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Pancakes R Us in Costa Mesa

That building was an IHOP until a few years ago when it converted into Pancakes R Us.

Mini Trip Report: Maui mid-November

What's somewhat funny to me is that the sauteed vegetables that came with my uku entree were so good, they are almost more memorable than the fish itself. The whole thing was wonderful, but the vegetables were so richly flavored with herbs/spices I can't stop thinking about them.

I've seen your posts in the past re: staying at the Inn at Mama's and even mentioned the restaurant discount to my wife, but we love the other side of the island too much to stay at the Inn. Tempting, though.

Also, just thought I'd mention that the only reason I was a little bit harsh about the amuse is because, if I remember correctly, one time around eight years ago we had an amuse here of bleu cheese mousse that was served on a spoon, and I still think about it to this day. In comparison, this trip's pineapple coconut water tasted like, well, pineapple coconut water.

Dec 15, 2010
Itslikeimsayin in Hawaii

Mini Trip Report: Maui mid-November

We spent six nights in Napili in mid-November and ate most of our meals in our condo, but here's what we did when we ventured out to eat:

Upon arrival to Maui, we were all very hungry and spotted Las Pinatas in Kahului. We had a quesadilla, an enchilada combo, a taco-enchilada combo and a bean and cheese burrito. Everything was quite good, at least on par with typical independent Southern California Mexican food places, albeit at Maui prices. I'd go back on a future visit to Maui. I think we spent around $45 including three soft drinks and two beers.

One night for dinner we got a roasted chicken at Napili market that was quite good and a bargain for $6.99.

Another night we went to Honokowai Fish Market for fish sandwiches. We got two seared ahi burgers, a mahi mahi burger and a bowl of seafood chowder. The sandwiches were around $11 each and the soup was about $5. This was very good. The seared ahi sandwiches had a nice wasabi kick and my mahi mahi burger had lettuce and tartar sauce. The soup needed salt but was pretty good as well. There was also a taco truck in this parking lot that looked tempting, but we were too full from the fish burgers to try anything. Take note that despite being part "restaurant" and part fish market, Honokowai Fish Market closes pretty early. We were lucky to arrive at 6:50 only to see they closed at 7:00 the night we went.

We went to Mama's Fish House on Sunday for lunch. The bread and butter was good, but the amuse bouche was a disappointment. It was a small cup of pineapple coconut water that was very blah. My wife got the signature macadamia nut crusted mahi mahi stuffed with crab and lobster, I got uku that was cooked with tomatoes, capers and garlic, and our son got seared ahi that I believe was panko crusted as well. All the entrees were amazing, but it's clear why the stuffed mahi mahi is their signature dish. Each bite was unbelievable. We passed on dessert. With one alcoholic drink, two iced teas and the entrees, the bill was around $170. This was my third time at Mama's and really, it wouldn't be a trip to Maui without at least one meal there.

The last meal we ate out on our trip was at the McDonald's Express at Whalers Village. I wouldn't typically mention this here, but I will for two reasons. One, we had gone to Whalers Village in part for the outdoor dance show they have on Monday nights. The McDonald's is nearby in the food court and we turned a simple meal into a poor man's luau of sorts, eating our meal and watching the show. The second reason I mention this meal is because it's maybe the best McDonald's cheeseburger I've had in years. They actually cooked everything to order, despite being tucked in a small space at the end of the food court.

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Mama's Fish House
Paia HI, Paia, HI

Dec 06, 2010
Itslikeimsayin in Hawaii

Inexpensive lunch in Costa Mesa (close to South Coast Plaza)

I've been going semi-regularly to a place off Newhope (near that big Costco) in Fountain Valley called Cancun Fresh. From the outside, it looks like a Baja Fresh but it's much better. They have 99 cent "street tacos" on Tuesdays or a plate of four street tacos available any day for $4.95. They look small but once you start eating them, you realize they have tons of meat. The carnitas are my favorite, followed by the shredded beef. I had a carnitas burrito my first trip there and it was great, too. The menu is full of things I'd like to try, but the tacos are very good and cheap, so it's hard to stray. They offer a free basket of chips with every order.

Here's their website: http://www.cancunfresh.com/

Brooks in Ventura?

My wife and I celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary in Ventura and at Brooks last weekend. We had a great time and really loved Brooks. Shortly after being seated, we were served bread with garlic-infused olive oil for dipping that was delicious. We started the meal with the heirloom tomato salad, which found slices of tomato drizzled with oil and balsamic beneath a phyllo dough pastry filled with a melted mix of three cheeses. It was rather amazing.

For mains, I had the night's "Grill Special" which was a 9 oz. filet mignon with broccoli and mashed potatoes for $34. It was very good from first bite to the last, if not spectacular. My wife opted for the 8 oz. Kobe burger for $24, which was a thing of beauty. The hearty Kobe patty was topped with melted cheese, applewood bacon and a thick, remarkably smooth and rich slab of seared foie gras in addition to the standard lettuce, tomato, etc. It was huge and she chose to eat it mostly with a knife and fork. She was in heaven every bite. Oh yeah, it also came with a heaping pile of truffle parmesan fries and a homemade ketchup that were incredible.

We had a $100 gift certificate from Restaurant.com, so we went for two desserts. We had the Maytag bleu cheesecake and a chocolate-peanut butter layered cake-type thing. The bleu cheese was a tad strong in the cheesecake but worked well when paired with the honey-apricot-pecan (iirc) glaze that accompanied it. The other dessert was indulgent and rich but perhaps too much so. It was nothing incredible.

I would definitely return to Brooks and would probably opt to order my entree a little more adventurously next time. The service was outstanding and the restaurant is sparse yet beautiful inside.

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Brooks
545 East Thompson Boulevard, Ventura, CA 93001

La Jolla mid-price range?

Thanks for all the replies.

Seeing our hotel was adjacent to Fleming's, we ended up trying their new Prime Burger Bar available in the bar as an affordable way to have a decent meal. It worked: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/650779.

I had done some research outside of this thread, so today we went to El Pescador for lunch. I had a local halibut sandwich and my wife had the swordfish sandwich. Both were very good. We then split a bowl of cioppino, which was decent but not anything phenomenal. The total came to a hard-to-beat $30.

I'd recommend both the burger special at Fleming's and El Pescador.

Sep 14, 2009
Itslikeimsayin in San Diego

Fleming's Prime Burger Bar

So we had this last night. It was very good. The Prime burger with cheddar and peppered bacon is delicious, but I sorta "bleu" the call by opting for bleu cheese rather than the cheddar. (Despite what the menu said, they gave us a choice of any cheese: swiss, gruyere, cheddar, bleu...can't remember if there were any others.) The bleu somewhat overpowered the beef flavor. I had a bite of my wife's with the cheddar and it was even better than mine. The onion rings were extremely light and cooked to perfection. The small "wedge" was very good, although it came with a spicy thousand island-type dressing rather than the traditional bleu cheese. The service was fantastic, including offering us a basket of herb bread with champagne brie and ginger-infused butter along with our order.

The fact this burger is only $6 before 7:00 is almost mind blowing.

(This was at the La Jolla, CA location.)

((Thanks Janet.))

Sep 14, 2009
Itslikeimsayin in Chains

Fleming's Prime Burger Bar

Anyone try this yet?

http://www.flemingssteakhouse.com/Ene...

I will be staying in a hotel adjacent to a Fleming's later this month, and would love to know if this is recommended or not. Potentially looks like a good meal at a reasonable price.

Sep 07, 2009
Itslikeimsayin in Chains

La Jolla mid-price range?

My wife and I will be in La Jolla next weekend for one night and would love something interesting but not too pricey. Anything available in the mid-range $15-20 pp that might end up $60 or so with a drink and maybe a dessert? Open to most cuisines; would like something reflective of the locale if possible.

I know this is kind of vague but any replies might give me a good starting point.

Thanks.

Sep 06, 2009
Itslikeimsayin in San Diego

Yuma

Yes, that sounds like the place my friend described.

Your post only confirmed my desire to go to Los Manjares de Pepe, but unfortunately, your town seems to turn in early. We pulled up to the parking lot around 8:35 Monday night, just as a guy was turning off the lights. He informed us they were closed and shut the door both to the restaurant and on my hopes of having a good meal. My son wasn't feeling adventurous enough to try a taco stand, so we looked for something more his style. I don't dare admit where we ended up eating here on Chowhound.

Next time I'm headed through Yuma, I'll plan to get there a little earlier. Thanks for all the great insight and your blog, Ed.

Dec 01, 2008
Itslikeimsayin in Southwest

Yuma

Anyone know where it was Huell Howser went on his "Southeast Corner of California" episode? My friend told me about it and said something about some great-looking potato tacos. My family and I will be in Yuma Monday night for one night.

Nov 23, 2008
Itslikeimsayin in Southwest

LaRocco's Pizzeria - A Quick Hit

Also a LaRocco's that sounds identical to this in San Clemente. I'm betting they are related.

BEST FRENCH FRIES IN LOS ANGELES

I recall having really great fries at Cafe Pinot, albeit at least 10 years ago.

Excellent Pizza in OC?

The original post calls for a crispy crust, though. On that requirement, I'd definitely recommend Big O over Antonucci's.

Anthony Bourdain in PHX [moved from Southwest board]

I bet Hohokam is correct and that the real draw for Bourdain was the notion of Alice Cooper's restaurant, not so much the food. I live in Southern California but semi-frequently attend Suns games when in town and have eaten at Cooper'sTown probably half a dozen times. I think their baby back ribs are really very good, and other things are decent as well.

Of course it's not a culinary pinnacle but his show needs a variety of restaurants anyway.

Italian Green Beans: Where are you? [Moved from Home Cooking board]

How come it seems so rare to see the flat, Italian green beans in a frozen vegetable section anymore?

Apr 04, 2008
Itslikeimsayin in General Topics

Pit Fire Pizza

I went to the downtown location last night and had the fennel sausage (I think they call it the "Pitfire Sausage") pizza. It was pretty underwhelming. It wasn't bad, but it was quite bland and none of the toppings stood out in any memorable way. I prefer a crunchier crust as well.

Jeans-Free Dining in L.A./O.C.

The restaurant at Hotel Bel-Air had (and I assume still has) a jacket and tie dress code last time I ate there, but that was more than six years ago.

Lawry's the Prime Rib - Saturday night

Note: There are a lot of mentions of Lawry's on the board, but not many recaps that I could find, so I decided to write this in case someone wants a "walk-through" of sorts on the Lawry's experience.

Had an 8:30 reservation for 3 on Saturday night at Lawry's. I've only been there a handful of times and my wife and I were taking our nine-year-old son (who definitely appreciates good food) here for the first time. We got stuck in traffic and arrived a minute or two late, and walked in to find the lobby extremely packed with people, as I expected it would be. We approached the desk only to overhear someone complaining that they were told they'd be seated by a certain time and still weren't, and were being told they possibly might not be seated until 9:15. The woman at the desk, clearly exasperated, took our name and just sort of muttered that they'd call us when our table was ready. We turned to walk away and find a seat, and like magic, my name was called within about 20 seconds.

We were seated at a great, semi-circle booth against the wall and given menus. Very soon our waitress arrived and took our drink order (3 iced teas), appetizer order (shrimp cocktail) and asked if we were all having prime rib. We all said yes and away she went. Our drinks arrived and so did a basket of delicious warm sourdough bread and butter. The bread had an excellent crunchy crust protecting a very soft yet substantial inside. Our shrimp cocktail arrived shortly thereafter. It was straightforward and very good, consisting of five large shrimp, cocktail sauce and a lemon wedge.

Moments later our waitress arrived and created our "famous spinning salad" for us, which was also great. The croutons are slightly sweet, adding a nice touch. While eating our salads, I mentioned that if I hadn't been so hungry, I think I would have felt as if they were rushing us a bit. But seeing that all three of us were very hungry, it worked out fine. A quartet of Christmas carolers continually walked throughout the spacious dining room, singing both while walking and stopping at specific tables. They stopped and sang God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen for us as we finished our salads.

Soon the giant steel cart (that my son said resembles a blimp) arrived and our waitress asked which cuts we wanted and conveyed our order to the carver. My wife got the California cut, my son the Lawry's cut (which was served with a rib bone) and I got the Diamond Jim Brady cut (thicker and also served with a rib bone). We got one creamed corn and one creamed spinach, and were also given one big Yorkshire pudding, which was split among the three of us. We all ordered medium rare cuts, and I think next time I would go medium. I've always enjoyed medium rare but I think the texture and consistency of the meat would have been more to my liking at medium. The prime rib was good, but I can't say it was sublime or anything. Next time, I'll get the Lawry's cut, as it is plenty big.

We closed the meal with the C.C. Brown's hot fudge sundae, and for all the build-up, I didn't find the hot fudge all that much to my liking. It's extremely sweet hot fudge. The tableside preparation is sorta fun, though.

With the exception of that first woman we encountered, the staff was extremely friendly and gracious throughout our night. Having not been to Lawry's for more than a decade, I enjoyed it quite a bit, but I'm not dying to go back again immediately.

REVIEW w/ pics: Vito's Pizza

I was there last night (my third trip there, twice in the last few weeks) and I love it. I disagree with describing the crust as having a "leathery" bottom. I think it has a perfect little crunch that gives way to a rather chewy, yet soft bread inside.

I do wonder if they can achieve that same crisp edge/soft inside on a pizza that is made to order. I've only ordered from the slice offerings. Last night it was one pesto with that great ricotta on it and one terra firma.

Christmas Eve at Lawry's or The Grill?

Don't rely solely on OpenTable for Lawry's reservation info. I just called last night and got a reservation for this Saturday at 8:30, while OpenTable says they have nothing until 10:30.

ISO a GREAT Frisco Burger

Another "chain" suggestion but I've always liked the Frisco burger at Claim Jumper. I think theirs comes with swiss cheese but I substitute cheddar.

COSTA MESA/NEWPORT/HUNTINGTON BEACH 2 + KID WANT MEXICAN SIT DOWN TONIGHT IN THE AREA SUGGESTIONS

El Matador.

(Fiesta Maya in Huntington Beach isn't a bad alternative.)

Tempe/Phoenix Reccs=Thanksgiving Weekend

If you're making a trip for the SC/ASU game, I'm assuming you're a big sports fan, and if that's the case, I'd recommend Don & Charlie's in Scottsdale for steak. I don't think it has a great reputation on this board, but I've always enjoyed it thoroughly. During Spring Training, it's a must-visit for both fans and baseball personnel. The decor is all sports memorabilia.

I've had their rib eye, prime rib and filet mignon/baby back rib combination several times each and enjoyed them all. The meal begins with a rather unique bread basket with chopped liver.

During Spring Training, it's not easy to get a reservation. I don't know what it's like this time of year, though.

http://www.azeats.com/DonAndCharlies/...

EDIT: to add that downtown, I also like the baby back ribs at (Alice Cooper's) Cooper'sTown sports bar behind U.S. Airways Center.

Nov 20, 2007
Itslikeimsayin in Phoenix

Vito's -- it's perfect!

Made my second trip there yesterday with two others and we all really loved everything we got – two slices of margherita, one pepperoni, one Mediterranean veggie, one pesto and one terra firma. The crust is so perfect. The highlights for me were the ricotta on the veggie and pesto slices and the sausage on the terra firma.

Best Fish Taco in Ensenada in Los Feliz

At Tacos Baja Ensenada, I prefer the fish tacos to the shrimp. I visited Best Fish Taco in Ensenada yesterday for the first time, and the opposite was true. I started with two fish tacos that were good but far from mind-blowing. I put cabbage and crema on both and added the avocado salsa to one of them. I then got a shrimp taco and had it with cabbage, crema and the mango salsa. It was very, very good. I'll be back here often for a few shrimp tacos.

San Pedro Fish Market

My wife, son and I went to San Pedro Fish Market for the first time Saturday evening. We chose to bypass the fresh fish side and go straight to the "Fast Food" part and ordered two orders of fish and chips ($7.95 ea.), a squid and chips ($7.95) and a shrimp cocktail ($9) and three soft drinks. (Altogether it was $38 and change.) None of it met our expectations. The shrimp cocktail was best, mixed with tomatoes and cilantro. The fish and chips seemed like tilapia and was picked from bins of pre-fried offerings behind the cashier. The french fries were greasy and soggy and the cole slaw was decent. I was also surprised by tartar sauce coming in small packets rather than making their own. The environment was sorta fun if you're in the mood for it -- it was packed with people and music of various types was being played loudly.

Having read good things about this place from Jonathan Gold and seeing it on some Food Network show, the food was a big letdown.

OC Fair Food

A $10 corn dog? No way.

Anyone been to Pete's lately?

I posted this elsewhere as well but I just went there about 10 days ago for the first time and it failed to meet the lofty expectations set by numerous threads on this board. The Hellman burger was decent, like someone else said very much a hotel room service-type burger, and the bleu cheese fries were okay but nothing extraordinary.

Favourite Cheeseburger in LA

I had heard a lot about this burger and finally tried it Saturday night. It was good, but nothing spectacular. It reminded me of a hotel burger for the most part. Also, the bleu cheese fries everyone raves about were nothing special. The bleu cheese had no tang to it -- I almost wondered if they'd run out of bleu cheese and substituted some other cheese. I liked the space a lot so I'm kinda bummed the food didn't live up to the expectations set by so many posts on Chowhound.