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Cafe Hopping across the USA: Cornbread, Tator Tots & my unexpected Cupcake Angel

Submitted by Adrian on March 17, 2013 – 9:50 am52 Comments

Oooooh, yeah I did! Thanks to your emails and tweets, I bring you another round of maaa crazy breakfast eating posts but this time I’m goin goin, back back, to Cali Cali. Keep ya head boppin’ and your stomachs growling because my Breakfast Indigestion adventures headed to the US of freakin’ A!  I owed it to you, my fellow eggporn pervs to take my non-stop cafe hopping action- international foolz. With our dollar in such fine form, skimping on food was not on the agenda. We traveled thousands of miles with zero sleep, so  to neutralise my plane belly, I ate breakfast meals 5 times in 2 days. Works much better than laxatives.

Prior to to the trip I did the most crucial thing. No, not packing. *wipes sweat* I mean planning each day so it’s exploding with meals, snacks, desserts and plenty of walking to ensure we could fit in as much as possible. By the third day, I took some laxatives because I seriously under estimated how massive the portions were plus, I wasn’t willing to walk away from a side of loaded fries. I may be wearing a watch, but I got no time for foolery.

best cafes california

You know how much I likley my brekkie, so each place was carefully selected. There were a total of 30 places and only a rare few were shortlisted due to the time frame we had. Some tough decisions had to be made. It broke my buttered heart. A few factors were taken into consideration like – does the place do dessert? Will there be a long queue? Will there be any celebs randomly dropping in? Do they do tator tots? Is it located close to our travels that day?

I also had to adjust my expectations here. This wasn’t Melbourne so don’t expect Melbourne standard coffee let alone award winning barrista’s spinning single origin blends behind the machine, fresh produce or herbs picked from the rear garden and sourdough bread from blah blah region around every corner. Just give me a mug of filtered coffee and I’ll be my usual giddy self.

So as usual, we drove our Transformers-mobile Chevy Camaro through the coast eating it up, Cali style.

chevy camaro down the coast

Breakfast at Jack n Jills

Details: 510 Santa Monica Blvd. Santa Monica, CA 90401 310.656.1501

Jack n Jills was a hop and a skip away from our hotel. To be honest, I actually put this down on the itinerary because after looking at their menu, I saw that they had Louisiana Banana Cream Pie filled with delilah shortbread cookies and whipped cream. Now doesn’t that sound just down right delicious?! Is that insane or what!

Anywho, the place spans over two levels and like many places we ate at in the US, you order and pay and the counter which I actually found to be quite convenient. We’d normally fuss about who should flag down the front of house staff  for the bill let alone who should go up to the counter and pay so you’d might aswell do it all upfront. I know that this isn’t new, but it does force your damn friends to bring in the correct change preventing the inevitable “Can anyone break a fiddy?”

peach tea at jack n jills cafe I grabbed a Peach Lemonade which was made with real peaches and tasted like one of those Japanese peach drinks I had in Japan – a southern treat indeed and a black coffee. Just because everyone else in the place had one LOL.

coffee at jack n jills

Their menu is extensive and I was still trying to get my head around the mega list of sides available with each dish – we don’t get that in Australia! Damn it. Take my order of the House Scramble for example – you get a choice of blueberry muffins, Texas cheese toast or corn bread and a choice of homestyle potatoes, tator tots, fresh fruit, cottage cheese or cheese grits. O.M.G. You get my drift? Mind boggling at first but when you get used to it, like me,  you’ll end up craving corn bread.

jack n jills cafe breakfast

I gotz me some old skool golden tator tots on the side alongside the Texas Cheese Toast. We also ordered a stack of their buttermilk pancakes that came with a pot of maple syrup, whipped butter (oh help me) a mountain of scramble and BACON.

I waited for a sign from above to tell me that what I was about to do was a SINNY SIN SIN. It didn’t come, so cracked my knuckles, undid my belt and too a deep breath before I entered my zone.

pancakes at jack n jills cafe

A balanced mix of healthy vs bad fats hehe – ‘balanced’ being the operative word.

Considering how lucky we were with the weather, it was a gorgeous sunny day with a light breeze which made our walk back from a hefty meal that much easier.

santa monica busNo we didn’t get the bus…I swear we walked!

Santa Monica Sunset Interlude

sunset in santa monica

Breakfast at Jinky’s Cafe

Details: Jinky’s Café 1447 2nd Street Santa Monica

By mid morning, we hadn’t spotted any celebs waling around in their PJ’s so we did another brekkie at Jinky’s Cafe, known for attracting stars like Jessica Alba. That, along with a glance at the menu was reason enough.

I was really getting used to the brewed coffee with no milk in the states. No magics, picollos, lattes, soy this, skinny that. Gosh, sometimes, I just want a damn coffee like how it used to be. NO frills!

Jinky's cafe los angeles

Set amongst a causal atmosphere, it attracts both locals and travelers alike.

The menu was filled with pages of and pages of choices. It was like a dictionary. Every time the waitress came around to ask if we were ready to order, we tested her patience with another “One more minute please.” We finally settled on some goodies. I was also distracted by the show that was on TV – called The Chocolate Guide or something along those lines.

menu at jinky's cafeMenu at Jinky’s – waffles!!

stack of jams at jinky's cafe california

French Toast with a side of my new BFF tator tots and scrambled eggs. Just so you know as I certainly didn’t – what they mean by a side of something, actually means a whole plate of something. It might as well be ‘a second meal with that?” Not that I’m complaining because it was too oisome.  It all went well splendidly together especially with the maple syrup pouring ceremony.

There was something on the menu called Flaky French Toast which is dipped in ’special batter’ and covered with Kellogg’s Honey Nut Corn Flakes – with blueberries, strawberries or bananas and is enjoyed by Miley Cyrus. I was that close to ordering it but it sounded far too excessive when I knew full well that regardless what we order, it won’t gonna be small. Plus, despite my OOC imagination, Miley Cyrus won’t be making a special appearance just to serve us a plate of pancakes. Although, if it were New York, Dave Letterman gets his guests to do that sorta thing…

french toast breakfast at Jinky's CafeFrench Toast with ahem…some sides.

breakfast at jinky's cafe

Venice Beach: A long walk and breakfast at Fig Tree’s Café

Fig Tree’s Café, known for their chicken-apple sausages,  has been serving up ‘make your tummy smile’ breakfasts along Venice Beach since 1978 and is situated right near the famous outdoor muscle gym.

a walk down venice beacha walk down venice beach to the cafes

The alfresco area was a perfect spot for soaking up the sun and people not too mention cute dog watching moments. I counted at least 15 poodles and 13 American Boxers. If you’re gonna eat here, dining outside is a must.

people watching and music at venice beach

art in venice beach

In the mood for more Mexican to go with my ‘just how I want it’ brewed coffee, the Breakfast Quesadilla for $10.95 sounded like a deal. Again, so massively huge and spicy.

Mexican brekkie at Fig Tree's CaféBreakfast Quesadilla at Fig Tree's cafe

A warm soft flour tortilla set amongst some scramble, chilli, feta and sour cream. An absolute gem and a generously sized one at that. With so much flavour, it was the fantatsic deviation to the usual brekkie dishes in Melbourne and well done on the extra chilli. No need for coffee after this hit but I got one anyways as well as a side of a phat scone. It had to be done…

Breakfast Qat Fig Tree's Cafe Venice beach
Turkey bacon at Fig Tree's Cafe Venice beach

Turkey bacon!

And…we also ordered the brekkie omelette with a side of seasoned potatoes. I swear, as I ate half of this and I could feel the food creeping up to my neck  *inhale, exhale*

breakfast omelette at fig tree's cafe

Details: 429 Ocean Front Walk  Venice, CA 90291 Ph: (310) 392-4937 Web: http://figtreescafe.com

We drive to meet Ken and Barbie at their beach house

malibu beach

Well, really just to check out the beach that Baywatch was filmed at. Pamela, where art thou Pamela??

waves at malibu beach

A Mexican breakfast at Lily’s Cafe & Pasteries, Malibu

OKI, I’ll be upfront. The reason why we went here was because we wanted to see  a few celebs that happened to live in the area. But of course, we also did some research and found out that Lily’s Cafe & Pasteries was the shiz when it came to breakfast burritos.

milk with your coffee? Lily's Cafe & Pasteries, Malibu

Inside? No frills, keeping their marvelous food as the primary focus. It was suggested we have their signature house brekkie burrito. I’m sure we ordered the ’small’ size but I swear this small small size could either be used as a toddlers pillow or feed a family of 3 with scraps to treat the dog. Amazingly good and very authentic giving is fuel to keep driving. I also reclaimed my soft spot for filtered coffee with French Vanilla milk that seemed to be littered across Cali.

Lily's Cafe & Pasteries Breakfast Malibu

Unfortunately, we also didn’t see any stars despite also making a trek to the local supermarket – don’t judge! I thought I saw Jennifer Anniston but it was just some woman with the exact same hair. So misleading LOL But at least I got but my beloved Cinnamon Crunch cereal that I knew I wasn’t gonna finish but SO WHAAAT, Peter Pan peanut butter and several bags of a sweet and spicy variety of Hawaiian BBQ chips. Addictive was the operative word. No other chip has lived up to it’s charms since. I must find a way to import this!

A roadtrip down the coast en route to Santa Barbra

drive down the California coast to Santa Barbara

And we finally arrive at sunny Santa Barbara

arriving at Santa Barbara

chevy camaro and meThat’s right. This is ma ride bitchez…

Waking up in Vegas to Cajun Kitchen’s cornbread and catfish, Santa Barbara

Aaah, how I bloody love Santa Barbara. From it’s palm tree lined roads, the sunny skies, the cool night breezes, the nostalgic vibes of it’s quaint town centre (old skool theatres, boardwalks) to the people dancin’ in the street all added to it’s romantic charm. I can see why it’s the ‘getaway’ destination of the state where couples listen to D’Angelo and get down like it ain’t nobody’s business.  But aside from the baby making allure of Santa Barbara, I also dug the restaurant scene. People, mostly holiday makers and locals loved to eat. They don’t seem to skimp on the good life.

After last night’s French inspired dinner with a bunch of really nice locals, I wanted corn bread and catfish. Cajun Kitchen was my answer. One of my favourite movies of all time is Soul Food for it’s ability to bring out the drool and ignite my passionate about food. Well, who can’t get passionate about Fried Chicken really?! Roaming the streets, we found our savior which came in the form of a diner. Tables treated to a plethora of jams, creole seasoning, sauces and tabasco.

Santa Barbara boatssanta barbara pier

By this time on the trip, I was way over tator tots and Mexican inspired breakfasts… They were awesome but maaa gaaasssh, my buds needed a break like Ike and Tina. My mouth started to feel kinda weird, like a new layer of fat was forming. LOL. I ordered something I’d never eaten before – catfish and grits plus a side of cornbread because I wanted to use my butter for something. That’s right!

cajun kitchen breakfast at santa barbarainside cajun kitchen breakfast at santa barbara

How did I likey? Well, the catfish was better than I expected it to be. Slightly charred and sweet with a crispness to it revealing tender succulent flesh. I wanted seconds! The grits? Hmm. Perhaps like us Aussies with our Vegemite, you probably have to grow up with it to bear it. It was bearable with butter in each spoonful but it didn’t make sense to have a heart attack right then and there.  I think I’ll stick to – champorado – a Filipino chocolate rice porridge or just plain porridge. The cornbread? Gawd this was perfect. No amounts of butter can ever be enough to cover it though. Having the last brekkie at Cajun Kitchen was the perfect ending to this pitstop.

catfish and gritz at cajun kitchencornbread at cajun kitchen

Did I mention how amazing their smokey sausages were? And the potato rosti…OMG…

sausages at cajun kitchen

This was our final day in sunnyside up Santa Barbara. A perfect ending to an enjoyable trip. I’d like to thank the locals of this amazing town. Thank you for being so hospitable and real friendly to us Aussies. I hope to be back soon. I’m missing it already! Wah.

BONUS SWEET STOP!

My Cupcake Angel offers her heart at Crush Cupcakes

I was saving this for another post but I just couldn’t resist writing about the awesomeness had at Crush Cupcakes – a local fav. Why? Yes they have great cupcakes but my experience, it was more than just dessert.

cupcakes at Crush Cupcakes Santa Barbara

It was Valentines Day (yayayay!) so the place was packed. I grabbed a couple of varieties – red velvet of course and plonked myself on the table as I waited for my dining companion to finish ordering when a lady came up to me and placed a heart shaped chocolate cake on my table. She must have seen I was alone and offered her ‘heart’ to a perfect stranger as her way of doing a kind Valentines Day deed. Now before you get any ideas, I swear she wasn’t hitting on me or anything of that nature. She just genuinely wanted to do a nice thing. So touched by her kind gesture, I offered her one of my precious cupcakes but she invited that she wanted nothing in return. She was my Cupcake Angel!

It’s so touching to know that there are still incredible people out there in this crazy world with nothing but love and the most sincere of intentions. I have made it a pact to offer the same kindness to a complete stranger next Valentines Day. I’m hoping they don’t get the wrong idea though….eeek! Watch out, it could be you!!!

crush cupcakes

Its been real

After gorging on 5 breakfasts in 2 days, we hopped back into our yellow Tranformers- mobile and drove to The Bay Area aka  San Fransisco for even MORE cafe hopping! Living this life like it’s golden. GOLDEN – just like a tator tot all fluffy on the inside.

chevy camaro

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Keep eating…LIKE CRAZAAY!

Adrian

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