Southern California

Tom’s Southern California Dining

Tom with Bob's Big Boy

One thing that COVID has taken from so many of us is the pleasure of the dining-out experience.  One of the most satisfying aspects of life is going out with friends to restaurants scattered throughout Southern California.  In the past two decades, the So. Cal. dining scene, especially in Los Angeles and surrounding towns, has exploded with numerous incredible eateries.  Sadly, some of these great restaurants have been forced to close, but here are our favorites that are still hanging in there and that we hope to visit again soon.

Bistro 45 – Pasadena, CA

A Pasadena Icon! Bistro 45 – Pasadena, CA New American/French-Style Cuisine – Last Visit: August 2020 Situated in a charming, retro Art Deco building in Pasadena, Bistro 45 has provided us with many a memorable meal over the past 25 – 30 years, and has consistently served delicious dinners. Over the years, in addition to special occasion meals, we have attended many of their winemaker dinners, almost always resulting in an infusion for our wine cellar.             During the pandemic, Bistro 45 has also pivoted to curb-side pick-up, Rosti (family) dinners, Butcher Shoppe and recently, patio-only dining. We have purchased Cryovac-sealed Nieman Ranch pork chops from the Butcher Shoppe, and they are among the best … Read more…

The Beachcomber at Crystal Cove – Newport Coast, CA

Beignets & Breakfast By The Beach The Beachcomber at Crystal Cove – Newport Coast, CA Last Visited: September 2020 When we get together with intrepid travel companions and friends Kim and Mary, we try to pick some place half way between our homes. Unbeknownst to us, the Beachcomber at Crystal Cove would become one of our favorite breakfast places and we don’t even mind the hour-long drive (well, as long as it is at the crack of dawn before traffic rears its ugly head). The restaurant is located on the beach in Crystal Cove, which we found out is on the National Register of Historic Places. No cars are allowed (except for handicapped parking), so you have to park in … Read more…

Fia – Santa Monica, CA

Mamma Mia … It’s Time For Fia! Fia – Santa Monica, CA California Cuisine (with an Italian Influence) – Last Visit: August 2020 Looking online for L.A. County dining establishments where we could enjoy a meal outdoors, we came upon Fia, a Santa Monica restaurant that seemed to check all the boxes. The photos of its patio looked enticing, and a few reviews stated it was socially-distanced enough to feel comfortable, so on a (plagiarizing Neil Diamond) “hot August night” we headed to Fia, where we would be joined by our temporarily-masked friends Jeff and Cecilia. We had booked an early 6 p.m. time slot to avoid any over-crowding later in the evening. The quaint patio area was surrounded by … Read more…

Union – Pasadena, CA

Forming A More Perfect Union Union – Pasadena, CA Italian – Last Visit: July 2020 In 2015, Union in Pasadena garnered the coveted Mai Tai Tom Restaurant Of The Year Award.  Union’s menu, which features a number of homemade pasta dishes, had been the creation of Chef Bruce Kalman, who departed in 2018. We had not been back since original owner (Marie Petulla) hooked up with a new executive chef (Chris Keyser) in 2019. The day after the city of Pasadena closed some lanes of its streets (including Union Street) to allow restaurants to accommodate outside dining, we scored reservations. This neighborhood gem serves what has been called the “California version of Northern Italian cuisine,” and utilizes “fresh ingredients that … Read more…

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…

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…

President Thai – Pasadena, CA

Let’s Thai One On! President Thai – Pasadena, CA Last Visited: August 2019 (Thai) I don’t have a clue why I don’t eat Thai food more often. Although I love it, it seems we always find other types of restaurants to try. In the last year, however, we “discovered” President Thai in Pasadena.  Of course, others discovered this restaurant long before us, because it has been in business since 1994 (I’m only 2 1/2 decades behind the curve).  We absolutely love this place and have dined here often in the past year. President Thai incorporates an array of fresh, expertly prepared vegetables in each dish, and practically every scrumptious one of them includes the option of your preferred protein … … Read more…

Entre Nous – Pasadena, CA

Celebrating Our Silver Anniversary French Style Entre Nous – Pasadena, CA Visited: December 2018 & July 2019 (French) Realizing that Tracy has had to put up with me for 25 years of marriage, I thought it would be nice to celebrate our Silver Wedding Anniversary at a restaurant that has garnered some great reviews lately. We visited Pasadena’s Entre Nous French Bistro shortly after it opened in late 2018 and thought it to be a good, but not necessarily great, dining establishment.  After last week’s meal, “great” might be an understatement. The owners, Mathias Wakrat and Jean-Christophe Febbrari, are former partners in Cafe Beaujolais in Eagle Rock (another long-time Mai Tai Tom favorite restaurant).  Entre Nous’s chef is Hugues Quintard, … Read more…

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…

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…

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                                 CLOSED PERMANENTLY 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 … 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…

Maccheroni Republic – Los Angeles, CA

Still Our Favorite Pasta in L.A. Maccheroni Republic – Los Angeles, CA Visited twice in May of 2018 It’s comforting to know that some things don’t change in life, like my favorite pasta restaurant in Los Angeles continuing to provide the freshest pasta four and a half years after our first visit.  Maccheroni Republic has been churning out delectable pasta dishes since early 2014 (photo on right below from 2014), and it is as good (or even better) today as it was back when we first started going here.                                  Located virtually across the street from the historic Grand Central Market on Broadway between 3rd … Read more…

Great Maple – Pasadena, CA

Perfect for Morning, Afternoon and Evening Great Maple – Pasadena, CA Visited: 2017 & 2018 (Many times) An outing in November 2017 to the Pasadena Convention Center to see retired Los Angeles Dodger announcer Vin Scully speak resulted in our stumbling (and I hadn’t even had a cocktail yet) onto a new restaurant recently opened (October 2017) in the Paseo Colorado Mall, Great Maple. It turned out to be a home run as our new find quickly became a regular haunt that we visited four times in a two month period for brunch, Happy Hour and dinner. Its website states, “Great Maple is a modern American eatery specializing in elevated comfort food with a twist.”   There are also Great Maple … Read more…

Manuela – Los Angeles, CA

Travels With Mai Tai Tom 2017 Restaurant of the Year Manuela – Los Angeles, CA Visited: Brunch and Dinner • February 2017 & Dinner:  December 2017 Restaurant Type: Eclectic Contemporary Southern As the year was winding to a close, we had yet to select Mai Tai Tom’s Restaurant of the Year for 2017 (aka…we eat out way too much).  There were many deserving contenders this year including Alimento in Silver Lake, Alexander’s Steak House in Pasadena, Trattoria Allegria in Montrose along with Nick’s selection of restaurants in Laguna Beach, Long Beach and San Clemente.  As much as we loved all those establishments, our thoughts kept returning to Manuela (located in the Los Angeles Art District), which we had visited for dinner … Read more…

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 to South of Nick’s 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 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 there when it did. 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-empire … 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…

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…

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 similarly served its signature dish, 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 p.m the restaurant … 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…

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…

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…

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 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…

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…

The Derby – Arcadia, CA

“History Lives Here” The Derby – Arcadia, CA Restaurant Type: Traditional American When you first step inside The Derby in Arcadia, immediately you realize 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…

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, and Andy … Read more…