Restaurant Review #274: Blockheads, West LA, Sawtelle

Green tea snow cream with condensed milk drizzle, $4

So you know how sometimes shave ice isn't that satisfying because it's just ice with sugary syrup on it, and sometimes ice cream--well, there's never anything wrong with ice cream. But Blockheads has found a way to improve on both with something it calls "snow cream."

Blockheads usually has four snow cream flavors available, which you can pimp out with various drizzles like caramel, chocolate sauce, or sweetened condensed milk and toppings like mochi, sweetened red beans, or almond jelly. And if your tastes veer more American than Asian, there are chocolate chips, cookies and cream, or strawberries. One drizzle is included in the price; toppings are extra. A regular size is about $4, and a large is about $6.

I went to the one on Sawtelle in West LA. They open around lunchtime and close late. This place is popular, so don't count on getting a table or running in and out. The lines can get long--it takes longer to make a shaved snow than to pull the handle on a froyo machine or scoop an ice cream cone.

But it's worth the wait. I'll wait a good 30 minutes for this fluffy, sweet stuff. If you go easy on the toppings, it's the perfect light dessert after you've stuffed yourself silly with ramen or burgers or sushi.

Blockheads also has locations in Alhambra and Pasadena.

11311 Mississippi Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90025
(310) 445-8725
Blockheads website
Blockheads menu


Restaurant Review #273: Old School Sandwiches & Salads, Simi Valley

The RB, $7.95

The RB is a warm, medium-rare roast beef sandwich with fresh baby spinach, roasted red bell peppers, caramelized onions, garlic aioli, havarti cheese, and balsamic dressing on a fresh artisan sub roll.

The bread is on the softer side, like you'd expect for a submarine sandwich. That makes the sandwich easier to eat, but also means it doesn't keep well (they don't use preservatives, either). If you're the type to save half your sandwich for later (like me), you might want to order the two-fer-one instead. For $7.95 (the same price as most sandwiches), you'll get half a cold sandwich and half a salad or a cup of soup.

There are 14 sandwiches to choose from, so anyone should be able to find something to enjoy here. Other hot sandwich options include a roast beef dip and pulled pork. There's nothing terribly unusual or creative on the menu, just classics like turkey, pastrami, and ham and swiss. They also have daily specials and homemade chili.

Vegetarian sandwich options include egg salad, grilled three cheese, and the Wrap Me Up Healthy, a wrap served in a whole-wheat tortilla. It has the same ingredients as the RB minus the roast beef plus avocado and sauteed mushrooms.

Old School's sandwiches definitely taste fresh and healthy, like something your mom would make if only she had more time. They're less salty than your typical chain sandwich. The shop doesn't have the fastest service, but that's because they make your food to order. It's family owned and operated, and the employees are genuinely friendly. They'll ask you how your day is going and seem to actually care about your response.

The interior is very clean, bright and sunny, with teal-turquoise walls and gray-white wood floors. there are plenty of tables inside and a few on the patio, but it can be hard to find a seat on a Saturday afternoon. It's located in a strip mall, with plenty of parking.

The next time you think you want Subway, go to Old School instead.

Old School Sandwiches and Salads
1464 Madera Rd.
Simi Valley, CA 93065
Monday – Saturday 10:00 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Sunday 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Old School Sandwiches and Salads website 
Old School Sandwiches and Salads menu


Restaurant Review #272, Berry Bowls, Highland Park

"What's an acai bowl?" my visiting New Yorker friend asked as we strolled down York Blvd. to see what Highland Park was about.

"Some stupid fake health food, I don't know, I've never had one," I said.

On this glowing recommendation, my friend and her boyfriend decided to enter Berry Bowl and waste their money on some ridiculous concoction called a dragon bowl.

Making this thing seemed to involve a sustained fight with a Vitamix, a blender so powerful I believe it could liquify my tennis shoe.

Lots of noise later, it was ready.

Then, the nicest blender girl ever sweetly asked if I wanted some, because she had made extra.


So she made me this mini dragon bowl, topped with granola, coconut, and berries.

It. was. delicious.

Icy. Thick. Smooth. Fruity. Sweet. Crunchy.

And they have the same spoons as Yogurtland. They have just the right depth that you can easily eat out of them without making weird sucking or slurping noises, and they're made from perfectly smooth plastic that doesn't irritate your tongue. A crappy plastic spoon can really ruin your frozen treat experience.

So back to acai bowls. I still don't buy into the superfood acai hype. And I'm not sure how healthy I'd call something with so much sugar. But that doesn't mean they're not delicious.

I'm not afraid to eat my words. Or an acai bowl. Like, everyday.

Berry Bowl
5056 York Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90042
(323) 474-6144
Berry Bowl website (scroll down for menu)


Restaurant Review #271: El Huarache Azteca, Highland Park

El super huarache with potatoes and peppers and "corn mushroom," $7.95

Duck into this casual, inexpensive Highland Park joint for an elongated pancake of fried masa studded with pinto beans and topped with your choice of two meats or veggies, a light crumbling of cotija, a drizzle of crema, thinly sliced red onions, and pools of red and green salsa.

I ordered mine with papas con rajas and the gourmet corn fungus known as huitlacoche. There are several other veggie options, including squash blossoms. The meat choices include the usual taco meats and chicken tinga. If the huarache doesn't appeal to you, you'll find your favorite Mexican dish somewhere on the extensive menu. It's cash only, and there's an ATM inside the restaurant, along with a somewhat unnerving live feed of the restaurant's security cam footage.

And yes, the super huarache was delicious. The first bite took me right back to my host mom's kitchen from a summer study abroad trip to Mexico many years ago.

El Huarache Azteca 
5225 York Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90042
(323) 478-9572
El Huarache Azteca website
El Huarache Azteca menu