In-n-Out Adventure Time

Sunday night. Dinner time. There’s a new In-n-Out Burger in town that just opened. Let’s try it!

As always the drive-thru lines were long, so we decided to make it a fun adventure in persistent pursuit of burgers and fries on this December night. Why not? It took a while, as we expected. In-n-Out was organized. Here’s how it went:

Three lanes of cars approached the drive-thru.
We can see it from here! Look at the Christmas tree on the car near us. Festive fun for all!

Traffic control guys working their magic with smiles on their faces.

Hooray! Order time and we were ready.
Cane’s is next door with their drive-thru going the other way. It felt like Disneyland’s Autotopia with the smell of burgers, chicken, and fries filling the night air.
Merged to just one lane…it’s a Christmas miracle!

Now the building is in full view. So much promise of food! Christmas songs on the radio. Windows down for that sleigh ride feel! Well, just pretend.

Another guy further down the line handed us our receipt. We are customer #152. Woohoo!
The iconic menu board passed on our left. Getting closer!
The approach to the window. The window where people hand you food! So excited! We felt like dinner winners.
Eyes on the prize! We made it and got handed our bag of burgers and fries. Of course, we cheered! And she smiled.
All this fun can be had in Whittier, California at The Groves.
Yum! A Southern California favorite and now we have one close to home.

Stay patient, my friends!

Uptown Whittier Restaurants

Here is a general list of some of the goldmine of places I like to go for good grub in the Uptown Whittier restaurant district, including the Greenleaf Promenade.

From time to time, a friend will ask what restaurants I would recommend in the Uptown Whittier, California area. This is a subjective list. What I like may or may not be what others are looking for. Just ask my husband. However, in compiling this list, I was amazed at the variety available within just a few blocks.

Let’s talk about parking. You will need to park and walk. This is an urban area. California Grill does have its own parking lot, but the rest are street parking (free), if you can find it. You can also take advantage of one of the two parking garages (not free). Enter one from Bright across from Phlight. Enter the other from Comstock between Philadelphia and Bailey. I think those are $2 or $3 to park, and you can often park inside which has the advantage of a cooler car upon your return. There is a larger outdoor parking lot near Chicken Koop and Off the Hook. Also, there is a smaller lot off Greenleaf north of Monty’s Camera and The Cellar, entered from the alley off Hadley or Bailey.

I have not included addresses. Your smart phone map app can help with that.

Currently, many restaurants have outdoor dining, which I have enjoyed. As the summer temperatures rise, however, that is losing its appeal. It seems, however, that when I dine outside the loudest cars and motorcycles seem to drive down Greenleaf Avenue. Annoying. But you might be a track-side NASCAR fan and thrive on that energy.

I have eaten at all these places and liked them. I’ve enjoyed some more than others depending on the food, service, and ambiance. Feel free to ask for more specifics in the comments or on social media.

There are some restaurants I have not tried yet. They are not on this list. I am set in my ways and just don’t have room for some of the new hot spots in my repertoire at this time. Some restaurants are missing simply because I’ve eaten there once, and that was enough. You can add your recommendation in the comments or on social media to expand this list.

For your reference:

  • Check Yelp or the restaurant website for the days and hours. Some are not open every day. Some are not open for lunch. Some are open for brunch only on weekends. Giving the restaurant a call will guarantee the most up-to-date information.
  • For some, it’s walk in and order at the counter. Some have servers that wait on your table.
  • Some are dark and pub-like. Others are open and light.
  • Some are loud. Some are quiet.
  • Some are old-school diner-style food. Some are interesting fusion cuisine and everything in between.

On Greenleaf Avenue

  1. JC’s Kitchen
  2. Auntie’s Cafe
  3. Poet Gardens
  4. Crepes & Grapes
  5. La Monarca Bakery
  6. Mimo’s
  7. Pho & Roll (I don’t like pho or sushi. I go for the California roll and chicken fried rice.)
  8. Greenleaf Thai
  9. Amachi (Japanese restaurant down the alley from Mimo’s)
  10. Colonia Pública
  11. JDO Mediterranean
  12. Steve’s BBQ
  13. Rusty Monk
  14. Uptown Pizza Co. (take-out)
  15. The Deli-up (Sandwiches at lunch only located in Phlight, 6724 Bright Ave.)
  16. The 6740 
  17. The Commoner
  18. Greenleaf Cafe Mexican Restaurant
  19. Rocky Cola Cafe

Within a Block or So of Greenleaf Avenue

  1. California Grill (corner of Painter & Philadelphia)
  2. New Canton (Chinese and Italian)
  3. Mr. Sandwich
  4. Bizarra Capital
  5. Mission Square (Italian)
  6. Brickhouse Pizza
  7. Phlight
  8. The Chicken Koop
  9. Off the Hook (fish)

Stay charming while eating your way through Uptown Whittier, my friends!

P.S. Someday, I want to try Guild Hall, board games and grub. Seems like a clever concept.

Heatwave Burning

Recently, we’ve had a summer heatwave in Southern California. This is par for the course at this time, and I’m grateful the temperatures have been comfortable up to this point. I am longing for cooler weather as I fight my way through August with glistening skin. Glistening. Ha! Sweat is real. And then there’s the smoke factor.

The “Smoke” descriptor on my phone weather app was new to me.

Fires are burning in the greater Los Angeles area. That’s all part of the season. Thankfully, they are not too close to our home. None the less, they have resulted in two weather advisories. “Unhealthy Air Quality” followed by “Very Unhealthy Air Quality” warnings appeared on my phone weather app this week. You can see more of how to respond to that in a photo farther down in this post.

The smoke from the local fires carries dust-sized particles of burned matter for miles. That was a challenging day and added some additional layers of weariness to the pandemic limits, though we were grateful to be safe.

Notice how the day’s high was predicted to be 105 degrees and we busted right through that one. Overachievers.
We moved from “unhealthy” in the previous photo to “very unhealthy” later in the day. Masks actually served a dual purpose that day.
From my Internet search on “very unhealthy air quality,” here are the instructions.

If we closed all the windows and doors, we may suffocate from heat, but at least we’d have more breathable air. Some days you just have to take your chances. We closed up the house briefly and decided to take our chances with pollution and get some air circulating.

By the way, we do not have central air-conditioning. Our home is over 100 years old. With all its quaint and charming ways, it is a difficult (a.k.a. expensive) structure to air condition. We do not have central air. That’s a choice, not a complaint. We have had a strategy.

When the brutally hot days of summer hit, our strategy included working all day in air-conditioned offices, and then going out for dinner in air-conditioned restaurants after work. That might possibly cheaper than air conditioning and more fun. That also included no dishes to clean-up. We’d return home after dark when things were cooling down. We dodged the blistering heat. Not this year.

We both now work remotely, and restaurants do not have indoor dining yet. Thankfully, well-placed fans provide some relief. Our faithful kiddie pool is just enough to cool the feet and provide a break. The cooling power of evaporation has assisted me, too, with a mid-day shower or a damp bandana around my neck. And there’s always ice cream.

Heat and humidity often go hand in hand. As a child and young adult with midwest roots, I cannot complain. Here the humidity does not usually come with the heat. This week we did have some tropical levels of humidity, and I am well trained for that. I remember the days when drying off after a shower was a pointless activity. I am glad that is the exception not the rule in our climate region.

However, it did evaporate all ambition for the week right out of me. This post is late. All I wanted to do was sit still. Anything that required thought felt like a punishment. Today, I’m up on a Sunday morning in the cool of the day, currently 73 degrees, and sending you warm greetings with this quick post.

I hope you are managing the summer weather challenges well wherever you are. We all endure the heat and humidity. Some have more humidity than others. Some of you deal with the threat of storms, hurricanes, and tornadoes. Some of you have ideal temperatures day and night in the summer, and sit on your deck wondering why everyone doesn’t live where you live. Today, so do I.

And then there’s the fun kind of heatwave!

Stay cool, my friends.

Note: I want to recognize that there are those among us suffering from homelessness or other economic disparities that make these hot days even more crushing and difficult. In light of that, my issues are minimal. Let’s keep them in our prayers and stay open for compassionate ways to assist and also look for action to take to bring justice to community life.

Flags for the Fourth

Every July, I like to see the American flags flying from local houses as I drive through the neighborhood. This year, our flag was not out front at our home. Don’t judge! We moved our flag to the backyard this year. In the front yard, I rarely saw it, since we don’t go out front much.

With the flag flying in the backyard, we could see it frequently. We enjoyed it when we sat in the backyard and when we looked out from the kitchen or den windows. It was illuminated at night, too, which is proper flag etiquette.

We started out with it on the gazebo.
We moved it over to the fence near our very large backyard pool. (Ha, ha. Foot bath?)
The moon was almost full on July 4th.

Do you have an American flag? Did you display it at your house for the 4th of July this year? Did you see many on display this weekend in your neighborhood?

Stay charming, my friends.

Uberize Me

Uber Post - Where to

I am grateful there are strangers with clean cars, who drive responsibly, and want to take me places. For a fee. But I don’t mind the fee.

I am also always a little wary of crawling into a car with someone I do not know, trusting them to get me where I need to be. The other side of that coin. There is the tension to be managed.

Although recovery from my summer breakation is going well, I am not yet driving. My ankle will be able to tolerate it one day soon, but this is not that day. So I am dependent on family and friends to play taxi service. And God bless them for their generosity in that practical piece of support!

I don’t miss driving in our Los Angeles area. I rather enjoy being the passenger. But it becomes rather inconvenient and impractical to not be able to drive. It’s a short season, and for that, Uber has been a good resource.

Uber Post - Uber App

Most of my Uber rides have been great, pleasant, and comfortable.

  • Only one car had squeaky breaks, to which the driver commented, “I’ve been meaning to get that fixed.” To which I thought, “As long as they hold until you drop me off, I won’t panic.”
  • Only one commented, “It’s telling me my one tire is low on air. It seems to be losing air. I think I have a nail. I’ll have it checked once I drop you off.” We were two minutes away from my destination, and we hit a rough patch of road at the exact moment he shared that news. The thump-thump-thump-thump sound of the tires did get my attention, but it passed quickly, once we got on smoother road.
  • Only a few seemed to lack confidence in speaking English. We got along fine. However, giving directions from the back seat in English didn’t work so well. I ended up leaning into the front seat to wave “left turn” or “right turn.” The Uber map system, whatever GPS system they are using, directs them to use a road to get to work that has no entrance any longer.
  • That same map system directs them to pick me up in the alley behind our home. I circumvent that with a quick text message while I wait for the driver to arrive.
  • Only one was blasting a certain genre of rock music that was too loud and too metal for my taste, raised in a James Taylor and Doobie Brothers era. But I changed my attitude and head banged to Heart’s Crazy on You as we traveled together. The young female driver deserved a good sport in the back seat. Windows down. Hair in the air like I just didn’t care. It’s all good. Can I borrow your comb?

Uber arrives quickly after I place a request. No money is exchanged. The driver is identified by name, car description, rating by other customers, and number of rides given. That’s helpful. They don’t get paid until they complete the ride. I like these features.

It is fun to watch the app on my phone. It shows a map with a tiny car approaching your pick-up destination and communicates how long it will be until they will arrive. Helpful.

Uber Post - Ants on the Road

See the little ants on the map pictures above? Those are Uber drivers in my area when I took that screen shot of the app.

I’ve Ubered a lot in the last few weeks. It’s worked well for me and those who have been helping with transportation when they can. I hope to be driving again soon, but in the meantime, I’m grateful for Uber. It’s not cheap. But neither is owning and operating your own car. It’s a service I need right now.

Uber Post - My Trips

Let me also give a shout out to the great friends and family who have pitched in with transportation over these last months. I couldn’t have made it this far without you! Thank you.

Stay charming, my friends! I hope you get where you’re going this week!

A Visit to La Monarca, a Local Bakery

La Monarca Bakery Sign

I recently returned to local bakery that I enjoy, La Monarca. I want to share it with you, in case you also have an interest and find enjoyment in discovering and visiting local bakeries. If you live in Southern California, and have not tried this bakery yet, I have included a link to find the several locations nearby. You’ll see link at the end of this post.

La Monarca is a pleasant place to grab coffee and a sweet, whether meeting friends or going solo. My husband and I have even been known to come here for a hot chocolate break on a busy Saturday in the winter. But more about that later.

I did a little research on the La Monarca website to find out more about this bakery. Here’s what was said to help frame our understanding:

La Monarca Bakery’s founders grew up enjoying the rich variety of cakes, pastries and breads which are household staples in Mexico. They created La Monarca Bakery to bring The Sweet Flavor of Mexico to the U.S. Our products are made with  all-natural fresh ingredients, without the use of lard, frying or artificial preservatives.

There’s a whole lot to like about that! Bakeries with a different cultural tradition are interesting. I learn and become familiar with treats new to me, a Midwest girl. Using “fresh ingredients” appeals to me, too.

I think it is fun to go in, grab a little tray and some tongs, and find your goodness. Scan the display and pick something interesting. Then go to the cashier to order any hot food or coffee.

la-monarca-starting-spot-e1532297834275.jpg

Start here!

la-monarca-baked-goods-e1532297818567.jpg

La Monarca Pan Dulce Delights

I am exploring the different pastries, new to me, on a quest to find my favorites. This is a long term goal. Currently, my favorite in the Pan Dulce display are the tacos or Taquito de Crema, Guayaba (or guava), or Con Queso (or with cheese). I like any of those three fillings wrapped in a flaky crust. I also like anything with cinnamon.

La Monarca Cinnamon Roll

The Cinnamon Roll

Sometimes I accompany the treat with a more sensible slice of Quiche Rajas, with peppers, corn, and cheese, to balance out with a bit of protein. The peppers are mild, not spicy, at least to me. I am a light weight when it comes to heat. Top it all off with a cup of coffee, and I’m all set to take a seat.

La Monarca Quiche Close-Up

The Quiche Rajas & Salsa

But before I sit down to wait for my hot food, I always carefully peruse the beautiful cakes on display, delightful to look at and no calories! No calories in just looking, that is.

La Monarca Cake Display

Check out the fresh cakes display.

The ambiance at our local La Monarca is fresh and clean, with an exposed brick wall, wooden tables and benches, and industrial steel stools. The music is energetic to add a pleasant Latin flavor. I have not been to other locations yet to compare.

La Monarca Wide Shot

Time to find a seat to enjoy the goodies and some conversation.

La Monarca Latte

Sometimes I get a latte.

I recommend trying their specialty coffee, Cafe de Olla! This coffee is described on their menu as custom Mexican spiced coffee with a blend of spices, brown sugar and organic Oaxacan dark roast coffee. I find the flavor mild and delicious in an interesting way. I do not like flavored coffee. However, I do enjoy this coffee occasionally, since the flavor is tasty and light, complimenting the coffee, not competing.

Also, this bakery supports the Monarch butterfly. We can sign and post a flyer for $1. La Monarca sends all proceeds to their partner ECOLIFE Conservation and the Monarch Butterfly conservation program. This is an important cause since those easily recognizable and majestic butterflies are in trouble, and the numbers have really decreased in recent years.

IMG_3134

Looking through the door to the beautiful outside sky.

Did I mention the hot chocolate? I know it is 91 degrees today where i live, but cooler weather will be here again one day. We need to be ready! They offer Mexican hot chocolate with organic cocoa, brown sugar, and cinnamon, whip cream and a sprinkle of crushed peanuts. They also offer a traditional champurrado, and I have to try that some time this winter. If you know what it is, you’ll probably want to try it, too. If you do not know what that is, maybe you should try it to find out. Doesn’t talking about hot chocolate at least remind you of days with cooler temperatures, even though it has been a hot summer?

 

Do you have any local favorite bakeries to share about in the comments? Please do!

Screen Shot 2018-07-22 at 12.17.13 PM

Order Cafe de Olla here or pick up a bag at one of the La Monarca locations.

Stay charming, my friends!