“Anytime You’re Hungry, Everybody Goes to Rick’s”

After you finish a great day of Travelin’ Local, if you’re in the San Gabriel Valley, Rick’s Drive In & Out is a local institution where you can get “Cheap Eats” but you won’t be “Eating Cheap.”

Rick's Drive In & Out

Made fresh with each order, the burgers are cooked the old-fashioned way, right on the grill. Their French Fries are the crinkle cut variety, and with a little salt added, hit the spot. As you can see from the menu posted above, their offerings are bountiful and affordable.

Next time I go, I’m leaving early to have breakfast—I’m love pancakes or as some call “Hotcakes.” The staff and waitress’ are friendly, the parking lot is large, and it’s a great place to have either American or Mexican authentic meals. As you can see from the picture, they also offer dinners, a Steak or Chicken Picado combination plate.

All in all—I would add Rick’s Drive In & Out to your list of restaurants that offer both good food and good value.

Super Seating

One of the best things about Rick’s—besides their varied and delicious menu–is their bountiful seating. You can eat inside, on a covered patio, or outside. Televisions abound throughout, and it’s a family friendly place as I saw many eating together the day I was there.

Right next door is a small stage where free entertainment is offered—the day I was there a gentlemen was playing a range of melodies and rifts from 60’s music to the Dick Dale School of surfing songs.

Rick's Super Buy

With prices like $5.79 for a full meal, you can’t go wrong. If you want a healthier variety, you can go the way of my friend, who ordered the turkey sandwich which was prepared impeccably. More importantly, the meat was lean, and the sandwich wasn’t overloaded with mayonnaise or any other condiment.

Healthy Turkey

Although I didn’t stay for dessert, they do make fresh pies, puddings, and cheesecake.

After you finish your meal, sit back and people watch, listen to the live band, or just enjoy the conversation of friends.

After a day of Travelin’ Local of visiting history, it’s great to unwind with good food and great company. My taste buds are salivating and my stomach is ready for Travelin’ Local’s next restaurant review.

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King Taco: A Los Angeles Late Night Institution

King Taco

With its ubiquitous delivery trucks, and its Rock Star status as the late night place to eat no matter the time, King Taco, by any and all standards is a Los Angeles Institution. Indeed, after decades of after party, concert, or other event, people have been eating here all night long for decades.

King Taco’s Early Background

Founded in 1974, King Taco began its operation from a converted ice cream truck. This Mexican fast food favorite has since expanded to 20 popular locations throughout Los Angeles County. They service a wide variety of authentic Mexican foods; King Taco has been recognized by prominent food critics and has also placed within the top 100 of Hispanic Business Magazine’s “Top 500 Hispanic Businesses.”

My foray into the heart of this East Los Angeles landmark and food destination was prompted by my need to experience firsthand what people here every day and around the clock desire—fresh, authentic, Mexican food. Indeed, Mexican food lovers attribute King Taco’s success to its use of fresh ingredients and consistent quality.

Well enough talking and now I have to eat my food before it gets cold

Burrito

This was a well crafted and thick Beef Burrito, the beef was cooked tender but well done, and it had a plethora of pinto beans, rice, and lots of slices and dices of onion, tomato, and cilantro. It’s wrapped in a fresh flour tortilla and with its hefty portion size– I couldn’t finish the whole thing, because I had to leave plenty of room for this:

Nachos and Cheese

Taco and Salsa

Naturally, what visit to King Taco wouldn’t be complete without nachos, cheese, and a Tacos de Carnitas, complete with salsa–muy caliente y deliciosa–very hot and delicious. Created from a secret King Taco family recipe, the salsa is made from a variety of chili’s and mixed spices that give it its unique and spicy hot flavor.

Next time, I’ll order something different as their menu is varied and affordable.

So next time your Travelin’ Local, and you get the craving for real and delicious Mexican food, stop at one of the 20 King Taco locations, where you’ll be able to eat like a King, but not pay the price of one.

Koreatown, Kimchi, and Spicy Noodles

Korean Dumplings

Although I’ve had Chinese, Japanese, Thai, and Vietnamese food, I had not tried Korean food until today. Fortunately, for two reasons, a friend of mine has many years sampling various Korean restaurants, noodle shops, and eateries, so when I was in Koreatown, we met for lunch.

Kimchi

For those that are not familiar with Korean food, first of all it is typically served differently than other Asian cuisine—from the appetizers first laid out on the table from Kimchi, to Pickled Radishes, to Spicy Soy Sauce, and hot tea.

Indeed Kimchi, comes in many delectable and creative forms, from Ggakdugi (chopped radish) to Baek Kimchi (White Cabbage), it’s a delicious condiment to add to your rice.

Because this was my first experience with Korean food, I didn’t get too adventurous with my meal, so I ordered the combination plate which included rice, spicy chicken, two dumplings, and a fresh cabbage salad.

Spicy Chicken with Dumplings

I do apologize to my readers–The food was so good, I was already into my half-way point of my “mini-feast” when I suddenly realized I hadn’t taken any pictures yet.

The dumplings were to die for, big and stuffed with moist chicken and spices. Adding the spicy soy sauce, created a match made in heaven.

The sweet/spicy sauce on the chicken–flavored with just the right sweetness–was perfect for lunch. Note to self: Next time take a doggie bag home as the serving sizes are that large.

My girlfriend, who’s more experienced with Korean cuisine, ordered the spicy seafood soup. Brimming full of shrimp, mussels, squid, octopus, noodles, and a very spicy broth, she remarked that along with wanting to eat it everyday, the zesty broth was addictive as well as excellent for clearing your sinuses out.

Spicy Seafood Soup

I was surprised I liked the soup. The only fish I had previously eaten was shrimp. Octopus, squid, and mussels aren’t high on my grocery list. Prepared with a panoply of noodles, broth, and seafood was indulgent and massive.

The full meal for both of us including the tip, was under $20.00. Only in Los Angeles as the saying goes.

Next time, when I return to Koreatown, I’ll try a Korean BBQ.

Food and Travelin’ Local go together.

Stop by and visit:

Korean Dumpling
698 S. Irolo St. Suite 111
Koreatown, LA


View Koreatown, Kimchi, and Spicy Noodles in a larger map

Los Angeles is the Entertainment Capital of the World

One of the great things about Los Angeles is that you never know when you’re going to literally encounter or find fantastic entertainment.

On any given day, also, there’s a plethora of creative things to do, go and to see.

For example, on Wednesday, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band were at the Los Angeles Sports Arena, and on Friday, I could have gone to a Andy Warhol Exhibit at the USC campus, or to rocking with Britney Spears at the Staples Center.

For instance, the day I was at MacArthur Park, I got to check out an exciting scene of Dennis Haysbert shooting his way out of a tricky situation, during a film shoot of The Unit.

A few days ago, I was downtown taking some pictures for an upcoming article, when I decided to do a little exploring.

As I was walking on Figueroa Street, I suddenly heard music—the exciting mellow drawl of a proper drum downbeat, along with funky bass played along with an eclectic and electric piano.

Of course, I stumbled upon live Jazz.

The kind of music which lures and begs you to sit down, listen, and be entertained.

Following my ears, I entered the 7+Fig.

As I approached, I had no idea what this place was, however, the first thing I discovered was a local farmer’s market.

In the heart of the city, lining one street block was several farmers, who were selling their wares to the local lunch crowd. Fruits and vegetables of all kinds were available, and lots of people were carrying bags of goodies to take home.

The strawberries looked great, and as I was rather hungry, I bought a basket and proceeded to continue my mission, to find the source of the music.

I didn’t have to go too far because right around the corner from the Farmer’s Market was an escalator beckoning me to the sound.

From there, I found an open air food court with live lunch time music.

So I made my way down for a closer look, grabbed a nice table to sit and enjoy my strawberries, plus listen to the band.

Then I leaned back, and let the music do its work. Although, I wasn’t the only one enjoying the jazz lunch entertainment, I think I was the only one that had a camera.

The percussionist is Mr. Phil Beale. He’s not only a drummer, but also an instructor, arranger, and clinician.

The group’s keyboardist is, Mr. Edell Shepherd, who is also a producer and arranger.

Surrounded by the iconic forms of the city, but in a world all its own–with 3 floors of shops, restaurants, and several other businesses–7+Fig is a great place for a relaxing lunch away from the office, right on the corner of 7th and Figueroa.

When Travelin’ Local, where do you like to go for lunch? A quiet café?

Here, in the Entertainment Capital of the world, I can listen to some cool jazz, finish my workday, and head home all within a few hours of time.

Just another day in paradise, what else can I say, expect for my next story!

Palm Trees, a Famous Bakery, and Mexican Food

First opening in 1931, family-owned and -operated Helms Bakery supplied local residents with its fresh-baked bread delivered “Daily at Your Door” (the Helms motto) for over 40 years. Even though the bakery is no longer baking, the Helms Bakery building remains a cherished local landmark.

Opening his bakery in 1926, Paul Helms started small but worked his way to being the premiere “neighborhood” bakery in Los Angeles. Winning the contract for the 1932 Olympics, Helms Bakery grew from its original 32 employees and 11 coaches (horse driven vehicles that delivered the freshly baked bread) to having the Helms Coaches deliver as far north as Fresno, east to San Bernardino, south to San Diego and up to the moon.

In 1969, an aggressive marketing campaign netted Helms a contract to furnish the first bread on the moon, via Apollo 11. Although their products were never sold in stores, Helms Bakeries became one of the major employers in the city.

This is remarkable because the network of freeways had not yet been built, so the trip might have taken an hour or more. Each truck would travel through its assigned neighborhoods, with the driver periodically pulling (twice) on a large handle which sounded a distinctive whistle. Customers would come out and wave the truck down, or sometimes chase the trucks to adjacent streets. Wooden drawers in the back of the truck were stocked with fresh donuts, cookies and pastries, while the center section of the truck carried dozens of loaves of freshly-baked bread. Products often reached the buyers still warm from the oven.

Now, the bakery building is the rock of the Helms Bakery District, a mecca of contemporary furniture retailers, delicious cuisine, and unique shops. Just walking around the streets and window shopping brought to mind the various rooms in my house and different design ideas I’d love to do.

Stopping for a quick bite to eat, I dropped in at Campos, a local Mexican restaurant chain. It’s not fancy, but the food is inexpensive, tastes good, and is very filling. I enjoyed the $5.00 lunch special; an enchilada, rice, and refried beans. They have a great selection of salsas to compliment my meal. I love to add a bit of spice to my rice and beans.

After you finish shopping and eating, you can walk a few blocks down National where you reach the area’s Conjunctive Points–an innovative industrial park. So bring your walking shoes and your four-legged friends.

Culver City, with its wealth of history, is definitely a warm and welcoming part of Travelin’ Local in Los Angeles.