Alcove Café & Bakery – Los Feliz (Los Angeles)

A Patio Oasis Alcove Café & Bakery – Los Feliz (Los Angeles) Last Visit: June 2020 Breakfast When outdoor dining was finally allowed again here in California (seems to change by the hour), we decided to meet our friends (and traveling partners) Kim and Mary, along with their daughter Macaire, at Alcove Café & Bakery in Los Feliz (a hillside neighborhood of Los Angeles). Because it was dog friendly, Kim and Mary’s dog Fenway also joined us. The restaurant is located very close to Griffith Park, so you could come here after taking your dog for a walk. We (and the corgis) enjoy the hike at nearby Ferndell Trail, where you can eventually hook up to trails that ascend to … Read more…

Formosa Cafe – West Hollywood, CA

Historic West Hollywood Hangout Formosa Cafe – West Hollywood, CA Last Visited: June 2020 Asian Fusion I’m confident there’s not another restaurant in the world where John Wayne cooked eggs one morning in its kitchen after passing out the night before, Ava Gardner danced in the aisles, Elvis sipped a mai tai or two, Bogie sat at the bar and a couple of notorious mobsters conducted “business dealings” in their own private booths. All that and much, much more transpired through the decades at West Hollywood’s Formosa Cafe. After the shutdown of L.A. restaurants was lifted in June, Tracy and I (along with friends Jeff and Cecilia) knew this was the first dining establishment we wanted to check out.   … Read more…

When Mai Tai Tom Met Tracy: A Night at L’Opera – Long Beach, CA

It Had To Be You! When Mai Tai Tom Met Tracy: A Night at L’Opera – Long Beach, CA Visited: May 1990 & February 2020 As I recall, it was a beautiful spring evening in May 1990. I had been researching police documents and perusing personal interviews for an article I was writing, attempting to piece together an unsolved murder mystery in Long Beach. Channeling my inner Dashiell Hammett, I walked to the bar at a recently opened upscale restaurant called L’Opera Ristorante. As the evening progressed, it would become “the stuff dreams are made of,” although a falcon would play no part. Shortly after I was ensconced at the bar, two lovely ladies sat down on my left. “Well, … Read more…

Granville – Pasadena, CA

Great Dining … Plus A Rooftop Bar! Granville – Pasadena, CA Modern Casual Last visited: January 2020 When Granville opened in the spring of 2019, boasting the only rooftop bar in Pasadena, we knew this was a place we had to visit!  Granville is a small Southern California chain of “modern-casual” restaurants featuring more than 60 dining items, which also includes an array of vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free menu options.  It’s yet another delicious dining option on South Lake Avenue. I’ve never believed it’s fair to write about a restaurant soon after it has opened for business.  I feel I need to wait for an establishment to work the kinks out and, as expected, the first couple of meals we … Read more…

Hippo in Highland Park, CA

Mai Tai Tom’s 2019 Restaurant Of The Year! Hippo – Highland Park, CA Cuisine: Cal-Med Visited: February, March & October 2019 The votes have been tabulated, and Mai Tai Tom’s 2019 Restaurant of the Year is now ready to be unveiled.  In the closest vote in history, Highland Park’s Hippo takes home the title!  Hippo had fierce competition from two of Pasadena’s relatively new restaurants Entre Nous and The Arbour, and also from Bavel in DTLA’s Art District. With the voting so close, we returned to Hippo this autumn to try a few more menu options before making our final decision.  Hippo had been in the running since we first dined here in February.  We have tried many of their … Read more…

Bacchus’ Kitchen – Pasadena, CA

Neighborhood Gem Bacchus’ Kitchen – Pasadena, CA Last Visited: August 2019 Although we walk the corgis past this restaurant nearly every weekend and always stop to check the menu, in late 2018 it had been several months … maybe even a year … since we had dined at Bacchus’ Kitchen.  In the past year we’ve visited four times, and our little neighborhood gem has delivered on each and every occasion.                                         Bacchus’ Kitchen is a small restaurant located on the edge of Bungalow Heaven, a historical neighborhood in Pasadena (technically the restaurant is in East Washington Village).  It opened in 2015 and has always delivered … Read more…

Bavel – Los Angeles, CA

Middle East Feast! Bavel – Los Angeles, CA Visited: September 2019 One great feature of living in Los Angeles these days is the influx of restaurants offering innovative cuisine from all parts of the world. Tracy and I had heard great reports from friends about Bavel, which features food highlighting dishes from the Middle East.  Bavel is another fairly new restaurant located in the trendy Arts District in Downtown Los Angeles.  If you haven’t been to the Arts District, it is chock full of new eateries (seemingly a new one pops up every day) and lots of young people who were out walking their dogs and sailing along on fleets of e-scooters (which, thankfully, are parked neatly rather than scattered … Read more…

L’Express – Montréal, Canada

Dining Old School in Montréal L’Express – Montréal, Canada French – Visited (twice): September 2019 While planning the Montréal portion of our trip, there was one restaurant I desperately wanted to try. I am not usually one to follow food critics, but in my research I did find it interesting that noted Montréal Gazette food critic Lesley Chesterman gave L’Express four stars (out of four) in 2016, something she had very rarely done for any restaurant (the last one receiving four stars at that time was in 2011 for Joe Beef). She once said that Montréal would be “unimaginable” without L’Express. I’m also a sucker for historic restaurants (see Hollywood’s Musso & Frank Grill in Tom’s Dining Out), so L’Express intrigued me.  Although L’Express … Read more…

Caffe Un po Di Più – Montréal, Canada

Dinner By The Port Caffe Un po Di Più – Montréal, Canada Italian – Visited: September 2019 We enjoyed a number of terrific meals on our trip to Canada, and one that really stood out took place at Caffe Un po Di Più.  Located in the Vieux-Port de Montréal (Old-Port of Montréal), Un po di Più serves Italian small plates to be shared.  From our hotel (Hotel Gault), it was a short ten-minute stroll. (Two photos below from internet)                       Un po di Più (“A Little More”) opened in 2018 and is a creation from the same folks who brought Olive et Gourmando to Montréal, the restaurant where we picked … Read more…

Musso & Frank Grill – Hollywood, CA

Hooray For Hollywood! Musso & Frank Grill – Hollywood, CA Last Visited: August & September 2019 There aren’t many restaurants around these days that I can say I visited as a kid, but the famed Musso & Frank Grill in Hollywood, which turns 100 this year (I sense a theme lately), is one of them. I’ve been coming here since the early 1960s, and for nostalgia’s sake we had to make a return appearance to celebrate its Centennial Anniversary, which will be observed on September 27. It had been nine years since our last outing (via the Gold/Red Line metro) and not much had changed (except for the people on the far end in this picture). Of course, I don’t … Read more…