Cravings Culture Restaurants

The 15-Minute Paella That Cuts Time, But Not Flavor Or Authenticity

Tucked away in a block on North Figueroa Street in Los Angeles’ historic Highland Park neighborhood lies Otono, a charming Spanish restaurant that you may miss upon first look. While the kitchen space is smaller than most restaurants — six burners, a couple ovens, and a narrow prep station — head chef Theresa Montaño makes up for it by expanding the flavors of her cuisine on an immense scale.

Montaño grew up cooking with her mother and grandmother in New Mexico, instilling a love of the culinary arts in her at such an early age.

“I grew up in a big Hispanic family, so food was a part of that,” she laughed.

Otono’s arroz y fideua, also known as paella, are some of the most popular dishes on the restaurant’s menu. Montaño mentions on a busy night, Otono could sell as many as 50 orders of paella.

Traditionally, a properly made paella could take anywhere from 40 minutes to an hour to cook. With 50 orders a night, in such a small kitchen space, those numbers can seem daunting, but Chef Montaño doesn’t bat an eye.

That’s because she has perfected her paella dish to be done in a matter of 15 minutes, a feat that took her years to master, and is a necessary one to become successful in Otono’s kitchen setting.

The key to this, she shares, lies in the preparation.

Before Chef Montaño even opened the doors of Otono, she began the streamlining process.

Essentially, all the elements of a proper paella are there, but Montaño found a way to shift the flavors into different components to speed up the preparation and cooking process. First, the rice is half-cooked ahead of time and infused with a rich broth. Then Montano creates a flavorful Samora paste that’s made from tomatoes, saffron, and mild chiles that combines with the rice during the cooking process. Once they all come together, the dish tastes exactly as it would had it been cooked another 15 or 20 minutes longer.

With only six burners in her kitchen and two of said burners required for each paella pan, adapting was non-negotiable in such a bustling environment.

Her movement through the kitchen was seamless, slicing fresh vegetables, chorizo, scallops, and all the fresh ingredients required to craft her multiple paellas. Containers of partially-cooked rice and flavorful broths were all measured out and ready to go into the pans once the order comes in.

“It’s just being careful through those steps not to overcook our rice in the beginning and handling it properly. The right ratio of rice for the pan size, you can see just one layer of rice and getting the crispiness on the bottom, that’s called socarrat.”

Chef Montaño explains she made the process foolproof, labeling portions of each ingredient and at which times during the cooking process to utilize them. Paella can be tricky if not correctly approached: you can either overcook it, undercook it, or completely miss the mark on flavor if rushed.

Coming from a Spanish heritage, Montaño spent time in Spain where she traveled to Valencia, the birthplace of paella.

“I went to the old school institutions that were doing the woodfire, really authentic stuff and also went to the more modern paella restaurants to see what they were doing in contrast and then started to develop this concept.”

That time and dedication has paid off and is reflected in the satisfying crunch of her paella’s euphoric socarrat.

Chef Montaño is a shining example that while traditional flavors are crucial to a dish, you need to learn to evolve in order to adapt to a modernized setting. By drastically cutting the time it takes to cook an exquisite paella, Chef Montaño has shown that she’s capable of paying respect to the old ways, while also embracing new techniques to expedite her process.

Fast Food What's New

Hooters Now Offering ‘Stuffed Wings’ Filled With Jambalaya And Chorizo

Hooters has innovated various unique wing sauces in the past, but they’re revamping what goes inside the actual wing with their newest creation: Stuffed Wings.

Photo: Hooters

The wings come in the chain’s original style, and are crammed with your choice of jambalaya or chorizo sausage. These appear to have been tested a few months ago in Florida, but are now coming to all locations nationwide.

Officially, these will debut in restaurants on February 25th. Folks on Doordash can get them a few days in advance, though, if they get $15 or more worth of other food from Hooters. Entering the code “STUFFED” at checkout gets you a free order of the new wings.

You can find variations of these at several mom-and-pop shops around the country, filled with cheese, jambalaya, and other ingredients. However, Hooters becomes the first large-scale restaurant to offer a nationally available stuffed chicken wing with this launch.

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Chorizo, Queso & Tequila Combine For A LIT New Year’s Party Dip

Whether or not 2018 has been good to you, it’s coming to an end, and it’s time to celebrate. That means turning up the queso as much as all the other attendees at your New Year’s Bash.

Start by loading it up with copious amounts of chorizo, going big on flavor with the Oaxacan cheese, and – of course – spiking it with plenty of Casa Mexico Tequila. It’ll be a queso to remember, regardless of what else happens as you ring in the new year.

You can find all of the ingredients to make this festive queso at Northgate Market, who also has a holiday cookbook coming out with all of the recipes you need for this season. If you want this boozy, meaty queso ASAP, though, you can peep the full recipe below.

Servings: At least 6

5 oz Northgate Market pork chorizo, plus more for garnish    
1/2 cup Casa Mexico Tequila
1 cup milk
3 1/2 cups shredded Oaxaca cheese
3 cups Mexican taco cheese mix
1/2 cup Crèma Mexicana
2 1/2 Tbsp Green Hot Sauce   
1 (4 oz) can diced green chiles
Chicharrons, whatever size you want, for dipping
1/4 cup Cotija
1 jalapeño, sliced
1 tbsp chopped green onions


Step 1
Cook chorizo in a sauté pan or saucepan until all of the meat is fully cooked. Drain off the residual oil, and set the chorizo aside to add in later.

Step 2
Bring your tequila to a boil in a separate saucepan over a medium heat, and reduce the liquid by half. Add the milk and reduce your heat to medium-low. While stirring, sprinkle in your melted cheese a little bit at a time to fully combine. Add Creme Oaxaca sauce, and stir to mix thoroughly.

Step 3
After all the cheeses are melted, add in the hot sauce, green chiles, and cooked chorizo. Stir to fully combine.

Step 4
Garnish with cotija, more chorizo, green onions and jalapeño. Serve hot over chips, chicharrons, or any of your other favorite foods to dip with.

Created in partnership with Northgate Market

Drinks Fast Food

Starbucks Adds Chorizo Egg Bites To Its Menu, Here’s How They Taste

Huevos con chorizo are a breakfast staple in Mexican culture, and Starbucks has found a way to incorporate it into their menu. Kind of.

Jumping off the popularity of their Bacon & Gruyere and Egg White Sous Vide Bites, Starbucks has decided to dip into Mexican culture for their latest edition.

With chicken chorizo, tortilla, cotija cheese, and chipotle salsa, these little bites are actually pretty tasty.

I was pretty hard on Starbucks for their first stab at chorizo, and while these still lack some spice, the addition of cotija and chipotle salsa really helped add some flavor to what could have been another bland addition to the menu.

Keep in mind, most food at Starbucks is still pre-packaged, and often looks like mush, but these aren’t bad by Starbucks food standards.

Joining the chorizo bite on the summer menu are a handful of new Frappuccinos, including a Serious Strawberry Frappuccino that comes with a real strawberry puree, strawberry fruit, and a “swirl of milk.”

Another Frap that’s sure to be a favorite is the Ultra Caramel Frappuccino, which is basically a Caramel Frap on steroids. This one consists of whipped cream layers that are infused with cold brew for an extra kick, white chocolate, and dark caramel. On top of that, it’s drizzled with more dark caramel.

Can’t really complain about any of the new items, and they should be popular considering all they did was tweak already existing favorites.

#foodbeast Brand Cravings Drinks Features Food Trucks FOODBEAST Restaurants SPONSORED Video

Check Out This Spanish Twist On The Classic Egg & Chorizo Sandwich

The Tumaca Truck is known for its authentic, Spanish-style food from one of the most popular regions in the world.

For the Tumaca Truck, the phrase, “happy food from Barcelona,” is an endearing motto, and a fact of life, as these purveyors of delicious items like Catalan sausage and Spanish serrano ham never seem to disappoint.


If you’ve never stopped by the Tumaca Truck, Hansen’s Natural Soda is giving you an exclusive opportunity to check them out on October 7 at Fresh Coat Mural Festival in DTLA’s Arts District.

If that doesn’t work for your schedule, the Tumaca Truck will also be at FOODBEAST’s third annual OOZEFEST, an all-you-can-eat and all-you-can-drink cheese festival in Santa Ana, California on October 14.  

At both events, you’ll be able to try one of the most famous items on Tumaca’s menu, the Eggs & Chorizo served on a toasted ciabatta from well-known baker Bub & Grandma’s.

Tumaca’s Eggs & Chorizo features Spanish dry-cured chorizo, two over medium eggs, melted Manchego cheese, and crispy smoked bacon topped with chives.

This breakfast-meets-lunch sandwich is the perfect combination of savory and spicy, and is paired perfectly with Hansen’s Mandarin Lime Soda. Grab a can of your own and come join the festivities on October 7 and October 14!

Photos by Evan Lancaster

Created in partnership with Hansen’s Natural Sodas

#foodbeast Brand Culture Features FOODBEAST Restaurants SPONSORED What's New

The Extravagance Of The Torta Cubana Is A Sight To Behold

While the famously known Cubano sandwich is the product of Latin culture, originating on the East Coast, the Torta Cubana sandwich is a product of Mexican culinary practices, originating in Mexico City, Mexico.

While there are similarities in the name, and both are undeniably delicious, there are several differences between Cubanos and Torta Cubana sandwiches.

Today, the legacy of the traditional Torta Cubana sandwich is being kept alive at a vibrantly colored taqueria located inside MainPlace Mall.

Cancun Juice, a well-known  hot spot for burritos, tacos, tortas, smoothies and agua frescas, has introduced the Ultimate Torta Cubana sandwich, a torta piled high with fresh carnitas, grilled pineapples, onions and tomatoes, topped with a heap of jalapeños, chorizo and breaded steak.

But true Torta Cubana fans know that’s not all.

Cancun Juice then adds hot dog, ham, turkey, melted provolone, and a creamy avocado dressing to complete this Mexican-inspired culinary marvel.

If you’d like to experience the Ultimate Torta Cubana yourself, find it at Cancun Juice at MainPlace Mall.

Created in partnership with MainPlace Mall

Cravings Restaurants

Meet The Tater Tot Burrito Of Your Dreams

Anything with tater tots gets the thumbs up as far as we’re concerned. The deep-fried nuggets of potatoes have been stuffed into our hearts ever since the film Napoleon Dynamite captivated the nation. So what could be the ultimate item for a tater tot lover?

Fellow Foodbeast Elie was looking for some lunch one day when he discovered a new neighborhood food stall: Civic.


A post shared by Elie (@bookofelie) on

One of the first items on the menu was a chorizo breakfast burrito that was stuffed with tater tots.

Now, breakfast aficionados will know that a typical breakfast burrito utilizes homestyle potatoes or hash browns as the starchy base for the tortilla wrap. Civic, however, threw in deep-fried tots instead.

Inside the breakfast burrito is a savory medley of chorizo sausage, scrambled eggs, tons of cheese, honey chipotle crema, and the aforementioned tater tots. Elie recommend pairing the hefty burrito with Civic’s jalapeño secret sauce.

If we recall that day correctly, he took a two hour nap after lunch. A sign of a good burrito.

You can find the Chorizo Tater Tot burrito at Civic, located at the 4th Street Market in Downtown Santa Ana, CA. Now excuse us, we’re going to grab a late breakfast.

Fast Food News Restaurants

Chipotle Is Being Sued For Allegedly Faking Burrito Calorie Count


It seems Chipotle is once again facing the anger of its patrons.

MyNewsLA reports that the quick service restaurant company is getting sued yet again. This time, it’s for allegedly lying to customers about their burritos’ calorie content.

After multiple customers took a photo of Chipotle’s store menu, they pointed out something a little peculiar about one of the burritos offered. ScottWeier posted this image on his Twitter.

As you can see, the recently introduced Chorizo burrito boasted only 300 calories. Another Twitter user quickly pointed out there’s no way that was possible. 

Thanks to this display of calorie confusion, three customers are filing a class action lawsuit against Chipotle claiming that they were mislead into believing the burritos were healthier than they actually were.

Grubstreet did the math and ballparked the fast casual restaurant’s chorizo burrito at about 950 calories, more than three times the amount displayed.

A spokesperson for the brand said that the calories were solely meant for the meat itself. Confusing, right?

Sure, it could be argued that the customers should have known better. How could something so large and meaty be so few in calories. However, it’s also a huge error in Chipotle’s end not correctly labeling their item.