Last blog I started on about how we had an insane culinary adventure in Los Angeles, and I wanted to expand on it because I feel like some of these spots deserve more recognition than a few sentences in a California blog. First and foremost, we had a blast in Los Angeles. We had some friends and family show us around, take us out, let us see the sights in their own vehicle so we didn't have to lug around our small RV. It was glorious and we can't thank them enough.
But the food...the food we ate while we were in Los Angeles was flavorful, fun, and varied wildly in the type of cuisine available. Since Los Angeles is such a melting pot, we expected nothing less. We ate like queens (yasssss queen) and wanted to share in our culinary delights. So, here we go....
YOU NEED TO GET THE BURNT BRIOCHE WITH RICOTTA. Okay, sorry, jumping way ahead of myself. This small spot in the East Hollywood area was conveniently by my brother's place. After his recommendation, we thought, sure why not? Turns out, we fell in love.
It's a quaint restaurant, chairs and tables outside of mismatching fashion. You order inside, normally stepping in line which is already around the block. The menu boasts some really interesting combinations, things you wouldn't normally find on an average day—Green Eggs & Jam Tartine, Sorrel Pesto Rice, Vegan Brown Rice Porridge. It's different, it's unusual, but it's also damn tasty. By far, I've thought many a'times about the Burnt Brioche Toast w/House Ricotta and Seasonal Jam. It was such a weird flavor combination, paired with warm toast, then cool ricotta, then sweet house-made jam. IT WAS INSANE. I also can't forget about the drinks—unique coffee up the wazoo. I had the "Lait 'N' Egg" which was composed of Vietnamese-style Iced Cortado shaken with egg whites. One wasn't enough for me.
I have thought long and hard about this meal and realized it was probably top 3 most enjoyable during our RV travels.
Grand Central Market
This marketplace brings together a whole slew of cuisines, all fused with more modern cooking techniques, but still boast solid flavors. It's a food emporium, if you will, and if you're the type to have difficulty making up your mind on what you'd like to eat, this might not be the place for you.
It doesn't matter if it's breakfast, lunch, dinner, drinks, or dessert—you'll find everything at Grand Central Market. Even an Oyster bar! We went for lunch and had to have our hands in at least a few different options. The vegan ramen from Ramen Hood was absolutely killer. The broth was delicious and creamy, with only a slight kick of heat. The noodles were thick, and textured and balanced so well with the chunks of Oyster mushrooms. I highly recommend this place if you're seeking out a delicious bowl of ramen.
My only problem with Grand Central Market was that I didn't have enough time to try everything. Plus, it also was a bit pricey. We bought a falafel wrap we weren't too keen on, that cost $14 and was quite small. So, there's that...
My third entry ( I did have three for this blog) was Cafe Gratitude. However...I'm having a bit of an issue writing praise after the recent news broke about the famed eatery. Apparently, founders of Cafe Gratitude Matthew and Terces Engelhart, who have been vegans since 2003 and vegetarians for 40 years, have been found to be raising and slaughtering animals for profit at their farm. Now, while I don't judge people for their decision to eat meat (heck, I did so for quite some time), I'm not sure I can get behind promoting this restaurant right now. Well, let's be honest, they don't need extra praise, Beyonce ate there. BUT, I can't condone or promote anything that contributes to animal suffering. So, alas...I won't be raving about my fantastic meal or wonderful experience. You can read about all the controversy here.
We're going to go back to dreaming about SQIRL and Ramen Hood.....byeeeeeeeeeeeeee.
It's only fitting that we finish our second part of this great California road trip on the day we're leaving the state. Alas, our time in this beautiful state has been brief, but we are planning a return trip as soon as possible. There were so many wonderful things that we missed out on. I know, I know....it doesn't seem possible for us to have missed out on so many great things when all we have is time on our hands. But, as much as we don't have a schedule while we travel in our RV, we do still have places to be and commitments we've made.
So, where did I leave off in Part I....ahh, yes Mexico.
Turns out, you don't need a passport to drive in and out of Mexico. You just need a large vehicle and four rather courageous friends. Truth be told, I was a bit nervous driving in. After seeing the movie Sicario alone in a dark theater in Austin last year, I have to admit, my idea of Mexico may have changed slightly compared to my other experiences involving Cozumel and Cancun. But, we did have some friends with us who were very safe and knowledgeable tour guides, so we thought...okay, why the heck not?
First off, Mexico was super inexpensive. The currency exchange was around 16-17 pesos per U.S. dollar. So when you hear $16 for a beer, it was really ONE DOLLAR. Crazy, right? Yes, it was. We first happened upon a coffee shop that our friend Mari had visited many times. It was a neat little place that featured some delicious in-house brews. It was here that our friend Sahar began talking to a woman sitting at the counter who told us about a few food choices in the area. In our experience, trusting locals is normally a good idea. They know the best spots, and usually don't have any commercial/touristy bias in their recommendations.
After finding a little food truck village around the corner, Vanessa and I had a feast for under $20. A VEGETARIAN FEAST.
The only low point to the trip was sitting in about 4 hours of traffic heading back into the states. Probably wouldn't be doing that again. But watching Vanessa ride a mechanical bull while drinking $1 Coronas in Tijuana was worth the whole trip.
San Diego did offer a beautiful final day, as we made our way up to Torrey Pines for a cliff-side picnic. First and foremost, if you're heading to Torrey Pines in an RV, be prepared to pay $30 to park in the north entrance, OR get denied in the south entrance. They do not allow RVs to park...even for the day. We found that out the hard way.
But, if you head up the street to the little town of Camino Del Mar, you'll be in the thick of things as far as views are concerned and pay about $1.50 an hour. It worked out well for us, because it was here we found a great spot to play board games, eat hummus and Sahar's killer layer dip, and drink kombucha all while sitting ocean-side. Vanessa and I even caught a whale frolicking in the surf at sunset.
From San Diego, we headed north toward Los Angeles. I have never been to L.A., and since I'm secretly a pop-culture connoisseur, I was in for a treat. Not to mention we have friends and family in the city that we both were very excited to see.
We ended up having a pre-birthday meal at Gracias Madre, the very delicious plant-based Mexican restaurant where my brother bartends. It was probably one of my favorite meals in our entire journey. Not only was the outdoor ambiance simply stunning, in a boho-patio kind of way, but the food was delicious. We had some fantastic mescal cocktails, a slew of different foods, the best table in the house (in front of the fireplace) and even a round of drinks from the bar manager. I cannot thank my brother enough for this wonderful meal and the amazing company all weekend.
So yes, Gracias Madre is the place to eat when you're in L.A., I assure you, you won't be disappointed. For drinks? I'd recommend Good Times at Davey Wayne's. You have to walk through a refrigerator door just to get inside. Then, you're greeted by a DJ spinning nothing but 70s music in a setting reminiscent to your neighbors very hip basement. It's a comfy, casual place with drinks and dancing. Grab a drink here and stay for the uninhibited 70s vibe.
Unfortunately for us, Runyon Canyon was closed. We wanted to hike and after driving Maude up the steep slopes of Muholland Dr., we found out it was closed for repairs for the entire summer. That was a huge bummer. BUT, we got to hike around Griffith Observatory instead, which was beautiful.
Going through our pictures and our itinerary from our LA trip, I just decided that there was way too much good food to limit it to a few short sentences. So, next blog post will feature our Vegetarian Culinary Tour of Los Angeles. Get psyched, because Los Angeles probably had collectively some of the best eats we've experienced yet. As you can tell by Gracias Madre above. (Those Brussels sprouts, my goodness).
Until next time...
It has been a little while since our last post, and for that we sincerely apologize. Truth be told, there has been a lot going on. A lot more than we're used to in terms of movement and travel! We've been attempting this California RV road trip now for a few weeks and have some had some interesting experiences to say the least. The overall mission for our California trip was to be in San Francisco by April 16th, my birthday! My sister moved out to S.F. last year and since I've never been, we added it to our list.
But, I'm getting ahead of myself. We started our California road trip adventure in Joshua Tree.
We met up with some friends who have their own fabulous design and lifestyle blog Birch & Pine. It was here that we braved a dust storm, shared our meals, and welcomed in-depth conversation and genuine bouts of laughter. They introduced us to some incredible BLM land that we devoured visually and spiritually. It was such a warm way to begin our California trek.
We also made it to Joshua Tree National Park for a day, after a lucky break in the clouds. The park itself was magical simply because of the rocks and crags and unique trees. But to be completely honest, I was expecting more. I'm not trying to rain on anyone's National Park Parade, but I really expected Joshua Tree to be different. It was very much overcrowded, and seemed to spiritually cater to more of the climbing community than the exploratory kind.
From Joshua Tree, we ended up heading to Palm Springs to meet up with some friends for Dinah Shore. One of the main components of our California adventurer his far revolved around friendship, which is something Vanessa and I truly appreciate. We have had such wonderful friends and family take care of us throughout this journey, especially in this leg of the country. Palm Springs was not only beautiful, and astonishingly relaxed, but it also allowed us to spend some time with friends and reconnect.
We ended up coming across a vegan spot in Palm Springs that was so tasty, we went back twice. It was called Palm Greens Cafe and we HIGHLY recommend this place. To me, it's really hard to nail a Reuben for the vegan community. There are so many non-vegan and vegetarian friendly components to that Sammie, that I always end up being disappointed. Until Palm Greens Cafe. The vegan Reuben was to die for. It really captured the flavor and texture of the pastrami, not to mention provided a choice of dairy-free cheese to use at your disposal.
We we also drank a pretty phenomenal date shake. Apparently, date shakes are fairly famous in Palm Springs, and the one at Palm Greens Cafe really threw us for a loop. It was sweet, but not sugary, and with the almond butter they added instead of milk, it was incredibly creamy and smooth. Mmm...okay I need to stop because I'm getting hungry.
After Palm Springs, we took a detour south to San Diego. We had some friends from Florida who had moved out there a few months before, and we also picked up a job trimming medical marijuana for a dispensary. Turns out, the job fell through, so we had a bunch of free time to traipse about the city, which was nice.
I'm sure many of you read our diatribe on the RV parking in San Diego, but we did manage to secure a few nights of free parking in Mission Bay. I wouldn't go as far as saying it was the safest place to park (someone tried to steal our hubcaps in the middle of the night), but we were right by the water and nobody really bothered us.
Our favorite part about our San Diego visit (besides friends Mark & Sahar, and Mari & Alex) was our visit to La Jolla. First, it took us about three days until we were corrected in the pronunciation "La Hoya". So there was that. But La Jolla beach was such an experience. I had no idea you could get so close to the sea lions, mere inches away as they splashed in the water or slept on the beach. It was so much fun to watch them ride the waves in, and listen to them barking back and forth. We took so many pictures it's hard to choose a favorite.
After La Jolla, we had some garbage weather for a few days, so nothing was quite as pretty as that moment. But we did however, decide to take an impromptu trip to Tijuana......did I mention we don't have our passports? Dun dun dun.
Part II of the great California road trip coming soon.
As much as we enjoy disconnecting, and getting down to the nitty gritty of small RV travel, we still keep connected to things in order to maintain some functionality. We wanted to write about certain travel apps that many of you may not know about, that could potentially help you along your own journey. Besides the obvious...Google Maps...there are a few more that we have discovered which certainly help us keep our sanity on the road. Here they are, in no particular order.
We use this app a lot in order to help find places to boondock. By searching your area or destination, you'll be able to see all the places that allow RV overnight parking for free. Walmarts, Sam's Clubs, BLM land, casinos...the app is updated often and maintained with information.
When you dry dock as often as we do, you have to improvise in where you can dump your tanks and fill up with water. By improvise we don't mean illegal, we just mean that it doesn't necessarily have to be an RV park. The Sanidumps app shows you where you can dump your tanks, and if there is potable water nearby. We've found tons of free dumping spots on this app. It rules. (Note: there is a web version of this directory as well).
3. Passport America
We are proud members of Passport America and use the app a lot in order to discover RV parks that are also part of the program. The PA app allows us to get a glimpse of the RV park through photos, plus it provides the most pertinent information we need in order to decide if it's the right park for us to hunker down in. Not to mention, you get the discounted price, too, in your search.
As I sit here before you, I'm using the Weebly app. Our blog is hosted by Weebly, and they have a phenomenal app which allows us to write and post directly from our iPhones. It's such an awesome app for us, since sometimes we can't just hop on the computer when we need to.
For some reason, our radio isn't too reliable. But even if, we normally prefer to listen to podcasts during those long stretches of travel. We download a few free ones and have them on deck so that we can listen along as we drive. Not only does it help distract from those longer bouts of road, but we also end up learning something and talking about it afterward.
There you have it, folks, our favorite travel apps. Are there any apps you have that help you travel the country? We want to hear about them!
We've seemed to run into a bit of trouble in San Diego...we can't find overnight RV parking anywhere. Normally, we boondock. If you follow our journey regularly, you know this. But in San Diego, we're finding it hard to do just that.
Apparently, there's been a few laws passed which prohibit RVs from camping anywhere other than registered parks, overnight. These laws were up for debate for seven years before officially being set into motion. Why? Because campers were abusing their power and parked wherever they pleased for up to months at a time.
Now, you can't even stay at a Walmart in San Diego without catching some flack. So, we
decided to suck it up and get a campsite for the night through Passport. Except, San Diego RV sites are expensive, even with the discount! I was shocked to find most campsites coming in an $50-75 a night. Who the heck can afford those rates?!
The next option was to check out state parks, which usually come to $10-12 a clip for a dry, safe spot. Yet, we couldn't find anything under $20 a night, and even those had gates that locked after 7-8pm. So, we are kinda sunk.
The only other option we have is to check out the neighboring casinos around the outskirts of the city, which are known to have security-approved blacktop parking. Yet, it won't help us much as we were planning on staying in the city for nearly a week to work.
Anybody out there have a similar experience in San Diego, or maybe can recommend some inexpensive RV parking?! Any and all recommendations welcome! :)
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Marisa & Vanessa have a whole "About Us" blurb that they are dying for you to check out.