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Posted by on Jan 13, 2013 in Blog, Restaurant Reviews, Travel | 2 comments

Restaurant Review: Philippe the Original (Los Angeles)




Phillipe-the-Original is the kind of place I love to go.

Unpretentious and genuine — this is a bona fide Los Angeles institution located just north of downtown (right across the street from Union Station at 1001 N. Alameda St.).  It’s the kind of place you’d expect to find in two of America’s most authentic restaurant cities — New Orleans and Memphis.  With its unfinished cement floors, memorabilia hanging on the walls, and fresh, delicious, consistently outstanding food — it’s easy to see why this place has been around for more than half a century.

Indeed, one of the early indications that a restaurant has great food is examining its clientele.  Fact:  When you see people from all walks of life lined up and huddled together at wooden tables — bankers sitting next to construction workers, young hip-hop party goers scarfing down sandwiches along with retirees — you know the food is going to be good.

And it is.

Best known as the origin of the world-famous French Dip sandwich, there’s really only one reason to come here.  And that’s for (drum roll please)….the French Dip.  Few decisions are to be make.  In fact, the menu hangs on the wall.  The big dilemma is what kind of meat to order — beef, lamb, ham, or chicken.  Less than a half-dozen side options exist (potato salad, coleslaw, etc.), and each is homemade.  There’s also plenty of fresh desserts and beer/wine available.  But the real stars of this long-running attraction are the sandwiches.

Oh, and they cost $6.50 each.  That’s right.  Six-fifty.

What a bargain!

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Posted by on Dec 17, 2012 in Blog, Politics, Restaurant Reviews | 3 comments

You Won’t Believe the Things I Discussed with Dr. Vafa Kamali

Dalla and Kamali
A Dinner Conversation with the Man Making Scientific Discoveries which Could Enable Us to Live Twice as Long, Who Founded the First Anti-Ayatollah Khomeini Movement in the United States, and Was at the Poker Table Where “Puggy” Pearson Once Did the Unthinkable


A few months ago, I was enjoying a quiet evening at home, watching television.

On screen was the popular PBS program called “NOVA.” The show is mostly about science and technology and often features cutting-edge breakthroughs in various fields of study.

Imagine my surprise to see someone I knew appearing on the program. I came to discover, he’s one of the world’s foremost experts in the field of genetic engineering. He spoke about scientific advances he and his university research team have achieved which could ultimately enable humans to live as long as 150 years.

That’s right – 150 years.

I’ll tell you more about this shortly.

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Posted by on Dec 1, 2012 in Blog, General Poker, Las Vegas, Restaurant Reviews | 1 comment

Restaurant Review: Kelly’s (Las Vegas) / Dinner With Terrence Chan & Co.


Photos of Kelly's Restaurant, Long Beach
This photo of Kelly’s Restaurant is courtesy of TripAdvisor



It’s rare to get four very busy people who live in different cities together for a festive meal.  Fortunately, that was the occasion last night at a new restaurant located on Paradise Road, in Las Vegas.

I joined good friends Rich Korbin (who works for one of the better-known companies in the poker business — I’ll leave it at that), Glen Cadamartori (Marketing Director for Caesars Entertainment), and Terrence Chan (one of the best Limit Hold’em players in the world and currently a professional Mixed Martial Arts fighter) for drinks and dinner.

We chose a new steakhouse which just opened up about a week ago, called Kelly’s.

The following narrative will be a combination restaurant review and recount of our dinner conversation, which went three all-too-brief hours.



I’m a carnivore.  Morten’s of Chicago, Ruth’s Chris, Del Frisco’s, The Palm, Smith and Wollensky — pick any of these places and you’re guaranteed to enjoy a good meal.

Friday night, we decided to go a different route.  Since both Ruth’s Chris steakhouse locations have now closed in Las Vegas (victims of the economy, no doubt), we noted that a new restaurant had opened up at the old Ruth’s Chris location on Paradise Road.  This is positioned in a busy strip mall, across the street from Del Frisco’s.  In fact, Yoli’s — the excellent Brazilian-style steakhouse — is also located along the same row of businesses.

Kelly’s has only one other location, so their excursion into the highly-competitive Las Vegas restaurant market is a major step for the privately-owned landmark based in Long Beach, CA.

Indeed, “Kelly’s Restaurant” has been an institution in Long Beach for more than 30 years.  It’s very much an old-style “power lunch” kind of place.  However, given its close proximity to the ocean and fresh seafood, there are many other menu options, as well.  One has to wonder if this would be a rubber-stamp of the proven Long Beach venue.  Or, would the new owners decide opt for a different flair near the Las Vegas Strip.

Upon first glance, Kelly’s looks very much like what was the former Ruth’s Chris restaurant.  Perhaps when the new owners moved in, they realized that redecorating costs would be minimal, since the dark-wood, white-table cloth ambiance would perfectly match the atmosphere Kelly’s would be trying to create.

Some holiday decorations around the bar and dining area added to a festive feel.  That cordiality was enhanced by very personal attention from the host (actually series of hosts) which greeted our party warmly as we made our way to the table.

Upon taking a seat — the look, the feel, the atmosphere all are what one would expect at a first-class steakhouse.  Add live music in the bar area provided by a piano-playing crooner performing old standards, and you have all the makings of a great night out on the town.

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Posted by on Nov 15, 2012 in Blog, Rants and Raves, Restaurant Reviews | 6 comments

Why the Fuck Can’t I Get a Decent Margarita (A Rant Redux)

A Rant About Margaritas


Why’s it so goddamned difficult to get a decent margarita?  I mean, what the fuck!

Its madness!

The recipe is simple.  Simple!   The act of mixing the cocktail isn’t difficult.  But for some reason, which I fail to contemplate, most bars and restaurants — even highly-rated Mexican restaurants — serve shitty-ass margaritas made with no love nor care.  It’s time to start sending these abominations back.  A major education campaign must be launched, and I’m here to do it.

I’ve had it.  I’m livid!

Where’s the pride?  How can an owner, a manager, or a server put out such lackluster product, when a margarita should be the centerpiece attraction?  How does a restaurant keep its doors open using cheap tequila and rock-gut triple sec poured out of pathetic plastic bottles combined with disgusting powder-based mixers and have the audacity to call that a “margarita?”  It’s like putting lipstick on a pig and calling that Anne Hathaway.

Case in point:  Whoever created the margarita pictured in the photo below should never be able to set foot behind a bar again.  Ever!  The criminal should be digging a ditch or serving on a chain gag.  Bitch slap his ass!  I mean, look at this travesty!  And study carefully.  Drop what you are doing and pay attention!

This is important!

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Posted by on Nov 9, 2012 in Blog, Restaurant Reviews, Travel | 3 comments

South Lake Tahoe — Restaurant Recommendations

Note:  I’m visiting South Lake Tahoe for the next two weeks.  It’s going to be a busy weekend with the World Series of Poker Circuit in town.  The Heavenly Ski Resort is also opening up sometime next week.  So let’s talk about one of my favorite subjects — great food!


South Lake Tahoe is blessed to offer many outstanding dining options.  Moreover, the area offers an extraordinary number of excellent ethnic restaurants, especially for a small town of only about 60,000 residents.

Here’s a short list of my personal favorites.  Having spent perhaps 150 or so days and nights staying at South Lake Tahoe over the past eight years, I’ve dined out at all of these places numerous times.  I’ve posted my favorite restaurants where anyone can come and enjoy a good meal, either dining alone or with a group.  So, most of these places are not fancy, but more casual.

Listed in no particular order, here are my personal favorites:

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