Tag Archives: dining

LA’s Greatest Escapes: Idyllwild, CA

We wouldn’t normally walk out of a town with brochures and maps, but we couldn’t help ourselves this time around. We’re not really into hanging onto this and that; most of our souvenirs are gifts. When we left Hawaii just a few weeks ago, our bags were just as heavy as when we first arrived, although the amazing experiences don’t weigh anything.

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Sharky’s: A Local Chain We Can Get Behind

You know… there’s something special about chains. There’s this attraction to Subway and McDonald’s. No matter where you are, you feel that magnetism around something familiar and it draws you in. Whether we’re driving cross-country or I’m studying in Korea, I know that there is something I like here, but dang, do I feel bad eating it. Imagine there were chains with that sense of familiarity and comfort, that you didn’t feel bad visiting? 

Fortunately for all of us, those chains are emerging and while they might not have 100 billions customers served yet, they’re steadily growing. One of those chains, for those of us in Los Angeles is Sharky’s. In short, Sharky’s provides you with healthy and delicious Mexican food options so that you can enjoy all of the classics at their many convenient locations, without worrying about eating unhealthy. 

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High End in Venice? (Barrique Review)

When you’re going out to have a nice, romantic meal for your 1-Year Anniversary, we weren’t expecting to be Hungry & Fit… just Alana & Chris, but we all know it can’t be that easy. If you put food in front of us, we’re probably going to return the plates to you clean, but we’re always going to have a strong opinion about what we just ate. We can’t help it!

You’ll notice that this review is missing something that we normally try to flood you with…our own photos. There are two reasons for that. First, we didn’t bring the fancy camera we use for our reviews. Second, it was extremely dark and every picture that I took with my phone was just blurry, no matter how many filters we applied. We could have used the flash for better results, but that would have taken away from the dining experience of the other guests, and when you’re paying this much for food, you expect an amazing dining experience. Bright lights flashing in your face isn’t the nicest way to enjoy a meal.

When I originally wrote out quick Yelp review for Barrique, I started high… mainly because there was this sense of… it was our anniversary dinner and we were so happy to be together, etc. As I started to think of everything we ate, those feelings faded and that mysterious veil disappeared. All that was left was the service, atmosphere and… the food. So, as always, let’s look at those factors and see just how high-end Barrique really is.

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Tatsu Ramen

So here I am, ready to deliver a three-star review to this ramen spot, Tatsu, when my partner-in-crime stops me and says… no. She demands I put five stars up so we settle for four and I’ll tell you why. She’s strictly judging the ramen, which is one of her favorites in LA. I’m judging the overall experience, which is always going to be lackluster on Sawtelle.

This place is PACKED to the point that it’s more than competitive with Tsujita. You get a lot more of the younger West LA crowd (middle/jr/high school) waiting outside here, so it’s hard to weave your way through even if it’s not your destination. This of course means wait times, so good luck dining in. I’ve only ever gotten take out and delivery. I give Tatsu credit for delivering the same product at their multiple locations. That consistency builds them a strong following because you know what to expect.

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Seasalt Fish Grill

After looking up churros on Yelp and finding that this place offered churro waffles, we decided to check out Seasalt Fish Grill. It helped that it was a seafood specialty stop because we both favor fish-based diets. We expected to be walking into some busy and posh new spot in downtown Culver City, but that isn’t the case. It’s easily accessible and even has free parking. The spot itself offers both outdoor and indoor seating with your very casual order and take a number system. Again, this wasn’t what we were expecting and while I thought there was going to be a small, specialty menu, I was wrong again.

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Fit’s plate (the garlic fries were for both of us)

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The Ramen Joint (Westchester, Los Angeles)

Ramen in LA is as common as concrete in K-town. It’s everywhere, and every single place, claims to be the best. Every single place has a cult following of people who will tell you the same. This happened when I went down to visit a friend who worked in Westchester and wanted to go to The Ramen Joint and I told her… this better be good.

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Plan Check Review

Plan Check has a few locations and I’ve only been to this one, although I have been here multiple times. Since I worked across the street, I would take my staff here for meetings/lunches AND since we knew how to navigate Sawtelle so well, we never had to wait for a table. I also know how long the wait can be because I could see the line from outside my window, so my first bit of advice is… try to time your visit… if you can.

Whenever you go to a hipster-gastropub/New American joint like this, you have to know that you’ll be paying a lot for small portions. If you’re surprised by that when you arrive, I apologize for your ignorance of the LA food scene. So again, coming here is about managing expectations and being strategic. My staff would fill up on fries so they don’t leave hungry.

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LA’s Best Breakfast Sandwich

Pizza, bagels, deli sandwiches, Italian food… it’s hard to find an adequate option outside of the Tri-State area around New York City. It’s something in the water, right? Or some old Italian-American secret? Either way, that’s not necessarily the case anymore as Fat Sal’s and other great pioneers have brought us more than satisfying options to hit the spot at the right time. Despite the leaps and bounds we’ve seen over the past few years alone, there seems to still be a serious lack of quality bagels out here, and more importantly, breakfast sandwiches. 

Sam’s on Sunset and The Original Brooklyn Water Bagel in Beverly Hills have tried replicating the NYC bagel experience but have failed miserably. (That might be a BIT harsh.) When it comes down to it, you can’t find a bagel the right size, texture, and value out here. They’re either too small, too dense, or too expensive. That effect only multiples when you look at breakfast sandwiches. The best breakfast sandwich I’ve ever had is from Bagel Emporium.

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Bar Hayama Restaurant Review (Los Angeles)

On Sawtelle, away from the long lines and commotion of popular spots like Tsujita LA and others, is Bar Hayama. Highlighted by a beautiful outdoor seating area, this bar offers four seating options and multiple menus worth of food. As a result, being seated and served takes far less time than eateries closer to Olympic. Still, as Hungry & Fit, the most important dining aspect is the food, but let’s take about what makes this fiery location worth a visit.

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Cafe Ugo Review

The sun is down and it’s a cool night in early December. The allure of downtown Culver City draws us in and after parking, we walk Main Street. It’s a hip area for that demographic that loves small plates and craft beers but we LOVE food and we want a meal. After checking out a few menus and feeling the auras emanating from each location, we are seated at Cafe Ugo.

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Service:
It was impeccable. 4/5. We wanted to sit outside and they brought us our own heating tower. It wouldn’t work so they got someone to fix it on the spot. We were slow to decide and our waiter put down the load he was busing in order to take our order when we looked ready. We didn’t even call him over. He had recommendations (and they weren’t based on price), he had patience, he had class, and he had a personality. My water was almost always filled, and if it wasn’t for a lapse near the end of the meal I would have given a perfect 5. When our heater went out, they immediately swapped out the propane tank for a new one. Just excellent.

Atmosphere:
A large restaurant with indoor and outdoor options, busy bar fronts and quiet back rooms. 3/5. The tables were just not a comfortable size. It was awkward but everything was clean and orderly. I didn’t love the makeshift walls for the patio but recognize their convenience for weather changes. While I had no major issues, there was nothing to set this place apart from a normal restaurant, dare I say, even a Cheesecake Factory.

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Food:
There are always faults when you aren’t at a Michelin restaurant but they aren’t significant here. 3/5. The ravioli needed more sauce. They were dry and the spinach filling did not compensate for the somewhat dry pasta. Still, they had flavor. The pizza was a true delight to eat. It hit every flavor profile. Salty cheeses with acidic tones from balsamic that were tied together nicely on a well made crust. The structural integrity was questionable, but this is pizza from Naples and not New York so that can’t be taken into consideration. The fried calamari was well cooked but the sauces were a necessity because the breading was not seasoned.

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Pricing:
Let’s just say they could have easily charged us more and while the portions were not massive, the food quality made it a good value. 4/5. It’s downtown Culver City, it’s a prime location, and it’s a specialty. Authentic Naples style pizza is not a common dish around here, especially with an 1000 degree oven and serving it uncut. We were more than happy to pay the price on the bill and tip accordingly.

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We were glad that we stopped by Cafe Ugo that night. It was enjoyable, we were relaxed, well fed, and left happy. We recommend it to groups of 2, 4, or 6 that are passing by or in the area. It might even be worth a little drive in non-peak hours. We’ll be back if we’re in the area and we’ll bring some family next time. And as always, stay hungry and fit!