Wednesday, March 9, 2011

California Vacation: Places to Eat

Okay - some of these have locations all over the country but they aren't very close to where I live. So, no matter where we go, part of our "vacation plan" is to figure out where we would like to eat. These are always on the list if we can find one close to where we are traveling to.

California Pizza Kitchen ( We actually first discovered this place in Las Vegas and it was prior to them now offering pizzas out of your local grocery store freezer. We were hungry, they had food that looked appealing, and we stopped there to eat. We instantly fell in love with their BBQ Chicken Pizza (back when I ate chicken) and a chopped salad that they no longer offer. The menu has changed a lot over time but we can always find great food to eat. The location we visit in Los Angeles is located on Hollywood Blvd within the Kodak Theater shopping area. It has a distant but nice view of the Hollywood sign.

You can't tell in this picture but the Hollywood sign is way back there

Jack in the Box ( Okay - this is like adding Burger King to my list of places I LOVE to eat at!!! But, we do not have any of these in Michigan and there are some interesting menu options. Our favorite has always been the Sourdough Breakfast Sandwich. It's a ham, egg, and cheese sandwich on grilled sourdough. Of course I no longer eat this but my husband makes sure he has a couple each vacation when we are near a Jack in the Box. There is another menu item that I do like and is great for my picky little daughter. They have grilled cheese sandwiches on sourdough!! I don't know of any other fast food place that offers these and they are good! If you ask nicely they may have a "Jack" (the like Ronald McDonald for Jack in the Box) for you to put on your car antenna :)

In-N-Out Burger ( There's a kind of funny story on how I first heard about this place. Some of my family and I traveled to San Diego to see my brother graduate from Marine Boot Camp. While in a taxi I asked where the nearest Jack in the Box was. The driver laughed at the idea that I would come all the way from Michigan and the first thing off the airplane I wanted to know where a Jack in the Box was!!! So I had to tell him my story about the Sourdough Breakfast Sandwich that I was so in love with. After he was done laughing he asked me if I wanted to know where In-N-Out Burger was located. I had no idea what he was talking about. He told me that it was a popular place and that people waited in line at all times of the day to eat there. Well, there was one not far from where we were staying so we had to check it out. It has been one of my best finds yet!!! They serve fresh, never frozen burgers and fresh cut fries. This is a place where you can go eat a giant cheese burger meal and still feel good when you are done! They have a limited menu but it really works for them. Every time I have been there I have had to wait in line - no matter what time of the day. The burger toppings are similar to a deluxe burger but they use a thousand island type of sauce. It's all made after you order it so you can ask to have toppings excluded. They will ask if you want onion on it - it’s a giant thick slice if you do. When ordering at the drive-thru they have a staff member standing outside instead of a speaker. Tip:  if they asking you if you will be eating in the car - say yes if you would like your meal in a box instead of a bag.  They have many locations in California and some in a handful of other western states but it is not a franchise. Also, there is a "secret menu" for locals (not in print as far as I know). I no longer eat meat but when I go there I really enjoy the "Grilled Cheese". It's not on the menu but it is the same as the cheese burger minus the meat. I'm glad we found an option for me because my husband eats at In-N-Out almost every day when we are near one :)

2 orders of fries, 1 grilled cheese, 1 double cheese burger in a box ("eating in the car" option)
Pinks ( This is a place that we heard of often (cater for famous events and has been shown on a few reality shows we have watched) but we haven't really had a chance to explore it much. It's a famous hot dog place (has a large menu) in Hollywood. My husband finally visited one of their locations during our last trip to LA and he enjoyed it. Of course you have to wait in line for a while but its part of the experience. I'd like to check them out more the next time we are around one.

Update from 2012:  We visited there and it was great!  We waited in line for an hour and it wasn't even really lunch time yet!!!

I was impressed with their menu options - even for a vegetarian like me!  And they were very willing to make substitutions.  They also serve Crush pop/soda which my kids are now addicted too.  There is limited seating in the back of the building but it worked out for us.  

Usually these are in great condition.  The one we visited was busy but could use some updating.
Fatburger ( Another great "burger place" and they offer a great veggie option! It can be a little pricy but always worth at least one visit when we are near one. They also offer steak fries which are one of my favorites!!

Veggie Burger


Number of burger patties you want
Another unique thing (which I found to be common during this last trip to California) is that you can get any combination flavored soda that you want. Seriously, you start with your main flavor (Coca-Cola, 7-Up, Dr. Pepper, Diet, ...)

and then you can choose a second flavor (cherry, vanilla, orange, grape, lemon, lime, ...).

It's awesome! If you are dinning in they give you these cones to put at your table (food is made to order and the meat is never frozen). 

Fatburger is a franchise started by a famous person and mostly owned by other famous people. There is one in my home state but it's about 3 hours from where I live.

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