OC Fair 2019 Recap

Wow, I haven’t been to OC Fair in so long! The last time I remembered was when there was a threat of OC Fair ceasing to exist, fortunately, it is here to stay!

Not much has changed but it is surely a much different experience when you are an adult versus when you were an adolescent. The main contributor to this difference? Money! You now have money to spend on all the food and everything that may tickle your fancy.

BravoCado!
Many people in Orange County, California gather at the OC Fair & Event Center every year during mid-July for a month until mid-August to attend the OC Fair. Not everyone has the same agenda and the OC Fair caters to everyone’s main objectives. There is a lot to do at the fair and may include, but are not limited to, drooling from all of the fried food, thrilling over carnival rides, eyeing enormous plush doll prizes, enjoying entertainment shows, seeing the farm animals, and SO much more!
I attended the OC Fair on Saturday of the last weekend the OC Fair is opened. I loved my experience because I felt a sense of community, oddly enough. Everyone that I encountered, whether it be employees or other fairgoers, was super friendly, I did not encounter any issues for the venue or the people. Having partners and friends to split food with is key to a good time.

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Tip: There is free parking at OCC (right across the street from Green Gate) on the weekends!

FOOD

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Food is a great motivator for people to go anywhere. As long as there’s tasty food, people will come!
The term “fair food” consists of all the things bad for your health: fried, greasy, and enormous portions. Every year there are new food items invented that many fairgoers feast on. I typically like to go in bigger groups so I can sample many things, rather than getting full on 1 item.
Here are a few items I tried this year:

Papi’s Puffy Tacos

New to the OC Fair 2019! One of the better things we got at the fair because the puffy tacos had pretty good flavor. Two tacos will set you back $11.76, with your choice of meat. We got 1 Asada and 1 Al Pastor. You can see the taco shells fried in front of you. As you bite into the taco, the taco shell gives you a crunchy texture while the meat and pico de gallo give you a fresh and savory flavor. The two together are a perfect combination of a taco.

Pignotti’s Pasta

Lasagna nachos! The inventiveness is there. However, they sounded better than what it actually was: tortilla chips, marinara sauce, ricotta cheese and they ran out of parsley. Sadness. $14.

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I would skip the Lasagna Nachos and try one of their other food items like the fried ravioli on a stick or spaghetti donuts.

Tasti Burgers

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Pictured is the Green Acres Fire Burger which is supposed to be an “all-natural Harris Ranch beef, ghost-pepper cheese, lettuce, jalapeños, spicy mayo and avocado on a potato knot bun”. However, it was not really spicy. Not bad, but nothing special. $12

Chicken Charlie’s

Known for their ridiculous fair food creations that are intended to stop hearts. Our pick? The Triple Decker Cheeseburger, which is a triple cheeseburger sandwiched between 2 Krispy Kreme donuts. The verdict? Hard pass. They do not go well together and both of them tasted very separate. The patty was obviously a low quality, frozen one. $10.99

Dippin’ Dots

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With the tagline, “Ice cream of the future”, I always have to get Dippin’ Dots every time I see it. I don’t know what it is but it is always good, anytime and anywhere! At the fair, there are multiple flavors, this time I got Moose Tracks. For a small, expect to be spending a little over $5.

Juicys

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Oh man, for big appetites, stop by Juicys! Here, you can get a footlog hotdog or corn dog. These are “Texas-sized” portions that are not only big in size but also big in flavor. Delicious hot dog that did not disappoint and is literally the size of your arm.

Fresh Frys

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The Blooming Onion is a staple as far as fair food goes. The Blooming Onion is essentially an onion cut into a flower-shape and then deep-fried. You can get the fried onion by itself, starting at $9.28 or with toppings such as cheese, chili, and more fries for an additional cost.

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Not a fan of onions? There are other items such as fresh frys, ranch frys, cheese frys, monkey frys, chili cheese frys, garlic parmesan frys, deep-fried green beans, and chicken tenders available.

Chuckwagon

Brisket Mac ‘n’ Cheese Sandwich
To end our night, we got the Brisket Mac ‘n’ Cheese Sandwich, which we were surprised by how tasty the meat and the ingredients went well together. Meats are supposedly smoked for 8-10 hours. $12.76

Other Options

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There is an abundance of food stalls and food areas to find unique dishes you can try. Here are a few others to note:

Bacon-A-Fair

Eat all of the bacon to your heart’s content! One of the newest food item for 2019 is the bacon pupusas, which is a Salvadoran dish made of masa and cheese.

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Australian Battered Potatoes

Love potatoes? Get a whole bucket of it here! Top it off with your favorite sauce, cheese, sour cream, or ADD BACON!

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Dutchmen’s

Churros, lemonade, and funnel cakes. Any of those sound good to you? If so, you’ve come to the right place! You can start with a regular churro or a basic powdered sugar funnel cake and then get creative by adding on different toppings and flavors such as whipped cream, strawberries, Nutella, or Oreos. Change the batter to red velvet or try their newest Nilla wafer banana creme flavor!

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Squeezers

Wash down all of the fair food with an old fashion lemonade!

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RIDES

Feeling that adrenaline rush? There is a whole area full of rides you can hop on for a spin. Most fair rides often try to make you end up throwing up, but that’s what makes it fun … right?!


For those like me and aren’t adrenaline junkies, there are other rides such as the ski lift ride and Ferris wheels that are more family fun. You can oversee the fair lights and view everything from a bird’s eye view.

CARNIVAL GAMES

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Test your skills at these rigged carnival games and convince your significant other to win you an enormous stuffed animal to show everyone how loved you are. In my honest opinion, a big waste of money and space but hey, if that’s your thing, go for it!

ENTERTAINMENT

There are several shows that are scheduled throughout the fair day. One of which is the comedy hypnotist, Mark Yuzuik. Whether or not you are a believer, it is surely entertaining to watch. I have seen the show several times and still have fun watching it every time. Other entertainers include dancers and martial artists.

FARM ANIMALS

Interact and pet farm animals at the fair! When there is a fair, there will be animals. Although they may smell, it is fascinating to see a cow in real life. There is a petting zoo as well as demonstrations such as cow milking!

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The fun doesn’t stop there! There are also pig races throughout the day. Yes, you heard that right. Pig races! They are cute little pigs that run laps around the track. Catch a show with your friends and have a little friendly bet amongst each other!

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CONTESTS

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The fair is not just about animals and food, the competition is also fierce here! There is a contest for just about anything! From homebrewed beer to artworks, it is truly interesting to see the creativity of everyone in the community. There are also contests on who can grow the biggest vegetable as well as who can create the best looking cake or table setting. Walk around the promenade to get a glimpse of all of the winners!

… SO MUCH MORE!

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The possibilities are endless! There are different promenades for your shopping needs, whether you’re looking for candy, hot sauce, household items, beds, etc there is something for you to sample or look at. My friend purchased some olive oil while I was shooting the shit with the ADT guys in the next booth, they were such awesome guys (shout out to Mike and Matt).

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Feeling like you want to get a little loose? There are alcohol stands for you to get beers or cocktails such as margaritas. Feeling lucky? There is a CA Lottery stand where if you spend $20, you can spin the wheel to win more money!

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Want to interact with butterflies? There is a tent area to take those Instagram photos with them.

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The OC Fair is truly a fun experience if you go with the right people, you can spend a whole day there! I was only expecting to spend a few hours but ended up staying until almost closing time. In total, I was there for 7 hours and I felt like I could’ve been there longer!
There is just so much to see and do. I can’t wait until next year!

HAPPY OC FAIRING!

Lunch Spots near John Wayne Airport (SNA)

On a typical 9 to 5 corporate job, the average worker is faced with a tough decision every day. And no, it’s not whether or not you should call out of work that morning. Rather, what you should eat during your favorite time of the workday, lunch.

Lunch is the most exciting time of the day and is something I am always looking forward to at work. It is when you know you are halfway through your workday. My work is near the John Wayne Airport (SNA) in Irvine, lunch options are not as abundant as the other areas of town, luckily, there are some pockets of restaurants and take-out places to fill my yummy needs.

Places worthy of your lunchtime period nearby John Wayne Airport:

Habuya Okinawan Dining

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My favorite lunch spot till this date. If it was a little closer to my work office, I would frequent Habuya more often. This little restaurant is serving up lunch special bento boxes only offered during certain hours of the day.

The Okinawa Bento Box was SO good and for a great value. It comes with sashimi of the day, kimchi, Soki, rice, Okinawa soba, and house special salad. If you add $1, you get ice cream! The Soki is a stewed pork rib that is cooked so tenderly that the meat falls off of the bone. Everything from start to finish was so delightful and exquisite. I practically licked my plate clean!

 

The parking is limited. Be sure to allocate enough time for lunch as it took me well over my lunch hour. Highly recommend! I never walked out of a lunchtime meal so in awe of my food as I did at Habuya Okinawan Dining.

Bottom line: Delicious food

14215 Red Hill Ave, Tustin, CA

TRADE

Sometimes eating as a group is difficult because everyone has their own preferences. Food courts, like TRADE, make it easier to go out with co-workers considering everyone can pick something they like.

There are 9 different food stalls to choose from, you may even order a little something from each one. Many vendors move in and out of Trade, check out their website for an updated list of the merchants and offerings.

Two Birds at Trade

When I go to TRADE, the two places I visit are Two Birds for chicken sandwiches and Center Hub for drinks. The chicken sandwiches at Two Birds are decent and there are tasty alcoholic specials at Center Hub. After work hours, Center Hub offers Happy Hour for beers and cocktails at a discounted price. 

 


TRADE has come a long way. It used to be a depressing, all-white food court with subpar choices. Though I worked across the street, I only visited twice before the renovation and open-air environment. Granted, TRADE is nothing you should go out of your way for as it is a no-frills food court but it is definitely a huge upgrade from what it was before. The downside is that parking can be quite challenging here when it gets busy.

Bottom line: Lunch with a group of co-workers

2222 Michelson Dr, Irvine, CA

Mess Hall Market

Mess Hall Market, named after a place military personnel eat and socialize, is a building filled with various eateries located in Tustin, off of Barranca Parkway and Flight. It offers plenty of free parking, seating, and restrooms, another perfect place for a lunch outing!

There is a variety of different cuisines based on your mood. You can get seafood at Slapfish, pizza at Big Parm, burgers at Vaka Burger, sandwiches at Sandwich Society, Pho at Saigon Kitchen and several more. View the complete list of vendors here.

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I have personally tried a cup of coffee at The Lost Bean and a chicken sandwich at Fowl Play. The Lost Bean Organic Coffee and Tea has a hipster vibe with a decent selection of drinks. Fowl Play is known for the Nashville Hot Chicken style of food but could use a tad more spice. There are 3 levels of spiciness: mild, medium and hot. The hot was no where near what some people might call “hot”. Overall, not a bad choice and a better value for your money in comparison to other food stalls.

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Bottom line: Plenty of choices, parking, and space for group lunches

KRISP Fresh Living

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In the same plaza as Trade Food Hall, KRISP is first known for being a coffee shop, but with their offerings of fruit smoothies, acai bowls, pastries, soups, wraps, bread boxes, and avocado/hummus toasts, it became a perfect contender for having a healthy lunch. KRISP is more geared towards healthy eating with cold-pressed juices and the focus of being “fresh”. In addition, there are fruit smoothies that are delicious. I suggest the Refresher as it truly is refreshing!

 

 

For coffee, I have tried all of their lattes and my favorite one is the Honey Lavender Latte; the Pistachio Rose Latte and Nutella Madeleine Latte are no match for it. My coworker swears on the Mayan Mocha. There is a drink for every coffee lover. Matcha and other teas are also available.

A concern some might have for jumping ship to KRISP for your morning coffee rather than the typical Starbucks is the rewards system. KRISP has a rewards program of their own.

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The salads displayed behind the glass cabinet is available for sampling, if interested. The bread boxes are made to order and a fun alternative to a sandwich. The pastries, from what I’ve been told, aren’t made in house. Overall, KRISP is a quick and healthy alternative to eating lunch.

Bottom line: Healthy food and delicious caffeinated drinks

2272 Michelson Dr., Ste 100, Irvine, CA

HiroNori Craft Ramen

HiroNori Ramen
Photo Credit: Leonard Ng

In the same plaza as Trade Food Hall and KRISP is HiroNori Craft Ramen, a small ramen shop with limited seating. It’s not the best for workers who have time constraint for lunch. It usually gets very busy during lunch and the parking lot is challenging. It might take you well over an hour to have lunch here. The service is a different style here than what many are used to. You get hurried in and out of the restaurant like herded sheep and will get cut off when they need to bring out someone else’s meal. It is more efficient but does not give the best experience. On top of that, mandatory gratuity is included in your bill.

As for the ramen, it is better tasting than the closeby Ajisen Ramen with prices ranging from $10-$13 a bowl. The noodles are thicker than your average noodle and the egg costs extra ($1.50). I’d be happier if HiroNori had a spicy ramen option. Irvine doesn’t have many ramen restaurants, so it’s safe to say that HiroNori is the best ramen in town.

Bottom line: Best ramen Irvine’s got

2222 Michelson Dr, Suite 234, Irvine, CA

Roll It Sushi & Teriyaki

Roll It Sushi & Teriyaki

Bento boxes are like adult elementary cafeteria lunches. They are one of my favorite things when it comes to food because of all of the different choices that are connected together to make one great meal. At Roll It Sushi, you get to choose between the main entree, salad, appetizer, and a 4-piece sushi roll. The entrees are chosen between the proteins: chicken, steak, salmon, or katsu. Aloha Maids are available in the fridge and I would highly suggest grabbing one as they are delicious. I got the Strawberry Guava and it goes great with the meal.

The bento box delivers a great lunch option whether you decide to eat it there or take it back to the office. Roll It can get a little crowded during lunch but the line moves quickly.

Bottom line: Efficient Bento box lunch

4221 Macarthur Blvd, Newport Beach, CA

Ike’s Love & Sandwiches

Ike's Love and Sandwiches

Making its way down from Northern California and spreading throughout Southern California, Ike’s prepares heavy, savory sandwiches for a big price. The list of sandwiches creations on their menu can be a little overwhelming but just remember to get it on the Dutch Crunch bread and you can thank me later.

If you don’t see a sandwich you like or know of one that isn’t on the menu, you can still order it! There is a secret menu sandwich called “Kryptonite” which consists of every meat and add-ons that they have and comes in 2 different sandwiches. I don’t recommend getting this unless you have 2 or 3 people to help you finish it. Ike’s is your place for lunch for delicious sandwiches

Bottom line: Tasty sandwiches

4221 Macarthur Blvd, Newport Beach, CA

El Torito

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Conveniently located next to the John Wayne Airport, El Torito offers lunch specials at a bargain price. Other than Lunch specials, they offer Taco Tuesdays, Happy Hours, and occasional food deals such as Buy 1 get 1 when you subscribe to their mailing list.

When dining at El Torito, free tasty salsa and chips will greet you at your table. Whether you are there for a quick lunch or hanging out after work with coworkers, it is a great place to do either. Now, don’t discredit me just yet for recommending El Torito. The prices are reasonable and I highly recommend the Chicken & Sour Cream Enchilada and Beef Crispy Taco Combo with refills of chips and salsa. The sweet corn cake always leaves me wanting more.

Bottom line: Affordable lunch specials

18512 Macarthur Blvd, Irvine, CA

Puesto 

 

 

Gourmet tacos at a premium price. Puesto has great tacos if you know what to order because not all tacos are made equally. Be sure to ask about their secret menu options that’s where all the good tacos are, off-menu! One of the secret menu items, a surf and turf taco or “Hero taco”, is definitely the way to go! This crowd pleasure consists of both lobster and filet mignon.

 

 

Taco Tuesdays are available so I wouldn’t go on a regular day unless it’s on someone else’s dime. Even better, catch their Happy Hour on Taco Tuesday from 3-6PM. That way, you can get tacos for significantly less than the normal price tag and also $6 classic or spicy margaritas! The perfect pairing.

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During lunch, it can get pretty packed with people, so expect to spend longer than an hour here.

Bottom line: Flavorful artisan tacos

3311 Michelson Dr, Irvine, CA

The Kebab Shop

The Kebab Shop

Typically, food that looks aesthetically pleasing in pictures make me skeptical, but The Kebab Shop delivers! This place has my stamp of approval for it being both pleasing to the eyes and to the tongue.

As you enter through the doors, you order your food at the cashier. First, you start with how you want your food presented, either in a wrap, fries box, rice box, panini sandwich, or a plate; followed by picking your proteins and sides. The sauces are self-serve with 3 different types available. The green, spicy cilantro sauce is my favorite!
The Kebab Shop, a chain famous for Mediterranean selections, is a healthier, quicker, and tastier option than a fast food joint most people choose for lunch.

Bottom line: Aesthetic and fresh lunch

17655-G Harvard Ave, Irvine, CA

Pier 76

 

 

 

A fast and casual seafood restaurant with great smoked fish tacos for $2 on Taco Tuesdays! Great flavors and value, perfect for a quick lunch. Happy hour is also available here.

Bottom line: Taco Tuesday

15080 Kensington Park Dr, Suite 330, Tustin, CA

Pepper Lunch

Pepper Lunch

Located in Diamond Jamboree, Pepper Lunch is an eatery specializing in food served on sizzling hot plates. It is a cool, simple concept that lets you know the food is piping hot.

You first pick what type of protein and flavor you like to be served, then add your sauces and MIX, MIX, MIX! There is usually a long wait here but you get your food fairly quickly since all they need to do is put it together and bring it out to you while it cooks on the hot plate. Be cautious when you eat, because it is HOT! The portions are just right because it is enough for you to feel content and not overly full or leaving you hungry.

Fun and tasty addition to Irvine’s ever-growing roster of restaurants for a decent lunch.

Bottom line: Sizzling hot plate lunch

2750 Alton Pkwy, Ste 101, Irvine, CA

Sgt Pepperoni’s Pizza Store 

 

What is a quicker, easier and a more delicious lunch option than pizza by the slice? You simply choose your flavor of pizza through the glass case display and the employee will heat up your pizza and bring it out to you after you pay and grab a seat. In addition to the delightful pizza, the pinwheels are also a great add-on option.

 

 

 

There are lunch special combos available for your convenience. I got the meatball ricotta and I would unquestionably order it again.

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Bottom line: Quick, delectable pizza

2300 SE Bristol St., Ste F, Newport Beach, CA

North Italia 

 

Delicious Italian food with handmade pasta made in-house and so fresh that you can peek through the window to the kitchen to see the pasta being made. It is no surprise that North Italia is a very popular lunch and dinner spot. You can taste the quality of the ingredients here and how everything on the dishes compliments each other.

 

I highly recommend the pasta here and not other items such as the pizza and salads. The appetizers are also divine. I would be surprised if you didn’t enjoy your meal from start to finish.

Bottom line: Handmade pasta

2957 Michelson Dr, Irvine, CA

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Happy hunting for a lunchtime spot to make your workdays a little more bearable!

Make sure to leave a comment if I’ve missed any of your favorite lunch spots near John Wayne Airport!

Pizza Crawlin’ in Los Angeles

ALL HAIL THE PIZZA.

Pizza has been such a staple in the American culture that sometimes we forget that it originated from Italy. Since America is a melting pot of different cuisines, it is inevitable that people put their own spin on classic foods. With creativity comes inventions of food that becomes a city’s iconic food and… BEHOLD!

The Chicago Deep Dish and New York Thin Crust.

But let’s be real here, who doesn’t love pizza?! Unfortunately, living in California there is no “iconic” slice of pizza that we can call our own. However, that doesn’t mean that there is a lack of pizza joints here; there is actually an abundance of delicious pizza places to have a lazy dinner or to satisfy those late night munchies.

Since there are many different places to get pizza by the slice in Los Angeles, I was on a mission to determine which pizza place reigns the best. Unfortunately, Los Angeles doesn’t have its own style, so this is mainly based on taste.

Sure, there are many choices to choose from which should be a stop on our pizza trail, but my friend and I mainly planned our route based on reviews and recommendations.

Our first destination was Venice Beach. More specifically, Abbot Kinney.

 

There are two pizzerias on Abbot Kinney. The first one was

Gjelina Take Away (GTA)

1427 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice, CA 90291

 

Here, there were only 3 types of pizza behind a glass case that were made available: sausage, Margherita, and chorizo. While waiting in line, the chorizo pizza was freshly made so we went with that choice. On top, there were pepperoni slices of chorizo, a thin layer of cheese, onions beneath, and a light layer of red sauce. The toppings and cheese layer slide off very easily as there are only glops of cheese around the pizza, but not a full layer on top. However, it was tasty and different from the usual toppings on a pizza.

Gjelina Take Away was a delicious and a great way to start our pizza crawl!

Down the street is the next stop you can visit on your pizza crawl.

Abbot’s Pizza Company

1407 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice, CA 90291

There were many types of meat and veggies pizzas but the line was long and not moving, so we decided to leave. Otherwise, I would have chosen to get a slice of the Popeye’s Chicken pizza.

Abbot's Pizza Menu

On our mini break, we went to get iced coffee at Intelligentsia, just a few stores down from Abbot Kinney. Intelligentsia is another popular coffee shop on Abbot Kinney aside from Blue Bottle. The line here was out the door and then some. We waited in line for a while to realize that it was very inefficient that we contemplated whether to leave or wait it through.  

 

It was about a 30 minutes drive to our next destination in Larchmont Village, where there are neon lights that fill up a tiny restaurant.

 

Village Pizzeria

131 N. Larchmont Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90004

At Village Pizzeria, there was made-to-order pizza by the slice! Music to my ears!

Rather than choosing our own toppings and creating our pizza slices, we opted in for the clam and garlic slice on a thin crust, which seems to be a Village specialty. We added jalapenos because we like to have some spice in our lives.

During our pizza journey, the goal was to try each pizzeria’s specialties; pizza slices that set them apart from other pizzerias. That way, we wouldn’t be biased in deciding the rankings of each pizzeria.

The tomato sauce on the clam and garlic pizza was different than the chorizo pizza from GTA as it was more of a classic marinara sauce. Although you can’t taste much of the clams, the flavors of clam and garlic complement each other well. 

I was skeptical at first, but it was pleasantly delicious! Do order this if you enjoy the taste of clams and garlic. Personally, I thought it was a great balance of clams and garlic, but more clams wouldn’t hurt. The garlic was pretty overpowering and garlicky that after eating this slice, you can ward off vampires for a whole year. That’s perfect for me though, since I believe in more garlic, the better. All in all, I really enjoyed my slice of pizza as it was hot and made to order, so I know it’s fresh!

 

After our second stop, we were due for another coffee break. This time, we stopped by Coffee for Sasquatch and got a lavender vanilla coffee. I suggest trying their seasonal flavors – the cryptid flavor is very instagrammable!

 

In Downtown LA, about another 30 minutes drive from Larchmont, is a popular pizza joint owned by a famous skateboarder, Salman Agah. You might be lucky to run into many pro skaters here, as they stop by from time to time.

 

Pizzanista!

2019 E 7th St, Los Angeles, CA 90021

Pizzanista! has a generous selection of vegan and vegetarian pizzas. We got the Meat Jesus and Mac and Cheese pizza.

While trying to enjoy our pizzas, the Mac and Cheese got a lot of attention with people sitting next to us and in line peeking at our food and asking how we liked it. Since there was a lot of hype for the Mac and Cheese pizza, I was very excited to try it. Unfortunately, it all fell flat for me and it’s safe for me to say that the Mac and Cheese pizza was certainly only for novelty purposes. The Mac and Cheese pizza was very bland and lacked any flavor, as it solely tasted like macaroni noodles on top of a pizza crust. We ended up taking some of the meats off of the Meat Jesus and adding it on the Mac and Cheese just to add some flavor on to it. 

Pizzanista! Mac n cheese pizza & Meat Jesus

Judging by what we decided to finish and leave behind, the Meat Jesus was definitely better than the Mac and Cheese pizza. I would not recommend the Mac and Cheese pizza but would rather recommend the Meat Jesus. The Mac and Cheese pizza has the potential to be a great slice if there were adjustments made, such as if bacon was added. 

Grand Park Winter Glow

We took a break and found an event in Los Angeles. There are many free events that the community and city hold. During our visit, Grand Park was hosting an event called the Winter Glow. There are Christmas lights and decorations throughout the park and is absolutely free to visit.

 

 

This was a great way to walk off and digest some of the pizza we ate and I would recommend taking a break in between your pizza crawl so you can eat more pizza afterward!

Platform LAAfter walking off our pizzas, we headed over to Platform, a shopping center similar to the Anti-Lab in Costa Mesa. Here, you can find boutique shops and cafes, with more of a lowkey vibe. I absolutely enjoyed the decoration and design of this place!

Located inside Platform is our last pizza stop,

Roberta’s

8850 Washington Blvd #104, Culver City, CA 90232

 

Roberta’s does not have pizza by the slice but the pizza here was delicious indeed. We got the Bee Sting pizza, which came in 4 slices. It was supposed to be a “spicy” pizza, but it was at a level -2 on a scale of 1-10.)  Great flavor, nonetheless, but I wish it did sting at least a little bit.

Roberta's Bee Sting Pizza

I would recommend this pizza. It was a very great ending to our pizza crawl and left us both very satisfied.

Cheers to the last stop of our delicious journey!

Roberta's Total Recall and Yutani Corporation

Overall, I would say the pizza crawl was a success and there were no regrets! We left full and happy. Out of all the places, I would recommend the pizza by the slices in the following order: Village Pizzeria, GTA, and Pizzanista! Roberta’s for pizza is a nice added bonus.

Take it Easy in the Big Easy New Orleans, Louisiana

Most people have New Orleans, Louisiana on their bucket list for the biggest celebration during February, Mardi Gras. Others have it for Bourbon Street and crawfish. For me, I just wanted to visit my friends and New Orleans’s food culture. Whatever the reason, New Orleans is a great place to visit for food and fun!

Grub

Crawfish

Crawfish

In New Orleans, crawfish is locally grown and has many different ways of preparing and seasoning these crustaceans. The crawfish is always boiled but the seasoning can either be sweeter, spicier, or saltier. Whichever your taste buds desire, you will find a crawfish shop to serve to your choice in flavor.

When the crawfish are in season, the prices are low at roughly $3-5 a pound. If you plan to consume crawfish boil, try to avoid the tourist areas since they will charge twice or three times the price. Since there is an abundance of crawfish eateries in New Orleans, I went on a crawfish tour. The locations I visited are:

  • Cajun Seafood
  • Dat Cajun seafood
  • Cajun Corner
  • J’s Bayou Seafood
  • Behrman Cajun Seafood
  • Big Fisherman Seafood

Cafe Du Monde

There are locations throughout New Orleans for Cafe Du Monde, but the one you need to check out is the original one located on Decatur Street in the French Quarter. It is open 24 hours daily; some go for breakfast and others go after they’ve had a long night. The morning line is ridiculously long, so it’s probably better to go at night.

At Cafe Du Monde, they are famous for their beignets, which are French doughnuts. It is fried on the outside and hollow on the inside. All that is on the menu is beignets and coffee, so it is recommended that you get the Cafe Au Lait and an order of beignets. I personally like the frozen Cafe Au Lait over the hot.

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Beignets are so good here. It doesn’t sound like much but it’s so addictive! I liked it so much I went back 5 times during my trip, all at different times of the day.

Tip: Cash only! Ask for hats, they give them out for free like at Krispy Kreme! Also, the water they give you is not for drinking… it’s for cleaning your hands due to the powdered sugar!

Willie Mae’s Scotch House

It is not considered the South unless there is some damn good chicken and luckily for you, America’s Best Fried Chicken is right here at Willie Mae’s. This chicken is well-known and featured on many television shows and articles. The fried chicken is described as piping hot, extremely crispy on the outside, and juicy on the inside. Definitely, don’t skip out on sinking your teeth into this greasy, tender goodness!

Acme Oyster House

Acme Oyster House

As stated in their name, Acme is the perfect establishment to get oysters. It wouldn’t be a trip to New Orleans without ordering a dozen oysters to yourself. You can get them either raw or chargrilled. NOLA oysters are bigger and meatier than the ones from the Pacific.

Acme usually has a long line all day so be prepared to wait, but once inside you need to order some of the New Orleans classics such as Jambalaya and Étouffée.

Felix’s Restaurant & Oyster Bar

For Creole favorites, Felix’s is your place to go. Like Acme, it is also another great place to get your oyster fix. You can also get other New Orleans favorites such as Jambalaya, Crawfish Etouffee, Hamburger Steak, Shrimp and Grits, and Po-Boy Sandwiches. Unsure of what to get? There is also a Bayou Platter Sampler where you can try a little of each red beans, Jambalaya, and Etouffee.

Dat Dog

For exotic hot dogs such as alligator, crawfish, and duck, Dat Dog has you covered! Pick your sausage and your toppings to fit your flavor palette with a side of “White Trash” fries (“WTF”) and you will leave satisfied. There are several locations sprinkled throughout New Orleans, but the one with fun decorations is the one on Frenchmen Street (go upstairs to the bar).

Creole Creamery

Creole Creamery

Eat Ice Cream, Be Happy!

Creole Creamery is the best place to get ice cream in New Orleans. There is a large selection of different flavors. If you are indecisive like me and want a little of everything, there is a mini scoop sampler available where you can get 4 or 6 small scoops of different flavors. There are also sundaes available. Remember to bring cash as this place is cash only!

LOVE Ice Cream? There is a “Tchoupitoulas Challenge” which includes 8 scoops and 8 toppings. If you are able to finish the entire sundae without any help, you get your name on the Hall of Fame!

Smoothie King

Smoothie King

Driving around New Orleans, I noticed the Smoothie King Center and it made me curious as to what it’s all about. In the West Coast, I love Jamba Juice and was thinking Smoothie King was exactly another version of it. However, unlike Jamba Juice, Smoothie King focuses heavily on the smoothies being healthy or dieting.

Raising Cane’s

Raising Cane's

Raising Cane’s originated in Louisiana and now there are locations spread throughout the nation. If you are looking for fast food in Louisiana, I would say skip the McDonald’s and get Raising Cane’s or Popeyes.

Other Restaurant Recommendations:

  • The Ruby Slipper Cafe
  • Mother’s Restaurant
  • Galatoire’s Restaurant
  • Oceana Grill
  • Muriel’s (rumored to be haunted)
  • Stanley (for a good brunch)
  • Surrey’s Cafe & Juice Bar (located in the Garden District)
  • Drago’s Seafood Restaurant
  • The Company Burger
  • The Rum House (for tacos and drinking)

Things to Do

Downtown New Orleans

Carousel Bar

Like many cities, downtown is where all the action is in New Orleans. During the daytime, you can visit the Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium and Audubon Aquarium of the Americas or see alligators on a Swamp Tour. At night time, head over to The Metropolitan to shake your booty, walk around with frozen daiquiris, bar hop between places like The Carousel Bar, or take a Haunted History Tour to learn about the spirits and history of New Orleans.

Drink Your Way Down Bourbon Street

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As you turn the corner and onto Bourbon street, you will get a strong whiff of the things that happen here. There is a mixture of sweat, urine, and dried up alcohol all in one go. Sound pleasant right?

Big Easy Daiquiris

Bourbon street is a lot tamer during the day as most people are looking for food rather than drinks, but you will still find people looking for an early drink. It’s a lot different seeing the street during the day versus the night.

Drink on Bourbon Street

When the sun sets and the party starts, patrons celebrate Mardi Gras on Bourbon Street year round. This means women flashing their melons, tossing beads, and having the time of their lives… wasted!

Frozen daiquiris are a big thing here so remember to stop by Jester Mardi Gras Daiquiris and Tropical Isle to get The Jester and a Hand Grenade, advertised to be the strongest drink in New Orleans.

Besides drinking, there are other adult entertainments available Downtown, such as hustler clubs, lingerie stores, and strip clubs. Everything you are looking for, you might just be able to find them here.

Gamble at Harrah’s

Harrah's Casino New Orleans

Take a break from the craziness and try your hand with Lady Luck at Harrah’s. While you’re inside Harrah’s, dance your ass off at Club Masquerade.

Tip: Parking around Bourbon Street can be very difficult. Try parking at Harrah’s and gamble your way to free parking.

Explore French Quarter

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French Quarter is the most iconic area in New Orleans. There are several places you can explore in the French Quarter. There is a Tiki Bar called Beach Bum Berry’s Latitude 29 where you can get a drink called the Snake versus Mongoose which is shareable between 4 people or of course, delectable beignets at Cafe Du Monde.

Take a walk around and be sure to keep your eyes wide open to admire the architecture and the history behind this area.

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There are also live performances during the daytime which gathers crowds of people to see and hear dancing and jazz music.

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Looking for souvenirs, antiques, or fresh produce? Farmers Market has a wide array of things both new and used.

Joan of Arc Statue

The history of New Orleans is embedded and sprinkled throughout the French Quarter wherever you go. One of the statues is the Joan of Arc, Maid of Orleans. It was a gift from the people of France to the Citizens of New Orleans.

Visit Jackson Square and the Mississippi River

For a little quieter side of New Orleans, take a stroll to Jackson Square to see the Andrew Jackson statue and Saint Louis Cathedral. The Mississippi River is also across the street to watch the boats float by (I wouldn’t touch the water if I were you).

Mississippi River

Frenchmen Street

When Bourbon Street is too much to handle, head over to Frenchmen Street where the locals hang out and there is less traffic. You can listen to live music all night long alongside drinks and late-night eats. Drinks with a view just began to be a new thing in New Orleans. This sparked the birth of rooftop bars in the area. One of the rooftop bars to visit on Frenchmen Street is at The Frenchmen Hotel.

Learn U.S. History at The National World War II Museum

World War II had so many moving parts, accomplished a number of things, and goes down in history as the one that had the most bloodshed and money spent.

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The National WWII Museum does such an excellent job at highlighting every detail that happened at the beginning, throughout the years, and the end of the war. You will learn so much if you take the time to read and understand what the museum has to offer.

There are also displays, quotes, and replicas of things that can show you what the living conditions and objects looked like back in the war times to put things in perspective.

There are also interactive things you can do throughout the museum such as dress up like Rosie the Riveter!

There are bomb shelters outside that you can climb into to see what it was like to be in one of these things designed years ago.

If you are into automobiles, tanks, and planes… there is a whole big area of actual equipment from World War II! You can see everything life-sized and real in front of you.

I am usually not into visiting museums but the National WWII Museum was a lot of fun. It was also fun to explore the gift shop!

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Don’t buy the replica hand grenade if you are flying on a plane, it will probably get you into big trouble!

I would definitely recommend this museum to visit but be sure to allocate at least 3 hours to be able to see everything.

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Take a Guided Tour at the Oak Alley Plantation

Slavery is part of American History that we, as a country, is not proud of. To stop the repeat of past history, we must educate the future and show how life was like prior. At Oak Alley Plantation, the history of slavery runs deep here. Today, it is a restaurant and an Inn, as well as a tour of the slaves’s conditions and daily life. After you are done with the guided tour of this historic plantation, cool down with a flight of mint julep in the restaurant.

Get Drunk, Have Fun, and Eat Creole Cuisine!

Shuck Oysters
Crossed off one of my bucket list items in New Orleans – learn to shuck oysters!

Mouthful of Tacos in Orange County

It’s true what they say…

“The closer the border, the better the tacos!”

Growing up in Southern California and living here my entire life (so far), I never realized how lucky I am to have an abundance of taquerias serving up mouthwatering tacos everywhere I turn. It wasn’t until I traveled outside of my hometown that I discovered other people may not be as fortunate as I am to have an affordable and tasty option for lunch and dinner. Since then, I have been hunting down the best taco spot that I can declare to be my go-to. Unknowingly, tacos are my favorite food and I am here to help those deprived of some delicious tacos in their OC lives. Here is a list of the tacos in Orange County (I have tried so far – I will consistently add to the list as I try new places).

Disclaimer: This post is mainly based on Asada and Al Pastor (since that’s the only meats I like) but I will include other types of meats and opinions of other people who have tried with me.

Taco Trucks

Tacos Manuel 

Authentic tacos. Currently standing, Tacos Manuel is my favorite local taco truck. Not only are the grilled onions and salsas a great addition to my tacos, but the tacos themselves are very juicy and flavorful. The grilled onions are free, grilled to perfection, and available with all taco orders. There is a decent variety of tasty salsas to satisfy people at different ends of the spice spectrum.

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The tacos are about $1.25 each (with an additional cost for specialized meats). I’ve eaten at Tacos Manuel on multiple occasions, however, they tend to run out of meats towards the end of the day so come early! I’ve had the Asada, Al Pastor, and Chorizo tacos and they were all fantastic. The only thing I didn’t enjoy at Tacos Manuel is their burrito. Although massive in size, it was very underwhelming and mostly made up of beans and cheese. Also, the jalapenos they give you are no joke! Bite with caution.

Mulita at Tacos Manuel

Tacos Manuel is always parked in the same spot, in a neighborhood next to a shopping plaza. The neighborhood may have limited parking spots available so it might be a little difficult to find parking. There are no tables or chairs set up so if you eat it there, you will need to stand.

Alebrijes Grill Taco Truck

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Authentic tacos. Deep in Santa Ana next to a Northgate Supermarket, parks Alebrijes Grill Taco truck. Highlighted in the OC Weekly and OC Register as “Home of the Taco Acorazado”, Alebrijes feeds its customers with a variety of tacos, burritos, tortas, gorditas, mulitas and other items with 10 different meat options.

It is swarmed by hungry taco-eating carnivores looking to leave satisfied with their $1.50+ tacos. The tacos come complimentary topped with grilled onions and cactus (not green bell peppers like I originally thought). Alebrijes also has 4 different salsas to choose from, just make sure you ask for salsa containers and napkins!

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The tacos are rather massive, packed with a lot of meat so order accordingly. Per usual, I ordered the Asada and Al Pastor tacos. The Asada taco left little to be desired and the al pastor was pretty greasy. However, I am told that the Tripas taco is where it’s at! Most places serve them undercooked and soft while others don’t clean out the insides of the intestines, but at Alebrijes, they do and it’s very crispy.

There is a small row of chairs set up for you to sit and wait for your tacos or to ingest them. Typically people park in the Northgate parking lot. Be careful and drive safely as it tends to get very crowded and hectic there.

El Taquero 

Authentic tacos. An often overlooked taco truck hidden in a street around the corner from Carl’s Jr. and Del Taco. Driving down Harbor on a daily basis, one would take notice of a little red taco truck from time to time. It just takes that little extra effort and time to make the move and turn onto Moore street to take a chance at El Taquero.

This is a no-frills taco truck. Tacos start at $1.25 for Asada, Al Pastor and Pollo and an extra $.50 for the specialty meat (Tripa, Lengua, Cabeza, etc.). Add cheese to your tacos, such as Choriqueso, Pastor con Queso or Pollo con Queso for $1.50. Everything is fresh and made to order. There is a table available for seating if you want to eat it immediately. The green and red sauces, along with pickled onions are available for self-service.

I ordered the Pastor con Queso and Carne Asada taco to take home. When I opened it up to eat it at home, it was still piping hot. The melted cheese was sticking to the foil but it was a great addition to the Pastor taco. I enjoyed eating the Pastor con Queso over the Asada, but they were both pretty satisfying. The meat was not dry as I feared, however, I am not a big fan of their sauces, as they are a bit sour and not spicy.

The Classic Taco

The Classic Taco

Authentic tacos. My friend raves about The Classic Taco and really enjoyed the tacos. However, I thought the tacos were decent but nothing too spectacular. The salsas here, however, are top-notch! There are some salsas that may not sound like it would taste good, but it actually does. The salsas range from mild to hot and interesting flavors such as pineapple.

This taco truck travels around so be sure to check their social media for their locations. There are no tables and chairs for you to sit down and eat so you will have to eat standing up. Most of the time though, The Classic Taco truck is parked outside of businesses such as breweries so you can pair your tacos with a cold one!

Taqueria el Burrion

Located in Garden Grove, this orange taco truck Taqueria el Burrion is serving up $1.25-$1.75 tacos (depending on the meat) 5 days a week in front of a park. Tacos are not just all they offer, you can choose from burritos, tortas, and quesadillas as well. Be sure to go early, as specific types of meat do run out. The Tripa and Lengua are the first to go.

Per usual, I got the Al Pastor and Asada tacos and they were tasty. The meat was flavorful and my favorite part was the tortilla. It was cooked just right as it was a little crispy. There is a salsa bar outside of the truck with 3 different salsas to choose from. They also give you peppers with your tacos but bite with caution.

Keep in mind that it is cash only! There are only a few chairs available for seating. Taqueria el Burrion is located in front of a parking lot so you don’t have to worry about finding parking.

Taquerias

Taqueria El Zamorano

Authentic tacos. Off to the side of Flower and Warner street sits Taqueria El Zamorano. I remember when this little shack used to be Taco 2 Guys. Oh, how times have changed. With tacos priced at $2.25, it is expected to be larger than a typical street taco. The meat options are Asada, Carnitas, Al Pastor, Pollo, and Chorizo. For 74 cents more, you can get Cabeza, Tripa or Lengua. What makes Taqueria El Zamorano different than most taquerias, the answer lies in their handmade tortillas.

Taqueria El Zamorano does not only serve up tacos, but also tortas, combination plates, and Asada fries or nachos. Agua frescas are also available to wash it all down. To get here can be a bit difficult due to the limited parking and tables available. There is also a $5 minimum credit card charge (with $1 fee if you are under $5).

I ordered Asada and Pastor tacos to eat there. The Asada meat was a bit tough to chew and the pastor was slightly better and more tender. Although the handmade tortillas are a nice addition, the overall taco was not very impressive. I also got a pina agua fresca (pineapple drink) and it was super watered down. Not understanding the high reviews on Yelp, I would pass on this place next time.

925 W Warner Ave, Santa Ana, CA 92707

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Authentic tacos. In the city of Orange, Tacos Los Reyes seems to be the most popular taqueria shop with tacos starting at $1.75 (Lengua is available for $1 more). The value of the taco is fair as it is a bigger size than the normal street taco, filled with double the amount of meat, and wrapped in two corn tortillas. The meat is moist and does not dry out. It is topped with cilantro, onions, and a bit of sauce. To improve the taste of the tacos, I would ask for extra sauce or hope they will soon add a salsa bar to adjust the tacos to the preferred tasting. Chips and salsa are available if you dine there. If you decide to take it to go, you need to pay for them. The salsa provided is pretty spicy, which I do enjoy but may not be for everyone.

I overheard someone in line say that Tacos Los Reyes was on television and it was recommended to get carnitas.

273 S Tustin St, Orange, CA 92866

Holé Molé 

Authentic tacos. Known for its fish tacos but they also serve up other types of taqueria meats as well, such as Asada, Chicken, Carnitas, al Pastor for $1.49 each. There are two types of fish tacos, Ensenada and Cabo tacos, both available in fish or shrimp. The Cabo tacos consist of Grilled Wahoo ($2.79) and Grilled Shrimp ($2.99). Tacos are not just their only items, they also have burritos, quesadillas, bowls, combo plates, and nachos.

Holé Molé is a chain restaurant with a salsa bar. Be sure to ask for some of their grilled peppers. What goes well with your tacos? Beer, of course! Some locations sell beers in pitchers or pint glasses, as well as micheladas. For dessert, they serve fried ice cream, flanquitos, and root beer floats.

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Grab your friends and have a couple of drinks at your local Holé Molé on Tuesday for their Taco Tuesdays where Ensenada Fish, Asada, Chicken, Carnitas, and Al Pastor are $1.19 each and Shrimp Taco is $1.99 each.

Tip: I typically try to get tacos here for lunch so I would call ahead for pick up.

Taco Tuesdays are available!

Taco GrillTaco Grill

Authentic tacos. Hole in the wall, known for their Blacken Fish Tacos! Everyone seems to be ordering this taco, whether it be to take out or to dine there. Although there is a variety of tacos you can get for $2.25 on regular days, Chicken, Asada, Carnitas and Blacken Fish tacos are only $1.50 each on Tuesdays. The tacos are bigger than your average “street tacos”.

There is a self-serve salsa bar available loaded with salsa, cucumbers, onions and pickled jalapeño peppers. If you decide to dine at Taco Grill, there are indoor and patio seating but it fills up quickly, especially on Tuesdays. The interior is pretty small with a few tables available. You get free chips with each purchase!

8481 Heil Ave, Westminster, CA 92683

Taco Tuesdays are available!

Panderia Y Taqueria Las Maripozas

Authentic tacos. On the outside, the sign says Taqueria Don Pancho, but on the inside, this taqueria is named Taqueria Las Maripozas… or rather Panderia Y Taqueria Las Maripozas (since they have a bakery side to the left of the tacos). Whatever the name, there are $1 tacos available on Tuesdays and Wednesdays (Martes y Miercoles) and menudo available on Saturdays and Sundays (Sabado y Domingo)! When it is not on Tuesday or Wednesday, tacos are priced at $1.29 each and $1.99 for Tripas. The dining area is pretty small with very limited seating but since they are serving tacos, you can stand and eat. During the afternoon to night time, the tacos are cooked outside on the storefront for the authentic feel.

I got the Al Pastor, Asada and Tripas tacos. I would not recommend the Al Pastor taco and the Asada tacos were just decent. The prices here are a lot cheaper than their next-door neighbor Taqueria Los Parados, but does the taste compare? Only you can decide.

1236 W Civic Center Dr, Santa Ana, CA 92703

Taco Tuesdays are available!

Taqueria Los Parados

Authentic tacos. Craving for authentic tacos and don’t want to get out of your car? Taqueria Los Parados has a drive-thru! A little on the pricier side ($1.67 per) along with the smaller size tacos, Taqueria Los Parados claim to have the best Al Pastor taco. Although it is decent, I wouldn’t say it is the best I’ve ever had. I got the Pineapple agua fresca (medium $3.67) and after it, I would say I am still on the hunt for the best Piña. There are also several other agua frescas available.

Alongside the drive-thru, if you decide to dine inside, the dining room is spacious equipped with LED menu screens. The interior is pretty nice for a taco place when comparing them to hole-in-the-wall taquerias. Parking is easy to find as it is located in a plaza with a parking lot.

711 N Bristol St, Santa Ana, CA 92703

Taco Mesa

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Authentic tacos. Taco Mesa a great place to catch up with friends, drink margaritas, and indulge in delicious tacos. Located in various pockets of Orange County, Taco Mesa is a Mexican chain restaurant based on authentic tacos with a modern, hipster vibe. This counter-service type taco shop where you order your food and seat yourself is very lively and has an abundance of tables that may get filled up quickly on certain days. Don’t have to worry about parking though, as it is placed inside of a shopping plaza with a lot of space.

If you are looking for something other than tacos, there are a variety of other entrees to choose from such as nachos, taquitos, gorditas, sopas, tortas, enchiladas, quesadillas, and other special dishes. There are weekly discount specials (excluding Friday & Saturday) that can help ease your wallet. Taco Tuesday is especially popular here drawing in masses of people waiting to put their hands on these $1.75 tacos (available all day Tuesday). You can choose from shredded beef, shredded chicken, carnitas, fish taco, veggie, and Al Pastor. The size of the taco is at least double the size of a standard street taco. The cherry on top? $3.50 margaritas of course!

With every great taco shop lies an exceptional salsa bar. Taco Mesa has one readily available for you to grab your pickled carrots and cauliflower, limes, and salsas. There are no salsas that are particularly spicy but it was nevertheless, a great addition to my tacos.

I was content after finishing only two tacos and a margarita. I enjoyed the Al Pastor over the fish taco but they both left me satisfied. The Al Pastor wasn’t drowned in sodium and the fish was not dry. If possible, I would recommend trying all of the tacos available on Taco Tuesday.

3533 East Chapman Avenue, Orange, CA 92869

Taco Tuesdays are available!

Taqueria Escalante

Taqueria Escalante

Authentic tacos. Ask the locals in Anaheim where they think the best tacos in town are and they might just lead you to a small taco shop called Taqueria Escalante. Inside has about 7 tables with a limited salsa bar with your basic green sauce, red sauce, radishes, limes, onions and cilantro readily available to you to top your burritos, combination plates, tostadas, quesadillas and more. The green sauce was mild spice and the red sauce was a medium spice, which means both were not very spicy but the taste went well with the tacos. 

At the time, I was only able to order the Carne Asada tacos because the Al Pastor tacos were unavailable. After I finish my first taco, I could understand why there were people already crowding around the shop for minutes of opening time. The Tripas on the Tripas tacos was cooked the way it should be, a little soft and a little crispy. 

You never have to worry about parking because this taqueria sits in a large parking lot. Tacos are originally $1.29 but on Tuesdays, they are available for $1. Taqueria Escalante is recommended by many and for good reason.

2805 E Lincoln Ave, Anaheim, CA 92806
 
Taco Tuesdays are available!

El Chef Tacos

El Chef Tacos

Authentic tacos. There are two types of tortillas available at El Chef Tacos, regular ($1.49) and handmade ($2.99). With the price difference between the regular and handmade, comes a  bigger and meatier taco. There are the typical meats available such as Asada, Al Pastor, Lengua, Carnitas, and Barbacoa (no Tripas).

I got the Asada and Al Pastor and would suggest getting the Al Pastor and not bothering with the Asada, as the flavor of the Asada left little to be desired. Overall, the tacos were okay but they had a legit salsa bar. Here you can find 3 different sauces consisting of red, green, and avocado-based. There is also pico de gallo available and you can put your own onions, cilantro, pickled jalapenos, and carrots.

3009 E Chapman Ave, Orange, CA 92869
 
Taco Tuesdays are available!

Tacos Jr.’s

Tacos Jr's

Authentic tacos. A clean, crowded restaurant located in a very small parking lot filled with a good selection of breakfast, tacos, burritos, seafood items, hamburgers and more. Along with a great self-serve salsa bar, you get free chips with every purchase! Make sure to arrive during downtime, if possible, because the service could be slow.

Tacos are priced at $1.60 to $1.80 depending on the meat choice. Although it is a little pricier than regular street tacos, the tacos are a tad bigger than the standard size. I had the Al Pastor and Asada tacos, but at the time I purchased them, they were a bit dry and left little to be desired. The Tripas taco, on the other hand, was soft and not overcooked.

Quick tip: No Taco Tuesday specials are available but you get a free taco with a Yelp check-in!

450 S State College Blvd, Anaheim, CA 92806

Gonzalez’s Restaurant

Gonzalez's Restaurant

Authentic tacos. Not your average taqueria shop, Gonzalez’s Restaurant is more geared towards dine-in only as there is no posted menu available. As you walk in there are tables and chairs but you would need to ask for a menu in order to choose what you want. Since this restaurant didn’t specialize in only tacos, there was no salsa bar available. You would need to ask for salsa and there are only 2 types available. One was an orange-red color which did not have much flavor to it and the other was a salsa verde, which was sourer. Both were a little watery and not spicy but the orange-red one had a slight hint of spice.

During my visit, I ordered a Carne Asada burrito and 3 tacos priced at $1.35 each. The food upon receiving, The burrito was poorly wrapped and was falling apart while trying to consume it. It consists of beans, rice, onions, cilantro and your choice of meat. Since there was no Tripas, we ordered the Carne Asada. The burrito was a bit bland no matter how much salsa I tried to put on it. I think it would’ve tasted a tad better if there was pico de gallo or a sauce of some sort on it.

As for the tacos, I also ordered Al Pastor and Carne Asada. As I opened the box, my glorious tacos looked very pleasing to the eyes. However, taste-wise I thoroughly enjoyed the Carne Asada over the Al Pastor. The Al Pastor tastes like ground beef and has a weird texture. The Carne Asada was better tasting and flavor-wise but it was not as juicy and a little drier than what I enjoy. There are also free tortilla chips the size of tostadas! I got 3 of them with my order.

1740 W Chapman Ave, Orange, CA 92868

Taco Tuesdays are available!

Artisanal Tacos

Not quite your typical street taco, but a different spin on your favorite traditional dish

Pier 76

Smoked fish tacos for Taco Tuesday at Pier 76 in Irvine, CA

Gourmet tacos. Not your average tacos, Pier 76 is doing something right as they put a creative spin on fish tacos. These fish tacos have a great burst of flavors by marrying the flavors of tangerine, cabbage, and homemade sauce with the fish. The flavors are unique, unreplicated, and has me coming back for more.

Although a small restaurant, there is outdoor seating available as well. I enjoyed sitting outside and feeling my skin absorb the warmth of the sun. The “MASSIVE” smoked fish tacos are $7.96 (for 2) on regular days and $1.99 per taco during Taco Tuesdays.

Various locations in Long Beach, Cerritos, and Tustin. 15080 Kensington Park Dr., Ste 330, Tustin, CA 92782

Taco Tuesdays are available! 

Taco Asylum

Gourmet tacos. A different take on traditional tacos with a fun flair. Some of the tacos that Taco Asylum is crafting up include the Shortrib, Bacon PB&J, Steak Chimichurri, Buffalo Fried Chicken, Banh Mi (we won’t get into the whole Banh Mi is literally “bread” in Vietnamese thing) and Philly Cheese Steak. Judging by the flavors, you know they are not your ordinary tacos and come from various cuisines.

I got the short rib taco and the ghost chili pork. The short rib taco was better than the ghost chili pork, which was a bit dry and lacking flavor. The short rib taco was also not as juicy as I hoped it to be. The best part of the whole meal? Their hot sauce bottles. I love their sauces. This was the savior of my meal! There is Chipotle, Honey Habanero, Ghost Scream, and Ghost Chili. The Ghost Chili and Ghost Scream were my favorites! They are spicy, you have been warned!

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Tacos and beer pair well together and Taco Asylum knows this. There are a decent amount of craft beers available as well as daily flavors of agua fresca. When I went, it was Tangerine flavor.

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Taco Asylum can get crowded as the restaurant is on the smaller side. You might need to wait for a table but it is a first come first serve and parties of 2 are a lot easier to find a place for.

2937 S Bristol St b102, Costa Mesa, CA 92626

Taco Tuesdays are available!

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Gourmet tacos. If all vegan food tasted as good as these tacos, I wouldn’t mind being a vegan. Ultimate Liberation is a four-pack of fishless fish tacos for $13.45! Sayyy whatt? Yes, there is no real meat in the tacos, the “fish” is actually made of soy. Amazing!

Many people claim it is “the best fish tacos” they’ve ever had but does it even count as a fish taco?! Don’t knock it until you try it!

7862 Warner Ave, Ste 110, Huntington Beach, CA 92647

Puesto

Puesto

Gourmet tacos. Puesto takes your average taco and puts a spin on it by using blue corn tortillas and premium ingredients to create innovative flavors. With protein such as filet mignon and lobster, it is no surprise that the tacos are also priced at a higher level in comparison to the traditional street tacos.

Be mindful that my recent experience here was not a great one, but it might be due to being in a larger group and the tacos were rushed. There may be some inconsistencies in the quality of the tacos.

Various locations: Irvine, San Diego, Concord, Santa Clara

Taco Tuesdays are available!

The Best of Corona, California

Corona is a city located in the Inland Empire area of California.  It is home to residents who love the 91 freeway and sitting in traffic for over an hour to commute to work every day. In all seriousness, Corona is the best place to live when you are trying to own a big home but can’t afford to pay Orange County prices (as it is just east of Orange County).

Located in Riverside County, Corona is transforming its agricultural community into a suburb. The last of the cow farms are getting driven out to make way for new residential areas. While newly built homes are being developed sporadically, the city is still continually trying to catch up with the development of restaurants and entertainment to appease its residents.

Finding great places in Corona can be tough due to the lack of options but I have found some great places that I am willing to share with you! I will also share my experiences with places that fell a bit short for me. But don’t let that deter you away from giving these places a chance and trying them for yourself.

Tried and True

Restoration Roasters

One of my favorite places in Corona!

Restoration Roasters is a coffee shop located next to a church. It has blessed Corona with their crafted specialty coffee and teas. This is the best option to get your caffeine fix and has a variety to satisfy patrons running on low energy.

Some of my favorite items are the blueberry matcha, Mexican coffee, and the cold brew flight. The cold brew flight comes with 3 different types of cold brew with a sparkling water to cleanse your palette for only $5! What a steal!

Mojo’s Express Coffee

Mojo's Express Coffee

Not your average coffee shop, Mojo’s Express Coffee is a small shack in the middle of a parking lot. There is no inside area where you can sit and sip your coffee as it is simply a drive-thru. Think Starbucks Coffee drive thru without the Starbucks lobby and the mediocre coffee.

Mojo’s has everything from your typical coffee and tea to specialty drinks, such as their delicious Banana Foster Ice Blended drink. There is a small selection of pastries and food, which makes Mojo’s a great stop for your breakfast needs.

Southern Maid Donuts

When I am in Corona craving for a donut, Southern Maid Donuts is the only place I will go. Arguably better than Krispy Kreme, but given that there isn’t any Krispy Kremes nearby, Southern Maid Donuts is safe to stay. The original glaze, when it’s fresh and eaten right away, is delicious. The blueberry and strawberry flavors are skippable as they taste very artificial but the cinnamon roll donuts should be added to every dozen.

Be mindful of their store hours as they do close early!

Taqueria 2 Potrillos

Corona is generally pretty diverse with all of the cuisines available to somewhat satisfy your basic cravings. However, one can feel like the taste falls short compared to other foodie areas. While I am originally from Santa Ana, I was weary about how Taqueria 2 Portrillos will fall among my taste test. Surprisingly, I am a fan!

Menu at Taqueria 2 Portrillos

Taqueria 2 Portrillos feels and tastes authentic. They offer a variety of items including tortas, tacos, burritos, quesadillas, and combination plate along with a variety of meats that include asada, adobada, carnitas, chorizo, birria, pollo asado, chicharron and buche (see above for part of the menu).

Salsa bar at Taqueria 2 Portrillos

The food is only part of what makes up a great taqueria. The other part is based on their salsa bar! Taqueria 2 Portrillos does not skimp on this. Just take a look at their offering above! It is equipped with different salsas, onions, cilantro, carrots and jalapenos for you to choose the right amount suitable for your tacos.

Tacos at Tacqueria 2 Portrillos

I recommend trying all of the meats they have to offer, especially the Al Pastor! Make sure to get one of their agua frescas, it’s delicious and refreshing!

Taqueria Los Arcos

A small restaurant with freshly cooked meats that aren’t sitting in silver tins under a heat lamp. If you dine in, you get free chips and salsa while you wait.

I got the al pastor and asada tacos. The tacos were priced fairly and the meat was very flavorful. The place is fairly new but it is definitely worth a try. The only downside is that there is no salsa bar, so they add the salsa on top of your tacos already for you. While the asada was good, I’d recommend the al pastor over the asada. I never got around to trying the other meats but I will certainly be back!

Norco’s Best Burgers

Norco's Best Burgers

A typical burger joint, before the time of fast food burgers came to life. You order at the counter, listen for your number to be called, sit down and eat! Norco’s Best Burgers is a tier above fast food restaurants and a tier below gourmet burgers. The price also lands somewhere in-between but the portions are HUGE! The Pastrami Burger and fries are probably enough to split between 2 people.

Baker’s

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A fast-food chain only available in the Inland Empire. Baker’s has been serving up burgers since 1952 and is a great alternative to the average McDonald’s and other national fast food chains. What sets Baker’s apart from McDonald’s is that they claim to be “America’s First Twin Kitchen”, meaning they serve both American and Mexican food.

They have a large menu to choose from whether you’re feeling burgers and fries or burritos. I always get the Papa #1 when I go and power size it to get a larger drink and fries. Then I take the fries and dip it in their spicy ketchup, which is not actually spicy. Quick and affordable for those who are on the go!

TAPS Fish House and Brewery

TAPS is another chain restaurant in Southern California and the Corona location is the second restaurant opened within the chain. There was something about this specific TAPS location, the service, and the food that made my visit a great one. Everything coincides with each other so well and so precisely. Happy hour is also offered here and the food is fantastic for a fair price. After you are done with your meal, there is a small lake outside that you can take a relaxing stroll with the breeze in your hair.

Punjabi Tandoor

Punjabi Tandoor in Corona, CA

The highest rated place to get Indian food in Corona. There is a lunch express option, even available on the weekends! There are different levels of spicy curry that you can choose from and the naan is made fresh and from scratch. One combo is enough to share between two people but if you are riding solo be prepared to have some delicious leftovers for dinner.  I was craving Indian food so this was good enough to satisfy my cravings.

Curry House Express

Now, I’m no Indian food connoisseur but I did enjoy the Chicken Tiki Masala and the Malai Kofta I ordered at Curry House Express. The cherry on top of my lunch was the garlic naan to dip with curry. DO upgrade your naan for $.50 extra to the garlic naan! You won’t regret it!

Anchos Southwest Grill & Bar

Anchos Southwest Grill & Bar

Bordering Corona and Riverside, Anchos Southwest Grill and Bar should not be missed. As you walk in, you are greeted with a homey feel, like you just walked into a restaurant in another country.

It is recommended to try one of the fajitas or combination plates. The food is delicious and Anchos gives you a massive portion. Be prepared to have leftovers if you order a plate for yourself. The food comes out piping hot and sizzling on a hot plate! So you know for sure that the food is made to order.

While Anchos specializes in fajitas, the real magic lies in their handmade tortillas. These hot and fresh tortillas are made with love and are surely the showstopper of the meal. The service was also top notch. As I celebrated my birthday here, they gave me strawberry ice cream and had other employees come out to sing for me! I always feel awkward when I am getting sung to but it was a sweet gesture.

The service was attentive and friendly. The atmosphere was clean and bright. What more could you want? Anchos Southwest Grill & Bar is the perfect package for a pleasant dining experience.

Sons of Liberty

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Sons of Liberty is located in Norco and is 1 out of 3 breweries in the area, as the rest of the breweries are located in Riverside. I’m puzzled why there aren’t more breweries in Corona.

Sons of Liberty is tucked away in a business center in a small space with tables and chairs available to drink. It has a relaxed atmosphere with its quietness and small candles that dimly lit the place. The design in the brewery goes very well with the theme with nice decor. The beers were refreshing and it was convenient that they had beer flights, which came in a fun beer holder.

Okay, but not great.

Super Taco

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Not your average size street tacos. These are bigger tacos, perhaps… super tacos? Since the tacos are a larger size, the price is about $2 per taco but it is more bang for the buck considering the amount of meat you get. Per usual, I ordered the asada and al pastor tacos and an all meat burrito. When they mean “all meat”, they mean “all meat” and nothing extra. The meat was a little on the dry side and was not very flavorful like I hoped. They do have a salsa bar but it was very difficult to grab things from it and the salsas were a bit lacking in spice and flavor. Great value if all you’re trying to accomplish is to get full. Okay, but not great.

Seven Seas

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Thai food is always a hit or miss and unfortunately, Seven Seas was a bit of a miss for me. The food and the service were lacking. I got the chicken wings, Pad Thai, Thai Boat noodles, larb and Roti Roti for dessert. All of which was standard to mediocre and was lacking the spice that the Thai cuisine is most known for. Seven Seas did not have an authentic, traditional Thai food taste that I was looking for. It wasn’t as flavorful and lacked the aroma of Thai chilis.  You are able to choose on a scale of 1-10 and at a level 8 spice level, the spice was very nonexistent. Okay, but not great.

Badlands BBQ

It is very difficult to find a great place for BBQ in California as the craft has not yet been perfectly mastered. Badlands BBQ takes a commendable stab at providing Norco with brisket, ribs and other meats. The brisket was made right as it was soft and almost butter-like melt in your mouth taste. The Jalapeno Mac n Cheese was the most favorited meanwhile, the other items were just average. The BBQ sauce was provided to adjust it based on preference and there is a Habenero BBQ sauce available (not spicy). Okay, but not great.

The Hot Dog Shoppe

The Hot Dog Shoppe is a popular place among the Corona community with its “Homewrecker Big Dog Challenge”. This consists of three 0.8 pounds of all beef Angus dogs covered in chili cheese, pepper mix, and habanero salsa for $25.99. If you complete the challenge, you win a t-shirt, your own hot dog creation on their menu, and your picture on their “Wall of Fame”. Do you have what it takes?

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I didn’t, so I just ordered a hot dog from their menu. There were just so many different hot dogs to choose from that it eventually became overwhelming. The employees are welcoming and will help you with your decision. The one I randomly chose didn’t feel like it combined well together, but rather a large array of different flavors on a hot dog. I was told that the Hot Dog Shoppe had great mac and cheese. Luckily, I was able to sample it to determine that it wasn’t for me. The texture was rather mushy and soft than held together, as I prefer.

If you’re looking for a hot dog joint with bold topping combinations, The Hot Dog Shoppe is your place.

Tip: Sometimes they have Groupons available so check for it if you want to save some money before going.

Black Horse Tavern and Grill

1406-2018-01224696810231064.jpegThere is a lack of restaurants that serve happy hour daily from Monday – Sunday. Black Horse Tavern and Grill fortunately does! There are drink and food specials from $3 – $5.50 served from 3 – 7 PM Monday – Friday, 11 AM – 4 PM Saturday, and all day Sunday. Although these prices are hard to beat, the food was very average. This was a prime example of you get what you pay for.

There is a bar in the center of the restaurant with tables surrounding. It is definitely a place you could drop by to a have a drink with some friends. Although happy hour missed the target, I would definitely recommend trying the main entrees aside from their appetizers to get a better idea of what Black Horse Tavern and Grill has to offer.

A Beginner’s Guide to Vancouver, Canada

Vancouver is the most popular destination for those living in the Pacific North West as an introduction to Canada. Many people have stereotypes of Canadians, thinking that they are the nicest people with the supposed arguments about who is the sorriest. With my previous experiences, Canadians aren’t as nice as they are advertised to be. Regardless, everybody should visit this beautiful country. In this post, I will include all of the information you need in order to visit Vancouver for your first time.

How to get there: Coming from the United States, you can fly or drive. If you are visiting or near Seattle, I would suggest road tripping to Vancouver, that’s the route I chose and was the cheapest. Keep in mind that you do need a passport in order to cross the border and be sure to have it ready because the border patrol will have no patience for you.

Getting Around: When I visited Vancouver, we rented a car from Seattle and drove it to Vancouver. It is possible to travel around Vancouver without a car and visit all of the tourist spots but it might take a bit longer. Public transportation is easy to use and there are taxis if you want to get somewhere directly. Generally, Vancouver is compact and walkable in the downtown area but would require another mode of transportation otherwise.

Accommodations: I would suggest booking an Airbnb, but if you can find a nice, affordable hotel within budget then I would choose that route instead. I booked a hotel off Hotwire and ended up getting a pretty dingy hotel but a central location in West End. If you are without a car, I would recommend staying somewhere in downtown so you can walk everywhere.

Currency: Bring a travel credit card where it is accepted everywhere and does not charge you a foreign transaction fee. I found it wise to bring some Canadian Dollars around with me in case there was ever a reason where cash is only accepted. Don’t assume you will be able to use US Dollars at the restaurants and stores in Vancouver, you might even offend them for thinking that.

Other Tips: Alcohol is only sold in liquor stores and government ran liquor stores in Vancouver. Most liquor stores are closed on Sundays in Downtown Vancouver. If you are planning to buy liquor, make sure you check their operating hours or buy it Monday-Saturday from 9 AM – 6 PM. Unfortunately, I learned this the hard way while I was trying to buy alcohol during my trip to Vancouver.

Take the most scenic bike ride in Stanley Park

 

 

Stanley Park is a beautiful public park with spectacular views. This is the best place to walk, ride bikes, and admire the nature and its surroundings.

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Make sure you rent a bike and bike the seawall! This MUST be on the top of your to-do list as it has remarkable views of Vancouver from all sides of Stanley Park. There are bike rental shops nearby and you pay by the hour. We went to EzeeRiders Bike Rentals Robson, which was about $5.50 an hour and pro-rated by every minute after. It should normally take only 1 hour to cycle around the park if you don’t spend a ton of time off-track.

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Until this day, biking the Sea Wall was one of my favorite things to do during my trips and I can’t recommend this activity enough. I found myself always getting off my bike and taking photos constantly. I had to try my best to refrain from stopping every minute. The pictures definitely do not do it enough justice.

Make coffee runs to Tim Hortons like Deadmau5

Tim Hortons

If there could be one thing that I could bring from Canada to California, it would be Tim Hortons. I visited Canada for a month-long before, Toronto to be exact, and the Tim Hortons Iced Capp was pumped through my veins daily.

Tim Hortons is a staple in Canada and best known for its coffee and donuts. To get a sense of what it is, think “Dunkin Donuts” but better (in my opinion). Not only do they serve donuts but they also serve other breakfast items (think McDonald’s and Starbucks). I would suggest grabbing a quick breakfast at Tim Hortons to kickoff one of your mornings. Do keep in mind that there are some locations where Tim Hortons is opened for 24 hours.

Stuff your face at Richmond Night Market

8351 Number 3 Road, on the corner of Number 3 and River Rd

An annual summer food fair with rides and entertainment held in Richmond city. Richmond is a predominately Asian area and the Richmond Night Market is very similar to what other Asian communities around the world hosts. Here, you will find innovative and new food fads along with different fusion food. There is an admission fee of $4.25 and opened at night from 7PM to 11PM or midnight.

Visit the Queen Elizabeth Park

Camble & 33rd Ave

 

 

A stunning large park filled with many different sights to see and explore. You can view Vancouver at the top of Queen Elizabeth Park and truly see how green and picturesque the city is.

 

 

You can take photos with man-made items such as water fountains or these statues…

 

 

or with the various natural gardens of flowers and trees. You will even find a waterfall inside of Queen Elizabeth Park. Whichever sparks your interest, you could definitely spend 1-2 hours wandering around here and admiring the beauty that the world has to offer.

Relax at Kitsilano Beach

If the weather is beautiful and warm, stop by Kitsilano Beach to relax and soak up the sun. Kitsilano Beach is one of many popular beaches in Vancouver. What sets Kitsilano Beach apart from the others is that there is a pool known as Kitsilano Pool right alongside. This is one of the longest and only saltwater swimming pool in Canada.

Sounds a little bizarre right? There’s a pool next to the beach…how offbeat! Make sure to check the pool schedule when you decide to visit.

Grab a beer in Mt. Pleasant

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Mainly a residential area but is also starting to become more hipster with indie boutiques as well as breweries with craft beers flowing. Many of these breweries do have beer flights available (my favorite), but if a beer is not your thing, there are also charming cafes and restaurants available to fill your stomach.

33 Acres Brewing

15 W 8th Ave

 

 

Brassneck Brewery

2148 Main Street

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Mainstreet Beer

261 E 7th Ave

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Granville Island

In order to get to Granville Island, you need to cross the Granville Bridge. There is no mandatory toll and is completely free to get to the shopping district. Here, you will find a vast majority of things such as distilleries, breweries, shops, restaurants, bakeries, and cafes. There is also free parking throughout Granville Island if you can find it. I would suggest visiting on the weekdays for a higher chance of fewer crowds.

 

 

Since Granville Island is basically a small patch of land and surrounded by water, don’t miss the opportunity to take beautiful photos with the water and the boats.

 

 

Public Market

 

 

Similar to many indoor food court style markets, Public Market serves its visitors with a one-stop place for art, food, and boutiques. Grab a cup of tea at Granville Tea Company or a pot pie at A La Mode and sit outside to enjoy the entertainment. The hours for Granville Island Public Market are 9 AM – 7 PM daily.

 

 

Granville Brewery

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Again, I love beer flights and I thought 4 x 5 oz for $7 was a good price. I ended up getting one of everything they had available and some chicken wings on the side. They were pretty good but probably not for the price they were charging.

A Bread Affair

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Get your sandwiches and sweet treats here! Whether you’re craving for a cookie, brownie, or muffin, A Bread Affair will have what you are looking for and have a funny name to go along with it. It is often recommended to try the Kouign Amann. Stop by and listen to live music out in front.

Get into the Canadian routine and eat poutine

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One type of food that most identifies with Canadians is the gravy and cheese curd-filled dish called poutine. This has got to be a national dish of Canada, and should not be missed. It is perfect for a quick snack or after a night out of drinking. As poutine is the food of the Canadians, there are many shops placed all around town to please its starving customers.

Every place has its own way of making poutine, whether it be the french fries, the gravy, the cheese curds or the various additional toppings. There is never one true standard poutine to be compared to. It is all based on your taste buds for which holds the title of the best poutine in Vancouver. Try them all, taste the differences, and decide who makes the best poutine. There are a few poutine places that most people recommend and they are:

La Belle Patate

1215 Davie St.

Hours: 11 AM – 10 PM

Fritz European Fry House

718 Davie St. in Granville Entertainment District

Hours: 1 PM – 2 AM

Mean Poutine

718 Nelson St., Vancouver, BC

Hours: Monday – Saturday 11 AM – 3 AM/4 AM; Closed Sundays

The last two places are perfect for a late night snack after you danced the night away.

Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge

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Most people would tell you to visit Capilano Suspension Bridge and spend $30-50 just to take a photo on the bridge. For me, I would highly recommend skipping that and going to Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge instead, for almost the same photo (minus the many photo bombers of other tourists). I could not find myself justifying the pricey admission ticket to be around hundreds of other people wandering around tree houses and bridges. But if that’s your thing, don’t let me stop you.

At Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge, however, there was free parking and free admission. It was also a very short walk from the parking lot to the suspension bridge. For less foot traffic, arrive early in the morning. There were also maybe 3-5 people around while I was there and was understanding enough to stop on the other end of the bridge while I took a quick snap.

Lions Gate Bridge

 

 

Lions Gate Bridge is a majestic beauty that connects Stanley Park to North Vancouver. It can be seen and admired when biking around Stanely Park. This teal suspension bridge is often compared to the Golden Gate Bridge, although it is about half the size.

Downtown Vancouver

Downtown Vancouver is divided into several communities known as Yaletown, Gastown, Coal Harbour, and West End. Yaletown is largely filled with industrial buildings and warehouses and occasional outdoor patios for dining and cocktail lounges. Gastown is a historic part of Downtown Vancouver with historic buildings and the steam clock to remember what it had been. Coal Harbour is a calm area along the water with upscale dining and modern condos and hotels. West End is diverse with its mixed population, accepting community and dining experiences. Here is where you will find Davie Village which is known as a gay village filled with gay bars and fun people.

Vancouver’s homeless community is very large and I had several unpleasant encounters with them. For the most part, they will leave you alone and mind their own business. As I was observing the homeless, it seemed more of a lifestyle in Vancouver where they have accepted that this was their lives and owned it. They made it more enjoyable and have the nights pass by quicker by gathering in groups to sing and play guitars, reminded me of a hippie group.

Breakfast and Brunch

Cafe Medina

780 Richards St.
Hours: 8 AM – 3 PM

 

 

Get the delicious and fresh Belgium waffles with the milk chocolate lavender dip alongside a lavender latte to start your morning.

Chambar

568 Beatty St.
Hours: 8 AM – 12 AM

Templeton

1087 Granville St.
Hours: 9 AM – 12 Midnight
Get the Blueberry banana pancakes

West End

Robson Street

Robson Street Facade Fest

Best known for its shopping and entertainment. This is the place to be for stores, boutique shops and bars. For high-end retail luxury items, visit Alberni street and for boujie shopping alongside upscale hotels, stay on Burrard street. There are also seasonal public art displays that you can look at and try to figure out what it is.

Granville Entertainment District

 

 

During the weekend when there is high foot traffic of people looking for a good time, Granville Street is closed off to all motor vehicles. There is a vast assortment of nightlife entertainment such as clubs, bars, and adult entertainment to help you have a fun night out. There are hip-hop and EDM clubs such as Republic, Venue, and Aura where you can show off your dance moves at.

JAPADog

530 Robson Street
899 Burrard Street
510 Burrard Street
Hours: 10 AM – 10 PM

Located throughout Downtown is a Japanese-style hot dog food stand. Try the many different combinations of hotdogs they have to offer along with their known shake fries. Personally, I wasn’t too impressed with the hotdogs I ordered.

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Gastown

 

 

Gastown is the oldest part of Vancouver but also home to its thriving fashion scene, galleries, and boutiques.

Listen to the whistles of the Gastown Steam Clock

 

 

As one of the few steam clocks in the world, the Gastown steam clock draws an audience every hour. If you have no patience to wait for when the long hand strikes twelve, the steam clock gives off a little whistle and steam every fifteen minutes.

Food Recommendations:

Meat & Bread

370 Cambie Street
Hours: 11 AM – 5 PM

Nicli Antica Pizzeria

62 E Cordova St.
Hours: 11:30 AM – 11 PM

The Flying Pig

102 Water Street
Hours: 11 AM – 12 AM

There is happy hour available from 4 PM – 6 PM and another location in Yaletown.

Coal Harbor

 

 

Bella Gelateria

1001 W Cordova St.
Hours: 10 AM – 10 PM
A popular gelato shop that has won best gelato awards for many years. They have many fun and unique flavors that include but are not limited to banana bread, earl gray, lavender, and fior de latte.

Other Recommendations:

  • You must order the large garlic fried chicken wings at Phnom Penh. Not to be confused with it being solely Cambodian food due to its name, it is actually an Asian fusion of Chinese, Vietnamese and Cambodian cuisines. I ordered it to-go because there is usually a long wait and I didn’t have the patience for it. It is also recommended to get the butter beef.1605-2018-1237181552648885636.jpeg
  • Check out the McDonald’s and see what they offer different from the McDonald’s in America. When I dropped by, McDonald’s has poutine and a Chocolate Fudge Brownie McFlurry. 2005-2018-051593414035141498.jpeg
  • Nearby our hotel was Ramen Danbo. We decided to give it a try due to high reviews online. It is a decent place to get your ramen fix if you are craving.Ramen nearby our hotel
  • Some popular souvenirs to bring back home are ketchup chips and maple syrup.

Enjoy your Mouthful of Vancouver!