Saturday, December 1, 2018

Hotel Vandivort - Our Favorite Place to Stay in SoMo

Photography by Eddie Sanchez

It’s Friday afternoon in LA and you’re counting down the hours of work left to start your weekend - probably spent binge watching Netflix only to finally get out of the house for that weekly trip to Target on Sunday. While thoughts of, “how will House of Cards end” run through your head, your boss walks into your office and commissions you to take an impromptu trip to visit one of your vendors. Maybe they’ll send you to New York  - it’s so magical this time of year! Nope. Instead, you’re headed to Springfield, Missouri - a place rich in history with a great coffee shop scene and up-and-coming food offerings you never would have known about. And since this isn’t your first time in SoMo (South Missouri), you’re hip on knowing where to stay, Hotel Vandivort. 

Located right in the heart of Springfield’s downtown, Hotel Vandivort is THE place to stay. The hotel opened its doors about 3 years ago in a historic 108-year old landmark building. From it’s opening, Hotel Vandivort has received great acclaim, even boasting the AAA Four Diamond Award. Excellence, luxury, and a welcoming come-as-you-are environment are the ethos of the Vandivort. The vibe you get when you first enter through the doors is that of an upscale boutique hotel with a hipster/urban edge. You can easily picture this property in the Arts District of some busy metropolis, but you’re in the quaint, relaxed Midwest. 

Communal tables in the lobby perfect for working or socializing.

Modest King Room

There are 50 guest-rooms and maybe your company will be inclined for putting you up in one of the 12 suites because you’ve had such a phenomenal year. While a more special occasion would call for one of the 2 premier suites with 1500 square feet of space plus a 325 square foot outdoor terrace with fireplace and TV. That’s bigger than the apartment you’re sharing in Santa Monica! But whatever room you stay in, all include spacious bathrooms with quartz countertops, premium in-ceiling audio, 55-inch TV’s (so you can binge House of Cards after all), and premium bedding to lull you to sleep.

For food, look no further than The Order, the hotel’s onsite restaurant. Unlike most boutique hotel’s that play it safe with simple offerings from their food and beverage program, The Order elevates itself with upscale cuisine in an approachable environment. Chef Caleb Stangroom and the team exemplify that in dishes like cured swordfish smoked in juniper with chive oil, apple, horseradish, and lemon duck fat aioli. And how about instead of fried chicken, you opt for the fried rabbit with duck fat confit butternut squash, carrots, and preserved turnips? With such great dishes, the cocktail program is also on another level. Innovative drinks are highlighted like the “Lady Vandivort” - tequila, Fernet Branca rinse, fig thyme shrub, lemon juice, and maceration. Classics like a smoked old fashioned round out the menu. 

"Lady Vandivort" -Tres Agaves reposado tequila, Fernet-Branca rinse,
-thyme shrub, lemon juice and maceration

6oz Filet with onion confit, bleu cheese, roasted fingerling potatoes,
buttered brussels sprouts and a red wine demi-glaze.

Fried rabbit with duck fat confit butternut squash, carrots, and preserved turnips.

"Double Dip" - smoked tomato/bacon/goat cheese dip and caramelized onion herb dip.

Chocolate mousse with shaved pistachio. 

"By the Fire" - Bacardi 8 rum, High West Campfire whiskey, chocolate bitters, toasted marshmallow syrup

With so many other great shops and cafes right outside the doorstep of Hotel Vandivort, you have the perfect location to base your trip. The service, accommodations, and of course the food, are unmatched in Springfield. It’s going to be tough to get back to the daily grind when you return to work. 

Hotel Vandivort
305 E Walnut, Springfield, MO 65806

Special thanks to Hotel Vandivort for collaborating with Hungry in LA. As always, the content and opinions expressed here are entirely our own.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Why I Heart Tally and You Will Too

Photography copyrighted to Eddie Sanchez unless otherwise noted

You probably have one of two views on Tallahassee. The first is a business-only city full of government offices and legislators walking around in business attire making things happen for the State of Florida. The other is an energetic college-town full of young students Ubering around West Madison in Noles or Rattlers swag, hopping from party to party. For you, either view is too polarizing because like a good mullet (that's an oxymoron, I know) you're best described as business in the front, party in the back. You're a little bit country and a little bit rock 'n roll, and so is Tallahassee. 

I believe the reason I love Tally is because Florida's capital has something for everyone. It's relaxed and laid back as well as fun and adventurous. There's an abundance of culture and history to absorb from its museums. For the outdoor adventurer, soaring through the trees on a zip line or kayaking through the springs while spotting alligators along the shorelines is a must. If you're a foodie, there's an abundance of restaurants shaping the culinary culture of the area alongside award winning craft breweries. Tallahassee isn't just the one-sided coin some may perceive it to be. There's a lot to explore and below you'll find my recommendations for visiting Tally. 


Hotel Duval
Stay in the heart of downtown at this historic,  boutique hotel close to the State's capital, museums, and entertainment. It's centrally located so it's the perfect launching pad to your Tally adventure. The chic decor is reminiscent of the rat-pack days but updated with today's amenities. Don't miss the top floor, Level 8 Lounge for a great view of the sunset. 

415 N Monroe Street
Tallahassee, FL 32301


Canopy Road Cafe
A breakfast institution in Tallahassee, Canopy Road Cafe is your go-to for traditional breakfast and lunch fare along with fun twists on classics like the Happy Birthday Cakes - sweet delicious rainbow sprinkle filled pancakes topped with vanilla glaze, whipped cream and birthday candle! Even with four locations across the city, you'll still find a wait on weekends but the fast and friendly service and of course incredible breakfast spread is worth the wait.

2202 Capital Circle NE
Tallahassee, FL 32308

The Hideaway
Hidden away (pun intended) behind the Tiki-themed cocktail bar, Waterworks, The Hideaway is a quaint cafe with a 50's retro-chic look. Picture something out of Mad Men where Don Draper would probably be enjoying a quick breakfast with his daughter Sally while on vacation in Florida. For breakfast, order the Bananas Foster Liege Waffles or the Lox Benedict - it won't disappoint. While the food is good, the coffee program is no slouch either. Powered by Jason Card, the founder of Journeyman Coffee, true coffee aficionados will appreciate this hidden gem. 
Lox Benedict with cream cheese, tomato, and capers. 

1133 Thomasville Road
Tallahassee, FL 32303

Kool Beanz Cafe
Owner/chef Keith Baxter opened Kool Beanz Cafe in 1996 with the intention of interpreting his world travel experiences on the plate.While the menu changes on a daily basis, think of dishes like seared ahi tuna, tandoori spiced chicken, and lime mojo swordfish. This casual, eclectic, come-as-you-are local favorite serves thoughtful and creative dishes that you would find at a fine dining restaurant but without the pretentiousness. The result is amazing food with a casual vibe. 
Seared tuna with miso-mustard and edamame succotash.

921 Thomasville Road
Tallahassee, FL 32303

If you're looking for a sophisticated restaurant for dinner, look no further than Cypress. One of Tallahassee's best restaurants and winner of Florida Trend's Golden Spoon Awards, Cypress is the place you take your parents when they visit you at FSU (hoping they pay), or the anniversary dinner you have planned for a special night. The dishes can be described as art on a plate and the level of service and hospitality are first-rate. 
Smoked pork shoulder stack with cornbread and fermented coleslaw. 

320 E Tennessee Street
Tallahassee, FL 32301

The Blu Halo
The Blu Halo lets you enjoy the pleasures of a traditional steakhouse - meat, inventive martinis, and a robust wine list - but in a modern and energetic atmosphere. Located at Bannerman Crossings - North Tallahassee's Eat, Shop, and Play destination, The Blu Halo is the perfect place if you're looking to satisfy your inner carnivore. 
"Chief" -  22 oz. bone-in Angus ribeye with truffle butter.

3431 Bannerman Rd #2
Tallahassee, FL 32312

Ask anyone in Tallahassee where to go for Asian cuisine and they'll all tell you Masa. Literally, everyone told us to go visit and we're so glad we did. Masa is the brilliant creation of one of Tallahassee's most celebrated restaurateurs, Lucy Ho ( Azu). There's something for everyone with dishes like Bulgogi rice bowls, Thai coconut curry, and Singapore rice noodles. A premium sushi offering rounds out the menu. 
Flaming Paradise Roll - crab, cream cheese, shrimp, cucumber, topped with spicy tuna, jalapeño and wasabi peas. 

1650 N Monroe Street
Tallahassee, FL 32303

Elimishia Old Fashion Sweet Shop
For a sweet treat, head over to Elimishia Old Fashion Sweet Shop located at the Railroad Square Art Park. Owner Dana Dixon Broer creates homemade sweets from her own family recipes. Try the pecan pies and praline candy. 
Pecan hand pie.

618 McDonnell Dr, B-1
Tallahassee, FL 32310

The Crum Box Gastgarden
This is one of those awesome hole-in-the-wall joints that you hope no one else discovers because you selfishly want to keep this place all to yourself. Unfortunately for you, with a perfect score on Yelp, The Crum Box Gastgarden's secret is out! Housemade sausages served in an old repurposed train caboose - this is a one-of-a-kind place that's a true foodie find. 
Spicy house made sausage with sauerkraut. 
602 Industrial Dr
Tallahassee, FL 32310

The Edison
One of the best locations in Tally for drinks and good food. The Edison serves diverse local fare in what used to be an old power plant. With views of Cascades Park and a solid cocktail program, The Edison is a bright idea for brunch, lunch, or dinner. 

Rum Fashioned - Ron Zacapa, simple syrup, Angostura bitters, & chocolate bitters. 

470 Suwanee Street
Tallahassee, FL 32301

Happy Motoring
Is it a bar, yoga studio, or food truck lot? Happy Motoring is all those things and more. Well known on Instagram for their frozen sangrias that come in the form of a large Capri Sun-like pouch, Happy Motoring is a casual hang out spot with games to play on the lawn and drinks to cool off on a hot sunny Florida day. 

1215 S Adams Street
Tallahassee, FL 32301

D O 

Ology Brewing Company
The latest craft brewery in Tallahassee, Ology prides itself in being one of the leaders in barrel-aged sours. The team is passionate about what they do and that comes across so well in the beer that's brewed on site. With more than just sours, Ology brews everything from IPA's to Stouts and even has a "Juice Lab" division with different experimental brews that are fruit forward. For the non-drinker, Ologoy also brews an awesome Kambucha. 

118 E 6th Ave
Tallahassee, FL 32303

Wakulla Springs
Just outside of Tallahassee is the world's largest and deepest freshwater spring. Wakulla Springs offers swimming, guided boat tours, snorkeling, and nature trails. Along the boat tour, you can easily spot alligators, manatees, and local birds. 
Jeff guiding visitors on a boat tour along Wakulla Springs.

465 Wakulla Park Drive
Wakulla Springs, FL 323327

Harry Smith Outdoors
For a premier full service kayak retail shop specializing in guided eco-tours and fishing trips, check out Harry Smith Outdoors. Harry and his crew provide a level of passion and enthusiasm that is unmatched. Let his team take you to the best waters for a fun day of exploring.

694 Industrial Drive
Tallahassee, FL 32310

Tallahassee Museum
More than just a museum, Tallahassee Museum can be described as an animal sanctuary, a wildlife educational center, and one of the area's best places to zip line. It's a place where history, art, education, and wildlife intersect for an unforgettable outdoor experience. 
Courtesy of Tallahassee Museum Facebook

3945 Museum Drive
Tallahassee, FL 32310

Proof Brewing Company
Tallahassee's first craft brewery is definitely worth a visit. There are several beer styles to choose from on a customized flight - but be sure to try their flagship, award winning Pale Ale. There's no need to rush at this tap room, with food trucks and outdoor games like corn hole, the space invites you to stay and socialize. 

644 McDonnell Drive
Tallahassee, FL 32310

Railroad Square Art Park
With over 50 studios, galleries, and small shops, Railroad Square is a hub for entertainment, art, and food. Here you'll discover amazing food finds like Crumb Box Gastgarden, and specialty shops such as Athenas Garden - an herbal emporium and specialty gift shop. Entertainment like rock climbing, retro arcade gaming, and a pinball parlor are a great end to a night after walking through the unique art galleries. 

Sculpture artist Mark Dickson is hard at work creating beautiful sculpture out of metal at Dickson Studios. 
602 McDonnell Drive
Tallahassee, FL 32310

Museum of Florida History
For a deeper look into Florida's culture, check out the Museum of Florida History. Everything from prehistoric to modern is covered in this educational indoor space. 
Past Florida orange labels. 

500 S Bronough Street
Tallahassee, FL 32399

Mission San Luis
If you want to travel back in time but don't have access to a DeLorean with a proper Flux Capacitor, visit the Mission San Luis where you are "transported" back to 1703 when Apalachees and Spaniards lived together in this National Historic landmark. 
Man fashioning a nail like they did in 1703. 

2100 W Tennessee Street
Tallahassee, FL 32304

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Special thanks to Visit Tallahassee for collaborating with Hungry in LA. As always, the content and opinions expressed here are entirely our own.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Wheat Yeah, Freak Yeah - Why I Love Jimmy John's New 9-Grain Wheat Sub

In partnership with Jimmy John’s.

I sometimes wonder what exactly separates a great sandwich from a good one. I’m pretty confident that if you’re reading this, you’ve had your share of good and bad sandos in your life. But like a perfect match on Tinder, finding a great sandwich is worth swiping right. And even now, in the world of carbless meals and lettuce-wrapped hand-helds, we deem it a splurge, almost a treat (did someone say cheat-day?) when we can get our hands on a delicious sandwich, the way it was meant to be eaten - “sandwiched” between crave-worthy bread!

So what makes a great sandwich? It may be so obvious as to say, “the main ingredients, of course!” But what does that entail? Is it the meat, the veggies, the cheese? Maybe it’s the kind of peanut butter or jelly that you’re using. Perhaps what makes a great sandwich is the technique in which you layer it all. Or maybe you’re like Ross Geller from the show Friends and your Thanksgiving Leftover Sandwich takes the form of amazing because of a secret ingredient - “the moisture maker.” Whatever the case, none of this would matter without really good bread! 

Jimmy John’s  has been my favorite option lately for a quick, high quality sandwich on-the-go. I was first turned on to it by my sister who lived in KC. She knew my love for sandwiches and for the longest time I was jealous that LA didn’t have a location yet. Thankfully that changed a couple years ago and we now have 15 shops! I still remember my first bite of the #12 - turkey, provolone & avocado: it was love at first bite!

#13 Veggie Club on NEW 9-Grain Wheat Bread: double provolone, avocado, cucumber, lettuce, tomato & mayo.

This month, I’m pretty excited because Jimmy John’s introduced a new 9-Grain Wheat Sub. Baked fresh in-house everyday using only the best ingredients, this is not your average wheat sub. They’re taking wheat bread to another level! Made with 9 Grains (as the name suggests, duh) the pillow soft texture is made possible with a combination of rye, flaxseed, quinoa, millet, oats, barley, amarath, wheat and spelt. With a touch of nutty sweet undertones complimented by the use of molasses, honey, sunflower seeds & corn meal - this will be your new go-to bread, taking your sandwich experience to a whole new place.  

This 9-Grain Wheat Sub, sets apart a great sandwich from just a good one. In a culture of health-conscious eaters, it’s great to see some of my favorite quick service restaurants like Jimmy John’s dish out some quality and actually crave-worthy options that make you feel good about what you’re eating. Oh, and the best part? You can ask for the New 9-Grain Wheat Sub on any sandwich! While I try to be “good” and order the #13 - Veggie Club, I still splurge from time-to-time with my all-time favorite, #9 - salami, capicola, ham, provolone, lettuce, tomato, onion, mayo, oil & vinegar, & oregano-basil. The 9-Grain Wheat Sub balances it all out, right?

** This post is brought to you by  Jimmy John’s. All content, ideas, and words are my own. Thanks for supporting the sponsors that allow me to create new and special content like this for Hungry in LA**

Monday, September 17, 2018

Grand Velas Los Cabos: Beyond All Inclusive, Beyond Compare

Photography by Eddie Sanchez

There’s a place that’s sunny and beautiful where the ocean breeze sweeps through the swaying palm trees. You relax by the pool, looking out to the Sea of Cortez while drinking a perfectly made cocktail. You sip, savor, and unwind, listening to the roaring sound of the waves crashing on the shore. This is the ultimate getaway in a real life paradise - and it’s only a two hour plane ride from LA. Welcome to Grand Velas Los Cabos

View from guest room suite balcony.


The newly opened beachfront resort is your ultimate luxury escape, boasting dramatic ocean views and unique spaces throughout the property. As soon as you walk through the impressive open-air entrance that’s over three stories tall, your eyes catch views of the water while you stand 300 feet above sea level. Grand and spectacular are understatements, as you check-in to one of 304 ocean view suites with private terraces and some with personal plunge pools. 

Ambassador suite - smallest guest room but still 1,180 sq. feet with ocean views and a jacuzzi tub. 

Grand Class Suite


Beyond all-inclusive is the experience at Grand Velas Los Cabos. Yes, I know you have experienced all-inclusive before, but trust me, not like this. An elevated premium beverage program is on-sight offering the best spirits, beers and wine. There are five fine dining restaurants led by executive chef Juan Licerio Alcala and featuring two star Michelin chef Sidney Schutte. It’s hard to believe that the food served here is from an all-inclusive resort because until you have stayed at Grand Velas Los Cabos, your view on all-inclusive was probably never this luxurious. Dining is very much a highlight of staying here and that's why the resort should be on every food-loving traveler’s list of places to visit. The cuisine at Grand Velas, without a doubt, is the best we’ve ever had from any all-inclusive resort.

Lucca Restaurant - features Italian and Mediterranean cuisine.

Poached local grouper with celery root puree, bone marrow and porch demi, pickled carrots.

Frida Restaurant

Pickled seafood by guest chef Katsuji Tanabe - lobster, scallop, octopus, oysters, coconut, basil, mint, chile. 

Local queso con chorizo

Craft cocktails made to order with premium spirits

Piaf Restaurant - Adults only, French cuisine

Terrine of foie gras mi-cuit & spicy bread with little poached pear stuffed with saffron chutney. 

Cocina de Autor: Creative cuisine, adults only. Helmed by two star Michelin chef Sidney Schutte. 
Smoked swordfish tart with citrus salad, cucumber and sea asparagus. 

Outdoor dining spaces with breathtaking ocean views. 

Poolside dining options - Baja style fish tacos.

Azul - casual all day dining with buffet options. 

24 hour in-room dining makes for a great way to have breakfast delivered to you. 


Of course a true Cabo getaway isn't complete without a visit to the spa. The two-level, 35,000 sq. ft. Spa at Grand Velas Los Cabos is one of the best spa experiences you’ll have. Your treatment is preceded by a seven step water journey that features a eucalyptus-scented steam room with chromotherapy, polar pool, aromatherapy sensory shower, sauna, Jacuzzi and multi-sensory pool. The main pool features several hydro elements such as powerful massaging faucets for your neck and back, as well as bubble beds - carved-stone chaises with jets set right underneath the surface of the water on which you recline. A spa valet provides personalized direction to make sure you get the most out of the truly relaxing hydrotherapy experience. Upon completion of the journey, you recline on heated loungers with warm neck pillows, cool scented towels and cucumbers on the eyes to ensure the body is fully relaxed and ready for your massage. 

All gender central pool features several hydro elements.  

Ice Room - part of the seven step water journey during hydrotherapy.

Couple's treatment rooms with private spa.

It's difficult to compare Grand Velas Los Cabos to anything else because it has set the bar very high on what a beachfront all-inclusive resort should look like. With a world-class spa, superior culinary program, and excellent service, this beautiful property is tough to beat. After many visits to Cabo, experiencing several different resorts, both all-inclusive and non-all-inclusive, Grand Velas Los Cabos has become our favorite. It's indeed beyond all-inclusive, meeting your every need and stands beyond compare.

Three infinity pools all with different temperatures and amenities such as a swim up bar. 

Iconic open-air lobby overlooks the ocean. 

Beach cabanas with full service from the ceviche bar. 

Grand Velas Los Cabos
Carretera Transpeninsular Km 173 Corredor Turístico Los Cabos
23405 Cabo San Lucas, B.C.S., Mexico

Special thanks to Grand Velas Los Cabos for collaborating with Hungry in LA. As always, the content and opinions expressed here are entirely our own.

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