L.A. Diet

Actor Andre Royo Is the ‘Tupac’ of Twizzlers, Only Drinks Coke

Andre Royo, lending a hand at Canele.
Andre Royo, lending a hand at Canele. Photo: Lesley Balla

Fans of The Wire are no strangers to Andre Royo, the actor who portrayed the lovable junkie and police informant Bubbles. Fans of Canele in Atwater Village are no strangers to Royo either, since he’s married to co-owner Jane Choi. “I used to wait tables, and we hated when the owners came to the restaurant, taking up a table, eating, and drinking the profits,” Royo says. “At the same time, my wife is there nine days a week,” he jokes. “So I go in more now.” Since he finished filming in Baltimore, the Bronx native has been in L.A. working on various projects. You may have seen him on Fringe, and this January he’ll appear in George Lucas’s Red Tails. He just finished producing his first film, a horror flick called Would You Rather. But he says his No. 1 role right now is playing taxi driver to his 13-year-old daughter, Stella: “She’s at that age where Daddy isn’t cool, but he’s reliable.” The two spend quality time each week at the South Pasadena farmers’ market, and Royo has even learned his way around a piece of salmon, thanks to the crew at Canele. Check out everything Royo ate and drank this week in today’s L.A. Diet.

Wednesday, October 5
Every morning starts pretty much the same, with the delusion that it’s going to be a healthy day. So I had a bowl of oatmeal with a little squeeze of honey and a little milk. And a cup of coffee. I enjoyed about two minutes before I had to go get my daughter somewhere. What my wife and daughter find amusing is that when you’re not working, you don’t have to get up. But I have to wake them up. By any means necessary. So before I get into my routine, I have some breakfast and tell myself I’m not going to eat bad today. It never works.

It was an unusual day because it was raining, and after dropping my daughter off at school, I went for a hike near Pasadena. I came back a little soggy. I’m a mama’s boy, and nothing is more perfect than a bowl of soup on a wet day, and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, which I craved after making my daughter’s lunch. There’s nothing better than Campbell’s soup to me. Something about the can and the MSG that I love. And PBJ on white bread.

Later, picked my daughter up from school and we went to Trader Joe’s. We got a couple of Angus New York steaks. I know we should buy grass-fed, that it’s better for you. But I wasn’t raised that way in the Bronx. We love our steaks medium rare, and we had those with some mac and cheese and mixed vegetables.

After everyone goes to bed, when Jane comes home, my classic late-night combo is Breyer’s chocolate ice cream, the best potato chips I’ve ever tasted, sea salt and malt vinegar chips from Fresh ‘N Easy, and a half a glass of Coca-Cola. I don’t like water. It’s like bottled spit. So I drink Coke with everything.

Thursday, October 6
Again, started off with a cup of Café Bustelo coffee and a bowl of oatmeal. Then I dropped my wife over at work, and I had lunch at Viet Café in Atwater Village. My wife likes all the pho and stuff, the noodles. I don’t like any of that. It tastes too fresh. I got the sardine sandwich. With a nice Mexican Coke. Knocked that back.

Picked up my daughter, and in South Pasadena they have a wonderful farmers’ market. I can get a little quality time with my daughter there, and I’m even allowed to walk with her. Then we went to this stand called the Happy Inka for some Peruvian food. That’s our go-to spot. She got beef and rice, and I got fish and rice. I think it’s called chaufa, the fried rice with green onions and soy sauce. Brought it home and turned on the Hulu and watched our Modern Family.

Since that was pretty early, by 10 p.m. I was hungry and starving. I went to pick up my wife, and we did a late-night stop at BCD Tofu House on Wilshire. She got the smelly kimchee, and I got the kalbi beef short ribs with white rice.

Friday, October 7
I started to break down. My body’s like, “Fuck you, stop lying to us.” So I dropped my daughter off, and I stopped at Cindy’s Diner in Eagle Rock and ordered the two eggs over easy and corned beef hash. A shot glass of OJ. I held off on the potatoes, but I got the white-bread toast. I love the vibe there, it’s like a movie set.

My wife and I went for a hike, and afterwards we had to go to her favorite restaurant, Azeen’s, an Afghan place in Pasadena. I get the bulanee appetizer, a turnover with leeks and scallions. I got the salad. I don’t know what the dressing is, but it’s the best dressing ever. And I got the lamb kabob and that comes with pallu, seasoned brown rice.

Back home with my daughter, while she gave me my driving list for the weekend, I cooked salmon with citrus butter and some white rice. I always fucked up salmon, but the chefs at Canele taught me how to cook it, and now it’s great. We knocked that out.

That night, when my wife got home, I had a little Jameson and she had some red wine, and we got in a serious West Coast–East Coast debate: Red Vines vs. Twizzler. She was Biggie, I was Tupac. We did a blind taste test, freestyle. She, and Red Vines, won. She was a lyrical assassin. [Editor’s Note: Royo passed along her rap: “Red Vines are fine, like my glass of wine, you use to play a snitch, so go drop dimes. Twizzler taste like wax, a bad chemical romance snack. Red Vines are sweeter, No. 1, the best. Drop the mike, turn off the lights. Peace, I’m out, have a good night.”]

Saturday, October 8
Between the Jameson and Red Vines, I didn’t wake up until late. I was a little tender, skipped breakfast. But like a true New Yorker, I had to fix it the only way I know how, with the hair of the dog — a little beer and pizza combination. I don’t know why L.A. can’t get pizza right. You all fuck it up. I don’t know why. You make one hell of a burrito, hell of an enchilada. But you can’t make a pizza. I was really happy and almost cried when I found Nonna’s on Fair Oaks. The best pizza in L.A. Got the extra-large, six-pack of Corona, brought it home on Saturday, knocked out a few slices.

I’m a soccer dad. Another thing we didn’t have in New York. So we went to my daughter’s soccer game, and after watching kids run for an hour and half for a score of 1–0, I had to go hang out with some grown-ups. I dropped her off at her play date, and then I hit Canele. I got the beef bourguignon with a big glass of red wine. And then a second glass of wine. A third glass? Then I got loud. And my wife got mad, so she sent a piece of chocolate flourless cake and a cup of coffee. And then home.

At home, I couldn’t stop. Then I zoned out with the malt vinegar chips and a tall glass of Coca-Cola. And watched something ridiculous on TV.

Sunday, October 9
So I woke up and ate the remains of the cold pizza, and headed out. I hit Baracoa, the Cuban place in Atwater Village. I’m half black, half Cuban. I had to get my fix. I got the oxtail and yellow rice. After that, I got home and watched football. Later, we got some Dinah’s fried chicken with mashed potatoes with gravy, brought that home. We knocked that out. I’m a leg and thigh man, leave the breast for my wife.

Later, I kind of had a meltdown. I remembered I had some White Castle in the freezer. They remind me of New York, back in the day. I will challenge anyone with White Castle versus In-N-Out. So I nuked them. It was bad. Jane said don’t do it. I heard the microwave say, “NO.” I knew it’s bad. I had six of those. That was self destructive. With the malt vinegar chips, chocolate ice cream, and a Coca-Cola, I had to sleep on the hammock on the porch. With a grin on my face, gassing up the neighborhood. It was a nightmare.

Monday, October 10
After that meltdown, my stomach was tender, so I had a cup of coffee. I didn’t want to eat for a while. Dropped my daughter off, ran around a bit; it was my wife’s day off. For lunch, I think I knocked off some Trader Joe’s tomato and rice soup. There were still remnants of murder in my stomach. I took it easy.

After we picked up my daughter from school, I took them to Din Tai Fung. They like the dumplings. I don’t like them that much. I had a few bites of bok choy. I don’t like things squirting in my mouth.

For dinner, I had some spaghetti with garlic and butter sauce at home. But I was hungry later, so the last spot I hit, around 10:30 p.m., was Astro’s Diner for fried chicken strips with honey mustard sauce. My whole body is based on delusion. Bread makes you fat, but breading doesn’t. I had a craving.

Actor Andre Royo Is the ‘Tupac’ of Twizzlers, Only Drinks Coke