October 04, 2007

SoCal Eats - Part 1: the Chains

Food is such an integral part of every society. EVERYONE EATS ... and most of us enjoy it. So one of the first tasks of moving to any new location is scoping out the meal selections. And in southern California, there are many options. After almost two years of residing in this vast expanse of culinary choices, I am only just beginning to scrape the top of the iceberg of restaurant selection. My taste-buds still have much to experience, but I feel the need to share some of my initial findings. I begin with a discussion of some of the famous SoCal chain restaurants that I've discovered, and later I will add an entry on some of my favorite local flavors ...

In'n Out: Without a doubt, the king of southern California chains is In'n Out, the state's favorite drive through burger joint. Californians hold In'n Out with great affection and reverence. On the rare occasion that anyone actually leaves California, you're sure to find them reminiscing about a "double-double, animal style" or some other In'n Out memory. The chain of restaurants is owed by a family who decided not to franchise, but instead maintain control of all branches with strict quality standards and subtle Bible references. They are known for their simple menu and insistence on fresh ingredients. And also the "secret" menu ... which happens to be posted in its entirety on Wikipedia. But probably the biggest reason for the mass adoration is that they are almost exclusively in California ... a classic case of Californian exceptionalism.

Classic California

Wahoo's Fish Taco: One of my favorite discoveries in southern California was the "fish taco." Back on the east coast, I never would have guessed that this combo was so right on. But that all changed with a visit to Wahoo's. Great food, great price, and great atmosphere. Wahoo's was founded by surfers in Hawaii, and the surf culture is still infused into every restaurant. Kick back over a filling meal while watching videos of top-notch wave-riders. You'll soon be inspired to rush out, grab a board, hit the beach, ... and seriously injure yourself. Wait at least half an hour before getting in the water.

Roscoe's House of Chicken and Waffles: Wow. Just the name of this restaurant brings saliva to my lips and tears of joy to my eyes. The first mention of Roscoe's left me dreaming of the day I would experience the savory fried chicken and tasty waffles combined together in mysterious culinary harmony. This, my friend, is urban "soul food" Los Angeles style. I'm speechless. Consult a doctor if you have high-blood pressure or a weak heart, but by no means pass up a visit to Roscoe's.

Tasty ... very tasty

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