GoldenStateBurgerSPFriesFabulous Burgers and more great food

On Fairfax, by Melrose in Los Angeles

by Deborah Shadovitz If you love a great burger you’ll love discovering The Golden State. They serve perhaps one of the best burgers in California, the Golden State. There’s more than just a top quality burger on their menu, though. And you’ll notice that everything they serve is real food, sourced from healthful, sustainable, caring companies. GoldenState-logo  [column-group][column]Over a year ago, a friend and I took a good walk over to The Golden State: a small, friendly, unassuming restaurant that was highly recommended by her restaurant-savvy 2mn] GoldenStateOrderAreaBefore you head over to The Golden State and step up to the counter, you can check out their menu online or download the pdf. Or, you can pick up one of the laminated menus at the counter. Your order-taker is happy to answer questions for you or perhaps customize your order.

The menu isn’t fancy looking, but the dishes it suggests are certainly appealing. They all look great — but frankly, I can’t tell you about them from first-hand experience because I go there for the burger. [clearboth]

One of the best burgers ever

I honestly have to say Golden State’s hamburgers are one of the best burgers I have ever had. This luscious burger starts with beef from none other than Harris Ranch Beef, butchered by The Huntington Meats of the original Farmer’s Market. Golden State’s co-owner, Jason, explains that the meat is the beginning but the butchering is an important part of creating a great meat. As The Huntington Meat company is nearby, it’s easy for Jason to have fresh meat delivered every day. They actually have a second, afternoon delivery on busy days, which is at least 3 days a week. It’s topped with a flavorful but not overpowering Fiscalini Farmsteads white cheddar that’s actually cooked onto the burger, not just plopped on top as the burger is placed on the bun. Next, it’s adorned with glazed applewood smoked bacon. Open the bun and have a look. It’s beautiful bacon, just perfect looking. Completing it is arugula, their own aioli, and ketchup. It’s all served on a thick egg bun that somewhat reminds me of a great Challah. $10 gets you this perfect burger and one high-quality, tasty side — fresh French Fries, Golden State Potato Salad, or Jalapeno Cabbage Slaw. An extra dollar gets you the incredibly popular Sweet Potato Wedges that you see at the top of the page or Persian Cucumber Salad. As the two photos illustrate, my choice has always been fries. GoldenStateBurgerFries

Hot dogs, sandwiches, salads and other burgers

The rest of the regular menu offers turkey or veggie burgers, chicken; a BLTA sandwich (that’s their fantastic Glazed Applewood Smoked Bacon with lettuce, tomato — plus avacado and aioli); tuna sandwich or melt; a variety of hot dogs from Let’s be Frank (; and salads. How she resisted the burger on our last visit, I don’t know, but the friend I dined with had one of the three salads — theGolden State Salad. She loved it. “It’s not your traditional lettuce salad. The pairing of the arugula with sweet potatoes, roasted red peppers, etc. provided a great combination of flavors.” GoldenStateSalad


Details and location

The Golden State 426 North Fairfax Ave Los Angeles CA 90036 The Golden State is located on the east side of Fairfax, north of Beverly, south of Melrose — specifically between Oakwood and Rosewood. (Pretty much across from Cantor’s.) It’s also very close to the Banana Bungalow Hostel, making it very easy for those lucky backpackers to come enjoy a great burger or beer.


Tuesday – Sunday: Noon-10pm Closed on Monday [/column][column]


At dinnertime — 5pm — the menu expands adding the daily special to the menu. As I’ve only been a daytime customer, I haven’t had the opportunity to try these yet, but I long to each time I read this menu. Here’s the Daily Specials menu I shot on Friday, July 1, 2011. GoldenStateBlackboard-dinnerside [clearboth]

Great locally brewed beer and local wine as well

GoldenStateBurgerBeerTaps Beer and Burger pairings, anyone? If you’re a beer drinker, I expect you’ll love having a beer with your burger or entree — or coming in just for the beer. (Or perhaps you’re a beer float person?) [clearboth] The Golden State has 12 beer taps and rotate their selection of microbrewery-supplied craft beers. They offer 40 different beer brands and over 150-200 beers. Most of the beers are brewed locally, but there are a few exceptional craft brews from out of state that they also bring in for us. [clearboth] GoldenStateBlackboard-beerside GoldenState-CraftsmanBreweries-logoOne of the beers offered more regularly is by Craftsman Brewing Company of Pasadena. Craftsman’s award-winning hand-crafted beers are created under the watchful eyes of founder and owner Mark Jilg. [clearboth]
Here’s a beer tip: If you love a particular beer there, make a note of it because the selection changes so rapidly that next time you return, the staff won’t be able to tell you the name of that fantastic beer you had last Tuesday at 2.


California wine as well

There’s also always one red wine and one white wine on hand for the wine drinker. The selection changes just like the beer, but all from California. (The beer tip above might apply to the wine too, so if you love a wine, make a note.)

Unique gelato flavors

If you love Gelato you might give the unique flavors of Scoops Gelato by Tai Kim® a try. So far, I’ve had (and enjoyed) the chocolate-banana and a maple-something. I’ll just have to try the rest to report back to you.[/column][/column-group] [column-group][column] [hr]

About Harris Ranch

If you’ve made the drive from Los Angeles to San Francisco, you likely know Harris Ranch. It’s the large cattle ranch that you smell first, then glimpse, midway between our two cities. It’s immediately off the 5, in a tiny town called Coalinga, which was once a railroad fueling stop called Coaling Station A.) Family owned and operated by the Harris family for all of its 40+ years, Harris Ranch cattle are sourced, fed and humanely processed to create beef that is “as pure and great tasting as nature intended.” Harris Ranch has a strict standard and testing process to ensure it does not contain antibiotic or pesticide residues. It is also minimally processed and contains no preservatives or artificial ingredients. If you haven’t stopped at Harris Ranch en route between Los Angeles and San Francisco, I highly recommend you do. You’re likely to make it a regular rest stop. [/column][column] [hr]

About Fiscalini Farmstead Cheddar

Fiscalini Farmstead makes old-fashioned raw-milk cheeses. As their website explains, “Our aged cheeses are made by hand from the finest milk in California – produced from our very own contented cows, and aged in our special aging rooms, then watched over by our master cheesemaker Mariano Gonzalez. Mariano’s passion is to make clothbound cheddar in the rich tradition of the United Kingdom.” Based in Modesto, California, the Fiscalini farm is:
  • Animal welfare certified
  • Environmentally certified
  • Powered by renewable energy produced on-site



Dining in Redondo Beach Part of a Redondo Beach Getaway by Deborah Shadovitz & Lisa Landis Redondo Beach offers a good variety of dining experiences and cuisines. Here are our recommendations for some great food while you’re visiting Redondo Beach. [column-group][column]

Delzano’s by the Sea — an excellent dinner spot

For dinner one night we simply hopped off the Voyager and headed into Delzano’s by the Sea, which was highly recommended to us by a few people including Voyager’s Captian, who happens to be a former fisherman. We walked into Delzano’s from the pier, walking directly into the bar area on the ground (pier) level and immediately felt comfortable there. We liked the pier view, so we selected a bar-stool height table downstairs in the front. As we ate we enjoyed both the view of the pier and the friendly quiet banter of good friends at the bar behind us. [caption id="attachment_875" align="aligncenter" width="339"]RB-Delzanos-Restaurant_(0152) Delzano’s by the Sea in Redondo Beach[/caption] Thrilled to be at a place I knew could prepare and cook seafood very well, I ordered the Fruitti Di Mare — Lobster, shrimp, scallops, clams, and fresh fish with garlic cream sauce. Alternately, I had a choice of marinara sauce. At $14.95, I thought this a very reasonable price. This was an excellent choice — but I got the feeling that I’d be saying that about anything I’d ordered there. I know Lisa said the same thing about her dinner. Lisa was in the mood for spicy so she selected By the Sea Cioppino — Fresh fish, clams, shrimp, scallops and crab in their own spicy tomato broth. ($20.95) We’re sorry we didn’t take photos of these dishes. It looked so great that we just dug in. Delzano’s by the Sea 179 North Harbor Drive, Redondo Beach Entrances are on the west side and the Boardwalk. (Boardwalk entrance, the front, shown here.) Hours: Tuesday – Thursday 4 p.m – 10 p.m. Friday – Sunday Noon to 11 p.m. Closed Mondays

 Lunch at Ruby’s Diner

Ruby’s is a small Southern California chain with a few other locations as well. They are styled as 1940’s Diners and known for its burgers, not for satisfying seafood cravings, so we weren’t planning on eating there on this vacation — until we saw it. (The photo below was taken from our Crowne Plaza hotel room.) Ruby’s Diner in Redondo Beach sits next to Seaside Lagoon, providing a unique, beautiful view. RB-Rubys-fromCrownPlaza_1090Through glass walls, both indoors and outside, you get to watch the children playing and you get to enjoy the tall fountain that sprays water into the pool as well. Beyond the lagoon, you see the Pacific Ocean, and either the fishing pier or King Harbor. RB-Rubys-inside-beach_(1121) Lisa and I sat outdoors. The glass wall that separated us from the sand of the Seaside Lagoon also muted the noise so we were able to converse well, but enabled us a full view of the lagoon and beyond. It’s a perfect setting, different from any land-locked sidewalk cafe. RB-Rubys-beach_(1118) Ruby’s serves a variety of foods, but it does burgers and shakes best — and that’s what we recommend. We both selected the Portobello-Provolone Kobe Burger, one of the options on the Kobe Burger menu. That’s to say we had fresh grilled Portobello mushrooms, caramelized onions, melted Provolone cheese and garlic mayo — and fries. A good meal for $9.99. RB-Rubys-empty-plate_(1113)I’m afraid, because we forgot about taking a photo until our plates looked like this. [clearboth] Of course, we also each had one of their perfect shakes — Double Dark Chocolate Chip Shakes to be precise. (And came back the next day for another shake.) Ruby’s Diner 245 N. Harbor Drive Redondo Beach, CA 90277 310-376-7829 Hours: Sunday – Thursday 7 a.m.- 9 p.m. Friday – Saturday 7 a.m. – 10 p.m.

Polly’s On The Pier

When we asked about breakfast, a frequent answer was “ Polly’s” — a very casual home-cooking type of place located on the Sport Fishing Pier. That white sign in this photo is the Polly’s on the Pier sign and those are Polly’s umbrellas. Polly’s is only open for breakfast and lunch so we’d arrived too late to try it our first day. We made sure we got there the next. RB-Pollys-both-signs-showing_(0162) You can sit indoors but we, like many others, opted to sit outside and enjoy the experience of the wooden pier and the views of the fishermen. RB-Pollys_(1355) The food at Polly’s is good, generouly portioned fresh home cooking. It’s good food to start you on a day of activity. I ordered the 3 egg omlette. It came with hash browns and biscuits and gravy (the bowl contains salsa, not soup) — too much food for me to finish. RB-Pollys-Breakfast_(1356) Polly’s on the Pier 310-318-3736 Hours: 5 a.m. to 2 p.m. [/column] [column]

Fine dining at Splash Mediterranean Bistro

Splash, the restaurant off the Crowne Plaza’s lobby, looked so great, and was so full of happy, smiling diners, that for our second evening, we opted to have dinner there. It’s not on the water or on a pier, but it is such a nice environment and the food was so good that we were very happy with this choice and highly recommend it. In fact, we also had brunch there on our last morning.

Dinner at Splash Bistro at the Crowne Plaza

The enticing dinner menu made it difficult to choose just one entree. Splash offers a full assortment of options: Pastas, Pork Chops, Chicken Breast, Shrimp, Salads, as well. And for the person who prefers a burger, there is the Splash Angus Burger — lean ground sirloin, or a Turkey Burger. Being at the ocean, we started with the Crispy Deep Fried Calamari — fried calamari served with spicy tomato sauce and garnished with lemon wedges. This was cooked absolutely perfectly — oh, so tender…. It nearly melted in our mouths. RB-Splash-salmon-dinner Then Lisa opted for the Wild Salmon — Wild caught salmon fillet grilled, served with brown rice, fresh seasonal organic vegetable and light lemon butter sauce. It looked enticing. It was perfect cooked. Lisa loved it. [clearboth] RB-Splash-Lamb_(0105)Set on having seafood, I was so taken by the Herb Crusted Lamb Chops that I actually changed my mind and selected these grilled lamb chops marinated, with a Merlot mint sauce served with garlic mashed potatoes and vegetables. Each bit was so delectable that I didn’t miss having seafood. That says a lot for these Lamb Chops and the chef.

Brunch at Splash Bistro at the Crowne Plaza

There was no question that we’d have the breakfast buffet once we walked into Splash Bistro on our last morning and noticed that you actually get to walk into the kitchen and speak with the chefs to order, then watch as they prepare it. RB-Splash-kitchen_(0130) [clearboth] RB-Splash-omlette-brunch_(0132)   Splash’s Zack started me off with a customized omelet and some perfect bacon.[clearboth] RB-Splash-Chef-Mike-making-waffle4   Later… after we sat for a while, I couldn’t resist having a fresh, hot belgium waffle with fresh strawberries and even fresher whipped cream. Splash’s Miguel was happy to accommodate [clearboth] Lisa leaned toward the fresh fruits and cereals and yogurt. There were so many great options and we both had a bit of each. We both left knowing we wouldn’t want to eat until dinner, and we were right. Hours: For hours please see Parking: Splash offers complimentary 3 hour self parking in the Crowne Plaza garage. Valet Parking at the door is $4.00 for the first 3 hours with validation.

Other Eateries by the Redondo Beach Pier

There are several other places to eat, right in the area. We’re sure we chose well and had some of the best. We were told the burgers at On The Rocks are terrific, but weren’t there long enough to try one. On The Rocks is a sports bar. The bar was packed with jovial men, all eating burgers as they watched whatever game was on the TV screens and kidded with one another. Indeed, the burgers looked inviting. For those who seek a fully casual seafood expeience, there are many seafood counters where you can view the seafood and order it to be cooked for you, then find yourselves a table. Most of these places are on the wharf; you can walk around and find one that feels right to you. If you’re seeking a snack, a sampling of seafood, or a small meal, and want to sit out on the pier, these might be a good option for you. Another one, Captain Kidd’s Fish Market, is a large one that’s not on the wharf but in the parking lot. It was full of large families seated by the fish counters at large wooden tables. If you feel safer with chains, you may like knowning we saw a Cheesecake Factory from our Crowne Plaza balcony and it’s as easy a walk as these other places. There are also restaurants on the Municipal Pier and there are some in the Riviera Village.

Parking Info

Off of North Harbor Drive, across from the Crowne Plaza, you’ll notice a huge uncovered parking lot where from north to south you’ll first see the Sport Fishing Pier (home to Polly’s), then Ruby’s Diner, a free-standing restaurant called Samba, one called On The Rocks, then Captain Kidds Fish Market and Delzano’s. This parking lot is the correct one for each of these restaurants — and for the water activities we visited on our Redondo Beach getaway. The restaurants in this parking lot area validate your parking for 2 hours so, it should cost you $2 for those 2 hours. (They can’t validate if you park in the Municipal structure.) If you’re going to the Municipal Pier for meal, use that covered parking structure. Most of the restaurants validate your parking for a couple of hours. The price of parking is about the same for this parking structure. This parking pricing info is accurate for 2011. These are year-round rates. Splash Bistro, as we mentioned, has its own parking with the Crowne Plaza hotel.

Learn about some of the Redondo Beach activities turn to this page.

Learn about staying at the Redondo Beach Crowne Plaza hotel.


La Finestra in Tarzana by Scott Immerman LaFinestra   Finding good Italian food in Los Angeles’s San Fernando Valley isn’t as easy as one would think.  Thankfully, I found La Finestra on Ventura in Tarzana and it immediately became my favorite. [clearboth] [column-group][column] Asked to recommend and write about one of my favorite restaurants, it was easy for me to want to recommend La Finestra. From my first visit in early 2009, both the staff and decor made me feel very comfortable. It’s a perfect atmosphere for a relaxing evening or a business lunch.  On an autumn evening in 2009, I brought a few friends in for dinner. After starting with their Pizza Margherita ($13.50) as an appetizer, our entire table agreed we were in for a treat. We then tried the Caprese ($7.95) and were equally impressed. As a regular there, I knew they would be. You can tell a lot about a restaurant by their simpler dishes, which most take for granted. Their specialties include a Fresh Atlantic Salmon ($18.95) — oven roasted and topped with chopped tomatoes, garlic and basil (just enough for additional flavor, without distracting from the salmon). If you are looking for something unique and well worth trying, I suggest the Battuta di Manzo Arrabbiata ($19.50) — a New York steak pounded thin and sautéed with garlic and crushed red pepper to create a truly special dish. LaFinestraFood5   For those who enjoy pasta, La Finestra has a wide selection with a couple of standouts. One of my favorites is Ravioli di Ricotta Aurora ($15.50) — handmade ravioli filled with ricotta cheese and spinach in a pink sauce. Then there’s the Fettuccine Alfredo con Piselli e Prosciutto ($15.95). LaFinestraFood3 After your meal, sit back with a Cappuccino and desert, relax, and forget that the 101 Freeway even exists.[/column] [column] La Finestra is exactly the kind of restaurant we need more of in the Valley. Rustic food with a wonderful taste, prepared authentically and at a reasonable price, served in a comfortable and casual setting. Open for both Lunch and Dinner, entrees range from $5.50 to $15.50 for lunch and $6 to $22 for dinner. There is plenty of parking in back and street parking in front. After you have enjoyed your meal, and I expect you will, add yourself to their email list and you’ll be notified of specials and new menu items. You will be treated to some great discounts via this list. Oh… be sure to ask about the Latin saying on the wall for a great story. LaFinestraFood2LaFinestraFood1_salad [hr] La Finestra 19647 Ventura Blvd Tarzana, CA 91356 (818) 342-2824 Menus at VISA, MasterCard, AmEx, and DiscoverCard cards accepted. [hr] Scott Immerman is an LA-born Certified Apple Consultant. Visiting clients since before there was even a Mac, he has dined at many, many restaurants all over the Los Angeles area! Photo credit: These photos are taken from the restaurant’s website. [/column][/column-group] [clearboth] View Larger Map]]>

The Sunset (Restaurant) — on Zuma beach in Malibu POST by Deborah Shadovitz Each time I drive into Malibu I feel as if I’ve entered another world. The drive up the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) is magical thanks to it’s calming blue water as traffic (finally) melts away. Taking the Las Virgenes Road exit off the 101 and travelling the twists and turns through Malibu Canyon provides another relaxing trip full of textures and vistas. Soaking up the majesty and serenity of the Pacific from a window-wrapped room. Taking in calm, undeveloped beach. Seeing sunny days, sunsets, the ocean’s vast darkness. Enjoying fabulous food and excellent service. Feeling comfortable in a casual atmosphere. These are some of life’s finer pleasures. Lucky for us, they’re right within reach — at The Sunset Restaurant, right at the sands of Zuma beach. The Sunset is an unassuming beachy-looking two-story building off PCH. It’s the only building around, off the beaten path. When you walk in, you don’t think “elegant” or “fancy.” You think “comfort.” Yet there’s an easy elegance and you sense something special. Your fellow diners may be dressed to the nines, or they may be just off the beach in casual attire. The food at The Sunset is the same. It isn’t set out to be elegant or fancy; it’s simply exquisite. And the pricing isn’t can-you-afford-me costly. In fact, every entrée on the regular menu is under $20. (The regular menu is online.) And while they have a full compliment of wines, through some savvy shopping by General Manager Ray Byrne, they offer a Quartino of Wine (⅓ bottle) for just $5, enabling you to discover a new wine each time you dine. Now about that food… For an opener, their Arugula salad is a mix of tastes to tantalize. Thinly sliced sweet pink lady apples, and a taste of Humboldt fog cheese join pickled red onion and apple cider vinaigrette on locally grown organic arugula while roasted beets top the treat ($12). As a seafood appetizer there’s raw oysters (6/$15), shrimp (6/$16), king crab (½lb/$18). Another option is a platter that easily serves four and includes all that, plus mussels and lobster salad ($68) Soup and Sandwich takes on a whole new meaning at The Sunset. For the winter, the soup is a Butternut Squash so light and creamy it feels like velvety mousse. The “sandwich” is an open spread of Duck Confit — perfectly blended duck, caramelized onions, dried cherries, French brie, and whole grain mustard — on a baguette, topped with brie. ($16) We’re all encouraged to eat salmon a few times a week. Their Pan Roasted Salmon will keep your taste buds from being bored for sure. It’s served on a bed of beans (yes beans). Catalini, cranberry and romano beans cooked with just a tad of butter, create a healthy and surprisingly flavorful sauce. Grilled foccacia toast laid on top of the Salmon adds a crunch and is terrific when it soaks up the sauce. ($20) Another fabulous dish is the lamb special newly introduced for this winter season. It starts with sliced roasted Delicata Squash atop which sits a mix of Beluga Lentils, finely diced apples and fennel that create a taste like no other, causing me to relish the taste of every single lentil. On that, sit four perfect double-cut lamb chops. Yet, Chef Gil Vasquez’s inspiration for it was simply his grandmother’s northern winter family meals ($34). For desert I recommend the Chocolate Lava Cake which is sure to deliver flavors you can’t quite place because it’s topped with Aztec chocolate ice cream, toasted and seasoned hazelnuts and homemade Nutella powder ($8). It’s perfect for sharing. I’d like to be able to say I’ve had everything on The Sunset’s menu — and I’m working on that. Meanwhile, every Sunset dish I’ve had has been perfection.

Something fun nearly every night

  • Wednesday is Karaoke
  • Thursday from 5-7 is free wine tasting with live jazz
  • Friday is dancing to live classic rock
There’s also a private room upstairs for special events, and an entire large event room. And something unique: The Sunset is the only place in So Cal where you can get married on the sand.

Restaurant Details

6800 Westward Beach Road Malibu CA 90265 Tuesday – Friday 5-10pm (Happy Hour 5-7pm) Saturday and Sunday 11am-10pm Closed Mondays Parking is $3 Reviewed November 2009
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