Restaurant Review

Restaurant Review: Maccheroni Republic

A couple of weeks ago, Matt and I had literally the best meal I have ever eaten. I say that with no hyperbole, knowing that to make such a bold claim is a big effing deal. Well, this was one effing delicious meal. Maccheroni Republic is located downtown on Broadway, between 3rd and 4th. We went to eat there before we saw Something Rotten at the Ahmanson, and walked from the Music Center parking lot to the restaurant (we actually walked around downtown all day, and this is where we ended up). It’s not a short walk by LA standards, but it’s definitely doable and totally worth not having to park downtown twice. The restaurant is not in the greatest location downtown, but it’s tucked away and feels private enough that it doesn’t matter. They do not take reservations, so be prepared for a little bit of a wait (though we went at 5:30 to have plenty of time to eat and get to the theater and there was no wait). The most important thing is to come hungry.

We started out with a bottle of Malbec, which I tend to forget about a lot of the time, but every time I have it, I remember how smooth and delicious it is. I love that it is served in old school glasses, true Italian style.

The menu is very simple, just straight up delectable sounding pastas.

Matt had the Bigoli Della Nonna, which looks like spaghetti and meat sauce, but is so so so much more than that. The sauce was insanely good.

I had the Tortelloni Burro E Salvia and it was one of the best things I have ever put in my mouth (don’t be dirty). Guys, this pasta melted in my mouth. Every bite I took was more delicious than the last. The handmade pasta makes such a huge difference in the overall quality of the dish, and when you combine that with the sauce and the cheese…let’s just say I was in pasta-lovers heaven.

For dessert we had the Apple Tart and it was just as amazing as it looks. You can’t go wrong with apples and caramel. Not only was the entire meal so incredibly scrumptious, but our total bill including tip was under $100. That’s a bottle of wine, two entrees, and a dessert, plus tip for under $100. For a meal for two downtown, and one as good as this, that is a freakin’ steal.

This is the one and only time I have been to Maccheroni Republic, but I will literally be going back to this place for every single special occasion I have for the rest of my life. This is my new favorite restaurant, and I am seriously counting down until my next chance to visit. If you are going to be downtown, this stop is a must. You will not be disappointed!

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Game of Thrones at Library Bar

This past weekend, Matt and I were invited by some friends to attend a viewing party at Library Bar in downtown Los Angeles. When you combine books, Game of Thrones, and booze, I am a happy camper, so we obviously jumped at the chance. I had never been to the bar before, mostly because it is downtown and getting there and parking is a pain in the ass. However, because it was Sunday, the drive was less awful than it normally is. As soon as we walked in, I fell in love. If I didn’t have a kid, and a job, I would spend every weekend hanging out at this bar. It’s the best, and I seriously wish it were closer to my house.

We arrived around 4:30 to get spots for the 6:00 Game of Thrones (they also show the episode at 9:00 and 10:30). While we were some of the first ones there, I’m glad we got there early because we got an awesome spot. For my first drink, I ordered the Tequila Mockingbird, for obvious reasons. It was super tasty, though the spicy “rim” that was actually all over the side of the glass was a little inconvenient. Next time I will ask for it as just a rim. But the drink itself was super yummy.

At around 5:00 they started serving their themed Game of Thrones drinks. Between everyone in our group, we tried them all, and they all got positive reviews.

This one is the Mother of Dragons. It tasted similar to a pina colada. It was good, but it wasn’t my favorite of all the ones I tried.

This one is the Blood and Fire. Epic failure on my part, I was not ready with my camera at the bar, because they actually light the sprig of rosemary on fire. I’m always down for a little spectacle with my cocktails, and as a bonus, it tasted great! I would definitely order this one again.

Matt and I split the fried chicken sandwich, which was very tasty. The fries were the best part though, they had a great seasoning. This is definitely the kind of bar that has good, but pricey snack type foods. We split the sandwich and then ate another snack when we got home.

They show Game of Thrones on one big main screen and one other smaller TV. We had a great spot since we got there so early, but it did seem like most people in the bar had a decent view of the show. They also showed the previous week’s episode, though they didn’t turn the sound on until the new episode started. I was a little worried about watching the show in a bar with a big group of people, but it was actually better than expected. A couple of people were talking, but for the most part, everyone paid attention and no one was too obnoxious. We did go home and watch the episode again, but I always do that so I can do my notes for the podcast.

I am so happy I discovered Library Bar. I will 100% visit there again, and I would definitely check out another Game of Thrones episode there in the future. How do you feel about viewing parties? Do they enhance your experience or take away from the show for you? Let me know!

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Restaurant Review: Wood and Vine

One of the built in benefits of having season tickets to the Pantages is that it forces Matt and me to go out on pre-scheduled date nights. We are both so busy that we sometimes go weeks in a row without ever having a weekend night off together, and weekdays as I’m sure you can imagine, mostly consist of Squirt. We don’t go out to eat before every show, but we try to as much as we can, and before our last show, we decided to try a new spot, Wood and Vine. Wood and Vine is located at the famous intersection of Hollywood and Vine (hence the name), which is conveniently right across the street from the Pantages (which means you only have to park once, which in Hollywood is a mega score).

The restaurant has a super cool hipstery bar area, but we opted to sit on the back patio, which has a really fun vibe. The patio would be an awesome place for a party. We sat at the firepit table, which is in the middle of the outdoor area and is kind of a communal seating area. Our waitress explained that the concept of the food is American tapas, so they are small bites meant to be shared (though the portion sizes didn’t seem small to me).

We ordered drinks first, obvi. I got the Accomplice, which was delicious. I will be making a homemade version of this all summer long. Matt got the Black Manhattan, which is one of his go to drinks.

We started with the green salad, which was fine, but nothing special. For one of our main dishes we chose the mussels and it might have been the first time we ever ordered seafood still in the shell to share. I was a little hesitant, but they were really yummy. Definitely not what I would have gone for first, but I’m glad I branched out and tried something new.

As soon as I saw grilled cheese on the menu, I knew we would be ordering it because I have the taste buds of a twelve year old. I have to say, this is one of the best grilled cheese sandwiches I have ever had and I would order this every time I ate at this restaurant if Matt would let me get away with it. Seriously. So. good.

Matt is not a big dessert person, but I am the dessert person and when I’m in charge of ordering, we’re getting dessert. And this dessert was effing heaven. It’s butterscotch with a bourbon ice cream and a thyme crumble. Sounds weird, but it was tasty AF. Even Matt got down with this bad boy.

The view from the our seats on the patio, wouldn’t this make a great spot for a small wedding?

Overall, our meal at Wood and Vine was perfect for date night. The drinks were great, the food was yummy and the ambiance was super cool. I can definitely see us eating there again and it would be a great spot for a small party.

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The Scum and Villainy Cantina

Several months ago, an event popped up in my Facebook feed, advertising a Star Wars themed pop up bar in Hollywood called the Scum and Villainy Cantina. I immediately went online and bought tickets and then promptly forgot about it until a few weeks ago when reservations for the bar opened up. Matt and I decided to go to SVC during his spring break, so we chose a Wednesday evening at 6:00. Each ticket came with two drink tokens, a souvenir glass and a souvenir coin, along with access to the bar for two hours (which was plenty of time).

We arrived to the “secret” (not so much anymore) location about a half an hour before our reservation, and found a parking spot on Cahuenga immediately. If you have ever tried to park in Hollywood, you know how next to impossible that is. We were the second group in line, so we could have gotten there later and been fine, but I always prefer to be early. About fifteen minutes before our entrance time, we were checked in and given our two drink tokens. We were let into the bar right at 6:00.

scum and villainy cantina

Inside was dark and foggy (and terrible for taking pictures). There wasn’t a ton of decoration, per se, it was really more like we had actually walked into a bar in space. The music was eclectic and nerdy–I mean, they played the Flash Gordon theme song by Queen so I had no complaints about that. In general, I thought they captured the atmosphere of a space cantina pretty well. We grabbed two seats at the bar and cashed in our first tokens. Tokens were only good for specialty cocktails or  beer, but they did also have a full bar. First I tried the Big Bang. All of the cocktails came with a glowstick in them.

With my second token I tried the Dark Side of the Moon. Both of the cocktails were fine. Neither was so amazing that I would order them again, but they were both tasty and seemed to have a decent amount of alcohol.

scum and villainy cantina

The best part about being at SVC was the people watching. A lot of people (most, really) came in costume and everyone was willing to pose for pictures, which was fun for us since we didn’t dress up. We saw some really cool outfits.

scum and villainy cantina

Matt totally photo bombed my Stormtrooper selfie.

scum and villainy cantina

About a half an hour before our time was over, the big guy came out. It was fun to see the Stormtroopers (who were guests at the bar) immediately flock to his side and flank him as he walked around the bar.

scum and villainy cantina

Matt and I had a really fun time hanging out at the Scum and Villainy Cantina. We didn’t try any of the food since it all seemed pretty generic (we hit up In N Out on the way home, which is really the only way to do it), but we enjoyed the drinks. The prices for the other drinks at the bar seemed pretty on par with most of Hollywood, and while tickets for the bar were a little steep (I think we paid $50 per ticket), I found the whole experience to be worth what we paid.

As far as I know, there are no more reservations available for SVC, but they do have some walk up spots available. I would check their website and/or social media channels for the latest updates on accommodating walk ups. If you are a Star Wars fan in the So Cal area, I would 100% recommend checking out the experience. It was definitely a fun and nerdtastic experience!

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Restaurant Review: Earl of Sandwich

In my opinion, Earl of Sandwich is one of the better additions to Downtown Disney to come along in a while. Earl of Sandwich (obviously) serves sandwiches, but also has a good selection of salads, pizza, and fresh and healthy items like fruit cups. They also have some delicious not so healthy items like cupcakes and beer. What I love about Earl of Sandwich is that in addition to being tasty, it is fast and convenient. We have eaten here several times after picking up race packets, and it seemed like the perfect place to eat after a long afternoon swim at the Disneyland Hotel.

On our most recent trip, I ordered the caprese sandwich, which comes with spinach, tomato, mozzarella, and a balsamic vinaigrette. This is one of my favorite caprese sandwiches out there, I think because the vinaigrette is lighter than the pesto that comes on most caprese options.

Matt ordered the Hawaiian BBQ sandwich, which comes with chicken, ham, pineapple, Swiss cheese, and BBQ sauce. I hadn’t tried this one before so I of course made him give me a bite and it was really good. I will definitely be ordering this one in the future.

We ordered the kids’ turkey and cheese for Squirt, and he actually ate the whole thing (thank you swimming!). We also got some fresh fruit and two beers (for Matt and me, obvs). While the meal was on the higher end of what we would normally spend on a quick service meal, it was still cheaper than a meal in the park and definitely just as tasty (if not even tastier). If you are looking for a quick and yummy place to grab a sandwich or salad in Downtown Disney, Earl of Sandwich is definitely a good place to check out. Considering that most of the restaurants in Downtown Disney are full service, Earl of Sandwich is a great option for something a little more casual.

What’s your favorite place to grab a quick bite at Disneyland?

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Character Breakfast at Goofy’s Kitchen

A couple of weeks ago, our little fam took a short trip down to Disneyland to hang out with Matt’s cousin and her son, who were visiting from Alabama. Given their location, it was the son’s first trip to Disneyland and they did the whole shebang–Disneyland Hotel, multiple days in the parks, everything you should do if you are visiting from out of state. One of the things included in their vacation package was the character breakfast at Goofy’s Kitchen. Since we had never done one before (at least not together) Matt and I decided to splurge and give it a go. I (naively, stupidly) thought that since Squirt and I spend so much time in the parks, he would be totally cool with all the characters. Yeah, not so much. He was not a fan, and spent the majority of the character breakfast curled in Matt’s lap (which made it difficult for Matt to take full advantage of the overpriced breakfast buffet). It will be a couple of years before we give the character breakfast another shot (the four year old loved it!) but here are some of the highlights, nonetheless.

Our reservation was for 7:00 am (probably part of the issue for Squirt since he is a super special unicorn toddler and sleeps till 9 or 9:30 every day). I hate waking up early, but this was a really good time to go for the character breakfast because it wasn’t super crowded. The characters spent a lot of time at our table since it was pretty empty, so if you want some good interactions, get there early. Before we were seated, we got to pose for a picture with Pluto (Goofy was stationed in this spot for most of the rest of the morning).

After posing with Pluto and Chip, Squirt was pretty done with the whole character deal so we didn’t get a whole lot of family photos after that.

I managed to grab a selfie with Minnie, who loved my ears. She was the cutest in her little chef/baker outfit.

Then it was time for breakfast! Goofy’s Kitchen is a buffet, and they had all the breakfast foods you could want: eggs, bacon, pancakes, French toast, fruit, and of course, the Mickey waffle. Because Squirt was so clingy during breakfast, Matt and I didn’t get to sample as much as we would have liked (definitely don’t think we got our $45 worth of food, but whatevs…I did shove some bananas and cookies in the diaper bag on the way out). But the Mickey waffles were delicious, as always.

When our waitress asked if we were celebrating any birthdays, I don’t think she was prepared for us to say we all were, but it was true! Both the little dudes had birthdays in June and the adults all in July, so they were kind enough to bring us five Goofy birthday cupcakes. Sadly, we left most of our cupcakes on the table since it was a little early for cupcakes (especially after a breakfast consisting mainly of waffles).

While we did see quite a bit of Minnie, Chip and Dale, and Pluto, we only really saw Goofy as he was on his way in and out of the kitchen. The characters did do a cute little dance, but it was in the main room, and we weren’t seated there so it was hard to see. All I managed to get of Goofy was this blurry shot as he was passing by our seats.

So obviously the character breakfast didn’t go quite as planned for us, but I did learn some tips for next time. We went with the Goofy’s Kitchen option because it was included in our family’s package, but I think the Plaza Inn and the character breakfast at Paradise Pier (from what I have seen online) have a few more characters. We didn’t get to see Mickey at all, which was kind of a bummer. One thing I really liked about the character breakfast was the fact that the characters were really good about staying away from Squirt once it was clear he was not into it. They still interacted with our little cousin (the four year old), but made sure they weren’t getting in Squirt’s face in the meantime. I’m sure they deal with scared kids on a regular basis and they clearly know how to handle them.

If you are considering a character breakfast, I would make sure your kids are at the right age, I think four or older works best. Early mornings work great for lots of face to face interaction, but really take some time to look at the characters who tend to come to each place and pick the ones you want to see.

Have you done a Disneyland character breakfast before? What was your experience like?

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Restaurant Review: Poppy and Rose

A couple of months ago I coordinated a wedding at one of my favorite venues, Smog Shoppe. One of the things I love about Smog Shoppe is that they let you bring in any caterer you want to work with, which means every time I work there, I get to try something new. At this past wedding, a local food truck, Peaches, catered and the food was so freakin delicious I could hardly stand it. The catering manager let me know that they also have a storefront downtown near the flower market and that I should check it out if I were ever in the area. Well, I happened to recently be in the area, and decided to swing by and see it for myself. Poppy and Rose is literally right next door to the flower market, which makes it convenient if you are already shopping for flowers, but a pain in the ass if you are not (parking in the area sucks…shocker). But I have to say, I want Matt to try their pulled pork so badly that we will probably make a special trip there one day just for that. It’s that good.

In addition to serving ridiculously good food, Poppy and Rose is also adorable. I mean, how can you not love the striped awning? Poppy and Rose is known for their pulled pork and their fried chicken (the wedding served both sandwiches; I had the chicken at the wedding and it was bomb). Since I had already tasted the fried chicken, I ordered the grilled cheese. It was yummy, but I wish I would have gotten the fried chicken sandwich instead since that is not something I’m going to order anywhere else (and I’m twelve so I eat grilled cheese all the time).

My friend Lisa opted for breakfast and got the ground beef patty with eggs and brick hash (the potato kind, not the marijuana kind). All of their breakfast items looked really yummy so my next trip might be a morning one.

My friend Kristen was the smartest of us all and got the pulled pork breakfast. She was nice enough to let us all sample the pork and it was amazeballs. Seriously, it like melted in my mouth. Matt loves pulled pork, so he is definitely going to have to come to Poppy and Rose to try some of this magic.

We all really enjoyed our meals at Poppy and Rose, and I was totally digging the vibe and ambiance. Farm fresh and rustic chic, with a bit of hipster edge thrown in for good measure.

Here’s a quick look at the Poppy and Rose menu…

If you are ever in the downtown area and are looking for a delicious bite to eat, I would totally check out Poppy and Rose! So cute inside and out, plus amazing food options. I’m basically going to be making excuses to go down to the flower market, just so I can eat here!

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