Saturday, October 22, 2005

Pampas Grill Churrascaria (Los Angeles, CA)

This Brazilian eatery is located in L.A.'s historic (albiet tourist-heavy) Farmers Market on Fairfax (next to The Grove Shoping Mall). When you arrive at Pampas you'll notice an inredibly long line... don't just stand there, go get in it before it gets any longer! Then make your way through the cafeteria-style line with your plate and pick and choose whatever you taste buds desire. When you get to register your plate is weighed and your total depends on how much grub you pilled on your plate. Some of my favorites include the Linguica (Brazilian sausage), Alcatra (Top Sirloin), Chicken Breast with Bacon, Mandioca Frita (Fried Yucca), Plantains, Collard Greens, and Pao De Quejo (Cheese Bread). After you've had your fill take a look at some of the specialty shops or stroll over to The Grove. You never know who you'll see... I've spotted Andy Dick, Angie Harmon, and a couple of those kids from the O.C., but the food is the reason I keep going back.

Honda Ya Japanese Resaurant (Tustin, CA)

Honda-Ya is one of the few Orange County restaurants that stay open until 1 PM, which is great because for some odd reason I tend to crave their Yakitori at odd hours. The sushi is pretty good...I tend to stick towards the obvious choices like the Spicy Tuna, Crunchy Roll, or Rainbow Roll, but as the red lantern out front indicates - this is a Yakatori Bar. Some of my favorite Yakatori include the Meatball, Asparagus Wrapped in Bacon, Okra Wrapped in Bacon, or Tomato Wrapped in Bacon (I generally tend to be fond of foods wrapped in bacon). On certain occasions I've been known to make an entire meal out of Yakatori alone. The dinner plates are also pretty good (I favor the Sesame Chicken and Salmon) and their spicy Nanban Ramen is perfect for a chilly evening. Ask for their Japanese Risotto (not on the English menu), which is a porridge-like dish that may wind up becoming your next favorite comfort food. Wash this down with a cold Kirin or a small sake (or large depending on how big of a lush you are) and your meal is complete...unless of course you managed to save room for some Azuki (red bean) Ice Cream. If you come during the weekend be prepared to wait since it tends to fill up pretty quickly.

Kaffa Incorporated (Orange, CA)

Forget that Corner Bakery nonsense...Kaffa's is the perfect place to lounge on those Sunday mornings when you're too hung over to do anything productive. With it's Pottery Barn-esque furniture and soft music it kinda reminds me of home (albiet a cleaner and yuppier version of home). I recommend a berry tea and a Lemon Zest Albacore Tuna panini (with Lemon Zest Albacore Tuna Salad, Vine Ripe Tomato, & Provolone Cheese). The tuna is light and lemony and seems light years away from my sorry version of a tuna salad. I prefer to linger far too long over tea (or coffee) and biscotti while browsing the New York Times on my MacBook, which was connected to the internet via Kaffa's free wireless network. Nice....
for more info visit their official site.

Lucille's Smokehouse BBQ (Brea, CA)

Lucille's specialties include Pop's Beloved Fresh Pan Blackened Catfish (a catfish fillet, coated with Cajun spices, pan blackened and served with Creole mustard sauce, roasted garlic mashed potatoes and Southern braised greens), and New Orleans Gumbo (a bowl of traditional New Orleans Style Gumbo with shrimp, smoked chicken and andouille sausage). My favorites are their Fried Catfish Sandwich (tender catfish fillet battered and deep-fried), served with smoked jalapeno tartar sauce, spicy remoulade sauce, shredded lettuce and vine-ripened tomato on a French roll and the Spicy Hot Link Sandwich (grilled spicy hot link sliced and topped with Lucille's original BBQ sauce, Creole mustard sauce and mustard slaw on a French roll), add some of Lucille's Onion Straws (a mountain of battered onions, seasoned and deep-fried, served with BBQ ranch dipping sauce) and you've got a feast. Be warned: the portions are hearty...very hearty. My better half and I usually enjoy splitting an entree, an appetizer, and a couple of ice cold Abitas. There are live blues acts on friday and saturday nights, but you'll need to get there early to get a view. Visit their website for more info here.