Why July 4 is the right time for a ‘caloric blowout’

A tray holds loads of meat
A hefty meat plate at Moo’s Craft Barbecue in Los Angeles: “The line for Moo’s is already drifting a few yards out the door,” critic Bill Addison says. “Expect it to only grow longer.”
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

What says “summer” to you? Ice cream? Fried chicken? Burgers adorned with grilled onions? It’s a season inextricably linked to food that can be (and perhaps should be) consumed outside. In Southern California, that means summer lasts about 359 days, but there’s something about the Fourth of July holiday that compels us to indulge. It’s a date that lends itself to a caloric blowout.

I’m Alice Short, acting food editor, and today I’m subbing on the Tasting Notes newsletter for restaurant critic Bill Addison, who is on special assignment. And speaking of Bill, “caloric blowout” is a phrase he used this week while writing about “five L.A. restaurants (and one ice cream shop) made for summertime dining.” The flavors of summer, he reminds us, are many. “One day your tastes may run to herb-filled summer rolls, icy paletas and kebabs grilled over charcoal in a parking lot; the next day finds you ordering a Double-Double Animal Style from In-N-Out at 12:30 a.m.”

Let Bill be your guide, and you might find yourself at El Ruso, the taco trailer run by Walter Soto and Julia Silva. Or Ginger’s Divine Ice Creams, where a recent menu listed flavors such as Thin Mint Vegan, Milk & Cereal and Vegan Pickled Strawberry & Blueberry Pie.


And don’t forget to consult our guide to “Where to Eat Outside in L.A. Right Now.” It’s a great time to dine al fresco, armed with a sweater in anticipation of those 25-degree evening temperature drops that sometimes confound first-time visitors.

If you’re in the mood to grab and go, check out our assessment of fried chicken sandwiches with Jenn Harris and Bill sharing their top picks. Or you might want to browse Bill’s list of essential pop-up restaurants.

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— Home cooks, in the meantime, might want to try Ben Mims’ recipes for boozy barbecue sauces or one of our nine recipes for food on a stick, a.k.a. skewers, from Julie Giuffrida or our latest installment of “Week of Meals,” with recipes from food stylist, recipe developer and photographer Danielle Campbell. “These meals,” she says, “are a representation of the way I love to eat. Three of the recipes are inspired by Middle Eastern flavors, and the other two recipes provide more variety throughout the week.”

A dish of barbecue sauce with a sauce-covered food brush beside it
Boozy BBQ sauces let you use up some of your pandemic stash of alcohol— and they keep in the refrigerator all summer.
(Christina House/Los Angeles Times)

Los Angeles Times Food Bowl Events


The Los Angeles Times Food Bowl is presenting several upcoming events, including a bento box brunch at Phenakite (The Times 2021 restaurant of the year) on July 11 and a dinner at Guelaguetza, winner of the 2021 Gold Award, on July 12. For more information, please go to