This post is about North End Caffe, but I’m going to digress for a moment.

Encouraged by Leeanne of Fun with Carbs, I fully intended try my first ever IN-N-OUT burger. And with over 200 locations in California, it didn’t seem like an urgent issue after touching down on the West Coast. At every stop on our vacation I conducted a little research, polling locals about exactly what to order. I will admit the thought of ordering ‘animal-style’ anything struck me as awkward. I quickly learned that Californians are passionate and opinionated about burgers. Sort of like Connecticut folks when you mention pizza.

When I was down to my final opportunity to try IN-N-OUT, D suggested lunch at the North End Caffe. This casual spot a few blocks from the coast in Manhattan Beach was featured on Diners, Drive in and Dives. Turns out our local guide Brendan lives nearby and knows the chef. At that point, I gave up on IN-N-OUT. Leeanne, I am here to say, this was a worthy diversion.

KPs. Kalua Pig Monte Cristo Egg Rolls
First and foremost, these actually tasted like Kalua Pig, as in the smoky-pork-goodness that accompanies any legit meal that claims to be Hawaiian. Who gets excited about an egg roll? Not me, but these were not your usual greasy take-out food apps. Finally, an egg roll worth ordering!

Trio of Dawgs
Another thing that doesn’t usually excite me?  A hot dog.
But not here. D wisely selected the trio of dawgs. In another first, my favorite was the dog WITHOUT bacon:

  • Creole: bacon wrapped hot dog with swiss creole, mojo, crystal hot sauce, tomato onion, zatarain’s salt.
  • Opie: hot dog with american cheese, mustard, pickle, onion.
  • Tijuana: bacon wrapped hot dog with chipotle mojo, avocado, mustard, hot sauce, onion, tomato, cilantro

One of the specials: Short Rib Po Boy with swiss, pickle, and creole mojo with fry

Cubano: black forest ham, turkey, swiss, creole mojo, mustard and pickle.

As you might imagine, I spend a lot of time researching restaurants when we plan a vacation. Completely undermining my best laid plans, lunch at North End Caffe was an unexpected delight and one my favorite meals of our trip to Southern California.