Mel’s Drive-In-Various Locations

Mel’s Drive-In-Various Locations

What: Mel’s Drive-In

Where: Various Locations

For: All Ages

Mel’s Drive-In is a 50’s-themed diner on the Sunset Strip that we found while searching for somewhere to eat in the West Hollywood area.  Mel’s Diner was the restaurant what was featured in the film American Graffitti, and since then, the diner has expanded to include multiple locations in the Southern California area.

The Diner

When you arrive at the West Hollywood location, you pull up to park around one of the last googie buildings in Los Angeles.  This is the only location that is open 24-hours-a-day 7-days-a-week.  Mel’s is continuously shows in TV spots, commercials and movies.  The iconic drive-in, although not in use, can be seen in the parking stalls and outer set-up of the diner.

The vibe of Mel’s can be seen by the structure of the building.  Guests are greeted with a neon jukebox upon walking in.  There are souvenirs available for sale at the cashier’s.  We decided to sit at the bar of the diner.  The wait staff were all uniformed in 50’s-themed attire.  The menu was so long that we had a hard time deciding what to order, but the food came out quickly.  At each of the seating areas was a small table jukebox that allows patrons to pick which song they would like to hear in the restaurant.

The Food

The food was ended up being better than expected.  Ethan ordered a burger, and I ordered eggs benedict.  Both entrees tasted great, and we couldn’t help but order a chocolate malt at the end of our meal.  The malt came in a classic shake-glass with the left overs offered to us in a metal cup.  We inhaled everything that was put in front of us, and we left with our stomachs full.

The Crowd

The crowd at Mel’s consisted of a large mix of people.  There were a lot of guests taking pictures of the diner both inside and outside.  Keep in mind that guests can pay by walking up to the cashier after the meal.  There was also no line when we arrived, but I can imagine that the diner would be busier particularly on weekends in the evening.

Cost

Mel’s was very affordable.  For two entrees, two drinks and dessert we ended up paying $50.  The cost was definitely worth the experience of visiting this iconic Hollywood landmark.

Mel’s Drive-In Information

8585 Sunset Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90069

(310) 854-7201

melsdrive-in.com

Thanks for reading! If you’ve ever been to Mel’s Drive-In, please comment on this post!  Also, if you have suggestions of other places to go in the Greater Los Angeles Area, please let me know by e-mailing admin@la-staycation.com

Din Tai Fung-Multiple Locations

Din Tai Fung-Multiple Locations

What: Din Tai Fung

Where: Multiple Locations

For: All Ages

Din Tai Fung is one of our favorite places to take our guests when they’re in from out of town.  Awarded a Michelin star for its Hong Kong branch, we love to come here on Sundays for an amazing meal.  We just had a restaurant open in the mall near our house, and we’ve already been there five times.

The Wait

Ethan and I have waited upwards of 90 minutes to eat at Din Tai Fung.  You can make reservations online or by calling the restaurant.  If you walk up, there is a separate line for putting your name in for a reservation and for waiting to be seated.  After you give the hostess your name and phone number, you are free to roam around the mall until you receive a text to come back.  It takes about 10-15 minutes from the time you receive a text for your reservation until the time you are seated.

While guests are waiting in the line to be seated, there is an open window that shows employees making dumplings.  It’s very interesting how quickly they are able to make little blobs of dough into beautiful dumplings. There is a full bar in the middle of the restaurant for patrons waiting to be seated.

The Restaurant

When you’re seated, the waiter/ress will ask if anyone in your party has ever been to Din Tai Fung before.  If it’s a guest’s first time, then they are taken through the menu (that’s no less than 15 pages long).  Each table is given a piece of paper and pen where they can check off what they want to eat.  Din Tai Fungis a family-style restaurant.  You’re meant to share all of the dishes with your party.  After the waiter/ress confirms your order, she takes it to the kitchen and brings it back to your table.  When a dish is ordered and brought to the table, the employees cross it off on a piece of paper at the table.

It is essential to order the dumplings.  The soup dumplings (XiaoLongBao) have a little bit of soup wrapped up with meat in the bottom of the dumpling.  The shrimp and pork wonton soup is especially tasty.  We also love to order the dumplings, spicy noodles, shao mai and fried rice.  Don’t forget the Thai Tea and Coffee!

The Crowd

There are locations in Glendale, Torrance and two in Arcadia.  There is also a location in Orange County and San Diego.  The restaurant gets very busy on the weekends.  The crowd is a mix of people, all craving dumplings.  Make sure to make a reservation if you don’t want to wait 45 to 90 minutes.

Cost

We always order about 5-7 dishes with drinks and walk away paying just less than $100 for three or four people.  For the two of us, it’s about $60…and believe me…every penny is worth it.

Din Tai Fung Information

21540 Hawthorne Blvd, Ste 519, Torrance, CA 90503

(310) 214-1175

dintaifungusa.com

Thanks for reading! If you’ve ever been to Din Tai Fung, please comment on this post!  Also, if you have suggestions of other places to go in the Greater Los Angeles Area, please let me know by e-mailing admin@la-staycation.com

Porto’s Bakery & Cafe-Multiple Locations

Porto’s Bakery & Café-Various Locations

What: Porto’s Bakery & Café

Where: Multiple Locations

For: All Ages

Porto’s is my all-time favorite bakery to get some tasty food and desserts from.  There are locations in Downey, Glendale, Buena Park, Burbank and West Covina. Not only is the food mouthwateringly good, but the prices are very affordable…which is good for my wallet but not for my daily calorie intake.  I have been to three different Porto’s, and each one has been better than the last.  I don’t think that I’ve ever walked out with less than two boxes full of goodies.

Bakery

I mostly come to Porto’s for their baked goods. I can literally eat five cheese rolls in one sitting if I didn’t have any self-control.  They have every type of dessert you can think of from cupcakes, cookies and brownies to puff pastries, strudels and croissants.  Porto’s is known for their potato balls, which come in a variety of flavors.  Different kinds of sweets, savory baked goods and breads greet you when you walk through the doors. The bakery section is wall-to-wall and is always crowded with people trying to get the fresh goods.

The Café

You can go to Porto’s to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner (why not make it all three?!).  Savory sandwiches, hot soups and salads are available for patrons.  There are even plated steak entrees on the menu.  You can sit down and enjoy your meal or order for carry out.  Porto’s offers many different types of coffees and teas…if I wasn’t so loyal to Starbucks, I’d say that they have some pretty stiff competition.  If you don’t need caffeine in your day, a variety of fresh fruit smoothies topped with whipped cream are offered.

The Cakes

If you think you’ve been to a bakery with a ton of cakes, think again.  Porto’s has the most cakes that I’ve ever seen.  Patrons can order them for a special occasion in advance or walk into the restaurant to pick up pre-made cakes.  My personal favorite are all the types of cheesecakes that they have.  The kids like the cupcakes (although they only lick off the frosting).

Emma and Sky licking the frosting off the cupcakes.

The Crowd

Every time I’ve gone into any Porto’s, the parking lot has been a mess.  By mess I mean that I feel like I might get in a fist fight in the parking lot because there are never any available spaces.  The line is also very long (sometimes out the door), which they try to mitigate by using a guest number system.  After you order at the bakery counter there is an assigned worker that packages up your food and then calls your name to the register to pay.  If you plan on coming to Porto’s, make sure that you factor in the time it takes to park and stand in line.

Cost

As I said before, Porto’s is very affordable.  I often leave with two boxes filled with sweets for less than $35 out the door.  Prices can be seen on their website.  Make sure to also check their website for seasonal items that change often.

Porto’s Bakery & Café Information

portosbakery.com

Thanks for reading! If you’ve ever been to Porto’s Bakery & Café, please comment on this post!  Also, if you have suggestions of other places to go in the Greater Los Angeles Area, please let me know by e-mailing admin@la-staycation.com

Los Angeles Zoo & Botanical Gardens-Los Angeles

Los Angeles Zoo & Botanical Gardens-Los Angeles

What: Los Angeles Zoo & Botanical Gardens

Where: Glendale

For: All Ages

Ethan and I planned a day to explore the Zoo with the kids when they were 3 and 4 years old.  We all had a great time, although I think it would be wise to take them back now that they’re older and can appreciate the animals more.  You can expect to spend 4-6 hours at the zoo, which makes for a full day of fun with the animals!

Skylar and me with the giraffes.

The Zoo Basics

We decided to take a day trip to the LA Zoo with the kids two years ago during the summer.  Keep in mind during the time that if it is hot outside or raining that you will probably not see many animals.  Since it was very hot, we made sure to bring the strollers so the kids wouldn’t get too tired.  When you buy your tickets, you’re handed a zoo map that allows you to plan your visit.  There is a gift shop on the inside when you walk in, and restaurants are scattered around the zoo.  We brought lunches for the kids and bought them dessert from the restaurant.

Ethan and Emma watching the giraffes.

Wheelchairs and single/double strollers are for rent on a first-come first-served basis.  Food and drinks are permitted in the Zoo, as picnic tables are provided for guests around the Zoo grounds.  There is a large parking lot for Zoo guests with free parking.  If you come later in the day, be prepared for a long walk to the entrance.  Membership, educational, and internship programs are offered by the Zoo (please check their website for details).

The Animals

Despite the hot day, the kids were able to see many animals.  Some of the fences to the exhibits were even close enough for them to feel like they were a part of the animals’ habitat.  They really liked looking at the gorillas and monkeys, as there was only a glass window separating them from the animals.  At the monkey area, there is a section of stadium seating where you can eat your food and watch the monkeys play.  The elephants and giraffes were also amazing to watch with he kids.  We enjoyed walking through the reptile exhibit since it was inside and air conditioned.  Signs throughout the zoo give you directions to the different exhibits.

The kids loved watching the monkeys.

There is a small barnyard petting zoo available in the kids area near the playground.  Here, the kids are able to get up close and personal with the animals.  They enjoyed petting the goats, sheep and pigs.  There is also a wild bird show that proves very entertaining for both adults and children.

Three little monkeys.

The Crowd

The zoo is a very family friendly area with a mix of people in the crowd.  Because of the heat, there were not as many people walking around.  Keep in mind that almost everything is outdoors, so check the weather before making the drive out.

Cost

Parking is free and admission was about $80 for two adults and two kids.  Depending on where you dine, you can expect to pay $10 to $20 per person.  Desserts run from $3 to $6 per person.  No alcoholic beverages are served on Zoo grounds.

Skylar and me when she was just 6 months old at the Zoo!

Los Angeles Zoo & Botanical Gardens Information

5333 Zoo Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90027

(323) 644-4200

lazoo.org

Thanks for reading! If you’ve ever been to the Los Angeles Zoo & Botanical Gardens, please comment on this post!  Also, if you have suggestions of other places to go in the Greater Los Angeles Area, please let me know by e-mailing admin@la-staycation.com