Dining

El Cholo Santa Monica (The original neon sign, 1931 / Photo Paige Petrone)

El CHOLO SANTA MONICA

  • By PAIGE PETRONE

Established in 1923, El Cholo has just celebrated 100 years of making memories (per their website)! Bravo to them, as this is no easy task in an ever-changing world and in a city like Los Angeles. El Cholo is the go-to restaurant for the best authentic Mexican cuisine. There are seven locations and the original is still thriving on Western Avenue in the heart of the city.

Living here for almost 30 years, I have been to El Cholo’s various locations, but I recently realized it had been some time since I’d gone. So, I headed over to Santa Monica and ordered up some of my favorites. We had to begin with frozen strawberry margaritas, and they are still simply the best in town! We then nibbled on their signature guacamole (same recipe since 1955) and chips while sipping our fab drinks. Yum and fun! Then it was on to El Cholo’s signature Sonora Style Nachos (same recipe since 1983). Just delicious. Then, fish tacos and amazing chicken fajitas. Be sure to order their famous Blue Corn Chicken Enchiladas! None of the menu items could possibly disappoint, and everything was consistently tasty and spectacular. Festive, too. Find the location nearest to you and head on over! I highly recommend that you go, again and again, and enjoy.

Fuego in Long Beach (Ropa Vieja / Photo Kymberly Chase)

FUEGO AT THE MAYA

  • By KYMBERLY CHASE

While I do not strictly adhere to the old saying “presentation is everything,” when it comes to what one eats it is key to enjoying one’s food. Let’s be honest — as much as we love to eat things that taste great, we also love to eat things that simply look delicious.

Fuego (restaurant & bar), the waterfront restaurant at the Hotel Maya in Long Beach, is a beautiful space. Its ambiance features contemporary Central and South American influences, from gorgeously tiled floors to leather-woven chairs and hints of industrialism via rusted metals and distressed paneling. The expansive indoor dining room opens onto an outdoor veranda complete with a southern view of the entire Long Beach shoreline. It’s an amazing restaurant that specializes in mariscos and antojitos (appetizers), as well as tacos, tortas, and entrées by award-winning Chef Victor Juarez. His menu places a strong emphasis on seasonal ingredients, resulting in an ever-changing expression of culinary exploration.

The brussel sprouts were delicious! The Ropa Vieja … wow! Incredible! Not only was the meat tender and flavorful, but the beans, crema, and those plátanos maduros were sweet and delicious. Drinks are also exciting. The bar serves premium tequilas and they have the largest selection in the region. Handcrafted margaritas and other signature cocktails may all be sampled at the bar.

For more, click here.

The Quarter Creole Cuisine in Claremont (Fried Catfish / Photo Kymberly Chase)

THE QUARTER CREOLE CUISINE

  • By KYMBERLY CHASE

NOLA! Fat Tuesday! In Claremont … an absolute must: The Quarter Creole Cuisine, a family-owned authentic New Orleans restaurant that serves up some incredible Creole cuisine. “Folks can come in here and get food that’s not only as good, or sort of like what you get in New Orleans, it’s better. It’s because he’s cooking it,” said co-owner Paul Theard as he pointed to his brother Norm. The brothers opened Quarter five years ago. Everything is made from scratch with some of the recipes dating back as much as 200 years to their great-great grandmother. This is food that transports you to the French Quarter in New Orleans. Some of their most notable dishes are Catfish St. Charles that’s cooked with a delicious etouffee, seasoned to perfection! The gumbo, layered with flavors of pork, shrimp, chicken, crab, and oysters, is their number one seller!

Aside from their exquisite food, the ambiance is classy and fun. Walking in, you see crushed velvet curtains, crystal chandeliers, intricate tin roof tiles, brick beams, an indoor streetlamp, Mardi Gras masks, and old family photos on the wall. Not only are you surrounded by authentic décor, but the aroma and sounds of sizzling catfish and crawfish permeates the air.

For more, click here.

Bao Su a Chinese Cuisine in Simi Valley (Honey Walnut Shrimp / Photo Paige Petrone)

BAO SU A

  • By PAIGE PETRONE

I have family in Simi Valley, so I spend a lot of time there. We are always trying to find a new and delicious place to dine (at least I am!). The choices are limited, and my family has pretty much tried them all. Recently, when lunch time rolled around, I was determined to find a place we had not been, and I remembered seeing a tiny “dumpling joint” sign a few blocks from the house. It’s called Bao Su A Chinese Cuisine, and it has the cutest dumpling face in the logo. I asked, “Why haven’t we tried this place?” and they said, “We’ve actually gone a couple times, but never knew what to order.” 

When it comes to Dim Sum, I know what to order! Off we went. The place is small inside, but lovely (not so much a “joint”), and pleasantly crowded with patrons. There was a vibrant and delicious aroma in the air. With my excitement growing, I ordered! We began with Shrimp Tempura (it was super crispy), then Chicken Dumplings, Shrimp and Pork Shao Mai, and Vegetable Dumplings. The noodle textures were delicate, yet strong enough not to fall apart. Bao Su A is serving up a fine example of how’s it done! Finally, the best thing was the Honey Walnut Shrimp. They were sticky, sweet, hearty, and fabulous! A must-have.

Open daily for lunch and dinner. For more, click here.