Adventures in Santa Monica

Hi, my name is Liz, and Marissa is forcing me to add this line at gunpoint. I’m a senior, a ChE, and hoping to graduate without horrible gunshot-related trauma.

Contrary to popular belief, techers do get (far) off campus on occasion. On this rare and happy event, we tend to roam, and on this particular day decided to head to the world-famous Umami Burger. This decision was partially prompted by a desire to visit some of our friends working at Google: Santa Monica, who we’d heard were at Umami Burger around then and could hopefully be visited with. Packing six into a cherry-red ’05 Toyota Matrix we set off hungry and confused.

Our first mistake was thinking there was only one Umami Burger. Protip – there are two, and they’re in entirely opposite directions. After calling our friends at the Googleplex, and driving for almost twenty minutes, we realized we were heading towards the wrong Umami Burger.

Forty minutes later…

Our friends from the Googleplex were long gone – likely reclining on their $10,000 couch (protip: when the president of the college is throwing out furniture, even if it’s ugly, take it – it may be secretly worth 10+K). The evening was beginning to grow cool, and the sky that shade of purple-pink rarely found outside of highly processed food. After missing the parking lot the first time, we parked and talked to the maitre ‘d… and found out we had to wait another 40 minutes for a table. But we were at Umami Burger, so we swallowed the bitter taste of denied hunger and did what any reasonable person would do, and went to the beach.

There were parrots:

The little girl holding the parrots looked somewhat scared.

The sunset was rather pretty, though:

Unfortunately, we’d been given a ‘low’ estimate of wait time of about 25 minutes, and it took us 12 minutes to get to the beach. After taking a few photos, and staring longingly at the amusement park rides, we headed back to Umami Burger.

Between the walking and the near two-hour wait for food (from when we left Blacker Hovse), we were all thoroughly hungry… and despite the average $12 pricetag of a small burger, we threw caution to the wind and all ordered two burgers and a side.

The burgers were branded:

And the sides were fairly sized. The cups, despite looking hard-sided and glass-like, were actually plastic and relatively easy to distort and push all the water out of. I learned this the hard way.

The seating at Umami Burger is sort of bench/cafeteria style, at least in the outdoors section, and we were seated nearby another group of students from UCLA. We chatted for a little while about work (and what the hell we were doing at Caltech over the summer), about SCIENCE (to normal people we apparently all sound like physics geniuses), and about… work. Finally, the check came.

Yup. That’s close to 30 dollars a head (tip was already included). But the food was delicious (and very full of umami), so we dug deep into our pockets and then headed out for our next adventure – dessert! We’d passed by a Bloomingdales earlier, and decided that the frozen yogurt shop named 40 Carrots was too strangely named to resist. So, with 20 minutes until the department store closed, we all headed inside, looking entirely out-of-place amongst the stylish women’s clothing and overpriced handbags.

While coming in at nearly 5 dollars a cup (we’d given up on ‘reasonable pricing’ after making our orders at Umami Burger), the frozen yogurt was delicious. They had chocolate, banana, coffee, and some other flavors that were less important – the yogurt was sufficiently tart without being too sour, and tasted like the flavor, rather than over-sweetened crap. We also got some strange looks… from the manequins. Don’t ask.

With our stomachs filled with yogurt and meat, we piled back into our car for the long haul back to Pasadena.

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