Georgia’s is a breath of fresh air for LA’s food scene. In an age where global fusion, hyper-seasonal menus and quickly revolving food trends have gotten chefs and owners so entrenched in trying to catch ‘the next big thing’ that their restaurants lost their identity in the process, Georgia’s is a place that stays true to its roots. This steadfastness has secured the restaurant’s authentic dedication to Southern comfort and soul food, unaffected by the ever-shifting food tides on the surface. Now with two locations across Long Beach and Anaheim, Gerogia’s has made its name in family recipes served in generous portions at fair prices, paired with some of that amazing Southern hospitality.
Co-Owner Nika Shoemaker-Machado is the type of restaurateur you might see more of in the movies than in real life. What a rare treat to have the owner not just walk the dining room floor, but actually sit down at virtually every table and strike up a conversation with Georgia’s regulars and newcomers alike. Her warmth is contagious and the pride she takes in serving her mother’s recipes should be the envy of anyone in the business. Everyone on staff is much the same, providing unparalleled service for a fast-casual restaurant, and tending more to guest needs than you’ll even find at most full-service restaurants. She must take after her mother, Gretchen, who despite approaching 80 is known to be a hoot and a holler at the table, and of course a mastermind in the kitchen.
Gretchen inspired a broad and delectable menu with the recipes she learned to make with her grandmother. I grew up visiting my grandparents in Atlanta, with soul food becoming a childhood staple and a source of deep nostalgia. So upon biting into Gerogia’s signature fried chicken, where powerfully rich, juicy meat melds with a perfectly light and crunchy cornmeal crust, time stopped. I found myself in a simpler time, a better time, where carbs weren’t a crime and fried wasn’t an F-word. Then, as the clock began to turn again and I reopened to the contemporary world around me, I sought deep relief in knowing that a place like this provides that kind respite 2,000 miles away from where it typically exists.
Nika admitted that while she and her sister did get to grow up with her mom’s recipes served at home, they were only reserved for special occasions and sadly not every-day occurrences. And with dishes like Gretchen’s special jambalaya, red beans and rice with andouille sausage, pulled pork and of course that fried chicken, such a reality seems to be both a crime (for missed opportunity) and a blessing (for arteries’ sake). Dishes like these escalated Gretchen to culinary fame within her social circle, bringing her to cater weddings, business lunches and other events for many years. To this day, Gretchen comes into the kitchen from time to time and cooks almost entirely from memory. Actually getting her recipes written down to execute at scale was a challenge.
It’s safe to say, however, that Nika and team got those recipes down pat. Biting into that heavenly cornbread with a generous slathering of honey butter is the perfect segue into a meal where nutrition just needs to take a back seat. Because after a few of those BBQ pork ribs, velvety mac ‘n’ cheese and thick mashed potatoes, you’ll agree it’s worth it. Yes, you can pair it with beer, wine or even hard lemonade, but I prefer a sweet tea: t’s made quite properly here.
Save room for some sweet potato pie at the end, and maybe another round of cornbread.
Georgia’s Long Beach is located at 4101 McGowen St. Suite 155, Long Beach, CA 92630. Open 11a – 9p Mon – Thu, 11a – 10p Fri, 9a – 10p Sat, 9a – 9p Sun. Avg. out-the-door price for split appetizer, entrée and drink is ~$25/person. For more information call (562) 420-5637 or visit Georgias-Restaurant.com.
Farmer Boys has brought back two limited-time items to its menu: the xtreme bacon boy burger and the hog heaven breakfast burrito. These historic crowd favorites each showcase all things pork with indulgent fashion, and are available across all Farmer Boys locations through November 11, 2019.
The xtreme bacon boy burger features two fire-grilled all-beef patties and two slices of cheese, with bacon strips lining the top and a thick layer of crunchy bacon bits on the bottom. The hog heaven breakfast burrito wraps an omelet of 3 cage-free eggs, bacon, sausage, country ham and cheese around hash browns and fresh salsa, nestled inside a warm tortilla. Each creation is decadent in its own right of meaty, cheesy goodness, with rich, crunchy bacon in the spotlight. Pair either one with some always-crispy fries or giant onion rings.
Farmer Boys is fueling these items’ addictive nature with an additional incentive as well. Guests who purchase either the xtreme bacon boy burger or the hog heaven breakfast burrito will get $2 off these items on a return trip if they revisit any Farmer Boys location within two days. Those who are part of Farmer Boys’ loyalty program—the Very Important Farmer (VIF) program—can earn a free breakfast burrito by visiting six times in October and purchasing any variety of breakfast burrito, including the Hog Heaven Breakfast Burrito. In both cases, this leaves you just enough time to recover from the original food coma, and perhaps a stop to your local gym to prepare for the next round.
Each of these two items, as well as the entire Farmer Boys menu, is made with fresh, locally sourced ingredients. Farmer Boys has made a name for itself in the quick service restaurant world by prioritizing quality ingredients, [very] generous portions and exceptional service. With nearly 100 locations across California and Nevada, Farmer Boys continues to expand both its presense across the country and the breadth of its menu with fun, fresh additions. For more information, visit FarmerBoys.com.
Designer burgers are in. Craft beer is in. Globally inspired sauces and flavor profiles are most definitely in. A birthday cake milkshake with a rainbow sprinkle-crusted rim, topped with a full-sized slice of funfetti cake and whipped cream? Yep, that’s in too. Foodie Instagrammers and American comfort food lovers come together quite happily within the broad reaches of Black Tap.
From its beginnings in New York in 2015, Black Tap has kept a keen focus on modern appeal among a mostly urban, trendy crowd. Their take on ‘upscale but not fussed up’ has certainly taken them places, with locations in Dubai, Singapore, Switzerland and The Las Vegas Strip to name a few. That same global allure resonates throughout the dining room, with loud yet tasteful décor setting the scene for a lively crowd, eyeballs darting this way and that to catch a glimpse of the next artful concoction that leaves the kitchen.
Crazyshakes are the ringleaders of Black Tap’s spectacular show, piled high with accouterments and made beautiful with rich color. The churro choco taco delivers a cinnamon toast crunch milkshake topped with two churros and an entire choco taco thrown into a mountain of whipped cream. Then there’s the cotton candy, a strawberry shake with bright pink and blue chocolate balls lining half the glass, covered with another mountain of whipped cream, two rock candy sticks, a whole lollipop and of course, finished with cotton candy.
These shakes, in addition to being a sight to be seen, absolutely taste as good as they look. The cakeshake noted above uses a cake batter ice cream that tastes like you’re licking the spoon after making the dough. And that funfetti cake on top isn’t just there for decoration, but rather a genuinely good dessert in its own right. Their peanut butter shakes are so thick that they might actually use more peanut butter than ice cream. In any case, it’s clear that Black Tap backs up its looks by walking the walk.
Black Tap’s burgers are a bit more down to earth, but certainly satisfy all the same. The Texan burger brings it with bacon, aged cheddar and a crispy onion ring for full richness and texture. Then there’s the Greg Norman, which boasts a ½-pound ‘wagyu’ patty, house-made buttermilk dill ranch, blue cheese and arugula. Thankfully, Black Tap does their burgers the right way by serving them with fries (as opposed to a la carte), and fries that are very well executed at that. Definitely worth trying out some of their special sauces as well, such as the truffle mayo or Black Tap’s special sauce, comparable to In ‘n’ Out’s spread.
A long list of salads should satisfy those looking for healthier options. And of course Black Tap lives up to the latter part of its name with an even longer list of beers on tap, as well as wines and an intriguing cocktail menu.
Black Tap’s California location is at Downtown Disney, 1540 S Disneyland Dr. Ste 101, Anaheim, CA 92802. Open 10:30a – 12 midnight 7 days a week. Avg. out-the-door price for burger, beer and a milkshake is ~$55/person. For more information, visit BlackTap.com.
Benjamin Brown is a seasoned restaurant writer and hospitality consultant, serving up SoCal's hottest food news and reviews.