After breakfast, comes brunch…lunch…dinner?
Though, given the way I eat, probably wine. But we need not talk about that –
except we will,
because I’ve drank wine with each of the next places.
Again, I was turned to them by Mr. V, but I developed a true liking for them.
And they’re all different types of food, which is kind of fun –
Americanized in some way, but still pretty good.
So let’s begin with the closest – Ciao’s.
An Italian place, of sorts. Most Trolleyers are tired of their pizza, so they go to Grotto's or someplace nearby in Little Italy.
But Mr. V likes their pizzas, and so do I.
I’ve branched out a little bit more than he has.
It’s on the corner, almost like the famous Flatiron building in Chicago, though not nearly as cool. Walking distance, which helps when you’re carrying a hot pie home –
not a girl from the bar, mind you.
Or just mine, but nevermind that.
I’ve tried, and really loved, their side of meatballs, and their Italian hoagie sandwich.
Mr. V orders a Canadian bacon and pineapple pizza with extra cheese, large.
It smells good, it looks good, it looks like a greasy pizza that you should be eating on Sundays, or long days after work, or just when-the-eff-ever, because yum.
I love their crust, and find myself eating all of Mr. V’s.
A tid bit about him and his crusts – he won’t eat them because they fill him up, and he wants to eat the “good stuff” first.
And their ham is sliced ham, not cubed – to which Mr. V feels that “cubed” is cheaper.
Psychological, but nonetheless yummy.
I’ve also had their mozzarella and pepper salad, which is simple, probably not something I may order again, but their mozzarella is pretty good.
It’s fresh, you get hunks, and a little heavy.
Not creamy, melt in your mouth, but I find that I don’t really want that from my fast(er) pizza joint. Do you?
Everything is supposed to melt anyway from the heat.
And probably the best part about it is what Mr. V has to say: it’s good for the money, they have good ingredients, they don’t skim on toppings, and something he really liked: They barely have turnover, if any at all, which means his pizzas are always well handled and they know his order.
Mr. V has a memorable presence.
They also are willing to accommodate requests, and not hassle you about it – which is something Café Verde is not willing to do.
Next up, we have El Diablo.
When I was first in there, I made the mistake of saying “Oh, they’re like Chipotle” to which the guys behind the sneeze guard bristled at me, and said “No. We’re not.”
Sorry, dudes, but yeah, ya kinda are.
And that’s nothing to be ashamed about.
Have you seen Chipotle’s story?
Be proud I think you are something like that.
Mr. Alexander and Mr. Anderson and Mr. Sanchez also enjoy this place-
gobbling their burritos during lunch, because you know, it doesn’t take 45 minutes to go .5 miles during lunch rush hour like it did at the office in Los Angeles.
I’ve, again, had a variety of foodstuffs from this place: fish tacos, bean and cheese burritos, chicken tacos/burritos, mushroom burritos.
They give you a large, large portion and make it in front of you, which is not unusual, but pleasant and nice, with fresh ingredients that had a story behind them.
I personally like fish tacos and bean burritos the most.
Mr. V eats the steak burrito with added mushrooms, which normally means that he has to get it double wrapped, and then orders the queso and chips.
The chips are salty and freshly made (fried?), and you can see the grease drop through the brown paper bags with the little devil stamped on them.
The queso is weird, but queso is weird by nature – how it congeals right at room temperature and becomes sticky like glue.
Obviously terrible for your heart and belly, but a dip or two won’t kill you.
Unless it congeals on the way down to your belly.
Then you might choke. Again, queso is weird like that.
Mr. V usually puts the burrito into a bowl, cuts it up, heats it up, and eats it with the chips as spoons. Makes a sort of dip like food out of it, and finished the entire thing in one sitting.
I eat about half, and I’m dead to the world.
Their beans are really good, and I love their spicy pico.
And goat cheese as a topping!
Mr. V says they’re worth the extra $1-2 you pay for the size, and while the guacamole is a little shady on the price, avocados are expensive out here compared to their homegrown prices in California.
But it’s fresh (because it browns when you get it home, if you have enough to take home).
He says the chips and queso are a little overpriced, but he continues to get it for convenience if there isn’t at home.
And I love this place isn’t a chain.
And now, for Hong Kong Chinese.
Immediately, Mr. V said great price for a great value. And I agree.
This place, hidden on the backside of the square, facing the weird park thing behind the never-finished building, is a joy.
The menu is giant – though most Chinese places have giant menus.
They have heavy, they have light, they have spicy, they have medium, they have “coward” flavors.
They have small and large portions. They’re flavored well, spiced to my liking.
Mr. V orders lo mein, sweet and sour pork (or chicken), fried scallops, broccoli beef – a lot of times at the same time, sometimes with other things.
If you haven’t figured it out yet, he eats A lot.
And keeps going back, and back.
Sometimes we get a movie from the Redbox right around the corner while we wait for our order.
He has his specific feelings about when you order a vegetable dish with meat –
you tend to get a lot more vegetables than meat, though I would counter that this isn’t such a bad thing.
And then the difference between low mein and chow mein –
chow mein doesn’t have the crispy noodles that one would normally think, but maybe that’s not done correctly even in the first place.
Nevertheless, the chow mein is vegetables with a separate package of fried noodles that I imagine are meant to put in it to soggify them. B
ut these strange sides come with the soups as well, which I don’t use.
I LOVE this place in the later autumn/winter time, because I have found that their soups heal the dead. I swear, if I were a zombie and I ate their Hot & Sour soup, I would come back to life.
I really, really like their soups –
to me, they are the Asian version of chicken noodle soup or Matzo ball soup,
the make-me-feel-better soups that they used before 1900 to heal the sick.
I like the value, I like the amount of food, and it doesn’t feel like the greasy Chinese food one would normally get at fast(er) food places, though of course, it’s not as good as a sit-down restaurant.
I like that the girls behind the counter can remember our orders and the orders of the people behind us without writing it down, she just shouts to the guys at the woks, who remember it just as well.
Again, with the low turnover, so maybe it’s just memory of us customers.
I kinda wish they had some…other…types of food- like different parts of the animals-
but nevertheless, they do what they do have well.
Now I want some Hot and Sour soup.
I’ve been to these places my fair share of times, and continue to go back to them.
While I am an adventurer by nature, I’m also a creature of habit when I find something I like, love, enjoy, happy with.
Out of the three, I’d choose Hong Kong because of the comfort from the warmth of the soups.
I’m easy to please, what can I say?