South Lake Avenue Appreciation Week wraps up today at VeggieGrill, a west coast chain serving meatless fare in a bright and airy fast-casual setting. My mom, who occasionally abstains from meat based on the Buddhist calendar, and I came in for a weekday lunch.
After placing our order at the front counter, we snagged a table and plopped down our number (and bums). I gathered a few condiments from near the drinks station just in case any additional seasoning was needed. Blandness is sadness.
The first dish to arrive at the table was the “Chill Out Wings” ($6.95), battered and deep-fried wheat gluten served with house-made ranch and roasted pepper sauce. Both Mom and I were big fans of the crisp-golden seitan rods. She dipped hers in ranch dressing, while the roasted red pepper sauce was more my speed.
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South Lake Avenue Appreciation Week rolls on with a stop at Du-par’s. Known for its pancakes and pies, this classic L.A. diner took over the Hamburger Hamlet space last year. Pi Day gave The Astronomer and me the nudge we needed to finally give it a go.
James Dunn and Edward Parsons, who combined their surnames to create the restaurant’s name, opened the first Du-par’s at the Original Farmers Market. There are currently three locations around town, as well as outlets in San Diego and Las Vegas. All Du-par’s are open 24 hours.
The Pasadena location is quite expansive, even boasting a fireplace, but we opted to join the pies in the atrium because it felt festive there given the occasion.
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I’m officially declaring it South Lake Avenue Appreciation Week on Gastronomy! While not nearly as hip a ‘hood as Old Pasadena, South Lake can hold its own, especially when it comes to casual dining.
Though the street is mostly lined with local and national chains like Lemonade, Panda Express, and Souplantation, there are a handful of one-off concepts like PokeMix, too—there’s a time and place for both kinds of establishments.
Pokē is currently having a moment in L.A., with half a dozen shops opening in the past few months. PokeMix, which offers a “Build Your Own Poke Bowl” experience, comes from the folks behind Flour + Tea.
Ordering here is a multi-step process. First, diners select a size: small (2 scoops of main toppings), medium (3 scoops of main toppings), or large (4 scoops of main toppings). Second, a “base” of either rice, greens, or half and half needs be chosen. Third comes the seafood— salmon, spicy tuna, albacore, shrimp, scallops, and krab. And finally, a plethora of garnishes and sauces to finish.
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Do you remember those Hair Club for Men commercials from the 80s? The ones that end with: “I’m not just the president of Hair Club for Men, I’m also a client.” Well, I’m not just a Scout for the Los Angeles Times, I’m also a Scout Report reader. A powerful testimonial and roaring endorsement all at once, right?
After reading Louise’s Scout Report for Happy Tasty, I immediately made a date with The Astronomer and Mike, our friend and constant Chinese food companion, to check it out.
Wuhan cuisine, which is influenced by the spicy traditions of neighboring Sichuan and Hunan, is a region we’ve yet to experience on our San Gabriel Valley explorations.
I was most excited to try the quintessential Wuhan-style dry hot pot. Happy Tasty refers to it as a “Spicy Hot Pot” on their menu. Every pot includes potatoes, cauliflower, celery, tiger lily buds, black fungus, and lotus root ($8.99) and a choice of two proteins. We selected lamb ($7.99) and beef tripe ($7.99).
Continue reading ‘Happy Tasty – San Gabriel’