Tag Archives: tops in town

Lotus & Light Brings Fresh Flavors, Light Plates To Burbank

Lotus & Light, an absolutely excellent Vietnamese/Asian Fusion restaurant in the Lakeside Shopping Center on Pass Avenue in Burbank, has been open for almost a year and they’ve developed quite a solid clientele in that time, with good reason.

We recently visited for the first time and were blown away by the atmosphere, the friendliness and attentiveness of the servers and, most importantly, the food.

Lotus Papaya Salad is fresh and flavorful. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Excellent pho, top notch rice plates, fresh and tasty summer rolls and a flavorful papaya salad, topped off with Thai iced tea and ice cold lemon water, had us enjoying every bite.

With a menu that offers a lot of choices for any mood, from a solid selection of starters and vegetarian/vegan options, to vermicelli noodle dishes, rice plates, pho and a few banh mi sandwiches, Lotus & Light also tout a range of desserts, beer and wine.

Chicken Over Rice with three ginger sauces. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

The interior is bright, light and airy and the mood is upbeat and friendly. Bathrooms are clean and accessible. Parking is available in the busy Lakeside Shopping Center lot or on surrounding streets.

Lotus & Light is a prime example of how to create a restaurant that is welcoming and popular, with food, ambiance and good service.

Filet Mignon Basil Chili at Lotus & Light in Burbank. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

The Lotus Papaya Salad was gingery and slightly spicy and so fresh. Summer Rolls, packed with juicy shrimp, crisp cucumber and leafy green lettuce, were perked up with a spicy peanut dipping sauce. The Thai iced teas were the right amount of creamy sweetness and aromatic tea.

Chicken Pho was some of the best pho we’ve ever had – light, but very chicken-y broth, tender chicken, with a perfect balance of onion, basil, lime juice, sprouts and a nice heat from the green chili pepper.

lotus & light

Chicken Pho at Lotus & Light. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

The Chicken Over Rice plate included three different ginger compotes, one mild and two spicy. Balanced with a small bowl of chicken broth to cleanse the palate, the dish was one lovely combination of flavors after another.

The Filet Mignon Basil Chili dish started with white rice, covered with quality, tender steak with basil and chilis for a little spice, topped with a fried egg that once mixed in, made every bite creamy and complex.

Summer Rolls and Thai Iced Teas at Lotus & Light. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Wow. We will be back soon to try more of the menu. So many items look amazing; we can only imagine their flavors. Lotus & Light is Tops In Town for excellent Vietnamese/Asian Fusion food, friendly service and cleanliness.

Restaurant Info: Lotus & Light is located at 345 N. Pass Avenue, Burbank, CA 91505. 818-562-7777. Lotus & Light is open daily 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Lotus & Light receives: Tops In Town

myBurbank Ratings:
Tops In Town (Outstanding)
On The Marquee (Really Good)
Could Use A Rewrite (Average or Slightly Below)
Don’t Quit Your Day Job (Poor)

Lotus & Light interior. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)



Burger Review – Apollo Burger

When you control a major intersection corner in Burbank and have been there for many years, you would expect that the burger you put out would be something worth keeping you in business.

Apollo BurgerI had heard in the past that breakfast burritos at Apollo Burger were really good and since the name is Apollo Burger and not Apollo Burrito, I was hoping for the same quality.

Nothing I expected could be farther from that.

Upon ordering their cheeseburger special combo, which includes fries and a medium drink (only one refill allowed), I was not given any options at all when ordering, although I did ask for my fries well done as always.

Apollo Burger 2When they called us to come get  our food, I set the tray down and gazed at the burger and it did not look very impressive. To start with, you get American cheese, and that is the only option. The bun is toasted, but there is nothing on it, just plain.

It had all the regular condiments such as pickles, lettuce, tomato and onion (and there was a lot of onion), but it had a real dry taste to it.

You could easily tell that when they ordered their supplies that when it came to the burger, it was a cheap frozen patty and the standard hamburger bun. Now I was starting to guess why my friend and I were the only two people who were there our entire time eating inside their dining room.

Apollo Burger 1For a price over $7 for the combo, you are being ripped off or you just don’t care about quality when you eat. Gary Bric’s Ramp has a combo for the same price that is like comparing a 1962 VW to a 1969 Corvette for the same price.

Maybe they should change their name to Apollo Burrito.

Sides Notes: The fries were actually the star. They came well done and crunchy and had some seasoning salt that added to the flavor. The dining room is very outdated and the seats are not comfortable and our table wobbled more than a drunk sailor. Why do I consider this place to be back in the 70’s? One great reason is they ONLY take cash – yikes!

Apollo Burger Burger is located at 401 North Glenoaks Blvd. in Burbank – right on the corner of Magnolia and Glenoaks. 818 842-2444 Open Monday thru Saturday. 7 am until 7 pm – closed on Sunday.

Apollo Burger receives: Could Use a Rewrite

myBurbank Ratings:
Tops In Town (Outstanding)
On The Marquee (Really Good)
Could Use A Rewrite (Average or Slightly Below)
Don’t Quit Your Day Job (Poor)

If you would like us to consider a location for a review – let us know HERE

Burger Review: Rocky’s Bar & Grill

There was a time back in the day that there were several Rocky’s in Burbank and all had a decent reputation. As far as the burger goes, boy – how times have changed.

rockys1To find Rocky’s to start with takes some hunting as it is located mid-block on Lincoln above the Empire Center with just a single sign on front of the business. Inside it is small with a bar that seats around 10 and about 25 in the dining area, if you can find enough chairs that are not broken.

It is an interesting menu that when you ask for a burger, the cost is $4. When you ask for a cheeseburger, the cost is $4 – sounds great to get free cheese!

rockys burgerWhen the burger comes the presentation looks fine. The cheeseburger comes with lettuce, pickle, red onion and tomato with mayonnaise on the bun. The top half seemed toasted the bottom half was toasted lightly which means the always explosive bottom bun.

The patty may be thinner than a McDonald’s single cheeseburger and you get it medium well because you are never asked how you would like it cooked. I am sure if the NHL every runs short of hockey pucks they may want to stop by here.

This was a hard burger to get through. There was just no flavor what-so-ever.

Maybe it was just me, the place seemed a bit crowded with local workers having a beer and some food (although I did not see anyone eating a burger) and they did not seem to complain.

After I left I could just feel that burger sitting in my stomach for hours like it was telling me, ‘what the heck have you done to me now?’

rockys2It’s just sad to me that a hole-in-the-wall place like this does not step up their game and have some pride in their burger. Yes, the price is cheap at $4 and if you want fries another $3, but people are looking for more nowadays and will travel the few extra miles to get something worth enjoying and raving about.

I will say this, our server was extremely friendly and did a great job for us.

Side Notes: Asked for the fries well done and they came back medium, they had potential but just no taste or flavor (does a little seasoning salt ever cross people’s minds?) They do not serve Coke or Pepsi, but that old favorite RC Cola. The root beer comes from the bar.

Rocky’s Bar & Grill is located at 2019 N Lincoln St., Burbank – middle of the block on east side. 818 843-0227. Open M – F 11 am until 8 pm and Saturday 12 pm to 4 pm – closed Sunday

Rocky’s Bar & Grill receives: Don’t Quit Your Day Job

myBurbank Ratings:
Tops In Town (Outstanding)
On The Marquee (Really Good)
Could Use A Rewrite (Average or Slightly Below)
Don’t Quit Your Day Job (Poor)

If you would like the Burger Dude to consider a location for a review – let us know HERE

Forman’s Tavern Opens With Excellent Food, Chill Vibe

Since Forman’s Tavern opened in Toluca Lake about six weeks ago, the public house has settled into the neighborhood quite nicely with consistently excellent food, a comfortable vibe and decor, along with friendly, expert bartenders. A breath of fresh air for Toluca Lake and Burbank!

Serving the same, large menu at lunch and dinner, the offerings range from small plates to heartier entrees, burgers, sandwiches and salads. Forman’s serves up a nice menu of beers, IPAs and wines, along with colorful, creative cocktails.

Forman's Tavern Crispy Chicken Sandwich. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Forman’s Tavern Crispy Chicken Sandwich. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

We have stopped by Forman’s Tavern several times in the past few weeks, late at night and for lunch. Every visit has been pleasant, from bar atmosphere to the quality of the food and drink.

At night, a bouncer checks i.d.s and the place is busy inside. We still were able to find a seat at the large community table in the center. The tavern is dark, punctuated with atmospheric lighting. Fortunately, the place isn’t overly loud, like many bars can be.

During the day, Forman’s does a steady business for lunch yet finding a nice table at which to sit is pretty easy. The pub is light, bright and expansive.

Forman's amazing Brussels Sprouts. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Forman’s amazing Brussels Sprouts. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

At Forman’s, we’ve had one of the best burgers we’ve tasted anywhere in the United States, the Steakhouse Burger. At $14, the diner gets their money’s worth. Ground fresh daily, the meat is perfectly cooked to order.

A medium burger melts in the mouth, with an incredible flavor. Topped with braised mushrooms, Gruyere cheese and crispy shallots and placed inside a potato bun, Forman’s Steakhouse Burger is simply perfect.

Hand cut fries are available separately, and are expertly crispy, potato-y and a little picante. Forman’s Brussels Sprouts ($7) are a thing of beauty – crispy and chewy with a hint of citrus, heat and nutty, salty cheese.

Forman's Steakhouse Burger with fresh cut fries. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Forman’s Steakhouse Burger with fresh cut fries. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

The Crispy Chicken Sandwich ($13) is slightly spicy and juicy. A fried chicken breast is topped with Swiss cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickles and a tangy sweet honey mustard dressing on a potato bun.

And then there’s Forman’s salad menu, which looks fantastic, from Kale Salad, Citrus & Beet Salad, Quinoa & Berry Salad and Farro Salad to Fried Chicken Salad, Ahi Tuna Salad and Grilled Steak Salad.

Forman's Farro Salad. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Forman’s Farro Salad. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

The Farro Salad ($14), made with nutty farro, house-smoked turkey, tender butternut squash, cranberries, green onions, lemon and olive oil, is tangy, slightly sweet, filling and absolutely perfect.

Another spectacular dish is the Lemon & Ale Mussels. If we had one critique, it would be to request more grilled bread to accompany the dish, with which to soak up the fragrant, lemony, sea-flavored broth. For $15, the plate is a huge stack of mussels steamed with Belgian ale, lemon and parsley. Five slices of sliced, grilled bread are served alongside.

Lemon & Ale Mussels at Forman's Tavern. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Lemon & Ale Mussels at Forman’s Tavern. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

We also tried the Spicy Bacon Caramel Popcorn ($6.) The combination of flavors worked really well, although perhaps a little more bacon could have been present. The sweetness of the shared plate worked well as a dessert.

Forman’s bartenders make excellent cocktails. The Old Fashioned is served over a single huge cube of ice and garnished with a lemon twist – strong and classic. The Rosemary Paloma is tangy and fresh. Most cocktails range in price from $10-12.

(Photo By Lisa Paredes)

(Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Forman’s wine and beer list is solid as well. We’ve tried several varieties on tap, including the Dog Fishhead 90 IPA, Old Chubb Nitro, Big Whig IPA and the Lagunitas Pils. Prices range from $7-9 a glass.

At Forman’s Tavern, no detail is forgotten. The bathrooms are clean and charmingly decorated. The main room is large and open, with lots of hunting lodge and country-inspired accoutrements.

Eating at Forman’s is a visceral, slightly messy experience. Be prepared for some sticky fingers!

Patrons find their own seats and order food and drinks at the bar. Runners bring the plates out from the kitchen to the tables.

Forman’s Tavern is on Riverside Drive in Toluca Lake, so be prepared to valet or park and walk.

For consistency, style and substance, Forman’s Tavern gets a resounding Tops In Town. We are thrilled to find an excellent casual place for late-night dinners and drinks, close to Burbank, with a little more sophistication than the usual suspects.

Restaurant Info: Forman’s Tavern is located at 10149 Riverside Dr., Toluca Lake, CA, 91602. 818-760-6900. Forman’s Tavern is open Monday through Sunday 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m.

Forman’s Tavern receives: Tops In Town

myBurbank Ratings:
Tops In Town (Outstanding)
On The Marquee (Really Good)
Could Use A Rewrite (Average or Slightly Below)
Don’t Quit Your Day Job (Poor)


Burger Review – The Hollywood Way

Hollywood Way

When you do burger reviews you expect to be disappointed way more then made happy. I did not pick The Hollywood Way to be the first of the many to be reviewed burger places on purpose. I knew I was starting this up again after taking six years off and just decided as I walked in the door to make this the first – no matter how good or bad.

We went in around 2:00 in the afternoon and found the place about half full but easily found seating. The waitress was on us fast and we had a menu and drinks within a minute.

Upon ordering there are some words I love to hear “…and how would you like that cooked?” When you hear that you know you are getting a fresh hand packed patty, and I also went with cheddar cheese.  She also asked which kind of bun, their standard brioche bun or their cheesy bun. Of course, being a huge cheese guy, I went cheesy!

Hollywood Way burgerWhen it came in about 12 minutes, it looked like a thing of beauty (see picture!). The bun fit perfectly, did not fall apart at all, the condiments were not over-bearing and the amount of cheese was not stingy, it oozed from the meat.

After one bite I was hooked, the flavor was outstanding. This burger was a star by itself. It was not too big and not out of control. After I finished I was worried that it was going to be hard to find any other burgers that would live up to these standards.

While I tried the Classic Cheeseburger, The Hollywood Way has many more varieties (including sliders) for you to try.

The Hawaii Five-O has teriyaki glaze with a slice of grilled pineapple, the Memphis burger is a half-pound burger piled high with Carolina pulled pork, Cheddar cheese, Applewood-smoked bacon and onion straws topped with Hollywood BBQ sauce.

There are several more including Smokehouse, Black and Blue and the Hollywood Way Hottie which you had better have a lot of cold drink near you before trying.

The Hollywood Way has a full bar and separate seating away from the bar area for families. There are numerous TV’s turned to every sports game on at the time.

Although it really does not count for the burger review, I would be chastised not to tell you about some of the sides. The Onion Straws are outstanding but what I really love are the Kettle Chips which you see in the picture.  They are always made fresh and come to you warm.

The Hollywood Way is located at 1333 N. Hollywood Way – right next to the car wash at Burbank and Hollywood Way. 818 845-4400

The Hollywood Way receives: Tops in Town

myBurbank Ratings:
Tops In Town (Outstanding)
On The Marquee (Really Good)
Could Use A Rewrite (Average or Slightly Below)
Don’t Quit Your Day Job (Poor)


Sushi Yuzu Reigns Supreme

Having eaten sushi at fine, and not-so-fine, restaurants throughout Los Angeles, New York City, San Francisco and other American cities for the past 25 years, I have tasted the gamut of preparations from the truly excellent to the frighteningly awful.

Sushi Yuzu falls solidly in the absolutely excellent camp, with tender, fresh fish, exciting preparations and friendly chefs and servers. Diners can enjoy omakase or order from an extensive menu of sushi, sashimi, rolls and cooked dishes.

Sushi Yuzu Jumbo Scallop, Muki-Hotate, tastes like the ocean, with a touch of wasabi. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Sushi Yuzu Jumbo Scallop, Muki-Hotate, tastes like the ocean, with a touch of wasabi. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

For a small restaurant, Sushi Yuzu seats a good number of people at tables and the bar, however prime times for lunch and dinner can result in a wait. There may be some good reasons for all the patrons.

Perhaps the warm towel to cleanse hands at the beginning of the meal is a signal that something special is about to happen.

The diner may get an inkling when the fragrant miso soups and the hot appetizer of Kani-Shiitake Age, tasty tempura shiitake mushrooms stuffed with crab and scallop, arrive.

But there can be no doubt when the first slabs of fresh sushi are placed on the plate by the chef. Sushi Yuzu is a unique, stylized and top-notch sushi spot.

Sushi Yuzu's popular namesake roll, the Yuzu, is an explosion of textures and tastes. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Sushi Yuzu’s popular namesake roll, the Yuzu, is an explosion of textures and tastes. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

From creative and colorful concoctions like the popular Asian, Lemon and Yuzu Rolls, to the more traditional sushi and sashimi, the chefs prepare every plate with precision and an attention to texture, taste, smell and visual impression.

Every bite of fish is fresh, tender and moist. There is basically no need for soy sauce, unless for a surfeit of moisture and bit more salt.

Recently, I tried the Blue Fin Tuna. It was almost like eating a piece of melt-in-your-mouth-tender beef filet, the fish was so meaty and flavorful. Absolutely, a treat.

Sushi Yuzu also has a few vegan items on their menu, along with seasonal Hot Pots and a variety of soups. Their list of hot and cold appetizers is quite long and brings together vegetables, meats and a host of eclectic flavorings, for some exciting plates.

Sushi Yuzu's Blue Fin Tuna is hearty and succulent. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Sushi Yuzu’s Blue Fin Tuna is hearty and succulent. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Earlier in 2014, Sushi Yuzu renovated a restaurant across the street at 10155 Riverside Drive in Toluca Lake, naming it Kabosu. Based on the excellent experiences we continue to have at Sushi Yuzu, we will have to give their sister restaurant a try.

Everyone in the family, young and old, raves about the food every single time we eat at Sushi Yuzu. We think new diners will too. Just be prepared for a bit of a wait to be seated, and reservations may be wise. Parking is limited but can be found within a few blocks of this Toluca Lake favorite.

Restaurant Info: Sushi Yuzu is located at 10118 Riverside Drive, Burbank, CA 91602. 818-763-8355. Sushi Yuzu is open Monday through Friday 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. for lunch and Monday through Friday from 5:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. for dinner. They are also open for dinner Saturday 5:00 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. and Sunday from 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Sushi Yuzu receives: Tops In Town

myBurbank Ratings:
Tops In Town (Outstanding)
On The Marquee (Really Good)
Could Use A Rewrite (Average or Slightly Below)
Don’t Quit Your Day Job (Roadkill)

Century Dragon Serves Up Excellent Chinese Food

Burbank’s Magnolia Park district is home to a gem of a Chinese restaurant, Century Dragon, on Magnolia Boulevard. The small restaurant is tucked between a gas station and Garri Dance Studio but it serves up big flavors and bountiful portions.

Our family has eaten at Century Dragon several times recently. As we explore the restaurant’s rather large menu, some favorites have already popped up.

Three Flavors Sizzling Rice Soup at Burbank's Century Dragon. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Three Flavors Sizzling Rice Soup at Burbank’s Century Dragon. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Both the Hot & Sour Soup and the Wonton Soup are delicious, but it is the exciting Three Flavors Sizzling Rice Soup that the family enjoys most. Clear, savory broth is loaded with fresh vegetables like mushroom, carrot, zucchini and snow pea, along with shrimp and chicken pieces.

The server spoons a mound of airy toasted rice puffs on top and the dish sizzles as the broth and the rice meet. Three Flavors Sizzling Rice Soup is a warm symphony of tastes and textures.

Pork Moo Shu at Century Dragon is messy but delicious. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Pork Moo Shu at Century Dragon is messy but delicious. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

For the first time, we tried Pork Moo Shu – it was fantastic. The shredded pork and vegetable filling is served wrapped in thin crepe, like a Chinese burrito. A smoky, tangy Hoisin Plum Sauce is served on the side. We discovered that it’s better to wrap the crepe tight and not put it down until you’ve eaten the whole thing.

Another family favorite is the Sesame Chicken plate. Served with freshly steamed broccoli, the vegetables provide a nice counterpoint to the sightly sweet and saucy breaded chicken dish.

Sesame Chicken at Century Dragon, garnished with perfectly steamed broccoli. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Sesame Chicken at Century Dragon, garnished with perfectly steamed broccoli. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

We also enjoyed the Kung Pao Shrimp dish, with a smoky and spicy sauce over chunky peppers and onions and roasted peanuts.

All items are served a la carte, and Century Dragon offers steamed white or brown rice or plain fried rice for a side. We enjoyed the lightness of the plain fried rice. Simple rice, with mixed vegetables and scrambled egg, is very lightly fried. The fried rice reminded me of the way most San Gabriel Chinese restaurants prepare fried rice – not greasy, very light, with lots of vegetables.

Burbank's Century Dragon serves a non-greasy fried rice. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Burbank’s Century Dragon serves a non-greasy fried rice. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

We have also enjoyed the Art of Dragon entree, a spicy sauteed plate of shrimp and chicken with vegetables in a special House Sauce. The Spicy Beef dish is also very popular, with tender cuts of meat. It can be quite spicy.

Magnolia Park’s Century Dragon has the best Chinese food in Burbank, we think. Service at this small, family-run restaurant is friendly and attentive. The restaurant is popular for dine-in and take out for lunch and dinner. Since it’s open until 9:30 every evening, it’s a great spot for a those looking to eat on the later side.

The restaurant also offers lunch specials between 11:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. While street parking is limited, there is plentiful parking behind the restaurant off the alley.

Restaurant Info: Century Dragon is located at 3711 W. Magnolia Boulevard, Burbank, CA 91505. 818-846-3711. Century Dragon is open Monday through Friday 11:00 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.

Century Dragon receives: Tops In Town

myBurbank Ratings:
Tops In Town (Outstanding)
On The Marquee (Really Good)
Could Use A Rewrite (Average or Slightly Below)
Don’t Quit Your Day Job (Roadkill)

World Empanadas Combines Exciting Flavors For A Hearty Burst Of Deliciousness

World Empanadas has been operating for over a year as a take-out spot in the rear of a liquor store at the corner of S. Victory Blvd. and W. Providencia Avenue. This little shop has the best empanadas around, from the standard flavors of beef, corn, spinach and cheese, to more exciting combinations including fresh crab, chile relleno, chicken marsala, fajitas and pulled pork. The empanada dough is not too heavy or greasy or too abundant, but rather, just right.

Chicken Milanesa sandwich and a Chicken Marsala empanada special are brightened with some fresh pico de gallo and chimmichurri. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Chicken Milanese sandwich and a Chicken Marsala empanada special are brightened with some fresh pico de gallo and chimichurri. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

With changing weekend specials, more options for lunch and a newly added breakfast menu, World Empanadas does more than just make spectacular empanadas. The Chicken Milanese sandwich is out-of-this-world good, joining lighted breaded tenderized chicken breast with lettuce, tomato, melted cheese and a flavorful, garlicky spread in a soft roll. Chicken tortilla soup, a chorizo sandwich and a Chicken Milanese salad are also available for the lunch menu.

(Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Chicken Milanese sandwich next to a several different empanadas – the varying shapes and marks on the empanada exterior help tell the various kinds apart. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

The breakfast menu includes burritos, muffins, cinnamon buns and coffee. It’s more for the late riser or a mid-morning bite, since the shop doesn’t open until 9:00 a.m.

Started by young chef and Le Cordon Bleu graduate Matthew Hirtz, who gets some help from his parents Lia and Carlos, World Empanadas is known for baking, not frying, the empanadas, which leads to a fresher, lighter taste. The creative combinations of ingredients and flavors shines here. Hirtz is not afraid to try some pretty wild recipes sometimes – which usually turn out exceptionally well.

Corn empanada and Beef empanda. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Corn empanada and Beef empanda. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Because World Empanadas is a true mom and pop take-out restaurant in every sense of the word, we have found it’s better to call in our order ahead of time. That way, if the staff is very busy, we have a better idea of how long it may take to make our order. It’s not unusual for the shop to run out of popular items before closing. Sometimes the order taking is a bit hit and miss, and sometimes it takes a while to make the Milanese sandwich – which is okay, because it’s so delicious and worth the wait.

All the ingredients used are so fresh and the resulting creations are bites of deliciousness. World Empanadas often have a dessert empanada special; the recent Chocolate Gelato empanada was absolute perfection. Cool, softening chocolate gelato (from Ciao Cristina’s supplier) fills a flaky pastry topped with hardened chocolate. One-half of this dessert empanada is plenty for one sitting!

Chocolate gelato dessert empanada. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Chocolate gelato dessert empanada. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

This coming weekend, in celebration of the Super Bowl, World Empanadas is offering two specials. Inspired by the Denver Broncos, the shop is offering a pulled pork, green chile, pinto bean and veggie empanada. For the Seattle Seahawks, the chefs are making the longtime-favorite, fresh lump crab meat empanada with tomato-mayo, veggies and cilantro.

(Photo By Lisa Paredes)

(Photo By Lisa Paredes)

World Empandas’ website and Facebook page list their upcoming specials weekly. We have eaten from this restaurant regularly for over a year and the place continues to wow our family, young and old, with consistently good food and exciting specials.

World Empanadas gets a Tops In Town for elevating the basic empanada and sandwich to new levels and is always a popular choice for a delicious, easy meal for the whole family.

Restaurant Info: World Empanadas is located at 529 S. Victory Blvd., Burbank, CA  91502. 818-934-1820. Open Monday – Friday 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m and Saturday 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Closed Sundays.

World Empanadas receives: Tops In Town

myBurbank Ratings:
Tops In Town (Outstanding)
On The Marquee (Really Good)
Could Use A Rewrite (Average or Slightly Below)
Don’t Quit Your Day Job (Roadkill)

Don Cuco Serves Up Top Notch Mexican Food

The heavy wooden front door at Don Cuco opens into a darkened cantina punctuated with muted, colorful lights. Hosts and hostesses acknowledge arrivals promptly and soon you’re sliding into a deep red vinyl booth and ordering drinks. Baskets of freshly made, still warm tortilla chips are placed on the table, accompanied by deliciously fire-y salsa and cool-for-your-tongue sour cream.

Chips, spicy salsa and cooling sour cream compliment a Cadillac Margarita. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Chips, spicy salsa and cooling sour cream complement a Cadillac Margarita. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)











The extensive menu can make for hard choices. Small or large plates, salad, vegetarian, meat or seafood options abound. Both the Tropical and the Caribbean Chicken Salads are delicious and hearty. Even the side salad is fresh and tasty, for those who aren’t in the mood for soup. The soups, though, are the thing.

Albondigas soup, hearty meatballs in a robust vegetable broth. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Albondigas soup, hearty meatballs in a robust vegetable broth. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Be it Albondigas or Chicken Tortilla, Don Cuco makes these two soups to perfection. Perfectly seasoned, with a complement of textures and flavors, I advise you to include a cup of soup in your order.

Don Cuco's famous and tasty Chicken Tortilla Soup. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Don Cuco’s famous and tasty Chicken Tortilla soup. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

We have had a variety of meats and seafood over the years at Don Cucos. The menu offers something for everyone, from the tried-and-true basic enchilada, burrito and crispy or soft taco to a variety of fish (already fileted), shrimp and lobster plates to a selection of meats prepared just about every way imaginable. While Don Cuco offers Camarones al Mojo de Ajo and some other authentic favorites, I haven’t seen any whole fried fish, like Mojarra Frita, brought out for the diner to filet themselves.

Carne Asada Sopes layer beans, meat, lettuce, cheese and sour cream on a thick corn tortilla. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Carne Asada Sopes layer sour cream, beans, meat, lettuce, cheese and pico de gallo on a thick corn tortilla. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

I do wish Don Cucos would try to have some weekly specials, like nopales stuffed with cheese and topped with a savory chile verde (a favorite of mine I have only found at Mi Casita in Sunland) or pork and diced nopales simmered in a spicy chile rojo, served with warm tortillas.

While including some great options for expanding your palate, the Don Cuco menu is aimed towards satisfying the tastes of its main clientele, of all ethnicities, who tend to prefer more of the greatest hits of the Mexican food world – tacos, burritos and enchiladas –  along with the huge variety of beer, tequila and margaritas. However, Don Cuco serves those mainstays and its deeper menu with style and flavor that even the most die-hard traditionalist can accept.

Tops In Town Fajitas Combo sizzles on the hot plate. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Tops In Town Fajitas Combo sizzles on the hot plate. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

I’ve enjoyed lobster salads, shrimp enchiladas and more entrees at Don Cucos as well, but the favorites we keep coming back for are the Fajitas Combo, the Steak Milanesa and the Carne Asada Sopes plates, all served with Frijoles de la Olla (beans from the pot, usually topped with diced onion and cilantro), rice, guacamole and warm flour tortillas.

Don Cuco does red meat right; they use quality cuts and fresh ingredients. The Fajitas Combo mixes some of the best tasting chicken I’ve had in a while alongside some of the most tender steak and flavorful shrimp. Try the Frijoles de la Olla once; you will never look at refried or black beans the same way again.

Steak Milanesa hides a surprise of potato and cheese underneath. Frijoles de la Olla takes the plate to the next level. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Steak Milanesa hides a surprise of a potato slice and melted cheese underneath. Frijoles de la Olla takes the plate to the next level. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

The variety of tequilas offered is expansive and so are the flavors of margaritas. The only wavering quality issue I’ve ever had at Don Cuco is with the Cadillac margarita – sometimes made perfectly, other times a bit off – the consistency in taste for that drink is just not there. The fruity margaritas are dependably delicious and quite powerful, too.

While there can be more of a wait at the smaller Don Cuco in Toluca Lake, seating moves quickly, even on crowded evenings at the Downtown Burbank location. Both Don Cuco Restaurants have all the options covered when it comes to pleasing just about any palate. Two separate locations means there’s a lot of Don Cuco to go around, even though both restaurants can be quite busy around mealtimes and into the evening.

Don Cuco is Tops In Town when it comes to finding a sit-down Mexican restaurant in Burbank. Prompt and attentive service, friendly wait staff, clean bathrooms and plentiful portions help make this restaurant a hit. But it is the food, from the chips and salsas, to the soups and guacamole, to the tortillas and the perfectly-made Frijoles de la Olla, to the huge selection of entrees and quality ingredients that seal the deal. Salud!

Restaurant Info: Don Cuco Burbank is located at 218 E. Orange Grove Ave., Burbank, CA  91502. 818-955-8895. Don Cuco Toluca Lake is located at 3911 Riverside Dr., Toluca Lake, CA 91505. 818-842-1123. Both locations are open Monday through Thursday 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. and Friday through Sunday 11:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.

Don Cuco receives: Tops In Town

myBurbank Ratings:
Tops In Town (Outstanding)
On The Marquee (Really Good)
Could Use A Rewrite (Average or Slightly Below)
Don’t Quit Your Day Job (Roadkill)