There is no greater aperitif than a long walk. Strolling at an easy pace, admiring buildings and people along the way, works up an appetite like sitting in traffic never can.
While the number of restaurants within walking distance (and worth eating at) isn’t tremendous in our Pasadena neighborhood, The Astronomer and I have a solid list of go-to places including Pie ‘n Burger, Old Sasoon Bakery, and Cham Korean Bistro. Our most recent addition to the walkable and craveable list is Zankou Chicken, an L.A. institution located about a mile from home.
This much-loved rotisserie chicken shack was founded in Beirut in 1962 by Vartkes and Markrid Iskenderian. The couple fled war-torn Lebanon and opened the first American branch of Zankou in Hollywood in 1984. There are currently ten Zankou locations in and around the Southland.
Zankou is run much like a fast food establishment. Orders are placed and paid for at the counter, and numbers are shouted out as food is ready for pick up. Business was bumping the Friday night we visited. Still, lines moved efficiently and food was prepared swiftly.
Continue reading ‘Zankou Chicken – Pasadena’
An irresistible invite from Bellagio brought The Astronomer and me to Las Vegas for a weekend of dynamite wining and dining. After arriving at the hotel, checking into our room, and dropping off our bags, we strolled over to Sirio Maccioni‘s famed Le Cirque for a late-night supper.
Le Cirque, which opened 38 years ago in New York City, made its Las Vegas debut at the Bellagio in 1998. The restaurant is the recipient of the AAA Five Diamond rating, as well as one Michelin star.
Set under a plush circus tent, Le Cirque’s elegant and lively dining room felt miles away from the din of slot machines. In a city where bigger is generally regarded as better, this intimate space felt like a real treat.
Whereas New York’s Le Cirque is set among skyscrapers, this location is perched lakeside, overlooking the hotel’s famous fountains. Every fifteen minutes, The Astronomer and I were entranced by the dancing water and shimmering lights. It felt quintessentially Vegas, and maybe a little cheesy, but we loved it anyway.
Continue reading ‘Le Cirque – Las Vegas (Bellagio)’
Weekend brunches and seafood shacks are two of my favorite things, so it was only a matter of time before I made my way to Hungry Cat. A collaboration between Maryland native Chef David Lentz and his wife Chef Suzanne Goin, the restaurant is famous for impeccably fresh seafood, served without fuss, just like they do back east.
The concept has been so well received that the restaurant has opened outlets in Santa Barbara and Santa Monica in addition to its original Hollywood location where I dined.
With the restaurant located on an uber-touristy stretch in Hollywood, I found it impossible to channel the seaside spirit. Still, the restaurant tried its best to evoke that eastern seaboard ambiance with fresh lobsters and oysters on display over ice and pictures of cats eating the day’s catch.
My friend Amy and I shared a selection of oysters to start. With three varieties on deck this afternoon, I decided to go for one of each—Kumiai from Mexico, Chincoteague from Virginia, and Malpeque from Prince Edward Island, Canada.
The oysters were shucked to order and served with lemon wedges, a red wine vinegar, a rice wine vinegar with ginger, and cocktail sauce. Slurping these briny bivalves instantly transported me somewhere beachy.
Continue reading ‘Hungry Cat – Los Angeles (Hollywood)’
Fast food chains generally make me queasy, but I couldn’t help feeling warm and fuzzy inside when I spotted the bright yellow sign for Bojangles‘ in the distance. I read about this storied southern chain years ago and have been curious to taste their signature Chicken ‘n Biscuits and Bo-Berry Biscuits ever since. Sometimes, my soft spot for regional specialties overpowers my disdain for everything fast food.
The Astronomer and his awesomely adventurous sister Rosalind joined me at Bojangles’ even though neither quite understood my fascination with the place.
Launched in 1977 in Charlotte, North Carolina, Bojangles’ currently has over 500 outlets across ten states and Washington, D.C. There are even two international locations in Honduras. For those residing here on the west coast, the closest Bojangles’ is somewhere down in Mississippi.
We began with an order of Bojangles’ “famous” Chicken ‘n Biscuits, which was comprised of a seasoned breast filet served on a buttermilk biscuit. Pounded thin and heavily battered, the chicken tickled our tongues with its blend of Cajun spices. The biscuit, which the restaurant claimed was “made-from-scratch,” was buttery, doughy, and on par with other fast food biscuits I’ve come across.
Continue reading ‘Bojangles’ Famous Chicken ‘n Biscuits – Birmingham’