Last month I worked at a summer school program and I didn’t take lunch because I had these expectations that this college in Los Angeles would have many ethnic restaurants around.

There was a pizzeria, a sushi restaurant and………..Taco Bell.

It was Taco Bell fused with KFC, so customers could order fried chicken and liquid cheese (no by itself, but as an integral component of many Taco Bell dishes).

Okay, i was in Long Beach and the lunch situation was grim. I didn’t have much time so I went into the Taco Bell-KFC hybrid.

Taco Bell was something I dreamt about during my sojourn in Singapore. 

The fantasy version of Taco Bell is much better than the sad truth. 

The chalupa sounded promising. 

In lieu of a taco shell a fluffy pita-like bread substance was used. The pale iceberg lettuce and tomato chunks made this a healthy lunch. 

The meat was the traditional Grade D beef used by Taco Bell chefs for ages.

The jalapeños were the soft olive colored pickled ones that cost $2 for two quarts. 

Sadly the cheese wasn’t liquid. 

The Doritos taco was pretty good. I devoured it before I even thought about blogging this elegant repast. 

Adding to the ambience were dirty tables and filthy floors. 

Sooo Cali Hot Dog 

On my way to the FYF Festival I stopped off at Dog Haus, a restaurant apparently specializing in hot dogs. 

On this beef hot dog were fried onions, tomato slices, avocados and a spicy basil aioli.

The toasted bun was decent bread. 

It was good, albeit messy. 

I went to the FYF Fest to see MGMT and they put on a good show. I bought a ticket from a scalper for $200. Ouch!

Oyster Po Boy

Oysters are one of my favorite animals to eat. Raw is best, but fried can be very good, too. I was showing a former student around downtown and I suggested Grand Central Market for lunch.

It was delicious and very greasy! I loved it. I love the salty marine flavor of the oysters contrasting with the crunchy batter. The house fried potatoes were served with a red pepper rouille. I couldn’t finish it. 

The seafood stall is now called Prawn. The time I went before it was called Bomb. I’m not sure if the stall was rebranded or was replaced. In any case, the Oyster Po Boy was excellent.

In N Out Cheeseburger

At one time in my life I thought In N Out was the Alpha and Omega of fast food burgers. At one time I guess it has. But the burger Renaissance which began about a decade ago, has left In N Out behind. Don’t get me wrong- it’s much better than Wendy’s or McDonald’s or Burger King. 

But Five Guys is better. 

The bun is light, similar to challah or a brioche. It was not greasy at all and I could have easily eaten two of them. Vegetables are an afterthought and the thin leaf of lettuce was sad. 

The fries were too dry. 

It’s over between me and In N Out. I’ve moved on to better cheeseburgers. 

Spotburger with Cheese

A few weeks ago I found myself in Carpintería, California.

Since The Spot appeared to be a local institution, lunch there would mr the most blogworthy, I reckoned. 

It was a decently cooked cheeseburger served with romaine lettuce, a slice of tomato, ketchup and mustard. I believe there were pickles in the sandwich, of the sour variety. The patty had a nice char on it. The bun was toasted perfectly. 

They had a minimalist condiment bar and I availed myself of sport peppers, the provenance of the name both eluded me then and now. 

Favaba Asturiana

Two weeks ago when I was on vacation in Mexico City I saw an old school Spanish restaurant whilst strolling and I returned for dinner one night.

Their house specialty was paella valenciana but they had other beef dishes, all meant to be shared by two people. I don’t have the appetite I once had so I ordered favaba asturiana off the Especialidades portion of the menu not knowing what it was.

It was a stew of fava beans and morcilla, Spanish blood sausage. The olive oil I wa instructed to add to the bowl was fruity and very fresh tasting. 

Given that it was chilly and rainy outside this homely dish was welcome. 

I had felt that i needed vegetables in my diet so I ordered the avocado cocktail as an first course.

It was very good. 

The sangria was made of red wine, rum and Sprite. 

Bistec y Salada

There was another name for this thin slice of a ribeye steak but I can’t remember it. The steak was thin, but with fries, salad, soup and fresh limeade it only came to 100 pesos or so, which is a little over five dollars. The wifi at the hotel where I stayed, the Hotel Plaza Garibaldi was terrible and often didn’t work at all so I regret not being to report on this meal when my memory was fresher.

I was walking by this impressive medieval looking building when hunger persuaded me to order in the cafe within.

It is the former convent of Saint Hippolytus, en español el Ex Convento de Santo Ippolito. 

It wasn’t the best steak I’ve ever had but for five dollars I was pleased. 

There were many religious items sold for sale in the vicinity including these of Jesus.