The Top Tomato: Market City Caffe in Burbank

I love tomatoes. On top of being delicious, they are packed with antioxidants. Any food that tastes just as yummy as it is healthy is a winner in my book, and Market City Caffe agrees. They have a new, seasonal menu starring this tasty treat. I was lucky enough to sample a few items off the menu.

Market City Caffe
164 E Palm Ave, Burbank, CA 91502
IG/Twitter: @marketcitycaffe
www.facebook.com/MarketCityCaffeCA/

A lovely hostess and Sean, the general manager, greeted me as soon as I walked into this adorable restaurant located in the heart of downtown Burbank (pro tip: there is ample parking at the garages in Burbank town center). As soon as I sat, fresh breadsticks and olive oil were presented. I was starving and comfort carbs were just what I needed.

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Fresh breadsticks

There are a couple pizzas on the menu, but I opted for the organic truffle mushroom and heirloom pizzetta. The pesto heirloom tomatoes were the stars of this show. I could have easily housed the entire thing, but I was trying to save room for what was to come.

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Organic Truffle Mushroom and Heirloom Pizzetta

The crispy fried sardine was on top of a bed of red and yellow tomatoes and delicious spongy bread. It definitely opened my mind to how good a sardine could be.

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Crispy Fried Local Sardine

The quinoa and grilled yellow tail tuna salad was definitely one of my favorite dishes. It was so light and fresh, perfect for these hot valley days. Topped off with a beautiful watermelon radish, it was almost too pretty to eat. Almost.

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Quinoa and Grilled Yellow Tail Tuna Salad

The bucatini is every pasta lovers dream. You’re served a healthy portion of a thick spaghetti-like noodle topped with San Marzano tomatoes, olive oil, fresh basil,  toasted bread crumbs, and two cheeses (mozzarella and smoked aged ricotta cheese). It sort of reminded me of a noodle shaped gnocchi. I really had to hold back from polishing off the entire plate.

bucatini
Bucatini

The last item I tried was the grilled pacific yellow tail tuna. It’s served over roasted sweet corn, seared tomato relish, daikon sprouts and cucumber and jicama. This was a total win for me. The combination of the fish and the sweet corn and tomato relish won me over.

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Grilled Pacific Yellow Tail Tuna

Don’t forget to ask about beer pairings for each dish when you go. I was walked through each one and had just the right combinations for each dish.

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Slice of Pizzetta with El Sugundo “Station No. 1” Red Ale

Market City Caffe definitely proves that tomatoes deserve the spotlight with their carefully thought out special menu.

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dineLA Sneak Peek: The Federal Bar in North Hollywood

As a NoHo-ian. A NoHo-er. Ok, as someone who lives in NoHo, I was stoked to hear that The Federal Bar will be participating in dineLA (7/18-7/31). I’ve frequented their sick brunch deal before but never hung around for lunch or dinner.

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The Federal Bar
5303 Lankershim Boulevard, North Hollywood, CA 91601
nh.thefederalbar.com


Side bar: No matter what LA hood you reside, you must try their brunch. Entrees and bottomless mimosas for two will run you 30 bucks. The Federal is close to 101 and 170 exit or if you want to save some gas – it’s walking distance to the North Hollywood stations for the Metro Orange Line and Red Line.

beerBut I digress. Breakfast isn’t the only thing they do well. They’ll be offering both a special weekday prix fixe lunch and daily dinner menus with some of their signature dishes for the annual dineL.A. Restaurant Week. You don’t need a ticket to go, but reservations are recommended.

It’s $20 a person for the two-course lunch which includes soda, iced tea or coffee. Dinner is gonna run $29 per person and includes one of their draft beers.

Beer lovers rejoice because you have a great selection. I opted for the lighter of the bunch, a Craftsman 1903. Wanna try some more brews from their extensive menu? Come early for their daily happy hour from 3-6pm. $2 off beer, $3 house wine and $3-7 cocktails.

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Front Bar

For appetizers, you get a choice of the smoked wings, quinoa & kale or the house bacon mac & cheese. I opted for the latter because bacon and cheese! It did not disappoint. Made with their house made bacon, a three cheese sauce and shell pasta with a panko crust. It was a little spicy. A little crunchy. And a whole lot of cheesy bacon goodness.

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House Bacon Mac & Cheese

burger on streetEntrees included a grilled veggie bowl, red sangria poached white fish, beef short rib or their MCO Burger (MOO-CLUCK-OINK). What is that MCO you ask? Well, just a little piece of meat heaven. They have a beef patty with bacon, lettuce and tomato and a sunny side up egg.

I almost didn’t want to eat it, because it looked so lovely. But clearly, I did. This is served with either fries or brussels sprouts and since I really wanted to carb it up – I opted for the fries.

 

This was my favorite tied with the short rib because I’m a true carnivore. But the vegetarians and pescatarians at the table thoroughly enjoyed the veggie bowl and fish options.

short rib
Short Ribs

For dessert, they have a warm rocky road skillet with vanilla bean sauce or a caramel budino with almond biscotti.

dessert
Rocky Road Skillet

This was a complete tie for me. Go with a friend and each get one. Variety is the spice of life! In fact, share everything because it was just that good.

Tacos with an Asian Twist: Rakken Tacos in Commerce, CA

Are you in the mood for some yummy food? Let’s taco ’bout it!

Guys, I love puns just as much as I love food. I just had to get that out of the way. Ok! Now let’s begin.

Rakken Tacos is a very unassuming restaurant in the middle of a strip mall in Commerce. I admit, I had no idea how far Commerce was when I volunteered to go to a tasting here. But let me tell you, it was worth the drive.

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Rakken Tacos
 2444 South Atlantic Boulevard, Commerce, CA 90040
www.rakkentacos.com

Rakken1


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Black Rose Tea

The décor is so cute. A large chalkboard with the menu items is the first thing you see when you walk in. There are beautifully stained wood trim, counter tops, and tableschalkboard As I approached the counter top, I was overwhelmed at what to try, so Ken, the owner, recommended that I have a little of everything. I did not argue. First, he encouraged me to try one of their teas, they are native to the east coast and are shipped in just for Rakken. They will soon have an exclusive west coast list of teas. I tried the black rose flavor. They are unsweetened, so it’s perfect for those who don’t want sugar overload. And there are no calories. Trust me; you’ll want to save that for the food.

After taking my order, Ken insisted I try the homemade jerky. His mother makes it especially for the restaurant. How cute is that? And it’s just as delicious. Not too tough and seasoned just right. I decided to look around while I waited for my order. A beautiful mural caught my eye at the other end of Rakken.

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Rakken’s custom mural

 

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Garlic Crab Fries

The rest of the walls were left simple, with the exception of the taco joint’s clever slogan on the adjoining wall that says, “Play hard. Eat harder.” Now for the food! First up, was the crab fries. Oh man, I could have easily filled up on these bad boys, but I showed restraint. Definitely a dish worth sharing.

I tried four different tacos. The Rakken al pastor taco, their namesake, had grilled Vietnamese lemongrass pork, sriracha mayo, onions and shiso leaves. The Pho taco had flank steak simmered in pho broth, onions, basil leaves with a hoisin-sriracha drizzle. Buttery shrimp taco had, you guessed it, buttery garlic shrimp with lemon and purple pickled onions. And lastly, but certainly not least, was the yuzu carne asada taco with marinated steak, Japanese citrus sauce, onions and shiso leaves.

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From left, clockwise: Al Pastor, Pho, Shrimp, Yuzu

It’s hard to pick a favorite, but I have to say the Pho tacos were mine. It was such an interesting take on a taco and just the right amount of crunch. But, a close second was the butter shrimp taco. For dessert, I chose the Oreo churro with Vietnamese coffee drizzle. This is the stuff of angels. Rakken is a hip place and an easy drive from the east side of LA. I recommend making stopping here on your way to the casino, before a trip to the outlets, or just anytime you are hungry for a little something different.

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Pho Taco
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Oreo Churro