Shake Shack Las Vegas

Concrete, fries, Shake Stack (top), Shack Burger (bottom) credit: iblewupyaspot

When Eater announced Shake Shack was moving west to Las Vegas I was hella excited. A great Vegas addition since January 2015 Shake Shack is one of my favorite must-dos in Vegas. It works out that Shake Shack in Vegas is on the strip located on the outskirts of the New York New York (get it?)

My favorite burger there is the Shake Stack, a Shack burger topped with a deep-fried mushroom filled with cheese. But I hate the crinkle-cut fries. I don’t get it, and continually don’t get it. It makes me think of shitty french fries in the frozen food aisle. The special concretes are always good and gotta look at the weekly offerings.

West Coasters: Stop comparing Shake Shack to In-N-Out– it’s the wrong comparison. It’s two different style of franchises. I think it’s easy to compare both because In-N-Out is a West Coast institution and most of us defend In-N-Out’s honor against any East Coast Bias.

But breaking it down, In-N-Out has a simple menu which allows them to focus on quality and keeps the prices relatively competitive in the fast food arena. On price alone Shake Shack offers a $5.19 cheeseburger vs a $3.something cheeseburger. A full meal like the one pictured costs $25, versus the same amount of food from In-N-Out is half the amount.

I enjoy both burger joints, but you and I can taste test all we want it’s not the same comparison. Shake Shack’s burgers are a bit bigger, and also a bit flavorful, but In-N-Out has the package for the price point. A true comparison of Shake Shack is Burger Lounge.

Nonetheless Shake Shack Las Vegas is solid pick in Vegas.

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LA ADVENTURES: A-FRAME

A-Frame

Highlights

Under the Roy Choi Empire.

Aloha. all day. (including brunch)

ALOHA style seating aka PARTY OF TWO? SIT WITH A LONELY GUY ON A 4-TOP.

HOW DO YOU EVEN MAKE IN-HOUSE SPAM? LIKE HOW DID YALL MAKE IT A THING?

Parking-friendly Westside LA.

filed under: Roy Choi running things, SPAM does amazing things

SPAMSANDWICH
Surfer’s Sandwich. House-made SPAM, Grilled Pineapple, Cabbage slaw, Sriarcha, Sweet Hawaiian Bread.

If there is one person who could and would kill it at serving Hawaiian grinds at a really good price point on the mainland, it would be Roy Choi. The other Roy has a reputation of serving the high-end version of what they do on the island. A-Frame has been around for a few years, but through Roy Choi’s personal twitter account he announced in the winter of 2014 he was going to re-work A-Frame’s menu.

The rumors out there had A-Frame’s new menu tasting closer to cuisine from Side Street Inn. On the island, Side Street Inn is one of the Hawaiian/local grinds that constantly serves great food with lines always out the door even at the newer location on Kappahulu.

Food memories engaged, GF and I were LA-bound for Sunday brunch service.

Weird happened when we arrived– they had not transitioned into the new menu. The hype that drove us there was for naught. So weren’t going to take a loss, we just went hard and ordered all the Aloha we could stomach.

Surfer’s Sandwich. What caught my eye was house-made SPAM. I love SPAM with all its salty-canned meat glory. Upon eating a bite into the sandwich like for real how do you make in-house SPAM?

LIKE FOR REAL HOW DO YOU MAKE IN-HOUSE SPAM?

The idea of making spam from scratch is insane, because you might as well use the canned product. Save yourself time Roy, but the SPAM matches the exact the flavor of SPAM and all its detractors. Canned meat, nitrates all day, salt salt salt. But the sandwich itself was everything I love about Hawaii presented in a sandwich. The grilled hawaiian sweet bread was a great touch as well.

LOCOMOCO
Loco Moco. Hamburger, Rice, Curry Gravy, Sunnyside egg, sriarcha.

LOCO MOCO. I’m always weary of any loco moco because it’s always mad heavy going down. The egg, gravy and hamburger patty is greasy. But my reservations always fade when I take a bite. The heartiness of this meal goes great first thing in the morning. The taste profile is different from what one might be used to from L&L and other Hawaiian spots. The curry gravy is a great difference here and I feel like it’s a good deviation from the norm.

FRIEDPOUNDCAKE
Fried poundcake with chocolate milk and ice cream.

This time around no aloha pancakes were ordered, because protein rules everything around me. It’s definitely on the radar for the next time up. And looking on their online menu it looks like the transition has been made into the new menu. R.I.P. Beer-can chicken.

If you can’t find aloha on the mainland, then that’s on you. Because you can order it at A-Frame. DRINKSFURIKAKE

Cheers to the Westside.

A-Frame
12565 W Washington Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90066

Sea & Smoke Happy Hour Version

Sea & Smoke

Highlights

Sister restaurant to Urban Solace.

Happy hour 3p-6p is good looks 7 Days a week. .

Flower Hill off the freeway. RIP to the movie theater & Pannikin.

Like NO, shrimp & grits. Delicious and you save almost 50%

filed under: Happy Hour, you the real MVP; Faded & full before 6pm.

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Cheese and salame board, BUT I ALREADY FORGOT WHAT EXACTLY IT WAS.

I almost hate the Flower Mall in Del Mar just because there’s no real point of me being here. It’s basically uptown problems AKA this shit, that ice cold, Michelle Pfeiffer, that white gold. If I’m in the area I might be at Whole Foods or at Burger Lounge, but Sea & Smoke has a fire happy hour. The happy hour prices hit the pocket nice too. Shit you might end up dropping a $100 on a meal. The cocktail’s are about $3 off, the beers hover around $3-5, and the food menu, though limited, is fuxwidable. I’ve been here with a big party before, and I can say that the pork belly was phenomenal and the service was good handling a 18 seat table. BUT THAT’S THAT & NOT HAPPY HOUR.

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Shrimp & Grits with pork belly pieces.

YEAH MORE NEW ORLEANS FOR THE MOUTH. There’s a difference in style when it comes to palate, but that’s like comparing Bun B to Snoop Dogg. If I were to compare the two, they put a lot of butter in the South versus SD. The dish is definitely a stand out on the menu not only because you’re saving almost $10 off the dinner version, but the dish is a solid pick. The shrimp is well seasoned, the grits are on point and the crispy pieces of pork belly are good touch.

The burger is a easy copp too. I don’t mind the burger here, but truthfully if you told me to pick between Burger Lounge and Sea & Smoke, I’ll easily go Burger Lounge. But there’s no happy hour at Burger Lounge.

Niman Burger. smoked onion jam, swiss, cheddar, lemmon thyme aioli
Niman Burger. smoked onion jam, swiss, cheddar, lemmon thyme aioli

Sea & Smoke’s happy hour is the real MVP of happy hours, especially in North County. They have a solid Happy Hour menu that others should be gunning after. *KEVIN DURANT MEME*

Brunch looks exciting too. I need to try that cinnamon roll sandwich every one keeps talking about. But it’s really hard to compare the mood and food between the magical hours of 3pm and 6pm.

Sea & Smoke
2690 Via De La Valle
Del Mar, CA 92014

 

New Orleans Food Adventures

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New Orleans is a great city to experience food and drink, watching people getting drunk publicly, and Mardi Gras. NOLA doesn’t play when it comes to Mardi Gras. Unbeknownst to me, Mardi Gras is a month-long celebration son #mindblown, so to recap that’s parades, beads, booze for straight four weekends. No matter how you cut it, it’s a really dope time to be down there.

Highlights & Tips:

Keep it movin. Mardi Gras is a fun time to go, but don’t get stuck in the French Quarter or Bourbon St. Treat the French Quarter like you would to Vegas Strip. There’s more out there.
Drinks to go. There’s no urgency to cop a frozen daiquiri aka Fat Tuesday. Shit is overrated, especially if you’ve been to Vegas. Instead, walk into any bar and ask for a drink to go…
Don’t sleep on the cocktail game here. Some of the best cocktails were born here. That being said: Sazerac.
Live music. Make it out to Preservation Hall. You won’t regret it, but if you can’t make it out Frenchmen St. has a plethora of bars with live music playing nightly.
Seafood. Definitely go with the Southern staples (shrimp, crawfish, catfish). You will not go wrong.

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Cafe du Monde (French Quarter)
#priorities. I can eat dessert and coffee before meals. Getting beignets from THE spot for beignets feels like coming home. The beignets here taste slightly airier than the SoCal counterparts at Downtown Disney’s Jazz Kitchen. You can chalk it up the difference in taste to atmospheric conditions (air, water, small batch vs large batch frying), but regardless they’re amazing here. When it comes to coffee– If you’re not drinking coffee with chicory in NOLA, then you will surely be disappointed. Chicory is in every cup of coffee here, except for Starbucks.IMG_6068.JPG

French Market (French Quarter)
It’s not the best, but it does its job of introducing Cajun cuisine. It feels like a truly local spot, despite being in the French Quarter. Pictured above is the fried catfish & fried oyster plate, but like I said– go with the Southern staples.

photo: Serious Eats

Willie Mae’s (Treme)
The fried chicken will not change your opinions on fried chicken. It will rearrange your fried chicken ranking because simply: it’s the best and it’s soul food done right. Know that their James Beard award is well deserved. Since it’s on EVERYONE’S radar, there’s a Disneyland-esque wait from start to finish. Personally, don’t try with other proteins. Share a basket of chicken with your people. Butter beans is a must side and don’t mess with the cornbread, okra, and green beans.

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801 Royal (French Quarter)
Honestly, I don’t really care about this place, but the seafood nachos and the fried green tomatoes are a point to kinda care of this place. Also the owner puts in work, so I have to acknowledge the hustle. This is the first time I’ve had fried green tomatoes this delicious. Other fried green tomatoes I’ve had were too oily and felt like the batter was falling apart. Might be saucy, but the crisp was done well.

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District: Donuts. Sliders. Brew (Garden District) 
Hipsters gotta kick it and setup somewhere right? Might be the only independent shop in NO that has cold brew on nitro…with that being said, it’s probably also the other place that doesn’t do NO-style coffee (read: Starbucks). I fux with the donuts, they’re airy and fluffy. I’m not talking Krispy Kreme, but like mom & pop small batch. They’re not beignets, but small batch cooking is smart and results in a really good donut.

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Cochon Butcher (CBD)
Made a trip twice here one for the Muffaletta and other for the King Cake. Muffaletta is a must cop, but it’s salty. They serve their sandwiches with a pickle, so the sweetness of the pickle offsets the saltiness of the sandwich. Folks keep talking up that muffaletta, so I will say it’s delicious here. Try it, but if I were to go back (again) I’m switching to a different sandwich.

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Commander’s Palace (Garden District)
It’s the only place on this list that had a dress code. BALL OUT, AM I RIGHT? I don’t know but with all the presentation and the execution of the food this place feels a bit magical. No matter how I chop it up say it, it’s really good food and because of the price tag the ingredients taste better here than the other shops in town.

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The lacquered quail is distinctive because of the tangy taste. I don’t try quail too often because of their availability on menus but biting into the legs of the quail feels like eating a moist mini-chicken wing. Their service matches the food and we even kicked it in the wine cellar for a bit.

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Surrey’s Uptown (Uptown)
SHRIMP & GRITS. If you were going to get shrimp & grits anywhere, it has to be at Surrey’s. Doesn’t matter if its downtown or if its Uptown, Surrey’s nails the flavor. It’s not elevated, it is direct and it goes for the heart and soul.

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Verti Mart. (French Quarter)

Fried Oyster Po’ Boy. By the time I bit into this sandwich, I was having stomach issues. So I can’t say that it was bomb. My girlfriend can attest to it, so I’ll take her word for it. I think the first bite was good… /shrug.

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filed under: Comeback season, more jazz, more cocktails, less douchebags, parades are serious.

I’m next to the Pacific to be Specific.

Puesto Mexican Street Food La Jolla

Highlights.

Mexican corn on point

Street style- “elevated” flair to the cuisine

Downtown La Jolla is a mad turn-off. I can’t with Burger Lounge on Wall St either

Hype level seems about right

filed under: Mexican food does not equal Cali burritos.

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Ceviche De Acapulco (Mahi mahi, tomato, onion, chile serrano, lime, avocado)

Puesto’s been on my radar for a little bit. Eater SD had it on their first page for a few weeks in 2014, so with the hype I was just curious to find some time to drop by. Glad it was on Restaurant Week in September, because to be honest it’s hard to really mess with sit-down Mexican food in San Diego. Why break away from the taste of the neighborhood drive-thru -Bertos joint? Carne Asada Nachos/Fries & California Burritos run the game out here. The -Bertos joint is like In-N-Out and cheeseburgers.

You can’t tell me nothing.

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Crab Guacamole (House-made guacamole with lump crab)

But I have to give props to Puesto on its choice to stand out and be that spot for sit-down Mexican. Everyone has taken their dates/friends/tourists to Cafe Coyote. Cafe Coyote is good, but Puesto raises the ante to those like myself who couldn’t get past the fast food Mexican food around town.

Even though both locations of Puesto are hella set for a crowd who wants to deviate from the -Bertos joint. It’s low-key targeting WP, maybe people like me who feel curious to see Mexican food on a different stage.

So that Restaurant Week deal was for $15 and it came with 1 antojito (almost like a small shareable side), 2 tacos, and 1 side. Some of the pictured food was shared between me & gf.

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Esquite (Grilled corn, chile, lime, queso, crema)

Every time it’s fair season out in Del Mar, I have to stop for corn on the cob and butter it up with the lime and spices. HELLA GOOD. So they have the street corn but serve in a bowl “elevating” it, I guess.

When it comes down to it, they just serve delicious food. I had no qualms with the atmosphere, had me that Horchata with the food and we’re good. I’m looking forward to going back to Puesto.

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Tacos:  Potato Soy Chorizo Veg & Chicken Al Pastor

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Tacos: Carnitas & Cochinita Pibil

Puesto Mexican Street Food
1026 Wall St
La Jolla, CA 92037

Great Maple (Dinner Version)– AKA Not Brunch. #breakfasttown

Great Maple

Highlights

Sister restaurant to Hash House A Go Go & Tractor Room.

Right time, right place for dinner service.

Props to parking. *thumbs up emoji*

TBH, need to comeback to checkout breakfast & those Bacon Maple Donuts everyone hypes up.

filed under: searching Bacon Maple Donuts will result here

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Parmesean Portobello Fries with Pesto Aioli.

When you browse through Yelp for brunch I’m confident this pops up in your top 10. When you narrow the search into Hillcrest, this will stack up with those other juggernauts of brunch (Snooze & Hash House A Go Go) simply for the bacon maple donuts. You’ve probably seen it on your feed (#greatmaple). But on a true restaurant level, you have to appreciate that Great Maple is a sister restaurant to Hash House and Tractor Room. I love the chicken & waffles at Hash House and the Buffalo fries at Tractor Room, so it’s really easy to buy into the concept of Great Maple.

TL;DR? YO, WE DIDN’T TRY BACON MAPLE DONUTS CUZ I’M NOT A FAN OF BACON ON DONUTS. BUT THIS PLACE IS DELICIOUS.

It’s easy to see Great Maple on Washington Street coming as it’s signage hangs high above the restaurant like a Denny’s sign, but it’s definitely not. Walking in gives this almost European lodge vibe? I mean the U-T said it, so it’s legit right? Already Great Maple steps outside of its shadows of its sister restaurants with the decor colors and offers its own unique willkommen.

The Parmesan Portobello fries pictured above had that right crisp and spice to it to rival Bottega Louie‘s portobello fries. But when it comes to the main course, if I wasn’t going to fuck with any bacon I’m gonna mess with pork. The pork came out on some roasted potatoes with and semi-sweet glaze which all went easy with a Saint Archer Blonde.

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Grilled Pork Chop

The pork chop was really good, but not memorable. Whisknladle is still on my top-tier pork chop list, but I reluctantly want to try the bacon maple donuts– only for research purposes.

Their pie selection catches my attention more than donuts I could cop at Donut Bar or some obscure donut shop off the block. The sandwiches and seafood stand out for the next go around, but maybe not a dinner service again. I guess there is a reason why the feed blows up every Sunday with #nofilter pictures of bacon maple donuts. The foods good here, and there’s nothing wrong here. SD just knows about #breakfasttown.

Great Maple
1451 Washington St, San Diego, CA 92103
(619) 255-2282
 

NorCal Food Adventures: Lucky Chances

Lucky Chances

Highlights

The best late night Filipino food in the history of Filipino food

The only casino in the peninsula…addict much?

Depending on how late, you might have to wait with other drunkards

filed under: the level of shame is a notch above walking out of a strip club by yourself, but at this hour you won’t GAF.

KOMSILOG

If you read Roy Choi’s LA Son: My Life, My City, My Food, Choi mentions how he would hit up back in the day the grimy ass casinos in the Southland like Commerce Casino and Hawaiian Gardens Casino. There he would run the tables with old Asian men, blowing through money on a Tuesday afternoon.

— Lucky Chances is like that for San Francisco-Daly City-South City area.

All my people know this isn’t fine cuisine. For reals, no foodie blog would and should touch this place. I only knew of this spot because my college Filipino org took me there while I was intoxicated. Shoutout to PACE. The chefs, staff, and menu reflect the pan-Asian clientele. You won’t be greeted with the best service, but when you see the menu you’ll make sense of what’s going on– silogs.

I won’t try anything else here besides silogs, which is Filipino breakfast cuisine that includes fried rice (sinagnag), fried eggs (itlog), and some type of meat. Honestly, there are a few other spots in the Daly City-area that has better silogs, House of Sisig and Tselogs  immediately come to mind, but they shut down before the bars are even open. But y’all need to recognize the need for a greasy plate of fried spam, fried rice and fried eggs between the hours of midnight-3a.

You don’t come to Lucky Chances, because it’s good food. You come because it’s drunk food. It’s greasy food that ensures a night full of drinking doesn’t yield a shitty hangover.

In SD, we have the neighborhood Mexican spot. In SF, I have a buncha uncles playing their card games while I figure out which fried Filipino specialty is a necessity at 2am.

Lucky Chances
1700 Hillside Blvd
Colma, CA 94014

To All My Island Native Fam

Chamorro Grill

Highlights

The only Chamorro-style cuisine in San Diego proper aka plate lunch.

Red rice and chicken kelaguen.

Bathroom round back, bro.

You’ll know you find it when you see Hafa Adai and/or Fokai stickers.

filed under: island time, good thing it’s not considered East County

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To be honest, it’s hard to come with this post. It’s the same feeling when folks try to describe Guamanian/Chamorro-style food to a newbie. What is it? Even popular Hawaiian food directory, ILoveMusubi.com, has Chamorro Grill listed as one the places to eat. So I guess you gotta start there. Because of colonization Chamorro cuisine is like Hawaiian cuisine, a mashup of different cultures that have come through the island including Spanish, Micronesian, and a bit Filipino too.

So there’s that tough intro.

Chamorro Grill isn’t anybody’s secret. It probably shouldn’t by now since it’s been open in the Grantville area since 2009. I don’t exactly remember when I started rolling through, but do I have a soft spot for Chamorro food because of long breaks between classes at San Diego State up the hill forced me to try other options off campus.

The main reason to drop by is to have Guam’s signature dish– red rice and chicken kelaguen (pictured above). Red rice isn’t spicy-hot by the looks of it, nor does it have Spanish flavor. Chicken kelaguen is basically chopped grilled chicken marinated in pepper and lemons. Like hella lemons. Like you have to chop down the lemon tree in your backyard.

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Honestly, I feel like the chicken kelaguen is the most consistent item on the menu. Obviously also had the barbecue beef too, but I’ve had it a few times where I haven’t gotten as much or the flavor’s been bland.

Don’t be shocked that there are non-Chamorro items on the menu like lumpia. It just comes with the territory of being brown and serving brown people food to those who are unfamiliar with the cuisine.

Chamorro Grill
6628 Mission Gorge Rd Ste C
San Diego, CA 92120

To Liquid Swords. Mother Fucker

Nolbu Eat and Drinks

Highlights

Small, but killin the customer service game.

San Diego’s best korean wings. I put that on.

American craft beer on tap and the guys are IPA aficionados.

The smallest parking lot on Convoy.

Don’t expect Min Sok Chon

filed under: Underrated like Clipse circa ’02.

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Convoy has the most Korean spots in San Diego. This happens to be one of them, but the flip is that Nolbu is super underrated. If you would have an AP Top 25 Poll for Convoy Restaurants, this place would be on the list receiving votes. And I would be that lone vote.

There are reasons to justify the need to not want to drop in. First of all, this place is hidden as fuck. Considering the amount of restaurants in Clairemont Mesa and specifically on Convoy, this “gastropub” doesn’t do much to stand out. It’s really just a pub, no gastronomy and technical culinary dishes involved. Just a random irk. Second, this place has weird hours. Sometimes they’re open at 6p, sometimes 5:30p and stay late until 12a, sometimes 11:30p, once in a while 2:00a.

Set aside the hiccups, just stfu and drink. Then after two drinks, eat.

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These guys said fuck the traditional cuisine and catered to people like me– young and drunk, looking for something to satisfy the munchies. I think that’s the way to go on Convoy, especially if they’ve only been open for six months. Pictured are bulgogi fries with a special sprinkle of tater tots underneath. When browsing through the menu, like I said further up top, concentrate on your gut feeling.

I recommend the Korean spicy wings. You know I’ve been looking for a new spot in SD, and I think I found it here. Bulgogi can use work, but whatever. Drinks? Traditional or craft brew, but be wary of the watermelon soju.

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These guys do the drunk food well, because they know once they got you with the soju first thing on your mind isn’t rice. Don’t come in expecting Min Sok Chon. This is more like your Korean homie in high school who you shared 40s with. 

Nolbu Eat and Drinks
4633 Convoy St Ste 102
San Diego, CA 92111

OC Adventures: One Star Pizza & Chicken

One Star Pizza & Chicken

Highlights

Really though, dabble with the pizza fux with the wings.

How can you say no to drunken family specials?

It’s not going to replace your K-Town Kyochon (LA) or Bonchon (NYC)

filed under: Disneyland Area Eats

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If you drove 90 miles for Disneyland and you want food nearby, the food needs to justify itself.

A quick browse on Yelp produced this spot within a good 10 minutes of Disneyland. Korean chicken wings are good, and friends have brought down Kyochon from LA to San Diego because San Diego lacks in the Korean Wing department. Yeah, there are chicken wings in San Diego, but really  no one has gotten their shit together with K-Chicken Wings. OC/LA has a deeper Korean population, so there are better restaurants that do have their shit together.

One Star Pizza & Chicken shares a small plaza off Euclid in the real, non-Disneyfied Anaheim. I’m confident you will miss this spot on the first try, so if you don’t feel comfortable with neighborhoods that haven’t been gentrified yet, then keep it moving. Their logo is a chicken serving pizza and beer, you really can’t miss it.

Fux with the wings and a small pizza. Don’t get the bulgogi pizza. Your head reads savory, sweet, maybe delicious. You’ll end up with a confused face while grubbing on wings.

They serve a cabbage and corn slaw topped with a spicy thousand island complementary with the wings. If you want to try the kinda-not-really Korean fusion pizza, go for it. Stay small if you’re on the fence. This place gets the Korean wing craving down, but they’re definitely not Kyochon or Bonchon. Also keep this place in mind instead of BBQ Chicken at the Diamond & Jamboree plaza.

No body aint got time to wait for your 85° shit.

One Star Pizza & Chicken
821 N Euclid St Ste B
Anaheim, CA 92801
(714) 956-0077