As I was sitting in the car driving down the five freeway to go home for Spring Break, I did not realize how homesick I really was until I passed by the hundreds of cows, field of goats, and drove through The Grapevine. I knew that going home and visiting Los Angeles meant being one step closer to actually good carnitas and carne asada. But, that isn't to say that Berkeley restaurants cannot satisfy my cravings for Mexican food. I did not realize how much I missed eating well-cooked rice, and lemon-garlic chicken. During my six hour drive back down California, I was able to compile a list of my favorite restaurants at home that I had been missing.

People often say that they love the Bay Area since it has all of the genres of food that one could possibly be craving. But, I truly believe that when visiting Los Angeles you will be greeted with even more of a variety and the quality of food is unmatched. Though, I do give the Bay Area credit for its authentic Asian food and believe that it might be better than food found in L.A. For me, having a variety of delicious food is what is important and that's exactly what L.A. offers. Being born and raised in Los Angeles, I have recommended my favorite restaurants back home that have never failed to satisfy my cravings. 

Yuca's in Los Feliz

This is a little shack on the side of the road in busy Los Feliz that my dad has been a loyal customer to for over thirty years and somewhere I have been going since I was young. The food is always fresh, authentic, and hits the spot. Whenever I come home, my go-to order is typically a carne asada burrito or some carnitas tacos. Every time I am craving Mexican food while visiting Los Angeles, I make sure to stop by. The tortillas are always warm, flakey, perfectly toasted enough to bring out the flavors. Tacos are simply topped with cilantro and raw, diced onions. But, what truly makes both the tacos and burritos are the jalapeño-pickled carrots that are just the right balance of spicy and tang to elevate your food. 

Versailles Cuban Food 

My mom is a UCLA alum and the first person who introduced me to Versailles' delicious chicken as she would go to Versailles during her time as a Bruin. Versailles is actually a chain of restaurants that are typically found in West L.A. and well worth making a trip through the traffic for. Versailles is famous for its lemon-garlic chicken. When you order it, the dish comes with half of a chicken, sitting on a bed of rice, topped with around half of an onion's worth of slightly cooked onions. Not to forget the sides of fried plantains and cooked black beans with a hint of tang from the lemon. The chicken is always juicy, tender and will instantly melt in your mouth. The perfect bite is a piece of chicken, rice, and a scoop of beans all drowned in the secret lemon sauce. Once you order this dish, it will definitely be a dish that you dream about when visiting Los Angeles.  

Raffi's Place in Glendale

With both of my parents being born and raised in L.A., I have been fortunate that they have introduced me to so many of their favorite restaurants. Raffi's is another place that both my parents and grandparents have been going to for years that always has at least a thirty minute wait and is known for its mouth-watering Persian cuisine. We typically order the Koobideh (Luleh Kabob) which is ground beef that is patted onto a skewer and grilled 'til perfectly tender, juicy, and caramelized. It is usually served with a side of buttery, saffron basmati rice, grilled tomato, and an Anaheim pepper. There is nothing like taking your first bite of warm, slightly charred Koobideh and a bite of fluffy basmati rice after making it through the long wait to get seated. 

Bea Bea's 

Bea Bea's is a breakfast and lunch place located in both Burbank and Glendale (conveniently near Raffi's). Bea Bea's is known for its unique breakfast options such as Blue Hawaiian, which is a pancake with blueberries, bananas, and macadamia nuts. I personally love Bea Bea's tea-infused pancakes being the big tea lover that I am. Some of my favorites are the light, fluffy green tea pancakes such as the Green Tea Monster, Thai Tea Pancakes, and if I am ever missing Thanksgiving the Just For You Pumpkin pancakes. Bea Bea's also offer breakfasts such as the Rocky Road Waffles which have walnuts, crushed Oreo's, marshmallow, chocolate chips, topped with vanilla ice cream. There is even a variety of crepes to choose from like the Peach Flambé which has caramelized peaches topped with whipped cream. There is a reason why you need to come early. When you come, be prepared for the food to most definitely surpass your expectations. 

Pho 87

This is another one of those places that are tucked away that my dad has been going to for years to get pho. It is located near Dodger stadium at the edge of Downtown. One of the best things about this place, aside from its always delicious pho, is its fast service. I usually order the standard pho with rare beef that comes with a large bundle of rice noodles, slices of onion, and a plate of all of your favorite toppings such as bean sprouts, Thai basil, jalapeño, lime wedges, and cilantro. What makes Pho 87's pho so great is its broth. You can taste the hints of star anise, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, coriander and can tell that they have been marinating in the beef broth for hours to give it that depth of flavor. I have eaten at pho places in New York, Canada, Hawaii, Las Vegas, Utah, Berkeley, and nothing compares to pho at home. 

#SpoonTip: I personally love enjoying my pho with all of the toppings, including lots of lime juice, and a side of Sriracha to dip my meat in.

Despite having enjoyed numerous restaurants both in San Francisco and here at Berkeley, I still have not found any restaurants that parallel my favorites. A lot of my favorite memories are associated with food and were more often than I realized made at these restaurants in particular. These are the places that I have grown up eating at and enjoying time spent with family and friends. In a way, these places are my second home and are places everyone should try when here to visit L.A.