Where A Kid Can Be A Kid!

Recently we were invited to Chuck-E-Cheese to try their new pizza recipe and since I always have my kids in mind (and I'm the best mom in the world), I gladly accepted. Also, because I'm always up for trying some pizza, how could I say no? 

To be perfectly honest, my girls ask if we can go to Chuck-E-Cheese at least once a month. We don't go nearly that often because I'm terrified of crowds. Okay, not so much terrified as I just hate crowds. But then I realized that the perfect day to visit is when they have a day off from school! The day we went, we went during lunch time and we were one of the few families there. It was great. Actually, I was able to get some work done while the kids ran off to play. 

I had to call them back when it was time to eat and once they saw the thin crust pizza make it's way to our table, they came running. Chuck-E-Cheese has a new thin & crispy pepperoni pizza that beat Pizza Hut’s thin & crispy pepperoni pizza in a nationwide taste test! That's pretty impressive. I also heard that they have an alfredo sauce with sausage pizza that is super tasty. We will have to try that on our next visit. 

This is our pizza coming right out of the oven. Oh man, I love pizza! 

I also really love when places have salad bars. I know I can eat all the pizza all day long but I have to balance it somehow. I love when I can personalize my own salad and have something refreshing on the side of my pizza. I remember LOVING the cakes from Chuck-E-Cheese when I was a kid. I don't know why, they were just so delicious to me and I remember them always being cold. I didn't get to try the cakes on this day, so I don't know if they've changed the recipe since the 90's. 

The kids had a blast at Chuck-E-Cheese and I must admit I was really impressed with the quality of games they had available. I loved coming home with all the photo souvenirs from the rides that take and print photos. At this location in Pasadena, CA they had bumper cars too! 

Oh and when Chuck-E came out to say hi, the girls were able to dance with him and then he threw up tickets for the kids to catch.  If you haven't visited recently, it's time to go back and check it out. The food is getting better and better and it's a good way to spend some time and have the kids work off some energy. You can find more information on their

website 

and follow them on

Twitter

 for more updates. In fact, I heard that during the month of October, if you're child is in costume, you get 50 free tickets! 

Eat LA: Cha Cha Chili-- Mexican-Korean Fusion in East LA

Let me tell you something about a little place in North East Los Angeles called, Cha Cha Chili. If you like Mexican food or Korean Food, or just plain good food, then this is the restaurant for you. The flavor combinations here couldn't get any better and the best part is all the options available. If you love the flavors of Mexican and Korean food, but don't eat meat, that's okay. Cha Cha Chili has a lot of vegetarian options including spicy tofu bowls, tofu salads and tofu burritos.

Earlier this year Guy Fieri from Food Network's Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives visited Cha Cha Chili and featured this restaurant on an episode titled- Intercontinental Flavorfest.

Here are some of my favorites from the menu.

Good ol' Beef Teriyaki Bowl, sometimes I get this bowl topped with veggies, but on this day I was sharing with my girls, so I opted out of that argument. The thinly sliced bulgogi is tender and the sauce is perfectly sweet with a little hint of spice. The sauce soaks into the sticky rice, just perfectly! 

This is a Kalbi Slider. Cha Cha Chili uses the sweet Hawaiian rolls and lightly toasts them before piling on the marinated short rib, lettuce, purple onion and creamy spicy mustard. 

Are you drooling yet? You are looking at a Chimichanga. For those of you who don't know what a Chimichanga is, it is a fried burrito. This burrito is a tortilla stuffed with rice, beans, cheese and kalbi (short rib). After frying and cutting the burrito in fourths, it is then topped with creamy spicy mustard, sriracha, onions and toasted sesame seeds. Yup! 

So the next time you are driving through the area, probably passing Cal State LA on your way to Downtown LA, stop in and try something new. 

El Sereno

4625 Valley Blvd

Los Angeles, California

So Cal Dining- Maro Wood Grill, Laguna Beach

Disclaimer: I was invited to a tasting event at Maro Wood Grill, all opinions and photos are my own. 

One of the most beautiful places in Southern California is Laguna Beach. My husband and I used to hang out in Laguna when we were first dating, this beach city has a lot of special memories for me. Recently, I was invited to a tasting event at Maro Wood Grill in Laguna Beach and it was hands down, the best food I've ever eaten. 

Maro Wood Grill is inspired by Argentina's appreciation of the pure simplicity of the lost art of cooking over open fire. Sourcing local produce, grass fed beef and making everything from scratch, you can taste the inspiration and culture in every bite. 

 Maro Wood Grilled opened its doors in March 2010, in an intimate friendly space, just a few steps from the ocean. (I took this photo after taking a 5 minute walk from the restaurant.) The interior accommodates 8 bar height guests around the exhibition kitchen and the covered outdoor heated patio sits 28 guests. I really enjoyed the dimly lit patio, it is the perfect date night spot. Okay, so let's start talking about the food. 

Mushroom Ceviche & Grilled Sourdough

A delicious way to start your meal at Maro. The Mushroom Ceviche has surprising hints of lime and jalapeno and is such a hearty bite for an appetizer. 

 Okay, I'm going to try and explain the flavors on these appetizers to the best of my ability. I know I won't do it justice, because even looking back at these photos I can still taste the amazing aroma from the wood fire grill. The mushroom and spinach empanadas were delicious, but the smoke and sea salt flavor on the edamame and green beans took these natural flavors to the next level. It's the kind of stuff you dream about. 

The Wood Grilled "Oysters Rockerfeller" with a Burnt Lemon Wedge was my first time having oysters. The oysters with smokey lemon zest and the grilled sourdough went together so good for a crunchy bite. One of my favorites of the entire evening was the Ricotta Noquis and Grilled Tomatoes. Noquis is a traditional Argentinean meal, that was commonly served at the end of the month, when just before payday, potatoes were the only food left in the house. Maro maintains this tradition and in fact on the 29th of every month, $1 is placed under each plate of Noquis. 

The protein, left to right: Flat Iron and Chimichurri, Mesquite Lamb and Baba Ghanouj and Short Rib with Roasted Veggies. 

 Before I start talking about the amazing, mouth watering protein that is served at Maro Wood Grill, I have to tell you that everything is organic and grass-fed. I had no idea how much better organic grass-fed protein would taste. I mean, of course, Maro is responsible for the amazing wood grill flavor, but all of the protein was just so tender and mouth watering, and cooked to perfection. Seriously, the best piece of meat I've ever eaten. 

When I tell you that this dessert at Maro Wood Grill is not only delicious but award winning, I'm not exaggerating. The Banana Bread Pudding is the Golden Foodie Award Winner for “Most Delicious Dessert” in Orange County. Executive Chef (pictured above) Debra Sims proudly shares their Golden Foodie Award with restaurant goers, because, well the customers are the ones who voted right?

When thinking of the perfect night out or date night spot, Maro Wood Grill is perfect. Romantic, quiet atmosphere, delicious food and great location. Oh, and the house sangria was really good too, almost too good, if you know what I mean. 

You can find Maro Wood Grill on:

Yelp

,

Tripadvisor

,

Facebook

,

Twitter

,

Instagram

 and 

Foursquare

1915 South Coast Highway Laguna Beach, CA. 92651 | 949.793.4044 |