Cardio at the Santa Monica Stairs (I almost died!)

 

I’ve been living in LA for almost 3 years and I never checked out the iconic Santa Monica Stairs until this week.  I’ve always heard that running up and down the stairs (170 steps) a few times is a good workout and they weren’t wrong. 

First off, this neighborhood is absolutely stunning. The houses are quite expensive. I hopped on Zillow to check out the prices and you can see the prices range from $3 million USD up to $18 million USD. Yeah, that’s probably not happening in my lifetime. 

Map of available real estate prices by Santa Monica Stairs

Once you get close to the stairs, you start seeing a lot of people exercising in the general area. I saw a lot of runners, a woman using resistance bands for a thigh workout, and a guy shoulder-pressing 30 pound dumbbells that he keeps in the back of his SUV (not sure why I haven’t thought about throwing a few dumbbells in my trunk and basically having a mobile gym). It’s a good place to workout because seeing all the people exercising can be more motivating than working out alone. However, keep in mind that you can’t park on the streets after 6pm or you might get a ticket. Shout out to the fellow stair-climber who mentioned this to me at 5:57pm as I was filming my vlog. She’s the real MVP.

Here’s a good workout routine:

-Run up and down the stairs 10 times as fast as you can (but not too fast or your heart might explode like mine almost did)

I did 1 climb and I was sweating, out of breath and my heart rate was certainly elevated. 

I’m going to hit these steps tomorrow as my diet has been a little brutal lately (including a Happy Meal from McDonald’s last night).

If you live in LA or you plan on visiting anytime soon, definitely check out the Santa Monica Stairs as a tourist or to get a workout in. You won’t regret it (or maybe you will). As my friends over at Anabolic Aliens say, “if it was easy, everybody would do it.”

And if you liked my pants, you can get them on Amazon.  Super comfortable and very affordable. Just look for SUPERBODY.

I Tried The Burgers at IHOP/IHOB (Review Inside)

After a few glasses of wine at The Lincoln, in Venice CA, I was craving a cheat meal. Luckily for me, there’s an IHOP in walking distance from the bar. I bet IHOP makes a killing every Friday & Saturday with the 2am intoxicated crowds.

As an advertising professional, I always appreciate a good marketing campaign, so when I saw the uproar and madness that IHOP was changing their iconic name to IHOB, I had to check out their burgers for myself and compare it to their pancakes. Despite the importance of fitness in my life, I am a cheeseburger connoisseur. I probably have a cheeseburger 1-2 times per month and I truly savor those moments.

We ordered their Vanilla Spice pancakes (a brand new addition to the menu), even though my waiter strongly recommended the Mexican Tres Leches pancakes. As to be expected, these vanilla-infused pancakes were absolutely delicious.  However, because I cover my pancakes in syrup, sometimes I can’t tell if it’s the pancake I like or the syrup. Yolo. For those who don’t know, I’m allergic to chocolate but fortunately for me I’ve always preferred vanilla. Definitely recommend these pancakes for any pancake and/or vanilla lover.

I drown my pancakes in syrup. Send help.
I drown my pancakes in syrup. Send help.

Because I like my burgers like I like my women (spicy), we ordered the Jalapeño Kick. Wow was it spicy! Their jalapeños had a nice bite to them. I especially loved the addition of crispy bacon (which I shared with my kids). Just to feel less guilty about eating a cheeseburger at 1am, I split half with my friend. The burger had a little too much sauce but it was still a delicious cheat-meal.

Bottom line is that IHOP’s marketing campaign worked. I probably wouldn’t have gone into IHOP if it wasn’t for the temporary IHOB rebrand. Their burgers are definitely good enough for a burger lover and they had about 6-7 different burger entrees. However, I would say that IHOP does pancakes slightly better than they do burgers (which is to be expected). 

Final Verdict

Pancakes: 4.5 stars

Burgers: 3.5 stars

My Favorite Hot Pot Restaurant In The World (Literally!)

Have you ever heard of Hot Pot?

The cute Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot logo

According to Wikipedia : “Hot pot is a Chinese cooking method, prepared with a simmering pot of soup stock at the dining table, containing a variety of East Asian foodstuffs and ingredients.”

I define hot pot as “THE MOST DELICIOUS WAY TO GET YOUR LEAN GAINS ON.” Seriously. Hot Pot is basically broth, with thinly-sliced meats (proteins) & veggies (super healthy). Of course you can add in noodles and other carbs if you wanted, but if you leave those out, you have a really healthy meal. I like to add spinach, baby bok choy, lotus root & broccoli.  I always pick the spicier broths. Yo soy Mexicano!

Now I’ve been to many hot pot restaurants from Taiwan, to Hong Kong, to Cambodia, to New York City to Los Angeles & many more, and I was surprised that my favorite hot pot restaurant is a global chain! Ironically (based on my blog name), the restaurant is called Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot. The first time I tried this restaurant was completely by happenstance.

Early 2017 I was staying in NYC for a work trip and the only pet-friendly, affordable and convenient hotel I could find on Hotel Tonight was in Chinatown, NYC (Best Western Bowery Hanbee Hotel). At 10pm I went searching for food when I stumbled across an “All-You-Can-Eat” hot pot sign. Sold. Being that I was in LEAN GAINS mode (building muscle while losing fat), I made sure to only order meat & veggies. Here’s a wonderful picture of my flexing at the excitement of this clean meal.

Flexing at the excitement of discovering lean gains in Chinatown, NY

Back in LA, I was absolutely thrilled when I found out there were multiple Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pots in the Los Angeles area! The one closest to me is in Torrance, CA, a city of LA that’s known for their authentic Asian cuisines. Torrance has the 8th largest Asian population in America at almost 40%. It’s no wonder this is a go-to area for delicious Asian cuisines. Source. I’ll review some more restaurants from this area in the future!

Expressing my love of Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot in Torrance, CA

In mid-2017, Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot stopped offering an All-You-Can-Eat menu but it didn’t matter. I was hooked. I was happy to pay almost double the price for the same amount of food because I enjoyed the flavors and the experience that much. I love their strategy – get the people hooked on their food at an affordable price, and then increase it after we’re addicted because we’ll pay anything! 

In late-2017, I spent a few weeks in Cambodia (Phnom Penh). I was riding in the back of a Tuk Tuk when I looked up and saw the legendary logo of the Little Sheep!!! I made my Tuk Tuk driver pull over immediately so I could try Cambodia’s version. I assumed it would be significantly cheaper than their US counterparts but I was wrong – it was more expensive! This restaurant is one of the higher-end establishments catering towards tourists & rich Cambodians. With the average monthly income in Phnom Penh (Cambodia’s most expensive city) being $340, this is a meal that  is unfortunately out of most locals budget (which is why I thought it would be priced to the market). Source. If you haven’t been to Cambodia, I highly recommend Siem Reap (for the stunning Angkor Wat) & Phnom Penh (for the nightlife & history). Your dollar will go very far here so it’s a cost-efficient place to travel to. Beautiful country. E-mail me if you have any questions or want some travel advice. adam@befreemysheeple.com 

And some good news everyone! Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot recently brought back their All-You-Can-Eat menu!!! #winning. I’m not sure what the prices are across the country but the Torrance location was $23.95. If you haven’t been here yet, check it out!

Flexing with 2 plates of delicious meat

Nevada Foodie Frontier with @DashofTing

Check out the video from my first co-hosting gig with LA’s#1 food blogger DashofTing. We teamed up with Matador Network & the  TravelNevada for a road trip down America’s loneliest road. 

If you think the word “loneliest” would mean we would be bored, you’d be 100% wrong. This road trip down Highway 50 had some of the best finds a foodie could ask for!

Fallon, Nevada

First place we checked out was Frey’s Ranch Estate Distillery. Now I’m normally not a gin drinker, but this distillery created a gin that I could not only bear, but actually enjoyed. Run by an amazing husband and wife team, definitely check these guys out if you’re a gin drinker or are looking for a place to step up your Instagram game.

https://www.yelp.com/biz/frey-ranch-estate-distillery-f…

The next place in Fallon was Middlegate Station which used to operate as a horse changing station for the Pony Express. Now it’s the home of the Monster Burger Challenge, a burger so big that it was larger than my head. If you finish the burger in 2 hours, you get a free t-shirt. Needless to say, I did not finish it. 

https://www.yelp.com/biz/middlegate-station-fallon-3

Middlegate Station, home of the Monster Burger Challenge

Kingston, Nevada

Kington, Nevada was our next step and we found a bar called Lucky Spur Saloon which is owned and operated by an awesome husband and wife couple! This bar is known for their Bunker Hill Bloody Mary, and it’s spicy, just how I like my women. Wink. An intimate, dog-friendly bar that I strongly recommend on your road trip through the area.

Ely, Nevada

Racks Bar & Grill is an Ely restaurant with video casino built directly into the bar. Typical way of killing time in Nevada. This restaurant has influences from the Basque region. Their chorizo burger was incredible (and this is coming from a burger connoisseur).

https://www.yelp.com/biz/racks-bar-and-grill-ely?osq=racks+bar+and+grill

If you’re not too full, a great place for dessert is Cell Block. It was an actual prison turned into a restaurant. Our waitress was the granddaughter of the owner. We heard their steaks are delicious but this foodie tour left us too full to try it!

https://www.yelp.com/biz/cellblock-steakhouse-ely

Taking a quick second to pose with my mini-horses.

Baker, Nevada

Attached to the Stargazer Inn, Kerouacs is a restaurant named after the famous poet, created by a husband & wife power couple who met in Brooklyn, New York and moved to Nevada to open an upscale restaurant with Brooklyn influences. A delicious cocktail menu and a perfect margarita pizza was a great way to transition from Cowboy Country back to the city life of NYC & LA (I spend half my time in each city).

https://www.yelp.com/biz/kerouacs-restaurant-and-bar-baker?osq=kerouacs

 

Roadtrip through Pet-Friendly Rosarito & Tijuana, Mexico

Entering & Bringing Your Dogs into Mexico

All my fellow pet owners will understand how much we miss our fur babies when we have to travel and leave them at home, especially if they always sleep in the bed with us. Well good news for those of you traveling to Mexico from the US…it’s very easy to bring your dogs into the country! At the border, I showed them an existing Certificate of Health that I had which also included proof of rabies vaccination.

Walking my kids along Rosarito Beach

What’s the best way to get into Mexico? I recommend driving down to the Mexico border from San Diego and parking your car in one of the many 24 hour parking lots they have (only $8/day) and then crossing into Mexico by foot.  If you try to drive your car in, the line can sometimes be up to 3 hours long. Why risk that when you can walk across by foot in a process that takes less than 20 minutes?

First stop was Rosarito Beach. We arrived on a Tuesday so this cute, colorful beach town was fairly empty, but this meant quick service at Acua Baja Bar y Mar for their famous pesto marlin fish tacos. By far one of the best tacos I’ve ever had. Who knew you could add pesto to tacos??

 https://www.yelp.com/biz/acua-baja-bar-y-mar-rosarito

La Caja Galeria & MULLME : Museo De La Lucha Libre Mexicana

As an influencer, we sometimes get exclusive access & VIP treatment and both La Caja Galeria & MULLME Museo De La Lucha Libre Mexicana did not disappoint!

Located on a quiet street in a graffiti-covered warehouse, you wouldn’t even notice that behind the walls was the museum La Caja Galeria. A labyrinth of rooms, I could only imagine how much fun playing a game of hide & seek would be. We received a private walking tour of the entire museum (with a few surprises we can’t mention here) and a preview of the massive renovation that will help beautify & revolutionize Tijuana’s downtown cultural scene.

https://www.yelp.com/biz/la-caja-galeria-tijuana-2

Awesome street art outside of La Caja Galeria

If you’re into comics or collectables, you’ll love MULLME. On the main floor, they have everything from Marvel & DC to local Mexican cartoon collectables. On the second floor is the largest collection of Lucha Libre collectibles in the world! Not knowing much about this iconic Mexican sport, I left YouTubing Lucha Libre fights.  This is can’t-miss-museum in Downtown Tijuana. The host Zaurel was incredibly knowledgable and passionate about his job which made the tour fun & interesting.

https://www.yelp.com/biz/mullme-tijuana?osq=mullme

With @DashofTing at MULLME

Downtown Tijuana (Telefonica Gastro Park)

Downtown Tijuana is quickly being revitalized with a thriving restaurant & cocktail scene. One of the places that I got to check out was Telefonica Gastro Park which is an amazing collection of diverse food trucks from coffee to tacos to this ridiculously amazing bacon sandwich. If I lived in Tijuana, this would be one 

https://www.yelp.com/biz/telefónica-gastro-park-tijuana-2

Walking my kids in Downtown Tijuana

Have you been to Tijuana or Rosarito before? I would love to hear some of the places you recommend in the comments! Or you can always e-mail me adam@befreemysheeple.com. And of course follow me on Instagram, @adamfrancisco & @befreemysheeple.

Be Free My Sheeple.