Tacolandia 2015!

TACOLANDIA. SATURDAY June 6, 2015, EL PUEBLO DE LOS ANGELES

A San Francisco native, I grew up eating some of the best taco’s, burritos and Mexican Food that the City by the Bay has to offer.  Post college, I moved to LA, and in my 10 years of living there, discovered and can confirm that The Southland has some of the best taco trucks ever – most of which don’t charge more than $1.50.  Basically, I’ve been spoiled with excellent, authentic tacos most of my life…. until now.

A few summers ago I moved to Brooklyn.  Mexican food here is below average; finding a great authentic taco in any of the 5 Boroughs, whether from a food/taco truck or restaurant is usually disappointing and will almost always burn a hole in your wallet. A few fellow Californians have made attempts at opening places in NY, but to me, they just don’t have the authentic flavor, seasoning and home cooked love you get when in California.

Lucky for me, Tacolandia 2015 coincided with my recent trip to LA!
I landed at Tacolandia a bit after 3 and the line was already wrapped along the sidewalk. It was a little slow moving, primarily due to people walking up to the front, not knowing where the end was, and bag/ ID checks for alcohol. Once that was done, getting in was easy. The lovely LA Weekly folks checking off names/handing out wristbands and the mini guide books were very pleasant and helpful.

tacolandia line line 2

Prior to arriving, I had a quick look at the list of over 80 vendors on the Tacolandia/LA Weekly website. Having eaten at a few of these establishments, I wanted to focus on places I’d never been. My strategy as a first time Tacolandia attendee, was to eat on the fly, eyeballing what looked delicious, checking out the places with the longer lines, asking people what they liked and trying to eat more eclectic, interesting & adventurous tacos. I wanted to eat my way through Tacolandia one area at a time, as opposed to running around the entire venue. My overall goal was to eat as many tacos that I’ve never tried, in hopes these vendors wouldn’t run out of food before I got to them.

The Pluses:
None of the lines, even for the most popular spots were too long, and everyone patiently waited their turn (no cutting)
Most vendors didn’t run out of food until about 6:30pm; a few a bit later, which is reasonable since the event started at 3 pm.
Speedy, efficient and friendly service from the vendors
You were served a hearty full sized taco, (normal portions) with the exception of a few vendors I visited who served Calamari and Seafood; those were cut in half.
Easy enough to find places to sit and eat; some with tables.
Plenty of stands to buy alcohol and non-alcoholic beverages
Dessert options were on the premises for anyone craving sugar
Trash cans available throughout the premises
Free non alcoholic beverages and samples – Jarrito’s, right as you enter, as well as a sweet mango and chile juice/drink, and fizzy exotic flavored water to name a few.
Great presentation and good food porn opportunities
Disappointment:
None whatsoever, except for one…
Quite a few vendors didn’t display a description of what they’re serving and what you’re actually eating. It’s not a bad thing, as many adventurous hungry Taco fans (such as myself) might want to be surprised here and there.  But from a marketing/pr point of view, it would be great to have have a sign, chalkboard etc in addition to a sample on the table.

My favorite Tacos, the best of what I ate:

beef heart taco
Border Grill
Anticuchos Taco
Grilled beef heart, Black Beans,  Avocado Corn Salsa on a Corn Tortilla – total genius!

squid ink tortilla blue corn
Taco Maria
Calamari, Chili Dusted Peanuts and Purslane on a Squid Ink Tortilla – beautifully presented, and cooked to order

pork belly puffy taco
Bar Ama
Puffy Pork Belly Taco

A San Antonio Classic ( I’ve never eaten or found one outside of Texas),  consisting of a lightly fried corn tortilla so it puffs up, complimented by chunks of juicy fried pork belly

ricky's fish taco
Ricky’s Fish Taco’s
Classic fried Fish Taco with Ricky, the master himself at the fryer!

the oinky
Bull Taco
The Oinky
For those who love pork as much as I do- Pork, Bacon, Chorizo mixed into one yummy taco!

cactus tortilla mole and cactus tortilla
Rocio’s Mole De Los Dioses
Shrimp taco with delicious rich dark Mole Oaxaqueno on a Green Cactus Tortilla!

manzanilla squid taco
Manzanilla
Grilled Calamari Taco; simple but delicious!

Surprises:
Cult movie and tv star Danny Trejo in the flesh.  I didn’t get to sample his taco, but excited he’s opening his own taco joint on LaBrea!

susan and mary sue
Food TV superstars and Border Grill masterminds, Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Miliken serving all their hungry customers and posing for photos.

top chef
Top chef Katsubi Tanabe serving his “Filthy Taco” I regretfully gave the line a miss on this one, but it sure looked good!

la tortilla factory
Coupons for a free pack of handmade tortillas of your choice from the LA Tortilla Factory (this was especially exciting as I had planned on buying tortillas to bring back to NY)
Reasonably clean honey buckets, portable faucets with ample paper towels, soap and running water (considering the drought)
Easy parking (I drove and parked in Chinatown for $4)

In sum, I didn’t get to taste 80 tacos, but I did leave Tacolandia, fully and happily stuffed, a little after 7 pm. The entire experience was deliciously amazing, and it made me wonder why I ever left The Southland… On my way home, I stopped at both Kogi and Leo’s to buy some tacos for the long plane ride home.  Kudo’s to the LA Weekly for such a great, delicious, well organized event!  I will hopefully return to Tacolandia in 2016!

the end

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The secret burger at Alder

Alder

157 Second Avenue

New York, NY  10003

(212) 593-1900

Alder is now Wylie Dufresne’s only restaurant since the closing of his former highly acclaimed WD-50.

In this post, I’m here to share my insight on the mysterious burger, that some of you may or may not know about.

First off, the burger is only available at the bar, Sunday through Wednesday.  Only 20 of these burgers are made per night, so get there early or you will miss out!  Bar seating is first come first served, no reservations.  The burger is $13 or you can go “all-in” and also get the French Onion soup rings and a Greenport Harbor Ale for $21.  Management says that for now, the burger will be available indefinitely.

The burger is a high quality Pat LaFrieda brisket and chuck combination, topped with the house signature “beer cheese” consisting of American and Cheddar and Greenpoint Harbor Ale.   What makes this burger moist and taste so incredibly good is that Shio Kombu, a Japanese kelp, is grounded, cooked in Sake and Tamari then blended into the meat.  All burgers come with crunchy pickles, are served medium rare and sandwiched between a classic Martin’s potato bun that’s been toasted and brushed with… beef fat!

I wasn’t drinking that night and am not a fan of onion rings, but my neighbor kindly let me photograph his onion rings.  For me, it was all about the burger.

Enough said, right?  What are you waiting for?  Run, don’t walk!

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Hidden Holiday Treats

This holiday season I stayed in town, dog and cat sat in two different parts of Brooklyn, and ate my way across and around NYC, discovering some fun, tasty spots.  Below are a few of my top, most memorable eats of the 25+ places i hit over the two-week holiday span.

Chocolate Pasta

Raffetto’s

144 Houston

New York, NY  10012

(212) 777-1261

First of all, if you’re a pasta fanatic like me and haven’t been to Raffetto’s, you have my condolences.  This old school, family owned and operated Italian goods and pasta shop is like no other, anywhere.  Pasta here is at it’s freshest. you can order just about any type of pasta, plain, stuffed, cooked, frozen and any way you like it.  Cut to order, any size, any quantity be it Linguini, Tagliatelle, Fettucine, you name it.  Besides traditional egg or semolina pasta, you can also choose from Rosemary to Saffron infused to my favorite, Chocolate Pasta!  I like mine cut on the thicker side, so I go for Fettuccine and often eat it plain.  Because it’s that good!  Occasionally I’ll add a splash of high quality maple syrup, but truly, it isn’t necessary.

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Vietnamese Delights

Nightingale 9

329 Smith Street

Brooklyn, NY  11231

(347) 689-4699

As a spoiled SF native of Asian descent, I consider great Vietnamese food a birthright.  My hometown offers countless great options, many at lower price points.  Initially, I questioned whether I’d ever find an outlet to indulge one of my favorite Asian cuisines in the 5 Boroughs.  So when I heard the rock star team behind Seersucker (RIP) one of my former favorite spots for Southern cooking had opened a Vietnamese eatery in Carroll Gardens, one of my favorite parts of Brooklyn, I was super psyched.  Having had some of my best Vietnamese meals at no-frills hole-in-the-wall places from coast to coast, I was impressed at how a sit-down, grown-up version of Vietnamese cuisine could reach a level far beyond my experience and expectations.  Besides the traditional Pho/soup noodles you expect at any Vietnamese restaurant, I was blown away at how food I don’t generally like, such as cauliflower, could be prepared so delicately and so deliciously.  How did I stumble upon a dish so off my radar?  While ordering, my dining date broke the bad news that he no longer eats meat (boo!) and suggested the Cauliflower Salad.  I made a face, but caved.  Surprise!  It was prepared with cucumber, peanuts, yuzu and herbs and was incredibly flavorful.

Cauliflower

Nightingale 9’s chefs even managed to get creative with brussels sprouts, making them in a flavorful fish sauce!

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My favorite, however, had to be the Banh Cuon: house made rice noodles filled with ground pork (my favorite type of meat), chicken pate, and cukes, rolled up into something absolutely, lusciously delectable.  I don’t know if this entree is a Vietnamese staple as I’ve never had anything quite like it.  But this dish is creative, unique, good looking and so yummy, I ate it all myself! (I love dining with Vegetarians)

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The restaurant is cozy and inexpensive for the quality and service, and has an excellent playlist to boot.  (I worked at record companies for many years, so I can vouch for that!)  There are a variety of other dishes definitely worth trying as well.  I plan on returning with a posse that enjoys meat!

Colorful Gelatin Desserts

New Wing Wah Bakery

245 Grand Street

New York, NY  10002

(212) 941-1924

There are tons of Chinese Bakeries in New York’s Chinatown.  Blink once and they all look like the same place.  For the most part, if you’re rushed and need a quick and inexpensive sugar or salt fix, you can find the usual sponge cakes, pork buns, dry salted eggs buns, lotus/red bean buns and many more mysterious items ranging in color from bright green to muddy brown.  They also generally serve “coffee” which really is just warm, watered down dark liquid, so shy away from that!  After checking out a dozen or more of these places, I found what I think has the most varied and interesting treats: New Wing Wah Bakery, literally right next door to the Grand Street B/D subway stop.  Sure, they mainly serve the same stuff as all the rest, but this joint has a better letter grade (B) is cleaner, and has at least one counter person who speaks a little English.  And what New Wing Wah offers that I haven’t seen elsewhere are their jelly like desserts that range in price from 80 cents to a dollar.

My two favorites:

The Red Bean layer, which looks fancy, has a sufficient amount of red beans, and isn’t overly sweet, but rather, very light and yummy.  It appears to be made of a solid gelatin like mixture that isn’t too mushy.  Hopefully you don’t have texture issues, because it’s delicious!

photoThe Coffee layer, another good tasting and good looking gelatin like dessert, is very similar to the red bean, but infused with coffee and almond extract.  It probably sounds wierd and perhaps unappealing, but taste is all that matters right?

photo 3The infamous Dollar Duck Bun

Corner 28

137-28 40th Road

Flushing, NY  11354

This no-frills stand is inside Corner 28, your typical fast paced Chinese takeout place.  It used to be on chaotic Main Street but has moved around the corner to 40th Road.  Nevertheless, it’s still a fast block and a half walk from the 7 train’s Main Street stop.  The golden ticket here without a doubt, is the Dollar Duck Bun.  The warm bun is layered with a few pieces of moist roast duck (skin on), with a bit of hoisin and thinly sliced scallions.  It’s juicy, delicious and flavorful,  not a huge portion and can be devoured in two bites.  At just a buck, I suggest getting two, or maybe even four.  I do.

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On to the New Year and new eats.  Stay tuned!

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After hours at Mazzola

Lard Bread is gods creation to earth, at least for me. What can be better than bread with tasty chunks of salted Italian meat? Mazzola Bakery in Carroll Gardens, is an old school Italian Bakery that’s in been business for over 80 years. You can buy some of the best Italian bread, pastries and even get a decent latte here, but the focal point of this post is about buying their Lard Bread, hot and fresh out of the oven. An acquaintance who lives across the street told me the secret is to knock on their back door sometime in the late evening, and if your timing is right, you’ll be rewarded with freshly baked Lard Bread! I got lucky the other night,  and it was worth bearing the cold and waiting for the unreliable F train. The photo speaks for itself!

Mazzola Bakery
192 Union Street
Brooklyn, NY 11231
(718) 643-1719

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Tasty Veal Hearts at Allswell on Bedford

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It’s called Smorgasburg, not Smorgasborg!

Summer 2011 in New York has been quite the gourmet tasting party. In addition to the usual summer weekend food staples, there has been a plethora of food festivals/events, pop ups and food courts (indoors and outdoors) throughout the 5 Boroughs.

One of my new favorite new places to eat is at the lot next the Williamsburg Waterfront. The Saturday delicious fat fest calls itself the Smorgasburg, in honor of Williamsburg. Here you can gorge or snack and drink from a variety of weekly regular and rotating Brooklyn (and a few) Manhattan vendors. Some of these vendors are exclusive to the Smorgasburg; others occasionally pop up at other weekend markets.

There is a balanced selection of both savory and sweet treats; some one of a kind, many unique and others fully straight forward (for the less adventurous eater).

To quench your thirst from the humid heat, there are local house made soda and juices, as well as coffee (cold and hot).

There is a small Farmers Market on the premises, with vendors who you will recognize from Union Square and Grand Army Plaza Greenmarkets. Here you can buy seasonal fruit, vegetables and bread.

And for those of you who obsess over fancy condiments, you will definitely enjoy checking out Sam Mason’s fancy “Empire” mayo as well as Anarchy in a Jar’s tasty jam’s and organic heirloom beans from Bean In.

Nothing beats the free amazing view of the Manhattan skyline right in front of you. Occasionally, you might even see a wandering duck or two.

Money-wise, the Smorgasburg is a bargain. Most items price from $4-$10, there’s nothing really over $10, but you can definitely spend some bucks if you want to check out a few places. My advice is to go with some fellow foodies and pig out!

Some of my memorable highlights and favorites:
King Crumb Fried Chicken Biscuit, with a special sauce and bacon; it’s big and messy enough for 2 meals!

Grilled Shrimp Japanese Octopus Balls at Mimi and Coco NY. These are better than the Octopus Balls at Otafuku in the East Village. For real.

Mighty Quinns BBQ Berkshire Pork Belly and Brisket.

Bon Chovie’s fresh fried anchovies. I love this, and so would Jon Bon… if he eats these little delicate fishes.

Brooklyn Oyster Party – a bit pricey at $3 a pop, but they are tasty on a hot day!

Nana’s Chocolate dipped Frozen Banana (with or without toppings)

Shorty Tang and Sons Spicy Peanut Noodles.

Brooklyn Soda Works – flavors change weekly.

Dough – save yourself a trip to Bed Sty and get the same giant donuts here for the same price ($2)

Good Batch Ice Cream Sandwiches; fun ice cream flavors sandwiched between homemade cookies. Flavors change often.

Worth checking out, at least once…
We Rub You – their version of Kogi but a tad pricier and a less generous portion. Tasty tho.

Scratching My Head…
Landhaus’ Pork Belly on a stick – all you can taste is the fat, as you watch it ooze into your napkin.

Cemitas – haven’t tried this, but paying $9 for what they’re giving you doesn’t encourage me when there are other more delicious items.

Dumont Burger – there is more bun than burger, even if it’s only $5 and supposed to be a “slider.” When biting into the burger, the bun breaks off (because there is so much of it!) For price or a few bucks more, you can go to a handful of places for a tastier bigger juicier full sized) filling burger. Dumont Burgers are tastier if you go to their free standing location on Bedford in the Burg.

Table Tales – known for their “Sunday Gravy” or thick tomato pasta sauce. It tastes like the sauce that comes with a dish at a chain restaurant. (Just my opinion of course!)

Take me home tonight (really!)
Anarchy in a Jar – creative jellies and jams. They also serve their jams on Roberta’s housemade bread with fresh ricotta for $4. Yum. The name itself is brilliant; they need tee’s and would’ve done Sid Vicious proud.

Grady’s Cold Brew Coffee Extract – $15 buys you about 8 servings, Cafe Du Monde style. Perfect for summer, cheaper than buying a cold brew system and saves you time as well.

There are more places than the above mentioned… and even though I’ve been to the Smorgasburg 5 times, I still haven’t tried every vendor.

So what are you waiting for? Take the L to Bedford Avenue and visit the Smorgasburg on Saturdays from 9-5 pm, at 27 North 6th Street between Kent and the East River. Oh, and bring cash, of course!

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Chego makes me so very happy!

Chego!
3300 Overland Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90034
(310) 287-0337
Open Tues-Sat, 5:30pm-11:30pm
Cash, Visa and MC
http://eatchego.com/

Chego comes to us from the brilliant folks at Kogi BBQ. It opened in April 2010 and is no secret to locals, foodies and critics …though it sadly took me over a year to discover it.

The restaurant is located in a tiny strip mall on Overland Avenue on the Westside of LA. It’s South of I-10 and if you blink, or are too busy texting while driving (like most of us) you’ll definitely pass it. I suggest driving slower and parking on the street, to save yourself the stress of cramming into the miniature parking lot.

Main dishes at Chego come in huge bowls with rice and heaping Fred Flinestone size portions, so come hungry with an entourage to try everything! All entrees have different sauces, seasonings and flavor. There is something for everybody, even if you are a (gasp) Vegetarian or (double gasp) Vegan.

At Chego, you order at the counter, take the given number and wait for your food to be brought to you, whether you’re eating in or doing take out. There are food runners who will graciously check in and offer to bring you amenities, but they are NOT servers. Chego is always busy, and these runners work their tails off non-stop. So on that note, you should tip generously, while politely declining their services and fetch your own eating utensils, sauces, water and to go lids. It’s all laid out nicely by the beverage refrigerator behind the kitchen.

On the menu front, you can order apps such as a Ooey Gooey Fries; (use your imagination to guess what might be in this heavy dish) – hint: Sambal, a Kimchi Sampler and a (fancy) “Twelve Dollar Salad” which will only set you back $7 (not 12). For entrees, it’s all about the Chubby Pork Belly. This dish has a generous helping of Kochujang-Lacquered Kurobuta (pork belly), pickled watermelon radishes, water spinach, cilantro, Cotija cheese, peanuts and a fried egg, all topped on a bowl of rice. The Beefy T Bowl has a mountain of rib eye over chili hot rice. For those of you who don’t partake in meat (shame on you!), order the Buttered Kimchi Chow, which is a bowl of rice with veggies including Kimchi, Edamame, garlic and of course, the fried egg. Oh, it’s topped with Chicharrones (fried pork rinds), but you can order without. I get this dish with Pork Belly. There are some fun, often off the wall weekly specials, including this week’s “My Mind Is Playin’ Tricks On Me” which is corned beef hash fried rice w/ Tabasco and egg. If you can still find room in your belly, order the Tres Leches Cake for dessert. They often sell out of this, so if it you want it, order with your entrees.

All entrees at Chego are under $10, the portions are gigantic, the food is delicious and always delivered promptly. Most importantly, you will never leave hungry.

After discovering Chego, I ate there 2-4 times a week with foodies from both coasts and have done tons of take out even though I am no where near it! Seriously, I love Chego and will sit in bitchy LA traffic, (along with it’s bad drivers) to eat their creative, inventive and satisfying food. Chego is dope and doesn’t even need a review, but I give it 10 stars. If you live or are visiting LA, just go already! What is NOT to love about Chego?


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Guisados

Guisados
2100 East Cesar Chavez Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90033 (323) 264-7201
Open Monday-Saturday, 10am-8pm, Sundays, 11am-5 pm
Cash, MC and Visa are accepted
http://www.guisados.co/

Earlier this month, my trusty foodie friend Jeff, in town from New York, told me about a new taco establishment called Guisados. I had never heard of this place, but any opportunity to explore a new taco joint in an ethnic neighborhood is exciting to me, especially when it gets a high accolade from the other coast.

Guisados is in East LA, in a neighborhood called Boyle Heights on Cesar Chavez Boulevard. It’s primarily a Hispanic and Mexican area filled with many local restaurants and bakeries as well as a great spot to find (cheaper) gas in the Southland.

The menu at Guisados is focused on eclectic and interesting taco combinations. There is a variety of meats which include Chicharron (Pork Skin), Tinga de Pollo (Chicken), Steak Picado, Chuleta (Pork Chop) en Salsa Verde and Cochinita Pibil (Marinated Pork). For the non-meat eaters, you can order the Mole (Chili) Poblano, Calabacitas (Summer Squash) or Quesadilla. Guisados also offers a weekly special or two; Fish and Shrimp, respectively on my visit last week. Each taco variety has it’s own distinctive memorable flavor and comes with a unique salsa and topping. The fresh Corn Tortillas are made daily by hand from the Mexican deli/shop next door. The large tacos are a tasty bargain at $2.50, but the real deal is the filling sampler: 6 mini tacos for $6.50. The variety usually consists of the first 6 tacos posted on the menu. Don’t ask about a Salsa Bar or Tortilla Chips at this authentic gourmet taco eatery, because there isn’t one.

Guisados also serves house made gigantic Tamales at… $1.50 a piece! Alcohol is not served, but you can order a refreshing Agua Fresca of Limon, Horchata or Jamaica.

Guisados has been opened since December, 2010. The owner, Armando Delatorre, is one of the friendliest entrepreneurs you will meet in the Mexican food community. He sat and chatted while I ate my taco sampler, and brought me a special Lengua en Ranchera Taco (now how did he know Lengua was one of my favorite taco toppings), along with a Quesadilla made with a special secret cheese and some house made tortillas to go. After my my filling taco feast, Armando took me next door to demonstrate how the Masa is made for both the tortillas and tamales. A week prior to my visit, The Cooking Channel was at Guisados with popular Food Network celebrity chef Aaron Sanchez, shooting an episode of “Heatseekers.” Guess what Aron’s favorite taco was? No doubt Guisados will become the next hot LA taco spot!

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Food Truck Frenzy in The Southland

Back in early 2009, LA was treated to a soft opening for a Korean Food Truck called “Kogi”, serving Korean Tacos as well as other Korean themed delights. 2 years later, Kogi is a successful phenomenon with 5 trucks. Since the emergence of Kogi, The Southland has seen a plethora of over 100 Food trucks; some still in their glory, others short lived or calling it quits.

Unless you consider yourself a professional food truck eater with the time and cash to spare, (remember, food trucks take pride in serving their specialty themed cuisine/dishes and will run you more than the few bucks you’d pay for a tasty Double Double Animal Style Cheeseburger at In-N-Out)… it’s almost impossible to accurately keep track of which truck is where and when. I’ve found that even with the magic of Twitter, not all trucks are on top of their tweets, updating their various social networking sites/blogs or websites.

Despite this, on-going LA traffic and getting to a designated truck before they shut down (early) or run out of grub, I’ve managed to hit a handful of these culinary vehicles. Here’s the skinny:

THE GOLDEN TICKET(S):
Ludo Truck – Perfectly fried and seasoned delicious non-greasy gourmet chicken balls, with dipping sauce options that aren’t even necessary, so don’t bother. Their flaky large Lavender Honey Biscuits are also damn amazing, but those run out fast, so get there early. Also, you gotta love their logo!

Grill ‘Em All – Creative heavy metal themed mind blowing burgers. “The Behemoth”: grilled cheese buns, cheddar, bacon, beer soaked onions, pickles Grandma’s Mosh Pit BBQ Sauce, is a gourmet headbangers masterpiece! The Grill “Em All logo reminds me of Metallica in their heyday and the menu at Kumas Corner in Chicago, whose t-shirt reads, “Kill ‘Em All”!

Lardon – Not so new, but their Baco Taco is genius (see previous review) and now, the original bacon truck is offering Bacon Street Tacos. Process this if you will: the corn tortillas are fried in bacon fat!

Papaya King – Yes! New York’s Papaya King had a truck, briefly roaming and grilling in the Southland to promote the opening of their highly anticipated late night free standing Hollywood location. My well-done Classic was the same price and just as tasty eating it from their UES location on E 86th.

Kogi – Will always be king of food trucks, even if they franchise. The food is super tasty and reasonably priced with big portions. They also create over the top weekly specials, that will make your belly burst.

Curbside Cravings – Under the radar Filipino filling eats and a variety of meats including their Tocino (Pork Patty) Burger and Crispy Lechon Kawali – aka deep fried slabs of Pork Belly.

Honorable mentions:
The Mighty Boba – Creative, reasonably priced Taiwanese Food. It isn’t the Flushing Mall Food Court, but nothing will top that!

Meet ‘N’ Potatoes – Influenced by the fat meat sandwich filled with french fries at Primanti Brothers in Pittsburgh. Take a digestive enzyme and order the loaded fries with Pastrami, coleslaw, tomatoes and Provolone Cheese.

Shrimp Pimp gets points for their name, but their menu hasn’t inspired me to eat or fork out the bucks.

Curious about:
Ahn Joo – (More) Korean bites

Tapa Boy – The Original Filipino Breakfast Truck!

Grindhaus – Quentin Tarantino is probably so honored. They also have a free standing sausage store on Hollywood Blvd. The duck sausage, even at $14.99 a lb is delightful.

In-N-Out – It does exist, but I’ve only seen it parked at movie studio lots

Old standbys:

Buttermilk Truck – how can you say no to Red Velvet Pancakes?

The Grilled Cheese Truck – A cheese filled heart attack waiting to happen…

The Greasy Wiener – NJ style hot dogs cooked to perfection but slightly pricey.

Don’t bother: (for real!)
The Cheeseball Wagon. Great catchy colorful logo, that probably has every fat and skinny child screaming for more… but anyone who enjoys (good) food will find their eats mediocre, sloppy, messy and over-priced.

Enjoy the random food truck slide show. I will add more photos to this as the trucks keep on comin’!


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M. Wells does it good

M. Wells Diner
21-17 49th Avenue
Long Island City, NY
718-425-6917
Open for brunch, 10a-4pm Tuesday through Sunday and for dinner, 6p-10pm, Tues-Thurs only. Closed Monday.
Accepts major credits

I don’t know anyone who lives in Long Island City, but apparently, it’s become another slightly cheaper destination to live outside of Manhattan. LIC is one stop from Grand Central off the 7 train. The second stop is Hunters Point, where within steps of exiting, you will land at M. Wells Diner.

M. Wells Diner is owned by husband and wife team, Hugue Dufour and Sarah Obraitis. The diner car has a classic feel with an open kitchen and a long counter. M. Wells opened its doors in July of 2010, initially only serving breakfast/lunch or what they call “brunch.” A few weeks ago, M. Wells started dinner service on Tuesday through Thursday. The menu is not what you’d find at your traditional NY or NJ greasy spoon diner. Instead, here at M. Wells you can look forward to creative, intelligent, delicious comfort food kicked up about 5 notches above your expectations. Signature favorites include the Egg Sausage Sandwich with cheddar, picked jalapenos, and tomato on an English Muffin, Beef Tartar with a poached egg & greens, and their (plain) cake donuts. You can also indulge in adventurous delicacies such as pickled pork tongue, a seafood cobbler, a 5 star special of the day and an excellent cup of freshly brewed Oslo (beans) Coffee, which will only run you a buck fifty!

I paid my second visit to M. Wells last weekend. We arrived after 3pm, in hopes of sitting down right away. Much to our surprise, there was a line out the door, but everyone ended up being seated within 15 minutes… yes, communal seating at large wooden tables can totally rock. We shared a table with an entourage we believed to be Russian, who spoke their own language throughout their meal. They ordered an assortment of food which included caviar with crepes, Cubano and head cheese sandwiches, red wine and lots of… vodka (but of course!) It was refreshing not to be sitting next to the typical whining starving actor or musician. In fact, most of the eaters at this late hour consisted of families of different ethnicities as well as older couples. I also loved how the front of house manager served and checked in on us regularly.

We began with the house made biscuit which was light, flaky and moist. The apple butter accompaniment added the perfect amount of sweetness. For our first starter, we had the Escargot and Bone Marrow, topped off with shallots and sauteed with a red wine puree. Spread some of this creamy goodness on a few toast points and you are a satisfied customer. Next up was the highly anticipated giant Beef & Lamb Burger, I’d been reading about. The well-seasoned medium rare burger was oozing with juiciness on a brioche bun with grilled onions and… New Jersey Ketchup. What I want to know and still don’t, is how do you define New Jersey Ketchup? Hungry for more, because I want to try everything… we ordered the Bacon Hash, which came dressed with a poached egg and brussels sprouts. The bacon was more like a tender piece of pork belly with minimal fat. There was some sort of hash brown or latke underneath this mountain of goodness that made the dish even more delicious. Remember, you can never go wrong with bacon, pork belly or fat. This dish was definitely my favorite of the entire meal. Nothing we ordered was over $10, and the service was impeccable. If I lived in LIC or off the 7 train, I’d probably come here every day until I’ve tasted everything on the brunch (and dinner) menu!

“All is well at M. Wells.”

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