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Spokane(WA) in Requiem

Cheap Eats, West Coast By August 18, 2017 Tags: , , , , , , No Comments

Spokane on the brain! Yeah, I definitely has Spokane on the brain. If you caught this episode you would have also caught on to the fact that the crisp air caught me for a bit of a cold. I give props to the magic of television and the amazing people serving up Cheap Eats in Spokane, who helped me pull through what was the toughest shoot of my life. I think this episode flowed and the energy I found here was surging at the thought of this food scene getting some of the National spotlight. But that’s all TV talk, and we are here to talk about some Cheap Eats, on the EASTSIDE of the Pacific Northwest. So let’s go get into it!


Portland in Requiem

Cheap Eats, Vegetarian/ Vegan, West Coast By August 5, 2017 Tags: , , , , , , No Comments

Portlandia. PDX. Or just plain Portland, Oregon. Whatever you call it, we all know this city has a rep for food, style and weather. This was not my first visit to the PDX. In 2014 I was sent all along with an army of food bloggers(vloggers) armed with the now defunct Tastemade app to shoot and eat the heck out of this venerable food town. I discovered loads of young chefs taking fried chicken seriously, farm to table tacos, plenty of killer hip Asian eateries and of course food carts. In 2017 not a lot had changed. The food carts were very much a part of Portland’s food culture and the chefs I met were as energized as they were in 2014 and their dining rooms packed with happy customers with insatiable appetites. If you don’t know, it takes three days to shoot an episode of Cheap Eats and frankly that just ain’t even close to enough time to check out the bounty that exists here. Still we found some damn fine grub so let’s just sink some teeth right into it!


Burgerlords – Los Angeles, CA

Burgers, Los Angeles, West Coast By February 25, 2016 No Comments

The Vitals:
the burger: two patties of a custom triple cut grass fed beef blend, on a sponge bun with lettuce, tomato, onion and thousand island dressing and american cheese
the bucks: $7
the coordinates: Los Angeles, CA

Last night I dreamt about Zankou Chicken. For those of you who are ignorant to the work of Beck, or happened to have never called LA home, Zankou Chicken is one of those dirty bird chains blessed from the Gods. A Lebanese-Armenian take on the typical fare one finds in a fast casual Middle Eastern/Mediterranean, order at the counter kinda spot. The place not only fed me for my 20s and some of my 30s, but it also served as my first introduction to cheap eats staples like shawerma, falafel and hummus. When you eat at a place for a decade, you can catch off days. And truth be told there were better(albeit pricier) renditions of Lebanese Armenian throughout LA, but I always kept coming back. Now I’m 8 months away from Zankou Chicken and the city that chicken shack calls home, and it doesn’t take Sigmund Freud to tell me that my belly is a little homesick. Which brings me to the burger at hand: a straight outta Los Angeles, in the style of In-N-Out, flat top griddled stackable burger. Fast food in design but not in the ingredients. A burger style that is the standard-bearer of burgers in SoCal. A brilliant design whose appeal to youth certainly carries over into the kind of adult who responds to questions like “Is In-N-Out good?” with a “oh dude, you just don’t know . . .” When I arrived in Los Angeles some 20 years ago I tried In-N-Out and just never got what all the fuss was about. But now, 8 months removed from a 20 year sentence in Southern California, I look back with fondness on the style, and in the case of Burgerlords, I have my own version of In-N-Out that is worthy of some pontification. And pontificate I shall.


Belcampo Meat Company – Los Angeles, CA

Burgers, Los Angeles, West Coast By August 19, 2015 No Comments

The Vitals:
the burger: Double Fast Burger: two 3oz patties of enlightened grass fed beef, house made American cheese, custom burger sauce, lettuce, tomato and onion
the bucks: $8
the coordinates: Los Angeles, CA

One of the most compelling debates on how to make great food erupted perfectly on Twitter a few years ago between Anthony Bourdain and Eric Ripert over which factor was more significant: technique or ingredient. Bourdain’s argument for technique sort of “won”, as he pointed out that whole cuisines developed around humbling circumstance thereby elevating “lesser” ingredient into what we now know as American Soul Food or Countryside French. Ripert’s retorts for the case of ingredient highlighted the fact that in the food world of today, Chef’s who demonstrate good technique have an almost unparalleled access to fine ingredient, making the debate somewhat moot: Technique and Ingredient are equally significant though don’t always exist in perfect harmony.

The debate haunts my mind with every great meal I encounter. Few times is there true balance between technique and ingredient, and when it comes to Bang for your Burger Buck, often it is technique that is taking the spotlight. Perhaps I’m oversimplifying this fine debate but ingredient comes down to bucks, and saving a few means technique has to step up. There are loads of excellent burgers that I don’t cover and the reason is price. Though I don’t want to think of Bang for your Burger Buck as a “$10 and under club”, it kind of is. Because of this journey that is driven by value, of feeling compelled to make “the find”, I have deprived both you and I, the pleasure of encountering and documenting an “ingredient” driven burger. Until now. After visiting many a burger joint, primarily in Los Angeles, I have come to a place where I am overwhelmed to make the following declaration: the Fastburger at Belcampo Meat Company is the best Bang for your Burger Buck in Los Angeles. Yup, I said it. I don’t do the stars thing – every burger in here is a case for value, but the Belcampo Fastburger is the best deal in town and this is because the burger embodies the balance of excellent technique and superb ingredient. Even crazier than making that kind of contentious “throw down the gauntlet” kind of statement is that the sheer greatness of this burger, the Bang for your Burger Buck, does not stem from the quest of making a great burger but rather from the philosophy of sustainable food. Ethical farming seldom enters the forum of Bang for your Burger Buck but exemptions are made when a burger tastes this good. Add to that an asking price of $8, and this double cheeseburger is an exception welcomed with jaws and wallets, wide open.


Big Mouth Burgers – San Francisco, CA

Burgers, West Coast By July 24, 2015 No Comments

The Vitals:
the burger: The Big Mouth Burger: a 1/2 pound of USDA Prime All Natural Chuck, charbroiled and served with lettuce, tomato, red onion, pickle and mayo
the bucks: $8.95
the coordinates: San Francisco, CA

Most of the country would balk at a cheese-less burger for $9, even if it was a 1/2 pound of USDA Prime all natural chuck and came with fries. But most of the country ain’t got nothing on a warm sunny day in San Francisco, which could just about sway almost anyone that you might be in the greatest city in America. This well reputed metropolis surrounded by natural beauty, enriched in culture, and well recorded in the history books, just about owned the food movement in America, if not the world, for the latter part of the 20th century. Farm to Table took root in the Bay Area first thanks to Alice Waters and spurred a whole generation of chefs to come. The Asian pantry collided with European cooking sensibilities here. I won’t even get into the whole wine thing, but I will say that when one looks beyond all the vitricultural brouhaha, the beer made in these parts is just as good. Yeah, San Francisco is a hell of a town, and an even better one if you are hungry. Finding a great burger is not a hard thing to do. Finding Bang for your Burger Buck – well that was kind of a conundrum.


Hinano Cafe – Los Angeles, CA

Burgers, Los Angeles, West Coast By May 15, 2015 No Comments

The Vitals:
the burger: double cheeseburger with house toppings(lettuce, tomato, red onion)
the bucks: $8.50
the coordinates: Venice Beach, CA(12 miles west of Los Angeles)

It has been said that etiquette may well be a thing of the past. And perhaps images of young men holding open doors for the elderly or school children rising when a teacher enters a classroom are indeed as frozen in time as those crude etchings of Wooly Mammoths found in the caves of Southern France. Contrary to this notion, I do believe that, in certain instances of modern context, etiquette still does occur, though in ways that may seem more subtle or unexpected to our forbears. Take for instance the dive bar. That hallowed home away from home where the working man or woman spends some quality time and dollars, in libation and revelry, with fellow working men and women. A place where convenience, affordability and joy intersect. The dive bar is more than just a bar, it is a pseudo private club for the blue collared. They are places that are claimed, that are deserved of our loyalty. It would be poor etiquette to covet another man’s dive bar. Therefore I cannot honestly claim Hinano as my own because it aint in my hood. I am no beach dweller, and it may well be at least a lifetime or two till the day when I can afford to hang my hat walking distance to the beach. But I can visit. I can pay to park so I can essentially pay to put my feet in the sand. And since I have an hour or two left on my meter, I might as well go crush a burger.