Wok In Wok Out
4737 N. Carefree Drive, 638-8343
The cute Chinese and Thai restaurant in the middle of a central neighborhood has four stars on Yelp, a 90 percent rating on urbanspoon.com, and my heart, all for offering quality food, a surprising level of care and, you know, that name. Our light chrysanthemum tea (75 cents) was fussed over and poured when ready, menu recommendations were thoughtfully offered, and our server boxed our to-go food.
Seven spicy cheese wontons ($4.95) with crisp edges and tender centers on a thick bed of cabbage weren't exactly fiery, but still were awesome. The Sriracha Beef ($7.95) combined a beautiful brown sauce with shaved carrots, toothsome broccoli and zucchini, large halved mushrooms and an undercurrent of black-licorice-like Thai basil. An egg roll and wonton completed the huge plate of kickass. Some Pad Thai ($8.25) didn't punch like it can, and was maybe even under-seasoned, but still very pleasant. — BC
Maty's Good To Go
2 N. Cascade Ave., Suite P1-A, 632-2939
Maty's takes the prize for most hidden eatery in the city, I think, located in an elevator corridor off the first-level parking garage in downtown's FirstBank Building. You either work there and know about this breakfast and lunch spot (or its predecessor, just called Good 2 Go), or you'll almost certainly never stumble upon it.
Beyond the unlikeliness of it all, the charm stems from spirited owner Maty LaTerra, and daily specials like her carne asada, which we ordered both in a filling, rice-andbean-stuffed burrito ($7.35 includes a drink and side) and over a Romaine salad ($6.75) with a pico relish and vinaigrette dressing. Though chewy with nicely charred edges, the beef could use a touch more seasoning and spice, as could LaTerra's otherwise fine green chile, sampled on a stringy pork tamale ($3) with moist masa and basic salsa and sour cream garnish. Beyond the Tex-Mex, look for subs, panini, breakfast sweets and more. — MS
405 N. Tejon St., 481-6888, rastapastacs.com
Hang with me on this metaphor, but Rasta Pasta's chicken citrus spice salad ($9.95) is kind of like in the morning, when you stand in front of your closet thumbing through what to wear, but instead of finally picking one outfit, you suddenly pull multiple mismatched layers on and shuffle out of the room as the living embodiment of, "F_ck you, I'll do what I want!"
There's so much packed into my to-go box, it weighs as much as two Chipotle burritos or a tiny infant. It could win a diversity award for all its vibrant colors, but there's also a constant flavor battle going on, with no margin of balance in sight. Hot-pepper heat's nice in the lightly citrusy dressing and jerk chicken hunks, and crunch abounds texturally, but big segments of tri-color bell peppers talk too loud. Then there's the kitchen sink of zucchini, yellow squash, carrot, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, Romaine and pineapple. Yeah, I'm full, but not altogether irie. — MS