Salazar – Welcome To The Party

Salazar. It’s that Sonora-style barbecue hotspot near the river in L.A.’s Frogtown (aka Elysian Valley). It’s the former mechanic shop turned hipster bar, but in a totally non-annoying way. It’s also the place with the BEST FLOUR TORTILLAS I’ve ever eaten.

You may know owner/chef Esdras Ochoa from Mexicali Taco, home of the Vampiro (and other delicious bites). I’ve been a fan of Ochoa for years, and love what he’s created at Salazar. It’s an outdoor restaurant and bar that’s fun for everyone.

When I go, I always start with at LEAST two tacos. Usually the carne asada (beef) and al pastor (pork). Recently, when I brought a few friends for dinner, our plan was to share a few appetizers and larger entrees. When they asked about sharing the tacos, I flat out said, “Um NO. I do NOT share Esdras Ochoa’s tacos.” I’m selfish that way. Did I mention I’d addicted to his flour tortillas?

The great Jonathan Gold wrote:
“Mexicali Taco & Co. brings up its flour tortillas several times a week from Mexicali. If you come from a region where flour tortillas are the standard – Texas, Sonora, Arizona – a well-made flour tortilla is like oxygen, an element without which life itself is impossible.” Read more here.

Besides the tacos, I always get the pork chop. In case you didn’t know… I have pork issues (I’m obsessed with anything porky). I will always order the pork. It may not always be the best dish on a menu, but the fire-grilled pork chop at Salazar is a MUST. There are so many more terrific dishes (photos below) with gorgeous seafood and vegetarian options as well.

The atmosphere at Salazar? It’s both RELAXING and FESTIVE. The outdoor dining room feels like a party, especially with cocktails and good friends. Have you ever strolled around your neighborhood, and smelled something grilling in the air? Then wished you had been invited to the party? Salazar is the backyard dinner party for all of us. Go.

Carne Asada Tacos with Flour Tortillas.

Heirloom Tomato Salad with Corn, Radish, Watercress (summer menu).

Potato Puree with Green and Red Chorizo.

Pinto Beans, Pork Belly, Queso Cotija.

Mesquite Grilled Beets, Micro Arugula, Mexican Ricotta.

Pollito con papas. Chicken brined in citrus chile brine, cooked sous vide it then finished on the grill. The sauce is a raw tomatillo vinegar sauce. So good with the fries!

Esquites: The chef’s version of Mexican street corn (Summer menu).

“Beeler Farm” Pork Chop.

Whole Branzino.

Auguas Frescas Cocktail: Verde (cucumber, green apple, lime cilantro, celery gin, pisco and fino sherry).

Vodka Soda, Margarita.

Inside the former mechanic shop.

Salazar Bar: Cocktails, Beer, Wine, Mexican Soda and more.

Before sunset.

Welcome! Friends Diana and Paul ready to chow down and party.

Entrance to Salazar.

Salazar at sunset.

More Salazar photos.

Read more about Esdras Ochoa here.

2490 Fletcher Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90039

Follow them on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook.

If you follow all things Jonathan Gold, you may know that Salazar made it on his 101 Best Restaurant List (#34).

They also serve brunch on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. I’ll be checking that out very soon. To view current menu, check out the website here.


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Chef Ilan Hall

Peter and I had such a great time in New York last week, and I’ll be posting lots of photos on the blog soon. Our social media hashtag for the trip was #PPP60 and you can check out some photos on my instagram here.

“PPP” is sort of a nickname I have for Peter. Basically, it’s short for “Peter Peter Peter”, so triple P plus 60 for his yearlong (60th) birthday celebration (#PPP60)!

Before we left for New York, I posted a photo of us on our last visit (together) in 2005. I wasn’t sure, but thought the chef in the background was Top Chef (season two winnerIlan Hall. It turns out, it WAS Ilan Hall and he commented on the instagram here.

We ran into Ilan at an event in Brooklyn, and our friend Jenn had the good sense to recreate our original photo — sort of. Eight years later, we’re all a bit wider NOW, but it was so great seeing Ilan again! Follow Ilan on twitter here, and check back soon for more New York fun!


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L.A. Kitchen Shared Plates Event

I’m a huge supporter of  L.A. Kitchen, the nonprofit facility that recovers fresh fruit and vegetables used in a culinary arts job-training program for former inmates and young adults leaving the foster care system. #SharedPlates is an upcoming dinner party event that benefits the L.A. Kitchen.

When: Saturday, October 22, 2016 (7-10pm)

What: 100 people will host dinner parties in homes across Los Angeles. By sharing plates, stories, and a few surprises, these dinners will bring Angelenos from every walk of life together to reveal the power of food. Tickets are $75 per person. 100% of ticket sales will go to support L.A. Kitchen’s vital work to ensure that neither food nor people will ever go to waste.

Get involved: (host a dinner, buy tickets and invite friends) at the #SharedPlates website.

More about L.A. Kitchen below:

Read my L.A. Times piece here.

Watch a short video here.

More of my L.A. Kitchen photos here.

#SharedPlates Website

The L.A. Kitchen is located at
230 W Ave 26
Los Angeles, CA 90031
Website (donate, volunteer, engage).

@TheLAKitchen on twitter, instagram and facebook


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The Taste – L.A. Times Food Event

The Taste 2015
Tickets for The Taste 2016 are on sale NOW. It’s my favorite end-of-summer L.A. party, and I even (jokingly) call it, “MY Coachella“.

This epic food event will be held September 2-4 on the backlot of the legendary Paramount Pictures Studios. Not only is The Taste a chance to sample bites from the best restaurants in L.A., it’s also a great way to meet the chefs and crews that create those delicious bites. Plus, a portion of the proceeds will be donated the L.A. Regional Food Bank.

On Saturday, September 3rd, L.A. Times Deputy food editor Jenn Harris (above, at right, with Jitlada owners Jazz and Tui) will be hosting “Dinner With A Twist” with Jonathan Gold, the GREAT, Pulitzer Prize-winning food critic. Check out the entire schedule and lineup here.

PRO TIP: Do use Uber if you possibly can. It’s just so convenient and if it’s your first ride, you can use my discount code to save $20.

Video clip: Walking into The Taste 2015

Video clip: Terrine Restaurant and crew at The Taste 2015 (back again this year)

Photo: Horse Thief BBQ will be there again this year too (I LOVE pork belly)

More of my party photos from The Taste 2015 here. Fellow food blogger @TheOffalo took some really lovely food photos last year.

The Taste 2016 website

@TasteLA on twitter

City Of Gold documentary (a MUST if you haven’t seen it yet!)


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Scotch Egg Burger

What’s better than a perfectly executed Scotch Egg? How about a Scotch Egg BURGER?

It all starts with an oozy (but not too oozy) 7-minute egg. That egg is then wrapped with homemade, hand-ground breakfast sausage, panko-crusted and fried. It’s served on a homemade Parker House bun, green peppercorn mustard and horseradish aioli (both also homemade), plus Cheddar cheese and iceberg lettuce.

This magnificent beast is available at Chef Josef Centeno’s Ledlow Restaurant in downtown L.A. It was an off-menu item for quite a while, but it became so popular that it’s on the regular menu (at least for the time being).

I dream about this Scotch Egg Burger, and it’s currently my favorite “cheat day” meal to share with my husband (we do low carb at home). We share the burger, a salad or two plus cocktails. It’s a great hangover prevention, or even a late morning hangover cure. Trust me — I’ve actually “tested” all the options. What else can I say? It’s just SO damn good.

Scotch Egg up close at Ledlow.

The Scotch Egg Burger before cutting and devouring.

Going in! Ok, so I sometimes don’t eat the top bun, but I NEVER leave any Scotch Egg.

Ledlow Restaurant
400 S Main St
Los Angeles, CA 90013
(213) 687-7015

About Chef Josef Centeno:
Josef’s career started in New York, where he worked at Daniel, La Côte Basque and Les Célébrités. He also was executive chef at Meson G and Opus in Los Angeles and previously chef de cuisine at Manresa in Los Gatos, Calif. Josef has been featured in the L.A. Times, the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Food & Wine and Bon Appetit. He also has been nominated for a James Beard award.

Josef also owns Bäco Mercat, Orsa & Winston and Bar Ama, which are also located in downtown L.A.

Follow Josef on instagram


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Low Carb Frico (Parmesan Crackers)

Frico (Parmesan Crackers) & Seeds
I’ve been cooking up lots of frico (parmesan crackers) lately. Mostly to top salads, but I also use them on soups and simple snacking too. These frico with toasted seeds were a big hit at my dinner table recently. So easy to make and low carb too!

How to make Frico w Toasted Seeds
Clockwise (from top left):
1. Sprinkle seeds in heated non-stick pan.
2. Add shredded Parmesan (Manchego is lovely too) and make sure the seeds are covered with cheese bits. Use a spatula to make a tight circle.
3. When the edges turn brown, gently start lifting with a thin spatula.
4. Turn frico (use two spatulas if needed) and cook until browned underneath. Carefully transfer frico to plate and let cool to harden. Break into pieces for salad topping or just EAT as is.

This works with pieces of herbs or leafy greens too. Frico with toasted baby kale here.

More Low Carb Recipes here


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Originally publishes 5/9/2015

Crunchy Tacos (Low Carb)

Think you have to give up CRUNCHY TACOS on a low carb diet? Think again.

I CRAVE old-school crunchy tacos all the time, especially Henry’s Tacos, which is located (dangerously) close to my house. The crunchy yellow corn shell tacos with ground beef and bright yellow cheese are (in my opinion) perfect “drunk food” bites. They work for hangovers too.

It’s been quite awhile since I’ve indulged in Henry’s Tacos. Especially after I started playing with low carb tacos at home. I started with pan-frying just one slice of provolone, but the “taco shells” were a bit small. Next I used two slices, tearing one to make a larger shell. These turned to be the perfect size and I make them at least once a week.

They’re so easy to make too. All you need are slices of provolone cheese (FULL FAT), a non-stick pan and a taco holder/shaper. You really don’t NEED the taco holder, but it makes the process so much easier. I got mine (in photo above) on Amazon ($8 for two).

I now add chopped onions and chiles to the shells for an extra kick (photos below). I’ve also experimented with CHICKEN SKIN (precooked) and ground up pork rinds too. My husband Peter loves these provolone shells so much, that he said he never wants regular taco shells (or tortillas) again. Fine with me!

How To Make Low Carb Crunchy Taco Shells

What you need:

  • Two spatulas (silicone if possible).
  • Provolone cheese. Two pieces of cheese per “taco shell”.
  • Oil or butter (optional).
  • Taco shell holder/shaper (or you can make a holder out of foil).

Step 1: Heat nonstick pan and add a little oil (optional). Lay two pieces of provolone in hot pan. Tear one piece to help make a tortilla shape.

Step 2: Using a silicone spatula, gently shape the cheese into a circle.

Step 3: Gently cook the first side and keep shaping.

Step 4: When the bottom is browned, use two spatulas to gently flip.

Step 5: Cook the second side until firm.

Step 6: Transfer to taco holder and help shape the shell. It will get crispier as it hardens. After a few minutes you can remove from the taco shaper onto plate.

Fill and enjoy! This taco is filled with Brussels sprout slaw, guacamole, ground turkey, pickled red onion, radish, cilantro and hot sauce. I’ve also made the tacos for breakfast with eggs and leftover steak.

If you want to add more flavor and texture, chop up some scallions (or chilies) and add to frying pan before adding the cheese. Habanero-crusted, Chicken skin-crusted, Ground pork rinds & onions.

The provolone shells can be made ahead of time, refrigerated and then heated up before filling.

More photos.

I use Sargent provolone cheese which has 70 calories per slice and NO CARBS.

More Low Carb Recipes

White plastic taco holder on

Low Carb Cauliflower Mac & Cheese

Low Carb "Mac & Cheese"
This cauliflower mac and cheese is one of the EASIEST low carb dishes to make. Start with your favorite Mac and cheese recipe and just swap out the ingredients.

In the photo above I used roasted, bite-size cauliflower florets, heavy cream (instead of milk), coconut flour (instead of flour for bechamel sauce) and delicious, ground up pork rinds (instead of breadcrumbs). See the step-by-step photos here. Note: I added ground turkey, roasted peppers and some leftover bacon on top.


WHY #LowCarbJo?

List of 40 low carb foods (I keep this bookmarked for carb counting).

If you’re on social media, check out my #LowCarbJo hashtag (on twitterinstagram and Facebook). I post links to recipes I plan on trying and also share photos of my low carb home cooking. Happy eating!

For NON low carb and eating out, click here.


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Searching for my old blog? Click here!

Basic Cauliflower Crust Pizza

Looking for a low carb pizza alternative? Then you really should jump on the CAULIFLOWER bandwagon.

I’ve been using cauliflower to make dishes lower carb for a couple of years now. I’ve tried low carb cauli tortillasburger buns, bacon-wrapped grilled cheese, fried rice, and even cauliflower grits. But the one recipe I make most often is cauliflower crust pizza. It’s an absolute staple in my kitchen, especially on #MeatlessMondays.

If you’re new to low carb cooking, and not sure where to start, I highly recommend this SUPER EASY, pizza crust recipe. It’s the perfect vehicle for any topping really. I’ve thrown on fried eggs for breakfast, grilled steak for lunch, even spoonfuls of Thai curry chicken. The texture can be anywhere in between a hard-cooked omelet to a thick (albeit cheesy) crepe. It just depends on how thin (or thick) you cook it.

Low Carb Pizza

The cauliflower crust recipe I use now was adapted from two recipes I tried in the past. I first discovered Recipe Girl’s crust, then incorporated some tips from The Iron You blog.

If  you follow me on instagram or twitter, you’ve probably seen the low carb “provolone and cauliflower crust” pizza I’ve been testing. It’s so, SO good and I’ll have that on the blog VERY soon. I thought it best to start with the basic cauliflower crust first.

PHOTOS (recipe below):

Clean and dry cauliflower florets.

Rice or grate cauliflower.

Cook in microwave (or steam florets before grating).

After cooling, add to towel and squeeze out excess water. This is the tip I got from the Iron You Website:
The secret for the perfect cauli crust lies in squeezing out all the moisture from the cauliflower “flour”.

I divide the cooked cauliflower up into small batches so I can get a better squeeze.

After squeezing out the liquid, it almost looks like a dough, right?
Note: My friend @DJfatal skipped the liquid squeeze by sautéing the cauliflower on a stovetop. He slowly heated the riced cauliflower in a frying pan for about 15 minutes.

Add egg, cheese and seasoning then mix.

Ready to make pizza!

Starting at middle, gently spread the pizza out and shape. Bake for about 15 minutes (until golden) in a preheated 450º oven.

Low Carb Pizza
Add toppings, warm through then cut and enjoy!

Food Processor or Box Grater.

Pizza Pan. I currently use a nonstick deep dish, pizza pan (I actually own two). If you don’t have a non-stick pizza pan, use non-stick foil or parchment paper.

Clean dish towel.

RECIPE (Adapted from RecipeGirl AND The Iron You)

1/2 LARGE head cauliflower (or 2+ cups shredded cauliflower)
1 large egg
1 cup finely shredded mozzarella cheese (plus more for topping)
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning or oregano
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
Pinch of pepper
Cooking spray

1/2 cup shredded cheese to start, then whatever you want!

In the photo above I have turkey sausage, peppers, chilies, red onion & scallions.
I’m not a fan of tomato sauce, so I use red pepper sauce or just extra cheese & toppings. More topping ideas here.

Nonstick cooking spray

1. Preheat the oven to 450º.

2. Shred the florets using a food processor (or box grater). When shredding, you want tiny cauliflower crumbles, about the size of rice. If you live near Trader Joes, just skip this step and buy the cauliflower ALREADY riced. It makes this recipe go so quickly!

3. Place the riced cauliflower into a microwave-safe bowl and cook for 8 minutes. Do not add any additional liquid. If you don’t have a microwave, you can steam the cauliflower before grating (tip via From Eat, Drink, Smile). Let the cauliflower cool before squeezing out excess liquid.

4. Get your pizza pan ready. If you don’t have a non-stick pizza pan, spray a pan with nonstick spray or use parchment paper and grease with olive oil.

5. After the cooked cauliflower has cooled, use a clean towel to ring out excess water. I do this in small batches (small hands) so I can really squeeze out the extra liquid (in the kitchen sink). There should be about 1 1/2 cups of cauliflower after cooking and removing liquid. Don’t fret if ends up being less then that. Just use more cheese in the “dough”. I’ve done that several times and the pizza comes out perfectly fine.

6. Place dry cauliflower into bowl and add the egg, cheese and seasonings. Mix together then gently place in center of pizza pan. Slowly press the mixture and form into a large circle. It will seem a bit wet but that’s ok. Spray the top with cooking spray so it gets crispy. Bake 450º for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

7. Add more cheese and warm through until melted. You may want to broil for a few minutes if you’ve added something like pepperoni.

Prep time: 25 minutes
Cooking time: 15-18 minutes

When I switched to a non-stick (deep dish) pizza pan recently, I started adding provolone cheese slices around the edge to create a crispier crust. I’ll have step-by-step photos in another blog post soon.


Why I cook #LowCarbJo at home.

More Cauliflower Pizza Photos

List of 40 Low Carb Foods (I keep this list bookmarked)

#LowCarbJo on twitter


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BOOKS: A few recent favorites!


When it comes to buying books, I can’t help myself. There’s nothing better then cuddling up with one of my dogs (that’s Woody above) in our comfy, dining nook with a great book. At first I couldn’t decide WHICH books to share for last minute holiday gifts, so I went with recent favorites. These are books I would’ve loved receiving as gifts, if I had the patience to NOT buy them for myself first.

For The Food-Obsessed Traveler: Rice Noodle Fish by Matt Goulding

I haven’t been to Tokyo in years (except for quick stopovers to Okinawa) but after reading “Rice Noodle Fish: Deep Travels Through Japan’s Food Culture”, I’m saving up for a full kuidaore (aka “eat until you drop”) food extravaganza!

“Rice Noodle Fish” is not just another travel guide. It’s a beautiful look into the heart and soul of food culture in Japan. The “Ramen Matrix” section alone (starting on page 174) is a fantastic bit of culinary education. Check out a short video clip about the book here.

The Roads and Kingdom’s book is published by Anthony Bourdain (I’m a fan).

Buy Rice Noodle Fish
Matt Goulding Roads & Kingdoms website
Matt Goulding on twitter @mdGoulding
Roads & Kingdoms on twitter @RoadsKingdoms

For The Whisky Lover: “The Essential Scratch & Sniff Guide To Becoming A Whiskey Know-It-All” by Richard Betts

I’m half Scottish (Clan Maxwell), my dad lives in Scotland and I also happen to love Scotch. Over the years, I’ve done several whisky tours in Edinburgh, but I didn’t KNOW how little I knew about it until I read Richard Bett’s genius whisky guide. The scratch & sniff sections are fun and fascinating but what I love most is the simplicity of the book. Betts helps make sense of whisky by focusing on three categories: grain, wood and place. Oh, and he also notes that “Essentially, whiskey is just distilled beer”… MIND BLOWN.

My favorite Scotch? Auchentoshan’s Three Wood.

Listen to Evan Kleiman’s Good Food interview with Richard Betts here.

Buy The Essential Scratch & Sniff Guide To Becoming A Whiskey Know-It-All
Richard Betts website

Richard Betts on twitter @YoBetts

For The Writer: “The Art Of Memoir” by Mary Karr

I’ve been trying to write my family story for YEARS. The problem is, that I get overwhelmed with the drama and not-so-happy childhood memories. I’d spend months in my office, writing, WEEPING, and then beating myself up for not continuing.

When I started reading Mary Karr’s book a few weeks ago, I was in tears again. But these were tears of joy, of understanding, of shaking my head and mouthing “yes, that’s it”.  In the introduction, Karr writes, “In some ways, writing memoir is knocking yourself out with your own fist.”

The publisher writes: “As she breaks down the key elements of great literary memoir, she breaks open our concepts of memory and identity, and illuminates the cathartic power of reflecting on the past; anybody with an inner life or complicated history, whether writer or reader, will relate.”

“The Art Of Memoir” will make me a better writer, I’m sure of it. Listen to her talk about it on KCRW’s Bookworm here. A great gift for any aspiring writers out there for sure.

Buy The Art Of Memoir
Mary Karr’s website

Mary Karr on twitter @MaryKarrLit

For Fans Of Gourmet Magazine: “My Kitchen Year: 136 Recipes That Saved My Life” by Ruth Reichl

Did I mention I’m a huge fan of Ruth Reichl? The photo below is from my office and she inspires me every day.

Like most food lovers I know, I was an avid reader of Gourmet Magazine for years. My husband Peter and I even attended the Gourmet Institute in New York back in 2005. I miss Gourmet, and I still can’t part with the final 2009 magazine issues (also in photo below).

Ruth’s latest book moved me so much, that I read it multiple times. I first downloaded My Kitchen Year on my iPad (I love the digital highlighting feature), and then purchased the hardcover (where I went in and highlighted my favorite parts old school). Still wanting more, I downloaded the Audible version and experienced it all over again. That’s right, I purchased it THREE times. Did I tell you I’m a fan? If you love My Kitchen Year as much as I do, I highly recommend listening to Ruth read it. It was emotional, thoughtful and so very inspiring too.

Alice Water writes: “Ruth is one of our greatest storytellers today, which you will feel from the moment you open this book and begin to read: No one writes as warmly and engagingly about the all-important intersection of food, life, love, and loss. This book is a lyrical and deeply intimate journey told through recipes, as only Ruth can do.”

Here’s a link to a terrific Eater article on My Kitchen Year.

Ruth’s spicy Pollo alla Diavola is currently my favorite chicken recipe. You’ll find it on page 59 (in the hard cover).

I'm A Fan.

Buy My Kitchen Year: 136 Recipes That Saved My Life
Ruth Reichl’s website

Ruth Reichl on twitter @RuthReichl

For The Home Cook: 101 Easy Asian Recipes by Peter Meehan

Seriously, this is one of those books that will be USED often. It is NOT just a pretty, coffee table cookbook. I love the pictorial pantry pages that include ingredients for basic (level 1 cooks), intermediate (level 2) and champion (level 3 cooks). Great drinking recipes too, like Korean “corn cheese”!

Buy 101 Easy Asian Recipes
Follow author Peter Meehan on twitter @pfmpfmpfm
Lucky Peach on twitter @LuckyPeach

For Dog Lovers: “Beloved Dog” by Maira Kalman

This book made me tear up. It really did. Just a few pages in and author Maira Kalman expressed exactly how I feel about my beloved dogs. The cover even resembles my terrier mix, Woody.

The Brain Pickings website posted excerpts from this truly delightful book. Check them out here.

Buy Beloved Dog
Maira Kalman’s website
Maira Kalman on twitter @MairaKalman

Happy Reading and HAPPY HOLIDAYS! Jo

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