Posts Tagged ‘Fries’

How does one discover the best of local food spots? They ask the locals, of course. When one travels, they still need to eat. What will they choose to eat at their new destination? Will they stick to corporate chains that they have familiarity with? Or will they explore the local places to savor the local flavor? How would they find these local places? Will they search their smartphones for them? Not all places will appear in searches, however. Some hole-in-the-wall places do not have an internet presence, so digitally searching for some of the better places may not work out. It takes word-of-mouth from the locals to spread the information of such places, such as a little food stand simply called Melt.

When it comes to Melt, word-of-mouth has never applied so much before. Tiny does not describe Melt, as they simply exist as a food counter in a supermarket, kind of like a mall’s food court. In Diamond Bar, a local H Mart houses its own food court with a plethora of unique food counters, ranging from unique desserts to traditional Korean food to all the fusion, which leads us to Melt. From a distance, glancing over at the Melt counter makes them appear like some ordinary burger counter, with hamburgers and fries shown on their menu. However, upon closer inspection, you will discover that Melt does the fusion thing here, and they do it well. They cross Korean cuisine over to the world of burgers and fries, such as with their Bulgogi Cheese Fries. Though it appears small, this makes for the perfect side dish portioned perfectly, as Melt tops a side order of fries with melted cheddar cheese, marinated ribeye beef, bulgogi aioli sauce, chopped green onions, jalapeños, and housemade Melt sauce. Although you cannot share this due to its size, it costs so little that anyone can enjoy their own order of Bulgogi Cheese Fries for $4.75 each.

Interested in tasting this creative creation of fusion? Head on over to the H Mart in Diamond Bar, and locate the food court within to discover Melt. Melt has no method of marketing other than word-of-mouth, not even a website or social media. If you like what you encounter, help them out by telling friends and family about Melt!

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When something has existed locally for a long time, you can bet that the locals will know a thing or two about it. From landmarks to businesses, everything has a story behind it, and the locals will tell you all about it. Some things may get talked about more often than others, but the legacy remains, and eventually other people discover it, leading to the growth and spread of knowing about such things. Speaking of which, even after the original person passes on, the legacy remains (RWBY, for example), and Hodad’s proves exactly that.

As one of San Diego’s longest standing institutions, Hodad’s represents an American Dream come true. Hodad’s allows guests to dine inside restored cars, or surrounded by walls covered with custom license plates. Clearly, the founder of Hodad’s had a passion for cars, but he also had a passion for surfing. Hodad means a non-surfer who spends time at the beach masquerading as a surfer. Whether they surf or not, guests of Hodad’s flock there to appreciate the interior design as well as the classic diner food. As a burger joint, Hodad’s delivers the classics here: burgers, fries, onion rings, shakes, and malts. While they have a few fancy burgers, nearly all of the visitors go for the classics, such as the Double Bacon Cheeseburger. With mine above, I opted for grilled onions, which made the burger even messier. Too big to hold in hand, this burger could not even fit in my mouth, so I had to bite corners off to get through the burger. Along with the burger came Onion Rings. Nothing stood out as unique with the onion rings – Hodad’s just makes them very well. To top off the meal, Hodad’s hand-blends up classic Malts using real malted barley.

Hodad’s boasts three locations in San Diego County: its original location in Ocean Beach, a second location in Downtown San Diego, and a branch in Petco Park. Check out what Hodad’s has going on by liking them on Facebook and following them on Twitter.

Reminiscing back to our childhoods, we recall all the good times and bad times that significantly impacted us as children. Everyone remembers certain moments during their childhoods that has permanently affected our personalities today. Even without anything to capture those moments, we can still reminisce about the good old days through photos taken way back then. In fact, today’s society has accepted Throwback Thursdays as an homage to the good old days, when life did not bear so much worry, and we could live out our days without fear or oppression. These days, society has to deal with corruption on many levels, from governments to the internet to bullies in school and more. Like the human immune system, society reacts to these corruptions by implementing methods to combat those problems by either minimizing problems or eliminating them altogether. This may not restore the good old days, but as a society, we still like to look back to what paved the way for us to stand here today. Significantly, we remember the foods we once ate as children, even recalling the low prices. Those old signs advertising $0.10 French Fries did not lie – food stands actually sold items that now cost ten times more, or even more than that! Though we can still buy the same fast food items as back then, we have much better options today as far as finer dining without the inflated price tags. If you miss those $0.10 fries, wait until you see some of the appetizers that you can share with friends or enjoy as an entrée. I have discovered five different shareable appetizers that you can find in the Greater Los Angeles Area, and you can either enjoy these on its own or share them among the table.

5. The Abbey‘s Roadkill Fries

With all this newfangled technology and modernism going on these days, sometimes it helps to go back to the basics. We turn to the originals to inspired us to prepare for the future. For the originals, we head over to The Abbey in Seal Beach. Dubbed as Seal Beach’s legendary gastropub, The Abbey takes some of America’s favorite restaurant meals and does them well. You can taste the quality of the food here while appreciating the food styles that we grew up with. The Abbey does not try to push the envelope or invent new foods – they take what exists and cooks it up right. Look at their Roadkill Nachos on their appetizers menu. The Abbey treats nachos the classic way here with tortilla chips piled high with ground beef, grilled chicken, black beans, cheese, guacamole, salsa, and sour cream. You can order a small plate for $9.50, or go all-out for $13.50. Sure it may not seem like a new concept, but if you do not want to try something new and simply want to stick with what you know, The Abbey has the remedy for you.

4. Limerick’s Tavern‘s Irish Pub Nachos

More often than not, the hole-in-the-wall places have the best food that too few know about. From the outside, the restaurant may appear lackluster. Even once inside, the interior may appear dreary. As the old saying goes, “You cannot judge a book by its cover.” While hole-in-the-wall restaurants represent a game of hit-or-miss, the people’s voice may help to steer others in the right direction, which led me to the discovery of Limerick’s Tavern in Upland. When I first heard about this Irish pub, I expected the typical Irish faire that I encounter at every other Irish pub that I had dined at. To my surprise, Limerick’s Tavern shattered that conception with an unbelievable menu with desirable food. At Limerick’s Tavern, they serve up great gourmet food that no one would expect to find at a pub or sports bar. The dishes may represent classics, but their use of high-quality ingredients and plating presentation make them shine above the rest. Take a look at their Irish Pub Nachos. This beautiful plate of fresh home-made potato chips comes topped with chopped corned beef, pastrami, bacon bits, Swiss & cheddar cheese, sour cream, and scallions. This $10 plate of food can feed a group of four, or you can go nuts and treat yourself to this mighty fine dish.

3. The Smoking Ribs‘ Pulled Pork Nachos

As far as the style of cuisine goes, The Smoking Ribs truly lies off the beaten path. The Smoking Ribs specializes in southern-style barbecue, from ribs to brisket to pulled pork and more. As others have shown, many cultures around the world have no familiarity with American barbecue, such as Koreans and the Irish, so some may ponder about a non-Asian barbecue restaurant in an Asian part of town. However, I assure you that The Smoking Ribs stays true to its roots, boasting some top-quality smoke and meats. At The Smoking Ribs, you can go the traditional route and order a plate of meat with sides. The Smoking Ribs also offers a handful of other dishes that contain their meats, such as their Pulled Pork Nachos. For $10, you get a huge basket of nacho chips, nacho cheese, pulled pork, barbecue sauce, and coleslaw. It sounds simple, but after one bite, you will want to devour this entire thing yourself instead of sharing it, despite its large size that can feed multiple people.

2. Meat Up BBQ‘s Smothered & Covered Chili Verde Fries

Ruling over their domain of meat, Meat Up BBQ does meat good and barbecue with their own culinary twist. The barbecue does not represent completely authentic southern barbecue, but rather barbecue with a slight Caribbean influence, evident in their use of tropical and fruity flavors. Sauces range from sweet to spicy to smokey, and meats include all the bases such as chicken, pork, beef, and even a few seafood items. Meat Up BBQ does not skimp on portion sizes, so when you order anything, even their appetizers, expect a huge plate, such as their Smothered & Covered Chili Verde Fries. $10 gets you a huge basket of BBQ-rub fries topped with pulled pork chili verde and a helping of cheddar cheese. You get some barbecue with the fries, and you get some Latin influence from the pork chili verde. This huge appetizer can easily feed a family of four, and I would not attempt to eat this entire thing as one person. However, after one bite, you may want as much of this as you can handle.

1. Súp Noodle Bar‘s Shaken House Fries

The United States promotes a mixed melting pot society. We take people from all nationalities and religions, and throw them into one country to unite them together. While many prefer to stick to the original ways and stay with their traditions, many of the younger generation want to see change and mixing of cultures. This has led to the creation of fusion foods, combining elements of different cuisines together. Plenty of fusion restaurants exist out there where you can taste the best of multiple worlds, such as at Súp Noodle Bar in Buena Park. Nestled in a large strip mall in a densely Korean area, Súp stands out from the crowd with their personal take on Vietnamese cuisine in a not-so Vietnamese area. Sure they have the traditional noodle soups, noodle bowls, and rice bowls, but for those not well versed in Vietnamese cuisine, Súp eases the transition with their versions of familiar foods, such as with their Shaken House Fries. This $13 massive plate of skinny fries comes topped with Súp’s shaken short rib, minced garlic, caramelized onions, sharp cheddar cheese, and spicy tartar sauce. This represents a calamity of flavors as you have the sweetness and savory from the beef, the sharpness from the garlic, more sweetness from the caramelized onions, creaminess from the cheese, and a bit of kick and tartness from the sauce. While this can feed up to four people, after one bite, you may want this all to yourself.

When it comes to foods that people commonly mistake as unhealthy, white potatoes instantly come to mind. People blame potatoes on its high carb content, and also that people normally eat potatoes deep-fried. However, white potatoes actually contain a wealth of nutrients very vital to living. Served properly, potatoes provide us with nutrition and good health when not industrially liquefied and deep-fried. As such, despite how often we find potatoes deep-fried, it often helps to find potatoes with the most untouched white part, such as in thicker fries. Fresh-cut potatoes also lend well to retain its nutrients, as opposed to previously frozen potatoes. Problems arise when you drench said potatoes with lots of sauce and seasonings, spiking up the sodium content. If done properly though, it will taste great and not put as much of a damper on your health. For something like that, head over to Meat Up BBQ in Placentia.

Ruling over their domain of meat, Meat Up BBQ does meat good and barbecue with their own culinary twist. The barbecue does not represent completely authentic southern barbecue, but rather barbecue with a slight Caribbean influence, evident in their use of tropical and fruity flavors. Sauces range from sweet to spicy to smokey, and meats include all the bases such as chicken, pork, beef, and even a few seafood items. Meat Up BBQ does not skimp on portion sizes, so when you order anything, even their appetizers, expect a huge plate, such as their Mac Attack Fries. $10 gets you a huge basket of BBQ-rub fries, Hellbilly chili, mac & cheese, pulled pork, and barbecue sauce. Basically, chili cheese fries meet barbecue pulled pork fries. This huge appetizer can easily feed a family of four, and I would not attempt to eat this entire thing as one person. However, after one bite, you may want as much of this as you can handle.

Check out more of what Meat Up BBQ has in store by liking them on Facebook and following them on Twitter.

Reminiscing back to our childhoods, we recall all the good times and bad times that significantly impacted us as children. Everyone remembers certain moments during their childhoods that has permanently affected our personalities today. Even without anything to capture those moments, we can still reminisce about the good old days through photos taken way back then. In fact, today’s society has accepted Throwback Thursdays as an homage to the good old days, when life did not bear so much worry, and we could live out our days without fear or oppression. These days, society has to deal with corruption on many levels, from governments to the internet to bullies in school and more. Like the human immune system, society reacts to these corruptions by implementing methods to combat those problems by either minimizing problems or eliminating them altogether. This may not restore the good old days, but as a society, we still like to look back to what paved the way for us to stand here today. Significantly, we remember the foods we once ate as children, even recalling the low prices. Those old signs advertising $0.10 French Fries did not lie – food stands actually sold items that now cost ten times more, or even more than that! Though we can still buy the same fast food items as back then, we have much better options today as far as finer dining without the inflated price tags. If you miss those $0.10 fries, wait until you see some of the appetizers that you can share with friends or enjoy as an entrée. I have discovered five different shareable appetizers that you can find in the Greater Los Angeles Area, and you can either enjoy these on its own or share them among the table.

5. Out Of The Park Pizza‘s Pizza Poppers

No matter where in the world you may find yourself, certain foods always make their way to every corner of the world. From hamburgers to hot dogs to rice and more, ingredients play a major role in the coverage of certain types of food. Big corporate chain restaurants ensure the spread of many of the more common foods, lending part to the world’s love of these foods, such as pizza. Various types of pizzas now exist because people try to get creative with how they eat pizza instead of the traditional round pizza cut into slices. For something a little more portable and fun, head to Out Of The Park Pizza. Out Of The Park Pizza does not shy away from extravagant toppings on their pizzas, coming up with different types of pizzas such as a Western Barbecue pizza or a Buffalo Chicken pizza. While they have interesting toppings for their pizzas, they have turned their pizzas into an appetizer in the form of their Pizza Poppers. Imagine a slice of pepperoni pizza that they rolled into a ball that resembles a round pastry stuffed with cheese and pepperoni, and you have Pizza Poppers. It does not contain tomato sauce – they provide marinara sauce on the side as a dip. You can order Pizza Poppers as a five-piece snack for $6.99 or a 12-piece shareable appetizer plate for $9.99.

4. Abigaile‘s Pão de Queijo

As humans, we live for variety and diversity. Unlike animals that “eat to live,” some might say that humans “live to eat.” For example, a pet dog or cat feels perfectly content eating the exact same food everyday for his or her entire life. However, if a human attempted that, he or she would go insane from the thought of it. As an aside, this regularly occurs in prisons where inmates get no choice in what they can eat. Humans crave variety, and need something different in their lives instead of living a routine day by day, and people can find diverse foods at a restaurant like Abigaile. Although appearing upscale and fancy, Abigaile actually functions like a casual gastropub, especially given their location by the beach so that beachgoers can dine at Abigaile without worry of their outfit. Perhaps Abigaile appears upscale due to their food menu, which contains some highly eclectic items such as their Pão de Queijo. A Brazilian classic, these Brazilian cheese puffs resemble a hybrid between a bread roll and a hot cheese snack. Chewy and gooey, biting into these cheese poofs feels like biting into a solid mass of warm cheese coated with butter and a slight fluff of bread. For $5, this heavenly appetizer at Abigaile comes with a side of spice honey to help complement the cheesy flavor.

3. Peter’s Gourmade Grill‘s Gooeys

How do you get the word out about your business if you do not do any marketing? You have to deliver something so good that the customers will spread the word about you. In this modern time of internet marketing and social media, all business owners need to utilize all available tools to get the word out about their businesses. Consider that many of these marketing tools have no cost to using them other than time to set up the information. Once set up, the people will do the work as long as you provide something that the people will want to come back for, such as the memorable food at Peter’s Gourmade Grill in Tustin. As a hole-in-the-wall that many people can easily drive by without ever noticing it, Peter’s Gourmade Grill only focuses on what they do best: grilling up foods with a twist, and each twist varies between each menu item. Perhaps the people continually return to Peter’s for these twists, since not many other places have the same combinations that Peter’s offers. Take, for example, their Gooeys. Originally intended as a shared dessert, this massive pile of sweet potato fries gets dressed up with brown sugar, maple syrup, and toasted marshmallows. Has anyone else ever thought of this combination? Perhaps so, but definitely nowhere else in Southern California can you find something like this. At $7.25, this can treat an entire family, as I cannot conceive any sole person devouring an entire order in one sitting.

2. Eat Chego‘s Ooey Gooey Fries

When a food truck converts to a restaurant, one can expect to find similarities between the food truck and the restaurant. When the founder of Kogi BBQ opened Eat Chego, food truck fans from all over flocked to this permanent Kogi fixture to experience Kogi in a more solid setting. As one of the originals, Kogi had one of the largest fan bases of any gourmet food truck, and continued to prosper in long lines for years to come. This popularity easily carried over to Eat Chego and also attracted countless more food fans to savor the flavor of what started a revolution. Although Eat Chego does not serve exactly what Kogi does, the flavors resemble each other, especially in the fan favorite Ooey Gooey Fries. This $6 bowl of beer-battered fries gets topped with sour cream sambal, three cheeses (Monterey jack, cheddar, and cotija), chilies, cilantro, and pickled garlic. Despite its vegetarian nature, people go nuts for this bowl, especially for the pickled garlic. The sauce adds a sour yet spicy flavor, while the cheese gives it a more gritty texture. The pickled garlic does not overwhelm the palate – it contains enough of a bite that you will immediately detect it, but the pickling essentially dilutes its potency. It adds the perfect amount of zing to this bowl. Although one can finish these fries as an entrée, because of the intense flavor profile, I suggest sharing this with a friend.

1. Smoqued BBQ‘s Burnt Ends

With a handle on what the people want, Smoqued BBQ ensures that they rarely run out of customer favorites. This BBQ restaurant in Old Towne Orange delivers classic BBQ dishes using their own recipes, while slinging out over a dozen different types of craft beers at any given moment. Their extensive food menu carries multiple variations of their signature BBQ meats, from brisket to pulled pork to tri-tip to ribs and more. Perhaps the one dish that brings customers back the most resides on their appetizers section. In the appetizers section lies the appropriately named Brisket Burnt Ends. Sure they list this in the appetizers section, and they present it in a way that multiple people can share it. However, after you bite into one of these juicy morsels, you will want the plate all to yourself. This half-pound mound of meaty goodness consists of double-smoked brisket cube ends, which they caramelize in their house BBQ sauce. For burnt ends, the pieces retain their juiciness, as the seared caramelization of the sauce on the outside seals the meat’s natural juices inside. As if the outside did not contain enough heavenly flavor, the meat itself gives a rich, hearty, beefy taste that only true grillmasters can produce. Smoqued BBQ vows to always have the Brisket Burnt Ends available for customers to order. However, if they get slammed on any given day, they may run out by the end of the day. As a result, if you desire some top-notch burnt ends, head on over to Smoqued BBQ in Orange as early in the day as possible, and order up some burnt ends for yourself for $13.49. The price tag may appear steep, but once you get hooked, you may quickly overlook that.

As a connected community, today’s society have gotten used to generally accepted styles of food. For the most part, we see a lot of a certain type of food based on the region. To no one’s surprise, the greatest concentration of a particular style of cuisine resides in its locale of origin. However, many modern communities appreciate the diversity and variety of carrying different types of food places around. This has paved the way for the various types of restaurants to crop up all over. From Latin restaurants to Asian restaurants to sub-genres of food such as barbecue or noodle restaurants, we have seen a restaurant for virtually anything consumable. But even when a restaurant specializes in one particular thing, they can always break the mold and introduce something a little bit off the charts. For that, we turn to Súp Noodle Bar.

Nestled in a Korean shopping center in Buena Park, Súp Noodle Bar delivers noodle bowls so delicious that they usually have a full house every night. Specializing in phô, this Vietnamese restaurant puts their own unique flavor into every curated entrée on their menu. At first glance, their food may appear alike any other ordinary restaurant’s food. Ask the locals about Súp, and they will attest to the unbelievable flavor profile of every item here. In addition to their wondrous noodle bowls, Súp has also gained notoriety with their Shaken House Fries. This massive plate of fries comes with truffle oil, marinated short rib, minced garlic, caramelized onions, cheddar cheese, and spicy tartar sauce. This plate that can easily feed a party of four contains a savory punch that will leave your taste buds seeing stars. Although listed as an appetizer, one or two people can easily consider this an entrée.

For more about what Súp Noodle Bar has to offer, visit their Facebook and Twitter page, and check them out in North Buena Park on the northwestern corner of Beach Blvd and La Mirada Blvd.

People have an unexplainable love for fries. Something about deep-fried sticks of potatoes makes people love them so much to add them to most meals. It has no nutritional value – it only exists to harbor salt and other condiments. Yet to this day, people still go nuts for fries just about anywhere. It started off as a simple cheap side to a meal, but grew to fame so much that it eventually turned into its own category of food. These days, fries exist as more than just a side – fries have turned into complete entrées that can feed one or a group. You can put just about anything on top of fries to make it an entrée – the possibilities have no end. As a blank canvas, you can turn fries into any cultural dish too. Throw some carne asada and guacamole on it for Mexican. Toss in BBQ beef and teriyaki sauce and you have Asian fries. If that sounds too complicated, take it back to basics, as Grinderz has.

When coming up with a winning product, two routes exist: you can invent, or you can reinvent. On one hand, creating something brand new comes with great risk that nobody will want said new item. On the other hand, you can only redesign something so many times. If attempting to redesign something poses a roadblock, why not just go back to basics and make the base item significantly better? Enter Grinderz, where they take a classic approach with an old timey burger shop and bring some modern flair into it. The bare bones menu at Grinderz resembles another overhyped Californian burger institution, with simply burgers, fries, and drinks. Grinderz does their own thing by doing food right with high quality ingredients and customization for your order. To taste the true flavor of Grinderz, go towards their Pigsty Fries, which resembles another famous place’s fries, but better. Grinderz takes their beer-battered fries, then tosses them with caramelized red onions, cheddar cheese, thousand island dressing, bacon, and avocado. You get enough to feed up to four people, or one person with a massive appetite can devour this bowl. Either way, after you try this, you will crave this more than the other famous place’s fries.

Grinderz has a Facebook and Twitter, but it appears that they rarely update them. If you like their food, support them liking/following them on social media!

Reminiscing back to our childhoods, we recall all the good times and bad times that significantly impacted us as children. Everyone remembers certain moments during their childhoods that has permanently affected our personalities today. Even without anything to capture those moments, we can still reminisce about the good old days through photos taken way back then. In fact, today’s society has accepted Throwback Thursdays as an homage to the good old days, when life did not bear so much worry, and we could live out our days without fear or oppression. These days, society has to deal with corruption on many levels, from governments to the internet to bullies in school and more. Like the human immune system, society reacts to these corruptions by implementing methods to combat those problems by either minimizing problems or eliminating them altogether. This may not restore the good old days, but as a society, we still like to look back to what paved the way for us to stand here today. Significantly, we remember the foods we once ate as children, even recalling the low prices. Those old signs advertising $0.10 French Fries did not lie – food stands actually sold items that now cost ten times more, or even more than that! Though we can still buy the same fast food items as back then, we have much better options today as far as finer dining without the inflated price tags. If you miss those $0.10 fries, wait until you see some of the appetizers that you can share with friends or enjoy as an entrée. I have discovered five different shareable appetizers that you can find in the Greater Los Angeles Area, and you can either enjoy these on its own or share them among the table.

5. Plan Check Kitchen‘s Sweet Potato Waffle Fries

Many of us grew up with French fries as a classic side. During the turn of the century, restaurants started to utilize sweet potato fries instead of regular fries. They do not cost that much more, have a completely different flavor, and have more health benefits than regular potatoes. Some of us may even remember waffle-cut fries, or as one fast food chain calls it, criss-cut fries. What does all this mean? Head over to Plan Check Kitchen to find out. With three locations around Los Angeles, Plan Check Kitchen serves up delicious faire out of their small kitchen. While each location has a slightly different menu, you will always want to check if they have the Sweet Potato Waffle Fries available. Simple yet fulfilling, this plate of waffle-cut sweet potato fries gets fried in beef tallow and served with a side of peach ketchup made in-house. While the above photo makes it appear small, it can easily satisfy two people at just $6 per order.

4. The Oinkster‘s Piggy Fries

A certain Californian fast food institution has an ever-popular off-menu item that nearly every Californian has tried at least once. Most people who have tried it swear by it and nothing else, albeit many local places make something just as good, if not better. If you have heard of The Oinkster, then you know about what I refer to. As its name suggests, The Oinkster specializes in meaty foods and delicious sides to go along with them. At both of The Oinkster’s locations, you can find Piggy Fries on the menu. Contrary to its name, these fries do not have any meat in them at all, though you can get crafty and add the meat in yourself. For just $4, this boat of fries comes with housemade thousand island dressing, caramelized onions, and shredded cheddar cheese. If you want to make this truly piggy fries, unload a sandwich onto these fries for the ultimate meal.

3. Dolce Bistro & Bakery‘s Spicy Maple Bacon Popcorn

Americans have a strange fascination with bacon. Something about this small strip of pork drives people to spend obscene amounts of money to add it on to something. Fast food restaurants routinely charge a dollar more to add a piece of bacon, while some restaurants charge up to $4 more to add some bacon. I will never understand why people do this, but I do know that if I crave the flavor of bacon, it had better taste good, so I go to Dolce Bistro & Bakery in Montclair. As their name suggests, in addition to a full-service restaurant, they also have a bakery full of delectable desserts, but I shall talk about that in another post. For now, we focus on the restaurant side where they have lots of great food such as the Spicy Maple Bacon Popcorn. Dolce Bistro tosses popcorn with chili powder and cumin, then mixes in maple bacon for an easy snack that everyone around the table can enjoy. Enjoy it with friends, enjoy it on its own, or enjoy it for the occasion for just $5.

2. The Hat‘s Pastrami Chili Cheese Fries

Never neglect the hole-in-the-wall businesses. Small mom & pop shops exist all over the place, and most people simply drive right by them never noticing them. Some mom & pop shops can hold the greatest hidden gems ever, but it takes word-of-mouth to get the news out there, especially if that mom & pop shop has no website, no social media, or no internet presence at all. With no marketing power, mom & pop shops have to deliver something so good that the constituents will do the marketing for them, such as with The Hat. This traditional diner now has eleven locations throughout Southern California all serving up their famous pastrami, but to truly savor their pastrami, go big with the Pastrami Chili Cheese Fries. Beware: the $13 price tag paints the picture that you simply must share this with others. No sole person can possible tackle all of this in one sitting, so if you have a hungry group, satisfy all their hungers with this mountain of meat.

1. Leadbelly’s Barbecue‘s Loaded Pork Garlic Fries

While I can understand food allergies preventing people from enjoying certain foods, I could never understand the people who cannot eat certain foods due to their religion. Red meat simply tastes too good to pass up, so I feel bad for the people who do not eat beef or pork or both. They miss out on the goodness of these meats, cancerous or not. For those who crave the meat, look for a barbecue restaurant, such as Leadbelly’s Barbecue. Tucked away in a corner between Fullerton and Placentia, this restaurant slings lots of meat in many different styles, even on top of fries like on their Loaded Pork Garlic Fries. Leadbelly’s tosses French fries with garlic and then tops it with pulled pork, bacon, pork belly, Parmesan cheese, jack cheese, and chives, which they serve with a side of gravy to pour over the top. At $12.95, this massive plate can easily feed a group of four or more. Go easy on the gravy – its richness can make one full fast.

For the longest time, Vietnamese cuisine never truly had its own spotlight. When thinking about Vietnamese cuisine, we typically envision small mom & pop shops serving noodle bowls and cold vegetables. The evolution of cuisine over the past decade has shifted towards fusion, or the combination of two separate types of cuisines. One of the more popular fusion combinations involves Latin with Asian cultures; however, this mostly meant Korean and Mexican with the pork belly tacos or short rib burritos. Eventually, millennials started to spread out and discover other cultures and cuisines out there. Soon enough, people started to give a good look at Vietnamese cuisine. At first, people went crazy for phô and searched for ways to modify this noodle soup. Then, people started getting modern with the Bánh mì sandwich, and turned that into things like Bánh mì tacos or grilled pork belly Bánh mì sandwiches. Soon enough, creative minds began to cover all of the Vietnamese foods, and thus Vietnamese food had once again regained popularity with today’s youth. One such place called Nudo Nudo hopes to bring Vietnamese food back to the spotlight to contend with the popularity of Korean and Japanese food.

Located in the dense Vietnamese area of Little Saigon in Westminster, Nudo Nudo hopes to bring the concept of traditional Vietnamese restaurants forward to the present away from the old days of those restaurants. Traditional Vietnamese restaurants often had servers who did not speak English well, if at all, and those servers did not interact with customers like servers of American restaurants since, in the Asian culture, servers got a flat pay to work and did not rely on tips. Over at Nudo Nudo, the people here hope to have a more inviting atmosphere to potential customers with friendlier staff, popular music, and food that speaks to today’s contemporary soul. At the core, Nudo Nudo still serves traditional phô and other Vietnamese appetizers, but presented in a more approachable way. However, customers definitely rave about Nudo Nudo’s Oxtail Fries. Costing less than $4, this appetizer that eats like a meal starts with shoestring fries, then gets topped with generous oxtail meat, hoisin sauce, spicy mayo, cilantro, green onions, and pickled white onions. Sure this may represent a safe option for those less familiar with Vietnamese cuisine, but it sure tastes amazing!

Look forward to greater things from Nudo Nudo as they get the ball rolling following their grand opening in mid November of 2015. Check out Nudo Nudo on Facebook and Twitter for updates on what they will have in store.

Beachside cities, towns, and communities tend to have an abundance of small businesses to attract business from the thousands of beachgoers throughout the year. Depending on the location, this can consist of mostly corporate businesses in bigger cities, or a bunch of local mom & pop shops in smaller communities. This can sometimes cause obstructions of businesses, creating a “needle in a haystack” situation where some true gems often get overlooked. What looks like a small shack on the side of the road could mask something truly marvelous inside. Down in the coastal city of San Clemente in Orange County, many local mom & pop shops exist that locals and travelers love to visit. One can easily pass by a lot of great places, and some of the local favorites do actually operate out of a small building on the side of the road, such as MRK Public.

Conveniently located immediately off the freeway, MRK Public operates as a gastropub out of what looks like a former dive bar or diner on the side of the road. With a high bar counter, patio seating, and somewhat limited indoor seating, the building clearly looks like someone designed it as a small bar or diner. However, do not allow appearances to deceive you, as MRK Public has brought some modern flair to this spot. MRK Public has multiple taps of craft beer that changes daily as kegs tap out, and they have a handful of artisanal beverages too. However, most people recognize MRK Public for their outstanding cuisine that also changes frequently with the seasons and availability of ingredients. Through all the changes, the pork belly remains a staple on the menu in various forms, such as their Pork Belly Poutine. Enough to feed a family of four, this giant serving of fries gets topped with thick brown gravy made with chorizo, beef, and bacon. Afterwards, they throw on fried pork belly, pickled Fresno chilis, pickled red onions, queso fresco, scallions, and horseradish crema. Each plate has a generous amount of pork belly, so each fork poke should give you some meat. All the other ingredients act as support to bolster the gravy and pork belly, allow you to better savor the meaty goodness in this plate. I do not suggest one person eating this all in one sitting, so either share this plate, or take part of it to-go.

MRK Public routinely changes their food menu and craft beer selection based on availability and seasons. Like their page on Facebook and follow them on Twitter for news and updates from MRK Public.