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Fav. mediocre eats (inspired by bianca pizza thread)

Ok so the "Casa Bianca Eagle Rock - Best Pizza Ever" thread inspired this topic.
Amused by the love and dislike for the Casa got me thinking about other places that some people really like and others would not set foot in.

I am not crazy about Casa Bianca's pizza but it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy due to it's old school vibe and chow it down no prob., reminds me of my very mexican parents taking me out for "pizza and italian" food to a very similar place in burbank by burbank high.
So let's hear what your favorite "mediocre spot" that gets the hounders in a flurry.

Not in any order just a few that pop to mind.

1. Tally Rand in burbank only in the bar downstairs
2. Smoke House also in burbank (mmm martini / salad blech)
3. Damons ( love a mai tai in the middle of a hot day)
3.Palermos (beflore flames burst I know it's horrid )
4.El Chavo (until yesterday dim the lights in the day loved how dark it used to be inside)
5 Hard Times ( sometimes I crave the sub sandwich)

Let the flood gates open

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  1. Got to be Titos Tacos.

    Put me in the "won't set foot in" column.

    4 Replies
    1. re: mlgb

      Tito's Tacos, put me in the can't live without them column.. there's a place for the old fashioned crunchy tacos full of oil and calories!

      1. re: monkuboy

        There is something comforting about a Titos taco -- the crunch, the cheese, and meat that is tough enough to give a good bite resistance even with a nominal amount. Just wish they had a really great, spicy salsa roja -- their "salsa" is really a pico de gallo and the enchilada or tomale sauces aren't quite right. Gotta include the battle for parking spaces and trying to choose the fastest line.

        1. re: nosh

          Jeet Jet, a frequent poster on these boards, spoke about the "tug and chew" of pizza crusts as determining what makes a good or bad one. I think the same can be said of a Tito's Taco - they have that proper tug and chew texture, as does a Jack in the Box taco, even though they have two different TAC's, in part because of the shredded meat in a Tito's taco versus the mystery meat (if it is even meat) in a Jack taco. To me that's part of the appeal.

          1. re: monkuboy

            There was quite a lengthy thread about Jack's tacos awhile ago, with many funny and some scary rumors about what indeed comprises the middle of a JITB taco. Someone posted the actual ingredients from some sort of nutritional official list, and at least at that time it was indeed beef.

    2. I hate PF chang's but I can't get enough of their lettuce wraps

      9 Replies
      1. re: ns1

        Fortunately they're frighteningly easy to make and TJ's even sells pre-trimmed lettuce wraps for the truly short of time.

        For me, Nozawa is just totally mediocre and uninspiring yet others love it; the other way around, I actually really like Yang Chow but most Hounds wouldn't set foot.

        1. re: Das Ubergeek

          TJ's sells pretrimmed lettuce for the wraps?? This is good news. :p

          I really like McDonald's breakfast burritos with lots of that squeeze packet salsa.

          1. re: Das Ubergeek

            Count me in the "loves Yang Chow" category... especially their slippery shrimp and pork fried rice!

            1. re: spkspk

              My in-laws are addicted to the slippery shrimp; I think it's okay, but my socks remain firmly un-knocked. What I became deeply enamoured of was the sautéed spinach, which our charming niece fixed on one night and ordered as her contribution to the table. Brilliant child! So now whenever we do a Yang Chow night en famille, I let everyone else have most of that shrimp and the orange beef, and I'll hog the spinach.

              For white-bread mediocre, I like Cindy's in Eagle Rock, The Reyn coffee shop on N. Lake in Pasadena, and Twohey's. Oh, Sitton's NoHo Diner, too. Nothing to blow anyone away, but friendly (except for Sitton's, sometimes) and reliably Okay.

              1. re: spkspk

                I'm a big Yang Chow fan -- always emerge happily full and very satisfied by the service and value. Besides the slippery shrimp, I really like their sauteed eggplant (almost stewed) in spicy garlic sauce, and the spicy won ton soup (breathtaking amount of garlic -- found on the specials page of the menu rather than with the soups or starters).

                1. re: spkspk

                  Mmmm, slippery shrimp and potstickers.

                2. re: Das Ubergeek

                  Point me in the direction of "easy to make" please

                  1. re: ns1

                    Voila: http://www.recipezaar.com/15865 -- but discussions of the recipe should probably go to a new topic on Home Cooking.

              2. Ten Ten Seafood's dim sum.

                1. Totally second Palermos, actually the first place that popped into my head.

                  I'll add the mexican joint in Beverly Hills on Wilshire formerly-known-as El Torrito
                  Also, I love Olive Garden, regardless of where it is.

                  I know I'm forgetting the best ones...

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: suicidemartini

                    I could list a few chains too, but left them out to avoid getting this thread hijacked (or split) to the Chains board....

                  2. Love Palermo's - but only for that darned Pizza Rosa.

                    Also really like Fatty's in Eagle Rock - had excellent, friendly, knowledgeable service every time we've been.

                    Larkin's in Eagle Rock - loved the idea, very disappointed in the food.

                    Really like the Yang Chow slippery shrimp, too. And their pot stickers.

                    Beard Papa - *ducking* I kinda like their cream puffs. Really. Maybe they aren't the best, but they suit me just fine.

                    1. Cheesecake Factory gives me hives, but I love their fried mac and cheese ball appetizer.

                      I'm also partial to Pink's standard chili dog, though I'll only ever get one when the line is short.

                      Does Du-Pars monte cristo count?

                      8 Replies
                        1. re: Will Owen

                          Nah, Du-Par's has genuinely excellent buttermilk pancakes. I don't know WHAT they put in them, but I'm generally not a coffee shop pancake fan and these are really really good.

                        2. re: Peripatetic

                          "Cheesecake Factory gives me hives"
                          LOL :) mind if i borrow that one? i can think of many places to which it applies.

                          i'm gonna have to go with houston's for this one. not the best food in town [except the veggie burger, which is not only the best in town, it may very well be the best on the planet]...but dependably solid for certain things.

                          oh, and the ivy. i only ever get one thing there - the grilled veggie salad.

                          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                            "mind if i borrow that one?"

                            Heh, not at all. What really drives me potty (pardon my British) about CF is that it's such an artificial, packaged experience. They''ve engineered everything to persuade the gullible it's a special occasion. Sort of like the human abattoir in Solent Green . . . you're made to feel like you're somewhere transcendent when you're actually in the freezer section of Bristol Farms . . .

                            1. re: Peripatetic

                              Oh, my problem with it is that they have terrible, mass-produced food and so think that they can make up for it by giving you larger portions -- and so many people fall for it.

                              Sometimes I want to stand on the public sidewalk outside a CF with a CF factory cheesecake (plain) and a D'Aiuto's or Junior's cheesecake (plain) and have people do a blind taste test.

                          2. re: Peripatetic

                            fried mac and cheese drooling as I type.
                            Never ever been to a cheesecake factory and i love me mac n cheese.
                            My trip to Americana at brand will call for a fried ball o'pasta and cheese

                            1. re: Peripatetic

                              Haven't had CF's fried mac-n-cheese ball, but Jack in the Box has a pretty good fried mac-n-cheese bites.

                              1. re: Peripatetic

                                Boneyard Bistro has a good Fried Mac & Cheese Ball.

                              2. I'm with you when it comes to Palermos and Damons.
                                I'm also a big fan of Sierra's in Canoga Park.
                                Hot dogs at Carney's in Sherman Oaks.
                                I'm sure I'll think of others.....

                                1. Ooops what I left out was mediocre places that you like and visit.
                                  So far I see fun list of places i forget about.
                                  Yang Chow's slippery shrimp i don't get it but people love it...kinda makes me wanna head back thanks spkpk and will I forgot about cindy's good reminder.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: johnnyshungry

                                    Cindy's: good cheap corned beef hash and eggs. Out of a can, just like Mom used to make - yum!

                                  2. My mom hates chain restaurants with a passion. mediocre is her favorite word, but i don;t agree with her. here are a couple of my favortie spots
                                    Marie calenders has amazing cornbread!
                                    Despite the unanimously hate for cheesecake factory i love it! the bread is great and the sweet corn tamale appetizers melt in your mouth! and the factory mudslide with a fudge slice of cake with four scoops of ice cream hot fudge, nuts, whipped cream, and a cherry.
                                    another one i love is koo koo roo, the food is relatively healthy and cheap and delicious!

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: zoememel

                                      i loved marie callendar's cornbread, when i could eat it... sadly, you can make it at home by mixing one box of jiffy cornbread mix and one box of yellow cake mix... then add your own honey buter, and voila!

                                      koo koo roo is great - i used to love their eggplant salad, which is no longer made there, but can be found at California Fresh on westwood blvd.

                                      again for CF with specific items (pasta w/ four cheese, orange chicken, vanilla bean, oreo, and white chocolate raspberry truffle cheesecakes)

                                      people here don't like uncle chen's for chinese, but i love that they're health accommodating with no oil, sugar, cornstarch, added salt options

                                      1. re: Emme

                                        Or you could just buy the Marie Callendars cornbread mix in a can.

                                    2. I'm a Johnnie's Pastrami lover. I love the salty pastrami and I even love the crispy, what I assume are frozen, french fries.

                                      My friend Beth LOVES the meatballs at IKEA! That's just too funny to me.

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: SaltCod

                                        I love the meatballs at IKEA too. We ought to have one of those "Post Secrets" things for Chowhounds.

                                        "Sometimes I go to IKEA in Burbank just for lunch and don't even look at the furniture."

                                        1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                          I love IKEA's meatballs, too, but I wouldn't say they're a mediocre guilty pleasure. They're just good.

                                          I avoid the rest of the menu, though, except for the lingonberry mousse

                                          1. re: Peripatetic

                                            I've had some pretty good gravlax there. Actually, I haven't gotten anything at IKEA I hated. I just wish that we could manage to go there sometime when the place isn't overrun by totally undisciplined rug rats.

                                      2. Saddle Ranch for champagne brunch: big, cheap portions of food that's surprisingly good (huevos rancheros, chicken fried steak) and the option to add unlimited mimosas and bloody mary's for $10. Plus they give you a basket of what are possibly the best biscuits in town. Add the crazy people watching inside and out on Sunset and you have a great meal.

                                        I also crave the orange peel chicken at Mandarette, chili cheese fries from Oki Dog, the chicken chow salad and banana pudding at Toast and the bbq ranch chicken salad at Cheesecake (how do you not love a salad with onion rings on top?!).

                                        1. Does McDonalds count? Because I still love Big Macs.

                                          1. I moved to Los Feliz about ten years ago, not long after Fred 62 opened. I went their twice but was totally turned off by the horrendous and arrogant service. Since the place was sold a few years ago I gave them another shot and found the servers are cheerful and efficient. And having it open 24/7 is a plus even if I'd never dream of going late nite or for weekend brunch.

                                            I go for their mac and cheese, patty melts, breakfast enchiladas and Tommy's chili-cheese-onion omelets, esp. if I want an early weekday breakfast. I would never go there if it wasn't within walking distance of my home so I don't have to deal with parking. Pretty much the same as I feel about Palermo's for delivery pizza.

                                            Fred 62
                                            1854 N Vermont Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90027

                                            1. I enjoy the Food Court at the USC Village.Particulary the Thai & Korean joints. I recommend the mango chicken & the pork shortribs at the Thai stall & the bulgogi & Kim Chee Fried Rice at the Korean stall right accross . There's other food stalls that serve Chinese, Mongolian, Indian,Japanese, Middle Eastern,Pizza, etc. but haven't tried those places yet.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: SilverlakePhil

                                                you sir are one very, very, very brave man.

                                                having been to most of those food stalls, I would rather eat Chanos 24x7

                                              2. Casa Bianca in no way enters into this paradigm. Its appeal lies not in the checkered tablecloths, nor in the pretty Oxy waitresses, nor in its map-of-Italy decor, nor even in its delightful '50s neon, but in the fact that it serves the best freaking pizza in Los Angeles. (At least after Mozza.) It is not the warm milk of nostalgia that makes me say this, it is the irrefutable eggplant and sausage pie: the crisp, thin crust, the scrim of char, the salty cheese, the succulence of the homemade sausage, the works. There are people who prefer other, trendier pizzas - de gustibus and all that - but do not mistake these unaccountable lapses in taste for anything like sound judgment. A Casa Bianca pizza is what it is to no less an extend than the pies at Pepe's in New Haven, Aurelio's in Chicago or Lombardi's in New York.

                                                1. i love:
                                                  Toast - love it a lot... i know many hounds hate it with a passion, but i never get tired of it. i can live off of the multi-grain pancakes with berries and iced nonfat lattes.
                                                  Paco's Tacos - sometimes i just have a craving for gooey cheesy saucy americanized mexican food and paco's delivers well.
                                                  Sprinkles- the cupcakes are good, i tell you! and i've tried almost every cupcake out there.

                                                  1. Casa Vega - I love their green salad served on a tostada shell, but their "mexican" food is pretty bland.

                                                    The lettuce wraps at PF Changs are addictive, and the Trader Joe's version doesn't really taste the same. Plus, I prefer the vegetarian version. But most of the other dishes on their menu are just so-so.

                                                    The House of Pies on Vermont - I used to go there all the time when I was a kid, especially after Dodger games. The pies are decent, and the reason to go, but its really just a temple for mediocre comfort food. The same goes for Little Joe's. again I used to go there all the time when I was a kid, and then popped in from time to time until it closed down a few years ago.

                                                    Musso and Frank's - always a partisan choice. I just love sitting in one of those creaky wooden booths and sipping on a martini, before a dinner of sanddabs and one of those little dinner salads, and thinking about all of the LA royalty through time that have done the same thing there.

                                                    I sense a running theme in a lot of these posts. They either A. go to a place that's mediocre for one particular dish that the place does well, or B. go for a sense of nostalgia. Sometimes a love for the simple and mediocre can be a welcome change to foodie fanaticism. I love great food, but I can appreciate well-done mediocrity as well.

                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: writerinla

                                                      House of Pies is beyond mediocre. I went in there with low-expectations, but was flabergasted by what I was served. My "grilled cheese" was 2 slices of wonder bread with a kraft single in between, probably heated in a microwave and my girlfriend's ommlette was egg-beaters and the avocado was just a whole avocado cut in half and plopped in the middle. I love shitty diner food, but this place was rediculous

                                                      1. re: suicidemartini

                                                        the grilled cheese they served you at house of pies was significantly better than the one i was served at pann's.

                                                    2. I gotta throw some love for Chi Dynasty on Hillhurst in Los Feliz. After years of complaining that L.A. had no decent, americanized chinese, I found this place and have been going weekly ever since. Even better, they deliver now that they've moved into the Ye Rustic Mall. Hounders have no love for it, but they're consistently delicious.

                                                      1. Thai Chicken Salad ~~ Coco's
                                                        Tortilla Soup ~~ Coco's
                                                        Chicken Liver Nosh w/Rye Bread ~~ Jerry's Famous Deli
                                                        Mushroom Barley Soup ~~ Jerry's Famous Deli
                                                        Chili Boat (no tomato, pickle, or onion) ~~ Tommy's
                                                        Pepperoni Pizza (w/chili oil) ~~ Buca de Beppo

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: laliz

                                                          the cinnamon french toast at coco's

                                                        2. Cantor's on Fairfax.

                                                          And, btw, I LOVE the chicken club sandwiches at Tally Rand, particularly when ordered (a) with avocado, and (b) with fries instead of the odd fruit salad and carrot cake they usually come with.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: David Kahn

                                                            Ha. I was trying to decide between Cantors and Brighton Coffee Shop in BH

                                                          2. Louises Trattorria. I know, I know, especially when my SO is Italian...I worked there when I was a teen, and I guess just have a taste for the place...Their chopped salad, esp now that they put fried onions in it...Same for the BBQ chix chop...And I love their foccacia bread. I just stick to spaghetti and marinara, but the Pappardale is pretty good...Okay, I'll stop embarassing myself now...

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. I haven't had them in a very long time, but I used to have a terrible weak spot for Cheesecake Factory's avocado eggrolls.

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: jencounter

                                                                same here, i love the avocado eggrolls at cheesecake factory, especially the tamarind sauce that comes with it.

                                                              2. I've never admitted this to anyone and I can't believe I'm admitting it to all of you 10 people on the internet... but 7-Eleven Super Big Bite hot dogs are a guilty pleasure of mine. Let's not go into hot dog comparisons here because I know I'm firmly stepping back into my eastern European white trash roots but that hot dog just reminds me of college and the last few pennies spent on cheap food during good times.

                                                                I'm also on board with Tito's tacos. It's in a class by itself when it comes to my comfort food. It's even better when I can find a quiet corner there and eat hunched over my bounty of cheese-topped fried meat and tortillas.

                                                                What is this I read about fried mac-n-cheese bites at Jack in the Box?!?!?!?!?!?!? Please say it ain't so!!:)

                                                                3 Replies
                                                                1. re: mrshankly

                                                                  I just had some more JitB mac-n-cheese bites today...I worked late & didn't feel like cooking.... Anyway, they weren't fresh-out-of-the-fryer hot as they were last time & not nearly as good. They're almost addicting when they're piping hot!

                                                                  1. re: OCAnn

                                                                    Whoa! They have fried mac n cheese bites? How did I not know about this?! Are they new? I'm already in love with their jalepeno poppers and was very happy about the introduction of the Sampler Trio....

                                                                    1. re: Newkie

                                                                      I found out thanks to rworange: chowhound.chow.com/topics/544035

                                                                2. Mostly chains that my son love and that we can tolerate. Even though these chains have menus a mile long, we usually stick with the safer choices that they can execute reasonably well:

                                                                  - CPK (the grilled veggie salad, chicken piccata, key lime pie/tiramisu)
                                                                  - BJ's (buffalo rings, pizza, pizookie)
                                                                  - Wood Ranch (grilled tri-tip/medium rare, broccoli side, sweet potato)

                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                  1. re: notmartha

                                                                    i like wood ranch for what it is.

                                                                    1. re: ns1

                                                                      wood ranch bbq chicken potato skins bring back memories for me :P

                                                                  2. Fantastic list!
                                                                    I hate them all. And I like some of them too.