As an East Bay native who has lived in various places around the Golden State, Blake Anderson knows a lot about the charm of seemingly out-of-the-way places.
Take Rancho Cucamonga. When Anderson and his friends were creating the Comedy Central series Workaholics, they deliberately set the show in the San Bernardino County town.
For one thing, “the name is funny,” says the actor and comedian, who now does the podcast This Is Important with Workaholics costars Adam Devine, Anders Holm, and Kyle Newacheck. “Truly, we wanted it set in California, but we didn't want it to feel Hollywood. We wanted it to be on the outskirts of Los Angeles.”
On the latest episode of the California Now Podcast, Anderson tells host Soterios Johnson about his favorite local spots—for Mexican food, comic books, foosball, and more—in some lesser-known California towns where he has been a local himself.
Anderson first met Devine, for instance, when the two were in college in Orange County’s Costa Mesa, and Anderson still has a soft spot for the local branches of Mr. Pickle’s Sandwich Shop and Wienerschnitzel (“we called it church because it was shaped like a steeple”). The friends then moved to Van Nuys in the San Fernando Valley, and shared a house where most of Workaholics was actually filmed.
“Van Nuys is also out of the way,” he says. “It’s its own island.” An island, he notes, with great international cuisine, from Vietnamese to Mexican to Cuban. Ay Papa Que Rico, he says, “was our No. 1 spot for Wednesday in the Workaholics writer's room,” he says. “They make the best chicken, with the plantains and everything.”
These days Anderson lives in Los Angeles and he relishes finding new hidden gems—like jogging around Lake Hollywood near the Hollywood Sign (“It's a really sweet three-mile loop”). His love of Mexican food takes him regularly into Burbank so he can hit up places such as Don Cuco. “That's my birthday spot,” he says, “they have probably the best shrimp fajitas I've had in my life, and their margaritas are on point. Drink two—if you get to three, you're in the danger zone.” In Burbank, he also loves “really good Vietnamese” restaurant Mama Hong's and comic book store House of Secrets. “It's a great spot, friendly staff, and they’ve got $1 comics in the back. A good store will always have $1 bins. I like to dig.”
While Southern California has become his home, Anderson still embraces his Northern California roots, including his East Bay hometown of Concord. He’s also a devoted fan of the local teams—including the Oakland A’s. “You must ride BART to a game,” he says. “That is part of the adventure, for sure. And if you get to an A's game, go to The Treehouse, the new bar they've added to the Coliseum. You don't even have to watch the game—you can just play pool or foosball. It's a blast.”
During the episode, Anderson answers the California Questionnaire, giving his rapid-fire picks for the ultimate California song, road trip, and his perfect day—which he says would take him home. “I would drive all the way to Concord, just to go to Taqueria Los Gallos Express and get a burrito,” he says, “and then probably lay in Todos Santos Plaza, just to look at the sun.” For the evening, he’d head to The Hop Grenade, “one of the sweetest bars in Concord. It has super rare beers on tap. It’s the best.”