The Local List

Hungry girl looking for the next adventure.

Brunch at Poppy and Rose is not one to miss.

bacon

Los Angeles is not too far from Orange County and every so often I have to drive up and show my parents I am still alive and my under-eye circles haven’t gotten any bigger.  On this occasion, I met my parents for a romantic Valentine’s Day Brunch at Poppy and Rose.

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For my 100th post I give you the best restaurant in OC – Il Garage

Yes, you read that right.  Il Garage is the best restaurant that I have eaten at in OC.  While I can think of a few places that are as tasty (or tastier), this place brings something that other places don’t have – a garden.  Tucked in the middle of nowhere Stanton (yes that is in OC), Il Garage is hard to find.  In fact, you have to drive along Beach Blvd and then keep driving.  Once you have found Park Ave restaurant, you must walk through it into the backyard.  Then, and only then, will you find this treasure.

Summer time and the living is…busy.

Summer time in Orange County can mean laid back beach weather, or crazy adventures attending all of the summer events going on in the area.  As a “porcelained skin” (read: pale as hell) person, I prefer to go to the events then lay on the beach.  So this past weekend, I packed in my adventures and had a great time at the OC Fair and Del Mar Horse Track.
 
fried cookie dough = heaven
The OC Fair is one of my favorites.  Large enough to give you tons of options, but small enough so you don’t get overwhelmed, the fair has live animals, tons of food and rides to keep you busy.  It’s open until August 10th everyday except Monday and Tuesday.  If you check out their website there are certain discount days if you donate goods or if you go early enough in the day.  Best food we had was the fried cookie dough – trust me.  (Quick tip: bring cash for the food vendors, not all of them take credit card – and you can monitor your eating if you need that kind of self control).



biggest corn dogs ever, and I don’t mean the girls…
Del Mar Horse Races has always been a fun day trip.  You can hop on the train and head down to the racetrack to avoid all of the horrendous traffic.  Once there, grab a (very overpriced) drink and take a seat while you bet on some horses.  If betting isn’t your thing, walking around and people watching is pretty awesome too.  When I went last weekend there was a beer fest going on from all local beers.  Pretty fun because you know San Diego has one of the best collections of craft breweries.  Skip the food here and instead bring in your own sandwiches or my favorite, California Burritos!

Other things to be excited for:
Taco Asylum’s brand new menu of tacos (including Bacon PB&J!).
C4 Deli’s Cupcake and Wine Pairing Nights on Thursday.
Blaze has opened in Mission Viejo.
The Robbins Nest Wine Bar is alive and kicking in Santa Ana.
Montreal Poutine has opened in Costa Mesa.

Another trip into LA

steak and eggs
I know, I know, I travel far too much on the weekends, but I like to have fun.  This past weekend was no different and I headed up to Los Angeles for the day.  I started out my morning at easily the best brunch spot I have ever had – Eggslut.
Gusto
egg, sausage and cheese
view from the counter
steak, eggs, chimichurri sauce, argula

For those that haven’t been to Grand Central Market, it is definitely worth visiting.  Once a hole in the wall locals only spot, trendie LA foodies have started to rent stalls and open up their places in a food cart sort of way.  Eggslut is one of these places and has a counter that you order at then sit at the bar to eat your food.  I ordered the steak sandwich which was legit, and I watched the guy basically pour butter into every part of the steak. (DELICIOUS)  My boyfriend, Phil, ordered one of the breakfast sausage sandwiches.  His by far was the better sandwich.  For $20, we were stuffed and had such a good meal.

cold brew growlers at Stumptown
Next we went to Stumptown Coffee, you might remember it from my Portland report.  This LA one has a VERY different vibe, is totally LA hipster, and totally a place you go for the “scene.”  It was still great coffee but quite pricey.
Gusto
For dinner I met a girlfriend for my birthday (its the beginning of my birth month) at Gusto in West LA.  It was a cute Italian spot full of families, couples, and groups of friends.  The vibe was really nice, and the wait staff was extremely attentive.  The food was really good.  Everything we had was shared plates and homemade Italian plates.  I don’t know what the bill was, but the menu was well priced for what I thought.  It was a little “Beverly Hills” feeling for me but I would definitely come back here for a date or special event.

Now I need to stop eating food for a while…

Eggslut on Urbanspoon

Portlandia – the real deal

Just got home from Portland, Oregon for a long weekend trip and I wish I could list each and every place you should eat at, but we would be here all day.  So instead I will provide a go to list of must sees and eats and you obviously can always ask me about more if you actually are going there…

food carts

My uncle knows Portland well.  And I mean WELL.  He helped us eat and drink at as many places as we could in the three days that we were in town.  Without him (and a little of yelp) we would have been lost, but instead I now need to go on a permanent diet and probably have shortened my life span by 10 years…

Brunch: without a DOUBT eat at Screen Door – Southern cooking, fried chicken and waffles, pecan crusted bacon, biscuits and gravy…should I keep going?  Other spots: Bijou Cafe, Mothers, Byways.  Brunch is a HUGE deal in Portland see either wake up early or expect a two hour wait.

Oregonian at PBJ: jam, blue cheese, peanut butter

Lunch: Food carts.  If you do nothing else in Portland you must try at least one Food Cart.  My favorite was PBJ.  One of the more famous one’s is Nong’s Khao Man Gai which is Thai chicken and rice.  Didn’t get a chance to try it but everyone knows about it.

fresh ceviche

Dinner: The end of the day is one of my favorite times because you are allowed to eat until your stomach hurts then go to bed.  Oh you aren’t supposed to do that?  Oops.  We started off our Portland experience at Clyde Common; great first experience into the Portland food scene and phenom food.  The pastrami short rib was full flavored and juicy, I’m already starting to miss it.  Also recommend food at Deschuttes, Burnside brewery, and again any food cart (they are open late).  But the real star was Andina.  Fresh Peruvian tapas that is just so flavorful and made so well that even in my buzzed state I knew the food was better than just drunk munchies.  Only issue with it, you probably can’t get in.  It was a Christmas miracle we got reservations.

beer on beer on beer (but I didn’t like this brewery)

Other must eats/drinks:  Ruby Jewel ice cream (Portlandian’s might shoot me but I preferred it to Salt & Straw); Blue Star Donuts (NOT Voodoo – its overrated); Cascade Brewery for anything sour beerish; Deschutes for beer (obviously); Rogue (beer and food was pretty good); anything McMenanims; Rontoms for the outdoor patio; and The Departure for the most amazing views.

Can I move to Portland yet?

I love the meatballs.

I’d like to say I am a meatball connoisseur, but really I just enjoy a well made meatball.  In New York, I die for all things at The Meatball Shop.  In San Francisco, the traditional Italian meatball sub is my go to at Molinari’s.  And now in San Diego, I have Soda & Swine.
sliders

Staged in an outdoor space that has been enclosed, it feels like you are having a picnic outside without having to listen to the cars roll by.  The vibe is very hipster (as most of SD is these days) and is conjoined with Polite Provisions, their sister cocktail restaurant.  If you want, you can order the meatballs at Polite Provisions while you sip some cocktails – I must have died and gone to heaven.

:garlic knots and twice fried french fries:
Now to the food.  Without a doubt order the sliders.  These are the perfect sampler size to determine which balls you like the most.  (get your mind out of the gutter people)  I tried the bovine meatballs on a slider and of course got the garlic knots and the french fries.  I only got one slider because (embarrassing moment) we were on our way to lunch.  But believe me I will be back to try each and every one of these bad boys.  And they are open until 1:30 AM!  Who needs bad Mexican food when you got this instead!  Now how to move to San Diego….

4.5/5 balls – I can’t give it a five until I have tried everything and come back at least one more time.  But its pretty much that good already…