Sushi on Jones Makes The Blue Collar Foodie Dream of Sushi!

Before we begin, I must confess I have a slight obsession with the fare I will be discussing today.  I am drawn to the simplicity, the beauty, and the bold, yet refined flavors that exist within every morsel of this extraordinary gastronomic delight.  The cuisine that I am referring to is none other than the versatile, yet humble Sushi.

For as long as I can remember I have been intrigued by all things Sushi and I am still entranced by it.  As the world of food slowly delves deeper into the dark magic that is Gastronomy, Sushi remains steadfast in its straightforward approach of delivering savory, umami laden grenades of amazeballs.  The skill and time it takes to become a true Sushi chef is tantamount to becoming a black belt in a martial art and I believe it is this dedication to deliciousness that has captivated my foodie soul.

Sushi is certainly not a new concept in the wonderful world that is the culinary arts.  Hell, according to the Jewish Grandmother of the internet, Wikipedia, this particular form of food preparation started 2000 years ago.  Furthermore, Sushi was one of the first “adventurous” epicurean eats to invade the foodie culture here in the states.  Shit, it is now almost as mainstream as Chinese food, burgers, or pizza when it comes to takeout.

Taking this into consideration and the fact that if you are reading a food blog you are somewhat of a food connoisseur yourself, I am quite sure, like me, you have partaken in this form of appetizing, aesthetic food porn.  More so, I am willing to wager that you believe that you have experienced the same level of sushi that is enjoyed by the citizens of its motherland.  There is even a potential that you have reduced your feasting of this fabulous fish because you believe that you have, “been there, done that.”

I blame seemingly every Chinese takeout restaurant on the planet to adding to the decline of the reverence that proper Sushi deserves. Every time a rouge untrained “Sushi Chef” butchers low grade fish and wraps it in sub-par rice, another member of the next foodie generation loses respect for this time honored tradition.  As Admiral Ackbar once said, “it’s a trap!!!”

After watching Jiro Dreams of Sushi on Netflix, my love for Sushi was rekindled and I felt the need to seek out an authentic Sushi meal.  So, with a little help from my foodie friends Alex and Steph, and of course the internets I found the proper place to subdue the now burning desire in my belly, Sushi on Jones, located at 348 Bowery St. in New York City, NY.

I was immediately lured to Sushi on Jones because they only serve their sushi in the style of Omakase, a Japanese phrase that means, “I’ll leave it up to you.”  In other words, the Chef selects the dishes you will eat during your meal.  This style of eating is usually quite pricey and in the city it can run you hundreds of dollars per person, but much like Homey the Clown, Sushi on Jones don’t play that!  In fact, when I saw the price on their website, $50, they had me hook, line, and sinker.  #NeverPardonMyPuns

There are a few things to think about if you decide to let Sushi on Jones rock your foodie world.  First off, this joint only has six seats so you will need a reservation.  You can Text (917)-270-1815 or e-mail sushionjones@gmail.com to score one.  Secondly, you will be eating outside, yes outside, suck it up and dress accordingly.  Finally you will be served 12 pieces of taste bud tantalizing; life changing Sushi that will make you rethink every piece of Sushi that you have ever put in your food hole.

Heed their warning!

I would imagine you want to know what the catch is, you cynical bastard.  Well, the only catch is you have to eat all of it in 30 minutes.  It sounds like you might feel rushed, but they have their service down to a science and you actually don’t get that sense at all.  Just don’t be D-bags like the people that ate before us and linger like you are at a diner at 2 A.M.. Respect the process so everyone can enjoy the awe inspiring food that is being served at this fine establishment.  Like their sign says, Less Talk…More Eat.

The only menu you need!

When we visited Sushi on Jones the menu was displayed prominently on the wall of the Sushi Bar.   We were able to follow Jiro’s lead and dream about Sushi while we waited patiently for our place at the bar.  There is not really a waiting area so we tried really hard not to hover as the guests that were seated before us were receiving their sushi one piece at a time.  This was harder than you would think, I assure you.

Let the games begin!

The bar was reset shortly after the lingerers ceased their lollygagging and we were invited to take our seats.  We were offered hot tea or iced green tea which was served post haste and our experience at Sushi On Jones began.

Our bare boards awaiting the first piece of yummy.

A traditional sushi board was placed in front of each us complete with a pair of fresh chopsticks.  A pile of extra potent wasabi and pickled ginger adorned the board, as well as a small bowl for the soy sauce, we soon learned we would not need.

This tuna was not only Fat is was straight up PHAT!

Our first course hit the board and the moment of truth was upon us.  I am not sure what was higher, our hopes that this Sushi was going to be what we were craving or our expectations of this Sushi thanks to my fellow food bloggers.  We carefully picked up what we assumed was Fatty Tuna with our chop sticks and slowly brought it towards our mouths simultaneously.  If I was a 13 year old girl, or my 45 year old friend that texts like a 13 year old girl, I believe that I would insert the bomb emoji  here to indicate that there was a literal explosion of flavor in my mouth.  From that first bite we all knew we were in for a treat.

This was not your Father’s Salmon!

As the second course was set in front of us, we had yet to stop talking about the first.  Next up was the Salmon, we presumed, and with now even higher expectations we scooped it up with our sticks and chowed down.  **Spoiler Alert**  This time it was not only the fish that brought us to flavor country, but the burst of heat that the wasabi, which was hiding underneath, brought the table.  After this course, I completely stopped adding any additional sauce or wasabi to the pieces that were being presented as I realized that the Chefs might know a thing or two more than the Chefs I am used to.

And the most improved fish award goes to…

The third course was a wee bit scary, but Sushi on Jones had not steered us wrong as of yet, so we put our faith in them.  Scallops, in general are not my favorite and the idea of raw scallops was not something I was really looking forward to.  My instincts were bad and I should feel bad!  The scallop was buttery, soft, and not overly fishy at all and the salty sauce that was drizzled on top only added to the allure.

Come on Sushi, Light my Fire!

While my compatriots and I were arguing about which course so far was the best, our chefs were hard at work preparing the next offering.  This is the attention to detail I alluded to earlier, each piece of this fish is hand seared with a blow torch before being served.

We think this is Hamachi. Maybe. Perhaps. We don’t really know.

We were jib jabbering too much about the good and plentiful bounty we were eating that when our fourth course arrived we missed the Chef’s description.  After a little bit of research, I believe it was the Hamachi.  I may be wrong about the type of fish, but I am damn sure of one thing, it was freaking tasty.  The small dollop of garnish that acted as a crown for the fish was somewhat sweet, yet vinegary and perfectly complemented the lightly seared flesh of the fish.

Roe, Roe, Roe, Your Sushi gently down the stream. Merrily, Merrily, Merrily life is but a dream.

There was no denying what the fifth course was, and I was super excited to see it hit the board.  Salmon Roe is what people would call an acquired taste, and I have acquired the hell out of it.  Honestly, I believe that it is not the taste that is acquired but the texture, since each individual ball of amaze explodes in your mouth releasing a wonder of flavor and fishy goodness.  Steph was not a huge fan of the zesty detonation that occurred during the chewing portion of this offering, as was apparent from the face she made while eating it.  However, Alex and I were all in.

Salmon On Sticks On Jones

I believe our second piece of salmon graced our Sushi board next for our sixth course.  To no surprise this piece was just as spectacular as the first.

This ain’t no canned Tuna!

Our seventh course sparked a conversation, which of course turned into a debate.  This little pretty was presented to us as our second piece of tuna.  The discussion that ensued was about what type of tuna we were looking at.  You see as you dive deeper into the world of Sushi you soon find out that not all Tuna is equal and much like craft beer the hierarchy is based  primarily on personal preference.  In my humble opinion, they are all fantastic but this, which I believe is known as Blue Fin Tuna, is my favorite.  It possesses the tenderness of the fatty tuna but a beauty unlike any other Tuna in the world.   It is the Mila Kunis of Tuna.

This beef may not have played for the Lakers, but it can be on my team any day!

Our eighth course was the often misunderstood and damn near always misrepresented Wagyu, meaning Japanese Cow.  I was very excited to see that Sushi on Jones did not attempt to bamboozle their guests by calling their beef Kobe.  In New York City this scam is constantly run on customers at high-end restaurants and often goes unnoticed.  Kobe Beef is Wagyu that comes from a very specific region in Japan and is insanely rare in the states.  Think about it like the square/rectangle comparison, as in, all Kobe is Wagyu but not all Wagyu is Kobe.  Sorry for the diatribe but I feel like that is an important lesson for a foodie, like yourself, to know.  Now back to our regularly scheduled program.

To quote the late great Harry Caray, HOLY COW!  This Wagyu was skillfully seared and elegantly seasoned which delivered a punch of precision. It was not only juicy but the consistency of the meat was udder perfection.  No, I did not spell that wrong.  It is a thinker.  I will wait.  Give it a second.  Wait for it.  There it is.  I knew you could do it.

Skrimps! I love Skrimps!!!

As the ninth course was distributed to the three of us, we realized that our experience was almost up.  However, even though this thought left us somewhat somber, the gigantic shrimp sitting in front of us raised our spirits.  I am not going to lie, I was nervous about this one too, because I have not liked raw shrimp in the past. However, I should have known this late in the game that the Chefs at Sushi on Jones know what the hell they are doing and this piece made me realize I just had eaten the wrong raw shrimp!

As my grandmother used to say… Try it… You’ll like it!

Our tenth course was the Sushi version of The Durian Fruit.  The ever potent and often avoided Uni, or Sea Urchin.  Uni gets a bad rap in the Sushi game because most Chefs are not skilled enough to prepare it and when done wrong it is bad, and not like the 1980’s bad that meant good, like the 2010’s bad that once again means awful.  The other problem is eating Uni is not a sprint, it is a marathon.  Meaning the first bite is almost painfully powerful, but then each subsequent bite gets better and better.  Sushi on Jones once again nailed the execution of this difficult dish and I was smiling all the way to the finish line.

Surf and Turf Sushi!

If I was not already a fanboy of the Chef’s dealing out Sushi through the small window in front of our seats, our eleventh course, made me want to ask them for their autographs.  These mad sushi scientist decided to adorn our second piece of Wagyu with a hat made out of Uni. This decadent little slab of amazing was one of the best pieces that was served to us during our meal at Sushi on Jones.  The juxtaposition of flavors and textures between the Cow and the Urchin were magical.  So much so, I am convinced that this is what Unicorn must have tasted like, which is probably why they are extinct.  Shut up!  I said extinct! They are not mythical, they were real and their flesh tasted of Uni and Wagyu!

This place is electric, boogie woogie, woogie!

As our twelfth and final course of this outrageous omakase odyssey was placed before us I was not only surprisingly satiated but extremely pleased with what had just arrived.  Eel and I have been friends for quite some time and I was very excited to try out the Sushi on Jones version.  Lo and behold, I was not disappointed!  Their eel sauce had all the components I look for when I order Eel, sweet, smoky, and slightly sticky and the meat itself was divine.  It was the perfect way to finish our meal… Or so we thought.

Kanpai! (Cheers) (L’Chaim)

Sushi on Jones has one or two off menu specials per day that looked too good in the market for the Chefs to pass up.  Today they had Oysters and Alex, Steph, and I also just could not resist.  We made the right choice as the sauce that these meaty mighty molluscs were bathed in was unlike any Oyster sauce I have ever tasted.  Correction! This was the perfect way to end this opulent meal.

If you have not guessed from the verbose praise above, I completely fell in love with Sushi on Jones!  This eatery combines a unique eating style, a laser focus on the remarkable food they serve, and an approachable price point.  Much like the Golden State Warriors in 2017 that triple threat is unbeatable!

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You Need Yo! Sushi In Your Life!!!

Within the spacious confines of the Garden State Plaza in Paramus, NJ, there are innumerable shops, kiosks, and restaurants. A large majority of these establishments can be found at just about any mall that exists in a metropolitan area. However, since New Jersey is the Mall capital of the world and we are a Stone’s throw away from the greatest city in the world, every once in a while a spot opens up in The GSP that is worth getting excited over.

Back in the day, when I was a rebellious youth, I was what one would consider a “Mall Rat”. This was not just a title; it was a lifestyle. There were several crews that called The Garden State Plaza home, and each of us had our own “territory,” where we would rock some footbag, smoke, drink, and talk junk about the patrons that were actually there to buy something. Our clique staked claim near the Old Entrance 1, the crème de la crème of spots back then.

Entrance 1 gave us access to the food court and all the free samples we could eat, the bus stop was within eye sight, and Sam Goody was a 5 minute stroll away. For those of you that are confused, Sam Goody was a brick and mortar store that sold CD’s because at that time downloading one song took literally 20 hours.

Even though it has been quite some time since my friends and I called the GSP our home away from home, I still consider it to be my mall, and that specific area is special to me. Sam Goody went the way of the Dodo bird after being acquired by Best Buy, and the mall has had several face lifts since I kicked my last Footbag outside Entrance 1, but it still pained me to see a shoe store, a furniture store, or a clothing store occupy the space that once was the most popular storefront in the mall.

Yo! Sushi Sign

My suffering was extinguished recently when I heard that Yo! Sushi was moving into my old stomping ground, and from what I heard about this innovative Sushi joint, I was ecstatic. As stated above, the GSP will forever be my mall, and I was proud that MY MALL was chosen to be the first Yo! Sushi restaurant to open in the United States! Take that Palisades Center, perhaps they heard that you are slowly sinking into the earth!

YoSushi Entrace

Yo! Sushi is not just your run-of-the-mill Sushi place that you can find on every corner in North Jersey.   Yo! Sushi is delivering the art of “kaiten,” or conveyor belt sushi to our beloved mall, and you should be Fraking excited about it! That is right, I said conveyor belt sushi, as in, the chef expertly prepares your sushi in their open air kitchen, places the dish on the conveyor belt, and then that piece of fish travels throughout the restaurant until a customer yoinks it off the belt and devours it.

The Yo! Sushi delivery system!

The Yo! Sushi delivery system!

As the late great Billy Mays used to say, “But wait there’s more!” Yo! Sushi is not just about Sushi; they serve over 80 Japanese inspired dishes that include hot classics, sashimi, tempura, salads, hand rolls and desserts! I, for one, love Sushi, but if your date, comrade, buddy, mother, sister, or brother does not, have no fear Yo! Sushi has something for them to sink their teeth into

Calamari anyone?

Calamari anyone?

The procedure at Yo! Sushi is as simple as it is ingenious:

Step 1: Find a Seat

Step 2: Sit down, you look weird just standing there looking at a chair!

Step 3: Order your drinks and specials from the extremely helpful staff.

Step 4: Keep your eyes on the conveyor belt of yummy that will deliver fresh mouthwatering sushi directly to your table and eat.

Yo! Sushi Takoyaki

These balls were freaking Amazeballs!!!

How do they know how much Sushi you crammed in your craw, you ask? It is simple! When you have had your fill, just tell a team member you are tapping out, and they will count your dishes and charge you accordingly. Each dish is color coded and matches a price guide that you will find in your menu.   This way you can keep track of the damage as you fervently grab plate after plate of gorgeously prepared amazeballs, no seriously, they have a Crispy Octopus ball that is called Takoyaki (See Above) that I am pretty sure is the origin of that word!

I know this is all sorts of American but I like my Wasabi in my soy.  Deal with it Trolls!

I know this is all sorts of American, but I like my Wasabi in my soy. Deal with it Trolls!

Half the fun of Yo! Sushi is trying to identify the item that is passing by you on the belt before it is out of your reach and could end up in someone else’s belly. Eating at Yo! Sushi is like being on Tinder; sometimes you swipe left when you meant to swipe right, and your soul mate ends up dating Atticus Mc Hipster Pants.

These balls were freaking Amazeballs!

A bird’s eye view of the open kitchen.

Kat and I were invited to experience Yo! Sushi during their soft opening soiree, and we are very grateful that they included us! Even though they had just opened, we could not have been more impressed. The staff was friendly and helpful, the ambiance was hip and chic, and the food was utterly magnificent. I have been to numerous Sushi spots all over this country, and I believe that Yo! Sushi was on par with the best of the best of them. The fish was fresh, the rolls were skillfully constructed, the variety was immense, and the creativity should be applauded.

Ain't that pretty!

Ain’t that pretty!

Yo! Sushi may not be the best spot for a first date due to the hustle and bustle, but in my opinion, it is the perfect place for a second or third date, a gathering between friends, or a dinner shared by a recently realized, “old married couple,” like ourselves to reminisce about the days of yore.

Kanpai (Kan-pie) translates to

Kanpai (Kan-pie) translates to “dry the glass” and is how you say cheers in Japan.

If all these damn words did not convince you check out my stash of leftover food porn from the Yo! Sushi soft opening party!

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Yo! Sushi on Urbanspoon

The Blue Collar Foodie Goes On A Foodcation

When normal people go on Vacation, they spend hours, if not days, obsessing over which monuments to visit or which museum has the most, must see artwork, within its confines.  I however am not an ordinary person, I am a foodie through and through and my vacation planning begins with the googles and ends with a list of must have foodie finds for whatever foreign land I am venturing to.

In the past, I have ate my way through a road trip spanning across this beautiful country of ours sampling all the spectacular food that the fly over states have to offer.  Kat and I then went on an International foodcation to see what eats Europe had to offer, while stopping off at London, Paris, and Rome. No matter where Kat and I journey, as Snoop  Dogg once kind of said, “We got our mind on our food, and our food on our mind.”

This past week Kat and I were traipsing through LA LA land, over on the left coast, and I was not disappointed with the fantastic food that I found while I lived among the movie stars and crazy meth addled homeless people that seem to live next door to each other in good ole’ Los Angles. The following is my Top 5 Blue Collar Foodie finds in the L.A. area.

5.  Bar Kitchen 819 S. Flower Street, Downtown LA

“When in Rome” is the Cliché that should roll off every foodie’s tongue when foodcationing (Yes I just made that word up and by the way, it is Trademarked).  One should not go to Philadelphia and opt to eat a Cheese Steak without Cheez Whiz because they are on a diet, just like one should not go to the Musée du Louvre in Paris and opt not to see the Mona Lisa because the line is too long, it is decisions like these that make the rest of the world believe that Americans are uncouth, and this foodie will not allow that to happen on his watch.

With this thought in mind, I could not let my fellow East Coasters down, even if every frugal bone in my body was tingling like Spiderman’s spidey sense at Doctor Octopus’s New Years Eve Party, as I walked into the posh downtown eatery known as Bar Kitchen.  From the moment I walked into this establishment my hipstrometer, which of course is my scientific device that measures the approximate hipster level a restaurant gives off, was reading Michael Cera in a Starbucks with a Mac Book Pro, which is the highest reading I have ever seen before.

When in Rome I thought to myself as we were seated adjacent to the wall that was showing a looped, muted, black and white version of The Never Ending Story and offered a libation before our five course Chef’s Tasting began.  I ordered a Golden Road, Point the Way I.P.A, which is one of the few beers that is brewed and bottled in sunny Los Angeles, California.

With my first bite of the first course, a Quail salad with sweet potatoes and pomegranate seeds, I was ready to don an ascot, black glasses, and sing to Weezer while driving down Hollywood Boulevard in my Smart Car.  With every bite I was whisked away to a foodie paradise via Falcore the Luck Dragon, the creepy flying dog from The Never Ending Story, and I savored every second of it.

With a tiny bird and some greens in my belly, the courses hit the table like a flurry of punches from Mike Tyson, not the pigeon wrangling medicated Tyson either, the biting people’s ears off crazy Tyson.  The Mussels with Catalina beans and Tasso Ham were so rich and decadent they would make Bill Gates jealous, a Chicken Chorizo skewer topped with a lime aioli that tasted as if it was grilled on Jesus’s barbecue outside the pearly gates, and a Sock-Eye Salmon that was served with Fava beans and an Olive Compote that was so light and flaky that I mistook it for actress and damn near asked it for its autograph.

With the savory courses done, our Motley Crew sat back in our chairs like the hedonistic rulers of age old societies as we loosened our belts and discussed the fine food that graced our table in celebration of our friend Benni’s bachelor party and all agreed that this grub was in fact better than the obligatory stripper laced bachelor party that is the ordinary agenda for a party of this magnitude.   Just when we thought we could not eat another bite, a small glass of sherbet and cantaloupe arrived in front of each of us.  The chef at Bar kitchen is apparently smarter than the average bear, and knows no one in Los Angles can turn down Sherbet and Fruit no matter how stuffed they are.  This final course was simply divine and was the perfect ending to a tremendous meal.

When I entered this eatery I fell into the age old trap of judging a book by its cover and I was wrong to do so.  To add insult to my injury their price was half as much as one would expect to pay a New York Restaurant for a 5 course tasting meal, and I gladly ate the chef’s humble pie for only 35 bucks!  Well done Bar Kitchen, my compliments to the chef.

Bar & Kitchen on Urbanspoon

 

4.  Bob’s Big Boy 4211 Riverside Dr. Burbank, CA

There are quite a few things that New Jersey is known for, some of them we are proud of and others, not so much. A true Jersey native will proudly boast about first game of baseball being played in Hoboken, cringe at any Snookie related nonsense, and give you directions to one of the 17 billion malls that are located in the Garden State.   Even though New Jersey is known for all of these things, the one thing that Jersey has that no New Jersian can truly live without, is the magical Diner.  In most of the other states that I have traveled to finding a Diner is quite a task, but not in our wonderful little armpit. I am pretty sure that every town has a law about having at least one diner, and if that diner closes your town risks being shunned and forced to become a part of Pennsylvania, and believe me, no one wants that.

Everyone enjoys having a small slice of home when they are on vacation, including Kat and I, so if we can have breakfast  at a diner when we are away  it makes the start of the day that much better. Enter Bob’s Big Boy, which is not just any old run of the mill diner, but a full service diner that has been feeding the residents of Burbank, California since 1949.  Whenever we are in the L.A. area Bob’s Big Boy is a must stop for at least one leisurely breakfast.

The door for Bob’s in Burbank is like a time portal that whisks you away back to the 1950’s when Diners were chock full of plump oversized booths  and smiling waitresses.  As you walk into this amazing historical landmark, you can feel the Americana oozing from every corner, from the plague that informs you where the Beatles ate to Bob Big Boy statue that is displayed within the dining area.   If there is one thing better than the décor, it is the deliciously comforting food.

At Bob’s you can, of course, get the normal diner fare, but in my opinion normal is just another way to say mundane.  If you decide to go visit Bob in Burbank I recommend getting the Big Boy Scramble which is described as scrambled eggs mixed with ham, bell pepper, onions and tomato, topped with cheddar cheese and is served with fresh hash brown potatoes, a side of salsa and toast, English muffin or biscuit if you are hungry yet want to appear healthy.  I for one, use the mantra go big or go home a lot when I am on vacation, so when I go to Bob’s I order the Deep Fried French Toast with bacon, eggs, and home fries.   That’s right I said DEEP FRIED FRENCH TOAST, try to read the rest of the article before booking a flight to Big Boy Land please.

Bob's Big Boy on Urbanspoon

3.  Food Trucks (Lardon’s Obituary)

The first time Kat and I wandered around the streets of California we had never partook in the offerings of mobile gastronomy purveyors, or food trucks in layman’s terms.  It was on this first adventure to Los Angles that Kat and I realized the folly of our ways.  While we were looking for expensive chic restaurants in preparation for our trip, we should have been scouring the interwebs for mobile eateries and then chasing them down California Highway Patrol style sans the goofy looking tan shorts and bad 80’s hair.

The food truck that converted us to the church of portable cuisine was none other than the delectably decadent Lardon.  This now extinct beast was the countries’ first and, as far as I know the only Bacon themed food truck.   Lardon was so popular due to its Baconey goodness that it was featured on numerous Television Shows including everyone’s favorite Ginger, Conan O’Brien.  Just reading Lardon’s menu literally added cholesterol to your system.  Some of the menu highlights were, The Bacone which consisted of three strips of exotic bacon, such as Duck or Wild Boar, Chicken Wings covered in bacon hot sauce, topped with hot sauce covered bacon served with a bacon blue cheese dipping sauce, and of course the BACO, a Taco Shell made entirely out of BACON!

I honestly could write a dozen sonnets in iambic pentameter about Lardon and their porky yumminess, but alas they are no more, so I will mourn in silence for our deceased friend.  In the meantime, let me explain how these trucks work for those of you who are not in the know.  The first step is to find a truck you are interested in trying before you arrive in L.A., which is easy enough thanks to the good ol’ googles.  If you are feeling lazier than usual, you can choose one from the Zagat’s Top 10 L.A. food truck list.

Once you have a truck in mind, for example the Grill ‘Em All truck, head over to their website and check out how you can follow them around town.  Most trucks use their Twitter and Facebook feeds to tell potential clients where their truck will be parked for breakfast, lunch, and diner.   Once you are following your food truck via your preferred method of social media, the rest is simple.  Check feed, find truck, and eat food.

The food truck scene in California is amazing because the weather year round is perfect for outdoor dining and standing in line.  Although the New York Metropolitan area is trying to catch up, there seems to be a lot more red tape on this coast that these small businesses have to cut through in order to open up shop.   With that said, these mobile business ventures do seem to disappear overnight never to be heard from again, so if you see one you like and you have the opportunity to eat there, do it while you can.

2. Smoke House  4420 W Lakeside Dr. Burbank, CA

While driving around the Burbank area, Kat and I drove past this unassuming eatery and noticed a neon sign that read, “fine food at a fair price.”  You would think that the sign read, “Free Bacon,” because the next day Kat and I were on our way to explore Smoke House with some friends and family that we were visiting with during our stay.

Me, being me could not resist doing a little research on the place before just walking in, so out the I-Phone came and onto the Googles I went.  I found out that the Smoke House is one of the oldest restaurants in Burbank, California and was opened in 1946.  Due to its location, near the Warner Brother’s Studio, it became a haven for celebrities in its hay day.  Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Errol Flynn, Milton Berle, Judy Garland, and even James Dean could be found dining at the Smoke House on any given Friday night back in the day.   While now George Clooney and Andy Garcia are known to pop in from time to time, Clooney even named his production company after this place.  The more and more I read about this spot, the more and more I knew I needed to eat there.

The Smokehouse Restaurant is yet another time travel device tucked away in Burbank California.  As you walk in, the old Hollywood Lounge vibe is stronger than Charlie Sheen’s coffee after a weekend binge.   I almost expected to hear a traditional lounge singer crooning over a bad P.A. system and be assaulted by plumes of cigarette smoke from the patrons.   As we traveled to our table, the nostalgia level only increased, from the in booth telephone jacks, the artwork on the walls, this was in fact Hollywood the way I only wish I could experience it.

Not only was I excited just to have the opportunity to dine at this sweet establishment, when we looked at the menu is only got better.  We had apparently arrived at the Smoke House during their 66th Anniversary celebration and we were able to order off a special menu that shaved off about 7 dollars a plate.   My research insisted Kat and I try the Smoke House famous Prime Rib with a side order of “The World’s Best Garlic Bread,” and we are not ones to argue with the foodie community or the googles for that matter, so Prime Rib it was.

Not only did I feel like a pimp sitting in this restaurant, I felt like a King eating the food.  The Garlic Bread was bursting with flavor; the salad portion was larger than Christina Ricci’s five head; and the Prime Rib was simply amazing.  To top it all off, the wait staff was wonderful and treated us like we were one of the many celebrities that has placed their rump in their vintage comfy seats.

If you find yourself in Burbank, California and you don’t hit this remarkable establishment up, you sir have failed the foodie that lives inside of you.

Smoke House on Urbanspoon

1: IN AND OUT BURGER (212 locations in CA)

If you don’t know about In and Out Burger, then you need to fly to the West Coast immediately and put some of their crazy good burgers in your belly.  I know I have done articles about Gastro Burgers and sung their praises but there is something about the simplicity of a good old fashioned In And Out burger that makes my stomach smile.  You can ask Kat, when I enter a state that has an In and Out located within its borders (Arizona, California, Nevada, Texas, or Utah) we are driving until In and Out is in my belly.

Before I get a hundred nasty grams from you guys, I should clarify that I am fully aware that it is just a burger and fries from yet another fast food restaurant.  But, because I can only have one every so often they become a forbidden fruit, a red button that you are told not to press, or a wrapped toy that you can’t play it, it gets to the point that I dream about them.

Not to mention the fact that In and Out has a super not so secret menu that you can order off of to procure items that are not listed on their very limited menu.  If you do intend to go to an In and Out during your travels you should definitely study this clandestine menu so you can experience the best  In and Out has to offer.   I love ordering off the secret menu because you feel as if you are a member of a fraternal order and only you and the cashier know the handshake.

I have a standard order when I go to In and Out for the first time in a long time.  I get myself a Double Double Animal Style with a side of Animal Style fries and wait in anticipation for them to call my number.  After ordering, I am like a child on Christmas morning waiting for their parents to wake up, I pace around the restaurant in anticipation getting the napkins and ketchup prepared so when my number is called all I have to do it sit and eat.

In and Out Burger has been pumping out fantastic burgers and fries since 1948 and the basic process has remained the same.    They don’t freeze, pre-package or over-process their beef patties.  They hand leaf their lettuce so each piece is inspected before landing on your burger.  Their fries are individually cut at the store that you walk into, so they are the freshest they can be.  The best way to put it is that In and Out Burger just make things the old-fashioned way, and that is why their food tastes so good.

I, by no means claim to have a working knowledge of the California Foodie Scene and I am sure a California native could throw out the name of ten places that are bigger and better than the five restaurants I mentioned above, but then they have missed the point of this article completely.  This post is merely designed to explain that a vacation can be turned into a foodcation with a little research and an open mind.   Next time you venture out of your area don’t just visit the monuments and museums, explore the local culture one forkful at a time.