Hello and welcome to the third installment of the food section of my journeys. If you haven’t already, make sure to check out A Taste of Vancouver and A Food Fanatic in Toronto to unlock the real desire to get your travel on! Now California was an amazing place for food not only because it had great American cuisine but also Mexican and Indian/Pakistani food too! I’ve only travelled to Florida on a family holiday to Disney World and my parents aren’t the most adventurous when it comes to food so I was excited to try everything.
My first meal out in the world of California was in Manhattan Beach in a restaurant known as The Kettle, 1138 Highland Ave, Manhattan Beach, CA 90266. Why you should check this place out – it’s chill atmosphere and patio seating offer an excellent view of the beach. So whilst I soaking up the California vibe, I ordered the veggie black bean burger and it was the first taste into truly American style food. The fresh seeded bun, a thick veggie patty that was actually filling and with a side of southern fried chips (french fries) the meal did not last long! However it did end a great day getting to know a new friend in a new place so I left The Kettle a very satisfied customer!
Around in Harbor City, where I was staying I was happy to find cheap and delicious Mexican and Indian/Pakistani food! Baja Fish Grill became my go to for burritos with its generous portion sizes and fresh seafood. It had everything from fish tacos, fish and chips, rice and fish but my favourite was the Mahi Mahi fish burrito. I had never heard of the Mahi fish, never mind trying it so I was delighted to discover the meaty tasting fish and I think I’ll be hard pressed to find a new favourite! With quick service and unlimited salsa, Baja Fish Grill became an easy choice for dinner.
For anyone who only eats Halal meat, don’t fret I have something for you as this is something I always look out for when I’m travelling. The Famous Tandoori, 1817 Pacific Coast Hwy, Lomita, CA 90717, serves Indian/Pakistani style food and since this is something I eat at home a lot I’d like to think I have a pretty high curry standard. So because of that the curries are good but pricey so any time I went here I ordered the chicken tikka wrap. For only $6 you get juicy chicken tikka pieces wrapped in salad, amazing spicy mint sauce all contained in a huge naan bread. So in terms of getting the most for your money and stomach this was my go to when I needed my hit of halal meat!
If you’d rather cook for yourself or you need halal meat for a barbeque then you can find Makkah Market, 22846 S Western Ave Torrance, CA 90501, not too far away. Here you can find fresh produce, all of your spices, fresh meat and can even order take out too! I came here to pick up my usual spices of chilli powder, garaam masala, cumin seeds as well as garlic, ginger and corriander (cilantro) power so I wouldn’t have to worry about buying fresh all the time. This was incredibly helpful given my weakness for ordering take out versus cooking for myself! The people working spoke Punjabi and it was nice to find a little bit home away from home and the market also has halal jelly sweets!
When I was in South Korea I was enamoured by the food stalls that would light up the streets at night and having such a range of food options available for so little was amazing. However in Harbor City they have something similar but in their own style! At Narbornne High School, 24300 Western Ave Harbor City, CA 90710, on Thursdays a convoy of food trucks set up there to cater for all your food desires. My friend, a local Californian told me that I had to look out for the Kogi Food Truck. Kogi means meat in Korean but the truck also cooks up a mean Calamari taco and is one of the main reasons why this particular food truck is well known. Well since I’m all good for seafood I was happy to try it and the zingy, spicy, saucy, fresh calamari taco that I had queued for was gone in three delicious bites! Usually I would complain that it was a tiny portion but since there were many other trucks I was content to peruse my other options! I settled for a Cajun prawn taco from a surf and turf truck at the end and on my way I spotted a tiny cupcake truck as well. So for a meal under the stars, with friends and a whole host of food this Thursday event is worth at least one visit, if not more!
Now all this new food was beautiful to try but sometimes all you need in life is a great pizza. My friends will tell you that I eat pizza practically any chance I get and thus my pizza recommendations should be adhered to…just saying! Anyway, when I discovered Blaze Pizza I knew I had to have some. Their set up is similar to Subway in that you chose everything you want on your pizza for a delicious price of $8 something but with tax (gross) it’s closer to $9. Even though it is a chain restaurant I was impressed at the range of toppings available from artichokes to banana peppers and there’s no limit on how much of each topping you can add. So if you’re like me who likes to get the most of her money then load it all on!
One of my favourite meals out was when my friends and I returned from Sequoia National Park so like a 7 hour drive and we headed straight out for food after having a quick clean up. I had never been to a classic American diner before and you’ll see them everywhere, Denny’s and IHop being the most popular from what I could see. However there was a smaller one not that far from Blaze Pizza known as Norms. It had breakfast food, pancakes, burgers, soups – everything the TV told me about American dinners haha. Despite it being evening, I ordered 3 of the fluffiest pancakes I had tasted but being Scottish I obviously had to request strawberry jam to accompany them! The syrup was nice for a few bites but was really sweet so the jam was a nice balance to the whole stack! Overall I liked the diner experience, it just served wholesome comfort food and I can see why Americans need to have them everywhere!
Moving into the Long Beach area and continuing the theme of Halal places to eat at, my next restaurant to rave about is The Halal Guys. They serve Middle Eastern type of food that can be categorised into wraps and gyros – gyros are platters filled with rice, salad, a choice of chicken/beef or a mix of both and topped with generous amounts of creamy white sauce and the spiciest hot sauce. So make sure to say how much of either sauce you want because the hot sauce is some serious business! You also get a few triangles of Turkish bread to accompany the gyro as well. Again seeing what was best value, I always got the large gyro with mixed meat because it can easily pass for two meals! If you’re veggie don’t worry they have delicious falafel for you to substitute the meat or you can have it as a side. If you want to check out this magic for yourself follow these directions: 1804 Ximeno Ave, Long Beach, CA 90815.
I don’t know if it was just me or the types of restaurants that were near me but another lunch time favourite was a cozy Indian/Pakistani place called Fresh Kebobs. With their open kitchen you can see your food being expertly prepared and cooked whilst you wait. Again the price is right and the portions substantial. Fresh Kebobs do a range of veggie and meat curry bowls with rice or a selection of grilled meat or if you’re looking for a tasty snack, they do curry fries! Being someone who makes her own curry pizza, seeing curry fries was great for when I just needed a saucy carb hit in the middle of my working day! A friend and I came here at least once a week for a curry and a catch up so if you want to try, search for these directions: 145 E 4th St, Long Beach, CA 90802.
Ok let’s change it up, who’s hungry for some hot dogs? Don’t worry veggies you’re also very welcome at Daug Haus, 210 E 3rd St, Long Beach, CA 90802, offering a range of hot dogs and burgers all served on sweet Hawaiian bread not only added balance to the savoury meat patty but gives a good base to keep all the toppings on board too! Wait you said veggies are welcome too? Yes! All the hot dogs/burger patties can be swapped out for a range of veggie alternatives for example the veggie, spicy Italian hot dog was delicious! So there’s no need for anyone in your party to miss out on this event. They also serve breakfast burritos but only on the weekends – when I wasn’t working so if you’ve tried them please let me know in the comments below and share any pictures! Daug Haus wasn’t as cheap as the previous two restaurants but the flavour, variety and the side dishes – tater tots anyone? Make it well worth the extra few cents.
For more veggie and vegan options in Long Beach and there are many! You can check out a cute cafe called Ahimsa Vegan Cafe on 340 E 4th St, Long Beach, CA 90802. This was my first real exposure to vegan food and I was plagued by the question “what do vegans actually eat?” and the answer is delicious power foods! I had a rice nacho bowl and I can’t really couldn’t tell you every ingredient that was in it but all that matters is that I finished the deep dish it arrived in and didn’t feel an ounce of guilt. So for me that’s a perfect reason to try vegan food if you haven’t already!
Phew I ate a lot in California but hey! Where’s the sweet stuff? Well when I took a trip to San Diego to meet a university friend, she remembered back in our uni days whenever we met up we always had two friends with us: pizza and chocolate cake. So she made sure to take me to the finest dessert cafe there! Extraordinary Desserts, even around 8 pm had a line out of the door of people all wanting a slice of the richest and most beautiful cakes that I had no idea existed. A huge plus to this place is that my friend bought my cake for me so I really have nothing but love for this little, fancy dessert stop that can pass very easily for a romantic destination or for the perfect friend date! However warning the cakes, especially the chocolate cakes are heavenly rich so make sure to have a savoury drink or water by your side to see you through your slice!
I have a few more places I did visit in my time in California but I feel these were the ones that are worth mentioning not only because they were delicious but they were easy on the cash too! Let me know in the comments below what foods you’d like to try out or if you have tried any let me know what you thought!
Thank you so much for reading and taking a trip with A Scot, A Broad, I hope to see you on the next journey!