Hot Dog on a Stick Founder Dave Barham opened his first Hot Dog on a Stick in Santa Monica in 1946, and the company has since burgeoned into an employee-owned franchise that's more than 100 eateries strong and spans 11 states. Best known for a 100% turkey hot dog dunked in corn-bread batter made from Dave's mother's recipe and cooked in soy oil, Hot Dog on a Stick also pioneered the dipping and be-sticking of mild american and spicy jalapeño jack cheese. Smiling employees in red-, white-, and blue-striped uniforms with, as Dave put it, "a splash of lemonade," hand over cherry, lime, sugar-free, or original lemonade that they make fresh every two hours by squeezing Ventura County lemons until they cry.
A little corner of Mississippi stands in southeast Inglewood. An unassuming space on Crenshaw hosts M&M Soul Food, which recreates a huge menu of southern favorites from 8 a.m. through dinnertime seven days a week. Chefs load up plates with meatloaf, smothered pork chops, barbecue ribs, and fried seafood, among other soul-food staples. Then, of course, there are the sides—three of them per dinner plate, not counting the plump corn muffins. The menu also incorporates many dishes that can be hard to find outside a southern grandma's kitchen, such as liver and onions, chitterlings, ox tail, turkey wings, and oyster loaf. Cakes, cobblers, banana pudding, and potato pie obliterate the danger that someone might accidentally walk out with a little belly space left empty. In addition to standard combinations of grits, pancakes, and omelettes, breakfast hours hold out less-common dishes such as eggs with catfish or smoked beef links.
When channel 5’s KTLA Morning News Show put out a call for the best desserts in Los Angeles, the city responded. More than 170 entries were submitted, but in the end, it was Charlene’s butter-pecan caramel cheesecake that took the top prize. At The Real Cake Baker, Charlene and her fellow bakers make bliss-inducing cakes out of only real ingredients with names you can pronounce. Bakers whip sugar, butter, and flour into moist buttermilk sweet-potato pies, banana pudding, or old-fashioned stovetop pudding made with real meringue topping. Sugar- and gluten-free pies are also pulled hot from the oven and served along with gourmet coffee and southern-style pralines made with a hint of cognac. Charlene and her staff are so confident in their skills that they offer the Taster’s Guarantee: if a dessert is not to a customer’s liking, they can return the uneaten portion and bakers will replace it with another dessert of equal or lessor value.