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Here's where I am going to tell you about quality restaurants that offer value for your formal dining, and casual dining, and family dining dollar.  Heck, I'm also going to tell you about good places to eat too.  While I enjoy a fine restaurant, I also want value for my money and I don't want to cringe when the check comes.  I'll pay more when the atmosphere and the service and the taste and quality are worth paying more, and I hope you'll agree with the restaurant suggestions -- formal and casual and on-the-go -- that I present here.

BETTER FRESH BURGER IN BURBANK FOR BREAKFAST, LUNCH, DINNER

Update July 22, 2016  Better Fresh Burger in Burbank, California first became famous for its premium grilled burgers but it has since expanded its dining area and its menu and now the menu features popular breakfast items including specialty burritos made fresh to order. The specialty burritors range from vegetarian to the most tender and juicy carne asada.

Better Fresh Burger offers dine-in service for breakfast, lunch and dinner from 7-AM till 9-PM Monday through Saturday. They are closed Sunday. They also offer catering and delivery service and the deliveries are made within a ten-mile radius of their Burbank location. You can order deliveries and pay online on their website. Catering includes salads, burritors, wraps and you are always getting the highest quality food items.

The owners of this restaurant really cares about maintaining the highest quality and the best service which is why Better Fresh Burger is a neighborhood favorite. Our Best Buys TV Show report is below.

Better Fresh Burger
101 North Victory Boulevard #F
Burbank, California 91502
747-477-1860
www.betterfreshburger.com

GETTING THE CORRECT DRIVE-THRU ORDER

Update July 1, 2016  I hate it when a drive-thru restaurant gets my take-out order wrong. Sometimes I catch the error while still at the drive-thru window, but more often I detected the error miles away when it just doesn't make sense to drive back to the restaurant. Sometimes I will call the restaurant, ask for a manager, and demand a credit for my next visit. I've never had a problem getting a credit when I call, but sometimes it doesn't make sense or pay to call because I'll probably never be back in that neighborhood or even in the city again.

Sometimes the error is significant like the time I ordered a salad and the drive-thru didn't give me the salad dressing or even a fork to eat it with. Other times the error involved buying something which didn't end up in my bag or getting something prepared that I couldn't eat like the time I ordered a burger without ketchup and when I bit into it I got a mouthful of ketchup.

When I used the drive-through at a local Carl's Jr. Restaurant today I was encouraged to see that they have a new sticker that goes on their to-go bags indicating that the order was checked and is correct. See the photo below. There was a spot for an employee to initial or sign-off on the verification, but there was no signature. Still, it was encouraging to see.

It makes sense that drive-thru restaurants verifty their orders. Not only is it good customer service, but it can also save the restaurant some money. Last night I ordered a chicken sandwich with cheese from a fast-food chain and there was no cheese. They charged me 30-cents for the cheese and fortunately for me I noticed it right away because I started to eat the sandwich as I drove away. I returned to the restaurant where they replaced the sandwich with a new one (that cost them an extra sandwich), and they gave me a gift-card for a free breakfast (that cost them some more).

The restaurant expense of getting an order wrong can be dramatic if they serve a food or condiment that the customer is allergic to and results in a hospital visit or a lawsuit.

Carl's Jr. says the to-go order is correct.
webassets/20160701_134634carlsgotitright.jpg
We need this kind of customer service.

SANTORO'S SUBMARINE SANDWICH IN BURBANK

Update February 18, 2016  If you want a real, authentic submarine sandwich you go to Santoro's Submarine Sandwich in Burbank. This is the real deal -- or what I would call a Best Buy for a sub. The meats are fresh and portions are generous and the cheese and toppings are authentic and exactly what you would expect to find in an Italian sub shop. Santoro's not only can craft your lunch, but they can also party-up with platters and subs as long as 6-feet packed with goodness. Our Best Buys TV Show report is below showing their hot and cold selections and party subs. These are the guys to call for parties, for catering, and where to stop in to pick up lunch. They've been in business doing it the right way since 1956. Santoro's Submarine Sandwich can also be found on the www.WithinMyCity.com business directory.

Santoro's Submarine Sandwich
1423 West Burbank Boulevard
Burbank, California 91506
818-848-8888
www.santorossubs.com

SHREDDED TACOS FOR THE BEST HAND-CRAFTED TACOS

Update February 25, 2015  The new, trendy spot for hand-crafted, made-to-order tacos is Shredded Tacos in North Hills, near the 405 and 118 freeways in the northern San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles County. The recipes for Shredded Tacos are a family secret, developed more than forty years ago and mix Mexican and Italian ingredients of spices. They are expertly marinated and then assembled to order. It's no coincidence that taco lovers line up for Shredded Tacos to eat there and to take them home and to work. Now, Shredded Tacos is ready to expand to new locations throughout Southern California. Find out more and enjoy some by visiting them at 10224 Balboa Boulevard, North Hills. Or call them at 818-363-6423 or visit their website www.shreddedtacos.com for information. Our Best Buys TV Show report is below.

Shredded Tacos
10224 Balboa Boulevard, North Hills, California
818-363-6423
www.shreddedtacos.com

EATING PIE, DRESSING BURGERS, PB&J SANDWICHES

Update October 30, 2012  Three American foods -- foods that we all eat -- include pie, burgers and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  But we all don't eat them or create them the same way.  Let me start with eating pie.

Some people eat pie starting with the point or tip of the slice, and some eat pie starting with the outside -- the crusty top.  Years ago I was told that "Easterners" eat their pie starting with the point or tip, while "Westerners" started their pie from the outside, with the crust.  But when it comes to Lemon Meringue pie, I dig right into the middle, scooping out the good stuff.

Burgers are dressed differently.  I always put my burger on the lower half of the bun first, then put mustard and ketchup and relish on top and then maybe lettuce and tomato.  I guess I did it that way because that's the way my father made burgers when we would barbecue.  But about fifteen years ago I reported on "Founder's Day" at the Carl's Jr. Restaurant Company and there was Don Karcher, the brother of Carl, making burgers and working the kitchen at one of their fast-food restaurants.  I interviewed him while he was making burgers and dressing them and he told me that at Carl's they put the mustard and ketchup on the bottom of the top bun so that it hits the roof of the mouth and gives a more satisfying taste.

And then there's the American favorite -- PB&J or peanut butter and jelly.  When I was in elementary school and they gave us PB&J the peanut butter was on one piece of bread, the jelly was on the other piece and they would slap the two pieces together to form a sandwich.  Well, in those days there were lots of holes in the bread so the jelly would leak through and create a mess.  So, when I made PB&J sanwiches at home as a kid, I would put peanut butter on each slice of bread to hold the jelly as a layer in between -- and I still do that today.

Yes, I do strange things when I eat my food -- or what some people would consider to be strange.  For example, when I am at home and no one is around to criticize me, I eat my soup with a teaspoon.  I used to eat my soup with a teaspoon as a kid, and when I was criticized for doing that I said I used a teaspoon because "I don't have a big mouth."  Today, I use a soup spoon in public -- like at restaurants -- but I'd still prefer to use a teaspoon whether it's improper or not.  And to tell you the truth, salad forks work well with entres, too.  Why do we use dinner forks anyway?  Is it because they cost more or the silverware companies just want to sell us more pieces?

CHAPA GRILL FOR AUTHENTIC MEDITERRANEAN FOOD IN SHERMAN OAKS AND THE MIRACLE MILE

Update June 27, 2012  Chapa Grill serves authentic Mediterranean and Middle Eastern food six days a week in Sherman Oaks and on Wilshire Boulevard in the Miracle Mile section of Los Angeles.  The restaurants are closed Friday nights and Saturdays because they're Kosher.  The food is always fresh, expertly prepared and there are generous portions and the restaurants are open for lunch and dinner and they cater parties, office events and special events.  Our Best Buys TV Show report is below.

You will always find the favorites here including Hummus and Falafel, Shish Kabob and Lula Kabob and specialty meats and Mediterranean salads.  If you want Lafa bread it can be made to order and the staff is always there to make sure your meal is what you want and makes you delightfully full.  There is free parking at both locations.

Chapa Grill
14845 Burbank Boulevard, Sherman Oaks
818-782-8995
---and---
Chapa Grill
6256 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles
323-936-2460

FAST FOOD RESTAURANTS ARE GETTING FASTER

Update April 19, 2012  This was inevitable: restaurants are now adding self-ordering, and self-pay devices at a faster pace.  They are making fast food restaurants faster, and they are probably also cutting costs for the restaurants by cutting cashiers and speeding up the number of meals that can be served in the shortest amount of time.  For customers it's a chance to get out of lunch-time lines and to do-it-yourself.  The photo below was taken at a Jack In The Box restaurant in Studio City, California where a self-serve kiosk allows you to not only pay with a credit card, debit card or cash, but also allows you to customize your order including changing some of the items included in a regular serving of menu items.  As an incentive to get customers to try it, the restaurant offers a dessert item free.  In the future it wouldn't surprise if the self-serve units offer disounted prices.

Of course whenever self-serve machines are introduced I have to remember what the banks first said about ATMs when they were first introduced back in the early 1980s.  The bankers said the ATMs would cut costs and fees and the cost of an ATM transaction was much less than the cost of a transaction with a human teller.  Well, that didn't last very long and now many banks have ATM fees as well as fees for using human tellers.

And the use of self-serve kiosks in fast-food restaurants also makes me wonder what will happen to the job market and for what is a "first job" for many teenagers.  Automation has created jobs and automation has killed jobs.  But as the automation companies say: a machine doesn't need health benefits, sick time, vacation time and doesn't steal.

webassets/IMG00161-20120321-1454.jpg

Don't be surprised by this technology.  It's been many years since we started having self-service gas stations with pay-at-the-pump devices.  And now the Postal Service has self-service postal centers, and there are services you can even use on your home or business computer. And don't forget about self-service banking with ATMs and with home computers.  I think the fast food restaurant business is just catching up.

CHECK YOUR CREDIT CARD RECEIPT FOR THIS RESTAURANT SCAM

Update April 19, 2012  This scam could happen in any retail store but it is easy to pull off at a busy restaurant because credit card customers just might forget to compare their actual restaurant receipts with their credit card statements.  I always compare receipts to my monthly credit card statement and that's how I became aware of this scam.  Here's what happened:

I was at a restaurant with a client and I picked up the tab and used my credit card to pay.  The waiter prepared my credit card slip properly and brought it to me to sign.  But a few weeks later, when the credit card statement arrived, the charge from the restaurant was for more than what it should have been.  I alerted the credit card company and they determined that the waiter had charged swiped my credit card twice -- once for my bill and a second time for my check plus the check of another table that had paid in cash.  Yes, the waiter pocketed the cash and used my credit card payment to cover for the money he swiped.

And by the time this was discovered, the waiter was no longer at this particular restaurant and had moved on to another job in another area.  "It happens all the time," the investigator told me.  While the restaurant is out the money, you should always check your monthly credit card statements with your actual receipts so that you are not out money also.

LOUISE'S TRATTORIA
 
It just makes perfect sense that the first restaurant I feature here is Louise's Trattoria, the well known and popular chain of family-friendly and modestly priced Italian restaurants in the Los Angeles area.  Louise's Trattoria, casually called "Louise's," has seven locations including restaurants in Santa Monica, Brentwood, West Los Angeles, Hancock Park, Hollywood, Studio City and Old Town Pasadena -- and I've enjoyed lunch or dinner in all of them.  The first Louise's I had lunch at was the one near the old Channel 9 studios, when KCAL was on the Paramount Studios Lot on Melrose Avenue.  What impressed me about that Louise's was the consistency and the value -- and that has been the same at all of the other locations.  My wife and I frequently have dinner at the West Los Angeles Louise's on Pico Boulevard.  And every time we get the delicious quality we've come to expect and always enjoy the wonderful, friendly service... and the bread... which is the secret that keeps the regulars coming back again and again.  Louises recently changed its menu to offer lower prices and you can't argue with lower prices -- but the quality hasn't changed and frankly the portions are still plentiful and we have a "doggie bag" to bring home every time, and we don't have a dog.  Call Louise's Trattoria at (877) LOUISES or go to www.Louises.com for address, their menu, and information about catering, parties, and their formula for success.  Watch the video below.

DON'T BRING IN A PIZZA, BRING IN THE PIZZA RESTAURANT

Updated January 11, 2011  I love this idea.  You can all it-- "when food truck meets party planner."  Yep, there is now a food truck in Los Angeles that specializes in pizza and the food truck has its own pizza oven to make fresh pizza on the spot.  Several times a week you'll find The Slice Truck near USC at Jefferson and McClintock.  But The Slice Truck makes house calls and office calls and you can have The Slice Truck come to you for your next ultimate pizza party.

Call them at 310-944-2474 or go to their website www.slicetruck.com for information and how to order your own pizza restaurant for your event.  There are some conditions -- so you can't call them just for a slice.

When you call, they'll need to know the date and time of your event, how many people to expect and how many slices per person.  And what about liquid refreshments?  Of course they'll need to know your address and what kind of event it is.  For example, if it's for a wedding or Bar Mitzvah they might have some extra decorations available.  Their minimum charge for bringing The Slice Truck to you is $800 and there might be a higher charge depending on how far they have to drive.

Remember, they have pizza ovens on the truck and use fresh hand tossed dough to make their pizzas.  The truck itself i a pizza restaurant.  And why did they do it?  "The reason behind it is that historically when large groups order 40-100 pizzas for a large gathering, the majority of the pizza gets cold before people can eat it," David Hanley told me.  "Basically SliceTruck is what you call when you're in a situation to order 40 or more pizzas, as it will cost about the same and the freshness and hotness and greatness will be much higher.  Not to mention that compared to most any other pizza place in L.A., we have much better pizza anyway."

Here on our new media website "Moneyman" Alan Mendelson who is the original Best Deals TV Show reporter on KCAL9 and consumer advocate, shows you the best deals on TV, and the best buys, bargains and where savvy shoppers go to save, and how to get the most for "your money" with the best of Los Angeles, Orange County, Ventura County, Riverside County and San Bernardino County.  Our Best Buys TV Show has the best TV deals and is the only regularly scheduled weekly best deals TV show in Southern California.  We show you the best buys and best deals on TV and more deals and bargains on www.alanbestbuys.com and www.bestbuystvshow.com and watch for our Las Vegas TV show Vegas Best Buys.  Some of the content can come from paid advertising and from our advertiser paid TV infomercial programs.  The Best Buys TV Show is a paid infomercial program which may also include news and information which is not sponsored or paid for by advertisers.  AlanBestBuys.com has the highest ranking among competitive sites in Southern California according to the independent website ranking companies Alexa.com and Quantcast.com and our Best Buys TV Show is the most watched shopping and consumer information show in Southern California.

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