We're pretty spoiled here in Southern California as we get to munch on amazing food from so many different cultures. Mexican food, in particular, can be found just as easily as a Starbucks can. You can enter any city and find a nice hole-in-the-wall taqueria, or taco truck. Trying to pick out the best taco spots can be pretty tough, though. I've been to some highly-praised shops that aren't bad, but aren't worth the hype.
If you're the type that settles for Chipotle and Taco Bell for your Mexican food fix, step out of your comfort zone and look for these signs, then you'll really know your search for bomb tacos is over:
If it looks like there's Mexicans in bunches, chances are there's something good about this taco spot. Through my experiences, growing up in a Mexican home and around Mexican people, I can tell you that we can be very particular about the Mexican food we eat. If you have a Mexican friend, you've probably heard this one at some point, "That's not Mexican food." So if you see a taqueria heavily populated by Mexicans, that's because they've made the decision that it's an acceptable, authentic, delicious spot. If there's anyone you should trust to like good Mexican food, it's Mexicans.
Drinks in glass bottles are an absolute a must. Fountain drinks are OK, but for whatever reason, Coke tastes better out of a glass bottle than it does in your run-of-the-mill paper cup. The Mexicoke, as it's called, adds to the experience, along with the bottles of Jarritos, non-alcoholic Sangria Senorial and even Fanta.
If there aren't older Mexicans manning the ship at a taco shop, that's a big red flag. Call it a stereotype if you want, but I don't want some hipster kid who works part-time while he pays for school taking my order. I want the no-nonsense Mexican who's going to yell out my order to the other Mexican preparing the food.
Soccer on TV
No matter what day it is, or what time it is, there seems to always be soccer on TV when you go to a taco shop. Correction, if it's Saturday night, they'll definitely be showing the popular Spanish TV show, Sabado Gigante. About 90 percent of the time, I guess, there's some soccer being played on the tube.
They Cut the Meat in Front of You
The sound of meat being chopped on a board is borderline therapeutic. If you order your tacos and immediately see the person in the back throw the meat on the grill and start cutting it for you, you're gold. Your meat wasn't just sitting there like it does at Chipotle and that little extra love makes a difference with every bite.
When you're not drinking your Mexicoke, it's because you're sipping on that refreshing horchata, agua de Jamaica, agua de pepino, or some kind of house-made agua. I won't completely knock the horchata served from a machine because it's easier for some places, but when you see it in a barrel and is home-made, you've got a special drink coming your way.
It seems like some of the best taco shops are in the darkest, scariest looking neighborhoods. We joked around with this in the newsroom, but there is some truth to it. A lot of amazing taco shops will have vagrants walking the streets, or have beat up, cracked pavement. It just happens to be the environment -- don't let it keep you from a good taco.
The salsa can make or break a good taco. This one might be the most critical point of all. Even the best crafted taco, with generous amounts of meat and the perfect amount of onions can be ruined by crappy salsa. A good taqueria knows this: That's why they make their salsas in-house and make sure it's a solid recipe.
So look for these signs and you'll know you're going to have a good taco experience. OMG, I know you love Chipotle, but if you think that's Mexican food, you're really missing out.
Written by Isai Rocha of
"What the hell is a colonic?" I asked our video director, Marc, as he continued to brief the team on the schedule for the day.
He turned to me with his answer, a smug look on his face, "You're gonna...
Wait until you sip something called a Green Tea Heineken. Imagine a little bit of beer, a sweet green tea and honey boba in one icey, frothy drink. That's the kind of amazingness you can expect at Boba 7, an unassuming speakeasy built out of a backroom of a Thai restaurant called Soi 7 in Downtown Los Angeles.
Green Tea Heineken
What do I mean by "back room" you ask? I mean, the back room. Boba 7 literally shares a hallway with the Thai restaurant you have to enter through to get there. The entire experience lends to some of the timidness you might have already associated with going to a speakeasy. You enter a Thai restaurant, you try avoiding eye contact with the wait-staff because you actually don't want to eat at the Thai restaurant (it's good, I've had it before) but you're more interested in Elton, the cool amateur magician boba king slanging boozy teas in the very back of the building.
Once you barrel roll past some of the wait staff and servers in the communal hallway, you'll be greeted by a moody Boba 7 branding and Elton's friends manning the registers. Get a load of this menu -- the left side is alcoholic stuff, the right are their specialty drinks:
All the alcoholic drinks get served in glass (can't take it outside with you), while all the others get served in a traditional plastic cup for sips on the go. Here's a look at some of the doper items off the menu:
Boba Beam -- Blue Curacao Cocktail with Lychee Popping Bobba.
Bobagasm -- Irish Cream, Kahlua, Honey Boba
MangoFett -- Blended Soju margarita, mango flavors and lychee jelly
This Saturday, March 28 marks the return of Knott's Berry Farm's Boysenberry Festival and the start of a limited, 16-day window for California residents and tourists alike to try dozens of limited-time boysenberry items. And for those unfamiliar with the theme-park backstory, the Knott family is famous for its fried chicken and its commercial harvesting of the boysenberry - a cross between a loganberry, raspberry and blackberry.
But it's about to be more famous for it's Funnel-Cake-Batter-Fried Cinnamon Roll Topped With Boysenberry Frosting, AKA The Fun Bun. You read that correctly. In addition to the custom berry dishes ideated by the Food and Beverage team, Knott's also found a way to work with ICEE, Coke and Starbucks to be able to serve Boysenberry ICEEs and Frappuccinos.
Some of the standouts outside of the ridiculousness that is the Fun Bun include the Boyseberry Dessert Flautas from Ghost Town Grub, Boysenberry Beer and Cider from Calico Saloon, Boysenberry BBQ Ribs at Fireman's BBQ, Deep Fried Alligator with Boysenberry Aioli at Calico Fry and the Boysenberry Wings from Sutters Grill Stand. And if you're still breathing after inhaling the Fun Bun and can fit something else sweet in your stomach, we recommend the Boysenberry Supreme from Sutters Grill: vanilla cake pieces, frozen boysenberries, vanilla soft serve and whipped cream. A majority of the BB items are scattered throughout Ghost Town and Calico Square, so go nuts.
The Boysenberry Festival will be inside Knotts Berry Farm from March 28-April 12 in Buena Park, CA.
Fun Bun / Funnel Cake Cinnamon Roll @ Ghost Town Grub
Boysenberry Frappuccino @ Gourmet Coffee Hut
Boysenberry Burger @ Spurs
Deep Fried Alligator with Boysenberry Aioli
Boysenberry ICEE Float @ Mixitup
Boysenberry Ice Cream Cookie Sandwich @ Mixitup
Boysenberry Ribs @ Fireman's BBQ
Boysenberry BBQ Glazed Wings @ Sutters Grill Stand
Boysenberry Mashed Potatoes @ Spurs
Fried Cheese Curds with Spicy Boysenberry Ketchup @ Calico Fry
Boysenberry Supreme with Vanilla Cake Pieces @ Sutters Grill Side Window
Spicy Sausage with Boysenberry Relish @ Calico Saloon Stand
Boysenberry Salmon @ Spurs
Boysenberry Meatballs @ Ghost Town Grill
Boysenberry ICEE @ Mixitup
Fish & Chips Sandwich with Boysenberry Tartar Sauce @ Sutters Grill
Boysenberry Cotton Candy @ Pemmican Pickle & Popcorn
Boysenberry Cheesecake @ Ghost Town Bakery
Boysenberry Cannoli @ Ghost Town Bakery
Chicken & Sausage Boysenberry BBQ Sandwich @ Spurs
Pecan Crusted Chicken Salad with Boysenberry Dressing @ Spurs
A little over a week ago we graced the site with these gems: Mimosa Macarons with Champagne Buttercream.
We're back with the same partner in crime, Ashley Khawsy of Smash Bakes, to once again prove your supreme baking reign to your loyal subjects. This time it's combining your favorite caffeinated vice (coffee), with your favorite alcoholic vice (whiskey) AND still finding a way to integrate a second alcohol with these Irish Coffee Macarons stuffed with a Bailey's Buttercream.
We seem to be semi-obsessed with alcoholic sweet treats (see Drunken Oreos), but can you really blame us? The full recipe instructions are in the video, and again you'll find measurements in grams because you'll need to be precise. AKA use a scale.
Irish Coffee Shells
-144g Egg Whites (no yolk!, room temperature, aged 1 day)
-115g Almond Meal
-230g Powdered Sugar
-72g Granulated Sugar
-15g Favorite Ground Coffee
-Pinch of Cream of Tartar
-1 Stick Unsalted Butter
-4 Cups Powdered Sugar
-4 Tbsp Bailey's Irish Cream (at least)
-Pinch of Salt
Clutch Equipment to Have
-Food Processor or Blender
Here's the lineup:
Chef Jason Quinn, The Playground, MTV2, Food Network
Daniel Shemtob (Shitcob), The Lime Truck, Food Network
Scott Afters Nghiem, Afters Ice Cream, Milky Bun Fame
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During the winter while many fruits are out-of-season and nowhere to be found, it happens to be the peak season for Florida grapefruit. The extreme weather conditions the fruit experience throughout the growing season, including heavy humidity and rain, actually help the fruit's sweetness despite causing minor exterior blemishes. OK,...
Like most bad/great ideas, the ramen pot pie came into fruition at a drive-thru.
While ordering a chicken pot pie from KFC, I was trying to figure out what to do with the last bit of sea urchin I had at home. I wanted to throw it into the chicken pot pie, but was heavily advised against it by my friends. Too rich, they said.
I did it anyways.
With the green light, it was simply a matter of figuring out how to execute such a heavy dish. Luckily, this wasn't my first rodeo.
What you need:
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It really was an accident. Here's how it all began.
A group of FOODBEAST writers, myself included, had the opportunity earlier this year to check out the latest developments from Carnival Cruise Lines. This gave us the opportunity to make multiple, albeit short, international day-trips in Mexico, Belize and Honduras. After spending four days mostly on the ship consuming our own weight in food, we decided that we were going to explore the Honduran island of Roatán on our own.
Roatán is an island economically bound to tourism related to its temperate Caribbean weather and the second largest barrier reef in the world. But similar to its mainland counterpart, the island and its people are extremely poor. So, similar to our other stops in Mexico and Central America, we were bombarded by vendors mostly related to excursions and activities. We avoided the zip lining, snorkeling and scuba diving in a pursuit to find cuisine and culture that we had never experienced before. After all, before this trip we didn't know this island existed - so who knew when we would actually be back, if ever.
It was during our first meal at a literal shack, away from the harbor bars and restaurants, lacking signage and electricity, that we ran into Marcus. Boasting a big smile and a white polo that claimed he was an 'independent tour guide,' he started giving us unprompted recommendations of what to see on the island. Although the initial subtlety of selling himself was there, his casual and welcoming nature convinced us to have him lead our journey. It would be this same trusting nature that would get us into more than we bargained for.
Like most islands or coastal cities, the menu and locals bragged of the seafood. Without hesitating we ordered lobster, shrimp, island fried chicken. But the real reason we were there screamed at us from a petite 1990s whiteboard taped to a pillar inside this restaurant: Especial Iguana $13.
To put the price of 13 American Dollars into context, the Iguana special was pricey considering the fact that 5 American dollars could buy you a lifetime supply of hot sauce or a full round of beers. But then Marcus described the processes involved with getting that Iguana to our plate, and it's pretty much the opposite of farm-to-table.
Step 1, enter the jungle at your own risk. Step 2, bring a dog to help you track down an Iguana and run it up a tree. Step 3, climb the tree and snatch the Iguana without getting bit. Step 4, bring your crated Iguana by multiple restaurants to see who's buying. Step 5, begin a painstaking and arduous process of boiling the Iguana enough to be able to try and remove chunks of the thick skin off of the animal (after some sort of death/slaughter). Step 6, use your skills to make the meat delicious. Step 7, serve with rice and plantains.
Iguana, fish-like bones and all, sitting on a plate of rice and plantains
And that's when during the last bites of our meal, Marcus explained how the act of catching and selling Iguanas for food or otherwise is illegal in the country. "Here Iguana is an endangered species."
Wait what?! If you watch the video above, you can see our candid reaction to the statement we never saw coming. Further research from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the international organization that publishes the Red List of of Threatened Species, pointed to eating the Roatán Spiny-tailed Iguana or Ctenosaura oedirhina that is endangered but not critically endangered or extinct in the wild. So there's that.
It was nuts, so a few days later we tested a slightly different variant, just wanted to see if it was cheesy buns that were getting our audience foaming at the mouth. Same creator, @tymbussanich, put together an entire bun made of cheese and tater tots. That picture went on to reach 2.7 million people initiating over 180,000 Likes, Comments and Shares:
Following the explosive growth of that second post relative to the standard reach of our other images running through the Facebook page, we decided to give it some time before the next test.
Nearly a month later on December 7th, we put one more picture up to make sure Facebook's algorithm wasn't just generously giving eyeballs to those couple posts. We ran a picture from another Foodbeast reader, @alexmensi, arguably the most beautiful one yet:
The above picture was the definitive proof we needed that people were more drawn to mac and cheese buns than any other food concoction we'd covered in the past two months. @Alexmensi's glorious picture was immediately served to over 2.2 million eyeballs, garnering over 103,000 Likes, Comments and Shares.
Here are the stats straight from our Facebook Insights:
After sharing the above findings with my team and sifting through the hundreds of inquiries that asked "Where can we get these buns?" and "How do I make them at home?" we found a location in Torrance, CA that just started serving them.
That's when our team of Marc, Peter and Geoff made the trek out to Muncheese Burger in Torrance to meet the Drake-look-a-like head chef Corey Davidson. Corey was cool enough to give us the lowdown on how to make the bun for yourself.