Craft Shack Features Open-air Dining at The Point

Craft Shack is a new fast-casual concept in The Point serving food inspired by sister restaurant Simmzy’s in Manhattan Beach. It is set up much like an open-air shack restaurant on the beach, only in the trendy setting at The Point.

You should first know that Craft Shack does not have a sign on their building. They are located just south of Smitten Ice Cream. Orders are placed at their counter and delivered to your table. Craft Shack is ideal if you like people watching and you enjoy eating outdoors.

It was a bit early that day to start on craft cocktails and so I decided to focus on the organic line of sodas they have available. Made by Tractor Soda Company, they are organic and non-GMO. All of the ingredients in their sodas are natural with no artificial flavors, sweeteners, or colors.  

Tractor Soda's line of organic sodas

Tractor Soda’s line of organic sodas

I had sample tastes of the cola, cucumber, coconut, lemongrass and cherry cream. The flavor complexities were immediately appealing to me. Absent from the list of ingredients are: corn syrup, potassium citrate and potassium benzoate. Instead you see ingredients like coriander, anise, clove and hibiscus. My favorite was the cherry cream.

I knew their Quesadilla Foldover was popular and I had to verify it for myself, It’s served open face and topped with various ingredients. It’s named that way because the tortilla is sliced in half and you’re supposed to fold it over into a quarter sized tortilla to eat it.

Quesadilla Foldover

Quesadilla Foldover

The Quesadilla Foldover can vary in composition and mine came with caramelized Oaxacan cheese, lettuce, black beans, grilled shrimp and queso fresco and was tossed in a jalapeno vinaigrette. What made it rather interesting is that they served it with sliced deep fried peppers which added some interesting texture.

Cheesy nacho fries

Cheesy nacho fries

Craft Shack has an interesting take on nachos. Instead of using tortilla chips, they substitute shoestring fries. The end result is that the fries remain crisp because they don’t saturate the fries with melted cheese and chile arbol.

Elote or Mexican Street Corn

Elote or Mexican Street Corn

While it was listed as “grilled corn” on the menu, it was actually their version of the popular Mexican street food, elote. A corn on the cob is cut on half, grilled and rolled in lime crema. It is then topped with grated queso fresco, chopped cilantro and chile powder. I thought this was delicious and would pair nicely with a cold beer.

Other popular items include poke tacos, gourmet burgers and fish tacos. In addition, salads such as caesar, shrimp and chicken apple walnut are listed on the menu.

They have a medium-sized selection of both bottled and draft beers. I like the fact that they are keeping the money local and their beer selection comes from South Bay brewers.Their wine selection isn’t as extensive and while they may have an Italian or an Argentine offering, California wines dominate their wine list.

Some of their adult beverage offerings

Some of their adult beverage offerings

I was surprised to even see that they had some craft cocktails on their menu. One of my favorites, the Moscow Mule was listed and so I made a note that I’ll have to return in the evening.

I think Craft Shack has done a very good job at tracking LA’s current food and beverage trends in a way that will appear to people that work and play in the South Bay.

Craft Shack

 

Gourmet Sliders in Redondo Beach

z_sliderstopA friend of mine discovered a new restaurant named Slider Stop. She likes them quite a bit and suggested I pay them a visit. Since she and I have similar tastes in food, I made a mental note that I should give them a try.

Slider Stop is located in a strip mall on Artesia Blvd. in Redondo Beach. The advantage of being in a strip mall is that your business will generally have a convenient place to park. My wife and I pulled into a parking slot that was reserved for customers of the Slider Spot.

We were warmly greeted as we entered. Slider Stop is setup for counter service which meant that we needed to look at their menus quickly. I think the person serving the counter quickly realized that it was our first time there and so he helped us with our order.

I’m partial to having a fried egg with my burger and so I gravitated towards the Euro slider. The addition of smoked bacon also had my attention. The mornay sauce was a welcome change to the standard mayo, ketchup, relish sauce offered by many burger chains.

The Euro, Buffalo Chicken and Poutine

The Euro, Buffalo Chicken and Poutine

Because I had a hankering for fried chicken, I also ordered the buffalo chicken slider. I liked how they added quite a bit of coleslaw to this slider. This both helped offset the heat of the chicken and added a nice texture experience.

Canadian restaurants serve poutine as a main dish. Slider Stop remains with American convention and serves poutine as a side dish. It is topped with a bacon maple gravy, cheese curds, a sunny-side up egg and fresh chives.

Chicken Dinner, BBQ Chicken, Lil Mac

Chicken Dinner, BBQ Chicken, Lil Mac

My wife ordered 3 sliders: Chicken Dinner, BBQ Chicken and the Lil Mac. The Chicken Dinner was reminiscent of a mash-up of a Turkey Dinner, complete with gravy. She loved the crispy onion strings and the tangy sauce on the BBQ chicken sandwich as that added a lot of taste and texture to it.

Slider Stop uses King’s Hawaiian for their slider buns. They brown their buns on the grill to give them some additional taste and firmness. They also offer their sliders “protein style” where they will wrap their sliders in lettuce instead of a bun.

Chocolate, vanilla and strawberry milkshakes are available and are made with real ice cream.

Despite the name of the restaurant, they also offer creative salads like Kale and Apricot, Southwest and a Spinach salad with dried cherries, walnuts and blue cheese.

One of the best deals in town is their $2 Tuesdays. Any slider on their menu can be purchased for only $2.00!  

Slider Stop

 

Fish Tacos, Baja Cali-style

When I called San Diego home, I quickly came to realize how much San Diegans loved fish tacos. They had to be of a certain quality; preferably a white fish that is coated in flour and fried. Shredded cabbage is added, a white sauce is drizzled on top, then salsa is applied as desired. This is known as “Baja-style Fish Tacos”.

Until Baja California Fish Tacos opened, my favorite place to enjoy fish tacos was Sabor in Oxnard, yes Oxnard. In fact, I asked my family to take me out to Sabor on Father’s Day a couple of years ago. That’s how good their fish tacos are.

On the corner of Aviation & Artesia in Lawndale

On the corner of Aviation & Artesia in Lawndale

Baja California Fish Tacos is located on the corner of Artesia and Inglewood Ave. in Lawndale. The parking lot has about 10 spaces and it fills up fast. That corner has been a number of different restaurants over the years: KFC, Hong Kong Express and Antonio’s. Hopefully Baja California Fish Tacos is here for the long haul.

Like many small restaurants, they only provide counter service. While fish tacos is their signature dish, they also offer ceviche, burritos, sopes, tortas and soups.  In addition to soft drinks, Baja California Fish Tacos also has self service beverage machines that offer horchata, limonada and other non-carbonated Mexican drinks.

Fish Tacos

The fish in their fish tacos have a crisp exterior and are very soft and moist inside. The finely shredded cabbage provides some additional crunchiness and the mayonnaise / crema based white sauce elevates the taste to a satisfying experience.

Compliementary toppings: onions, radishes, chile peppers and lime wedges

Complimentary toppings: onions, radishes, chile peppers and lime wedges

Tostada Mixta

Tostada Mixta

The tostada mixta is beautifully presented. Like other nearby mariscos restaurants, they use imitation crab instead of the real thing. I thought they added a bit too much lime juice for my liking. I prefer to be able to taste the fish instead of being overwhelmed by lime flavor.

Caldo Mixto - Mixed Seafood Soup

Caldo Mixto – Mixed Seafood Soup

On a recent trip there, I had the Caldo mixto for lunch. Upon ordering, I was warned that I would have to wait approximately 15 minutes before the soup would be ready. I was not disappointed with the outcome. They included plenty of seafood: shrimp, fish, octopus, clam and crab. In addition, chopped celery, carrots and onions were added for seasoning and to thicken the broth. The end result was delicious.

On Wednesdays, they lower the price of fish tacos to only $1.19 per taco. Given how difficult it is to park in their lot on other days, I don’t intend on attempting to visit them that day. As it is, their food is quite the bargain and the restaurant is worth returning to on a regular basis.

 

Baja California Fish Taco

Yummy Eats at The Yummy Spot in Torrance

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Yummy Spot opened in Torrance earlier this year. It is a small and cute cafe offering tacos, pastas, salads and snacks.

Their tacos are one of the most popular items on the menu. Choices for tacos are sesame beef, carnitas, vegetable potato and blackened shrimp. A little bit of Mexican flavor along with an Asian twist, these tacos are indeed very yummy. The sesame beef tacos are my favorite item on the menu! The sesame beef has hand sliced sirloin steak topped with napa slaw in smoke dressing, scallions and garlic chips. The vegetable potato is also great and nice offering for any vegetarians.

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With the tacos being such a hit, Yummy Spot recently decided to offer some specials that similarly have a little bit of a twist. Their newest special is called Carnitas Madness. This is one amazing and packed carnitas sandwich. Alongside the tender carnitas is fresh avocado, a mix of three cheeses, lettuce, tomato, cilantro and onion rings. It comes with choice of fries or a side salad.
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The specials don’t stop with the Carnitas Madness.  As part of their new special offerings, Yummy Spot is offering Carnitas fries. Their version of Carnitas fries consist of thick french fries topped with pork carnitas, cilantro, chipotle cream, pickled onions, tomatoes, lettuce and fresh guacamole. I recently tried these fries and they’re yummy! There is a nice little spicy kick due to the chipotle cream. I loved the chipotle cream and fresh guacamole and the flavor they brought to these carnitas fries.

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Aside from offering yummy entrees, The Yummy Spot also offers some yummy desserts in the form of beignets and various cakes. Their beignets are freshly made and there are three choices of flavors, strawberry, chocolate and cinnamon sugar. Fresh and hot from the kitchen, these delightful doughnuts are always a hit!
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Yummy Spot is indeed one very yummy spot. From their tacos to their beignets, I have yet to try any item here that I did not like. If you’re looking for a place to eat that has yummy food; Yummy Spot is the place to go.

Where the Locals Eat in Maui

Local, family-owned, ‘hole in the wall’ restaurants have a strong appeal to me. They often lack a fancy decor and sometimes the service is similar to what you would experience in a coffee shop. Nevertheless, it’s usually an opportunity to try something that the locals enjoy at a inexpensive price point.

Da Kitchen is located in a strip mall near Kahului airport on Maui

Da Kitchen is located in a strip mall near Kahului airport on Maui

Not long ago, I vacationed with my family in Maui and felt that it was an opportunity to enjoy the food that the locals enjoy versus going to where the tourists flock to. My wife told me that she wanted a place to eat near Kahului Airport. After doing the research, I selected Da Kitchen.

Da Kitchen is located 5 minutes away from Kahului Airport in a busy strip mall.  Despite the steady stream of people entering the restaurant, there was ample parking in front of the restaurant. I was surprised that we were seated immediately.

Saimin soup

Saimin soup

Kalbi ribs and potato mac salad

Kalbi ribs and potato mac salad

Deep fried spam

Deep fried spam

I ordered the saimin, my wife ordered the kalbi ribs and my daughter ordered the deep fried spam musubi. The Kalbi BBQ beef was very tender and the flavor was the result of an excellent marinade. I loved the broth on the saimin and the number of different additions to the soup. I hate to admit, but the deep fried spam musubi was actually tasty. The texture was crispy on the outside and the combination of the teriyaki sauce with the spam and rice made it flavorful.

After seeing the sign, I knew we were in the right place.

After seeing the sign, I knew we were in the right place.

A couple of days later, we drove the Road to Hana. On our way, we stopped for breakfast at the Tasty Crust in Wailuku. After finding the restaurant, you’d think that you just pulled up at a roadside diner on Route 66. Even the restaurant sign had a nice healthy coat of rust.

Walking inside Tasty Crust was like a walk backwards in time. Vinyl booth-style seating with formica tables lined the perimeter of the restaurant. Two older men  were sitting at the counter reading the daily newspaper. I felt I was in an era before cellphones and other personal electronic devices; people were actually looking and talking to each other.

Breakfast of champions: spam, eggs & Japanese white rice

Breakfast of champions: spam, eggs & Japanese white rice

Tasty Crust signature pancakes

Tasty Crust signature pancakes

Loco moco with a fried egg on top

Loco moco with a fried egg on top

My wife ordered their signature pancakes and my daughter ordered spam and eggs. “When in Rome”, I thought and so I ordered a local moco. I’d have to say that the food prepared at the Tasty Crust was better than some of the Hawaiian restaurants in the South Bay.

If you had a bad luau experience and disliked poi and Kahlua pig, consider trying Hawaiian food again. You may be pleasantly surprised.

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