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Cafe 50's

Ever since I was a child, as I'd watch my favorite show Happy Days or the movie Grease I always wanted to live in an era of early Rock-N-Roll, drive-in theaters, classic cars, sock hops and burger joints and diners.  Where Seeburg M100C jukeboxes play 45 rpm records, and cute girls wear poodle skirts with saddle shoes and pony tails, while boys would wear flannel shirts, school cardigans with flat tops and crew cuts.  

It was a time of the whoslesome "All-American" family, Dick Clark's American Bandstand and teenagers either playing frisbie, hula hoops or identifying themselves with great icon James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause.  Whatever the case, it was a memorable era of American history and burgers, fries and milkshakes were a staple diet.

So let's take a trip down memory lane to the recently opened Cafe 50's, a cafe/diner located on Vermont Avenue in Los Angeles.  It's a complete throwback to that old 50's era.  As soon as walking in, as cliche'ish as it sounds, you will feel like you just warped back in time through a time machine.
CAFE 50's
Even before stepping in you can not help but notice the memorabilia from the 50's such as: old vintage, rare movie posters, vintage albums and old soda-pop and cigarette signs that are plastered throughout and decorate the walls. There are gumball machines, a postcard and comic book rack, and a vintage jukebox that plays pure 50s Rock-N-Roll. 

Set of Girl Pin-Up Posters and Postcards

Postcard and Comic Book Rack
We were greeted and seated by the lovely and jovial Ana and almost immediately, she recommended one of their 42 shakes! 42 shakes?!!!! We were stunned and the number of shakes and most definitely had to try one.  After nearly 5 minutes deciding, we ordered their Key Lime Pie Shake. I would have ordered myself a shake like their Snicker Bar Shake or their Elvis Presley or their Peanut Butter and Jelly Shake or their Root Beer Freeze Shake or the S'more Shake...(a S'more Shake??) or their Butterfinger Shake or even their Breakfast Shake....or or or...oh man - I had to maintain my appetite in check so I resisted temptation and just ordered me a classic Cherry Coke.

Key Lime Pie Shake - one of their 42 deluxe milkshakes -
The shake was nice and smooth and very creamy. Not too sweet and enough nutmeg to add some nice spice to it.  It was definitely like drinking a liquidfied Key Lime Pie...so good. Shakes are $4.49  

Anyhow - Their menu is huge and even before arriving to the cafe, I had my mind set on either some garlic cheddar cheese fries or their gravy fries.  So even without looking at the menu, and all agreed, we went on and ordered the garlic cheddar cheese fries.  

Garlic Cheddar Cheese Fries

The order is a heaping serving of golden brown, thin, crispy fries smothered under melted cheddar cheese and small chunks of garlic, topped with parsley.  The garlic was the right amount, not overwhelming like in garlic fries I have had before, which I personally don't mind, but these fries had the right amount of seasoning and garlic that kept me wanting more. All this for $6.95.

While we ate our fries, Craig, the owner, walks on over to our table with a plate of Southern Fried Macaroni and Cheese.  Strange triangular shaped breaded looking tid bits.  I was like..."what can this possibly taste like?"  My first bite was a crunchy cheesy delight.  Never have I ever imagined breaded mac n' cheese anything.  They are served with ranch dressing and some veggies and fruit...so far two side favorites on my list. 

Southern Fried Mac N Cheese Bites

On to our main meal.  Albeit I am a breakfast all day kinda of person and granted, they do serve breakfast all day, I had to stick to traditions and order me a burger. Most of us ordered burgers with the exception of one of my counterparts. I ordered the Bacon and Blue Cheese Burger with grilled onions. 

The Bacon and Blue Cheese Burger with grilled onions
I have been on a crazy Bleu Cheese Burger trip lately.  I really enjoy the saltiness and kick bleu cheese brings to any burger. 

The Cafe 50's burger is served with a side of cole slaw that is nicely sweetened and not too mayonaisey.  It isn't either runny like most cole slaws I normally have at diners or have had period.  I was ready for my first bite. 

The burger meat tasted fresh and juicy while the veggies were fresh and crispy as well.  The blue cheese, as anticipated, added that right amount of kick that just complimented the slight sweet apple smoked bacon on my burger. 

The burger was definitely a handful.

The Cheese Burger with avocado
As we all quietly ate away, with hardly any conversation, Craig came on over and brought us over some samples. Their turkey chili, albondiga soup that is made daily and made from scratch and some of their New England Chowder.

The turkey chili was not greasy and not heavy at all.  The clam chowder was creamy and thick with a not so clammy taste. And the albondiga soup was hefty too. 

It was time for dessert and Ana recommended one of their sundaes....sundaes?...mmmmm....okay - so as we all were going back and forth between their banana split or their strawberry sundae or their black and tan, Ana, just standing there watching us debate was like. "You should try our pineapple sundae".  Inside of me, being that pineapple is my favorite fruit, was crying. "Everyone please say yes" and lo and behold - we all agreed and I yelled out "yes!" 

She smiled and shortly after, brought us over a beautiful display of a sundae. It looked so good tht i didn't even want to eat it...

        Pineapple Sundae
One word. Delicious. You are just gonna have to try this one or one of their many 15 fountain favorites. This alone is worth coming to Cafe 50's - I tell ya.

Craig later came on over later and kindly offered us a tour of the joint. Took us to their Tiki Room. People, they have a Tiki Room filled with surf boards, Hawaiin stylized decorations, bamboo trimming and 1950's Hawaiin/Polynesian 50's Albums and postcards...this is definitely a cool room to come eat at. 
Walking with Craig as he showed us everything on their walls and around was like talking a history tour. He had so many old school stuff like Ike buttons, gas masks, posters, and a Predicta TV that plays nothing but old school classic movies. In fact, Craig tells us that a customer once told him that in one of the movies being played her aunt was in it and pointed her out. How cool is that?

Ike Buttons, Gas Masks, Old Tin Cans and Games
I asked Craig why the 50s stuff and why Vermont after having a location in West LA. he said “It was a great period of time. My father also grew up in this area. I have always like this area and I thought this area needed a place like this”  

Craig next to their famous jukebok
So if ever in the mood for a 50s throwback meal and experience...come on down.  The place was recently opened; about 4 moths ago and Craig wants to invite everyone in the area and about to come on down.  Specially in the evenings.  They are always having great specials and even have a Pajama Parties.  They serve breakfast alllllll-day and as mentioned above, have a great selection of shakes and fountain specialties. 

They also print a newsletter with jokes and a glossary of the 50s lingo with a calendar of their events. The have a kids eat free night, a Scrabble night, a celebrity birthday night and as mentioned...a pajama party night where if you come in dressed with your PJs you get something free....aint gonna say what....you just gotta come on by.  They also have magicians on Sundays from the Magic Castle.
Any evening you come I assure you, you will have or be into a treat.
So visit Cafe 50s and also visit their website for a list of specials and also their menu

Cafe 50's 
850 North Vermont Ave
Los Angeles CA 90029

Photos courtesy of Doña Junta


Under The Tuscan Gun

Many know I love and enjoy to eat and eat out a lot.  I enjoy trying new spots and expanding my experience in food whether it is of or from a different region or culture or simply be extremely adventurous and try something crazy or wild that many may frown upon.  Aside from my many other passions, I have a passion for food and I thrive to please my taste buds and expose them to the sensuality found in different foods.  Another objective, is also enlightening people on the aesthetics of cooking and possibly help them break from the shell of conventionalism and not be afraid to try something new.  As the saying goes: "Don't knock it until you try it!"  

Over the last year, and after blogging for other sites, I have been attempting to simply concentrate and blog for myself.  Albeit, I have not been all that consistent at blogging for myself and updating my blog regularly, I can say my food blog has somewhat created a "tiny" buzz, specially in and around Koreatown. This has lead me to focus more on the area and neighborhood I so proudly, and basically, was raised in...and still live in. 

Well aside from eating out, I enjoy cooking.  At a very young age, I can remember my beautiful mother bringing me into the kitchen to have me help with either cooking and/or baking.  Every dish she made, every cake she baked, she had my hands in it and I pretty much learned to cook most of those dishes.  I think it was at this point that my love and passion for food was born.  Aside from her cooking skills, my mom's philosophy of not fearing to try something new was ingrained in me and it is why I also am so adventurous with my food.  

Anyhow - as much as I love to talk about myself, this isn't about me.  This post is about cooking and cooking recipes from a site/show called Under The Tuscan Gun
Under the Tuscan Gun is a site/blog that features recipes from Tuscany. Tuscany is a region located in Central Italy - mainly known for their beautiful landscapes and its rich artistic legacy.  Tuscany also has it's own unique cuisine.

It is here where the lovely Debi Mazar and her husband Gabrielle Corcos come in.  They created this show/site to bring you homemade Tuscan food and share their family recipes.  The couple takes you through a step-by-step cooking process and shares a list of amazing recipes from appetizers, to cakes, pastas, meats, drinks, desserts etc.  The show is casual and intimate as they allow you to enter into their kitchen at home.

They bring you normal food, using normal ingredients.  And as stated by Debi in an interview with The Florentine: "You don't have to use a bottle of $70 olive oil to be a great Italian cook."  She adds "that their recipes and meals are for real people, who have jobs and kids."  Sounds like many of us.

The site has a grass roots method.  It has no advertisers and said to,  at times, have averaged 300, 000 hits in a month...that's a lot!!

Gabriele Corcos and Debi Mazar
The show has had so much success, that it recently was promoted to Television.  On Sunday January 19th, 2011 the Cooking Channel will air and premiere their brand new cooking show called, EXTRA VIRGIN.  And I, personally, can't wait!! They promise to bring you fantastic traditional Tuscan recipes that will be served to you and dressed with a lot of comedy, lifestyle and some fashion…and hopefully me as one of their guests. ;-)

So for all you so-called foodies or cooks, who specially love Italian cuisine...if ever in the mood for some authentic cooking some Tuscan or Italian cuisine visit the blog or  tune in and watch the show.  II am sure the show will be a great success.

I leave you with some videos of some of their recipes.

Pasta al Vino

Lasagna alla Bolognese

and if you want to learn more, make sure to visit their blog/site at 

Under The Tuscan Gun - for fresh, traditional Tuscan recipes.


Betito's Mexican Restaurant

So what's up people? As many may know, or not, I recently returned from a trip to Mexico about a month ago. While in Mexico, I had the divine pleasure of having some excellent food and dishes that were "to-die-for".  Definitely worthy of a blog on it's own but not today.

Anyhow - to prepare for my visit to Mexico, I wanted to sorta get my palette ready.  Finding it difficult to find quality and good tasting Mexican food in Los Angeles now-a-days, I decided to have dinner at a Mexican food spot I have heard so much about out in Canyon Country.

So I called some friends up and rolled out there with an appetite.  After a 30 - 40 minute commute on the 5 fwy, we arrived to our destination...a spot called Betito's.  A little joint found in a small plaza in Santa Clarita.

The Betitos logo

Upon entering, we were immediately greeted by a nice looking host and were taken to a nice table in the back area.  The place was somewhat packed with young couples, families and older folks as well.  A definite good sign.  I found the place to be cozy and very charming.  The decor? mos def Mexican.  The music? Rancheras and playing at a decent decibel level.  The place was mildly lit...a perfect setting for any occasion.

Our server immediately brought us our menus and our "servicio", two large plates of "homemade" chips and salsa.  The owner, who was also working the kitchen, had the server highly recommend their margaritas.  We were like...uhhhh....and before we even decided or had time to think it over, we had a pitcher of margarita and shots in front of us.  Who would complain about that?

Homemade Chips

Margarita Pitcher and Chips


Their margaritas were delicious.  Strong, but not overwhelmingly strong where all you taste is alcohol.  [Albeit, for some that may be all what matters]  They were perfectly balanced.  Just enough triple sec and you can taste it was made with real lemon juice.  The tequila was definitely not their house tequila since it had a nice smooth finish.  They were also perfectly chilled which served to be refreshing on a hot summer evening in September.  I, personally, am more a beer drinker, preferably dark Mexican beers or bitter beers but I was like "Excuse me Elena (our server), can we please have another pitcher?" haha

Next thing we know, Gus the owner, walks over to greet us and in hand, had a couple of dishes of guacamole he had just made for us.  Little did he know, I am a guacamole snob and I measure most, if not all, guacamoles to my very own bomb guacamole.  I must say...this one was good.  Chill, flavorful, the avocados tasted fresh and topped with cheese.  It also wasn't too tomatoey or oniony.  Was it better than mine?  well we'll just have to leave that for another blog.  Granted, I will be bias and it is my blog. haha anyways - the guacamole was good.  *thumbs up*

Fresh Guacamole

So after a couple of hours of chomping on chips and dipping them in salsa, making beans or guacamole tacos and drinking some margaritas, we decided to order.  I decided to go traditional, since the fajitas were recommended and is one of their staple dishes.  My counterpart one, ordered the wet burrito, and my counterpart two, ordered their famous Zarapes.     

When my fajitas arrived, they arrived sizzling and cracka-lac-kin'.  I dove straight into them since they looked delicious and was highly anticipating them.  I ordered them with extra onions and extra onions they had.  The meat was soft, tender and juicy.  The meat juice; not greasy at all.  The portions...very generous.

The wet burrito was huge, smothered in red salsa and melted cheese.  So huge, I was full just looking at it.

The Zarapes, which are two flour tortillas stuffed with charbroiled steak, pico de gallo and topped with lots of special sauce and sour cream were of generous proportions and served with a bed of rice and beans.  I was hoping we all would share but by the looks of  everyone quietly eating, it uhhhh...didn't seem like that was gonna happen.  

Steak Fakitas

Wet Burrito en Salsa Roja

The Betitos Zarapes

As I was unbuttoning the top button of my pants, so I can breath, and were wrapping it up at the table, Gus walked over to chat it up a bit with us.   I took advantage of the time and managed to ask him a couple questions about the joint.  How it opened up and whatnot.  

The  establishment has been opened for over 28 years now and was opened by none other than mom.   The menu is mainly comprised of her own recipes stylized after traditional food from Mazatlán.  A city in the state of Sinaloa, Mexico where the family is also from.  He said the clientele they have is predominantly made up of loyal patrons who have been coming for years.  The restaurant's name, Betitos, is named after his brother and family member who passed away years ago.

It was cool sitting down and chopping it up a bit with the owner. And chef.  He says he tries to keep his mom's tradition going.  And now I understand and can see why people still come and have remained faithful diners.  Aside from the food being good and reasonably priced, you feel very welcomed and also feel at home. 

We stayed until the restaurant was nearly shut down, and us being the last people in the joint, Gus kindly offered us a small tour of the kitchen and bar area.  The kitchen was pretty impressive .  Unexpectedly large and looked spotless after being used all day and night.  The bar was cool, small and incognito like and I almost lost myself in it. ;-)

The Kitchen Area

A Section of  The Bar

And during one of the laughing and joking around moments with Gus, I attempted being canny and threw in the question behind the secret of their margaritas and Gus padded me on the back and simply replied: "uhhhhh....Galo, that's a secret man.  You liked them, right?" and we both just laughed.  Except mine were a combo of hiccups and laughter.

So if ever in the Santa Clarita area and want some good Mexican food, come to Betitos.  You will not be disappointed.  As mentioned, the prices are good and reasonable, the portions are extremely generous and the service is impeccable.  Besides...the waitresses, such as Elena, are nice eye candy and may make your dining experience more enjoyable.  Well perhaps for people, guys, like me.  

Oh yeah, one thing I also can not leave out and not mention are the chiles toreados or asados.  Very good and definitely spiced up our dinner. 

Chiles Toreados (asados) 

So head on over.  Have yourself a margarita or two, order you up some food and if you mention my name  --- LoveGalo  --- to Gus, and only to Gus, he may just hook up something.  Hence, just may.

Betito's Mexican Restaurant 
18902 Soledad Canyon Road
Canyon Country, CA 91351-3381
(661) 251-0557

FUN FACT: Mazatlán is a Nahuatl word meaning "place of the deer."