Archive for the 'Burgers' Category

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Umami Burger – Pasadena

Umami Burger - Pasadena

In the span of less than five years, restaurateur Adam Fleischman has expanded his “fine-dining fast food” concept Umami Burger across Los Angeles and into San Francisco and New York City. Just last week, an outlet popped up in my Pasadena stomping grounds, taking over the space formerly occupied by Naga Naga Ramen. My cousin Phil and I swung by last Thursday evening to scope out the latest addition to our neighborhood.

Umami Burger - Pasadena

The Pasadena location has a full alcohol license, which means plenty of beer, wine, sake, and liquor to keep burger-goers hydrated. Even though the cocktails sounded mighty enticing, especially the “Perfect Pear” with vodka, honey, lemon, and mint, I opted for a bottle of fancy pants cream soda instead. Phil went for a gin and tonic, his most favorite drink in all of the land.

Umami Burger - Pasadena

Like my dear Astronomer, Phil isn’t much of a pickle guy, so I cleaned house on the “House Pickles” ($5) solo. From the selection of beets, shitake mushrooms, bread and butters, cauliflower, okra, tomatoes, kimchi, and spicy cucumbers, I was most impressed with the curried florets and properly funky kimchi.

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{swoon} Double Cheeseburger at Hawkins House of Burgers

Hawkins House of Burgers - Watts

One bite of the Double Cheeseburger at Hawkins House of Burgers and you’ll wonder why cooks bother with frou-frou touches like gorgonzola, brioche, arugula, and secret sauces. This straightforward setup of Angus beef, shredded lettuce, tomatoes, onions, pickles, and American cheese in between mayonnaise- and mustard-slathered commercial buns is an absolute slam-dunk.

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UMAMIcatessen – Los Angeles (Downtown)

UMAMIcatessen - Downtown - Los Angeles

I’m not the kind of gal that usually frequents a restaurant during its soft opening, but when I heard that there’d be fried-to-order doughnuts at UMAMIcatessen, I had to make an exception. Doughnuts are my rapture.

UMAMIcatessen is located on a stretch of Broadway that’s lined with fluorescent-lit stores selling jewelry and poofy quinceanera dresses. Some might find this part of town a bit iffy, but I’ve been stuck in the suburbs for so long that I couldn’t get enough of its grit.

UMAMIcatessen - Downtown - Los Angeles

I came in for an early dinner last Thursday night along with my friends Nastassia and Darin. The space was humming but not busy, so we were seated promptly at a table fit for four. By the time we left a few hours later, the entire room was packed with a line outside the door. News of fried-to-order doughnuts spreads quickly, I guess.

UMAMIcatessen - Downtown - Los Angeles

UMAMIcatessen, a genius creation of restauranteur Adam Fleischman (Umami Burger, Red Medicine, 800 Degrees), is widely referred to as a  “food emporium.” Really though, its just a regular restaurant with a more-varied-than-most menu.
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Villains Tavern – Los Angeles (Downtown)

Villains Tavern - Downtown

From an eater’s perspective, it seems that the next chapter in Los Angeles’ gourmet food truck movement is just getting underway. Businesses that started by serving meals on wheels are transitioning into brick and mortar operations or popping up at established restaurants for limited engagements. Food trucking isn’t sustainable in the long run and as a result, businesses are expanding their brands and diversifying their services for a greater shot at success.

Kogi has grown its Korean taco empire to include two restaurants, Chego and A-Frame. Get Shaved has two independent shops in Northridge and Torrance. Komodo just opened a restaurant on Pico Boulevard. And in a few short weeks, Flying Pig will be serving pork belly buns in Little Tokyo.

Villains Tavern - Downtown

My friends aboard the Great Balls on Tires truck have been working toward expanding their concept as well. Every Tuesday night for the past few months, they’ve been serving an “off-tires” menu at Villains Tavern. I didn’t get around to checking out their new digs until a few weeks ago when Villains debuted their spring cocktail menu. There’s nothing like the promise of well-crafted libations and the best balls in town to get me out of the house on a weeknight.

Villains Tavern - Downtown

Before the parade of balls commenced, The Astronomer and I sipped on some very fine cocktails. I chose the Ma’at, which was made with Sagatiba cachaca, cantaloupe, citrus, and Chilean salt, while my partner went with the Isis made with pisco, basil, cucumber, lemon, lime, egg whites, and sugar. Created by in-house mixologist Dave Whitton, both drinks were well-balanced and delicious, in addition to being potent.

Later on in the night, we sampled the Osiris’ Punch made with rye whiskey, hibiscus, mint, citrus, spices, and bitters. It was a festive bowl of booze that packed quite a wallop.

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