Back in my single days, with few bills, no mortgage and just a small studio apartment to pay for, it was very easy to drive up to Napa with friends to eat at Bouchon, or take a date to some of the best restaurants in LA, or fly up to Chicago to check out Rick Bayless’s newest restaurant. I have eaten in some of the best restaurants in the country and have loved every minute of it.
Fast forward 5 years. I am VERY happily married to Tommy, my favorite person in the world. I have a small yet cute house, a dog who can be subbed out for a small pony and a catering company that is starting to hit some speed. HOWEVER, my fine dining days are gone. Have you ever had a mortgage in Southern California? My days of foie gras and truffles are a rare occurance, we mostly eat at home now, splurging on the ordering of pizza once in a while. SO, instead of making you a list of my favorite fine dining establishments in LA, I have decided to let you know about my favorite BUDGET foods that sometimes can make me just as happy as the foie gras! (I said sometimes!)
10. Rhubarb Pie at Pie’N Burger in Pasadena $4.00: Sweet, tart and sour at the same time in a buttery crust. Room temp, no ice cream. PERFECT pie.
9. Phad Thai at Saladang in Pasadena $8.95 Lunch Special: Instead of sauteing egg in their pasta, they wrap the whole peanuty-noodle-chicken-tofu-shrimp dish in an OMELET.
8. Spicy Lobster Roll at Sho-Gun in San Dimas $11.00 Lunch: Special includes appetizer AND soup or salad AND drink. Spicy lobster and crawfish with tempura asparagus and avacado.
7. Samoa Cupcake at The Cake Mamas in Glendora $2.50: Cake Mamas takes your favorite Girl Scout cookie and transforms it into something fabulous! Coconut caramel cupcake with caramel cloud cream, toasted coconut drizzled caramel coconut ganach. I am very picky about cupcakes, but I will say, these are pretty frickin’ good!!!
6. Grilled Shrimp and Bacon Club, Cheesecake Factory $13.95: Although this is still a little bit of a splurge, I remember Chris Rock on Oprah saying this is his favorite sandwich and I was yelling at the TV “I KNOW!! Mine too!” Huge shrimp, butterflied with thick slices of bacon, lettuce, tomato and layered “club” style with 3 slices of grilled bread slathered with my favorite 1000 Island. It’s a budget
choice because it’s large enough to take half home (and someday I will do just that!)
5. Mike’s Pizza in San Dimas $12.00 for a large 2 topping: I cannot stress this to you enough: the service is usually awful and I usually feel like I am bothering them. However, thick and crusty, sweet yet tangy sauce, tons of fresh mozzarella cheese and juicy Italian sausage. We love the pizza enough to get hung up on a time or two by the establishment because they didn’t “feel” like taking our order. We love it so much that WE apologized to THEM!
4. Osuna’s Mexican Grill in Glendora, Shrimp Tacos $2.25: Fresh, crispy fried shrimp fried perfectly every time, warm corn tortillas, crispy cabbage, sour cream and I forgo their pico de gallo to try
different salsas at the salsa bar. And with their consistant good service, you would never think of this place as “fast food.”
3. Tuscan Tomato Soup at Tutti Mangia in Claremont $10.00: Chef Jose’s take on traditional tomato soup is probably one of the best soups I have ever tried. Tangy, rich and filled with capers, artichoke hearts and fresh basil. Perfect for dipping their crusty Italian bread in! They only run this soup as a special, so make sure to call ahead, although I know for a fact that all their soups are delicious.
2. German Pancake, Flappy Jacks in Glendora, $9.00: A light, oven baked pancake that sits flat and buttery on the bottom of the plate like a crepe, then rises up and puffs out to twice it’s size on the edges. I can’t begin to stress how much I love this breakast dish. I think you might be able to see that in my picture to the left. I attack it!
1. I don’t care if you judge me. I don’t care if you think I am a sell-out for promoting a popular pizza chain. They have been my favorite food of ALL TIME, since 2nd grade and I still love them as much
as I did then. THEY are: PIZZA HUT BREADSTICKS! Crispy, bubbly golden on the outside, soft and feathery on the inside, brushed with butter and sprinkled with their Italian Herb-Parmesan concotion. $4.00 for 5 large sticks and marinara. Now, don’t insult me by saying how you have gotten them in the drive thru and they are hard and chewy. Get them FRESH at a Pizza Hut OR attempt to luck out and find a Pizza Hut lunch buffet! You won’t be sorry!
Did I miss anything? Any great budget-food suggestions? Holla at me on my fan page!