The Local List

Hungry girl looking for the next adventure.

The age old question: Shake Shack or In-N-Out

Well first and foremost, I am a Southern California girl, born and raised in Los Angeles, living most of my adult life in Orange County – where In-N-Out is from for those of you uneducated.  So of course, I will never, haven’t ever, and will not bash that beautiful specimen of a joint.  However, (you saw that coming didn’t you) what I will say is that Shake Shack is pretty dang good for a burger joint.


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Costa Mesa’s Corner Retreat: Plum’s Cafe

I don’t know how I did not visit this place before last weekend.  I have been sorely missing out in life.  Plum’s is probably the best brunch that Orange County has to offer.  It has pancakes, bread pudding french toast, breakfast burritos and my fave – eggs Benedict.

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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.

It’s getting hot in here so take off…I mean…

Well kids its supposed to be a scorcher this week (again).  I know we were all hoping for fall to arrive, but that’s just not in the cards.  I hope you have your A/Cs blasting but if you don’t (or if you are just in the mood) stop by the newest trendy ice cream spot: Snow Station.

Snow Station serves shaved “snow”.  No it’s not a snow cone that you pour horribly sweet syrup on top and melts all over your hand.  Shaved snow or as I call it ice is just that – shaved. ice.  The snow is first flavored – while its still liquid obviously – then frozen in large batches.  Then when you place an order, the workers (I don’t know what to call them) put the big batch in a machine that literally shaves the ice like you would gyro meat.  It comes off in neat shavings and then you can put toppings or syrups on it.  The creations are endless.

up close and personal thai tea flavored shaved ice
Snow Station offers you big, bigger or biggest.   You get to choose toppings of all sorts to go on your shaved snow.  I made the mistake of putting mochi on it.  It was weird, don’t do it.  But there are tons of options, and they are quite various; just like any other Pinkberry/Fro-yo spot.  Lastly, you can put different sauces on top.  I opted out of this option, but my friend got the condensed milk on her Green Tea snow.  It was very sweet, but I mean…I didn’t complain.
Green tea, berries and condensed milk
For a refreshing treat that won’t bloat your stomach like ice cream, or make you thirsty like fro-yo (or is this just me?), try Snow Station. It is light, refreshing and has a ton of different options to help you create the perfect sweet treat.  It also isn’t badly priced, and is pretty close off the freeway in Tustin.  Definitely stop in!

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.

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?