Van Nuys, CA: Review of Salsa & Beer


With more than one location to prove it’s popularity is Salsa & Beer.  Person after person has told me that they love this place.  Every time that I have tried to go there have been long lines.  On an usually rainy day, the parking lot was full but I finally got the chance to go and I was underwhelmed.  I am not saying by any means that the food was bad but considering the long lines and all the talk, I thought this is going to be great.  Soup from Salsa and Beer

I started with a soup and just to be authentic I ordered a horchata.  Both were good.  Tthe soup was full of vegetable.  The price list is very reasonable.  If I recall most items don’t exceed $15 bucks and there are lots of specials.  My friend has been there several times and he suggested that we his regular, the shrimp chimichanga.  Note, a chimichanga is something that I would never order.  With all fairness.  My experience was okay.  If some asked to me to go again then I would say, “alright.”  I would just order something that looks desirable to me and maybe I will be more pleased.

Salsa & Beer on Urbanspoon

Romantic Restaurants in Los Angeles

Date night is commonly associated with going out to eat.  Finding the right spot can create memories for a lifetime.  This listing reflects differentHaile_Toasting_small factors such as location, ambiance and of course the food, which you should consider in selecting the perfect romantic restaurant.

Señor Fred  in Sherman Oaks – The Romance Factor:  Dark mood light, great private booths, a booth near a fire place and outdoor eating on Ventura Blvd.  The plating of food is great.  READ MORE

Chaya in Downtown Los Angeles  The Romance Factor- Traveling to a downtown location has a certain level of romance factor with the feasting your eyes on the skyline as an appetizer.  What Chaya also has going for it is a world class Executive Chef.  READ MORE.

The Stinking Rose–  Beverly Hills – For some women, you will have her at hello just by taking her to Beverly Hills to dine.  Given that Stinking Rose is a Garlic restaurant we suggest this one for the married and the more established couples that have been together for quite some time.  There are a number of private dining spots in the restaurant for an intimate experience. READ MORE

D’Cache – Toluca Lake –  This restaurant bleeds of romance.  You feel like you are being transported to Spain when you simply walk down the walkway to enter.  With Live Music and more READ WHY this restaurant is a great option.

Zin Bistro Americana– Located off the water in Westlake Village and with live jazz music on most nights, you’ve got a winning combination before you eat. I suggest this place as great place to finish off the evening with drinks or desserts like Cotton Candy & Bananas Foster.  .   READ MORE

Larry’s Canyon Bistro – Topanga Canyon- Half the romance is the journey, driving up in the canyon is scenic, but may be a little scary for some as you travel up the windy roads.  Larry’s Canyon Bistro offers Jazz music often on certain days and great ambiance as well. READ MORE.

Pop Champagne and Dessert -Pasadena-  This is for the crowning glory of the evening.  You’ve gone to the movies, a festival, a concert or someplace entertaining, and now it is time for either appetizers, or dessert and champagne.  This is an eclectic spot and great way to finish the night. READ MORE

Special Mention for Castaway(Burbank) and the Odyssey(Grenada Hills) which are restaurants set on a hilltop so you have a great view while you dine.  Also 94th Aero Squandron(Van Nuys) is literally located off the landing area of the Van Nuys Airport.  It is so very Casablanca to get a good window while drinking red pomegranite martini’s.

Serving Up More than Food Malibu Cafe at Calamigo Ranch

There is nothing quite like Malibu Cafe at Calamigo Ranch.  An outing there is an experience.   It a perfect date location for the 1st date or old married couple.  The menu has quite a of comfort food selections such as devilled eggs, pulled pork, hamburgers, fabulous eggs rolls and more.  Words will scarcely do it justice.  Moreover, we will leave a few surprises for your first visit there.  What you should definitely know, the music is a great part of the experience with Afro Cuban music by the Hamid Cooper Latin Jazz Band on Saturdays and the Bluegrass Brunch on Sundays. 

View the Restaurant

Check out the Weekend Entertainment.


Exploring Tastes of Oaxaca

Chapulines (Grasshoppers)

Before MCCN takes you down to Oaxaca, Mexico we stopped in Restaurante Guelaguetza in Los Angeles for an authentic Taste of Oaxaca.

Travel with the Multi Cultural Cooking Network and experience the sights, the culture and the world famous cuisine of Oaxaca, Mexico. Your guide, Dave Miller has been facilitating groups in Mexico for over 20 years.  Book your ticket! Contact us at

(Click to see Brochure)

W Hotel: Dining at Nine Thirty Restaurant

On a Saturday night my guest and I met at Nine Thirty Restaurant,  the trendy looking new restaurant at the W Hotel in Westwood, CA at address 930 Hilgard Avenue.  Their claim to fame in dining is  “modern American cuisine with global influences.”  Before our tongues are privy to tantalizing global influences, we find parking to be scant in the area so we opt  to valet park.  Then we proceed up the glowing neon green steps, bearing left to enter the dimly lit restaurant.  Expected for the restaurant review, we were warmly received and given great service throughout the night.  We took a long time to order because much like the Cheesecake factory, the menu is extensive.  The sections are divided into small plates, medium plates and large size meal options.  The small meal options are mainly vegetarian.  The menu item choices are an impressive cultural assortment.

Despite, no love for onion rings I taste the onion rings which my dining companion orders and find myself pleasantly surprised.  In a Los Angeles Examiner article, I devote a whole story to what I consider my best onion rings experience ever.  I encourage reading the article at–Soul-Food-Restaurant-Examiner~y2009m12d10-A-Best-Onion-Ring-Story-at-Nine-Thirty-Restaurant-at-the-W-Hotel .  They are simply amazing.

Executive Chef Monique King provides a delightful evening of creative cuisine. As for my first item ordered, I go for the butternut squash soup which is rich with multiple flavors.  Every ingredient makes its individual mark yet congeals into superb fluidity.  For dinner my dining companion has the lamb chops with chipotle mashed sweet potatoes.  The meat is tender and the mash sweet potatoes is not over-powered with spice.  My dish is the Barramundi(fish) with artichoke hush puppies.  There seems to be a running theme of Southwest meets the Mediterranean influence in the meals.  The Barramundi is cooked to perfection with a just enough crispy texture on the outside to compliment tender flakes of meat in the inside.

(Featured in Photo: Barramundi with artichoke hush puppies)

The evening ends on a sweet note.  Desserts would include chocolate ganache cake with a rum raisin ice cream, strawberry shortcake and chocolate s’more bread pudding.   Two out of three desserts are winners.  The chocolate ganache is beautifully presented and more importantly tasty.  However, I yearned for more from the flavor of the rum raisin ice cream.  As the ice cream melted the rum flavor grew in prominence.  I give the concept of the ice cream an “A” for originality.  The strawberry shortcake comes across as spring delight, strong in citrus flavor among the various berries.  The bread pudding is too dry for my taste.  Great concept but it needs to be more moist. 

Nine Thirty Restaurant is a great night on the town choice.

Pricing: Small Plates ($10), Medium Plates (Under $15) and Large (Under $30)


(Photo Credit: Crystal A. Johnson- Executive Chef Monique King)

Review by Restaurant Critic Crystal Johnson, Los Angeles Comfort Food Examiner and the Valley Scene Magazine

Having a Taste For it, What is Food to You?

by Crystal A. Johnson












As a restaurant reviewer of Comfort food for the Los Angeles Examiner, I find that it is a tall order to review comfort food.  What is comfort food?  Many things to many people which bring them the comforts of home, culture or extended experiences. (Read more at link below.–Soul-Food-Restaurant-Examiner~y2009m7d20-Having-A-Taste-for-It–What-Comprises-Your-Description-of-Comfort-Food