The Hobbit – Orange, CA

Hobbit Forming The Hobbit – Orange, CA Visited: May 2019 (Fine Dining) It was time for a splurge, and in Southern California there’s no place like The Hobbit in Orange to plunk down some extra bucks for a unique (and delicious) dining experience. We’d eaten here about 20 years ago with friends Rob and Barbara, and when they asked if we wanted to make a return appearance, we quickly checked our bank account and said, “Yes.” From its website: “A meal at The Hobbit is somewhat like a play in three acts.”  Luckily I looked at the website because there is a dress code, which I had not remembered.  It said, “No denim (no problem) … and jackets preferred for … Read more…

Bob’s Big Boy – Burbank (Toluca Lake), CA

Iconic & Nostalgic Burger! Bob’s Big Boy – Burbank (Toluca Lake), CA When I was growing up, the favorite words I heard from my dad on a Sunday afternoon were, “Let’s go to Bob’s Big Boy.” From the scrumptious double-decker burgers to the carhops to my Big Boy comics, there was no restaurant I wanted to go to more than Bob’s. Sadly, the Pasadena Bob’s exists no more, but fortunately there is still one in nearby Burbank, California. This year it celebrates its 70th anniversary.  Recently, I returned to revisit an important piece of my childhood.  Oh, who am I kidding … I was craving a delicious hamburger. Tracy and I joined friends Rob and Donna for hamburgers, fries, onion … Read more…

Roma Antica – San Francisco, CA

A Little Bite Of Rome in the City By The Bay Roma Antica – San Francisco, CA Visited: May 2019  •  Italian I’m always on the prowl for a great cacio e pepe, and recently I found one of the best I’ve ever tasted at a small restaurant located in San Francisco’s Marina District.  Roma Antica specializes in making authentic Roman recipes, which is no surprise since one of the owners hails from Rome. On a recent jaunt to Northern California, we dined in San Francisco with friends Kim and Mary.  Their daughter lives there and is a fount of excellent dining knowledge.                                           … Read more…

Spoke Bicycle Cafe – Los Angeles (Frogtown), CA

Breakfast & Lunch With Frankie & Remi Spoke Bicycle Cafe – Los Angeles (Frogtown), CA Breakfast/Lunch Last Visit: April 2019 Being a native Angeleno I thought I knew just about every nook and cranny of the city, but while walking the dogs, a neighbor told us about having a great breakfast at a place called Spoke Bicycle cafe in “Frogtown.” I was perplexed. Google, being one of my best friends, became the source of some riveting information about this area. True to its name, Frogtown (its official name is Elysian Valley) is a neighborhood adjacent to the Los Angeles River (yes, we have a river here), which received its name because frogs would congregate near the river on the grass … Read more…

Hippo – Highland Park, CA

Award Winning Chef In Highland Park Hippo – Highland Park, CA Visited: February and March 2019 Cuisine: Cal-Med Being the pasta aficionado that I am, when I gazed at the online menu at Hippo in Highland Park, I knew this was a spot we needed to hit.  In fact, we’ve hit it a couple of times in the past two months, and let’s just say I’m sure we’ll be back soon.  It also offers a lot more than pasta. Hippo had already created quite a buzz even before it opened in the summer of 2018.  That’s because the restaurant was going to be headed by James Beard award-winning chef Matt Molina (along with Silverlake Wine partners Joe Capella and Randy … Read more…

Mint Leaf – Pasadena/Altadena, CA

Spicy Or Mild, Mint Leaf Delivers Mint Leaf – Pasadena/Altadena, CA Visited:  Numerous Times • Last Visited March 2019 (UPDATED) Restaurant Type: Indian *  (Latest Update Below Story) 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 for the past four years. Following up on a stupendous lunch experience with my buddy Ed at the Mint Leaf, Tracy and I returned to dine here twice in one week (hey, when you like something).   On a Friday evening we were lucky to get the same server I had at … Read more…

The Arbour – Pasadena, CA

California Fresh! The Arbour – Pasadena, CA California Cuisine Visited: 12/8/18, 2/2/19, 2/12/19 South Lake Avenue in Pasadena has become a sort of restaurant mecca in recent years with newer restaurants such as Nick’s South Lake Avenue, Magnolia House, Paul Martin’s American Grill, Del Frisco’s and Mendocino Farms joining old stalwarts like Celestino Ristorante and Smitty’s Grill.  I like them all, but I believe my new favorite is a restaurant that recently celebrated its one-year anniversary, The Arbour. Why it took Tracy and me nearly a year to dine here, I have no idea.  However, I’m sure glad we did, because our first meal was so wonderful that we made a return appearance not too long afterward. The Arbour is … Read more…

Dama – Los Angeles, CA

Latin Loving Dama – Los Angeles, CA Cuisine: Latin/Caribbean Last Visit: November 2018 (twice) It took us almost 11 months to find one, but we have our winner for Mai Tai Tom’s 2018 Restaurant of the Year.  From its impressive space in the Fashion District of Los Angeles to its incredible food and impeccable service, Dama is certainly worthy of this honor.  Not bad for a restaurant that just opened in July. When you drive down the street to get to Dama, you’d be hard-pressed to believe that there are two happening restaurants located in this neighborhood.   After being flipped off by some dude in a BMW because we were driving too slowly in an attempt to find Dama … Read more…

Côté Est Bistro & Bar – Highland Park, CA

Oui!  Oui! Côté Est Bistro & Bar – Highland Park, CA Visited:  July & August 2018 Being the consummate hipsters that we are, Tracy and I headed toward yet another Los Angeles “hipster heaven” a couple of times in recent months.  For better or worse (certainly better if you like to eat), the gentrification of Highland Park has been taking place over the past decade, and we wanted to scope out a French bistro receiving a great deal of attention.  So, on a sweltering July evening (the temp that day had logged in at a whopping 112), we (along with friend Susan) hopped in the car for the short ride to Côté Est.               … Read more…

Anaheim White House Restaurant – Anaheim, CA

Hail To The Chef! Anaheim White House Restaurant – Anaheim, CA It had been a quest for Tracy and me to finally dine at the White House again.  No, not that one in Washington DC, but the newly reopened one in Anaheim.  The Anaheim White House is not only known for fine dining, but for its humanitarian and philanthropic chef and owner, Bruno Serato, whose charity Caterina’s Club feeds nearly 18,000 meals a week to needy Orange County kids (photo courtesy of Anaheim White House). Sir Bruno (he has been knighted by the Italian government) founded Caterina’s Club, a non-profit organization inspired by his mother, Caterina, in 2005.  In 2005, Bruno and his mom “saw a 7-year-old boy eating a … Read more…