Reviews, Travel

Tacos & Pie in LA: Crystal was Right

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Ever since our first trip to Los Angeles in 2010, there are two restaurants that our friend Crystal recommended that we try.

For whatever reason we just weren’t able to work these two food unicorns (foodicorns?) into our trip.

Finally, after about six years and five trips, we decide that we would not leave LA until we made it out to these two must-visits. With a 2016 Mazda CX-9 Signature (check out our car Q&A here) loaner courtesy of DriveShop and Mazda ready to transport us to food heaven, we were ready to ride in style and hunger. But mostly hunger.

2016 Mazda CX-9 Signature | getinmymouf.com

Ready for tacos.

We should have listened to Crystal sooner, because these two restaurants will go down as places that we will force other people to try and that we will write about in letters to our grandchildren…or in a blog to strangers.

ALRIGHT ALREADY! WHAT ARE THE RESTAURANTS?!

The first foodicorn:  Guisados

For those who don’t speak Spanish, guisados translates to “stew” and oh, boy does Guisados stew! They stew all the stew.

They stew so hard.

Guisados LA | getinmymouf.com

Tender stewed meats and vegetables on fresh-made corn tortillas… What more can you possibly ask for? One thing I’d ask for is a mini taco sampler so I could try a bunch of tacos at once.

Guess what? They got that, too.

Guisados LA | getinmymouf.com

Pleasing to carnivores, vegetarians, and pescatarians alike this is one taco party everyone is invited to. Bring your kids, bring your friends, bring your dog–I don’t think they let dogs inside due to health code regs, but if you have any leftovers–wait, what am I saying? There shall not be any leftovers! In fact, you probably won’t order enough the first go around, which will force you to do the walk of under-ordering shame back up to the register.

Embrace the shame, because it dissipates with each bite.

The deep flavor and succulent fillings will have you waking up at night in cold sweats wondering why you can’t get tacos like this back home.

And not stopping by a Guisados is no longer a valid excuse because they have five locations around Los Angeles including The OG in Boyle Heights, Echo Park, Downtown LA (or DTLA if you’re cool), West Hollywood, and Burbank.

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The second foodicorn:  The Pie Hole

It all started with a t-shirt.

The Pie Hole LA | getinmymouf.com

In a not-so-subtle way of hinting that we should probably eat at The Pie Hole, Crystal sent me one of their t-shirts.

Not only was it a constant reminder of the pie that needed to eventually be consumed, but it was an amazingly soft and durable shirt. It’s a t-shirt MVP year after year. First ballot t-shirt hall of famer.

If the pie was half as awesome as the shirt, expectations would be met.

Instead expectations were destroyed.

The Pie Hole LA | getinmymouf.com

The turkey pot pie was so comforting that it felt like a warm labradoodle sleeping next to you on a couch. Thanksgiving came early this year and in the best form: Pie.

That crust, though. So buttery, flaky, and the perfect thickness. I’d love to eat my way out of a sleeping bag made of that crust.

The Pie Hole LA | getinmymouf.com

Tina’s breakfast veggie hand pie was also so delicious you’ll wish humans had bigger hands (to inflate the average size of hands, which would then in-turn increase the size of hand pies).

The Pie Hole LA | getinmymouf.com

I should’ve channeled the dark side and ordered a slice of EVERYTHING, but I found some restraint in my back pocket and we shared a slice of Earl Grey Tea Pie. A unique pie for sure, with a subtle flavor of earl grey tea, crunchy pistachios, creamy filling and…oh…that….CRUST.

Much like Guisados, it took us so long to visit The Pie Hole that they now four locations around Los Angeles, one in Orange County, and one in freaking Tokyo! So, if you’re in DTLA, Pasadena, Hollywood, or Glendale grab a slice and open your pie hole.

The Pie Hole LA | getinmymouf.com

Moral of the Story:  When a friend demands that you eat at specific places in the city in which they live, listen to him or her. Think of all the tacos and pie slices we could have eaten if we had heeded Crystal‘s advice? Roughly forty tacos and ten slices of pie (based on ten tacos and two pie slices per trip).

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Disclaimer: As noted above we were provided a vehicle courtesy of DriveShop and Mazda. Other than being allowed to test drive this vehicle, we were not provided any monetary compensation for this post. All opinions remain our own.

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Car Reviews

Car Q&A: 2016 Mazda CX-9 AWD Signature

2016 Mazda CX-9 Signature | getinmymouf.com

This post is made possible through a partnership with the awesome folks at DriveShop and Mazda, who provided us with a vehicle to test drive for a few days. You can follow the conversation on social media with the hashtag #DriveMazda.

Specs

MSRP (as tested):  $44,915
MPG Estimate: 21 city – 27 highway
Engine:  Skyactiv-G 2.5 Turbo Engine
Power:  250 hp @ 5,000 rpm  | 310 lb-ft @ 2,000 rpm
Transmission:   6-Speed Automatic
Color:  Sonic Silver Metallic (exterior) / Auburn (interior)
Options:  Navigation System and Sirius XM Satellite Radio

For more info, click here to view the 2016 CX-9 Brochure.

2016 Mazda CX-9 Signature | getinmymouf.com

Look, you don’t need me to convince you to check out the 2016 Mazda CX-9 AWD Signature. Plenty of experts have already written enough praise about this vehicle to make you want to trade in that ’98 Explorer for something far more fun. Oh, you want me to list the experts? Fine. Car and Driver gave it a perfect five star review. Consumer Reports called it the “Driver’s Choice”. Maybe an “A” grade from Edmunds is what you’re looking for

Rather than listen to one more person rave about this piece of four-wheeled vehicular art, we thought it would be better to go straight to the CX-9 itself on what the spotlight is like. While spending some time eating tacos and pie in LA, we sat down in the CX-9 for a quick interview:

Get in my Mouf (GIMM): You’ve received quite a bit of accolades over the last year. From your design, to interior craftsmanship, to performance. What are you most proud of?

CX-9:  Definitely the performance. Looking good is nice, having all the bells and whistles is great and all, but first and foremost, I’m a vehicle. My fleet’s motto is “Driving Matters” for a reason. It ain’t “Comfortable Seats Matters.” But, without sounding too boisterous, my seats are very comfortable.

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GIMM:  Yes, they are–And beautiful in that Auburn color. Seeing as how you pride yourself in performance, what are some of your favorite roads to travel on?

CX-9:  Easy one. I’ve spent most of my time in California, so definitely the PCH.

GIMM:  You and I actually spent a bit of time on the PCH in Malibu together.

CX-9:  And that was nothing! Next time you’re out here, I’ll take you up further north into Santa Barbara and up to the holy grail of driving at Big Sur.

GIMM:  You mention Big Sur–We’ve previously driven on that road with a Mazda CX-3 and I think most people think of sports cars or smaller vehicles to get the full experience of the road. Being an SUV, how would you like to change people’s minds about the “big and bulky” SUV stereotype?

CX-9:  It’s more difficult than simply telling them. To break the stereotype, they really need to meet me. Sit behind the wheel and let the performance do all the talking. Look, I enjoying doing interviews like this, but what really brings me joy is getting out there to meet people and change minds. I encourage any of your readers who may be undecided about SUVs to just take an hour or so to visit their local dealer and give the CX-9 a shot.

GIMM:  You mentioned the fact that you’re based in California, home to some of the most amazing food in the country. I know you don’t eat human food, but is there any genre or dish that you wish you could eat?

CX-9:  Tacos.

GIMM:  Nice choice – Any particular type?

CX-9:  No. I spend a lot of time in Los Angeles, so I see a lot of taco stands and my drivers are always tossing bags of tacos in the back seat. They smell so amazing. One time someone spilled carnitas juice on my floorboard. That was as close as I’ve gotten to tasting a taco, but it made me wish I was a human for a second.

GIMM: Getting back to bells and whistles, you do have quite a few. The Bose stereo system is pretty sweet – What’s your favorite type of music to rock out to?

2016 Mazda CX-9 Signature | getinmymouf.com

CX-9:  I’m partial to television and movie soundtracks – Stranger Things is a recent favorite and of course Drive. It makes me feel like I’m one of those famous cars in the film industry. And with my performance, the driver can easily pretend they’re in an action movie.

GIMM:  While obeying all traffic laws.

CX-9:  Absolutely.

2016 Mazda CX-9 Signature | getinmymouf.com

GIMM:  I want to wrap things up by talking about dogs. What are you thoughts on having a dog in the car?

CX-9:  I can tell you’re trying to push me into saying something bad about dogs and how I get frustrated with their loose hair clogging up my vents and getting stuck to my carpet.

GIMM:  I wouldn’t dare.

CX-9:  The truth is that when I see their heads hanging out the window, tongue flapping in the wind, and wagging tails, it’s all worth it. Dogs get it…the performance, the thrill of driving (or riding in this case). The fun and exhilaration of exploring the world, one road at a time. That’s why driving matters.

GIMM:  Now that’s how you end an interview!

2016 Mazda CX-9 Signature | getinmymouf.com

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Disclaimer: As noted above we were provided this vehicle courtesy of DriveShop and Mazda. Other than being allowed to test drive this vehicle, we were not provided any monetary compensation for this post. All opinions and fake interviews with inanimate objects remain our own. 

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Travel

Roads Worth Driving: Vint Hill Road

Location:  Prince William County, VA
Length:  9 miles

Thanks to DriveShop and Kia, we were provided a 2016 Kia Optima SX Turbo to test drive for a week (check out our car review). Vint Hill Road was a perfect match for the sporty, yet economical sedan. Much like the well-balance car, Vint Hill Road offers fun driver-friendly twists and turns, a calming rural atmosphere, and plenty of worth wile pit stops for food, drinks, and dogs.

Although the suggestions below aren’t the only places to stop, they’re the only ones we’ve checked out personally. If you’re feeling like wine we’ve heard good things about Vint Hill Craft Winery, and Covert Cafe has a solid following on Yelp.

Pit Stops

Vint Hill Coffee Roasters (thequeensbean.com)

Vint Hill Coffee Roasters | getinmymouf.com

There’s nothing better than a coffee shop that roasts its own beans. Grab a latte to-go to boost your brain before a turbo-charged drive along Linton Hall Road. This coffee house just opened during the summer, so you can feel even better about supporting a new small business, run by friendly locals.

Old Bust Head Brewery (oldbusthead.com)

Old Bust Head | getinmymouf.com
Tucked away, just off the road, this is the definition of a destination brewery. You’d probably never find this place by accident, but chances are good you’ve seen the beer around Northern VA at groceries stores, restaurants, and Total Wine locations. I’m partial to the Graffiti House West Coast-Style IPA, but you can’t go wrong with any of their fine brews.

Vint Hill Dog Park (vinthilldogpark.org)

Vint Hill Dog Park | getinmymouf.com

This pit stop is for all the dogs out there. As the largest dog park in the area, it’s a well-maintained pup park with tons of shade, lots of seating for two-legged animals, and plenty of canine friends. It can get pretty packed on the weekends, so come early to beat the crowds of dogs.

Yankee Farms (yankeyfarms.com)

Yankey Farms Strawberry Picking | getinmymouf.com

No matter the season, Yankee Farms has you covered. From fresh strawberries in the summer, to pumpkin patches and corn mazes in the fall, this farm brings out the kid in any adult. We left with a full basket of strawberries over the summer and can’t wait to check out the fall veggies!

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Did we leave out any of your favorite spots on Linton Hall Road? Let us know in the comments!

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Car Reviews

2016 Kia Optima SX Turbo

2016 Kia Optima SX Turbo | getinmymouf.com

This post is made possible through a partnership with the awesome folks at DriveShop and Kia, who provided us with a vehicle to test drive for a week. You can follow the conversation on social media with the hashtag #DriveKia.

This marks the second Kia Optima that we’ve been able to try out. The last one was a model year older and was not a turbo. So, there will be a lot of comparisons to our experience with the older, non-turbo, Optima. Was this Kia worth waiting an extra year and spending more money for the turbo and additional features? Sure! And I’m really wondering why they make cars without turbos…

2016 Kia Optima SX Turbo | getinmymouf.com

Oh and don’t forget to check out our companion video post, in which we take full advantage of the Optima’s turbo on one of our favorite local roads.

Specs

MSRP (as tested):  $35,315
MPG Estimate: 22 city – 32 highway
Engine:  2.0L Turbo Gas Direct Injection, 4 cylnders
Power:  245 hp @ 6000 rpm | 260 ft-lbs @ 1350 rpm
Transmission:  6-Speed Automatic Transmission w/ Active Eco System
Color:  Remington Red
Options:  SXT Premium Technology Package (HID headlights w/ high-beam assist, panoramic sunroof, Harmon Kardon QLS premium surround sound, power front passenger’s seat w/ lumbar, heated and ventilated front seats, heated outboard rear seat cushions,  front collision warning, blind spot detection system, rear cross traffic alert, rear parking assist system, lane departure warning system, autonomous emergency braking system, advanced smart cruise control, surround view monitor, and LED overhead interior lighting)

Click here for the 2016 Kia Optima brochure.

Comfort

2016 Kia Optima SX Turbo | getinmymouf.com

I remember the 2015 Optima’s driver’s seat being a tad bit comfier, with a softer couch-like feeling. These seats aren’t uncomfortable, but they felt stiffer. The SXT Premium Technology Package does include a front power passenger’s seat, which was a vast improvement over the stationary passenger seat in the 2015 model we tried. As a passenger it was waaaaaaaay too low and felt like you were sitting on the floor. So, if you have shorter passengers, they’ll be happy you splurged for the package with the better seat.

Amenities

2016 Kia Optima SX Turbo | getinmymouf.com

The entertainment system remains above average and is easy to use, but the show-sealers (much like in the 2016 Kia Sorento) included the 360-view camera and panoramic sunroof. The car isn’t huge, but it’s still nice to have that 360 view…just in case. And that sunroof is ice cold (cooler than being cool). You don’t even need to really use the sunroof, just the fact that it creates a two-toned look, adds some real street cred. And by using the term “street cred” I probably just lost all of mine.

2016 Kia Optima SX Turbo | getinmymouf.com

Performance

2016 Kia Optima SX Turbo | getinmymouf.com

Is it worth it to spend a bit more and lose some MPG’s for the turbo? Yes. Of course. Always, yes. When someone offers you turbo, you accept it. Sure the non-turbo is fine. But do you really want to live life with just “fine”? Seriously, is this even a conversation? Just get the turbo.

As far as handling goes, the road feel is improved–Still not to a place where I’m excited to drive solely based on handling, but it’s getting closer than last year’s car.

Who Should Buy This Car

2016 Kia Optima SX Turbo | getinmymouf.com

If you’re looking for an affordable TURBO-CHARGED sedan with all the bells and whistles, give a hard look to the 2016 Kia Optima SX Turbo. Look, I realize that for some people, buying a Kia isn’t even on their radar. Before we were given the opportunity to test drive a few, I honestly didn’t think they could compete with some of the other brands. So, if you are in the market for a sedan, just take it for a test drive. You might be surprised!

Gratuitous Dog Picture

2016 Kia Optima SX Turbo | getinmymouf.com

Since this wasn’t an SUV, Cooper had no problem getting into and out of the Optima. I’m not sure he even noticed that it wasn’t my daily driver. The only thing he’s not quite sure about is that sunroof–Anything that moves by itself is clearly powered by evil wizards sent to destroy all dogs from earth.

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Disclaimer:  As noted above, we were provided this vehicle courtesy of DriveShop and Kia. Other than being allowed to test drive this vehicle, we were not provided any monetary compensation for this post. As always, all opinions remain our own.

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