TOM’S “DINING OUT”

The MaiTai Tom Dining Guide:
In Search Of Excellence In Restaurants

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MAITAI’S FOOD FOR THOUGHT

If there’s anything that Tracy and I like, it’s a good meal.  We will share our restaurant experiences as we discover new restaurants and revisit some of our old favorites.  Whether it’s breakfast, lunch or dinner, we’ll give you some ideas to chew on.


South of Nick’s Mexican Kitchen + Bar – San Clemente, CA

Nick’s Strikes Again! South of Nick’s Mexican Kitchen + Bar – San Clemente, CA Visited: August 2017 Since Tracy and I had already visited and enjoyed Nick’s in Long Beach and Nick’s in Laguna Beach, we decided to head south of Nick’s to San Clemente.  We met our friends, Kim and Mary, who had driven up from San Diego on a gorgeous Sunday morning to yet another Nick’s Restaurant, this one appropriately named South of Nick’s Mexican Kitchen + Bar.  The restaurant is housed in a lovely Spanish building adjacent to Avenida Del Mar, which hosts the Sunday morning Farmer’s Market. It opens at 10 a.m., and we were there right when it opened. Hey, we were hungry! Walking inside, … Read more…

Bestia – Los Angeles, CA

Very Good…But Not Quite The BestiaBestia – Los Angeles, CA After waiting nearly a year to secure reservations at Bestia located in the Arts District in Downtown Los Angeles, Tracy, Susan and I arrived for dinner on a Monday evening at 5:45 p.m.  Yes, you read that correctly, it took us almost a year to score a relatively conveniently timed reservation…before 6 p.m….on a Monday night…on Fourth of July Eve.   And I thought getting Hamilton tickets was tough. Several of our friends had already been to Bestia, two of them waiting in line before the restaurant opened at 5 p.m., and another scoring a reservation during Dine L.A. Week.   Reservations open up three months in advance (and they … Read more…

Maestro – Pasadena, CA

Worthy Of An Encore Maestro – Pasadena, CA Visited: July 2017 • Cuisine: Modern Mexican Tracy and I realized we had been on an Italian restaurant kick lately, so it was time to head south of the border (well, it is south of our house in Pasadena) and investigate a relatively new establishment that touts its inventive Mexican cuisine.  Maestro opened earlier this year in what was the former Azeen’s Afghani Restaurant (loved that place), located about a block from one of our favorite Italian (can’t escape them) restaurants, Union. Maestro comes from the creative mind of chef Danny Godinez, who was born in Acapulco and has opened a few restaurants in Orange County. He decided to enlarge his mini … Read more…

Alimento – Silver Lake, CA

A Golden Find In Silver Lake Alimento – Silver Lake, CA Visited: June 2017 (Twice)  •  Restaurant Type: Italian Inspired Alimento in Silver Lake had been on our dining radar ever since it opened in 2014.  Unfortunately, it took us over three years to make it here (we’re very good at procrastinating) and, boy, are we sorry we didn’t try it sooner!   We hooked up with friends Paul and Susan, who live in the neighborhood, for an early Sunday evening dinner and were fortunate enough to score a table on the outdoor patio.  I say “fortunate” because when I poked my head inside it was pretty loud. In 2011, Zach Pollack partnered with chef Steve Samson to open Sotto in … Read more…

Red Herring – Eagle Rock, CA

Following A Red Herring Red Herring – Eagle Rock, CA Visited: April 2017 Restaurant Type: New American With so many interesting restaurants opening up these days, it’s difficult to decide which ones to try.  Through word of mouth, Tracy and I heard numerous positive comments about the great food being served in Eagle Rock at a place called Red Herring, so on a rather balmy Sunday evening we made the short trek to meet our friends Paul and Susan from Silver Lake. Red Herring opened in the autumn of 2016 in the space formerly occupied by Petite Beaujolais and is led by the husband and wife team of Chef Dave Woodall (formerly of Blair’s Restaurant in Silver Lake and Mélisse … Read more…

Nick’s – Long Beach & Laguna Beach, CA

In The Nick’s Of Time Nick’s on Second – Long Beach, CA Nick’s Laguna Beach – Laguna Beach, CA Visited: March & April 2017 Restaurant Type: California Comfort Food…with a flair Well, you know what they say, “Two Nick’s is better than one!”   In the past couple of months we have visited Nick’s on Second in Long Beach for dinner and Nick’s Laguna Beach for lunch.   They both have a lot in common; the food was out of this world, the service was impeccable and they served a deviled egg that we still dream about to this day. Our first Nick’s experience took us to Long Beach on a balmy Sunday evening.  Even with sunset dinner reservations at 6 … Read more…

Manuela – Los Angeles, CA

Dinner and Brunch In The Art Gallery Manuela – Los Angeles, CA Visited: Brunch and Dinner • February 2017 Restaurant Type: For lack of a better term…Eclectic Contemporary Southern We are always interested to see what’s going on in the culinary world of L.A.’s Art District (numerous great restaurants now reside here), so when Tracy and I were told about a “hot” new eatery, we knew we needed to find out “what’s cooking” at Manuela.  What we didn’t know was that we would encounter a large establishment that has everything from live chickens…to a garden…to a giant flower…to a contemporary art gallery.  It all actually makes perfect sense because Manuela is part of an art gallery, Hauser & Wirth. Confused?  … Read more…

Trattoria Allegria – Montrose, CA

Excellent Neighborhood Italian Trattoria Allegria – Montrose, CA Visited: December 2016 (Twice)  •  Restaurant Type: Italian One of our favorite areas to visit is nearby Montrose, so when we heard from subscriber Claudia that a relatively new neighborhood Italian restaurant, Trattoria Allegria, had opened there, we decided to give it a spin.  Well, we liked it so much we returned a few weeks later to celebrate Tracy’s speed limit birthday (you have to guess). If pedigree is important to you, Trattoria Allegria’s owners have it.  They are admired local Italian restaurant veterans. Antonio Guberti, who formerly ran Glendale’s much-beloved Far Niente, and chef Fausto Tinelli, who for 12 years churned out the terrific dishes at Gale’s Restaurant in Pasadena.  These … Read more…

L’Ange 20 – Paris, France

Travels With Mai Tai Tom 2016 Vacation Restaurant Of The Year L’Ange 20 – Paris, France There were lots of great choices this year for the first ever Travels With Mai Tai Tom Vacation Restaurant Of The Year, but L’Ange 20 in Paris brought home the award with two impeccable dinners on back-to-back evenings. L’Ange 20 barely edged out L’Arôme in Bonnieux and Le Bacchus in Beaune, both of which were also excellent (as were many restaurants we visited on this trip, but these three were the crème de la crème). Tracy and I visited L’Ange 20 in 2014 and had intended to also dine there our last evening of that trip, but we had to cancel a day early … Read more…

Le Bacchus – Beaune, France

Beaune Appétit Le Bacchus – Beaune, France Visited: September 2016 While I’m busily writing the France 2016 Trip Report (which should be slightly shorter than War and Peace), I thought I’d include a couple of France restaurant reviews to (for lack of a better phrase) whet your appetite. This trip we were fortunate enough to dine at some of the best restaurants we’ve encountered on any of our journeys, including this one (Le Bacchus in Beaune, Burgundy). On our first night in the delightful town of Beaune, Tracy and I (along with friends Greg & Gloria, who we hooked up with for a few Burgundian days) walked to a little place I had read great things about before leaving on … Read more…

Forma – Santa Monica, CA

Wheel Of Fortune Forma – Santa Monica, CA Visited:  September 2016  •  Restaurant Type: Italian When Tracy and I learned that a highly rated Italian restaurant in Santa Monica served pasta in giant wheels of cheese, we decided Forma was a place we had to try!   While in NYC last autumn, we dined at Cacio e Pepe (dinner order foreshadowing) that served its signature dish in a similar fashion, so we definitely wanted to check out this restaurant.   The only reservation we could secure for Labor Day weekend was at 5 p.m. on Sunday.   We arrived a little early, which was fortuitous as we had to drive around the neighborhood to find a place to park. At 5 … Read more…

Arguello – San Francisco, CA

Brunch At The Presidio Arguello – San Francisco, CA Visited:  May 2016 After our tour of the Walt Disney Family Museum (click link on the left to take you to the story in California Dreaming), Kim, Mary, Tracy and I had worked up quite an appetite. Filing past the dozens of food trucks and throngs of picnickers… …in the distance we spied what looked to be a restaurant (Arguello), which just happened to be located in quite an historic spot at the Presidio. The Presidio Officer’s Club was established in 1776 (hmm, didn’t something else happened that year) by a group of Spanish explorers who utilized the facility as a place for military officers to gather.  It stayed in use … Read more…

Restauration – Long Beach, CA

A Little Gem In Long Beach Restauration – Long Beach, CA Visited: July 2016 Restaurant Type: New American Cuisine While attempting to find a casual dining spot in Long Beach, Tracy recalled a recent article in Westways Magazine about an establishment called Restauration.  Perusing the menu online it reminded me of many spots we’ve dined at in the last few years with funky menus that have turned out to be great restaurants.  We decided to give Restauration a whirl, and once again we were more than pleasantly surprised by our decision. Tracy and I made the 45-minute drive to Long Beach to have dinner with friends, Rich, Liz, Rob, Susan and Melinda (aka the Magnificent Seven). In another of those … Read more…

Terrapin Creek Cafe Restaurant – Bodega Bay, CA

A Michelin One Star Experience…In Beautiful Bodega Bay Terrapin Creek Cafe Restaurant – Bodega Bay, CA Visited: May 29, 2016 If you drive by Terrapin Creek Cafe Restaurant in the pretty, coastal town of Bodega Bay, you’d be hard-pressed to guess that you were passing an establishment that has been awarded a coveted Michelin star.  As a matter of fact, you might not even see it, as it’s tucked away just off the road. Back in 2008, it seems that Terrapin Creek’s owners Andrew Tuong and his wife, Liya Lin (both of them accomplished chefs), were a bit burned out by the San Francisco restaurant scene where they had worked for year.  So the two moved to Bodega Bay (about … Read more…

Guelaguetza – Los Angeles (Koreatown)

Holy Mole! Guelaguetza – Los Angeles (Koreatown) Visited: April 30, 2016 Proof positive that Los Angeles is a melting pot of cultures:  Last weekend Tracy and I dined at a James Beard award-winning Mexican restaurant…located in Koreatown…which had been recommended recently by our waiter at an Indian restaurant.  If only the United Nations worked this cohesively.   And this visit all came about quite by accident. Ostensibly, Tracy and I were going to go take photographs at the gardens of Greystone Mansion in Beverly Hills.  After trekking out from Pasadena  to where the One Percenters reside, we were greeted by a sign saying they were closed for an event (garden photo courtesy Greystone Mansion’s website). Undaunted (and now hungry thanks to … Read more…

Officine BRERA – Los Angeles, CA

Travels With Mai Tai Tom 2016 Restaurant Of The Year! Officine BRERA – Los Angeles, CA Visited: April 2016 & July 2016 No doubt about it, we had the closest competition ever for the coveted (well, maybe someday) Travels With Mai Tai Tom 3rd Annual Restaurant Of The Year Award.”  It came down to a battle between L.A. Arts District Northern Italian, Officine BRERA, and Pasadena’s Alexander’s Steakhouse (by the way, we will have our first ever “Favorite International Restaurant from Our Recent Trip Award” that will be presented tomorrow, and hopefully with a shorter name). Following is my original review from April, and then an updated one from July. It was time to head back to the Downtown Los … Read more…

Alexander’s Steakhouse – Pasadena, CA

The Meat Of The Matter: Pasadena’s Classic American Steakhouse Alexander’s Steakhouse – Pasadena, CA Visited: January 2016 Restaurant Type:  American Steakhouse (with hints of Japanese influence in the menu) Thanks to the generosity of subscribers Joanne and Judy, we dined at a relatively new restaurant in Pasadena that is definitely in contention for MaiTaiTom’s 2016 Restaurant of the Year…and it’s only January!  Never in my life have I tasted a better steak, and I’ve devoured a lot of steaks in my life.  It’s not cheap, but sometimes you have to splurge to eat the best (plus a couple of birthday gift cards for Tracy from the aforementioned women helped, too) Alexander’s Steakhouse is a small chain that started in Cupertino, … Read more…

Mint Leaf – Pasadena/Altadena, CA

Spicy Or Mild, Mint Leaf Delivers Mint Leaf – Pasadena/Altadena, CA Visited:  Numerous Times in 2015 & 2016 Restaurant Type: Indian To paraphrase the late Mr. Rogers…”It’s another great day in the neighborhood.”  That’s because we now have another great restaurant within walking distance of our house.  Of course, being a Southern California native, I have driven there each time I’ve visited. Following up on a stupendous lunch experience with my buddy Ed at the Mint Leaf (the relatively new Indian restaurant in town), Tracy and I returned to dine here twice in one week (hey, when you like something).  The restaurant is just the latest opening in the up and coming North East Pasadena restaurant scene (we’re getting hip, … Read more…

Union – Pasadena, CA

MaiTaiTom’s Best Restaurant Of 2015 Award Winner Union – Pasadena, CA Visited: November & December 2015 Restaurant Type: Northern Italian (California Style) The hottest restaurant in Pasadena (and one of the most-talked about restaurants in the country) for the past 18 months has been Union. Securing reservations at this establishment for a number of months seemed harder than securing an audience with the Pope, or in other words, we didn’t have a prayer of getting in. Finally, we have made it to this much-hyped restaurant on a couple of occasions, and after dining here, the verdict is in…the food lives up to (and in many instances exceeds) the hype, making it the winner of the coveted (well, maybe some day … Read more…

Flintridge Proper Restaurant & Bar – La Cañada Flintridge, CA

The Proper Dining Experience Flintridge Proper Restaurant & Bar – La Cañada Flintridge, CA Visited: August and October 2015 Restaurant Type: American “Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world…” Channeling our inner Humphrey Bogart, we decided to visit a restaurant known not only for its food…but for its gin.  As it turned out, we liked the Flintridge Proper Restaurant & Bar (aka The Proper) so much that we visited again a few weeks later and wished we could have a “neighborhood joint” like this in our neighborhood.                                            Tracy and I met our friends at this La Cañada Flintridge restaurant to celebrate Jerry’s 70th Birthday.  We had been thinking of trying this restaurant since … Read more…

Café Verde – Pasadena, CA

A Latin Twist Café Verde – Pasadena, CA Visited: Dinner – August 4, 2015  •  Breakfast/Brunch – September 6, 2015 Restaurant Type: American/Italian with a Latin Twist It seems hard to believe, but it’s already been nearly 14 years since Café Verde in Pasadena opened its doors. We dined here a few times in its infancy (when there were only enough tables to serve about 20 people in its small dining room and about ten more at outside sidewalk tables). The food was always good, but for some reason, we just sort of forgot about this place. Fast forward to August of 2015, and we were going to a play (A Night With Janis Joplin…a terrific musical by the way) … Read more…

Café Santorini, Pasadena, CA

Mediterranean Dining In Pasadena Café Santorini, Pasadena, CA  Visited: August 12, 2015 Restaurant Type: Mediterranean Café Santorini, a Mediterranean restaurant in Old Town Pasadena, has always delivered the goods, so when our friend Doug said to meet here for dinner, it was the ultimate dinner “no-brainer.” It had been quite some since we had hooked up with Doug & Jackie along with friends Andy & Leslie, so Café Santorini’s outdoor patio was the perfect place to meet on a warm August evening.                                                Actually, this same group dined here in early 2011, not too long after I got out of the hospital (the good old days when I could eat as much as I wanted since I had lost 55 … Read more…

Redbird – Los Angeles, CA

A Heavenly Dinner Redbird – Los Angeles, CA Visited: August 8th, 2015 Restaurant Type: Modern American Tonight, it was time this old timer became a part of the “Hip” crowd and not the potential “Break Your Hip” crowd. Tracy and I would join our friends Steven and Adelaide at one of the hottest restaurant tickets in downtown L.A….Redbird. Redbird is located on the corner of Main and 2nd Streets inside the rectory of what was St. Vibiana’s Cathedral, once the parish of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles. It was dedicated in 1876 (below photo is from 1880). Chef Neal Fraser (formerly of Grace) named the restaurant Redbird because former Cardinals (no, not Stan Musial or Ozzie Smith) used … Read more…

Delius Restaurant – Long Beach, CA

Let’s Make A Delius Delius Restaurant – Long Beach, CA Visited: July 18th, 2015 Restaurant Type: Modern American What a pleasant surprise!  We lived in Long Beach for many years and never made it to Delius. So of course now that we live 40 minutes away, it was time to give it a try.  We met our friends friends Rob & Barbara and Tom & Carol from Huntington Beach for dinner, since Long Beach (sort) of falls in the middle. In 2007, the restaurant moved from its previous Bixby Knolls location to Signal Hill. It’s now situated in Signal Hill, just off the freeway in a modern, nondescript building in Signal Hill’s Automobile Row. If you don’t look closely, you … Read more…

Bacchus’ Kitchen – Pasadena, CA

Good Food Just Around The Corner Bacchus’ Kitchen – Pasadena, CA Visited: July 24th, 2015 Restaurant Type: New American (review by Tracy) Now we really have a neighborhood restaurant we can walk to for dinner. Bacchus’ Kitchen is a small restaurant located on the edge of Bungalow Heaven, an historical neighborhood in Pasadena (technically the restaurant is in East Washington Village).  It’s situated in the space formerly occupied by the Lebanese Kitchen and The Cook Book Store (by the way, if you are a cook book aficionado of used and rare cook books, check out Cookbooks by Janet Jarvits Bookseller, which is now located across the street and around the corner on Hill). This little corner of Bungalow Heaven is … Read more…

Little Beast – Eagle Rock, CA

Beauty And The Little Beast Little Beast – Eagle Rock, CA Visited June 28th, 2015 Restaurant Type: New American Thanks to the generosity of TravelsWithMaiTaiTom subscribers Jenny and Nik (a very nice gift card), Tracy and I were treated to quite a delicious dinner at Little Beast, a quaint neighborhood restaurant in Eagle Rock.  We had heard so many great things about this place, so we were very excited to try it out on a recent Sunday evening…well, late afternoon as it turned out.   I had gone online a few days previously, and the only time slots available were 5:30 and 8. Since this was a “school night,” we opted for 5:30, which as we would find out was optimal. … Read more…

Maccheroni Republic – Los Angeles, CA

…And To The Republic For Which It Stands Maccheroni Republic – Los Angeles, CA Restaurant Type: Italian As a non-recovering pasta-holic, I’d have to say the ravioli at Maccheroni Republic on South Broadway (in the Broadway Theater District) in Los Angeles ranks as the best pasta I have tasted in Los Angeles.  Not only that, but it also tops most (if not all) the pasta I’ve tasted on our numerous trips to Italy. Mamma mia!  Throw in reasonable prices and a low $5 corkage fee, and you have one of my favorite L.A. restaurants. One of the keys to eating at Maccheroni Republic is getting there early.  Located virtually across the street from the historic Grand Central Market on South … Read more…

Pizza Of Venice – Altadena, CA

Pizza, Pizza, Pizza, Pizza Pizza Of Venice – Altadena, CA  Restaurant Type: Pizza Tracy and I had a hankering (hmm, watching too many westerns lately) for a pizza a couple of Fridays ago, and fortunately our friends Tyler and Sayda said they knew a great pizza joint (foreshadowing…they were correct) in Altadena, not too far away from either of our homes. Tyler stated that one of his favorite places for pizza is Pizza Of Venice.  I immediately thought, “In all the times we have visited real Venice, I’ve never had pizza there,” but since Tyler recommended it…he introduced us to the great AltaEats (report is on this site), so his recommendations are not to be taken lightly…we said, “Let’s give … Read more…

The Factory Kitchen – Los Angeles, CA

MaiTaiTom’s Best Of 2014 Award Winner The Factory Kitchen – Los Angeles, CA  Restaurant Type: Italian Tracy and I visited a number of very good restaurants in 2014 (which is why it’s harder for me to fit in my clothes this February than last), but we agree the one I’m about to review was the best of the bunch. The Factory Kitchen in Los Angeles is an Italian “trattoria-style” restaurant that’s situated in the Arts District of L.A.   About five years ago, this district would be an area that most people would have thought long and hard about visiting, mostly because nothing you’d want to visit was really located here. Abandoned warehouses and other industrial buildings dotted the landscape.  Some … Read more…

Bäco Mercat, Los Angeles, CA

Oh What A Difference Three Decades Makes! Bäco Mercat, Los Angeles, CA Restaurant Type: Middle Eastern/Eclectic For part of the 1970s and early 1980s I worked at an office at 4th and Spring in downtown Los Angeles.  During that time I witnessed a shooting, stepped over a dead guy in the parking lot one morning (the cloth draped over him was a dead giveaway) and was pretty much just happy to get the hell out of there every night without injury.  Who knew that three decades later this area would suddenly become a hip area to dine out and drink…but it is. Recently Tracy and I met our friends Steven and Adelaide at one of the hippest of the hip … Read more…

Celestino Ristorante – Pasadena, CA (updated)

A Consistent Pasadena Favorite Celestino Ristorante – Pasadena, CA (updated on May 4, 2014) Since the below report, we have visited Celestino Ristorante on numerous occasions, and it has almost never disappointed – only one bad dish in all our ordering. I have upped the rating to a 4.3 out of 5 from the 3.7 I originally gave it. Some of our favorite disheds include a Risotto all’Aceto Balsamico Invecchiato e Rosmarino (Risotto with aged Balsamic Vinegar and Rosemary) for $14, Filet mignon with Barolo Wine with Timball of Roasted Potatoes ($23.50) and the seafood risotto with lobster sauce (if it’s not on the menu, they will make it for you).                        … Read more…

AltaEats – Pasadena, CA

Good “Eats” In AltaPasadena AltaEats – Pasadena, CA Restaurant Type: American What’s better than “discovering” a great new restaurant?   I believe it’s having that restaurant located less than two miles from your house. Had we been in Paris, Tracy and I would have probably walked to AltaEats (1860 N. Allen Avenue, Pasadena) for dinner, but being the car obsessed, slacker Californians that we are, on both occasions we have dined here, we’ve hopped into the car for the four to five minute drive.  Oh, the traffic! The first time we had dinner here was with friends Tyler and Sayda (who recommended AltaEats…they had already been a couple of times).  Then, just a few weeks later we joined Doug, Jackie, Leslie … Read more…

Lawry’s The Prime Rib – Beverly Hills, CA

Prime Time! Lawry’s The Prime Rib – Beverly Hills, CA Restaurant Type: British/American Great martinis. Spinning salads. The best prime rib on earth. It’s right here at Lawry’s The Prime Rib in Beverly Hills. I have been coming here since I was a kid (the restaurant opened in 1938 and has been located during different stages on each side of La Cienega Blvd.), and when I found out that our friends Dan and Linda had never eaten at Lawry’s, Tracy and I told them we had to go.  Plus, I had never seen Dan in a tie before!!  Of course, I had to take a photo to show all our friends that Dan really owns a tie. If you follow … Read more…

The Attic – Long Beach, CA

A Trip Down To The Attic The Attic – Long Beach, CA Restaurant Type:  American (Southern influenced) It’s taken awhile to get to this review of a restaurant we ate at in the autumn of 2013, but I had to sneak my kudos in on this relative newcomer in my old stomping ground of Long Beach. Housed in the old Lasher’s Restaurant space, which is really an old craftsman house, The Attic is a dream come true for restaurateur Steve Massis, who has said he had always wanted his own restaurant to run. Tracy and I arrived on a warm afternoon/evening to meet our friends Rob and Barbara (Long Beach is a good meeting point for friends from Huntington Beach … Read more…

Green Street Tavern – Pasadena, CA

Going Green Green Street Tavern – Pasadena, CA Restaurant Type: American Green Street Tavern has been a “go-to” restaurant for Tracy and me for more than a year. The food has always been good here, but the service at our last dinner dropped their “maitai” rating for now. But as I said, we have never been disappointed in one of its meals, so that’s what I will concentrate on for this little review. Entering Green Street Tavern, you walk into a smaller room that has a few tables and a small bar (beer and wine only). We’ve dined in this are and it is definitely quieter than the main dining room (photo from restaurant website). We were led into the … Read more…

Church & State Bistro – Los Angeles, CA

Church & State Separates Itself Church & State Bistro – Los Angeles, CA Restaurant Type: French As you get closer to Church & State Bistro in Los Angeles, your first thought might be, “Where the hell am I?”   The restaurant is located in the warehouse district of Los Angeles, a few blocks away from the Los Angeles Produce Market that is located at Olympic and Alameda.  When looking at the surrounding area, you’re very thankful there is a manned parking lot very close to the restaurant, but this is definitely a burgeoning restaurant area here in Los Angeles (photo below from C&S website). Tracy and I had heard great reviews about Church & State from both friends and business acquaintances, … Read more…

Central Park Restaurant – Pasadena, CA

A Surprisingly Delicious Dinner Central Park Restaurant – Pasadena, CA Restaurant Type: American Sometimes going to a place without having high expectations can bring a pleasant surprise to a diner, and that is just what happened to us when we visited Central Park Restaurant in Pasadena last week. I had been here a few times before for breakfast and on a couple of occasions for lunch, and I thought the food was ok, but not really memorable. So when Tracy and her mom wanted to go here for dinner, I figured it would be fine, but not necessarily something to write home about. As it turned out, I was wrong. On its website it says that Central Park “specializes in … Read more…

Cliff’s Edge Cafe – Silver Lake, CA

Outdoor Paradise In The City  Cliff’s Edge Cafe – Silver Lake, CA It was a warm evening, and with our friends Jeff and Cecilia visiting from Phoenix, we thought some al fresco dining was in order.  It had been quite a few years since we last visited Cliff’s Edge Cafe in Silver Lake, so this seemed like a good opportunity to return. We arrived about 1/2 hour early for our 7:30 reservations, and the place was already packed. Street parking is nearly impossible, so we wedged our car into their parking lot and hoped the valet could navigate the small space to get back out on to busy Sunset Boulevard and park it in whatever mysterious place they take the … Read more…

The Derby – Arcadia, CA

“History Lives Here” The Derby – Arcadia, CA Restaurant Type: Traditional American When you first step inside The Derby in Arcadia, you realize immediately you are in the midst of horse racing history. Originally called the Proctor Tavern when it opened its doors in 1922, the name change to The Derby occurred in 1938 when famed jockey George Woolf became a co-owner of the restaurant. Woolf wanted to own a top quality restaurant near the Santa Anita racetrack that would be a place for both jockeys and racing fans to gather for great food and conversation. Its history is everywhere, from the trophy case full of horse racing history to the walls lined with paintings of tremendous thoroughbreds and jockeys … Read more…

Baba Ghanouj – Long Beach, CA

A Taste Of Lebanon Baba Ghanouj – Long Beach, CA Restaurant Type: Lebanese Tracy and I made the trek down to our former home town of Long Beach to meet up with friends, Richard, Liz, Craig and Julie for a night out on the town. Our destination for the evening was Baba Ghanouj, a Lebanese restaurant located on Atlantic Avenue in the Bixby Knolls area.         On the restaurant website it said that owner and chef George Mitri has been a restaurateur in Long Beach for more thirty years. He was born and raised in Lebanon, so he opened Baba Ghanouj in 2009. The decor, not surprisingly, is very Middle Eastern.          Locals Richard and Liz … Read more…

Radhika Modern Indian – South Pasadena, CA

A Restaurant That Will Curry Flavor Radhika Modern Indian – South Pasadena, CA Restaurant Type: Indian It’s been a few days since my last visit to Radhika Modern Indian restaurant in South Pasadena, but the flavors remain firmly in my mind (the heat from a couple of these dishes disappeared about 24 hours ago). Until a week ago I had never heard of this establishment, but thanks to an invitation from friends to dine last Friday at this Indian restaurant that originated in Alhambra, we decided to make an encore appearance a few days later. Yeah, the food is that good! Our friends Paul and Susan, who usually have great restaurant suggestions, joined Tracy and me on a Friday night.  … Read more…

Dal Rae – Pico Rivera, CA

Going Old School Dal Rae – Pico Rivera, CA Restaurant Type: Traditional American Now there is old school, and then there is really old school. I had heard little snippets about the Dal Rae restaurant in Pico Rivera, but really didn’t know much about the place, but as Tracy and I along with friends Susan and Lenny drove into the parking lot on this Sunday afternoon, there was no doubt we were stepping back to another era. The outside of the Dal Rae is reminiscent of bowling alleys from years gone by, and this place turned out to be a restaurant right down our alley. That’s because the restaurant opened in 1958, and from the outside, you would think it … Read more…

Malbec – Pasadena, CA

Don’t Cry For Me Argentina! Malbec – Pasadena, CA Restaurant Type:  Argentinian It had been awhile since our friends Bob and Melinda had come up to the Pasadena area for dinner, and because it was a warm evening, we decided to go the al fresco route at Malbec. Upon arriving, we were seated at a table in front of the restaurant that opens out to Green Street. It was only 6:30, but the place was packed and it stayed that way until we departed more than two hours later. Malbec’s menu describes its dishes as “New Argentinean Cuisine,” and the choices were many as we perused the menu. Appetizers, entrees and desserts all looked great (oh my, the dessert…wait I … Read more…

Cole’s – Los Angeles, CA

Taking A Dip…French Style (Part Deux) Cole’s – Los Angeles, CA Restaurant Type: American Forget about Ali/Frazier, the biggest fight in Los Angeles happened a week after we visited Philippe’s, when Dan and I visited the Los Angeles “French Dip-inventing” contender, Cole’s.  If you remember, the previous Friday we had eaten at Phillipe The Original, an establishment that purports to have been the place where the French Dip Sandwich was invented.  Now, with apologies to Paul Harvey (wait a minute, no apology necessary; he’s dead), here’s the rest of the story. Just like Philippe’s, Cole’s opened for business in 1908. At the corner of Sixth and Main, Cole’s resides in the “hollows” of the ten story Pacific Electric Building (the … Read more…

Philippe The Original – Los Angeles, CA

Taking A Dip…French Style Philippe The Original – Los Angeles, CA Restaurant Type:  American Since my buddy Dan was coming up to Los Angeles to referee a football game, I thought this presented the perfect opportunity to introduce him to a restaurant I have frequented since I was a little kid back in the early 1960s.  It’s an establishment with a storied history and a good place to blow off a Friday afternoon of work. So the story goes, Philippe The Original is the place where the French Dipped Sandwich was invented, although there is a dispute about that with another downtown Los Angeles eatery (more on that later). The restaurant was established in 1908 by Philippe Mathieu, but in … Read more…

La Grande Orange Cafe – Pasadena, CA

Your Whistle Stop For Breakfast, Lunch Or Dinner La Grande Orange Cafe – Pasadena, CA Restaurant Type: American There aren’t a lot of places that I can recommend for a good breakfast (brunch), lunch and dinner, bit La Grande Orange Cafe in Pasadena is one. On this particular weekend, Tracy and I ate back to back meals here; Saturday night (just the two of us) for dinner and Sunday morning with friends for breakfast/brunch. I felt my belt expanding for eight consecutive hours. When Tracy and I come here alone, we like to sit at one of the tables in the Otis Bar because there is usually some sporting event on television. Oh yeah, they also make some good drinks, … Read more…

The Musso & Frank Grill – Hollywood, CA

Visiting An Iconic Hollywood Restaurant and Our Encounter With A Stranger On A Train The Musso & Frank Grill – Hollywood, CA Restaurant Type: Classic American Little did I know when we started out on our journey to The Musso & Frank Grill in Hollywood,  what an adventure we would be undertaking. As it turned out, our evening would be fraught with danger and excitement. Tracy and I were to go to this historic Hollywood restaurant that opened in 1919 with our friends Doug, Jackie, Leslie and Andy. In a cosmopolitan moment, we decided we would take the Metro Gold Line from Pasadena to Los Angeles’s Union Station, and then transfer to the Metro Red Line that would deposit us … Read more…

Peach Cafe – Monrovia, CA

A Peachy Keen Breakfast Peach Cafe – Monrovia, CA Restaurant type: Breakfast/Lunch This was going to be a big event; the first time that Remi and Frankie (our two new Corgis) would venture out with us for breakfast. Of course, bringing dogs narrowed our choice, but we knew exactly where we wanted to venture. It’s a restaurant where we had once enjoyed a a great (and filling) breakfast, Peach Cafe in Monrovia. This is your consummate neighborhood restaurant joint, with an outdoor patio (perfect for people and their four-legged friends), plus a very homey interior. We were greeted by a woman who lead us onto the covered patio section, and the four of us settled in. Well, Tracy and I … Read more…

Gale’s Restaurant – Pasadena, CA

Just What The Doctor Ordered Gale’s Restaurant – Pasadena, CA Restaurant Type: Italian I had been home for three weeks following my 105-day adventure in the hospital, so I decided it was about damned time I got back out in the real world to enjoy one of my favorite pastimes; going out to a nice restaurant for dinner.  And what better way to celebrate my freedom than with our closest friends, Kim and Mary (also our European traveling buddies), who were in town to spend the night. It seemed like a natural then that we should try a restaurant I had heard so many good comments about, Gale’s Restaurant in Pasadena. Since the four of us have traveled to Tuscany … Read more…

Camilo’s California Bistro – Eagle Rock, CA

Breakfast Heaven Camilo’s California Bistro – Eagle Rock, CA Restaurant Type:  “California Inspired” Tracy and I are always searching for that perfect spot to grab a nice breakfast on Sunday mornings. I believe we have finally found the nearest thing to perfection when it comes to the most important meal of the day. Camilo’s California Bistro is a charming little restaurant on Colorado Blvd. in Eagle Rock.  It is located near the campus of Occidental College, where if the basketball team had acne, they would be called the Oxy 5. From the restaurant website. “A gourmet cook with a flair for entertaining, Co-Owner and Chef Camilo González has taken over thirty-five years of his experience in the food, restaurant, and … Read more…

Cafe Beaujolais – Eagle Rock, CA

Bastille Day… With Attitude (Très Bon) Cafe Beaujolais – Eagle Rock, CA Restaurant Type:  French Needing a “Paris Fix,” Tracy and I decided to make reservations for a special Bastille Day dinner at one of our past favorite French restaurants that we had not visited for about three years. The previous owner of Cafe Beaujolais in Eagle Rock opened a new place in South Pasadena a few years ago, Bistro de la Gare (which he subsequently sold in 2014), and for awhile we had really enjoyed the new place.  However, after a couple of uneven meals with relatively poor service, Tracy and I both thought we should give our old familiar haunt in Eagle Rock another try. It was a … Read more…

Gamine French Bistrot – San Francisco, CA

Raise Your Glass And Give This Restaurant A French Toast! Gamine French Bistrot – San Francisco, CA Restaurant Type: French On our  trip to San Francisco, Kim and Mary recommended this neighborhood French restaurant where they had dined before with their daughter, Macaire. Gamine (a French term that means “mischievous young woman”) doesn’t take reservations for less than six people, so we were told to be to the restaurant before seven o’clock for the best chance to get a table for five on this Monday evening.  It was a good suggestion. The four of us arrived (Macaire was to join us at the restaurant) a little before seven, and we were able to score the last remaining larger inside table … Read more…