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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Taste of the NFL

Do you LOVE food?

Are you excited The Rams are back in L.A.? Ditto!

There’s an amazing event in October that combines great food, the Rams, AND raises much-needed funds for the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank. Totally MY kind of evening for sure.

What: Taste Of The NFL Dinner with the L.A. Rams! Rams General Manager Les Snead and his wife Kara Henderson will be co-chairing the host committee, and Rams players will be in attendance to sign autographs and mingle with attendees. The evening will include a live and silent auction, signature appetizers from local chefs, specialty cocktails and live entertainment.

When: Wednesday, October 5, 2016 (6-9pm)

Where: Globe Theater, Universal Studios Hollywood

Why: To support the L.A.Food Bank. Did you know that one in seven people in L.A. County experiences food insecurity? The L.A. Food Bank mobilizes resources to fight hunger and provides food to 320,000 people every month. Since 1973, the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank has distributed more than 1 billion pounds of food and in 2015 they distributed 52 million meals. Learn more about L.A. Food Bank here.

Check out the amazing lineup of L.A. Chefs cooking for the event: 
Josiah Citrin, Melisse
Tony Esnault, Spring, Church & State
Ray Garcia, Broken Spanish, B.S. Taqueria
Neal Fraser, Redbird
Duff Goldman, Charm City Cakes
Bruce Kalman, Union
Jessica Largey, Simone
Mary Sue Milliken & Susan Feniger, Border Grill
Steve Samson, Sotto
Travis Strickland, Baltaire
Benjamin Udave, Sysco

L.A. Food Bank “Taste Of The NFL” Event Page.

PURCHASE TICKETS (or become a sponsor).

My photos of the L.A. Food Bank.

I’ve already bought my ticket (I’m a HUGE fan of both the L.A. Food Bank and The Rams), so hopefully I’ll see you there! #FeedLA #GoRams!


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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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Howlin’ Ray’s (Nashville HOT Chicken)

Howling’ Ray’s recently opened a brick and mortar location in Far East Plaza, Chinatown. I started following the food truck via twitter ever since they started rolling in L.A, but I rarely get out to food trucks anymore, unless it’s a special event. Needless to say, I am absolutely THRILLED about the new spot downtown.

Howling’ Ray’s is run by Chef Johnny Zone and his wife Amanda Chapman. Zone is an L.A. native who fell in love with “hot chicken” while working in Nashville’s Husk restaurant. The “Nashville Hot Chicken” they’re serving in L.A. is “ear-tweaking spicy” and exactly the kind of pain I like from my food.

I’ve eaten some pretty spicy food in L.A., including a fiery dish called Dynamite, the spiciest dish at Jitlada Thai Restaurant, so I was looking forward to trying the hottest level of fried chicken called (not surprisingly) HOWLIN’. But after reading a piece by my friend Jenn, I sort of chickened out (sorry), and went for  two levels down.

Jenn Harris from the L.A. Times wrote: “At first you think you’re fine. In fact, just eight seconds before your mouth turned into a battlefield, you were praising yourself for being a spice master — someone who scoffs at a heat challenge, and a little cayenne pepper. But eight seconds pass, the time it takes for the spice to kick in, and you realize the entire piece of chicken was covered in that deep red hue.” Read her original article on the original food truck here. Read her update here.

When ordering your chicken, you select the type of meat and the amount you want, then select from six heat levels: COUNTRY (no heat), MILD (brush of heat), MEDIUM (feel the burn) , HOT (burn, baby, burn), X-HOT (you’ve been warned) or HOWLIN’ (can’t touch this).

When my husband Peter and I tried the chicken last week, we went for the HOT (level 4 out of 6) and it was pretty darn HOT. Not “Jitlada hot”, but enough to make us both sweat and eat very, very SLOWLY. Peter even went for a horchata ice cream to help put out the fire. Luckily, Scoops is just across from Howlin’ Ray’s.

On weekends, Howlin’ Ray’s serves Hot Chicken & Waffles. If you’re planning to go for brunch or lunch, just note that the line will be really long. We decided beforehand to do a brunch crawl at Far East Plaza, so as Peter waited in the long line for hot chicken, I hit up Chego for a first course, then to Pok Pok Phat Thai for course number two. We stood in line, sharing the dishes until we made it to the Howlin’ Ray’s counter. A game plan we’ll be using again soon.


Howlin' Rays Nashville Hot Chicken
Howlin’ Ray’s Nashville Hot Chicken, spice level 4 HOT.

Hot Chicken & Waffles. We were pleasantly surprised to see Chef Jeff Mahin (behind the counter with owner Johnny Zone) turning out the waffles!

Howlin' Rays Nashville Hot Chicken
Look how JUICY inside.

Howlin' Rays Nashville Hot Chicken
There will be a line on weekends. We waited over an hour and yes, it was worth it.

Roy Choi's Chubby Pork Belly Bowl
Too hungry to wait? Have someone save your spot in line… Chego is across the way. Roy’s Chubby Pork Belly is a favorite. Kochujang-lacquered Kurobuta pork belly rice bowl with a fried egg, pickled radishes, water spinach, Chinese broccoli, cotija and peanuts.

Pok Pok Phat Thai is right next to Howlin’ Ray’s. Grab some street food if you need sustenance! Hoi Thawt: Crispy broken crepe with steamed fresh mussels, eggs, garlic chives and bean sprouts, served with Thai Sri Racha sauce.

Howlin’ Ray’s is open Wed-Sun, 11am to 4pm.

727 N. Broadway
Los Angeles, CA 90012

Hot Chicken & Waffles served Sat & Sun only.

Howlin’ Ray’s on twitter | facebook | instagram

Read more about Chef Johnny Zone here


Pok Pok Phat Thai

Scoops Ice Cream


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B.S. Taqueria – Great Drinking Food (& so much more)!

Downtown Los Angeles is a favorite for nights out with the hubby. An Uber ride is usually cheaper than the cost of valet parking, so we both can enjoy a few cocktails along with dinner.

Chef Ray Garcia’s B.S. Taqueria has some of our favorite drinking food in town. The vibe is super casual and the entire menu is designed for a fun (and tasty) experience. Before we even order drinks, we request the lemon-pepper chicken skin chicharrones (above). The bag comes to the table steaming hot, filled with crispy chicken skin, bite-size chicken thighs and blistered shishito peppers. “Rice and beans” (another starter) are NOT what you think and they’re an absolute must order. On our first visit we dismissed them, but the server kept insisting — now we get them every time we go.

Of course, you don’t have to go to B.S. Taqueria specifically for “drinking food”, but the cocktails ARE fantastic and refreshing. The tequila based Paloma is something I’d like to sip on while sunbathing near a pool.

Searching for a more substantial meal? They’ve got that covered with plates that are easily shared including clam and lardo tacos, chile verde, braised goat and so much more.

Photos: B.S. Taqueria for your drinking (and non-drinking) pleasure!

Left: “Gordo Cup” Mezcal, Cucumber, Fresh Lime, Fleur de Sel, Agave, Cilantro Blosso. On the right is the “Paleta” made with Tequila Reposado infused with grapefruit, Milk-washed, Cappalletti, Fresh Grapefruit & Lime, Coconut, Velvet Falernum.

“Rice & Beans” Toasted rice, garbanzos, butter beans, cotija, Fresno chiles.

Lemon Pepper Chicken Chicharrones: Chicken skins, chicken thighs, lemon, shishito peppers.

Clams and Lardo Tacos with pressed to order Tortillas.

Birria: Braised Goat, guajillo, onion, cilantro.

Brown Butter Tamal: Kabocha squash, chard, pepitas.

Chile Verde: Pork Shoulder, salsa verde, radish.

Chorizo & Papas (potato) Tacos.

Vegetarian in the group? Try the Beet Torta : Beet milanesa, pickled beet, escabeche, iceberg.

Spinach & Marcona almond enchilada at B.S. Taqueria (menu special).

Choco Flan: Goat’s Milk Flan, chocolate cake, orange caramel.

Churros with chile de arbol-chocolate.

Recently, I interviewed Garcia for an L.A. Times article I wrote. Not only is he a successful Los Angeles chef, but he gives back to the community by working with students from L.A. Kitchen. The non-profit trains former inmates and young adults leaving the foster care system, and Garcia invites culinary students to intern at his restaurants. He got involved after doing a little research and discovered that the L.A. Kitchen location was just two miles from where he grew up. Garcia says, “For me this was a sign. It was the perfect opportunity to help give back to my community while at the same time helping my restaurants. L.A. Kitchen works hard to not just place somebody with a job, but to set them up for long-term success.” Read the complete article here.

He also runs a more upscale restaurant called Broken Spanish. If you love pork (like I do), I suggest going there just for this pork-a-licious chicharron plate.

Read more about the awesome Ray Garcia here.

B.S. Taqueria
514 W. 7th St., Los Angeles, CA 90014
(213) 622-3744

Follow Chef Ray Garcia on twitter

Chef Ray Garcia on instagram

Follow Chef de CuisineChef Lewis Chan on instagram

B.S. Taqueria on instagram  twitter

Read Jonathan Gold’s Review Here

My L.A. Kitchen Article (L.A. Times)

I am SO very proud of this article I wrote for the L.A. Times.

L.A. Kitchen is a nonprofit facility located in L.A.’s Eastside that recovers fresh fruit and vegetables to be used in a culinary arts job-training program for former inmates and young adults leaving the foster care system. They also create healthy meals for low-income seniors. In case you missed the print edition on Saturday, the online link is here.

Please check back soon for more photos and blog posts about L.A. Kitchen. I’ll be writing regular features on the organization, including visits with staff and students.

Solid Gold

These glittery, golden shoes? I wear them for only one man, the one and only Jonathan Gold. The sparkly, disco platforms go in and out of fashion, but I honestly don’t care because they seem to go with everything. Through the years, I’ve worn them with cocktail dresses, jeans and even denim shorts. It’s all about having fun while celebrating one of my favorite writers. Jonathan Gold, for the record, is a Pulitzer-Prize winning food critic who also happens to be a really nice guy.

My most recent “golden shoe” outing was a screening of City Of Gold, a new documentary about Jonathan, directed by the super-talented Laura Gabbert. The film officially opens today (March 11) and it’s an absolute MUST SEE.

Peter and I saw the film a few weeks ago and of course we both LOVE it. Not just because of all the gorgeous food shots or the fact that so many of our friends and favorite restaurants are featured. We love it because the film makes L.A. look so special and intriguing. Los Angeles really DOES have the BEST food scene in America and finally, the world will get to SEE why.

There are SO many delicious bites in the film, and we’ve been lucky enough to try most of them, including Antojitos CarmenChengdu TasteEarlez Hot Dogs, Guelaguetza, Guerilla TacoKogiJitlada ThaiMeals By Genet and Trois Mec.

On a personal level, City Of Gold left me feeling (surprisingly) emotional and I even wiped away tears at the end (DO stay until the credits stop rolling). I emigrated from Okinawa to Los Angeles back in 1972 and until recently, whenever someone asked where I was from, I automatically said, “Okinawa”. In my 20s and 30s, I moved around a lot and only laid solid L.A. roots down when I met Peter in 1994. Still, that’s 22 years of feeling like an outsider, as though I wasn’t sure of my immigration status. In a funny way, City Of Gold changed that for me and from here on out, I plan on being a proud gal from Los Angeles.

Watching Jonathan on screen was so entertaining too. Over the years I’ve gotten to know him, especially after I started freelancing at the L.A. Times, but the film unearthed much, much more of his life. I so enjoyed seeing him with his wife and kids, but also at work where he struggled through his writing process, because well, that just means he’s human.

Yesterday the New York Times gave the documentary a rave review. Film Critic A.O. Scott wrote:
In the face of that reality, Mr. Gold finds intimations of perfection — meals, dishes, single bites that sustain his faith in Los Angeles and, by implication, in humanity. “City of Gold” is a lovely testament to that faith, worth attending to even if you think you have no interest in food, California or criticism.  Read the entire review here


Watch the City Of Gold trailer here

Buy tickets (L.A. area) Arclight and Landmark Theater

Official City Of Gold Website

Follow Jonathan Gold on twitter @TheJgold

Follow City Of Gold on twitter @CityOfGoldDoc

Follow Laura Gabbert on twitter @LauraGabbert1

More about City Of Gold at IFC Films

City of Gold on Facebook

Locol Watts (Opens Jan 18)

Locol is a new fast food eatery by chefs Roy Choi and Daniel Patterson. I attended a friends and family preview tasting with my good pal Kate Krader over the weekend, and we were both blown away.

Locol, WattsI could go on and on about how it’s a much healthier version of fast food. Or how the price points are kept low so locals can actually afford to eat there. Or wax poetic on how the new Watts location is invigorating the entire neighborhood. All absolutely true (listen to Roy talk about all that here).

Instead I want to talk about how freaking good the food tasted. How shocked I felt that it didn’t taste “overly healthy”. How I’d happily chow down on a burg (aka burger) or a foldie (aka taco) after a night of partying.

That’s right, Locol is legit STONER FOOD. Also, it may just be the most delicious, hangover-preventive eats ever! If you know me at all (or follow me on social media), you know I love my Taco Bell and have a peculiar weakness for the glory that is Horsey Sauce. The fact that Locol is actually HEALTHY is just a secondary bonus.

If you’re planning to visit the new Watts location soon, do take a few moments to listen to Evan Kleiman’s interview with Roy. There’s much insight that will really make you appreciate the chefs, the project and (of course) the food.

The official Locol website notes:
We fundamentally believe that wholesomeness, deliciousness and affordability don’t have to be mutually exclusive concepts in fast food. We believe that fast food restaurants can truly empower the communities they currently underserve. We believe that the giant corporations that feed most of America have degraded our communities by maximizing profits over decades. We believe that chefs should feed America, and not suits.

Need more info? Tuck into the full backstory on Locol by watching the two videos below (in order).

Video 1: Roy Choi speaks about hunger at the Mad Symposium in 2013.

Video 2: Roy Choi and Daniel Patterson announce Locol at Mad 2014.

A few food photos from the preview:

BBQ Turkey Burg $4

Fried Chicken Burg $4

Locol CheeseBurg $4

Carnitas Foldie $2

Messy Beef Chili Bowl $6

Yotchays: Beef and Onion Gravy $1, Flat Bread $1

The chocolate soft serve sundae ($3) was really good too, but I didn’t get a great photo.

Our tasting spread (all food was complimentary). Sundae is back left (with marshmallows).

The Watts location of Locol opens at 11am on Monday, January 18th (Martin Luther King Day). Go early and prepare to wait a bit. It’s worth it.

Locol (map)
1950 East 103rd Street,
Los Angeles, CA 90002

Locol website

Locol on Twitter, Instagram, FaceBook

Roy Choi on Twitter & Instagram

Daniel Patterson on Twitter & Instagram

The original Indigogo campaign for Locol

I donated a wee bit and scored a Locol sticker last summer!

About the Mad Conference


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Trust me, snapchat is NOT just for teens. I’m almost 52 and I started using it regularly after watching this video by Sunny Lenarduzzi. It’s a terrific tutorial if you’re new to snapchat or thinking about trying it out for your brand, blog or even just FUN.

After I set up my account (MyLastBite), I was still unsure how to actually USE the app as the layout isn’t all that intuitive. A few texts to my nephew Chace, plus lunch with niece Kindal (yes, both teens) and I was ready to go. More info on snapchat’s tip page here.

I like how snapchat allows me to “tell a story” with photos and short video clip (or snaps). Each snap is automatically deleted within 24 hours, so there’s an urgency for followers to view daily (or even hourly). Snaps can be saved into your camera roll too.

My snaps are very laid back, behind-the-scenes into my daily life. I mostly post clips of dishes I cook for my husband Peter, my three lovable rescue dogs, food and travel posts and, on occasion, a night of “drunk snaps” at bars and restaurants. Ok, so sometimes I delete those in the morning!

Being a relatively new user to snapchat, I was so thrilled that L.A. Magazine included me on their list of “Food-Related L.A. Snapchatters You Need to Follow”!

Jo is a social media queen. Not only dominating on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram but totally owning Snapchat where she shares everything from cleaning out her doll collection to cooking at home to hugging on celebrity chef friends at premiere L.A. food events. L.A. Mag

Thanks again Caroline!

Are you on snapchat? If so, please comment with your username so I can follow your stories too.

Snapchat App

Video Tutorial

L.A. Magazine

Snapchat Tricks & Tips

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