Saturday, October 24, 2015


Nadirah’s Perspective: 

In August, hubby and I took a trip to California to visit Los Angeles and San Diego. I will be a Chi-Town gal till I die but I must admit that I can see why more people head to the sunny weather of the West Coast.  This blog entry will be focusing on the best way to travel, what eateries we tried and was recommended, and our choice of hotels.  Hopefully, our travels adventures will help you with all your future travel ideas.

If you are visiting Cali for a length of time, I would suggest having your own mode of transportation by renting a car.  California is number 1 for traffic for a reason. You will be sitting in traffic, so have a car you can feel comfortable in and can drive with ease.  Avoid making your search for a great deal a chore by using search engines like Hotwire or Priceline to help search different rental car places to bid on what you want.  We used Atwest Rental and I will NOT be using them again… long story and I won’t give them my energy by reliving the problems.

To find a hotel, try using Trip Advisor or for the same reason.  We were lucky to find a hidden gem but I will admit that it was in an area that locals considered the “hood.” Coming from the Chi, it was like staying in the Pilsen neighborhood, so we wasn’t scared.  The hotel’s name is the El Rancho Hotel.  The layout is like a studio apartment with a microwave and refrigerator. The pros were: cleanliness, the huge bathroom shower, the digital cable, the location from the main expressway, and the distance from downtown. The only cons were: it didn’t a closet or closet space, no ironing board or iron, and limited parking spaces if you come in late after partying.  Overall, this place was pretty nice, budget friendly, and close to late night eateries.

The hotel we stayed in San Diego was the Ramada Inn San Diego Airport. I fell in love with this hotel. The pros were: it was spacious, clean, had closet space, surrounded by various restaurants, and it was walking distance to a health food grocery store. The cons were: a foul odor from the bathroom sink faucet and very minimal continental breakfast choices, but again, various restaurants are in close proximity.  We would definitely go back.

No trip would be complete without the topic of eating. Starting with L.A., the best places to eat would be Candela Taco Bar & Lounge (Shrimp & Fish Tacos), Grub (Crack Bacon), Coles (Lamb Sandwiches), Roscoe’s Chicken & Waffle (only if you never had the experience) and Waba Grill.  In San Diego, Rockin Baja Lobster Grill, Mitch Seafood (Monchong Fish Tacos), Las Hadas (Steak & Shrimp Quesadilla), Night & Day CafĂ© on Coronado Island (fish & beef tacos).  If you can stop by San Clemente, you HAVE TO VISIT Fisherman’s Restaurant and Bar (Ceviche, Crab Cakes & Killer Margaritas).

Coles (Lamb Sandwich - Protein Style)

Candela (Garlic Shrimp & Fish Tacos)

Grub (Crack Bacon)

Roscoe's Chicken and Waffles (Obama Special & Sunrise Drink)

Fisherman's Restaurant and Bar
(Ceviche, Crab Cakes & Margarita)

Night and Day Cafe
(Beer Battered Cod, Beef, and Grilled Mahi Mahi Tacos)

Las Hadas (Steak and Shrimp Quesadilla) 
& Gas Lamp District

Mitch's Seafood (Monchong Fish Tacos & Grilled Monchong)

Overall, I will admit that I fell in love with San Diego relaxed environment and cooler temperatures but I had to hurry up and get out of L.A. The traffic alone would drive a sane person crazy.  A place that is 2.5 miles would literally take 25-30 minutes before arrival. FYI, make sure you have Waze or any other GPS app downloaded to your smartphone. It will help you find alternate routes and shorter travel times.  Also, have a phone charger with you at all times. I had to learn the hard way on that importance.

Troy's Perspective:

Our trip along the West Coast was exciting and fun filled. Although, averaging 3 hours a day in traffic was depressing and the 100-degree temps only intensified the irritation; I still thoroughly enjoyed my trip to the fullest.

The trip began at The Grove. Catering to Californians, this outdoor market proved to be a mecca for a health fanatic like myself.  This open-air marketplace has various restaurants ranging from seafood to BBQ.  Make sure to check on which stalls have Happy Hours.  They provide quality drinks for a discounted deal. F.Y.I., there is a Whole Foods right across the main street if you are looking for something specific.

For an inexpensive place to lay your head, The El Rancho Hotel served its purpose. The El rancho had easy, efficient check-in, a clean room and wasn’t far away from the nightlife of LA. The main thing I did not like was the limited amenities provided, i.e. no soap, ironing board, and shelf space. I would not recommend this place for extended stays.

For great drinks and a place to meet with friends, Coles located in downtown LA proved to be the perfect place. The Italian dip sandwich (Lamb) held up to its name and over exceeded its expectations. It is a must try when visiting the area.

Venice Beach was a sight for sore eyes. I’ve been there plenty of times and it is always exciting to see the famous Californian landmark. Beautiful beach, great eateries, bars, and novelty shops.  You will find great artistry along the walk. Some of the artists were creating various art pieces on the spot.

Venice Beach

Waba Grill was my go to in LA. This franchise restaurant was the healthiest thing that I could find at short notice.  Located 5 minutes away within a strip mall from the Rancho Hotel, this meal had great flavor, very fresh veggies, and is a good bang for your buck.

Waba Grill
(Steak/Chicken and Salmon Grills with Avocado)
San Diego was phenomenal. The weather was perfect because it brought a cool, but comfortable ocean breeze across the atmosphere.  We settled at the Ramada across from the shore. It was a great location, close to a supermarket, the room was clean with all the necessary amenities that you would need in a great stay. It was a pleasantly quaint stay that I definitely would recommend to anyone. The Pearl Hotel is right across the street and The Pearl’s Bar/Lounge area kept a party going.

When in San Diego visit The Gas Lamp District for a great place to party, eat, and have a good time.  Drink specials are everywhere, so pick your poison. Coronado Island was a great place to experience. It was great to see the “golf cart lifestyle” (people driving golf carts on the street.)

Overall, LA was great but I would like to spend more time in San Diego for a more relaxing environment.