Matt Vasquez, the lead singer of Delta Spirit, only recently came back to his home base of Long Beach after touring in support of the band’s second album, History From Below. And when it comes to eating, he’s happy he isn’t on the road anymore. “You don’t have any options,” he says. “We do our best to avoid eating at chain restaurants, but all you have is Subway, Wendy’s, McDonald’s, and Starbucks.” And he tells Grub Street you can forget about getting coffee any way except hot: “In the middle of the country and in Europe, people look at you like you’re insane when you want an iced coffee.” As he and the band are gearing up for a gig at Coachella, Vasquez shares everything he ate over the past week for this edition of L.A. Diet.
Wednesday, January 26
I woke up and ordered a large iced coffee — black, “no room” — and a banana at a place in Long Beach called Portfolio. There are a couple of places I go for coffee around town, and Portfolio is probably the one I go to the most because it’s within walking distance.
For lunch, I had Olive’s. It’s like a really small Whole Foods and the legend is that it was opened by the ex-wives of the guys who started Whole Foods. They divorced them and opened this place up. I’m not sure if that’s true, but that’s what they say anyway. I had the Parma, which is a prosciutto panini with fresh mozzarella, basil, and pesto sauce with really good tomatoes. It’s my favorite there and the owner even says, “That’s the only sandwich.” I hate making up my mind, so when someone says “it’s the only sandwich,” I’m happy to hear it. I had a Tejava tea and some sea-salt-and-vinegar Kettle chips. Then later, I had some carrots.
It sounds good so far, but it gets worse.
For dinner, I went to a place called Number Nine, which is a pho restaurant. I got the five-spiced chicken pho and an appetizer of fried calamari with spicy mayo sauce and lemon. It was pretty damn good. I had three hard lemonades with that. The hard lemonade wasn’t made with sake, but that other clear liquor, soju. It’s so good, it’s pretty much the only white alcohol I’ll drink, and so good with Asian food.
Thursday, January 27
I woke up and had a banana and coffee at Portfolio. And I usually swim two miles a day, so after I eat that, I swim it off.
For lunch, I went to this really cheap Mexican restaurant called Holé Molé; it’s my favorite Mexican place in Long Beach. I had four potato tacos, deep-fried, and a Diet Coke. I also had two Dos Equis and one Sierra Nevada pale ale before dinner because we were rehearsing and when we’re rehearsing, drinking is usually included.
After that, we hit a place called Congregation Ale House in Long Beach. I had Spaten, a Bavarian pilsner, which is my favorite beer. It’s the only place I can usually get it on draft. They switch up their drafts, so it’s a little frustrating when they don’t have it, but they have a great selection of other beers, too. But Spaten’s the one. They specialize in weird kinda game sausages. I had a duck-meat brat and some sort of sauce — I have no idea what it was, but it was really good. It’s sort of like Hot Doug’s in Chicago. When we got home, I made a “half-and-half,” which is half whiskey and half Coke. I had two. No, I actually had one — I think I was just bragging on my list. Then, believe it or not, I sobered up and drove to Yosemite that night and met my girlfriend. I had a peach tea and some Reeses’ Pieces and peanut M&M;’s. But really just two Reese’s and ten M&M;’s.
Friday, January 28
I had iced coffee and a cinnamon-raisin bagel, light on the cream cheese. This was at a quick-stop, drive-through coffee shop. I forget the name; I was still waking up.
For lunch, I had a tuna burger with some French fries and a Bud Light, plus a chocolate-chip crisp bar at Yosemite Lodge, which is a cafeteria there in the valley that has pretty nice food. There was this guy there from Denmark and he was trying to ask for “no fries,” but kept saying “pomme frites” and the guy at the counter didn’t get it, so I finally said, “He doesn’t want fries.” He was so thankful. He almost got rice milk, too, but I helped him out of that one as well. Then we had a nice hike to Mariposa Grove, because the redwoods were closed, and we had that all to ourselves. The snow had melted, but there was so much canopy and there was still snow still lingering in the middle of it. It was awesome.
On the road home, I convinced my girlfriend to sing. She’s normally very shy. So she did that, but I couldn’t drink for a week as part of the deal. We hit In-N-Out when we reached Fresno and I had a No. 2, which is a cheeseburger with onions, fries, and a shake. I love In-N-Out. The most I ever did was a five-by-five. I actually ate In-N-Out every day for a whole month in high school and gained fifteen pounds. I used to think I couldn’t get fat because I have really high metabolism, but after doing that for a month, I said, “Man, I’m fat,” and stopped going.
Saturday, January 29
I went to Portfolio for breakfast, which was iced coffee and a banana again.
For lunch, I didn’t eat anything that day. I wasn’t that hungry and I didn’t work out, and you know that feeling after you’ve eaten something kinda bad the night before.
For dinner, I went to Kafe Neo and had a pita-pizza, which was basically some nice tomatoes, mozzarella, and tomato sauce on a pita. And just I drank water with lemon. It was pretty good.
Sunday, January 30
I had black iced coffee and then I took the babe out to this place called Chuck’s Coffee Shop, which is right next to the Belmont pool, which is where I swim. I like eggs over-well, and this was the best eggs over-well I’ve had in a while. I was actually really excited because we wanted to go to this other place, but it was too crowded, so it was like, fuck ‘em. And they let me bring my coffee in here, too. Chuck’s, like a lot of places in Long Beach, has photos on the wall where people are holding a Chuck’s bumper sticker in different places, like Egypt and wherever. I had the eggs with bacon and sourdough toast. It was so good, it inspired me to buy eggs that night.
For lunch, I made a turkey sandwich with muenster cheese, Sriracha, which I put on almost everything, avocado, and roughage, with some Doritos. And then I had some carrots. Love those carrots.
We got really, really hungry, which is always a bad decision when you’re really hungry and realize you’re broke and decide to go shopping. We went to Fresh & Easy, which is pretty much like a cheap Trader Joe’s. We bought a bunch of food, and for dinner we made a Marie Callender’s chicken potpie, Fresh & Easy tomato-basil soup, and Coke Zero. I don’t usually cook much. I’m trying to more, but this was just easy microwave food.
Monday, January 31
I had black iced coffee and made my own eggs. I started out making mine sunny-side up, but messed up, so they became scrambled eggs. I made them with Mexican cheese and whole-wheat toast that I put avocado on. I ate all of that together, sort of like a sandwich.
Lunch would be Number Nine again. I had the five-spiced chicken sandwich, which is the same chicken as they use in the pho, along with some roughage, Sriracha, spicy mayonnaise, and I think zucchini. Those are the green ones, right? Yeah. They serve these big wonton rice chips that come on the side, and there was no hard lemonade this time.
For a snack, I had some carrots and my girlfriend made me a fruit bowl that had blueberries, apples, and oranges. She’s awesome. And a lot of water to reverse all the beer and whiskey. You know, the nervous drinking.
I can’t begin to spell this for you, but we went to Shillelagh, which is Irish, right next to a bar called O’Connell’s. They’re attached, actually, so you can bring your food over to the bar or even order at the bar. It’s a funny vibe — they have a tiki backyard, and inside is like a funky dive. We split a pepperoni pizza, which was good and fed two. And I just had water. After dinner, my neighbor brought over cupcakes. She likes to bake and bring things over, and she brought us chocolate peanut-butter-filled cupcakes.
Overall, it was a well-rounded week of eating.