Since 1969, restaurant, hotel, travel & other witty reviews by a handpicked, worldwide team of discerning professionals—and your views, too.






  • pinitbutton We Raced Obama, and Won!
electric plugin volt1 300x199 We Raced Obama, and Won!
Alain Gayot getting a closer look at the Chevrolet Volt plug-in

by Jeff Hoyt

Congratulations to President Obama for finally getting behind the wheel of the Chevy Volt electric vehicle with extended range capability during a visit to the Compact Power battery plant in Holland, Mich. LG Chem, the parent of Compact Power, is making the battery cells for the Volt, which goes on sale late this year in California, the Washington, D.C. area, and Michigan.

But we beat the President to the punch, experiencing the car powered with electricity at all times way back in September of 2008 talked about the car’s importance with the former Vice Chairman of GM Robert Lutz before he retired. The Volt, with its range of about 340 miles, was even used by Olympic athletes back in February in Vancouver.

My First Rub

on July 12th, 2010
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  • pinitbutton My First Rub
steven raichlen rub 300x243 My First Rub

Steven Raichlen's Barbecue Steak Rub

by Jeff Hoyt

I eat a lot of beef. From ground chuck to filet mignon, I enjoy it probably more than I should. Since my wife doesn’t eat red meat, I don’t get to go out to steakhouses very often. Frequently the steaks I enjoy are ones I grilled myself, next to a piece of fish for the Mrs.
Since I find the meat so appealing, I rarely cover its flavor with marinades or spices, and cook it as little as possible. I enjoy the texture, and the gnawing of the bloody, rare meat probably triggers some pleasure center handed down by my ancestors who hunted to survive and cooked their fresh kill over an open fire.




  • pinitbutton Kid Friendly Restaurants
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It only counts if the food winds up inside your mouth!

by Jeff Hoyt

Sure, white tablecloths, linen napkins and soft candlelight are great when a couple wants to enjoy a romantic meal. But when baby makes three, a different kind of restaurant is needed. Feeding kids is tough enough when you have the home field advantage, where a toy or television can make the difference between proper nutrition and total frustration. When it comes to eating out as a family, you need all the help you can get.

Consult our lists of kid-friendly restaurants near you to find the best places to take the tots. At some, kids eat free. Others offer a special children’s menu. They all feature understanding staff, a kitchen open to the flexible whims of a child’s palate, and fellow diners who will put up with your kids’ shenanigans because you’re willing to put up with theirs. It all adds up to a winning formula for feeding your children outside of the home.

Continue reading “Kid-Friendly Restaurants” »

Political Growling

on June 29th, 2010
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  • pinitbutton Political Growling
main 300x225 Political Growling

One of three polar bear residents at the San Diego Zoo

by Jeff Hoyt 

Do politics belong at the zoo? Like Oscar winners giving their acceptance speeches, when you’re one of the world’s best, I guess you’re not afraid to speak out at the risk of alienating your audience.

Last year, the San Diego Zoo re-opened their Conrad Prebys Polar Bear Plunge at a cost of a cool $1 million. But the world-renowned institution isn’t content with just showing their three bears at play on land and water. The conservation-minded organization which also runs the San Diego Zoo’s Wild Animal Park is trying to get the message out that global warming is melting the ice floes that these animals need to live.



  • pinitbutton Sucking on a Dogfish Head
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Our 2010 Summer Wine Newsletter is here!

by Jeff Hoyt 

Mom always told us to drink more when it gets hot, so our Summer Wine Newsletter should come in very handy. Beat the heat with our Top 10 Summer Beers which include pale ale, pilsner and wheat beer. When someone says they’re “Sucking on a Dogfish Head,” you’ll know what they’re talking about!

If you want to imbibe at home, we offer two versions of The Perfect Margarita Recipe: how to make a batch for friends and single serving. But instead of drinking home alone, go out to an adult-beverage event near you! We’ll show you where and when. It’s easy to make new friends when you’re attending a bourbon dinner or Sake tasting. Speaking of bourbon, check out our review of Maker’s 46, only the second whiskey ever produced by Maker’s Mark.



  • pinitbutton Horsing Around With Absinthe
horsie 168x300 Horsing Around With Absinthe

Horse-drawn carriages provided the transportation for the evening of absinthe tastings in downtown Los Angeles

By Jeff Hoyt


I had heard the stories of absinthe causing delusions, but I did not believe them until now. True, I had never imbibed it in such great quantities before. Pernod, the creators of absinthe more than two centuries ago, had invited me out on the town to try the anise-flavored spirit in a number of different ways, and now that I had consumed it in such great quantity, “The Green Fairy” was playing tricks on me. But my hallucinations seemed so vivid: was I dreaming, or was it possible that I was actually riding a horse-drawn carriage through the streets of downtown Los Angeles?

   Continue reading “Horsing Around With Absinthe” »

Delicious Delicias

on June 10th, 2010
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  • pinitbutton Delicious Delicias
delicias2 300x132 Delicious Delicias
The dining room at Delicias restaurant in Rancho Santa Fe, CA near San Diego

By Jeff Hoyt   

You’re not supposed to drink and drive, or drive and text, or drunk dial, but how about drinking and typing on an iPad? Delicias, the highly-rated Rancho Santa Fe restaurant, plans on offering diners iPads at their tables to peruse the wine list electronically.
General Manager and Sommelier “Gino” Campbell, plans on expanding his holdings to a 5,000-bottle list, so think of all the trees that will be saved. He will also be teaching wine classes here on Saturdays starting next month.  



  • pinitbutton Drink Up and Cool Down
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Scheid Vineyards 2008 Muscat Canelli is one of our Top 10 Summer Wines

by Jeff Hoyt 


If you’re invited to a pool party, and want to bring a bottle of wine, how do you pick the right bottle? Consult for our Top 10 Summer Wines. There you’ll find whites, reds, sparklers, and even a dessert wine that will make your host happy during warm weather.


For a barbecue, you can also check out our Top 10 Barbecue Wines. And for Father’s Day, you can make a selection from our Top Father’s Day Wines. So if you’re asked to attend a Father’s Day Barbecue, you’ll have lots of options!   

   Continue reading “Drink Up and Cool Down” »



  • pinitbutton Jazzing Up Saddle Peak Lodge
saddlepeak lodge 300x285 Jazzing Up Saddle Peak Lodge

The entrance to Saddle Peak Lodge restaurant in Calabasas, CA


by Jeff Hoyt 


There are many misconceptions about Saddle Peak Lodge: it’s not in Malibu, it’s not a lodge, and it’s not just for carnivores hunting for game. Rest assured that the rustic atmosphere belies the quality of ingredients, cooking and service at this unique destination restaurant, which happens to be in Calabasas. We enjoy the ocean views driving through Malibu on the Pacific Coast Highway around sunset to get there, although the food – game, seafood, and even vegetarian options – tastes just as good for Valley residents arriving via the 101. 


We recently added it to our Top 10 Outdoor Dining Restaurants around Los Angeles list. This romantic restaurant with multiple patios hosts many wedding parties, although I have to warn you: the two couples I know who celebrated their nuptials there have split up. The babbling brook that flows outside adds a melodious soundtrack to the bucolic atmosphere. 


Continue reading “Jazzing Up Saddle Peak Lodge” »



  • pinitbutton 2 Presidents, 1 Dinner
rickbayless 186x300 2 Presidents, 1 Dinner

Chef Rick Bayless prepared Mexican cuisine for the Obama's second White House State Dinner

by Jeff Hoyt

Rick Bayless is the second top chef to work his magic at the Obama White House, preparing Wednesday’s state dinner for President Felipe Calderón of Mexico and his wife, Margarita Zavala. The first couple has dined at Topolobampo, one of Bayless’ Chicago restaurants along with Frontera Grill and Xoco.

According to a statement from the White House, Bayless worked with Michelle Obama and Comerford to prepare a menu that “reflects the best of American cuisine” while “honoring the culinary excellence and flavors that are present in Mexican cuisine.” His molé sauce reportedly used more than twenty ingredients and took days to make. Several ingredients for the dinner, including herbs, radishes and lettuce, were harvested from the White House garden, while White House pastry chef William Yosses used honey from White House bees for the desserts.

trans 2 Presidents, 1 Dinner

The White House posted the following menu for the state dinner on its website Wednesday afternoon:


Continue reading “2 Presidents, 1 Dinner” »

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