The Lab Anti-Mall

Alright you hipsters and trend seekers…

There has been a lot of buzz about The Lab Antimall for quite some time and finally I made it there myself. Just a short five minute car ride away from South Coast Plaza in the city of Costa Mesa, The Lab is a unique shopping destination worth stopping by. **Disclaimer, these photos are not mine–due to marketing policies in place I was not allowed to take my own photos.


 

Located at 2930 Bristol St., Costa Mesa, California; just shy of 5-minutes driving distance from South Coast Plaza.

If there was such a thing a dessert foodie, I would be one. That being said let’s face it, my sole purpose for visiting was to try a cute little macaron shop called Honey & Butter. The store is in a vintage airstream decorated with popular Japanese characters like Totoro…my kind of place!

macarons10.jpg (700×470)

The charming airstream in which Honey & Butter serves their delectable sweets.

Kawaii character macarons are featured on a daily basis. Follow @honeyandbutter on Instagram for updates!

Not only are these macarons simply adorable but they are delicious too! Make sure to get in line early before their opening time to try and “catch ’em all.” Their non-character macarons are also excellent with flavors such as Matcha, Pineapple, and Enchanted Berries.

After about an hour wait time with my macarons in lieu, I headed out of the airstream and into some of the other nearby shops. The Lab is a smaller shopping experience with a hip, eclectic feel and local art lining the outdoor center. This is also reflected in the types of stores which can be found there such as Heirlooms & Hardware and Creme Tangerine.

Heirlooms & Hardware sells furniture, hand crafted jewelry, typewriters, and vintage cameras…for great prices!

There is something about typewriters and cameras that intrigue the writer in me. Walking into Heirlooms & Hardware was like being transported into an antique paradise. I was strolling around the store until I happened upon a beautiful Remington typewriter! Before I knew it, I had purchased it for a low $125 and took it to get repaired a nearby shop the store works closely with. For the condition of the typewriter this was very reasonably priced in comparison to the standard $300+ a more battered version would cost. Thank you Heirlooms & Hardware!

Vinyl has made it’s comeback!

My obsession with vinyl is real, guys. The answer to my addiction is Creme Tangerine who sells only the best for LOW prices! One of the items I bought was an autographed 45″ LP of “I Love Rock N Roll” by Joan Jett and The Blackhearts…for only $1.99! The employees are incredibly well versed in all genres and are extremely helpful; definitely my new favorite place to stock up on the classics.


It can be very difficult to find time to travel when I am needed at the hotel during our peak season, so my goal for the summer has been to visit a new place every week. During my training to become a Certified Tourism Ambassador (CTA) for the Anaheim Orange County Visitor and Convention Bureau (AOCVCB), I heard many wonderful things about The Lab Antimall.

Orange County is as diverse a community as it’s beautiful beaches and towering sky scrapers. To the habitual spender or window shopper–if you are looking for a shopping experience like no other, I strongly urge you to add The Lab Antimall to your list. I know I’ll be back very soon!


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On Location: San Marino, California

by Tamara Mendoza – Owner and Creator of Suitable Travel Today

     updated 12:43 AM PST, Mon November 11, 2014

 

Being a college student, it’s always busy at about this time of the year with midterm exams and it was no different for me. With that I wanted to apologize for the lack of posts recently, it’s been a very busy month. If you watched my introduction video on the home page you know that I mentioned a very exciting new development…my first column in an internationally published magazine is being released within the following months! I’m ecstatic about this opportunity which will be a stepping stone in my career as a travel writer. As I discussed in the video the exposure will direct others to the Suitable Travel Today website as well as the social media I have available. It’s a incredible time in my career and I’m anxious for all the remarkable things to come and even more so to share it with everyone.

Aside from the current events I mentioned, I have also put myself on what my mom calls a “spending freeze”. This is a term we use for saving our money instead of spending it on extra activities, fast food, or unnecessary things we want in the spur of the moment. I usually do this right before a trip and its been a system that has helped me tremendously. This weekend, however, was an exception since I only spent about $50…

About a week ago, I ventured to San Marino in Los Angeles County for breakfast and boutique shopping with my mom and sister and concluded our half day adventure with an exploration of the tree lined neighborhood streets. Although we’ve spent more time in the Pasadena area we wanted to explore a more quaint San Marino, away from the hustle and bustle of L.A.

Patrons sitting on the patio of French bistro, Julienne, in beautiful San Marino.

Patrons sitting on the patio of French bistro, Julienne Fine Foods and Celebrations, in beautiful San Marino.

I made my first stop at the popular French bistro, Julienne Fine Food and Celebrations, well known for their delicious breakfast menu. Julienne has an impressive 4.5/5 rating on TripAdvisor and is also rated the #1 restaurant in San Marino on the website. A Yelp reviewer noted that due to the popularity and smaller size of the restaurant visitors dining at Julienne experience anywhere from a 20-60 minute wait on average for breakfast. Their breakfast menu is served from 7 a.m. to 10:45 a.m., so unless you don’t mind waiting outside the patio area taking in the wafting smells of the food being brought out to the seated customers I strongly urge you to arrive as early as possible.

When I arrived with my mom and sister around 8:30 a.m. we ended up having to find street parking which was (luckily) just a few minute walk away. We were immediately seated on their outdoor patio with functioning heaters and leisurely enjoyed several mouthwatering dishes which we all shared, served by Julienne’s friendly and attending staff. Paired along with lattes and mimosas here are two of the dishes we enjoyed:

Baked Crème Brulee French Toast with Fresh Strawberry Sauce and Crème Anglaise •  15

Baked Crème Brulee French Toast with Fresh Strawberry Sauce and Crème Anglaise •
15

Bittersweet Chocolate Chip Waffles, Honey Vanilla Crème Fraîche, Shaved Chocolate, Strawberries •  12.5

Bittersweet Chocolate Chip Waffles, Honey Vanilla Crème Fraîche, Shaved Chocolate, Strawberries •
12.5

During the entirety of the meal I had to remind myself to savor each and every bite. I’m constantly impressed by the restaurants I’ve been to in the Los Angeles area and Julienne is now another of my favorites. Next time you are in the area please take the time to stop in at Julienne Fine Foods and Celebrations and take your taste buds on a trip to France.

Stuffed and happy, we also took some time to explore their adjoining gourmet market and bakery where you can purchase wines, delectable desserts, lunch specials, and even gifts for your friends and family.

My mom browsing through the gourmet market/bakery and gift shop.

My mom browsing through the gourmet market and gift shop.

The gourmet market also serves bakery items like these delicious lemon custards.

The gourmet market also serves bakery items like these delicious lemon custards.

Julienne Fine Foods and Celebrations is located at 2651 Mission Street, San Marino, California, 91108. The restaurant only takes reservations for parties of  8-10 and be contacted at 626.441.2290. www.juliennetogo.com

Waddling to our car it was time to head on to our next stop…boutique shopping! There are a few shops along Mission Street next door to Julienne but if you are looking for a variety of shops head to Lake Avenue where the well kept streets are lined with not only old fashioned boutiques but large retail stores too. We only stopped in a few of the boutiques since our time was limited but I’m in love with San Marino and its neighboring city, Pasadena!

During the remainder of our adventure my mom and I decided to explore the neighborhoods and then it occurred to me…San Marino is the setting of one of my favorite romantic comedies of all time, Father of the Bride (1991) starring Steve Martin, Diane Keaton, and Martin Short.

 

 

I have always been a traveler at heart but one thing that has influenced me a great deal has been films created by the magic of Hollywood. I’ve recently made it a hobby of mine to research filming locations used in some of my favorite movies. Father of Bride was filmed in San Marino and also in parts of Pasadena, Hollywood, Burbank, and Los Angeles.

The residence of fictional character, George Banks (Steve Martin) was very easy to find and was only a short drive from where we were on Lake Avenue. Immersing us even further into the world of the Banks family I began playing the soundtrack to the movie as we drove down the timeless streets. A few minutes later we turned onto South El Molino Avenue and suddenly…there it was…

Filming Location: Father of the Bride (1998)

Filming Location: Father of the Bride (1991)

If you have not seen this movie already then I highly recommend it! If you’re a big fan of this movie like I am then adding a stop at this home on your Hollywood Home Tour is well worth the drive. Even with the Halloween decorations up the stunning $1.35 million home brings its visitors right into the heart of the film. Any minute I expected to see the characters walking on and off the drive.

The Father of the Bride House is located at 843 South El Molino Avenue, Pasadena, CA 91106.

As I mentioned earlier I was only out and about for half a day so following our stop at the Father of the Bride house it was about 2:30 p.m. when we started to head back home. After having been at home a lot recently, plowing through my midterm study material, the day out was much needed. In fact, I’m convinced I enjoyed the day out more because I’ve spent so much time at home. With that being said, even if you’re busy and only have time to stay close to home you can still plan out an eventful itinerary. Since my mom is a teacher and doesn’t have as much flexibility as I do to travel most of our adventures are close to home! It amazes me when locals here in Southern California look at me in such wonder when I retell some of my most recent adventures. It’s incredible how many things you can find near by! It has nothing to do with being hipster–it’s about being well acquainted with where you live.

Happy and safe travels!

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Dumpling Crazed Fans Flood Din Tai Fung in Costa Mesa

     by Tamara Mendoza – Owner and Creator of Suitable Travel Today

     updated 5:33 PM PST, Sun September 21, 2014

 

During my early childhood I met someone who has influenced much of my life, one of my closest friends and web developer for Suitable Travel Today, Karyn Vo. As a young Hispanic girl, my eyes were opened to the rich cultures of Asia as Karyn introduced me to many different foods and products all of which I still love to this day. Din Tai Fung, the popular Chinese dumpling house began construction well over a year ago when I got word that it would be opening at South Coast Plaza, a shopping destination in Costa Mesa. Imagine my excitement as I waited on the edge of my seat for the restaurant to open.

Finally the day came and on my birthday I ecstatically waited in line.

For those of you not familiar with the term dim sum, BuzzFeed describes it as “(點心 in written Chinese, and pronounced dian xin in Mandarin) is a meal—usually taken on a weekend morning—that encompasses a vast roster of small dishes selected from carts.” (Read more in their Essential Guide to Dim Sum.)

Din Tai Fung: Steamed Juicy Pork Dumplings

Once inside the restaurant, I noticed that the carts were not being utilized but instead a long sheet of paper listing the à la carte menu items. Visitors mark each item with a tally to indicate their selected portion and quantity. This change makes ordering significantly simpler to order and if you are unsure what the food you are ordering looks like, there is a full menu for you to browse complete with photos. If you are still confused the servers are always available to answer questions and make recommendations in perfect English.

Din Tai Fung has managed to perfect the art of the dumpling…as each steamer basket is laid out in front of you, one cannot help but gorge themselves on everything, including the non-dumpling menu items. There are an assortment to choose from so allow me to provide you a copy of the menu to peruse. Some of my favorites were the standard Juicy Pork Dumplings, Chicken Fried Noodles, Sauteed String Beans with Garlic, the Pork Bun (pulled pork with BBQ), and the Pork Fried Rice. Enjoy a pot of tea or fresh brewed beer with your meal as well to get the full experience!

Now that we’ve talked about how scrumptious Din Tai Fung’s food really is, I wanted to devote some time to the service because they deserve it. Most will agree that no matter how good the food, the service is the determining factor on whether or not a restaurant makes the cut in the eyes of the consumer. Din Tai Fung does not disappoint in that category, they excel in it. Some visitors may argue about the long wait to get into the restaurant but I infer that it may be because those of us here in Southern California are not accustomed as those in Northern California, Chicago and New York are with waiting more than an hour to be seated. Din Tai Fung, unfortunately, does not take reservations but I urge you to be patient it is well worth the wait. To prevent yourself from running rampant from a severe case of dumpling fever, I recommend arriving earlier than you intend on eating, put in your name, and enjoy a nice stroll around South Coast Plaza. As a convenience, Din Tai Fung will take down your cell phone number and text you as soon as your table is ready.

As you walk through the main lobby of the restaurant there is a bar worth stopping at and a window–which reminded me of a fishbowl–where you can watch as Din Tai Fung’s world famous dumplings are being prepared. Continuing on to the main dining area you are seated among the Chinese style decor while you are waited on hand and foot by the incredibly friendly staff. What really struck me was how present the managers were, in fact one of them was consistently returning to our table to fill up our glasses of water and recommending menu items himself! That my friends is excellent service.

Patrons feast on Din Tai Fung’s world famous dumplings.

Din Tai Fung staff preparing fresh dumplings through a glass window available to peek through in the main entrance.

At the end of our meal my family felt as stuffed as those dumplings and as we waddled back to our car we enthusiastically chattered about when our next visit to Din Tai Fung will be…believe me it will be sooner rather than later.

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The Weekend of Firsts: Pacific Surfliner and Hydrobikes

A childhood friend of mine, Rachel Fischer, visited me in Orange County and was looking to spend ample time gazing out at the Pacific Ocean. Due to the impending last few days of finals for summer semester I did not get to plan out a full itinerary as I had originally wanted to but there were two days I wanted to highly focus upon in this post…

Day 1 – “America’s Finest City,” San Diego

Rachel and I, took Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner into the Santa Fe Depot (SAN) which is the closest in proximity to the USS Midway Museum and other major attractions. Let me first take a moment to go over Amtrak’s easy to navigate online booking system…Amtrak’s website looks very similar to that of a major airline’s. I have already included some direct links to portions of their site that include maps of the Pacific Surfliner’s route and also the station my train pulled into. Another piece of information I wanted to point out is that there are discounts even for students!

I had only been on a train one other time going into Los Angeles, which is not the most scenic of routes, so I was determined to change my perception of our train system. I chose the Pacific Surfliner route to San Diego because I wanted to go somewhere Rachel and I could enjoy some views of the ocean–this was the right decision! Enjoying nice comfortable seats by the window, we watched the scenery roll by transitioning from agricultural greenery to tumbling waves and surfers. Wanting a full day in “America’s Finest City” we took the first train of the day at 6:52AM out of Anaheim (ANA) and arrived at the Santa Fe Depot (SAN) at exactly 9AM.

Amtrak's Pacific Surfliner making its last stop at the Santa Fe (SAN) Depot. - Tamara Mendoza/Suitable Travel Today

Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner making its last stop at the Santa Fe (SAN) Depot. – Tamara Mendoza/Suitable Travel Today

Upon arrival, I was immediately impressed with how well taken care of the Santa Fe Depot (SAN) station was and it made me excited for the changes currently being made to the Anaheim (ANA) station. Anaheim’s is located right next door to Angel’s Stadium, Disneyland Resort, Honda Center and The Grove, which will make it a central transportation hub. An article on the construction can be found here.

Downtown San Diego is one of the easiest areas for a tourist to get around and with the help of Uber is extremely cheap (several of my own trips were approximately between $5-10). Our first stop was less than five minutes away in Little Italy! It has been some sort of a tradition of ours to track down unique coffee shops for breakfast each morning of our vacations and the one I chose this particular morning was called Caffe Italia, located right in front of the Little Italy main entrance and sign. Caffe Italia was bustling with activity as regulars stumbled in for their routine brew of fresh ground coffee. I’m not too fond of coffee myself but quite enjoyed their Orange Baba: a combination of Strawberry banana gelato blended with orange juice and topped with whipped cream. There were also an assortment of delicious pastries, bagels and coffee cakes to choose from. If you’re like me the environment is a large factor in my enjoyment of wherever I’m dining and Caffe Italia’s indoor/outdoor patio seating with friendly staff and romantic serenading background music took their small little coffee shop to the next level. And for the animal lover, pets are welcomed and dog treats are complimentary!

Taking another UberX car, our driver Darren laughed with us and shared stories of his own experiences as a college student in Southern California (turns out he had even temporarily lived in Huntington Beach, Surf City U.S.A.). Darren dropped us off right at the park next to the USS Midway and since we had time to spare before we enjoyed a stroll before heading over to check-in with Hornblower Cruises for a two hour tour of the bay; check-in can be found right in front of the battleship. Once on the top deck of the boat passengers can purchase drinks and snacks while the captain provides facts about everything there is to see in the bay. Incredibly scenic views, the harbor cruise is a photographer’s paradise!

"America's Finest City," San Diego Bayfront - Tamara Mendoza/Suitable Travel Today

“America’s Finest City,” San Diego Bayfront – Tamara Mendoza/Suitable Travel Today

USS Midway - Tamara Mendoza/Suitable Travel Today

USS Midway – Tamara Mendoza/Suitable Travel Today

"Unconditional Surrender" invoking both Romance and Patriotism - Tamara Mendoza/Suitable Travel Today

“Unconditional Surrender” invoking both Romance and Patriotism – Tamara Mendoza/Suitable Travel Today

After our tour of the bay, waiting at the dock was a pedicab–I’ve never ridden in one before but since there were so many people looking as if they were enjoying themselves I just had to try one myself. Our driver’s name was Gary who had a simple bike, others blast memorable 90’s songs, I wish could remember the name of the pedicab company Gary works for but should anyone know he deserves recognition. Initially what I thought would be a short ride from here to the Seaport Village turned into another mini tour! Gary took us around the park we casually walked through and pointed out the World War II memorial statues and their importance. As we continued around he pointed out an aircraft carrier across from the USS Midway with a #70 painted on it–this particular vessel was the same that took down Osama Bin Laden. Watching her sit across the way a thought occurred to me: this is either the most dangerous or safest place to be right now. I settled with the latter, what better environment than being surrounded by our troops. Continuing on our ride, we headed towards the Maritime Museum where Rachel and I learned about each of the ships docked there. Among all of them I was extremely drawn to the HMS Surprise which was used in the filming of Pirates of the Carribean and in my opinion the most beautiful ship I had ever seen. Now it was a very hot day so Gary thought it would be fun to take us to the Waterfront Park located directly across the street from the Maritime Museum. We strolled with our feet in the cool water while we watched families playing around us and I was impressed at the level of customer service we were receiving on this simple pedicab ride. Relaxed and cooled off, we got back on the bike and headed toward our final stop, Seaport Village. After we said our goodbyes and gave Gary a generous tip, Rachel and I proceeded to explore some of the shops at the Seaport Village and even rode the carousel (which mind you goes extremely fast) before heading to the next stop on our itinerary.

Dine, educate and relax at Balboa Park - Tamara Mendoza/Suitable Travel Today

Dine, educate and relax at Balboa Park – Tamara Mendoza/Suitable Travel Today

By this time it was about 3:45pm so it was off to Balboa Park to explore! I absolutely love Balboa Park not only for its gorgeous Spanish influenced architectural designs but also because of all that is offered there! Here is a list.

After wandering around enjoying the scenery for a while Rachel and I start to get hungry so we opted for a restaurant in Balboa Park I had been to before called The Prado. Now this is typically not a slip I ever make but I neglected to check the menu to see if there was a difference between the lunch and dinner menus. But when you are as hungry as I was this mistake can cause irritability and frustration which resulted in what Rachel referred to as being “h-angry” (a play on the words hungry and angry). Let me finish by saying that The Prado is not to be shamed in terms of the customer service, their servers are very attentive and delightful which is one of the reasons why I love this restaurant. They also have a gorgeous outdoor patio which is my favorite place to dine while on property, make sure you ask for it! When the sunlight catches the leaves it illuminates the rest of the patio. In my personal opinion, their lunch menu is much more appealing and has variety for everyone in your party. Take a look for yourself!

Surfers at Sunset - Tamara Mendoza/Suitable Travel Time

Surfers at Sunset – Tamara Mendoza/Suitable Travel Time

By the time we left the restaurant it was time to head back for our 6:45PM train departure on the Pacific Surfliner heading back to Anaheim. This was not enough time in order secure first choice seating since there was a huge line to take the last train of the day, I would recommend getting there 30-minutes before departure. We were some of the last passengers to board but we still easily found seating near the rear of the train. Now as I mentioned before the route in the morning to San Diego was absolutely gorgeous…watching the sun set at the end of the evening was even better! I got a lot of great shots on my camera most of them didn’t even require a filter! The passengers on this train were a lot more rambunctious than the morning ride but soon fell asleep shortly after. Exactly at 9PM we arrived at the Anaheim station where an Angels game was going on! I love Southern California, there is always something exciting going on.

At the end of the day we were exhausted from our grand tour, I do not believe we could have had a better day in “America’s Finest City.”

Day 2 – Hydrobiking in the Alamitos Bay, Long Beach

Completely beat from the day before we slept in and then lazily tried to figure out what our plans for today would be. I have used Groupon on many occasions but sometimes it seems to be a hit or miss on what they offer. One that I had been wanting try out for the longest amount of time was a hydrobike. I had seen many of these in the Alamitos Bay Marina of Long Beach while strolling through some of the shops next to the landing and in my mind they appeared to be fun and fairly easy.

On a hydrobike the rider peddles on top of the water on a contraption like this…

*Note: Most items on Groupon you purchase require users to reserve at least 24-hours in advance…do not use it for a spontaneous trip.

Long Beach Hydrobikes highly recommends making a reservation and I was able to do so via text! The attendant responded quickly and we were on our merry way. When we arrived there parking was easy and best of all, free. We got out and walked down to the landing with time to spare, on a busy day I recommend utilizing the I-405 North freeway over Pacific Coast Highway, two words: carpool lane.

The attendants at the landing were pleasant, to some they could come across as scruffy irritable men but deep down underneath their tough exterior they were tremendously helpful. After signing a waiver form, one of the attendants shows you a map of the bay where you will be biking on a pre-routed one hour ride to Treasure Island and back. I was fine with the idea of getting on one of these puppies until it was my turn…instant panic struck as I experienced a “Peter” lack of faith that I would stay afloat. Frozen on top of my hydrobike the attendant tried to coax me to start peddling, “Sweetheart, you have to peddle. You can do it.”

As I finally started peddling away from the landing I suddenly felt as if I was tipping to one side and that at any moment would topple over. Were it not for the approaching yachts I would have never budged from where I sat petrified. One peddle at a time I started to become more comfortable peddling faster and faster until it became easy…like riding a bike.

It was a fun and a great workout! I’m very proud of what we both accomplished.

Conclusion –

Rachel conquered different activities on other days when I was working at the hotel but all in all she had a fantastic time. She has in a way become a great travel buddy for me and I can’t wait for our next adventure–next time hopefully it will be outside the realm of SoCal.

I have some other blog posts coming out within the next few days so keep up, you’re in for a nice treat!

Make sure you’re following me on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram for instant updates on upcoming adventures.

Taste of the OC: Anaheim’s Packing District and Downtown Disney

It’s time to talk food!

Orange County has always had great food but over the last year I have noticed most cities heavily marketing essentially watering holes for travelers and locals alike. Tourists coming to the area are becoming more adventurous, looking for those popular local hot spots. One of my favorite cities to recommend is Anaheim which is central beacon for most and is filled with something for everyone. As soon as I mention this most guests look at me and immediately begin to question, “Isn’t that where Disneyland is? I thought that was just for kids.” Well I’m here to say that there is more to Anaheim than the looming Disneyland Resort.

Let me first start with the newly built Anaheim Packing House located in the Packing District on the edge of downtown Anaheim:

Built in 1919, the once Sunkist orange packing house is one of the few surviving from the agricultural era for which Orange County received its name. The newly renovated building houses a food hall containing casual food options for everyone and even a “Speakeasy” (1920’s influenced hidden bar) behind a bookcase. Looking around you will notice the inside decor is reminiscent of an outdoor patio; look for the plants and swings (yes swings) surrounding the center of the lower level. Take your time looking around because there are lots of surprises along the way! I found the Packing House to be great for friends and families, casual date outings and even the business traveler.

The Packing District in its glory days as a Sunkist Orange Packing House during the Agricultural Era. /OC History Roundup

The Packing District in its glory days as a Sunkist Orange Packing House during the Agricultural Era. /OC History Roundup

When I was there last week with my mom we proceeded to splurge on a tasting frenzy; needless to say I was in a major food coma afterwards so my warning is to be careful, all of the food is beyond delicious. First stop was Black Sheep Grill Cheese Bar for an Original Grilled Cheese…it is what it says an original grilled cheese and my taste buds were happy but it seemed to lack the extra flavor to give it personality. Let me add that there are other unique options on Black Sheep’s menu which are probably more worth trying.

Next up was Orange Tei for a traditional Japanese style ramen bowl–and no you are not getting top ramen, believe me it’s a lot tastier. Orange Tei creates the perfect combination of noodle and broth in a huge bowl fit for a king. If you’re still hungry sides of shrimp are available, although I’m not much of a seafood eater myself my mom thoroughly enjoyed the tempura. This location is always busy which is expected from the popular food stand. Already being my second time visiting Orange Tei, I will continue to come back for that Pork Bowl. Tip: Go downstairs for some sake after your meal!

For dessert we went to Popbar which currently holds the record for the longest line. When you get up to the counter pick a gelato or sorbet popsicle from an assortment of flavors, have them dip it in a unlimited number of chocolate and finally add nuts and/or sprinkles. After careful consideration I opted for a peach sorbet dipped in milk chocolate, drizzled with white chocolate and doused with chocolate sprinkles. Incredibly fattening but worth it I assure you…after all what’s a cheat day for?

After spending all afternoon at the Packing House, I successfully converted my mother and will be back again soon! Preferably on a weekday early afternoon for lunch when crowds are smaller and parking is easier.

Get your food fix at the Anaheim Packing House today!

Get your food fix at the Anaheim Packing House today! – Tamara Mendoza/Suitable Travel Today

As promised, I am covering two food hot spots in Anaheim. Now let’s move onto an outdoor shopping and food center much closer to Disneyland…Downtown Disney:

Being a local myself, I have seen these same restaurants year after year but one in particular that I never got around visiting until last Monday is Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen. Coincidentally this restaurant happened to be hosting the concierge association’s general meeting for this month so I was able to sample a few popular items…absolute bliss…

Cocktail Hurricane

Cruzan rum and Fresh Fruit juice served in a hurricane glass

Salad – French Quarter Salad

Mixed greens with a Steen’s cider vinaigrette, candied pecans and cherry tomatoes

Entree – Andouille & Pretzel Crusted Pork Loin

Mashed potatoes, bacon braised turnip greens, creole mustard buerre blanc

Desserts – Beignets

A New Orleans classic! French donuts topped with powdered sugar

*By Executive Chef Darrin Finkel

New Orleans Cuisine and Charm at Ralph Brennan's Jazz Kitchen in Downtown Disney - Tamara Mendoza/Suitable Travel Today

New Orleans Cuisine and Charm at Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen in Downtown Disney. – Tamara Mendoza/Suitable Travel Today

With Cast Members you can always expect excellent service and atmosphere; they are what makes this particular experience different than the rest in Downtown Disney. The architecture brings its guests to New Orleans perfect for a casual dinner or a romantic proposal (ask for balcony seating–the fireworks add an extra touch). Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen also offers live entertainment every night from 6pm-10pm. Tip: If you’re driving over their just for the evening, Downtown Disney has free parking the first 3 hours and free for the first 5 hours with validation from participating restaurants including the Jazz Kitchen.

I will be honest, Downtown Disney tends to be my default as a biased former cast member for a late night stroll and good time but I promise there is a reason for it! Especially for our guests who don’t have the budget or means to purchase admission to the parks it still offers that Disney flare. If you walk around by the Disneyland hotel or are looking for a character dining experience, visit Goofy’s Kitchen–reservations at least 24-hours in advance are highly recommended.

Heading back towards where the shops and other restaurants are visit ESPN Zone to catch a game, have a beer, or play some games in their big kid sized arcade. Another popular stop is the Rainforest Café which provides a jungle experience complete with animated animals and rainforest sounds, a great stop for the kids. One of my favorite activities to do is to stop by Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel to rest by their fireplace and maybe visit Napa Rose for a glass of wine. Other highlights in the area include live entertainment, shopping, concerts at the House of Blues, Build-a-Bear Workshop for the kids, the largest Disney store in the area, and an AMC Movie Theater.

Downtown Disney/Disneyland Resort

Shopping and dining at the Happiest Place on Earth at Downtown Disney./Disneyland Resort

As I mentioned there is quite a bit to choose from and that’s just TWO of the shopping districts in Anaheim! Well I’m going to wrap this up since I know as a hungry traveler or local you’re probably getting a little hungry from talking about all this food. Here’s to wishing you a good time–happy and safe travels!

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