July 14, 2015

Home State

Some mornings you wake up craving hearty comfort food with just the right amount of salt and grease.  The wonderful thing about Home State, a Tex-Mex joint in Los Feliz (far removed from Central Texas in more ways than one), is that it serves up hearty and comfort while leaving out the remorse that often follows the salt and grease.  In other words, if you're craving a Tex-Mex style breakfast in LA, slowly make your way to Home State -- you'll find your answer there.

Le Menu.

Welcome Home.

A Texas Kitchen -- so much love for the Lone Star State at this place.

Basic needs for you and your furry buddy.

Lonestar Migas -- shredded brisket, pico de gallo, scrambled eggs with cheddar, corn chips -- $8

Migas.  I've probably made this bfast treat before, in a hasty add-eggs-and-whatever-else-you-have-in-fridge kind of way.  After all, you can hardly call meat, eggs, and cheese scrambled together a unique morning meal.

Trinity Taco -- eggs, bacon, cheddar, potato, wrapped on Home State's flour tortilla -- $3

Tacos are tasty, especially with a few shakes of their housemade hot sauces (green and red available).

Loaded Queso -- chili con carne, guacamole, pico de gallo, sour cream -- $8

While I haven't had the pleasure of growing up on queso, I do love cheese and I know enough that Velvetta does not equal queso.  Home State's loaded queso is packed full of flavor and is surprisingly, not as rich and heavy as you'd think.  One order can easily be shared amongst four (or two queso-loving) friends.

All-day breakfast is served from 8am-3pm, and the lunch menu kicks in at 11am.  Personally, I'm a fan of their bfast menu, especially with a cup of Austin's finest Cuvee coffee.  

The most recent news is that HomeState has now paired up with neighbor, Bar Covell, to serve up boozy breakfast!  What kind of booze, you ask?  Classic mimosas, micheladas (Mex beer cocktail), wine, and for you true Texas, Shiner! All reasons to check out this Los Feliz gem -- you're welcome.

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cuisine: Tex-Mex
location: Los Feliz
hours: Daily, 8am-3pm
websites: { HS | menu | yelp | facebook | twitter | instagram }
attire: Casual
parking: Street
price: $5-$10
notes: No reservations. Order at the counter and grab a number.  Order online/ take-out available. If you look at the Home State landing page, you might spot me and my friends on the right.

July 13, 2015

MidiCi Neopolitan Pizza

When I first learned that the CEO of Menchie's, the national fro-yo franchise, was venturing to the world of fast, gourmet-esque pizza, I expected another Blaze, PizzaRev, Pieology, 800 Degrees or Pizza Studio [all of which, by the way, I'm not above].  Although I embrace freedom of choice, given the recently influx of create-your-own, quick fire-baked pizza joints, my expectations for MidiCi were decidedly low.

. . . until I glanced at the extensive menu that reaches beyond endless toppings and a thin burnt crust.

 From charcuterie to four different burrata combos (with beets, purple kale, artichokes, or prosciutto), pizza to eight different salads, nutella calzone to spectacular gelato and sorbetto from Leo Leo Gelato, MidiCi has so much to offer it's almost overwhelming.

But the real olive tree that's chilling in the middle of the restaurant and the stunning interior decor will probably calm you down.  I can only imagine how breathtakingly romantic the restaurant would look at night.

Wood-fired pizza oven, imported from Italia.

All natural and fresh produce and protein to meet your every insalata needs.

A line of pizza chefs, hard at work.


Purple Kale (Cavolo Viola) -- purple kale, baby spinach, medjool dates, ricotta cheese, shaved parmigiano-reggiano, mustard vinaigrette, lemon zest -- $7.50

A and I ordered and shared a Purple Kale salad and the Devil's Pizza (Pizza Diavola).

First, the kale salad.  The good: visually stunning, healthy portion, fresh ingredients.  The needs-work: too much cheese.  Thankfully, I asked for my dressing on the side.  Had I not, I think my salad would be drowning in cheesy vinaigrette.  I ended up not using much of the dressing at all, as the ricotta was already rich.  Could have also used some cracked black pepper.

Devil's Pizza -- crushed Italian peeled tomatoes, whole mozzarella, housemade all natural spicy sausage, spicy Italian calabrese (salami), Fresno & Italian chilis, parmigiano-reggiano, extra virgin olive oil, organic sweet basil -- $11.50

The Devil's Pizza -- yummy with a spicy kick!  Everything was great -- the flavors, the level of spice, the right balance of ingredients.  If you like your crust doughy, you'll absolutely love this.  For those who want a crispier Neopolitan crust, ask for the pizza to bake a bit longer.

My favorite part of the entire meal?  Unsurprisingly, gelato.

Hazelnut and Lemon sorbetto with fresh mint.

Vanilla & Chocolate with Nutella.

While the price point may be higher than other fast pizza places, the ambience and substance make it worthwhile a visit.  Check Midici out, especially if you find yourself on Ventura Boulevard, hungry for something quick and delicious!

cuisine: Italian
location: Sherman Oaks (San Fernando Valley)
websites: { MidiCi | yelp | facebook | twitter | instagram }
attire: Casual
parking: Street
price range: $5-$12
notes: They serve weekend brunch (breakfast pizza and mimosa) and happy hour (beer/wine) on Mondays and Wednesdays from 8pm-1am.

June 15, 2015

Humble Potato

With a second location which opened less than two months ago in Culver City [the original location being Westchester], you'd think Humble Potato is out-growing its humble ways.  The good news is that it's not, so we can continue to love Humble Potato in all of its cutesy hipster glory.

Cute + hip.  But importantly, does it serve good food?... yes.

Humble Potato is a casual, Japanese-fusion "hambuga" & hot dog shop that "introduce[s] savory Japanese flavor twists to American comfort food."  What does that even mean?  Check it.

Take the classic American hamburger, hot dog, and fries and add some curry, ginger, yuzu, and other Japanese spices to add some Asian flair.  It's like when I was a kid, I'd add gochujang on my cheeseburger.  Too bad I didn't/ don't have enough business savvy to open up a Korean-style hamburger place (I'd call it Simple Yam).  But lucky for us all, we have Humble Potato.

Kare Fries -- Sunny egg and Japanese curry with carrots over crispy potatoes -- $6

The Kare Fries are kind of similar to poutine sans the cheese, but with thicker gravy/ curry and a sunny-side egg.  A concept that is delicious, mind you.  And the sweet curry compliments the crispy fries quite well.  These will go fast.

Sweet Potato Fries -- $5

Jack'd -- 1/4-lb Angus beef patty, melted pepper jack cheese, caramelized onion, applewood-smoked bacon, avocado, soy-pickled jalapenos on a sweet brioche bun -- $11

Battle Royale -- 1/4-lb Angus beef patty, melted cheddar, caramelized onion, smoked bacon, garlic jam, romaine, tomato, avocado, Japanese spices, spicy HP sauce, and sunny egg on a buttered brioche -- $13

With so many different ingredients, trying to eat the burger without creating a mess will be a true challenge.  Messy or even messier, it was a pleasant surprise to learn that one particular ingredient didn't really overpower the other, complimenting each other quite well to create a satisfying party in your belly.  If you prefer your burger a particular way (i.e., meat cooked well-done), don't be afraid to let them know.

Runny. Egg. Yolk. -- gross to some, but fantastic to me.

For those who want to stick to more simpler dishes, try the Hambaga, their signature burger with less accroutrements, or the classic Japanese chicken katsu with kare.  For the vegetarians, there are a couple (literally, two) salad options, fried potato served in four different ways, and a Japanese-style grilled cheese that includes a hash-brown crisp (carbs, dairy, carbs).

Unlike its Westchester sibling, the Culver City location is now serving up a wide variety of beers (Ichiban and Sapporo on tap!), wine and sake to help wash down every bite of your tasty meal.

Plus, Humble Potato's haiku-esque vision/ mission/ pledge is wholly worth supporting:

Simple Food.  Happy People.
Humble Lasts. Hunger Shouldn't.
Where There's Good Will,
There's Good Eats.
Eat Well.  Feel Good.
Live Humbly.

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cuisine: Japanese-American Fusion
location: Culver City
websites: { HP | yelp | facebook | twitter | instagram }
attire: Casual
price: $10-15
notes: Good for brunch, good for lunch, good for dinner and good for late-night/anytime snacks.