Sunday, January 30, 2011

Bob's Big Boy | Burbank, CA

On a cold afternoon in February 1964, hundreds of screaming teens and young folks crowded the tarmac to New York's John F. Kennedy airport to be among those to witness an event that would become synonymous with rock-n-rock history, a moment that was much anticipated ever since disc jockeys began broadcasting their songs over the airwaves. In fact, they already conquered most of Europe with perennial hits as "Please Please Me" and "Love Me Do" as well as a freshmen turn as the backup band to Tony Sheridan's "My Bonnie." But what happened after that day not only had an immediate impact on American music, but the Lads from Liverpool would arguably change the face of music and the recording arts as a whole. The Beatles had finally arrived on U.S. soil.

Now, being a huge follower of The Beatles, I'd like to think that once they got past their first press conference in the U.S., they got right back on the plane and headed west to Los Angeles. And shortly after landing, they made a bee-line to Burbank, California, and climbed into a booth at Bob's Big Boy, where they proceeded to order up four double-deckers and crispy fries. That would have been something, but we all know that didn't happen. Rather, their visit to the restaurant didn't happen until much later, and years after that, I find myself getting chills whenever the opportunity to sit in the booth that has been dedicated to them comes up.

But I'm straying from the real task at hand, and that's telling you about one of our favorite burger destinations whenever we visit Los Angeles. Originally coined Bob's Pantry in 1935, founder Bob Wian opened his first hamburger stand in Glendale, California. Business was moderate to start, and its potential was yet to materialize as two very fateful things needed to happen before Wian's iconic path was set in motion.

The first occurred one night in 1937, when, according to those who recall, a regular customer felt a little more hungry than usual. Not one to disappoint and let his customer leave unsatisfied, Wian asked whether or not doubling the size of his cheeseburger would fill the bill. It did, and Bob's signature double-decker, featuring two patties with American cheese, lettuce, and their famous special sauce on a sesame seed bun, was born.

The second was when Wian was introduced to a portly six-year-old boy dressed in overalls. The boy was a fan of Wian's hamburger stand, and the two became inseparable friends whenever the boy stopped in with his parents. Soon, the youngster began helping out around the stand by sweeping up the floors. In return for his hard work, he was rewarded with a free hamburger during each visit. But Wian's honor went one step further when he chose to name his signature burger the Big Boy. It wasn't long after that regulars of Bob's Pantry began calling the stand Bob's Big Boy. The name stuck, and the rest became history.

Now, for those of you who have not yet visited, Bob's Big Boy offers All-American fare. Breakfasts include everything under the rising sun from omlettes and various off-the-griddle favorites to speciality combos that include chicken fried steak and eggs or corned beef hash and eggs. Their packed lunch menu includes soups, salads, sandwiches, the aforementioned original Big Boy burger, and the Super Big Boy. And their dinners will keep you warm and well-fed with items that include chicken, beef, seafood, pasta, and house favorites like oven roasted tri-tip, sauteed tilapia, and their classic chili spaghetti.

There are approximately 248 locations across America, and as I mentioned above, when we are in Los Angeles, we try to stop by our favorite located in Burbank, which is less than ten miles north of downtown Los Angeles. Built in 1949 by local residents Scott MacDonald and Ward Albert, this location is considered the oldest Bob's Big Boy in the states. And with its unique architectural design, it is known for its towering Bob's Big Boy sign and its life-sized smiling character figurine as it is for its food and friendly staff.

And the Beatles aren't the only celebrities who have walked through the doors at this Bob's location. Talk show host and car enthusiast, Jay Leno, frequently stops by during Bob's Friday "Classic Car Hop" night to meet fans. Director, David Lynch, was once said to claim a spot at one of the booths as he mulled over story ideas and people watch. And with Disney Studios a mere two minutes away, their cache of young stars from Miley Cyrus, Selena Gomez, and members of the High School Musical clan have all come in for a bite. If you're into "star" gazing, you're chances here are certainly as good as any other in tinseltown.

So, the next time you are feeling a bit nostalgic and are looking for a non-expensive alternative for wholesome American fare, look no further than a Bob's Big Boy. With over 70 years of tradition and history behind the restaurants, you won't be left disappointed or be left hungry.

Bob's Big Boy
4211 W. Riverside Drive
Burbank, CA 91505

Out of the Kitchen Los Angeles restaurants

Thursday, January 27, 2011

January 27:: National Chocolate Cake Day

It was recently brought to our attention that today is National Chocolate Cake Day, and as an homage to this holiday, we decided to commemorate this occasion by highlighting DeLessio Market and Bakery's German Chocolate Cake. What makes DeLessio's version so special is that its made with organic ingredients from the layered chocolate sour cream cake to the decadent Swiss chocolate ganache. And it's all finished off with a classic caramel, coconut, pecan icing.

DeLessio Market and Bakery (2 locations in San Francisco)

1695 Market Street
San Francisco, CA 94103

302 Broderick Street
San Francisco, CA 94117

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Tasty Tuesday :: French Toast at the Tower Cafe

The Tower Cafe's award-winning breakfast menu is highlighted by its one-of-a-kind Famous French Toast. A secret recipe that has most Sacramentans flocking to its location on Broadway near the historic Tower Theatre and voting it as Best Breakfast and Best Sunday Brunch in Sacramento Magazine. It is made with giant slices of french bread soaked overnight in the cafe's own homemade custard and baked in the oven to create a crispy exterior that gives way to a velvety smooth interior. Unless you are extremely hungry or want to nosh on leftovers as a midnight snack, a half order is usually plenty. On our last visit, we had our order topped with the seasonal fruit compote (also made in-house at the cafe).

Tower Cafe
1518 Broadway
Sacramento, CA 95818

Tower Cafe on Urbanspoon

Saturday, January 15, 2011

My Taco | Highland Park

Even before we stepped up to the counter to place an order, the kids already fell in love with My Taco. The reason? They learned that Taboo and aple.d.ap of The Black Eyed Peas are frequent visitors of this family-owned restaurant, and the proprietors have the pictures to prove it ... Not that they need to, of course.

But, as cool as it was to note that members of one of our favorite bands are fans of My Taco, it took a little bit more to win me and the Mrs. over. Needless to say, it didn't take long once our orders began making their way to the table. Take, for example, the Carne Asada Fries, which were piled high with steak, guacamole, sour cream, and melted cheese. Then, there were the Pork Belly Tacos. They were every bit as good and succulent as they looked on the plate next to a generous helping of beans and rice.

The real attraction that grabbed hold of us, however, was their house specialty: The Barbacoa de Borrego. In simple terms, this is a very rich lamb stew that's made with a secret blend of seasonings combined with a variety of different chiles and a goat consomme. And it's paired nicely with corn tortillas, chopped cilantro, diced onions, and a yahualica salsa. Share it with friends or keep it to a personal party for one, this is a styrofoam bowl of heaven that will warm your soul.

The inspiration behind My Taco is its owners, Jorge and Maria Gardano. They opened their kitchy taco stand in 1994 in Highland Park, a neighborhood known affectionately as the "Taco Capital of Los Angeles" with over thirty different taco stands, food trucks, and eateries dotting a 3.9 square mile area. As you can imagine, the competition was pretty stiff, but the Gardanos placed a lot of faith and value on hard work. With the support of their families, including their own children, their success was inevitable.

As noted in Inside Pasadena, the Gardanos describe My Taco as a place where their customers can experience "homemade tastes with a traditional family environment. Many of our recipes are compiled from favorite dishes that we make at home. We hope you enjoy our restaurant and food."

BTW, if the weather is warm during your visit, be sure to order any one of their freshly made agua frescas. There are as many as three to choose from, such as horchata and tamarido, and they're a very cool alternative to compliment the spiciness of their food and their flare!

My Taco
6300 York Blvd., Suite 4
Los Angeles, CA 90042

Out of the Kitchen Los Angeles restaurants