Daily Dish

The inside scoop on food in Los Angeles

Category: Fast food

2011 will usher in even more fast-food gluttony

Quad Move over, KFC's Double Down.

Make room for a Papa John's pizza with not just bacon but "double bacon" and six types of cheese. Or Burger King's Quad Stacker, at left. And then there's Burger King's Ultimate Breakfast Platter with scrambled eggs, hash browns, sausage, a flaky biscuit, three pancakes with syrup -- and a whopping 1,310 calories, 72 grams of fat and 2,490 milligrams of sodium. That's just a few of the ways fast-food joints across the country are set to deploy a potent new arsenal of greasy goodness. Click here to read the rest of the story in Business:


--Rene Lynch
Twitter / renelynch

Photo: Burger King's Quad Stacker / Burger King  

The McRib is back! The McRib is back! The McRib is back!


Public health advocates loathe it. Barbecue purists are appalled. But legions of McDonald's fans await Tuesday's nationwide return of the McRib sandwich, a pressed pork patty with no ribs, 26 grams of fat and a committed cult following. Read more in today's Business section but before you go, vote: Yae or Nay on the McRib.

Photo: Elusiveness is part of the McRib's appeal. The nationwide promotion that starts Tuesday marks the first time in 16 years that the McRib will be available at every U.S. McDonald’s at once. Credit: McDonald's

House committee passes 'Improving Nutrition for America’s Children Act'

KIDDOS Everyone from Top Cheffers to Jamie Oliver to Michelle Obama agrees that our nation's school lunch program is hungry for change. And it's no wonder such prominent figures are ready for the next course of action, given that 1 in 5 children are obese or overweight, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

On Thursday the "Improving Nutrition for America's Children Act"  was passed by the House Education and Labor Committee, bringing the nation's kids one bite closer to the possibility of more nutritious meals.

The act aims to improve access to school lunch programs, help schools improve the quality of meals by adding a 6-cent-per-child increase in budget, encourage partnerships with local farms, allow unused food to be donated to food banks, increase access to healthful food outside school hours and improve food safety and integrity. (For a full rundown of the stipulations, click here.) It allots $8 billion over 10 years to achieve those goals, quite a bit more than the $4.5 billion proposed by the Senate Agriculture Committee's Child Nutrition Bill passed in March.

"From our view [the Improving Nutrition for America's Children Act] is really the best child nutrition bill that we've ever had. It includes stronger nutrition standards and grants for farm-to-school programs," says Gordon Jenkins, program manager at Slow Food USA. "The amount of funding however, is very modest at the $.06 addition to the current $2.68, which leaves only about $1 for ingredients. It won't be enough to make a significant change. That can be modified on the floor if Congress hears it's important enough."

Both bills have now reached the floor and need to be passed by their respective chambers and reconciled before they can become law. 

Jenkins says it's important that the debate be scheduled soon, though. School lunches will be on the back burner during the month of August since Congress is on recess, and the current bill expires in September. "Last year, they had to pass a temporary one-year extension, putting the schools' programs in status quo. The schools will be encouraged but will not have funding. What it really means is that the bill will have to be rewritten and reintroduced again."

Michelle Obama issued a statement urging the House and Senate to take their child nutrition bills to the floor and pass them without delay. "The President looks forward to signing a final bill this year, so that we can make significant progress in improving the nutrition and health of children across our nation.”

-- Krista Simmons

Photo: Kids at Larchmont Charter showing off their school garden-grown tomatoes. Credit: Krista Simmons

'When did coffee stop tasting like, well, coffee?'

Has the quest for the perfect cup of joe gone too far?

Photo credit: Los Angeles Times

And the Oscar goes to ... a food truck?

Food trucks have solidified themselves as part of L.A. culture, and now – like so many local institutions – they're getting their own awards ceremony. Read more here.

KFC doubles down, reality bites for 'Survivor' producer, and a potato chip bag that turns into a bowl

Down--What? KFC's new Double Down sandwich isn't health food? But how can that be?

--Monica Beresford-Redman, the wife of a top reality TV show producer and the owner of a Brazilian restaurant and nightclub in Palms, has been found dead in Cancun, and her husband reportedly has been taken into custody. "Survivor" producer Bruce Beresford-Redman told police that his wife vanished. The reality, police say, is that he strangled her.

-- A new licensing deal sees Ecoist turning unusable or obsolete packaging from Lays, Cheetos, Fritos, Tostitos and SunChips into an assorted variety of items including purses, clutches and place mats. Or a potato chip bowl.

--Rene Lynch
On Twitter @renelynch

Photo: a Double Down sandwich. Credit: KFC

Crazy bread! Pioneer Chicken in Echo Park to become a Little Caesars pizza

Echo Park is losing one of its most notable landmarks. The Eastsider LA reports that the humble Pioneer Chicken stand, which closed quietly last March and has stood vacant since, will be turned into a Little Ceasars pizza parlor.

The news saddens me. I think every Echo Park resident had a relationship with the stand and its neighbor the bustling Pioneer Market, which was wrestled into submission and occupied by a Walgreens years ago (although I do appreciate the easy access to Hawaiian Tropic deep tanning oil and zebra-print hair scrunchies).

My affection for the stand blossomed three years ago when I lived in a tiny studio apartment above Sunset Boulevard and Echo Park Avenue. After work I would spin old Tammy Wynette records, drink whiskey, stare out the window and sob uncontrollably. Don't get me wrong, though, I kind of enjoyed being gloomy and self-indulgent. It fit my romantic I've-fallen-on-hard-times vision of life in a shabby walk-up apartment (albeit one with with remarkably attractive moulding).

Through my dusty window I could see the Nos. 2 and 4 buses speeding to and from downtown; the fruit cart vendors skillfully chopping juicy watermelon, jicama and cantaloupe; the obese old man with the '80s-style ghetto blaster who made the bus bench his home; and the drunks, lottery junkies and twentysomethings in Day-Glo muscle shirts and stretch pants rotating in and out of House of Spirits Liquors.

Continue reading »

Dino's Burgers avocado fries are a sure-fire cure for what ails you

Photo There's nothing like consuming a monstrous plate of avocado fries to cure what ails you, especially if it's heartache. Avocados naturally possess a large amount of folate, a nutrient important for heart health. And French fries naturally possess a large amount of fat, an ingredient important for psychological soothing.

Which is why, if you've recently been through emotional turmoil of any sort, you should immediately head to Dino's Burgers on Main Street in Lincoln Heights, where you can indulge in the most freakishly large plate of avocado fries that you have ever set eyes on.

Now, I'm not saying that I've been through emotional turmoil, or that I would necessarily indulge in more than my daily recommended serving of fat and calories in one sitting if I had. I'm just saying that recent events have caused me to head to Dino's Burgers for fatty relief, followed by a melodramatic visit to my bathroom scale and a heaping serving of self-recrimination.

But that's not all Dino's Burgers is good for. It's a greasy gem of a roadside shack that serves up some of the finest melty-cheese burgers, towering pastrami sandwiches and iceberg lettuce "green" salads dripping in creamy ranch dressing that restaurants of its ilk have to offer.

Just ask regulars like Ernesto de la Loza, a muralist who says Dino's Burgers is part of his regular routine whenever he is in Lincoln Heights. I ran into him with friends when I was running reconnaissance on the restaurant based on the tarnished awesomeness of its sign. 

That was weeks ago. Things may have changed in my life since then, but thankfully Dino's hasn't. A girl may go through some trauma, but there's always Dino's avocado fries to help her pick up the pieces.

Dino's Burgers, 2817 N Main St., Los Angeles. (323) 223-1843.

-- Jessica Gelt

Photo: Deanna deVries

A Super Bowl stadium built entirely of snacks; I gained 20 pounds just watching

The Big Game Snack Food Stadium - Watch more Big Game Bonanza

Help! My eyes are bleeding! I just watched a 2-minute, 37-second video in which an announcer gives a play-by-play of the building of a 110,428-calorie Super Bowl stadium made entirely of fatty snacks.

Sponsored by Break Media and done in the noble pursuit of "meaningless Internet spectacles," the snack stadium -- snadium? -- consists of a butter-frosted field; stadium seating made of cookies, crackers and wafers; a Hershey bar jumbotron; cold-cut-and-cheese stadium trim; Slim Jim goal posts; hot dog, burger and doughnut fences; Twinkie and Ho Ho tailgaters; a hoagie blimp; and football teams consisting of carrot sticks and uncooked Vienna sausages.

Whew. Since Break Media dubs itself "the Internet's premier entertainment community for men," this borderline psychopathic display of food-based craftiness makes perfect sense. What else will men obsess over if not wrapping a burger in a glazed doughnut and dipping it in frosting while casting come-hither glances at a bunch of uncooked Vienna sausages with green olive football helmets?

Oh, right. Beer. And the big game itself, of course. I'll be watching with a few male companions of my choice and I'll be wearing a miniskirt made of guacamole and a top crusted in corn chips.

-- Jessica Gelt

Video credit: Break Media

Sampler Platter: L.A. Tamale Festival canceled; Five Guys Burgers expanding; bacon is the new black

Marina Guzman, makes tamales at the fabled Los Cinco Puntos market

East Coast fast-food chain Five Guys Burgers and Fries strikes a blow at the greasy, artery-clogged heart of homegrown burger chain In-N-Out with aggressive plans to expand throughout California. More food news below...
--The most heartbreaking casualty of the global economic collapse: The 5th Annual Los Angeles International Tamale Festival has been canceled.
--Doughboys to open by end of year ... maybe. Blackburn + Sweetzer
--Signal Mountain, Tenn., passes nation's first green food resolution. Treehugger
--Five Guys Burgers and Fries, which already has locations in Carson and Cerritos, will expand aggressively in California, with 300 new locations. Fast Food Maven
--Platine chef Jamie Cantor makes it into this week's issue of People magazine (p. 134) with recipes for apple cranberry pie and pilgrim punch. Platine will be on hand at this weekend's Unique Los Angeles gift fair.
--Eater LA launches Sexiest Chef contest.
--Cute and inevitable: the periodic table of cupcakes. Jezebel
--White House pastry chef Bill Yosses makes a marzipan-and-chocolate sculpture of the executive mansion complete with pet dog Bo. Daily Mail
--Bacon lovers can proclaim their love for the other white meat on clever limited-edition posters, T-shirts and aprons that declare “Bacon is the New Black." 4505 Meats
--The 500-calorie McRib is back -- with a bonus advertising fail.
--Low-maintenance turkey and leftovers revamped. Goop
--Food Network offers 12 Days of Cookies (through Dec. 12).
--With revenues down, AMC theaters officially ban all outside snacks. Smart Spending
-- Elina Shatkin

Photo: Marina Guzman makes tamales at the fabled Los Cinco Puntos market in L.A. Credit: Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times

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Daily Dish is written by Times staff writers.