the Pastry Chef at Cleo Restaurant, and he studied at Le Cordon Bleu college of culinary arts in Pasadena. Chef Fidel Guzman creates such a different spin on many classics, but everything barrows a piece of many types of cuisines. Chef Guzman’s new American seasonal menu embraces global Angeleno flavors, showcasing the finest seasonal and fresh ingredients. From Latin, to Middle Eastern and in between, he has everything covered. Speaking with him was very eye opening. All of his recipes are extremely unique, with a lot of attention to detail. He wants my readers to know that his cuisine represents a melting pot of all of Los Angeles. You can feel his talent in every bite.

About Wolfsglen:

Wolfsglen is Westwood’s premier cocktail and dining destination featuring New American cuisine with a global Angeleno influence complemented by an array of expertly crafted cocktails.

Inspired by the legacy of John Wolfskill, a former state senator and pioneer rancher who played a pivotal role in the development of the land where Westwood Village now stands, Wolfsglen blends history, culture, and cuisine into a one-of-a-kind dining experience. Quietly opening its doors in November 2022, Wolfsglen is the brainchild of new hospitality team CFO Mark Garcia, Director of Operations Fernanda Hay, General Manager Sammy Espinoza, Chef Fidel Guzman, Sous Chef & Pastry Chef Moriah Castañeda, and Bar Manager Edward Ruiz. Handmade Pastas take center stage with Chef Fidel’s Rigatoni Diavola, Cacio e Pepe, and Bolognese, each prepared to perfection. The entrées boast mouthwatering selections such as Pan Roasted Pork Chop with a togarashi-whiskey glaze, Steak Frites, Wolfsglen Burger with candied bacon, spicy aioli, and arugula, Beyond Burger, Roast Chicken with aji verde and pea tendrils, Seared Salmon served with a pineapple ginger glaze and miso potato purée, Seared Striped Bass, and Cauliflower Steak with curry and raisin chutney. Chef Fidel Guzman and Sous Chef & Pastry Chef Moriah Castañeda present an array of tantalizing options for dessert, including Homemade Peach Pie, Mango Sweet Rice, Deconstructed Strawberry Cheesecake, and Ricotta Donuts with blueberry compote and lemon curd.

Wolfsglen’s bar program, originally created by Fernanda Hay, now under the expert guidance of Bar Manager Edward Ruiz, offers a diverse range of perfectly balanced and playful cocktails. Signature creations include the Razz-Mez-Tazz made of mezcal, mango, spicy bitter, agave and Tajin, Purple Rain comprised of gin, blueberry purée, lemon, and butterfly pea flower, Geisha’s Kiss with Masumi sparkling sake, elderflower liqueur, and lychee purée, and Black Gold prepared with Neft vodka, simply syrup, cucumbers, and activated charcoal, with even more to try. In addition, Wolfsglen also offers specially selected White Wine, Red Wine, Rosé, Sparking, and Beer and Cider.

Here’s What I Tried:

House Cocktails:

Martini, traditional martini with 3 olives. My go-to drink for most of my upscale tastings, this one was astounding.

Born a Star Martini, with vodka, passion, Mamey bubbles, vanilla, and sherry mist. This cocktail has lots of effervescence, and nice, sweet nuances.

Starters:

Caesar Salad, with buttermilk miso dressing, little gem lettuce, and parmesan crisps. They substituted my fries from my Steak Frites for a side Caesar salad. It was very good, with lots of Caesar dressing.

Brown Butter Labneh, with Zataar, feta cheese, and warm pita (or GF crudités). I was a skeptic, but after one bite I realized what all the fuss was about. This is one of their most popular menu items, and I understand. It’s so special and delicious. Just try it.

Mushroom Arancini, with arborio rice, and truffle oil. A delicious rendition of this Italian staple. The truffle oil really makes for one succulent appetizer.

Baja Seabass Ceviche, with passion fruit and aji Amarillo sauce, pickled cherries, tomatoes, and micro cilantro. A bit tangy and spicy, but the fish is very delectable.

Shrimp Toast, with homemade focaccia, arugula, spicy garlic crisps. These were so amazing, especially with the homemade focaccia, another delightful menu item. It takes Chef Fidel two days to make this super yummy focaccia.

Brussel Sprouts, with balsamic and bacon. Cooked crispy, this will be a nice vegetable addition to your meal.

Handmade Pasta:

Bolognese, with Mafaldine, and 7-hour braised meat sauce. The handmade pasta makes all the difference in the world. If any dish offers homemade pasta, it will be the winner every time. Pasta maker Jose comes in early mornings to make their lovely handmade pastas.

Entrée:

Seared Striped Bass, with spicy coconut broth, and herb salad. It is a nice large piece of fish, but the showstopper is the beautiful fragrant spicy coconut broth. Wow!

Steak Frites with 8 oz. hanger steak, beef jús, herb seasoned French fries. I substituted the fries for a Caesar salad. The steak is so tender with great seasonings. The sauce is also an incredible addition to this wonderful dish.

Desserts

Chocolate Bomb, with chocolate cinnamon mousse, arroz con leche filling, chocolate sable, cayenne, white chocolate glaze, and churro katari. This is a very complex luscious dessert. The cinnamon note is my favorite part. The presentation is everything!

Homemade Baklava, with mixed nuts, caramel, and homemade pear sorbet. It is rich, with lovely caramelization, not your typical Baklava, but far more flavorful.

Wines:

Rombauer, Carneros, Chardonnay, CA 2020, buttery, creamy, it was so delicious with the striped seabass and the shrimp toast, adding just the right amount of acid and cream to both dishes.

Eco Terreno, Cabernet Sauvignon, CA 2017. Of course, this wine pairs so fantastically with the steak.

The staff at Wolfsglen are all hand-picked by 27-year industry veteran – General Manager Sammy Espinoza. The very elegant hostess Paris Elyte will guide you to your seat but will bestow her shining personality along the way. She was a highlight for me, she just makes everyone feel at home at Wolfsglen. Manager Sammy Espinoza also makes you feel very welcome, he just has a way with people. He talks about hiring his staff and how important it is to the overall vibe of Wolfsglen. “I can teach them the job, but I can’t teach them the personality”. The feedback he gets from his customers are them saying that his staff is always so nice. My server Brian Birdwell was also so engaging. He was able to give me lots of interesting facts, I loved his demeanor.

Wolfsglen is open every Sunday and Monday from 5:00 pm to 10:00 pm, every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 11:30 am to 12:30 am, every Friday from 11:30 am to 1:00 am, and every Saturday from 5:00 pm to 1:00 am. Wolfsglen offers Howlin Hour every Tuesday through Friday from 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm and Late-Night Howlin Hour every Friday and Saturday from 11:00 pm to 12:30 am. For more information about Wolfsglen or to make reservations, please call 310.208.1071 directly or visit www.Wolfsglen.com.

Social Media:  Follow Wolfsglen on Instagram @wolfsglenwestwood

Wolfsglen

1071 Glendon Avenue

Los Angeles, CA  90024

T: 310.208.1071

www.Wolfsglen.com

*Note some content was taken off their website and press release.

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October 21, 2023 – Late Lunch – Italia Bella – Yucaipa, CA.

When I asked anyone in Yucaipa what was their favorite Italian restaurants in town was, everyone said you should try Italia Bella. I called and spoke with owner Mina Botro and he gladly wanted me to try his wonderful cuisine. I totally knew what I was getting myself into, from all of the folks telling me how good it was, and I was on board.

The interior is small and simple, but don’t let that sway your decision to try Italia Bella. Here, it’s all about the food. Located in a strip mall on the main drag in Yucaipa, its very easy to find, and so worth the trip!

During my gastronomic experience, the three ladies that sat across from me all ordered entrees with Pomodoro sauce. I was amazed at how committed they were to only be eating their pastas with this sauce. But after I tried it, I totally understood why. It’s just that good. I told Mina that he has to bottle this very addicting sauce.

Here’s What I tried:

Soup: 

Cream of Broccoli, it has garlic, cream and butter, maybe some other ingredients, but that is what I could taste, and believe me – it’s all you need. This soup is something I would order every time, it is so delicious.

Sides: 

Meatballs w/ marinara sauce and parmesan (2 pcs per order). Their meatballs are fantastic. They have great texture and lovely meaty flavors, and just what your Nonna would make.

Cheesy Garlic Knots, homemade garlic knots, with melted mozzarella cheese, and a side of marinara. If you’re a lover of cheese knots, then these are for you.

Italian Pasta Salad, with some nice vegetables, a good dish to go with a sandwich.

Antipasto:

Salami, prosciutto, capicola, fresh mozzarella, carrots, cucumbers, onions, olives, pepperoncini, and tomatoes over a bed of spring mix. This salad covers all your bases, it has a little bit of everything. Their portions are very large, so you may want to share this one as a starter.

Salads:

Caesar Salad, Romaine lettuce, croutons, Caesar dressing w/ Pecorino Romano cheese. This salad too can be shared and would be good for a starter.

Sandwiches: 

Italian Sub, with Salami, prosciutto, capicola, fresh mozzarella w/ lettuce, tomato, onions, mayo, oil and vinegar, and orégano. It is served on a ciabatta bread, and cut into two triangles. They pile on all of the goodies, a great lunch item.

Pasta: 

Fettuccine Alfredo with mushrooms, shrimp, and garlic. By far my favorite dish of the night, with super fresh shrimp, and the mushrooms, add just the right texture. With their pasta dishes you can choose your type of pasta, type of sauce, and all of the things you want to go into the sauce.

Angel Hair with vodka sauce, sausage artichoke and spinach. I just loved the sausage in this pasta, it added a whole other dimension.

Specialties: 

Baked Meat Lasagna, layered pasta stuffed ground beef and Italian cheeses w/ homemade marinara sauce, and melted mozzarella cheese. A very rich lasagna, with oozing cheese. It will satisfy your lasagna craving.

Jumbo Ravioli Florentine Pesto, Filled w/ blend of spinach, ricotta, Parmesan and mozzarella cheese, with pesto sauce. Another favorite menu item. The raviolis are huge, and the pesto sauce was delicate, but with great zesty taste.

Stuffed Eggplant Arrabiata, with roasted eggplant stuffed with Italian cheese and baked on top of your choice of pasta w/ melted mozzarella cheese. I just loved this menu item as well. It’s a great alternative to eggplant parmigiana.

Entrees: 

Shrimp Scampi, with sauteed jumbo shrimp in garlic white wine lemon sauce. Their shrimps are fresh and succulent, so you really can’t go wrong with any shrimp dishes here.

Chicken Marsala, with chicken breast sauteed with shallots, mushrooms in marsala wine brown sauce. For me the sauce was the takeaway from this chicken dish.

Chicken Piccata, with Chicken breast sauteed with fresh garlic, capers in white wine lemon sauce. This dish has a very fragrant lemon sauce, and the capers add a pop in your mouth, with zest that you just can’t describe.

For local perfect Italian food, this is the place to go. When I was there, they also had lots of Togo orders, you can tell that the food would be the same and just as good eating it at home with your family.

Mina is so lucky to have his sweet son Peter helping him every step of the way. They live in Palm Desert, and commute to work fifty minutes each way. But Mina really loves what he does. You can tell when you talk to him about his restaurant and how he is filling a much-needed space for good Italian food in this growing community.

You can make Italia Bella a destination spot when you’re enroute to the dessert, of if you’re local, then here’s your opportunity for delicious authentic Italian food nearby. Whatever your culinary pleasure is, Italia Bella will surely satisfy your needs, and appetite!!

“Everything we cook is homemade and is made with love!’

Italia Bella

33527 Yucaipa Blvd. # C1

Yucaipa, CA, 92399

​https://www.italiabella.biz/

Hours:

Wednesday -Saturday 12PM-8PM

Sunday: 12PM-6:30pm

Closed Monday & Tuesday

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Pinstripes – Bistro, Bowling, and Bocce – October 8, 2023 – Woodland Hills, CA.

I first met the marketing team at the Miramar Hotel for a great event in Santa Monica. Then, Catee Bartell said they would be having their grand opening soon. At that time, I was also putting together a grand review of all 27 food hall places are at their next-door neighbor Topanga Social. I have been to both Topanga Social, and Pinstripes, a total of 4 times, so I feel knowledgeable about the whole new businesses and development at Topanga Westfield Mall. But the sheer magnitude of Pinstripes in square footage is astounding, as well as a major commitment to their brand. They take up 28 thousand square feet in this new space. It is very impressive indeed. The interior design is very fresh and upscale, with many areas to enjoy a lively lunch or dinner. Their lower-level dining room is huge, and then you go upstairs to another bar, lounges, and a full bowling alley. Whether you want to come and dine or bowl, or do both at the same time, you too will be so excited about all the glorious possibilities there are at Pinstripes. They have 14 locations across the US, and 5 more on the way. Their grand opening was epic, with 3000 customers in attendance, it was one of the best restaurant openings I have been to in a long time.

Manager Daniel Sayer took me through my culinary journey. He was informative, with a no-nonsense pleasant attitude and he got the job done. The other manager Taylor Archibald added some fun, and made sure that everything got delivered in a timely fashion. Mr. personality server – Jason Ingram – came to check up on me as well, he added a bit of levity to this very large tasting.

About Pinstripes:

The Best Bowling Alley in Topanga. Pinstripes is the ultimate destination for bowling enthusiasts in Topanga. With their stylish decor and state-of-the-art lanes, they offer the perfect combination of fun and sophistication. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a beginner, their bowling alleys provide a comfortable and enjoyable atmosphere for all skill levels. Plus, with an extensive food and beverage menu, you can indulge in delicious Italian/American cuisine and signature cocktails while you play.

Pinstripes is the perfect spot for a night out with friends, a family gathering, or a corporate event. Book your lane today and get ready for a memorable bowling experience that you won’t forget!

The Best Bocce Ball Court in Topanga. Looking for the perfect spot to enjoy a game of bocce in Topanga? Pinstripes is your playground, and it is the perfect location for a fun-filled game of bocce, offering luxurious, meticulously maintained bocce courts that are sure to make your experience unforgettable. Whether you’re a seasoned bocce player or a beginner looking to try your hand at this classic Italian game, Pinstripes has everything you need to have a great time. From their expertly maintained bocce ball courts to their delicious food and drink menu, Pinstripes is the best place to play bocce in Topanga. So, grab some friends, head over to Pinstripes, and get ready for an exciting day of bocce!

Pinstripes prides themselves on setting the highest culinary standards possible; they start from scratch. From wood-fired pizzas to seasonal gelato, each and every Italian-American dish is made in-house. They are committed to serving quality, locally sourced ingredients in every dish. They take pride in their thoughtfully selected wine list, rotating craft beers celebrating local breweries, and an attractive variety of handcrafted cocktails.

Here’s What I Tried:

Proper Martini, in a proper Martini glass. I coveted this cocktail, it had just the right amount of Vermouth, and just the right amount of olive juice, it was truly a great Martini.

The Mule, with Tito’s vodka, fever tree ginger beer, fresh mint, and lime, served in a signature copper mug. A very good mule, with all its sparkling glory.

Blueberry Mash, with Stoli Blueberi, St. Germain liqueur, blueberries, fresh mint, fresh limes, and splash of soda. I just loved the cool refreshment this cocktail provided, one of my favorites.

Paloma, with Casamigos Blanco tequila, fresh lime juice, fever tree sparkling pink grapefruit, and sugar rim. A delightful drink, with the perfect balance.

Limoncello Martini, with Meletti Limoncello, Grand Marnier, fresh lemon, citrus sour mix, and lemon twist. This cocktail is sweet, but is also a great combination of flavors.

Fabian Garcia was my bartender at the time of my tasting, and he pulled out all of the stops. Each cocktail was unique and blended with a lot of attention to detail. I have had some cocktails at my various tastings where the drinks were too sweet, too spicy, too bitter, too acidic, these were exactly the opposite. All the drinks that I tasted were the best balance possible. Even though I don’t drink all of them, I tasted all of them, and they all had my seal of big-time approval.

Starters:

Crispy Calamari, wild caught, and house made marinara. The calamari are super fresh and taste like the sea, I just couldn’t get enough.

Buffalo Cauliflower, with buttermilk blue cheese dressing, celery, and scallions. So, if you’re a vegetarian and love chicken wings, then this is the appetizer for you.

Tenderloin Sliders with truffle potato strings, shallot mayo, and a bordelaise sauce. The meat is like butter, truly a one-of-a-kind experience.

Meatballs and Polenta, with hand-rolled beef meatballs, roasted corn, and three-cheese polenta. The creamy cheese polenta is the main reason to try these little darlins.

World’s Most Delectable Chicken Wings with, balsamic BBQ, sweet chili glaze, or spicy calabrese. I had mine with the sweet chili glaze. They were amazingly crunchy on the outside and super tender meat on the inside, with the sweet chili glaze, it’s a winner.

Wood Fired Pizzas and Flatbreads:

All selections crafted on their hand-stretched dough, made with imported Italian ingredients.

Barbeque Chicken, with balsamic BBQ sauce, roasted onions, mozzarella, corn, and calabrese. I loved this pizza, it’s a real pizza, not oval but round and nicely put together. The presentation is so lovely and colorful.

Ahi Tuna, with #1 grade tuna marinated ceviche- style, avocado, balsamic shallots, grape tomato, and arugula. I know I said the same thing, Ahi tuna on a pizza, but the tuna gets partially cooked from the heat of the pizza, it’s not cooked all the way through, but it’s really worth trying.

Sandwiches:

Cowboy Burger, served with parmesan fries, with applewood smoked bacon, onion rings, calabrese sauce, balsamic BBQ, jalapeno, house made pickles, and sharp cheddar. I just can’t say enough about this super complex burger. If you like great burgers and bacon, then this one is for you.

Salads:

Signature Chop, with grape tomato, roasted corn, kalamata olives, gorgonzola, burrata, cannellini beans, crispy noodles, with shrimp. Adding the shrimp made all the difference in the world. Their shrimps are plump and fresh grilled, it just added a whole other dimension to this already perfect salad combination.

Super salad, with nine superfoods: kale, spinach, pecans, figs, veggie chips, avocado, grains, raspberries, Humboldt fog goat cheese, honey red wine vinaigrette.  The Humboldt Fog cheese is the best part of this salad, it is a fresh, wonderful salad.

Soups:

Chicken Italian Dumpling, filled with vegetable and a wonderful flavor, just what the doctor ordered.

Lobster Bisque, I love a good Lobster Bisque and they do a great job. The smooth cream, and touch of sherry, alongside big chunks of lobster is a must have menu item.

Pasta:

Lobster Mac & Cheese, with Maine lobster, shrimp, applewood smoked bacon, sharp cheddar, truffle, scallions, and crostini. It is full of large pieces of lobster and shrimp and is very delicate. Who doesn’t love lobster.

Chef’s Entrée’s:

Chicago – Style Baby Back Ribs, fall off the bone, balsamic. barbeque sauce, parmesan fries, and house made pickle. I asked for more BBQ sauce, which came warm in temperature. What made this dish stand out for me are those divine homemade bread and butter sweet pickles, yum!

Char-Grilled Ribeye, with hand-cut certified angus beef, three cheese polenta, grilled asparagus, roasted shallot, and bordelaise sauce. The bordelaise sauce with every bite of meat will blow your hair back. The meat was very succulent and tender, really cooked to perfection. Wow what a steak.

Maple Glazed Salmon, with Mediterranean grains, cucumber, grape tomato,

pesto, and calabrese. The salmon was moist and tender, and the accompaniments were super delicate and healthy. A great menu choice.

Sides:

Brussels Sprouts, delicious, cooked with some nice seasonings.

Grilled Asparagus, super thin with a nice buttery flavor.

Desserts:

Peanut Butter and Jelly Delight with peanut butter gelato, concord grape sorbet, peanut brittle, fresh grapes, and whipped cream. If you are a gelato lover, then this dessert is for you.

Caramelized Cheesecake with graham cracker crust, berry sauce, and a caramelized top. This was my favorite dessert, with its hard caramelized top, it’s just delightful.

Warm Brownie and Vanilla Gelato, with triple chocolate brownie, house made vanilla gelato, whipped cream. A beautiful, very chocolatey brownie, with great vanilla gelato.

Wines:

Cline Cellars Zinfandel, Lodi. The best choice for the steak menu item, it opened up all of the rich nuances that went with the bordelaise sauce.

Honig, Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley. A wine that was paired best with the salmon entrée and the lobster macaroni and cheese dish.

Hess Collection Chardonnay, Napa Valley. A rich buttery wine that enhanced all my fish dishes, as well as the ahi tuna pizza.

Born in the Midwest, Pinstripes is a collection of venues that has rapidly grown across the United States through a combination of made-from-scratch dining, face-to-face gaming, and signature service that makes their guests feel like family. For over a decade, they have stayed true to their humble roots by always providing an extraordinary, magical experience — from the first strike to the first bite, to the first laugh—that brings out the best in everyone. At Pinstripes, they provide a home away from home where people feel like they are celebrating life while eating the best food, playing the best games, and doing it all with the best people. It’s joyous and instantly memorable.

What can I say, it is a super fun experience, combining fun family entertainment with great food. Everything under one very large roof. The staff is very accommodating, pretty much whatever you need to make for an enjoyable happening. Take a date, go with friends or family, but really it’s worth getting out and spending a fun-filled day or night at Pinstripes!

Pinestripes

6600 CA-27 Suite 1230

Canoga Park, CA. 91303

(747) 293-8620

*Note Some Content Was Taken Off Of Their Website.

 

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Dinner – Aroi Mak Mak – September 30, 2023 – Redlands, CA.

When Bryan Bruce told me he has another restaurant across the street from The Overland, I jumped at the opportunity to try it. I reviewed The Overland on September 10, 2023. What Bryan did not tell me is how unique and different his Thai restaurant is, all in a very good way!

This place is perhaps the best of the best. Everything I tasted was so special, like nothing I have ever tasted before. It’s billed as Thai street food, having never been to Thailand, I really would not know about authentic street food. I would venture to say that this is the real deal, so if you don’t want to spend the airfare going to Thailand then get in your car and drive here, or take the local Arrow train – like I do, it will be so worth it.

Aroi Mak Mak is focused on showcasing the authenticity, purity and beauty of the culture and people of Thailand with an emphasis on Thai Street food. There is beauty and honesty when exploring their street food scene; ingredients are local to the area and prepared with the heart and soul of the people. Farm to table is a term that in Thailand is an everyday way of life. That essence is inspired in each dish and cocktail that is carefully constructed at Aroi Mak Mak.

Here’s What I Tried:

Drinks:

Shots:

My Other Chinese Cousin, with Baijiu, Vodka, Peach, Blue Curacao, and Pineapple Syrup. This goes down very easily, it is sweet and smooth.

Ting Tong, with Citrus Vodka, Chinola, Italicus, Pineapple, and Celery Bitters. Another great shot, its flavors are tropical, enjoy it with a friend.

Cocktails:

Phuket Sunset (Slushy), with Vodka, Campari, Orange, Lychee, Pineapple, and Coconut Water. I just loved this cocktail, I could drink many, but you have to be careful of brain freeze.

Tom Kha Tonic, with Gin, Vodka, Coconut Oil, Kaffir Lime Leaf, Lemongrass, Yuzu, and Tonic Water. If you’re a gin and tonic type of drinker, then this cocktail is for you. The Thai ingredients make for one very unique cocktail.

Bing Bao Juice, with Vodka, Bittermelon, Pineapple, Cucumber, Lime, and Seltzer. A refreshing cocktail that will quench all of your senses.

Silk Saan, with Serrano and Cucumber Infused Tequila, Mezcal, Ancho Verde, Pineapple, Matcha, Lime, and Cilantro Garnish. If you like spice and tequila, then this cocktail is for you.

Salads & Appetizers:

Som Tum (Papaya Salad) (GF), with Green Papaya, Cucumber, Cilantro, Chili, Tomato, Shallot, Scallions, with Sticky Rice. This is a different version that I am used to, but it is delicious. The papaya is shredded super thin, the flavor is nice and tangy. A perfect starter.

Po Pia Gai (Deep Fried Egg Rolls), with Coconut Milk Marinated Ground Chicken, Vermicelli Noodles, Bean Sprouts, Red Cabbage, Thai Basil, and Mint. These eggrolls have loads of vermicelli noodles, and the dipping sauce is enough reason to order this dish.

Noodles:

Khao Soi (Curry Noodles) (V), with Curry, Egg Noodles, Cilantro, Pickled Mustard Greens, Fried Garlic, and Crispy Egg Noodles. The flavor of the sauce is so luscious and comforting. This would be one of my go-to’s next time.

Pad Thai (GF), with Rice Noodles Tossed in Tamarind Sauce w/ Bean Sprouts, Egg, Green Onions, With Shrimp. The noodles they serve are flat thick noodles, that are medium size, but truly incredible.


Main Dishes:

Moo Yang (Grilled Pork), with marinated grilled pork w/ Pickled Daikon, Spicy Fermented Papaya Sauce, and Sticky Rice. The pork is very flavorful, a lot of marinade with the nice warm grill nuance adds a whole other dimension. It is super tender and has the most amazing overall flavors.

Kao Pad Poou (Crab Fried Rice), with wok prepared Lump Crab Fried Rice, with Spicy Garlic Sauce on side. They put nice large pieces of fresh white crab meat, and the portion size is huge, you can share it with your guests. it’s just the best thing on their menu!

Pad King (Ginger Stir Fry), with Ginger, Shallots, Garlic, Scallions, Bean Sprouts, Seasonal Mushrooms, Steamed Rice, with chicken. The mushrooms are the star of this very enjoyable menu item.

Dessert:

Coconut Pandan Custard (V|VG), 2 per Serving. This dessert is very rich even though it is vegan, the perfect way to end my wonderful dinner.

The décor is so much fun, it makes you feel like you are on the street in Thailand. It’s an older storefront, with brick walls. They have a revolving art show that changes periodically. There are symbolic roosters everywhere.

(Google says – Man praying to the sculpture of rooster, a traditional symbol of wealth and prosperity in Thailand.) There are a few rooms, and the middle room has a tuk tuk bus, part motorcycle, part taxi, that is cut out to make room for the diners, so you’re basically eating inside an original Thai bus.

Bryan Bruce’s partner Kop Tepa is from a long line of local Thai restaurants. He wants his customers to know that everything that comes out of Aroi Mak Mak’s kitchen is fresh, and comes from his traditional family’s recipes. He tells me about his mom and dad cooking when he was young and how he is emulating their style of cooking in his restaurants. It’s Thai style street food made daily with flavorful, fresh ingredients. Kop is so happy to be one of Redlands great restaurants, with all of the expansions coming in the downtown area from The Arrow train. He has a great location, right across the street from the train, and is watching all the improvements in the immediate area. His feathers are not ruffled by the changes coming to the area and the competition, He welcomes all of it and knows that ultimately it will help his restaurant become more popular. Aroi Mak Mak has been in business for the last five years, and when I was there every table was full of people waiting for seats. My server Ciara was a ray of sunshine, a local gal full of personality, she added so much to my dining experience.

I have reviewed and tried plenty of Thai cuisine, but Aroi Mak Mak is very special. Every dish will spark your taste buds. Every menu item is so unique and creative, with flavors that are out of this world. Their recipes are authentic and as good as it gets. Truly a restaurant you will want to frequent as often as possible. So, get ready for a memorable culinary ride, that is in a class of its own.

Aroi Mak Mak

344 Orange St.
Redlands, CA 92374
909.748.0090

https://www.aroimakmakredlands.com/
  • Note Some Content Was Taken Off Of Their Website.

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Dinner – Gyu-Kaku – August & September 2023 – Beverly Hills, CA.

I have been here for happy hour a few years ago. They did a revamp of their menu, but the fun atmosphere has really stayed the same. They play loud pop music, so you really want to get up and dance. Everyone here seems like they know the drill, that you order fresh proteins and vegetables and put them on the grill in the middle of your table and cook it to perfection. Their dipping sauces are also amazing, from hot to sweet and great ponzu, it’s all a big party in your mouth!

I was given a gift card, so I spread out my tastings so I could go a few different times and really enjoy the experience.

Here’s What I Tried:

Beef Sukiyaki Bibimbap Rice, with white onions, green onions, sesame seeds served in a sizzling hot stone bowl pot. This is a great dish to enjoy, and you can add in a bit of the side dishes to enhance it even more.

Seaweed salad, this can be tried by itself or with any of the other menu items,  it’s super yummy flavor, a great menu item.

Garlic Shio Cabbage, little pieces of cooked garlic flakes make this one amazing dish.

Spicy Cabbage Salad, it’s not that spicy, instead it has a great flavor that you can eat with all your other dishes.

Brown Rice, if you add any of their wonderful dipping sauces you will really enhance this rice.

BBQ Calamari Miso, Grill, nice large rings with terrific flavor, with calamari you either cook them for a very small amount of time or you cook them for a long period of time. This is to prevent them from being rubbery. I opted for the quick cooking on the grill, and it worked. They were super tender and delicious.

Cheese Corn Butter, so buttery and delectable, I just loved these little darlins.

Garlic Noodles with chicken. Served in a sizzling hot stone bowl these noodles are hearty and flavorful, one of my favorite menu items.

Then on another trip I ordered the lunch special, which is so affordable and really is very filling. You get muso soup and a delicious fresh salad, then white rice, 2 proteins and for very little money you have many add ons.

Lunch Special:

Beef – Umakara Ribeye, the meat is so tasty, it comes out raw so you can cook it to your liking on the round table grill. I cooked mine medium rare, and it was simply amazing.

Shrimp, this is served raw, so you cook it at your table as well, it was plump and tender.

Soup, you get miso soup, served super-hot, and lovely.

Salad, I just love their salad and love their dressing.

Garlic Mushrooms, they bring it to your table wrapped in tin foil, so you are cooking it on your tabletop barbeque. They give you all sizes of button mushroom, and they have a lovely garlic flavor.

Garlic Spinach, this too is in a tin foil pouch to be cooked on your table grill. It has a lot of pieces of thinly sliced garlic, and it is very delicate.

Edamame, they lightly salt these and put a lot on one plate, they were very good.

Crunchy Garlic Noodles with Shrimp, I just love their noodles, they are very thick smaller fettuccine type noodles.

Spicy Addicting Cucumber, they cut them in quarters and soak them in a spicy super tasty red sauce, that I just loved.

There are 22 locations in California, and then many locations all throughout the US. It is so unique and delicious, that it really doesn’t matter if it’s a chain model.

Spending time with Friends and Family is what Gyu-Kaku is all about. Gyu-Kaku offers the fun of “Shared Plates.”

They want their food dining experience to inspire laughter, conversation, and amazing times! You can’t help it – with a personal grill installed at every table, everyone instantly becomes an expert cook. Our friendly staff aspires to lead guests through the dining experience with helpful suggestions. The sounds around you are of parties and laughter, the perfect choice for first dates, families, and catching up with friends.

Gyu-Kaku, meaning “Horn of the Bull” in Japanese, provides authentic Japanese yakiniku (grilled barbecue) dining experience where customers share premium cooked meats over a flaming smokeless grill, while sipping on Japanese sake, shochu, and frosty cold beers. Gyu-Kaku offers a wide range of meats including the best-seller Harami Skirt Steak in Miso Marinade and Prime Kalbi Short Rib in Tare Sweet Soy Marinade. Some of their Angus Beef is aged for 21 days to increase tenderness and increase a rich flavor. Their best-selling cut is our Harami Miso Skirt Steak. There are over 800 Gyu-Kaku restaurants worldwide, and the first U.S. location opened in West Los Angeles in 2001. Their Award-Winning Restaurant was awarded the Hot Concept Award in 2007 and the demand keeps growing! Their fun and exciting experience allows for everyone to enjoy barbecuing at their table. The best part, their Smokeless Roaster. With their downdraft system, the smoke is sucked into the bottom of the table and away from guests!

The food and the atmosphere is worth the trip. Its filled with flavor, and they have so many ways to order. You will love this food, and want to come back all the time!

SUN–THU: 11AM–10PM
(Last Seating/Last Call 9:45PM)
FRI–SAT: 11AM–10:30PM
(Last Seating/Last Call 10:15PM)

Happy Hour
MONDAY: All Day Long
TUE–SUN: 11AM–6:30PM, 8:30PM–Close

Gyu-Kaku JAPANESE BBQ
(310) 659-5760
163 NORTH LA CIENEGA BLVD
BEVERLY HILLS, CA 90211

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Jose Iturbi Foundation Event – The Hollywood Museum – September 19, 2023 – Hollywood, CA.

The José Iturbi Foundation Presents “From Hollywood To The World: The Rediscovered Recordings by Pianist and Conductor José Iturbi”, #19439836502), the commemorative 16-CD, and 188-page box set/coffee table book, produced by Donelle Dadigan, Michael Feinstein, and Robert Russ (Sony Classical Records). In Celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, a GRAMMY Voters Party. José Iturbi was the first musician to sell 1 million copies of a record and he received his Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame to commemorate this milestone.

This night was so special, with its beautiful exhibits at The Hollywood Museum, was the backdrop to many heartfelt speeches about Jose Iturbi and the glamourous history that Donelle Dadigan recalled for this remarkable audience. It’s always a pleasure to be in this amazing historic building, there is so much to see, couple that with tonight’s activities and you have a recipe for sheer enjoyment and transformation. Some great stories were told between the 3 panelists – Donelle Dadigan, Michael Feinstein, and Charles Fox, and the gracious host, Leonard Maltin. You almost felt like you were let inside this amazing world of piano playing geniuses, with Jose Iturbi being at the center of all of the attention. My personal favorite was Donelle describing meeting Mr. Sinner alongside Jose Iturbi, AKA, Frank Sinatra. Then her meeting him again later in life and him recalling this little girl who was Jose Iturbi’s Goddaughter.


Guests and participants included, Michael Feinstein (Multi-Grammy nominated singer and pianist), Diane Warren (Grammy and Honorary Oscar-winning songwriter), Charles Fox (Multi-award-winning composer and songwriter), Leonard Maltin (Film historian and moderator), Richard Montañez (subject of Flamin’ Hot), Mike Stoller (award winning songwriter/Smokey Joe’s Café), Erin Murphy (Bewitched), Joel Diamond (award winning music producer), Candace Wakefield (8X Grammy winner), Raheem Norris (Grammy Nominee), Carol Connors (composer, writer, Gonna Fly Now from Rocky), Allan Rich (Oscar nominated composer, songwriter), Joel Diamond (award winning music producer), David Longoria (Trumpet player, singer, song writer, music producer), Rickey Minor (Musical Director/Conductor ), Michele Lee (Wicked/Seesaw/How To Succeed In Business/Knotts Landing), Roslyn Kind (Recording Artist), Carolyn Hennesy (Cabaret Singer/GH/True Blood), Kym Karath (Sound of Music), Geoffrey Mark (Grammy Nominated).

This special project has been submitted for Grammy consideration in the following categories:
BEST HISTORICAL ALBUM
Producers: Michael Feinstein, Robert Russ, Donelle Dadigan
Engineers: Nancy Conforti, Jennifer Nulsen, Andreas K. Meyer

BEST ALBUM NOTES
Author: Michael Feinstein
BEST PACKAGING – BOXED OR LIMITED EDITION
Producers: Michael Feinstein, Robert Russ, Donelle Dadigan
Designer: Donelle Dadigan/Michael Feinstein/(EC:KO) Communications /Jochen Rudelt/Marvin J Deitz.

About The Hollywood Museum:

The Hollywood Museum, the official museum of Hollywood, has the most extensive collection of Hollywood memorabilia in the world. The museum, featuring four floors of breathtaking exhibits, is home to more than 10,000 authentic show biz treasures – one-of-a-kind costumes, props, photographs, scripts, stars’ car collections and personal artifacts, posters, and vintage memorabilia from favorite films and TV shows. The museum also showcases the history of Hollywood and the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Exhibits at The Hollywood Museum:

See hundreds of costumes on display, including Marilyn Monroe’s million dollar dress, Elvis’ personal bathrobe, I Love Lucy, Superman, Star Trek, Transformers, Glee, High School Musical, Michael Jackson, Leonardo DiCaprio, plus Rocky’s boxing gloves, Sopranos, Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman, Beyoncé… See Lucy, Judy, Kate and all the greats! Plus the Rat Pack, Jurassic Park, Baywatch, Jaws, Planet of the Apes, The Flintstones, Harry Potter, Miley Cyrus, George Clooney, Jennifer Lopez, Brad Pitt and Angelina

The Hollywood Museum is housed in the historic Max Factor Building. Where Max Factor, Hollywood’s Makeup King, created the looks of Hollywood’s Golden Era stars including Joan Crawford, Bette Davis, Katharine Hepburn, Judy Garland, Mae West, Jean Harlow & Marilyn Monroe and all your favorite stars…from the Silents through the 1970’s… Don’t forget to visit Max Factor’s world-famous makeup rooms and see where Hollywood’s greatest stars got their “look”. See where Marilyn Monroe became a blonde and Lucille Ball a famous redhead! Visit the largest collection of costumes, props, posters, and photographs Hollywood has to offer!

I’m so honored to be part of this extended family; I have been invited to many events at The Hollywood Museum. To always be included with all these historic music legends, to be continually educated on past music stories. Such a wonderful way to spend the evening, such a treat!

Thanks, to Harlan and Roger, for always sending me out those fabulous press releases, I am forever grateful!!

The Hollywood Museum in the Historic Max Factor Bldg.

1660 N. Highland Ave.

LA. CA. 90028

https://thehollywoodmuseum.com/

*Note Some Content Was Taken Off Of Their Website.

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2 Visits – Topanga Social – August & September – Topanga Westfield Mall – Canoga Park, CA.

What I like about Topanga Social is that it’s a food hall but with some novel menu items from some of Los Angeles’ most talked about restaurants. It opened in May 2023, and has been gaining new customers ever since. You pretty much can get everything your heart desires under one roof, a true gastronomic destination.  

A joint creative venture between dining and hospitality global leader Earl Enterprises and Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield (URW), Topanga Social boasts brand-new concepts and first-ever outposts of LA’s hottest pop-ups alongside some of the most celebrated and entrepreneurial names in the region’s restaurant scene, an indoor/outdoor cocktail garden, three full-service bars, a “speakeasy” style secret arcade, live entertainment, a private event space, and more.

The whole place is very fun and friendly, all the food stalls are open with their offerings pretty much in plain sight. There is an upstairs with new establishments, but I didn’t venture that far. The first floor was enough for me. There was no way to eat all this yummy food in 1 visit, so I invited some guests and did it in 2 visits, as well as many doggie bags were taken home!

Here’s What I tried:

First Visit:

Temaki – Seaweed has amassed a large following due to their imaginative handrolls, creative take on traditional Japanese sushi, and a variety of exotic fish. Seaweed was named after its high-quality seaweed, sourced exclusively for the restaurant from the Ariake Sea in Japan. The founder, Armen Momjian, brought his ideas to life in 2019 with the first installment of Seaweed in Koreatown and Chef Jesse Herek joined Seaweed in 2020. Under the guidance and leadership of Momjian, Seaweed has brought its take of Japanese sushi to a new generation of sushi eaters.

I got a huge array of sushi, so many of the rolls were very fresh, my favorite was their glazed crispy shrimp, and crunchy shrimp cakes. The blue crab rolls were also delicious, chalk full of crab. I was able to order many items, and I was really amazed at how fresh and flavorful everything was.  So even if you’re at a mall/food hall type setting you can get upscale Sushi at Temaki, it was one of my favorite places!

Monster Dumplings – Born and raised in New York City, Chef/owner Perry Cheung relocated to San Francisco in 2004 to pursue a culinary education and career and moved to LA in 2011. Cheung opened Dumpling Monster February 2019 in West Hollywood, featuring an extensive dumpling menu featuring fresh, tender juicy dumplings with fillings made from hormone free meats. Cheung has appeared and won on The Esquire channels Knife Fight and Food Network’s Beat Bobby Flay. During his free time, he enjoys traveling and exploring cuisines from different parts of the world.

They served 1 of each dumpling, all were very tasty. There were many to choose from, I had the: Chicken, Pork, Vegan Veggie, Pork, and Shrimp.

Maneatingplant – is a plant-based restaurant concept born in Los Angeles, California in the summer of 2018. Partners and chefs Candice Tzeng and Phil Kwan co-created Maneatingplant with the desire to share the authentic flavors and nostalgic memories of their roots that span from Taiwan and Japan to Hong Kong and Malaysia.

I was very pleasantly surprised at these tasty options for vegans.

Sichuan Shroom Steamies with mushrooms, Sichuan sauce, chili oil, and scallions. Their potstickers had very aromatic mushrooms, with a spicy sauce.

Fried Shroom Bao with lotus steamed bao bun, beer battered king oyster mushrooms, cashew hoisin, chili oil, pickled chilis, and herbs. In a very sweet sauce, this is a very hearty dish.

Garlic Noodles, with fresh noodles, confit garlic sauce, shallot jam, shitake, Chinese broccoli, pickled mustard greens, crispy shallot, and herbs. The garlic noodles are so delicious, with all kinds of vegetables, a perfect vegan option. I really loved everything I tried; it makes you want to be a vegan.

B Sweet – Barb Batiste is the owner and founder of B Sweet Catering. Raised in an extremely close-knit Filipino family, she recalls the weekend gatherings at her parent’s home and being the one to cook all the food and desserts. From pies, to cookies, to layered cakes, she wowed everyone. B Sweet was created to bring back the homemade taste in cakes, cookies, pies, and many other pastries. This young company has an unmatched level of quality in its products, and it clearly shows not only through its presentation but also in its taste. Their dedication to quality and customer satisfaction is incomparable to those larger companies. If your palette is craving mouthwatering and heartwarming baked goods, B Sweet offers the best selection available.

Fruity Pebbles – Tres Leches Cake, made with their confetti cake base, this one is like a party in your mouth, and everyone’s invited!

Bread Pudding Glazed Donut, another incredible dessert item.

Strawberry Shortcake, I just loved the very intense strawberry flavor.

Ube Love, such a wonderful dessert, just amazing!

Mini Kabob – The Martirosyan family, owners of Mini Kabob, embody the mom-and-pop business with a new addition to their team, their son, Armen Martirosyan. The three work together in a collective effort to execute Armenian kabob with the greatest passion. Mini Kabob isn’t just another business in Los Angeles, it has become a destination point, a place where people have and will continually come to enjoy the presence of home cooked Armenian with Egyptian influenced meals by the Martirosyan family.

Kabob Plate with hummus, rice, chicken and beef, onions and peppers, the chicken was succulent, and the hummus was very good, hints of garlic, very smooth and comforting.

Margarita Garden – A lush garden oasis located just steps away from the main Topanga Social entrance, The Margarita Garden evokes feelings of a mini get-away. Sip your favorite cocktail – of course we recommend one of our many flavors of Margarita, on the rocks or frozen, while enjoying our menu of snacks and small plates that perfectly accompany your beverage of choice. The Margarita Garden, with its tropical surroundings, live music, and craft cocktails, is the perfect spot to recharge before, during or after a day of shopping. The outdoor scene is super fun, lots of guests enjoying their libations and partying down!

I was served an array of margaritas; all were nicely blended and very drinkable.

Second Visit:

Amboy, – Chef Alvin Cailan’s career spans a multitude of successes culminating in his current role as a preeminent authority on hamburgers. His career began in the kitchens of Michelin starred chefs Matt Lightner and David Lefebre. From there he garnered national and international acclaim with his craft casual Eggslut concept. In the beginning of 2020, Alvin opened Amboy Quality Meats & Delicious Burgers, the in-demand Los Angeles burger shop that quickly amassed a loyal customer following.

Amboy Classic Double Toasted Sesame-Seeded Bun, 2 classic thinly smashed patties, American cheese, caramelized onions, pickles, and burger sauce. I really like the classic double, it’s juicy and had some nice, caramelized onions, to perk up my taste buds.

Crispy Cheeseburger, two smashed patties, crispy cheddar cheese, burger sauce, pickles, toasted bun. The crisp cheese is what this burger is all about.

Burrata House – Founded in 2019 as a restaurant featuring authentic, accessible to-go products, Burrata House is now a well-rounded Italian experience. The mission of Burrata House is to curate an Italian experience focused on authenticity, simplicity, portability, and affordability. The iconic old-world tastes come through in every bite, but the aspirational, Italian DNA of Burrata House is drenched in a new-world attitude.

Truffle Parma & Burrata Panini, made with prosciutto di Parma, burrata, caramelized onions, and truffle cream. This is the menu item to have here, it’s rich and so delicious. I would order this every time.

Pesto Pasta, an all-time favorite made with fresh basil olive oil, nuts, and parmesan cheese. It’s a good pasta dish, but I was stuck on the panini.

Pomodoro Pasta, A delicate, Italian tomato sauce – not to be confused with marinara. If you’re in the mood for pasta then have at it, but I just loved the panini.

Smoked Salmon & Burrata Bowl, made with smoked salmon, spring mix, burrata, quinoa, arugula, cherry tomatoes, caper & dill sauce. For the health conscious this salad type bowl was so unique and flavorful. Who ever heard of pairing smoked salmon with Burrata, but somehow it works.

Dtown Pizza – Growing up in Michigan, a native of the Detroit suburbs, Ryan Ososky spent a lot of time cooking with his grandparents honing his baking, grilling and pierogi making skills. Growing up eating square pan pizza every weekend, Ryan created his chef-driven premium version of the Detroit style pizza that has become Dtown Pizzeria. Ryan and Dtown Pizzeria were recognized in the 2021 International Pizza Competition in Las Vegas winning 1st place and World Champion in the pan division.

Street Corn Pizza, with smoked summer corn, serrano aioli, parmesan, scallions, and grilled limes. My Mother was from Detroit, but I never heard of these square deep-dish types of pizza before. If you’re from Detroit and are home sick then this is the pizza for you, if you’re not from Detroit you should try it anyway. I loved the street corn pizza because I am a corn lover through and through.

The Goomba Pepperoni, with pepperoni and parmesan. It is a very filling pizza with lots of pepperoni, if you’re a pepperoni lover then you must try this pizza.

Fat Sal’s – Fat Sal’s is the brainchild of 2 friends from New York City, Josh Stone and Sal Capek. In 2010, the two realized that they couldn’t get the food they were looking for in Los Angeles, so they opened their own restaurant, serving over-the-top sandwiches, fries, burgers, and shakes in a fun and hip environment.

Fat Sal, thinly sliced ribeye steak, mozzarella sticks, onion rings, fries, brown gravy, and mayo, on a garlic hero. This sandwich just oozes with goodness, it’s huge, so share with a few friends.

Turkey Club, oven-roasted turkey breast, crisp bacon, avocado, shredded lettuce, tomato, and mayo, on a hero. I know this sandwich sounds boring but honestly it is truly my kind of hero.

Candy Store – Tom Hoeck is a successful entrepreneur and founder of CandyStore.com, an ecommerce store based in Los Angeles. He graduated from the University of Notre Dame and has been running the business for the past 15 years. He is passionate about providing customers with the best possible experience, and his store specializes in offering a wide variety of high-quality candy and snacks. I was able to take some yummies home and will try it out when needed! Many were old time candies that I remember as a child.

Garden Creations – At Garden Creations, we are committed to serving our guests freshly prepared salads and soups, offering healthy meal choices. Using locally sourced ingredients, our salads feature a wide range of fresh California-grown produce, and our rotating variety of hot and chilled soups are a perfect accompaniment. With an endless selection of add-ins, you will enjoy your perfect salad, with an option to top with a protein. Enjoy a delicious and nourishing meal, created by you, at Garden Creations.

I had them make two different salads so I could sample some of their ingredients. These salads are so fresh, if you want to skip all the fried stuff at Topanga Social then just go have them make you one of these delicious salads, it was very tasty.

Jay Birds – “Chef Jay” Bogsinske, originally from the South Side of Chicago, found early culinary influences from his mother and grandmother who were known in the neighborhood for their uniquely delicious cookie recipes. Chef Jay’s early journey in the culinary world continued at his uncle’s pizzeria were learned the art of Italian cuisine. Now in LA, as Director of Culinary for Wild Thyme Restaurant Group, Chef Jay created menus and facilitated the launches of Jay Bird’s Nashville Hot Chicken, Shorebird Restaurant, Molé, Stagecoach Country Roadhouse, and Kai Modern Japanese Bistro.

Chicken Sandwich & Spicy Fries, chicken breast, spiced with your choice of heat, topped with coleslaw, comeback sauce, dill pickles. Served with spicy fries and one sauce. The chicken is super tender, and the fries were crispy, and delectable.

Two Tenders & Waffles (Chicken & Waffles) two tenders spiced with your choice of heat, served on sliced bread with dill pickles, two waffles, maple syrup, butter & Comeback Sauce. A super good version of this Southern staple.

Katsu Sando – Katsu Sando in Japanese means “cutlet sandwich” and traditionally consists of panko-breaded and deep-fried chicken, pork, beef, or vegetables served between two slices of fluffy white bread. Our chef, Daniel Son, became obsessed with katsu sandos while he was training at Nihonryori Ryugin in Tokyo, Japan. At Katsu Sando, our vision is to serve the ultimate katsu sandwich while staying honest with traditional techniques. We source the finest ingredients, our own crafted Honey Shokupan bread, and never cut any corners.

Katsu honey walnut shrimp, mushroom, Wagyu curry, scratched-made magical potato salad, fukujinzuke (pickled radish and eggplant crunchy relish), California hikari steamed rice. Loved the large shrimp, and their sauce is out of this world.

Chicken Katsu Sando, Jidori chicken breast katsu, yuzu-kosho miso slaw, katsu sauce, honey milk bread. Another great menu item.

Poke Me – Is run by a team of long-time residents of Los Angeles and well-seasoned entrepreneurs with decades of experience in the restaurant industry. Customers can select sashimi grade fish delivered 6 days a week, enjoyed in a bowl or poke burrito, then choose from any ten of the house-made sauces. Named QSR magazine “Top 40 fast casuals in America” as well as countless other accolades and awards, the momentum will surely not stop for Poke Me.

I tried 2 different bowls with different items, both were wonderful, and their sauces add a very special nuance to each bowl.

Rock & Reilly – Opened its first location in LA on the Sunset Strip in 2011, and its legend has grown from there. At Rock & Reilly’s we believe there is a bit of Irish in all of us—and that is something to celebrate! Come by and enjoy your favorite pub fare along with a wide assortment of hand-selected Irish whiskey, an extensive beer and wine list and cocktails to savor with friends.

Vodka Martini, Wines, Rickshaw Chardonnay Monterey CA,

Girard Chardonnay Russian River Valley. The wines were very good, and paired so nicely with many of my food items, and the martini was served in a coupe glass, and went down very easily.

Shrimp Daddy – Two couples, Dan Tran + June Quan & Anna Wang + Jeremy Tu, with a mutual love for food and Hawaii served their first garlic butter shrimp boat out of a tent in November 2016. For the past 6 years, their home has been Smorgasburg LA and serving at various events like Coachella, 626 Night Market, third party deliveries, and private catering. Topanga Social will be their first brick and mortar where they will be expanding and innovating their menu.”

I had their two offerings, the shrimp boat, and the shrimp plate, and the shrimp in both is just very high-end and super flavorful, I would suggest these dishes every time.

Tail O’ The Pup – Our team is dedicated to creating tasty dogs, snacks, shakes, and more that satisfy modern tastes while honoring Tail o’ the Pup’s history. We work tirelessly to source high quality ingredients and develop house-made recipes with our guests in mind, and we are proud to feature a diverse menu featuring vegetarian and gluten free options. This is the same historical hot dog stand that was in Los Angeles for many years and was just resurrected in West Hollywood on Santa Monica.

1976 Pup, classic pup, ketchup, and house mustard. A pop in your mouth hot dog that rivels many other brands.

Chicago Pup, sweet relish, dill pickle spear, raw onions, diced tomato, sliced sport peppers, house mustard, and poppy seeds. All our pups are 100% beef. I have been to Chicago and tried this famous dog, with this dog you do not have to get on a plane, and it’s got some much fun accompaniments.

Onion Rings, I love my onion rings, and these were the bomb, really terrific.

About Topanga Social:

The overall design of Topanga Social’s multi-unit 55,000+ square foot, 700 seat indoor plus 80 seat al fresco dining space, is helmed by the award-winning global design firm AvroKO in close consultation with the Topanga Social team. International architectural firm PGAL acted as the Architect of Record for the hall’s food units. Special attention was given to creating a dedicated space for each food and beverage partner that reflects their brand in an authentic way so that the guests take away a distinct experience from any brand they visit within Topanga Social. The hall’s shared kitchen space was created by Architects Orange.

“It is such a thrill to see Topanga Social come to life in this brilliant repurposing of prime real estate. We have brought together an incredible assemblage of talent, chefs, and brands that, until now, were available mostly in Los Angeles, but starting Thursday, will be easily accessible for the residents of the city’s San Fernando Valley,” said Robert Earl, Founder of Earl Enterprises. “Careful thought has gone into the curation for Topanga Social, paying homage to the local food scene. Each partner brings their impeccable credentials, whether a storied institution or a newer, highly acclaimed brand. The space is designed to be welcoming all year-round, for both indoor dining and al fresco in the garden. It is a place to visit again and again, for a quick pre-movie bite, a leisurely meal, or any sort of gathering. Topanga Social offers food and beverage options for every mood, and all tastes. Thanks to the collaborative partnership with the visionary team at Westfield, we are very proud to unveil Topanga Social.”

“We are so proud to bring world class dining and entertainment to the San Fernando Valley in a way that’s never been done before. We are especially appreciative of the partnership with Earl Enterprises and everyone who worked to make the vision of Topanga Social a reality,” said Geoff Mason, Executive Vice President, Operating Management and Development at URW. “From the culinary geniuses to the construction teams and everyone in between, Topanga Social has been a labor of love that represents our commitment to the local community. It also serves as a prime example of how Westfield is reimagining its centers—from a traditional to a bespoke experience—with the addition of chef-led, market-defining dining.”

Inspired and first-of-its-kind multifaceted food service platform sets Topanga Social apart from the pack in the realm of tech innovation. In addition to traditional ordering at all restaurant’s counters, diners will have the ability to choose menu items from multiple brands at once using seamless aggregate ordering via the Topanga Social app (Android & Apple), at the numerous large touch screen ordering stations throughout the dining area, and from QR codes available at all tables throughout the space.

About Earl Enterprises:

Earl Enterprises provides marketing and operations expertise in the restaurant, lodging and hospitality sectors. Along with Planet Hollywood and its affiliates, Earl Enterprises oversees marketing strategies and operations for 200 restaurants in 32 states and internationally including Buca di Beppo, Planet Hollywood, Bertucci’s, Earl of Sandwich, Brio Italian Grille, Bravo Italian Kitchen, TooJay’s, Chicken Guy!, Café Hollywood, Seaside on the Pier, Rock & Reilly’s, The Breakfast Club, and other brands. Under the leadership of acclaimed restaurateur Robert Earl, Earl Enterprises’ global success is due much in part to Earl’s expertise in creating, developing, and revitalizing brands along with his unique celebrity relationships and uncanny trend forecasting ability.

About Westfield Topanga:

As the San Fernando Valley’s fashionable front door to cutting-edge shopping, entertainment, and social experiences, Westfield Topanga is a lifestyle destination unlike any other. Westfield Topanga’s one-of-a-kind lineup includes best-in-class luxury boutiques, iconic global brands, and local favorites in a sophisticated indoor space.

Located in the booming Warner Center district in North Los Angeles, Westfield Topanga encompasses more than 240 shops, restaurants, and personal service providers across 1.6 million square feet. Notable brands include Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, Macy’s, Target, Golden Goose, Versace, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Cartier, Tiffany & Co., Burberry, Ferragamo, Saint Laurent, Apple, Peloton, Tesla, Lululemon, and more. Popular restaurant offerings include The Cheesecake Factory, California Pizza Kitchen, Gyu Kaku, and Shake Shack.

This new dining and entertainment district opened in 2023, transforming a former department store into a must-visit destination and further establishing Westfield Topanga as the perfect place for locals and visitors to shop, eat, and play. Global luxury retailer Hermès anchors the 180,000-square-foot space along with the artisan-crafted home furnishings retailer Arhaus; Pinstripes, a Chicago-based dining and entertainment concept; a full-service AMC DINE-IN theatre; and Topanga Social, a beautifully designed, chef-driven food hall encompassing more than 20 eateries.

Topanga Social is LA’s newest coveted food lover’s journey. The adventurous new food hall brings together some of the most buzz-worthy Los Angeles eateries, bars, and recognized names in LA’s culinary space, all within the new dining, entertainment, and luxury retail district at Westfield Topanga in the San Fernando Valley. Los Angeles has proven to be one of the most inspired, entrepreneurial, and diverse food cities in the world, and Topanga Social represents Los Angeles food culture at its best.

They have many events, including football specials and happy hour, plus lots of Instagram moments. You must look on their calendar online to see more. Topanga Social is a great way to spend an afternoon or evening with a date or friends, you can have a beach day and come here afterwards for fun, food, and libations. It’s 27 of LA’s hottest food and beverage concepts in a one-stop microcosm. All very welcoming and has everything you could want from a dining, drinking experience. So, make it a destination trip, and enjoy all the bounty that Topanga Social has to offer.

Topanga Social

6600 Topanga Blvd.

Canoga Park, CA.

818-475-8000

IG @eatplaytopangasocial

Hours:

Monday 11 AM – 9 PM

Tuesday 11 AM – 9 PM

Wednesday 11 AM – 9 PM

Thursday 11 AM – 9 PM

Friday 11 AM – 11 PM

Saturday 11 AM – 11 PM

Sunday 11AM – 11PM

*Note some content was taken off of their website.

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Dinner – The Overland – September 10, 2023 – Redlands, CA.

What I love about this new hipster place is their focus, it’s all about music and LP’s. Yes, that right – vinyl. They have state of the art equipment and walls of albums, both new and old. It’s just a miracle that this concept became the new fun spot to go to in Redlands, CA. But that’s not all. This whole area has the new Arrow train taking both commuters and locals to and from San Bernardino to four different stations in and around the area. The Arrow train came in last October to bridge the mileage gap from Union Station to Redlands. So now the whole area is following suit with a grand resurgence. Many new restaurants are under construction, but The Overland came out as the first one to open with this newfound destination, Downtown Redlands. Owner Bryan Bruce saw this opportunity and jumped on it, also owning a restaurant across the street – Aroi Mak Mak, I will be reviewing later in the month. Bryan’s insight is so great, if any restaurateur asked me for an up and coming area to start a new restaurant I would tell them absolutely near the train station in Redlands, the new train destination spot. I just love the whole concept and am so happy to be part of this new fun area.

Redlands has quite the history – Redlands – known in 1900 as “The City of Millionaires” and later as “The City of Beautiful Homes”, welcomes you!  Founded in 1881 and incorporated in 1888, Redlands is a quintessential “big town” with a “small town” feel. For much of its history Redlands was the “Washington Navel Orange Growing Capital of the World” with the citrus industry as the focus of its economy. There are many well-known landmarks, including their beautiful Victorians, Missions, Parks, and University. Redlands Bowl and the Mission Gables Bowl House – The Redlands Bowl in Smiley Park can actually trace its heritage back to the King of Spain in 1769.  Kimberly Crest House and Gardens – Built in 1897, the “castle” is a picturesque French chateau-style historical house museum.   In 1963 Kimberly Crest was donated to the people of the City of Redlands by Mary Kimberly-Shirk, daughter of J. Alfred Kimberly (co-founder of the Kimberly-Clark Corporation). Morey Mansion – This beautiful Victorian home has been dubbed “America’s Favorite Victorian House” and has appeared in countless commercials, television shows, and movies.

About The Overland:  The Overland is a new cocktail bar located in Redlands, CA, at the original Chamber of Commerce in the historic Santa Fe Depot. The district is centered on Redlands’ Santa Fe Railway depot, which was established in 1888. The nationally registered district is centered around the current station building, a Classical Revival structure, built in 1909–10 to replace the original depot built in 1888. The Pacific Electric Red Car trolley service, the Redlands Line, ran past the mainline Santa Fe station on Orange Street between 1903 and 1936. This station lost passenger service in 1938. The district was added to the National Register of Historic Places on October 29, 1991, and the California Points of Historical Interest.

The buildings surrounding the station represent many of the important components of the city’s economy, particularly the orange packing industry. Several packing houses remain from the city’s heyday as an orange packing center, forming one of the largest remaining groups of orange packing houses in the Inland Empire. A number of the other buildings were used by growers’ associations and other groups in the citrus industry. The district also includes three buildings from the city’s historic Chinatown, which thrived from the 1880s through the 1920s after Chinese immigrants came to Redlands to build the railroad.  The depot was purchased from Krikorian Premier Theaters founder George Krikorian by Property One LLC, a real estate development company with ties to Esri executives in September 2017. With new ownership and a name change to Redlands Railway District LLC, the depot was restored and integrated with the adjacent Redlands–Downtown Arrow rail station in 2022. Redlands Railway District LLC is currently redeveloping the surrounding properties as the “Redlands Packing House District” with shops and restaurants. Set to open by 2024.

The Overland is an equal parts cocktail lounge, small bites restaurant, and vinyl record listening space. The Overland focuses on seasonal and local citrus within the cocktail program while also offering a wide range of natural wine, beer and small plates from the kitchen.

The Overland finds its inspiration from its monthly publication dating back to the late 1800s, known as the Overland Monthly. The magazine romanticized the west coast of America and would often take a more literary and intellectual stance than many other magazines of its time. Poets, Writers, and Dreamers alike would submit stories and poems, often showcasing the natural beauty of California and its wildlife.

It is their desire to pay respect and homage to California in this same manner, focusing on native flora and fauna while also being conscious of our environmental footprint. Using conventional tap systems within their cocktail program, they will reduce their water usage by up to 50% of that of traditional bars and restaurants. Being conscious of their local environment while showcasing its natural beauty is at the foundation of who they are and what they are all about.

Here’s What I Tried:

Cocktails:

North Country Spritz, Melon Aperitif, Elderflower, Mint, Prosecco, and Seltzer. A very thirst-quenching drink, with a nice mellow nuance.

Land O’ Dreams, Blanco Tequila, White Rum, Sotol, Smoked Pineapple, Purple Corn, Coconut, and Lime. Served in a coupe glass, it makes it look like an old-time cocktail, but super tasty.

Future Lover, Blanco Tequila, Mezcal, Maraschino, Passion Fruit, Pineapple, and N/A IPA. This is a very smokey cocktail, with nice tropical flavors.

Past Life, Vodka, Absinthe, Rooibos Tea, Honey, Lemon, and Mint. This was my favorite cocktail, its a bit sweet, but went down super easy, I would order this every time.

Spirit Free – Non-Alcoholic Takes on Old Faves:

Polar Bear’s Toenails, Watermelon, Cucumber, Amass Riverine, Lime, love the name and love the flavors.

Queens Highway, Beets, Pineapple, Orange, Lemon, this is a very sweet and a refreshing healthy cocktail.

Kitchen:

Tostada, Japanese Maitake Mushroom, Amarillo Bean Purée, Salsa Macha, Tomatoes, and Pickled Onions & Greens. A very nice well-rounded dish, with lots of yummy flavors, this one is a keeper.

Oysters, Clarified Tomato, Chive Oil, and Girl & Dug Farm Gooseberries. I just wish I could have gotten more; they give you 2 and you really want 12. They are super fresh, just delightful.

Mushroom, Grilled Mushrooms, Coconut Curry, Confit Tomato, and Chickpeas & Greens. I loved the subtle curry flavors and the big juicy mushroom cluster, just heavenly.

Papa’s, Confit Fingerling Potatoes, Calabrian Chile Aioli, Chive Oil, Pickled Thai Chilies, and Herbs. So many potatoes, so little time. Beautifully cooked with a great marriage of ingredients, for the potato lover a must have.

Creole Arancini, Panko Fried Arborio Rice, Okra, and Mushrooms w/ Creole Spiced Aioli. These are spicy with a capital S, for the spicy aficionado’s, order these.

Crab Pasta, House Made Spaghetti, Crab Gravy, and Herbs. The lingering flavors of crab, and the fresh pasta is really one that I would want to order ever time.

Half Bird, Jerk Chicken w/ Pickled Veggies. This menu item is just so delicious, the seasonings and the tenderness of the chicken is wonderfully scrumptious.

Their local purveyors are; Goodie Farm, Girl & Dug Farm, Masienda, Jacinto Farms, 4 Star Seafood & Provisions, Rocker Bros., and Small Hold Mushrooms.

The Overland does not have any dessert menu, so be forewarned. That means you can eat more, and not have to save room for dessert, or walk down the street to get ice cream nearby.

My server Megan Florez was very personable, giving me her background and that she loves her job. She grew up nearby in Beaumont. She describes the type of people that are frequenting The Overland, young, locals, but also dates, pretty much all ages. Thursdays through Sundays they have a DJ spinning all kinds of great music. She says, “It’s a Hi-Fi listening space”. I personally am so glad this type of activity has come back in a big way. There are no flat screen TVs, so it’s really all about the music, and not being distracted visually. Old school vibe with a very new concept, and people talking to each other, without large sports screens taking up the air.

The interior is very sleek, with 70’s type colors, its focus is their high-tech turntables and albums that adorn the bar walls. Their outdoor area is large and faces the Arrow train depot, it also has patio misters for those hot steamy days that Redlands can have.

For all that The Overland is, it will make you remember an era gone by, but at the same time, let you know that it is not forgotten. As a matter of fact, vinyl is now more mainstream than it was back in its heyday. Long lasting recordings that sound better and can be the center of a fun evening. With great food, DJ spinning, and a genuinely cool atmosphere, what more could you want?

The Overland

347 Orange St.
Redlands, CA. 92374

https://www.theoverlandbar.com

Hours:
Mon. – Thurs. 4 p.m. – 12 a.m.
Fri. 4 p.m. – 1 a.m.
Sat. 10 a.m. – 1 a.m.
Sun. 10 a.m. – 12 a.m.

*Note some content was taken off their website.

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Dinner – September 7, 2023 – Manna Café – Los Angeles, CA.

This is truly a neighborhood gem, with its cozy vibes, and great atmosphere. But the food will really make you rethink your current dining choices. Manna Café is just that good.

Manna is food, according to the Bible, an edible substance which God provided for the Israelites during their travels in the desert during the 40-year period following the Exodus and prior to the conquest of Canaan.

I came to their grand opening and met owner Jonny Kalmanson and his partner/brother in-law; Sommelier – Isaac Anzaruth. It’s truly a family affair with Isaac’s father Israh there as well, and part of the business. Isaac also has a wine import export company called Alloro Vino. So, with his broad knowledge of wine, you are going to get some beautiful pairing possibilities. Their grand opening was so nice, and I was able to taste some delicious fare. The items were off their current menu: Small Plates – Crazy Wife – Chicken Wings with fish sauce caramel, chili, and basil. Smoked Salmon Deviled Eggs with horseradish, and smoked trout row. Pasta: “Esquite” Mac and Cheese, with roasted corn, Fiscalini cheddar, jalapenos, and corn puree. Plates: Herb Roasted Brisket with izakaya mashed potato salad. Desserts: Chocolate Espresso Mousse with whipped cream. The takeaway for me was their “Esquite” Mac and Cheese, that really got me excited. So, I had to come in and taste their other menu items that I did not try at their opening.

It’s housed in a brand-new building across from CBS studios and The Grove/Farmers Market, in the Fairfax District. It’s really an old Jewish area that has now emerged as a hipster, artsy section of Los Angeles. The architectural elements are both organic and modern. With lots of wood, modern wood picnic tables, turquoise chairs, orange outside umbrellas, low hanging GE type vintage light fixtures, earthy colors, but with a very comforting dining area. You can tell that much thought was put into the design, and what would fit in this already established business community.

The gal sitting next to me, Olivia, lives close by and just says that their Vanilla Latte is the best she’s ever had. She was with her gorgeous French bulldog Gordy. She had their watermelon salad, which she just loves. Manna Café is very pet friendly, they just love anyone who comes with their beloved fur baby.

Here’s what I tried:

Dinner Menu:

Salads:

Warm Arugula Salad, with braised artichokes, brown butter, vinaigrette, parmesan, and crispy sage. This salad is so delicious, with its perfect marriage of ingredients. The braised artichokes are very abundant, and they add some terrific texture as well as flavor to this must have salad. Manna’s portions are huge, you will not go away hungry.

Pasta:

Pasta Bolognese, with beef ragu, baby spinach, and cherry tomatoes. I make my own Bolognese sauce, so I know what it takes to make a good sauce. In this delectable sauce they use both dried and raw beef as well as carrots, with large pappardelle noodles, onions, chicken liver, and cream. It’s a comfort menu item at its finest. I would order this scrumptious pasta dish every time.

Eggplant and Mushroom parmesan, with thin sliced portobello mushrooms, roasted eggplant, tomato, and garlicky breadcrumbs. This is very rich and hearty, and makes you remember your Italian grandmother’s hearty tomato gravy. The presentation is very pleasing to the eye, with the portobello mushroom placed in the middle of the iron skillet, right from the oven to my table.

Plates:

The Manna Burger, with herbed wagyu, lettuce, ripe tomato, brie, smashed avocado, sweet roasted onions, salt, and vinegar chips.   The secret to this burger is their remarkable garlic aioli dressing. The burger is huge with all these creative accoutrements. The large piece of brie and the chips are very innovative. I don’t think I’ve ever had a burger with these types of condiments. Another fantastic menu item.

Roasted California Halibut in Parchment, with zucchini blossoms, and lemon caper. This looks like an art piece that belongs in a gallery. But once it’s in your mouth you too will be completely surprised. There are so many flavors to take in. The fish is cooked to perfection, with amazing garlic croutons, just simply wonderful.

Prime Hanger Steak, with tom yum mushroom, and green peppercorn vinaigrette. The tom yum mushrooms will blow your hair back, and the steak is super tender. The green peppercorns just pop in your mouth. If you’re a meat eater, then you must try this dish.

Dessert:

Lemon Verbena Crème Brulee, incredibly refreshing and delightful. The consistency of this dessert is so precise, its thick and gorgeous.

White Chocolate Tiramisu, with organic cocoa. I have had many Tiramisus, but this one is very special with its French brandy lingering in my palate, as well as the decadent white chocolate topping, so save room for it.

Butterscotch Pudding, with crema Mexicana, and boysenberry jam. I love anything butterscotch, and this desert did not disappoint.

Talk about culinary excellence with Chef Brian Hill at the helm, a James Beard award nominee, he really pulls out all of the stops. There are so many amazing nuances in his cooking, from preparation, to the marriage of his ingredients, to presentation. All in full glorious view of the diner’s experience. His concept is very simple with Manna Café – “Interesting Comfort Food”, with an emphasis on “Neighborhood Dining”. His experience is far reaching from working with the Hans Rockenwagner consortium, to the Dear Jane and Dear John establishments in the Los Angeles, Marina Del Rey area. Brian Hill is very inventive, good ingredients and a knowledge of how things marry together is what it’s all about for him. He is a hard worker, he’s at Manna from morning until the last dinner service is served. When he sleeps, I don’t know, it seems like he lives and breathes Manna Café.

What you’re going to get at Manna Café is a neighborhood familiar place feel, to come and imbibe for breakfast, lunch, or dinner with a lush gastronomic experience. As well as their staff is so welcoming, manager Paula Lopez made me feel so at home. No two dishes are the same here, all the menu items are individually different. Nothing overlaps any dish, all unique and specific to its description. The goodness abounds in everything that goes in your mouth. My experience was quite the surprise, when Manna catches on there will be waits and lines to get in, it’s just that good. Run, don’t walk to Manna Café; you will be so happy you did.

Manna Café

101 S. Fairfax Ave.

Los Angeles, CA. 90036

https://mannacafe.us/

They serve dinner from 5:30-9:00 pm, otherwise they have daytime hours for lunch and coffee.

*Some Content Was Taken Off Their Website.

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Late Lunch – Pink’s Hot Dogs – August 7, 2023 – Hollywood, CA.

What can you say about Pink’s Hot Dogs that hasn’t already been said. My visit was encapsulated by a couple that traveled from Bakersfield to enjoy their bi-monthly food craving. Gabriel and Sarah just come from Bakersfield with no other reason in mind than to do their famous combo late lunch. I asked them, is there something else you are doing while you’re in Los Angeles, and they said no we just come here for Pink’s. Gabriel gets a chili dog with sauerkraut and adds bacon fries on the top. It’s a monster size meal that he eats in about 5 minutes. His girlfriend Sarah, doesn’t partake, she gets her own delicate meal, a simple Pink’s hot dog. I asked them if they had anything comparable there in Bakersfield, and they told me no. So, for them the road trip is a pleasure and a delight. Richard Pink was guiding me in my Pink’s late lunch journey, when Gabriel and Sarah found out he was the owner, to them he could have been Tom Cruise. They were so excited to take a photo with him, and couldn’t believe their luck that Richard Pink was sitting at the next table. In their eyes he is a huge celebrity – but wait a minute – he actually is!!

Richard Pink has been running Pink’s since his mom and pop retired in 1985, he is a marketing wiz, and Pink’s Hot Dogs has profited from all of his ingenious ideas. He met me with a smile and told me he was going to hook me up with all the new menu items, as well as some oldies, but goodies. He is a true leader, and takes care of all of his employees. Quite a few of his employees have been there for twenty years or more. His business is a joy to him, and he would not want it any other way. He does get help from his wife, Gloria, and sister, Beverly, both always there to greet you with a smile. They are usually wearing some sort of Pink clothing, as well as Pink’s Hot Dog purses. They relish, no pun intended, in their iconic Hot Dog Stand!!

I met the family back in 2012 at The Concern Cancer event at The Paramount Lot and they invited me in for a tasting back then. This past Concern Cancer event, this year, I was saying hello and they had a visitor while I was there, Giada De Laurentis. I got to meet her and take a photo with her. Richard told me that they have a dog named after her. He invited me in again to try their new menu items, boy was I glad he did! And I tried the Giada De Laurentis dog, yum!!

About Pink’s:

Pink’s Hot Dogs, Inc., a Hollywood landmark since 1939, this hot dog stand serves over 2000 hot dogs and 200 hamburgers a day. Pink’s was started in 1939 by Richard’s parents, Paul and Betty Pink, with a pushcart they purchased for $50, which money they borrowed from Betty’s mother. The land on which the pushcart stood was leased by Paul and Betty for $15 per month. Hot dogs at that time were 10 cents and cokes were a nickel. Pink’s offered curb service and was lucky to sell 100 hot dogs a day.

In 1941, the landlord raised their rent from $15 to $25 per month, a 67% increase, and Paul and Betty were forced to either give up or find a way to acquire the property. Paul and Betty, with little collateral but lots of conviction in the potential success of their hot dog stand, convinced Bank of America to loan them $4,000 to purchase the land, which fortunately the landlord was willing to sell. They added a cover to the pushcart, allowing them to also grill hamburgers, and it remained until 1946. The menu was simple: A chili dog and a hamburger. The price of the hot dog in 1946 was 25 cents.

At that time, Paul and Betty scraped together enough savings to build the small hot dog stand building that sits near the corner of La Brea and Melrose today. The location included parking for about 25 cars and eventually the indoor and patio seating expanded to accommodate 80 customers.

Paul & Betty also were raising two children, Beverly, and Richard. In order to afford living expenses, it was necessary for Paul and Betty to find another source of income, so they opened in 1958 a flower store next door to Pink’s Hot Dog stand. The flower store thrived for 10 years due to the talent of Betty in the design of flower arrangements, which she learned working part time for her brother, a florist, while she was also running Pink’s with Paul.

Paul and Betty operated the hot dog stand, starting with 4 employees and expanding over time to 10 and 20 and now Pink’s has a staff of about 30 employees. In 1985 at the age of 73 and 75, Paul and Betty retired. At that point, Richard, his wife, Gloria, and sister, Beverly, took over the operation of Pink’s. Since that time, the family has created over 40 combinations of hot dogs and a dozen varieties of hamburgers to satisfy the variety of tastes of its patrons. Pink’s, located near major Hollywood studios like Paramount, Universal and Disney, started to attract upcoming and established movie and TV stars. Pink’s celebrity wall of fame in the dining room started as a place for aspiring actors to hang their photos to be discovered by producers and directors who were known to dine at Pink’s. Today, Pink’s dining room is filled with over 200 photos of celebrities with signed endorsements of their enjoyment of Pink’s Hot Dogs.

Due to Pink’s unique menu, its historic age for an LA restaurant (83 years) and its celebrity patrons, it has now been featured in movies, TV shows, the food channel, the travel channel, and travel books. As the Pink’s name grew, large restaurant operators came to the family wanting to license the Pink’s name and products in various amusement parks, hotels, arenas and county fairs. Pink’s now has 8 locations including the Original at 709 N. La Brea (Hollywood), Universal City Walk (Hollywood), Raging Waters (San Dimas), Los Angeles and Orange County Fairs, Wisconsin, Oahu, and the Philippines. Pink’s also has an active catering business.

Pink’s attributes its longevity and its success to the tastiness of its hot dogs, which snap when you bite into them, it’s never ending hot dog menu combinations, its loyal long-term staff of over 24, many of whom have been with Pink’s for over ten years, its unique 1946 open kitchen curb side stand and relaxed dining room and patio seating, its Hollywood location and atmosphere, its appearances nationwide in movies and TV and its commitment to the community through its chili dogs for charity program. Pink’s is often referred to as “A Hollywood Legend Since 1939” but the Pink family likes to say “We are the little hot dog stand that could.”

Here’s What I Tried:

Burgers:

“Magic” Mushroom – Double Burger, with Grilled mushrooms, 2 burgers, Swiss cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, and mayo.

“JAWS” – The BIG one – Poli-bacon chili cheeseburger, one grilled Polish dog, hamburger, 3 strips of bacon, lettuce, tomatoes, and mayo.

Dogs:

The Brando Dog – 9″ stretch dog, mustard, onions, chili, and shredded cheddar cheese.

Lord of the Rings Dog – 9″ stretch dog, yummy BBQ sauce, topped with onion rings.

Poli – Bacon Burrito Dog – Big flour tortilla wrapped around 1 Polish hot dog (mild or spicy), cheddar cheese, 3 slices of bacon, chili, and onions.

Martha Stewart Dog – 9″ stretch dog, relish, onions, 3 strips of bacon, chopped tomatoes, sauerkraut, and sour cream.

LA Street Dog – 9″ stretch dog topped with 3 strips of bacon, sauteed peppers and onions, mayo, ketchup, and jalapeños.

Philly Cheesesteak Dog – 9″ stretch dog with grilled steak, grilled peppers and onions, American and Swiss cheese.

Giada De Laurentiis Dog – 9″ stretch dog, sauteed peppers, onions, mushrooms, chopped tomatoes, and shredded mozzarella cheese — That’s Italian!

Carl Reiner Dog – 9″ stretch dog, topped with mustard, and sauerkraut.

Reuben Pastrami Dog – 9″ stretch dog with Pastrami, mustard, Swiss cheese, and sauerkraut.

El Cucuy Dog – 12″ jalapeno dog, mayo, mustard, ketchup, grilled onions, jalapenos, and bacon.

Sides:

Fries.

Onion Rings.

Holee Molee Fries, topped with nacho cheese and guacamole.

Cup of Coleslaw.

Cup of Ranch Dressing Dip.

Cup of Barbecue Sauce.

Cup of Chili.

Dessert:

Coconut Cake, with coconut frosting.

Chocolate Fudge Cake, with chocolate frosting.

I just loved the BBQ sauce – dipped onion rings on the Lord of the Rings, and loved the Mushroom Burger, the Philly Cheesesteak Dog, and the Rueben Pastrami Dog. All of the other food items are delectable, but these are my go-to’s. I would recommend trying a few dogs and a mushroom burger, alongside a cup of chili, coleslaw, ranch dressing, onion rings, and fries.  The coconut cake is amazing as well, save room for dessert!! Whatever is your fancy you will be astounded by the freshness and great quality that Pink’s always offers. The best part is the dogs snap at every bite, if you know what I mean, you know!

I asked Richard how he keeps so young; he was eating a hot dog with mustard and sauerkraut when I asked him. He told me that he loves the food at Pink’s, but he also told me that he eats lots of salads and will have a double turkey burger without the bun. So even if you’re a bit health conscious you can tailor one of their menu items to be what your diet will allow. But when in Rome do as they do and enjoy the dog with all of the fixings!  You can go to the gym or diet afterwards, but Pink’s is worth every bite!

I know you’re probably asking how can she eat that much, as always I had some guests join me to enjoy my lovely food bounty. And there were many doggy bags to be taken home.

All I can say is why try to change a good thing. Pink’s knows their customers and has been firmly planted in Los Angeles pop culture for a long time. Pink’s has the Hollywood stars all a buzz as well, as you can tell from all of their photos inside the stand. They are a destination spot for locals, Pink lovers, and tourists – from around the world. Make no mistakes, Pink’s is an iconic landmark, people come from far and wide just to indulge. It’s just a must try when in the city of Angels. You too will become a hooked Pink’s Hot Dog customer. The lines are always around the corner, so get in line, talk to your fellow Pink’s fans and delight in their art of hot dogs – the way it’s meant to be enjoyed!!

Pink’s Hot Dogs

709 N. La Brea

Los Angeles, CA 90038

#PINKSHOTDOGS

*Note some content was taken off of their website.

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