Everyone goes on vacation to do different things. Whether its for the adventures, shopping, events, scenery, or restaurants, we all find something that makes us enjoy our time off the most. I never realized until my most recent vacation that some would consider me a "Foodie."
As soon as I'm done eating a meal, all I think about is where I'm going to eat next. I prepare before every vacation, looking through dozens of Yelp pages to look at menus and pictures and location of different spots. Asking locals what the best spots for different types of foods are. I don't like to label myself as anything, but yeah I guess I'm a Foodie.
5424 Laurel Canyon Blvd
Valley Village, CA 91607
Hours: 11 am - 8 pm Mon-Sat
On a beautiful breezy January afternoon in Los Angeles, my boys and I were cruising around with the windows down. Checking out the scenery and enjoying the weather. I'm in the passenger seat and of course I'm keeping an eye out for some cool local restaurants, and I see a sign for a restaurant called Burgerama. The name got my attention and I guess I said something about going there. My friends claimed this happened but I don't remember.
Apparently I had spoken this experience into existence without even knowing, or remembering it. It ended up being our last restaurant on our way home. My friend said he needed a burger before we left the city, so I guess I subconsciously had already picked this spot the morning before.
Burgerama is a brand new burger spot in Valley Village, a neighborhood in Los Angeles that is just a few minutes away from Hollywood. And similar to the big dreams made in Hollywood, you can make your dreams of a delicious burger become a reality in just a matter of minutes.
There was two smiling faces waiting for us as soon as we walked in. Stephanie and Val greeted us and asked us how we found out about their restaurant that has been open for just five months. It is just the two of them, six days a week, serving the community with some delicious food and good vibes. If you want to talk about trying to make a dream become a reality, thats how it happens.
I'm guessing they put in anywhere from 10-12 hours a day of hard work in the restaurant, and on top of that, still have to run their new business. It was inspirational just to talk to them for a few minutes before putting in our order.
Makes you kinda wonder what is really possible if you follow your passion.
The good vibes come first with them, but then it's all about the burgers. And after having a conversation with some of the nicest people we've ever met, I didn't think the food could top the vibes. But my goodness.
I ordered the Country Boy, which is served with bacon, monterey jack cheese, two (FAT) onion rings, and drizzled with bourbon sauce. Val brought the food to our table, and it was a wrap from there. I didn't want to take the time to take a picture of my food, but I knew for the sake of the blog I had to wait and capture the moment.
I knew the bite I was about to take was going to be incredible. I remember everything in slow motion. My hands stretched out as wide as possible in order to get the best grip, my eyes wide open so that I could take in the moment, mouth watering in anticipation. And then finally taking that huge first bite was like a Hollywood dream come true. That burger was thicc af.
This was easily one of the best burgers I've ever had. I'm usually always trying to keep my hands and face clean as I eat, but after that first bite I made the conscious decision to just immerse myself in the entire experience and allowed myself to be a sloppy mess while I devoured it all. The fries were cooked to a delicious salty crisp, and were served with ranch and spicy ketchup that paired beautifully.
This spot was all about about passion. The love and care that these two put into this restaurant can be tasted in the food itself. There is soul food and then there is food for the soul. This is where you go to cleanse all your sins, and those sins being any other lesser burger you've ever eaten. Do yourself a favor and ask for a side of forgiveness with your order. Stephanie and Val were very humble, and that will do nothing but take them wherever their hearts desire.
But I'll be not humble for them. Go check them out next time you're in LA!
Do y'all remember the Folgers coffee jingle? "The best part of wakin' up, is Folgers in your up!" Whenever I saw the commercial I felt like I could smell the coffee through the television. The sun rising through the windows and the birds chirping, made it always look like a beautiful morning. They ran those commercials until I was about 13 years old, so up until that point I never actually drank coffee.
So the first time I was going to try some Folgers, I thought it was going to be fire. Everybody in the commercial looked so happy to have that cup of Folgers. I thought it was literally going to be the best part of waking up. It was the worst cup of coffee I've ever had. I did not get that feeling of morning bliss that the actors pretended to have. So my whole life, I was searching for that cup of coffee that would actually give me that feeling. And a year ago to the day, I found it.
3-3601 Kuhio Hwy
Hours: 7 am - 3 pm Monday-Sunday
The best part of waking up on the island of Kauai is watching the sun rise above the breathtaking horizon. Getting up early and sitting on the beach while the light breeze takes hold of you. The smell of fresh air being brought to shore by the waves of the oceans. The roosters hanging out right next to you, waiting for you to feed them something. Those are the little homies for real. They know how to live.
But even with the gorgeous scenery bringing your morning to life, you still crave that cup of coffee to really get your day going. And there is no place you would rather be than at Sunrise Coffee. This unique coffee truck offers everything you need for your morning on an island. Scenery, atmosphere, fresh food, smiling faces, and most importantly delicious coffee.
My wife was really craving an acai bowl, and I was really wanting to go somewhere that was one of a kind. So as I was searching for where to go, I came across this spot. The matte black truck looked dope as hell, so I told my wife "Yo, this is the one." So we got our 1 year old ready to go and we headed out.
On the way there, I searched their Instagram page to get an idea of what I was going to try. I went back and forth "Oh I'm going to get a fresh bagel! No, I'm going to get an acai bowl! No, I'm going to get a panini!" My mouth was watering and my stomach just wanted everything.
So of course when we got there, I had a million questions for them. The owner of the spot was so helpful and nice, I was about to ask her for a job application. I was trying to be a part of that environment everyday. But that would be a weird question, so I just asked about the coffee and food (lol).
I decided to go with an organic bagel and cream cheese, and man oh man it paired so well with my coffee. I was upset that it was so good because my son ended up eating half of it. I mean I don't blame him, it was my fault for not buying him his own.
My wife ended up getting an acai bowl with fresh blueberries, bananas, and strawberries. I'm lucky that I even got to share some with her, that's how I know she really really loves me. That bowl left me feeling refreshed and ready for any adventure.
But the coffee though. THE COFFEE THOUGH! That feeling that Folgers claims they make people feel is just a claim. Sunrise Coffee is really about it. All of their espresso drinks are made with their Sunrise Signature Espresso. I got a Hazelnut Almond milk latte, and that smooth espresso hit every part of my taste buds and my soul. The foam was placed ever so delicately on top, leaving me with the tough choice to actually drink it or just stare at it all day. It was a piece of art in and of itself. It left me feeling bright and alive.
As I took my final sip of coffee, the light rainfall cleared and a rainbow began to appear above us. It was like a sign from the island telling us we made the right choice. The fresh food and comforting latte gave us the energy we needed to continue our young day. The beautiful scenery left us craving more from the island. Sunrise Coffee gave us the inspiration to go on a hike with our baby boy.
This family friendly truck was the best place to start our day. The island has many great natural offerings like I mentioned before. But the best part of waking up, was Sunrise Coffee in my body. I'm sure theres a better slogan we can come up with, but for now we'll stick with that.
Everyone in this world now is go, go, go. The only way to make a living for yourself and your family is to grind 24/7. But sometimes we lose that drive to keep pushing forward, and all we need is a little bit of positive energy to stay the course.
Salted Caramel Almonds in Dark Chocolate
Total THC per package: 100 mg
Approximately 6.25 mg THC per piece
Satori Chocolates are made from the highest quality ingredients, including rich, high-potency cannabis oil that's been safely grown and processed.
The marijuana industry is forever changing. With the legalization of recreational use, the common man can substitute their daily cup of coffee or energizing snacks with cannabis infused products. Satori Chocolates has found a way to give us a boost while allowing us to enjoy a tasty treat.
Satori Chocolates is an organization based out of Santa Rosa, California that has found a way to find the perfect balance for cannabis infused treats. I tried their Salted Caramel Almonds in Dark Chocolate and found inspiration in doing so. Check out all of the other treats they make on their website.
Almonds have always been a key ingredient in a healthy lifestyle. They are good for your heart, hair, skin, brain, teeth, and pretty much everything important in your body. They are a natural source of energy that help us push through the middle of the day.
To be able to combine all of that with cannabis infused chocolate creates a perfect match for the person busy on their grind. We can't all just spark up in the middle of our work day, that's just not always feasible. But this product allows the working person to have the best of both worlds. They can have their weed, and eat it too.
Let's say you're at work, and you hit that mid-afternoon lull. You're starting to doze off and you can't fully focus on the task at hand. Depending on your tolerance level, you can eat a couple of these and get the energy you need from the almonds, and the focus you need from the delicious cannabis infused dark chocolate.
These delicate treats offer the taste of farmer's market almonds covered in the richest chocolate cannabis can create. If you're looking to get stoned, these probably aren't the choice for you. Yes, they will make you feel high, but the energy you gain is far more important for the typical grind of everyday life.
But the best part about all of this; They're delicious! It's a dangerous game because you might find yourself trying to eat more than you can handle! But that's ok, they're good for your mind and your body. Just don't be surprised if you eat one too many and find yourself asking how the Egyptians built the pyramids.
This is for everyone out there who stay Grindin'!
Being passionate about something isn't always enough to achieve the desired results. There needs to be a foundation that can be built upon. There must be a relentlessness that is unmatched by the competition. A true love within the act that constantly works towards perfection. Sometimes sticking to the roots, and doing it for the love can lead to something greater than the original goal.
825 Roseburg Avenue, Modesto, CA
Hours: Monday - Closed
Tuesday-Saturday - 11am-9pm
Sunday - 11am-8pm
The roots of Divine Swine all goes back to their love for competition barbecue, and boy can you tell. They have created a dining experience that allows the customer to get the true sense of comfort food, while still allowing you to feel fancy. A place where you can enjoy a 1/2 pound burger with your pinky up.
My wife and I had gone here a couple of times in the past, so naturally for Father's Day I had to be there. I know most people like to barbecue on Father's Day, but I figured why not let the professionals do it for me? Their outside seating area is dog friendly, and since we were dog-sitting, we figured we'd take Chloe and Oscar out for a walk and sneak them some french fries.
The service here has always been great. The workers brought out a bowl of water for the dogs that said "Vodka Water," I might've snuck a drink or two. They were very knowledgable about the menu, and their offerings of pairings with wines and beers with our food helped us understand the depth of their love for what they do.
We started off with their take on Pigs in a Blanket. A flour tortilla stuffed with their slow smoked pork and fried to a perfect crisp, served and drizzled beautifully with their Santa Fe sauce. This is how it was always supposed to be, we just didn't know it. The first bite was a whole new experience on these classic appetizers. When they say slow smoked, they mean it. The pork was so tender and juicy that it actually taught me a lesson on how pork is supposed to make me feel; Blissful.
The flour tortilla it was wrapped in had been fried to such a perfect crisp, almost as if the chef knew what they were doing or something. Of course they knew, because they stick to their roots. The Santa Fe sauce wasn't too spicy, but it did pack a punch to let you know it was there for a reason. We were scraping our plate, getting every last drop of sauce we could to hold us over until our entrees arrived.
My wife decided to go with a throwback comfort food in the Pulled Pork Sandwich. That slow smoked pulled pork served with melty provolone cheese, diced red onion, cilantro, and Georgia-style mustard sauce all on a toasted ciabatta bread. I could go on about how the mixture of these ingredients created such a perfect balance that it made me think about how the Earth just so happens to be the perfect distance from the Sun to sustain life. About how it made me realize that we could all live in harmony if we were just like this sandwich. Or about how it made me see the world clearer, if only for a second.
But even with all of that, the greatest part about this sandwich is the pork. Like seriously. No amount of existential thoughts this sandwich gave me can compare to how perfectly their pork is cooked. It makes me wonder if I have ever even had real pork in my life before. The answer is, probably not.
I tried something a little more creative in the Cow Pig Burger. An 80/20 blend of ground beef and slow smoked pork, served with garlic aioli, jack cheese, thick cut bacon, onion strings and A1 steak sauce. I know what you're thinking, it sounds like a lot. But I'm here to tell you that it was. Oh my god it was so huge. I literally had to look at it from like 6 different angles and ask myself where I was going to start. But once I finally found the sweet spot to start from, I couldn't stop.
The combination of meaty, sweet, and spicy hit every taste bud I had and left them all feeling loved. It was like the flavors were giving every last one of my taste buds a hug with every bite. I always knew that cows and pigs on a burger went together because of bacon, but I never could have imagined it could reach another level until I had the addition of slow smoked pork. The garlic aioli had me licking my lips and fingers after every bite. Except for my fancy pinky that was up the whole time.
Comfort food has never felt so good. If you have someone you care about or love, you need to take them here and enjoy a meal together. Put down your phones, and enjoy each others company while also chowing down on some damn good barbecue. But if you want to take a picture of your food first, that's fine. I don't blame you, the presentation and dining experience is flawless.
I always wondered why Go with what you know is such a popular phrase. Since when does sticking to the same routine help someone grow? The cliche has it times when it needs to be said I suppose, but whoever said it was most likely a Negative Nancy. Breaking out of our box by doing and trying things we would usually shy away from help us create experiences we didn't even know existed before. Taking your eyes off of your phone and opening them up to the world around you is key in your growth as a human bean.
Art Cafe Hemingway
4 - 1495 Kuhio Hwy, 96746 Kapaa, HI
OPEN 7 DAYS A WEEK: BRUNCH 8am - 2pm DINNER 6pm - 9pm
Fr - Sun by Markus & Jana
With pretty much all of the restaurants on the island of Kauai, all of the ingredients are locally sourced. It would be pretty tough for businesses like these ones to stay in business if they were constantly waiting for products to be shipped to them. And the you have possible shortage, price of delivery, all kinds of other factors that would affect the quality of the food served in these restaurants.
Art Cafe Hemingway is no different. With all of their ingredients locally sourced from their Mint Kauai farm. Words they live by on the farm are Food, Identity, and Responsibility. With their mission to put more local food on local plates, they are not only creating a better option for their community, but a look inside of the world they're trying to create. As a tourist, I was blown away by the story of this restaurant. But we had no idea what we were walking into.
My wife, son, and I were just walking near some shops along the beach on a late morning and of course we were starving because we always are. My wife pointed to this restaurant which I initially thought was a house and said we should try it out. Now had we been on our phones looking for a place to eat instead of admiring what was right in front of us, we may have missed this opportunity. With lounge chairs in the front we figured this place was going to be pretty chill.
The dining area had the feel of being in someones home for brunch. Not only did this place look like a house, it felt like home. The waitress began telling us about the story of the restaurant, and somehow it turned into a conversation about new parent life and I almost didn't even realize that we didn't know her. We were just having a conversation as if she had been an old friend.
Their menu offers food for anyone and everyone. All these diet options I had never even heard of, but I learned from the menu such as Ovo Lacto Vegetarian, Ovo Vegetarian, Lacto Vegetarian, Vegan, and Gluten Free. I figured since we were out of our comfort zone for what I would normally expect from a restaurant experience, I should try something I typically wouldn't. I ordered a savory crepe filled with salmon, tomato relish, and sour cream. Very simple ingredient combination yet the taste was all but simple. I couldn't believe the flavors that were coming together to not only satisfy my hunger, but also satisfy my human need for quality in life.
My wife ordered a savory croissant with ham and aged Gouda cheese with homemade honey mustard mayonnaise. With their croissants being freshly made everyday, there was no way this sandwich could fail. The honey mustard mayonnaise gave the sandwich more than enough flavor and is actually making my mouth water right now. And of course we ordered an extra butter croissant on the side because we always need more food.
It's the simple things in life that always bring us back home. Whether home to you is delivering delicious beer to local stores so that the masses have a safe place to purchase their favorite alcoholic beverages. Or if being in the studio, spilling out your soul to the world to see. Or if it is at your actual home with your family, just kicking back enjoying some basketball on TV. Home is where you make it, and Art Cafe Hemingway reminds you of that.
It's time to talk about the GOAT. The Kareem Abdul-Jabbar of glaze. The Kathy Bates of dough. The Dwight Kurt Schrute of donuts. If you don't know what I'm talking about by now, then you have never tried this next spot, or you are just blind to the fact that it is the home of the most delicious donuts in the universe. Mr. T's is the GOAT, anything else is just Fake News that you probably got from FOX (Friendly reminder that FOX is an entertainment channel, not a credited news source).
Mr. T's Donuts
3507 Tully Road, Modesto, CA
I don't remember the first time I went to Mr. T's. I want to say it was back when I was in high school, over the summer I would go along with my step-dad when he would deliver the newspaper. On busy nights/mornings, we would sometimes not be done until around 5 or 6 am and by that time there'd be no reason to go back to sleep. We would occasionally get some donuts for everyone so that they could all wake up to some donuts, but of course we got first dibs. I remember trying different spots, pretty much whoever was open at the time. But Mr. T's is 24/7 and they always have fresh donuts around the clock, so at some point it just became the only spot we would go to.
You want to talk about a 'hole in the wall' this place is the ultimate success story for that. The family owned donut shop that opened it's doors in 1989 has not closed them since. They have almost built a religious type of following with these godly sweets. Their customers will accept nothing less than a Mr. T's donut. I have called people out on multiple occasions when they have brought donuts to work that aren't Mr. T's. Those conversations have usually gone like this:
Me: "Who brought these?"
Coworker: "I did! Please, enjoy one!"
Me: "What the hell is your problem, bro? Who the hell do you think I am? You brought donuts in this pink box? There ain't no Mr. T's logo on this box, and I know they didn't change from their white box to these shits. *Picks up trash donut* Look at this shit, bro. This shit is heavy. If I put this donut on a scale the shit might break. How much did you pay for this?"
Coworker flabbergasted: "Uhh - I think like $14-"
Me: "$14?! FOUR-TEEN DOLLARS? For this shit?! Mr. T's ain't never charged over $10 for a dozen of the World's Greatest Donut, and you out here disrespecting me by bringing this into work. Wowwww bro, this really just told me everything I need to know about you."
Honestly, it probably goes longer than that. I will straight gas you. Don't ever come at me saying there is any donut in the world, let alone Modesto, that is better. I will take it personal. And I have, just ask my boss. I went off on her at 6 am for even suggesting that another local donut shop, which doesn't even deserved to be mentioned in this post, had better donuts. I was hot. She ruined my whole day, like for real. I felt personally attacked early in the morning.
This place is legendary. Most of the time, the line is out the door. Walking in and seeing a full case of donuts is like Christmas morning. Watching the workers go hard on deep frying thousands of donuts is like watching Santa's elves go to work right in front of you. But the best part is that you get to pick your presents. They always have so many different flavors and types of donuts to choose from, but I know what I like when it comes to donuts. I stick to the classics.
The way to really tell if a donut shop is 'bout it, is by the taste and texture of their raised, glazed donut. If you can make the most basic type of donut your main attraction, everything else will fall into place. Biting into that donut is what I can only describe as a dream. Think about the softest pillow you've ever had, then multiply that by a thousand and make it lighter than a feather. And then turn it into deep dried dough and smother it in liquid sugar and it's the same thing. I have found myself branching out a bit and trying some of their other donuts occasionally, but I keep it OG with the raised glazed, maple glazed, and old fashion glazed donuts. There is no wrong way to go.
The love is in the dough, honestly. I have never come across another donut that is quite as soft and delicate as theirs. The sweetness is never overpowering, the recipe has yet to fail them. People like to say 'go with what you know' and I think they know what they're doing.
One of my favorite things in the world is watching people experience Mr. T's for the first time. Last year, I brought donuts to work and this guy that was from Southern California had never tried it. So I gave him this huge speech before he was allowed to touch a donut, about what was about to happen to him and how he would never see donuts the same again. He even was a little upset because he said I probably set the bar too high, and I assured him that it is impossible to put the bar high enough. He bit into the donut, as he chewed you could tell his mind had completely forgotten about every worry or stress he had in his life at that time. As he finished his bite, he turned to me and said "That is a solid fuckin' donut." He repeated that about 5 more times. And honestly, that's what I say every fuckin' time too bud.
Vince Carter is the Mr. T's of dunking...
I wish that I would take my own advice sometimes. On these #FoodFridays I've been telling you guys "Support local, eat local, stick it to big business!" Yet, I still find myself trying to eat at basic ass places like Round Table just because they have a pretty good lunch buffet special. Now I'm not gonna say it's not any good, because it is, but for the same price I got my family some fire pizza that we had never tried before. A place that has been 2 minutes from our house the entire time we've lived here, and we just barely decided to try.
1825 Mitchell Road, Ceres, CA 95307
Hours: 11:00 am - 11:00 pm
My wife was going on lunch and she wanted some pizza, so she told us to meet her at Round Table. So I was like Alright cool, because they have a buffet and I can get salad, pizza, and dessert, sounds good. But it was the first day of March Madness, so when I walked it I realized that there was no seating and when I looked at the bar, I saw that there was like one slice of veggie pizza or some shit. So I called my wife and she was hurt because she really wanted some pizza, and I couldn't think of any other pizza place in Ceres. She was like "Well what about Chicago Pizza?" I had no idea what she was talking about, but she told me where it was at and we met her there.
When we walked in, we were greeted with a big friendly smile and were told our pizza would be ready in about ten minutes. The man who I believe was more than likely the owner, was there with his young son who was watching cartoons on the television. So right away we could feel the family atmosphere. While we were waiting for our pizza, I talked to the chef for a few minutes and he was so nice and didn't let his smile down for one second. He assured me that we were going to enjoy our first visit and that we were going to want to come back. I could only hope that he wasn't just saying that to make me happy.
As the pizza came out of the oven, the smell was driving us crazy because we were so starving. When he brought the pizza to our table, it was so hot and steamy that my glasses actually fogged up for a second. At first glance I couldn't see the toppings on our pizza, I thought he had forgot them honestly. But when I took a closer look, I realized that the pepperoni was smothered by an extra layer of cheese. This was quite a beautiful sight to see. When I picked up the first slice of pizza, there was was so much cheese stringing together from what was in my hand to the rest of the pizza. It reminded me of the pizza the Ninja Turtles would eat, bruh that shit always looked so fucking good to me.
Although the pizza was hot as hell, I still took a bite right away because I simply couldn't wait. Now we didn't get the deep dish style, so I can't tell you if it is authentic "Chicago" style pizza, but I can tell you that this was some of the best pizza I have had in a while. We ate that pizza for lunch and dinner, and it was just as good both time. Sure you can go to Mountain Mikes, Costco, or wherever else you go to get pizza and its probably going to be pretty good. But if you want to go somewhere that will give you a solid bang for your buck, with fresh quality ingredients, you need to check out my boy right here. The customer service alone was great enough to bring me back, but the delicious pizza was the cherry- no wait- cheese on top.
This pizza was a slam dunk, and since this dunk happened on the same day that I had this pizza I figured I'd just leave this here...
Sometimes, you just need a huge wholesome meal to fill not only your stomach but also your heart. The beauty of the classic diner is that you know you are definitely getting more food than you can possibly eat, but you are also getting recipes that have remained a constant for longer than you have been alive. This next spot is a place my wife and I randomly stopped at on our way to Portland, in the city of Medford, Oregon.
Punky's Diner and Pies
953 Medford Center
Medford, Oregon 97504
Ron Swanson once said that people who go to a restaurant and order anything that isn't breakfast are "Morons," and he is totally right. Punky's serves breakfast all day long, and whenever I get the chance to return, I probably won't even look at the lunch menu. Although I'm sure its delicious as well, you can never go wrong with breakfast.
Walking into the diner, you instantly feel like you are traveling back in time. With posters of classic car shows, signs for 10 cent sodas, and framed pictures of The Fonz in the bathroom, you know you are going to get a genuine experience. The place had customers at every table so we knew it was probably the right choice. The workers make you feel like you are a part of one big family who is coming together to enjoy some good food and good spirits. On the front of the menu, you get their list of unique ingredients that you will likely never find anywhere else:
- Almost 50 years of marriage
- Mustard seed of faith
- 20+ years experience in the food industry
- A ton of planning and work
- A loving nickname by a groom to his bride
- 13 fantastic grandchildren
- A bushel of passion for great tasting pies
and the people who eat them
- A bevy of townsfolk in need of pies made
Directions: Mix the first seven ingredients well and sprinkle the last ingredient gently over the top... and you get Punky's Diner and Pies!
Before you dive into your food mouth first, please take the time to enjoy the presentation of the plate. Honestly, there isn't even much plate to see because it is covered in like 3 pounds of hot and delicious food. I took the word of the waitress and went with a Family Favorite; The Chicken Fried Steak. It came with chicken fried steak, smothered in homemade sausage gravy (Yes bruh, SAUSAGE GRAVY) 2 eggs, fried red potatoes, and toast. As I make my way through my meal, pretty much just making a mess and mixing all of the foods together like a barbarian, I realize that I didn't even realize I was at a diner. I honestly felt like I was at home, enjoying a real home cooked meal.
As I push through to the end, probably also eating some of my wife's food, I realize that I am still supposed to eat pie. Now I am more than full by this point, I can't even drink my water because I feel like I am going to explode. But as soon as the waitress asked if we had room for pie, of course I said yes because when else am I going to be able to eat pie made from these unique ingredients, especially for breakfast. To the kids out there, as an adult you're allowed to eat whatever you want whenever you want. If you want apple pie with a scoop of ice cream on top at 9 am, then you fucking get it.
When the pie arrived, I was somehow no longer full for those 3 minutes that it was at the table. It was the best apple pie I have ever had, hands down. It could be because I was on another level of happiness because I knew I was going to propose to my wife that night, but whatever the case, you need that pie in your life. You need Punky's in your life. If you ever find yourself in Oregon, or you're just passing through on a road trip, you have to stop by and enjoy this throwback experience. We all love the fresh new restaurants that offer things we haven't seen before, but sometimes you just need the classics in your life to remind you to cherish the simple things in life.
As a seasoned barista for a very popular coffee chain, I have come to have a love for the smaller coffee shops. The local spots that are unique and pride themselves on high quality coffee, and a completely different atmosphere than your quick in and out coffee chains. On this Friday, I figured we would keep in Kauai since it's still fresh in my mind and palette.
4-1384 Kuhio Hwy, Kapaa, HI
Hours: 6 am - 7 pm
Similar to NOM Kauai, we actually went here twice. The first time was the morning of our wedding, and the second time was on our way to Waimea Canyon. There is nothing like waking up in the morning when you're tired and walking into a coffee shop in inhaling that caffeine that has become a part of the air. Java Kai is a very cool and modern spot that makes everyone feel welcome. The sweet smell of delicious coffee, the light fog in the air from the steamed milk, and the sound of "Hotel California," all adds to the experience of everything you look for in a local coffee shop. While you wait in line, you can take a look (and smell) at all of the unique coffees they have hand-roasted in small batches that are packaged in a way that pulls your eyes and mind in.
When you think about your typical coffee shop, they usually have some food options. Those food options are typically scones, bagels, and coffee cakes. And Java Kai has all of your traditional snacks to go with your coffee, but they also have some pretty unbelievable food options. They serve breakfast and lunch until 3 pm. My wife had their Acai Berry Bowl that you see up top, which is acai berries blended with bananas & pineapple juice, topped with granola, fresh fruit & coconut cream. Easily the best acai bowl I've ever had, the ingredients used from the island were fresh, sweet, and delicious. Just looking at that picture is making my mouth water because I can remember exactly what it tastes like.
Now that first morning, I decided to try the Tropical Waffles, which is homemade belgium waffles with bananas, papaya, mac nuts, coconut, whipped cream, and syrup. I already told you about the fresh fruit, but the waffles were ridiculous. If you like your waffles sweet, then these are perfect for you. I licked that plate clean, I honestly don't even know if I shared any with my wife because I just remember eating it so fast. I felt like that episode of SpongeBob when Patrick was like "I think I'll eat it now..." and he swallows it in one bite. The second time we went I ordered the Surfer Girl, which us scrambled eggs, spinach, onions, cheddar cheese, pesto aioli, bacon, and tomato all on a toasty bagel. The sandwich was better than I could've imagined, and what really put it over the top was the pesto aioli which I found myself licking off my fingers after every bite.
Did I even mention this place serves coffee, smoothies, and juice, too? Yeah, they do, and it's fire. I mean, their slogan is "drink coffee or die" and honestly they're hella right about that. Now I'm all about trying anything that has macadamia nuts or flavoring, especially when I'm in Hawaii. So that first time we went, I tried the hot Mac Nut Latte with Almond Milk. The espresso was smooth and sweet, the sweetener was everything I wanted it to be, and the presentation was top notch! My foam was perfect and when it got stuck in my mustache, I just left it because I wanted to save it for later. My wife had the Iced Coffee with Vanilla and damn that shit was good. The second time we went, I got the fresh squeezed orange juice. Now I'm picky with my rage juice when I order it from places, like if you say it's "Fresh squeezed" that shit better about it. And about it, it was.
Places like this are so vital to the future of our culture. If we don't continue to support these local spots, all we'll have left are popular food chains that will monopolize everything around us, including our taste buds. Don't let them win! Support local man, this shit is so important. But obviously don't support them if they're trash, in that case you should have a conversation with the shop owner and just be like "Hey bro, this probably not for you. Maybe you should stick to dancing, or something." But spots like Java Kai need to constantly be celebrated, because what they are doing for us is so much bigger than just giving us coffee and food, they're fighting The Man, bro. And to the awesome staff of Java Kai, if y'all hiring let me know. Like fareal fr.
I remember in like, I want to say maybe like 2008, Kanye had his whole crew at G.O.O.D. Music and every Friday for like 20 weeks they would drop a song and they called these "GOOD Fridays." Now I figure if Kanye did it, it's probably a pretty good idea. So I'm starting #FOODFridays for y'all, where every Friday I will talk about a different food, drink, or any type of fuel you can enter into your body spots. This first spot is about this bomb ass daytime food truck turned restaurant in Kauai.
4-1101 Kuhio Hwy., Kapaa, HI 96746
7:30am-2:30pm, Wednesday thru Monday
Hours may vary due to restaurant growth.
I've never had a restaurant be so good that it made me want to move to where it's at just so that I could eat it all the time (Well actually, there is one other place but you guys will read about that one in the future). NOM Kauai made me contemplate my future. Their breakfast and burgers are all made with fresh Kauai ingredients, and the island never tasted so much better. I don't know if it's the ocean air, the Hawaiian sun, or the beautiful sandy beaches, but there definitely is an indefinable quality in these delicious ingredients. It could also be a product of the environment. When you walk in, you instantly feel welcomed by the friendly hosts. As they make the recent transition from a popular food truck to a dine-in restaurant, they make it look like they've been doing this for years.
In my one week vacation to Kauai, I ended up eating at this spot twice. Once was just my wife, my son, and I, and the second time was with like 13 people. The first time we went, we ordered breakfast. I had "The Fluffy," which is scrambled eggs, cheddar, bacon, lettuce, tomato, and lemon Herb aioli served on a brioche bun and comes with purple sweet potato home fries. The presentation of the food was a beautiful sight to see, kind of like waking up and looking out at the endless ocean. The purple sweet potato home fries were cooked to a perfect crisp and the tapatio aioli was a tasty match. That first bite into that breakfast though! The best way to describe it was like this;
*Looks at plate with wide eyes* *Smell of lemon herb aioli makes my mouth instantly start watering* *Steam from the heat of the bacon fogs off the side of the bun and invites me in* *Takes a super slow motion bite* *Looks at wife with unreal happiness* * Says really loud "BRUH! TRY THIS!"*
Thinking back on it now, I wish I hadn't shared that bite because it was so damn good. Honestly, just thinking about it right now is pissing me off that I don't have it in front of me. But the fact that I did want to share it at the time is the exact reason I'm sharing this story with you right now. I want everyone I know to be able to enjoy NOM Kauai at some point in their lives. Now the second time we went I ordered "The Hangover" which is a burger with cheddar, bacon, sunny egg, lettuce, tomato, and Tapatio aioli. Now I could go into this one too like how I did with the breakfast but . . . actually yeah fuck it, let's do this again;
*Burger arrives to the table* *Mouth begins to water like the Wailua Falls* *My pupils begin to dilate as I know I am about to get high on food* *Takes big ass fucking bite, I mean like a quarter of the burger is donezo after one bite* *Egg yolk runs everywhere and my face is a disgusting mess* *I shed a single tear* *This time I don't offer to share* *Thinks about how life is beautiful*
Look guys, this is my first time ever reviewing a restaurant so I know it may not have answered all your questions. But I can tell you this, I ain't lying when I say this is one of the best restaurants I've ever been too. Now it is very possible that I only felt this way because I was on vacation in Kauai, but honestly that's the best part of all of this. You can travel to The Garden Island and know for a fact that you will be able to find one of the most unique and delicious restaurants out there. And this was just my review, I have about 12 other people close to me who can all share their great experience too. If you want to learn more about the owners, check this link. And if you want to make your mouth water, follow them on Instagram @nomkauai
And if you're reading this, WHAT'S UP D-NICE?!
Just a man trying to make the most of his time on this planet.