Daglas Drive-In, 20036 Vanowen St., Winnetka, CA 91306

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Southern California has many old school burger and pastrami places like Daglas that look like they were built in the 1960s-1970s. These types of places serve huge portions of artery clogging food at reasonable prices. You can stuff yourself silly for under $10.

You can order burgers, pastrami sandwiches, gyros, hot dogs, fries, salads, burritos, tacos, and shakes. They have Thrifty’s Ice Cream. Order at the window and they’ll call your number when it’s ready.

Daglas has the added charm of a neon sign with the tagline, “Where every day is Fryday!”

* Small fries ($2.50): A big paper bag full of fries…it’s enough for a meal… Daglas world-famous fries are hand-cut, long and about the size (maybe slightly thicker) than In N’ Out fries. The potato skins are left on and the ends are crispier. The fries are on the soft side but you’ll encounter some crispier bits. They’re seasoned with salt and pepper. I thought they would be crispier because they’re double fried. 

* Grilled cheese with pastrami ($4.75): There’s a lot more pastrami than cheese, so it’s more like a pastrami sandwich with cheese. The thin white sandwich bread is quite buttery. The pastrami is cut into thin pieces – but it’s thicker than other places (like the Hat); it’s mildly smoky and peppery, not too salty with some fatty bits. The American cheese slices are pretty run of the mill and overwhelmed by the pastrami. It’s certainly not a gourmet sandwich and not very cheesy but it’s comforting.

The jaw dropping cup sizes for soda put Big Gulp to shame.

4 out of 5 stars

By Lolia S.

Skaf’s Lebanese Cuisine, 367 N Chevy Chase Dr., Ste A, Glendale, CA 91206

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The best tip I can give you is to add that magic garlic sauce to everything you order at Skaf’s. It makes everything taste amazing.

Skaf’s has a very casual, family owned feel with a nice looking contemporary dining area and open kitchen. The servers even sit in the dining area which is a bit odd. Plus they just wear regular clothes, so it’s hard to tell them apart from customers. But the woman who took my order was helpful and suggested that ordering two plates might be too much for two people.

I was excited to see shawerma on the menu and two vertical spits, one for chicken shawerma, one for beef shawerma.

The menu has appetizers, salads (tabbouli, fattoush), soup, plates (kebabs, lamb chops, kibbeh, falafel), sandwiches, sides, daily specials and desserts.

* Spicy potatoes ($7): fried potato cubes were big and soft, sautéed with generous amounts of garlic, spices and fresh cilantro, so good, Mr. Froyo thought there was too much garlic but I don’t agree

* Chicken and beef shawerma plate ($13) with hummus, cabbage salad, pickle, pita and rice. The chicken shawerma was dry & plain. The beef shawerma was tastier and had a lovely blend of spices. The shredded cabbage salad had a lemony, lemony vinegary dressing that I found too sour. However, once you put their potent, creamy garlic spread on (it has a consistency similar to whipped butter), all those apparent flaws disappear.

4 out of 5 stars

By Lolia S.

Maison Giraud, 1032 Swarthmore Ave., Pacific Palisades, CA 90272

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Tucked away on a quiet street in Pacific Palisades, Maison Giraud is a combination restaurant and bakery. You can dine in or head straight to the back to find the bakery counter that has the reputation for offering some of the best croissants in Los Angeles. The prices for baked goods weren’t posted and they had just a few offerings: brioche, croissants, cannelles, cookies, danish, and loaves of bread. They serve Illy Coffee. Two croissants and a cup of coffee came out to $11.

*Chocolate croissant: Butter and chocolate overload. The croissant had a delicate exterior with very thin layers creating a crispy, buttery exterior. The chocolate flavor is quite intense and divine with the buttery layers of pastry.

* Butter croissant: What a lovely looking golden croissant with a perfectly caramelized bottom…it featured a delicate, crispy, buttery exterior and moist interior…it’s more buttery and oily than most

Some might find the croissants too buttery…others might fall in love. The bakery closes at 3:30 PM.

5 out of 5 stars

By Lolia S.

Loving Cup, 2356 Polk St., San Francisco, CA 94109

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Fro-yo girl here. Loving Cup is one of the few places you can get hand-churned mix in style frozen yogurt. You choose the base (vanilla or chocolate) and pick your mix ins (fruit, candy, almond butter, peanut butter, cookies, Nutella, sprinkles, nuts, cookie dough). The frozen yogurt is all natural, probiotic and nonfat. It’s churned to order. The machine combines your frozen yogurt with your mix ins.

Froyo prices:  Small ($3.75), Medium ($4.75), Large ($5.75), Extra Large ($7.75). The price includes one mix in. Additional mix ins are 75 cents.

* Vanilla frozen yogurt mixed with almond butter and crunchy granola: The froyo was extra thick, dense and creamy (thicker and denser than average). A small size was quite generous. The texture was the best part of the froyo. It felt satisfying and filling. The flavor was pleasant but the vanilla flavor was very mild and there wasn’t much almond butter flavor either. It was very sweet and somewhat bland.

In addition to froyo, Loving Cup serves Blue Bottle Coffee, tea, rice pudding, and fruit smoothies. Apparently they also offer frozen yogurt pies occasionally.

It’s a cute shop with cheerful lemon colored walls and limited seating, plus one bench outside.

You know you love me. X0 X0, fro-yo girl.

3.5 out of 5 stars

By Lolia S.

Noe Valley Farmers Market, 3861 24th St., San Francisco, CA 94114

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The Noe Valley Farmers Market, which occurs every Saturday year-round in a small parking lot on 24th St., is not particularly large but the quality is higher than average. It has a nice community vibe with live music, a communal table where you can enjoy the food you purchased from the few prepared food vendors there (I spotted about four stalls, including Juicey Lucy fresh made to order juices and a curry stall).

Many of the veggies are organic. You can find produce, gluten free items, a wide variety of mushrooms, olive oil, nuts, Sour Flour bread, etc.

Prices are on the high side.

3.5 out of 5 stars

By Lolia S.

Four Barrel Coffee, 375 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94103

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Four Barrel made me feel uncomfortable by not offering free wi-fi. People were talking to each other rather than staring intently at their laptops. How odd!

It’s a stylish place that proudly displays a huge coffee roaster and evokes the rustic feel of a hunting lodge meets warehouse. The ceilings, counter, tables and shelves are made of wood. Mounted animal heads adorn one wall. Themusic is provided via vinyl records and a turntable.

Espresso drinks are made with skill but not with customer accommodation in mind. Drinks come in one size. There’s a separate area for pour over coffee drinks. Nonfat, lowfat and soy milk are not available. They switched from soy milk to almond milk in November 2012, claiming almond milk is healthier and tastier.

Pastries (croissants, donuts, kouign amann, tarts, etc.) are provided by B Patisserie and Dynamo Donuts.

* Latte ($3.75): My first latte with almond milk…it does add a nutty flavor and it’s less sweet than soy milk. The foam art was lovely. The latte wasn’t as smooth and rich as it would be with cow’s milk…why can’t they offer low or nonfat milk???

* Lemon pistachio donut ($3): Tender and light raised donut with a thin lemon glaze and roasted pistachios, not much lemon flavor, wish it had more flavor

4 out of 5 stars

By Lolia S.

Juicey Lucy, San Francisco, CA, juiceylucys.com

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Juicing it up since 1994, Juicey Lucy’s serves 100% organic fresh fruit and veggie juices, smoothies, and vegan fare at several Bay Area farmer’s markets. They also have a delivery truck and a juice cleansing program. The stand has a hippie-ish vibe.

The vegan fare sounded quite tasty: hummus, tempeh, seasonal steamed vegetables.

My juices were pressed to order and totally customizable. The 12 oz. size is $7-$8 and the 16 oz. size is $10. It’s more expensive than usual for juice but it’s all organic and as fresh as you can get. You can get it in a compostable cup or glass (requires deposit).

* Alkaline: sweet and fresh tasting with celery, lemon, ginger, greens, apple

* Vegetable vitality: a very green/brown looking juice with greens, carrot, beet, ginger, apple…not as tasty as the alkaline but probably healthier.The juice is thicker than usual with a foamy top.

While I was waiting for the order, I learned that it’s best to have the juices at room temperature and to not use a straw since the salivary glands would be stimulated more by drinking from the cup. Hmm, interesting. I’ve been drinking all my juices through a straw.

Free pulp for pets.

3.5 out of 5 stars

By Lolia S.

China House, 2794 Diamond St., San Francisco, CA 94131

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China House replaced Glen Park’s 26 year old Hong Sing. It looks nicer now – brighter and cleaner. The menu isn’t as long as many Chinese restaurants and the dishes are pretty standard/safe (e.g., sweet & sour pork, honey walnut prawns, chow mein). There’s a page dedicated to vegetarian dishes. The most interesting dishes are on the “Traditional Chinese dishes” menu. The place settings include forks and fortune cookies are served at the end of the meal.

* Salt & pepper crispy filet of cod ($10.95): these were nice, golden thin crispy shell, tender fish inside, you can taste the salt and pepper but there’s not too much of either

* Mango chicken: big tender pieces of chicken stir fried with snow peas, carrots, mango, zucchini – not a strong mango flavor, glossy, simple but pleasant

* Mongolian beef: not bad at all, tender pieces of beef, onions, scallions

* Szechwan dan dan noodle ($7.95): round chewy noodles tossed tableside in a peanut sauce, mildly spicy, comforting

* Asparagus with double mushroom: Stir-fried, shitake mushrooms were plump and juicy, glossy, boring but not bad

Complimentary hot tea isn’t served (they charge for tea) but they will give you glasses of water. The food is fresh tasting and made without MSG.

3 out of 5 stars

By Lolia S.

Pissed Off Pete’s, 4528 Mission St., San Francisco, CA 94112

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A dive bar is a weird place to find good food and to dine (it’s dark and noisy) but stumble into Pissed Off Pete’s and your tastebuds will be rewarded. Back in January of this year they brought in two new chefs, who cooked at Schmidt’s, Osteria Coppa and Southern Pacific Brewing.

Head to the back to find the kitchen. Check out the specials on the day on the chalkboard menu. They also have a printed menu with sandwiches, pizzas, salads, appetizers and a few entrees. The comfort food dishes (e.g., mac & cheese balls, shoestring fries, fish & chips) have cute names and Velveeta fonduta appears often. The service is a bit confused but friendly.

* Buttermilk fried chicken wings with buffalo ranch sauce ($9): Hot, juicy, meaty wings with a thin crispy buttermilk batter and a tangy, creamy buffalo ranch sauce…definitely way better than Wing Stop. I don’t like ranch but I did like their ranch dressing.

* Beet No Meat salad with quark, pickled onions, toasted hazelnuts, golden beets, seasonal greens and blood orange balsamic vinaigrette ($8): So fresh with lots of tastes and textures, crunchy nuts, sweet chunks of beets, tangy beets. The quark was very mild. Loved the light tangy dressing.

* Spring Thing pizza with roasted garlic puree, asparagus, spring onions and lemon thyme ($9): A vegetarian pizza without tomato sauce…I was hoping for something really garlicky…I could taste the garlic but it wasn’t that strong. The crust was soft and puffy…not bad but I’d like it better if it were crispier. The asparagus was cut into small pieces and while there was a lot of it, the veggies weren’t that flavorful, nor was the sauce…the balsamic drizzle added a little sweetness and the lemon thyme made the pizza smell really good. The pizza is a personal pizza size.

The interior is narrow and dominated by the bar where you can sit and watch sports or admire their bobblehead collection. There are a few small tables in the bar area. Way in the back there is a pool table.

4 out of 5 stars

By Lolia S.

Ty Sandwiches, 4829 Mission St., San Francisco, CA 94112

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The new Ty Sandwiches is definitely one of the better banh mi shops in SF. Like most banh mi shops, it’s no frills. They have seven kinds of banh mi (tofu, combo, steam pork, grilled chicken, meatball, grilled pork, ham & pate), spring rolls, chicken wings, rice plates and drinks. Banh mi sandwiches start at $3.75 and are made to order.

While you’re waiting for your sandwich, you can peruse the selection of chips, canned beverages and instant noodles. I also saw one cup of che in the fridge. They only have one table but there is additional counter seating.

* Grilled pork banh mi ($4): There’s something very nice about the soft, thin, warm toasted roll because it has a slight crunch. On the other hand, beware of crumbs because you will have many to deal with. The marinated grilled pork was cut into in small flavorful, tender strips. The thinly julienned pickled carrots and a tiny bit of daikon were crunchy and sweet. The jalapenos didn’t pack much heat. The mayo taste was on the heavy side. The sandwich also had thin strips of cucumber and cilantro. The sandwich was generously stuffed (yay).

* Combination sandwich ($4): I found three different types of cold cuts, all thinly sliced but not super thin. I prefer a thinner slice. The cold cuts wound up being very chewy and very gelatinous. The cold cuts and pate didn’t have much flavor. The cucumber was cut more thickly this time. The grilled pork sandwich has more flavor.

Cash only.

4 out of 5 stars

By Lolia S.