Wednesday, August 30, 2017

The List - Eastside Eats

You can find a lot of lists of the best restaurants in Los Angeles such as Jonathan Gold's 101 Best Restaurants, the L.A. Weekly's 99 Essential Restaurants, and Eater LA's 38 Essential Restaurants. All good lists but also very heavy on Central Los Angeles, the San Fernando Valley, and the Westside.

What's missing are places most of those people pretend don't exist like the non-Asian parts of the San Gabriel Valley, the Inland Empire, Orange County, and more.

We're going to do our bit to rectify that here at the World on Wheels as we present our top restaurants...the inclusive list (click on the links below for a full report).

1. Joey's Red Devil Pizza - La Verne
2. Tony's Little Italy - Placentia
3. Centro Basco - Chino
4. Taylor's Cafe - Chino
5. Little Tokyo - San Dimas
6. Daikukoya - El Monte
7. Eureka! - Claremont
8. In 'n Out - Baldwin Park and beyond
9. The Sycamore Inn - Rancho Cucamonga
10. The Bull Pen - Redondo Beach
11. Cafe Bizou Closed. Locations in Sherman Oaks and Agoura still open
12. Bierstube at The Phoenix Club - Anaheim
13. The Hat - Alhambra and beyond
14. Capri Deli - Covina
15. Old World Deli - Covina
16. Donut Man - Glendora
17. Miss Donuts and Bagel - La Verne
18. Sweet Jill's - Seal Beach and Long Beach
19. Porto's Bakery and Cafe - Glendale and beyond
20. Bert and Rocky's - Claremont

Los Angeles' Best Eats - Eastside Edition, Part 4

See the ever-growing list of our best Eastside Eats here!

Sometimes you just want a good steak, price be damned. The population of the eastside is made up in large part by carnivores. You can get your red meat protein almost anywhere at a range of prices from cheap to astronomical.

About the best you can get is at the Sycamore Inn in Rancho Cucamonga where the history goes back 170 years, although the modern era of the restaurant is a little more modest...approaching 100.

Elegant inside with professional waiters serving on linen covered tables and high-backed chairs, this is the place for a great steak in the Inland Empire.

Custom aged and hand-carved USDA prime steaks that melt in your mouth are the stars of the menu here. This is a special place and the food is pretty special, too. The kind of dinner locals will splurge on for a birthday, anniversary, or even a proposal.

Feast on a tomahawk rib eye with some peppercorn sauce...or perhaps you will like the bearnaise better?...with some broiled broccoli or a classic baked potato. All good but I'm an au gratin guy.

Wash it down with with some Duckhorn Russian River Pinot Noir or any other choice from their extensive list.  Don't hurry...just enjoy the meaty flavor enhanced by some California alcohol.Warby Parker

Pair it with a lobster? Why not, or have one alone on it's own dish.  Poultry is well represented here, too, with Jidori roast chicken or maybe you'd care for a rack or lamb instead.

Save room for the Grand Marnier chocolate soufle but make sure to order that way at the beginning of takes time to make it right.

It's not a cheap treat...if you try really hard you just might get out for just under $100 per person - pre tax - but save up to splurge at this inland institution of fine meat.

Oh yeah, you can get a bit of that Sycamore Inn experience for a fraction of the cost if you come during their happy hour...served in the lounge on the wraparound porch until 8pm daily...where you can get discounted drinks and the most expensive dish is the filet mignon at $28 or the prime rib at $26.

Speaking of Prime Rib, you can get the best we've tried in Southern California at a little dive bar at an old, slightly run down strip mall in Redondo Beach. Yeah, it doesn't quite fit our eastside criteria, being a block away from the ocean in a decidedly westside location, but once in a great while those western centered lists will drift over the line, too.  Purely by accident, I'm sure.

We'll let joke telling bartender, Kevin, punctuate this entry: "How do you tell a boy ant from a girl ant? You put them in a glass of water. If it sinks...girl ant. If it floats...boyant. "

We're sure this is the best prime rib around, with the possible exception of a certain Beverly Hills chop house, and this one won't break the bank too much, either.

The Bull Pen is that place where you see the gray-haired barflies rubbing elbows with the tattooed, mascaraed, and bleached blonde, among other assorted quaffers of their very well stocked bar serving day drinking prices before the dinner bell. Yes, these are my kind of people and I love hanging out with them. 

The chaser, though, is that little dining room, off to the right, over the low divider. While the menu has a good list of steaks, chops, seafood, and a very righteous burger, people mostly come here for one thing...the prime rib.

It's a thick hunk of tender beef, recommended at medium rare. Marbled well and with a peppery crust holding the mass of meaty juices in. Served with a nice, creamy horseradish (straight is also available) and a cup of au jus, a dip here...a dip there and pop this melt-in-your-mouth juice bomb in your mouth for a protein delight.

Kevin: "How to you make Holy Water? You boil the hell out of it. "

Served with baked potato, mashed, fries, or vegetables...also an excellent fresh salad with the option (exercised by most customers) of jellied beets put on top. This king of Southern California prime rib, labeled at 12 ounces but I'll be damned if it's really not delivered to your table for $29.95. A 9 ounce light eater's version is $18.95.

A secret bargain, though...if they don't sell out on Friday night, they'll serve the rest as a Saturday lunch special for less than half price. Call after 9:00am on Saturday to see if they'll be having the prime rib as a lunch special.

Kevin: "Did you here about the police station that had their toilet stolen? They're out looking for it but have nothing to go on. "

NOTE: The Pasadena location of Cafe Bizou (below) has permanently closed. Locations in Sherman Oaks and Agoura are still in operation

Cafe Bizou has now graced the Pasadena landscape so long that it's considered an anchor in the area but at one time, it was the new kid on the block, bringing in fun French inspired dishes to the masses in a service-oriented, Continental atmosphere.

Except for the 'new' part, all the rest is still there. White table cloths, professional waiters, great food at exceptional prices.  It's not trendy in this neighborhood anymore where the Slaters, the Meat Districts, the Vertical Wine Bars, Himalayan restaurants, and the oh-so-pricey restaurants of the moment.

Cafe Bizou only offers reliably outstanding food, good service, in an upscale and comfortable atmosphere. It's also very easily accessible, almost right across the street from the Memorial Park Station of Metro's Gold Line light rail train.

While we're talking about meat and potatoes on this installment, we'd like to highlight the red-meat centered entrees available here but also know that there is a very good selection of seafood dishes here such as their Friday night bouillabaisse and their famously good Chilean sea bass.

We come here, however, for the meats...steak frites, steak au poivre,  and lamb. Tender, tasty, lamb chops without a hint of the gaminess you find at lesser establishments. Oozing with fatty juices, seasoned with Rosemary, and butterknife-tender. The New York strip steak with a savory Burgundy sauce cooked to melt-in-your-mouth perfection, served with some double fried string potatoes.

The best of an outstanding lineup for me is the thinly sliced, perfectly pink pieces of meat served in a creamy brandy sauce that make up their steak au very fork-tender...with the beef juices lovingly blending into the sauce that makes up their steak au poivre. It's my go-to dish here.

A very creamy version of handmade mashed potatoes is served with it but you can also ask that their super creamy potatoes au gratin be substituted. It all comes with some typical crusty baguettes and a little pile of perfectly blanched vegetables.  It's one of the few times Tim will willingly eat all of his veggies.

This is not a budget breaker either, as I've alluded to above. My favorite dish, the steak au poivre, is only $21.95. Nothing on their regular menu even comes close to thirty dollars (they do have a very popular prixe fix menu for $36 dollars that covers everything from soup or salad through dessert). Adding a salad or soup de jour is $2, you can upgrade to a Caesar
salad for an extra buck.

And, while they have a good wine list here, you can bring your own for a very reasonable two dollar corkage fee...bring as many bottles as you like, they're all just $2 each.


Anaheim is a German-based word for for Ana's home.  It came about as a German settlement arose by the Santa Ana River, south of Los Angeles in what is now Orange County.  Home by the Santa Ana River.

After World War II, all things German were a bit touchy. Into this era came a private cultural club, German, in Anaheim who wanted everyone to know that they were not like 'those' Germans. They were to be welcoming and all inclusive, celebrating their history and culture without the baggage of the war. Rising up with a new Germany from those ashes like the legendary Phoenix bird. This was the founding of the Phoenix Club in 1961.

When the city of Anaheim wanted the land on Katella Avenue where their modest club house was to build the Honda Center (home of the Ducks NHL team), they agreed to build a new club on land behind the arena. That's where you'll find the modern Phoenix Club in a large, modern building along with their Bierstube Restaurant.

Although a private club, it is always open to the public. The Bierstube is a fine, friendly place to indulge in German food and beer.

It's really more like a pub than a restaurant. Amid the woody, cozy room...walls adorned with the emblems of the many clubs that call the Phoenix Club'll find a long bar, taps pouring brews from the motherland, and German dishes heavy with sausages, kraut, spaetzle, and more.

While you can get a good steak here, a great charcuterie dish, and big soft pretzels, pork is the reason we come here. 

Our favorite on the daily menu is jaegerschnitzel, a pork cutlet covered with a wild mushroom sauce and served with spaetzle. Starting off with a tender chop, with juices flowing, the savory sauce along with the earthy mushrooms are a carnivore's delight. The spaetzle (a kind of German pasta) adds to the heaviness of the will fill you up you might want to substitute potatoes or plan on taking half of the dish home.

You'll want to wash this down with whatever German Oktoberfest beer they're serving at the time.  I'd say save room for dessert but that's just about impossible here.

If you see their pork chop special on the board, you will want to try that.  Another very juicy and lovingly cooked chop, covered with a thin brown gravy and served with some of the best mashed potatoes you can find in Southern California.  This is my favorite dish here and always leaves me wanting more.

Bargains abound at their daily happy hours with beer, drink, and appetizer specials plus one of the biggest and best Oktoberfests happens here on weekends from mid September through October in their large biergarten out back.

Carnivores can find much to please them in this area but these are a few of our favorites.

Hand Picked Special Occasion Wines delivered to your door.- Wine of The Month Club

Darryl Musick
Copyright 2017 - All Rights Reserved

Monday, August 28, 2017

The Flora and Fauna of Borrego Springs

Still haven't seen the namesake animal of the area, the Borrego (big horn sheep), but we did see plenty of great flowers and birds during our recent trip to Anza-Borrego State Park.

We couldn't fit everything in our trip reports (part one; part two) but we wanted to revisit some of the great floral and avian life that we found there.

Starting with those purple flowers at the top of the post.

Prickly pear cactus not only have spectacular flower but the fruit is delicious, too.

The ocotillo cactus has bright orange flowers.

This wren was tending to it's family in a nest perched in a palo verde tree outside of our hotel room.

Quail were pretty easy to find on our afternoon walk.

The cholla cactus has some spiffy neon green flowers.

Migratory ducks spend time here, also.

They're not weeds here, desert dandelions sprinkle the sands...

...and fields of desert sunflowers also carpet the valley's floor.

Finally, not really a desert wildflower, but it was daffodil season up in nearby Julian.  Here's a show in the town's community center.

Hand Picked Special Occasion Wines delivered to your door.- Wine of The Month Club

Copyright 2015 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Additional photos by Letty Musick
Copyright 2015 - Letty Musick
All Rights Reserved

Friday, August 25, 2017

Making the Desert Bloom: A Return to Borrego Springs, Part 2

Morning in Borrego Springs finds us on a modest shopping excursion. While Letty browses the Frugal Coyote thrift shop, Tim and I wander around a small strip mall where we end up in the town's ice cream parlor and candy store.

A couple of cinnamon rolls to go, we wander over to the liquor store to grab a six-pack and some snacks for later tonight in the hotel.

Watch the Video!

At the end of the town's modest downtown is Christmas Circle. Basically a large roundabout with the town's main park in the middle. 

Off to the side, the local Kiwanis Club is having a flea market.  While Letty sees if she can find any bargains, I wander off to a large, blooming, palo verde tree nearby.

It's buzzy. That's because there are hundreds of bees tending to the thousands of flowers. I stick a video camera in to get a close up (see the video for more) then we hit the road.

While we were shopping, we stopped at the Anza-Borrego State Park Visitor's Center and gift shop at the local mall where the friendly staffer showed us where to go where the most flowers were blooming today.

A few miles out of town, we find the desert sands carpeted with desert sunflowers (that's what the lady called them).

A little closer to the mountains we find this cacti blooming with bright purple flowers...

...these with neon green flowers...

...and ocotillos with their bright orange flowers.

Another big attraction in Borrego Springs is finding sculptures out in the middle of the desert.  Artist Ricardo Breceda got together with one of the area's big landowners, Dennis Avery, and make iron sculpture just waiting out in the desert for the explorer to find.

Dozens of Breceda's statues are sprinkled over miles of desert landscape and are a blast to go out and find.  (maps are available in the gift shop and most hotels)

We find a few new ones that weren't here on our last visit, including this padre and his dog.

The morning finds us driving 30 miles up into the mountains to visit Julian, an old gold mining town more famous today for it's apple orchards and pie.

We have a breakfast of soup, quiche, and pie before exploring the town and shopping.

After walking to the cemetery and finding the old jail, we call it a day and pile into the van for the long drive home.

Hand Picked Special Occasion Wines delivered to your door.- Wine of The Month Club

Copyright 2015 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Tim's Views - Living The Dream On MLB Network

Image courtesy of Wikimedia - public domain

As many of you who follow us and our traveling adventures here on The World on Wheels may know, I consider myself a pretty big sports fan. So much so that I have another blog of my own called Tim's Sports World dedicated to all things sports from my own unique perspective.

When it comes to watching and writing about my views on sports, there is no doubt that the sport I love watching the most is Major League Baseball (MLB). Those of you who know me very well will also know that one of my lifelong goals and dreams as a fan of baseball and as a sports fan in general  has been to see all 30 Major League Baseball stadiums and or ballpark throughout my life.

Before the start of the 2017 MLB Season, my parents and I had started discussing potential family vacation plans for the coming year. If I remember correctly, those vacation plan discussions took place during baseball's off season Hot Stove period and during Spring Training 2017 as well. At first, my dad Darryl wanted to go back to St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands but then I countered with the suggestion that we should look into doing another MLB ballpark trip so that I could get one or two steps closer to completing and meeting my lifelong goal of seeing all 30 stadiums that Major League Baseball (MLB) has to offer.

To make a long story short, during the course of those early 2017 vacation planning discussions, I came out on top on the winning side and we had settled on a plan to go on a  late April/early May springtime vacation in Texas to both the Dallas/Arlington and Houston areas to go see two more games and ballparks featuring both of the hometown Texas teams in the Texas Rangers and the Houston Astros. There was also the added excitement for both games that we would end going to because the Rangers would be playing against the Angels which is my favorite team and the Astros game that we went to would be the first game of the 2017 Silver Boot Series between the aforementioned Texas Rangers and the Houston Astros!

Another important part of this story for me that is worth mentioning is that in addition to being a huge fan of Major League Baseball (MLB) and wanting to achieve my lifelong goal of seeing every major league ballpark, I am also a huge fan and have been for the last several years and counting of the Major League Baseball Network (MLBN).

Picture courtesy of Wikimedia
Eric Drost under CC BY 2.0 license

Fast forwarding the story of my own personal major league ballpark quest a little bit, towards the beginning of the 2017 MLB regular season if my memory is correct, one day while tuning in, I noticed that there was a season long MLB Network promotion going while watching the nightly highlights show called Quick Pitch hosted by Heidi Watney. on that was geared towards fans like me of Major League Baseball (MLB) and the Major League Baseball Network (MLBN) TV channel.  It just so happened that the main purpose of this fan promotion for the Quick Pitch show was that if you tweeted in a picture of yourself from any ballpark or baseball game that you went to during the 2017 MLB regular season with the #quickpitch hashtag on Twitter, then that picture could up end being put on the air for the show for you and all your friends and family's viewing pleasure!

Once I saw that MLB Network and Quick Pitch was doing this kind of promotion for their TV viewing fans on one of their signature daily shows, I knew that I wanted to do everything I could to be a part of it while my family and I were on vacation in Texas and Florida. A few days before we left for our trip, I became even more focused and determined to make a possible appearance on Quick Pitch more of a reality while watching a Facebook Live video that Heidi Watney and the rest of the Quick Pitch production crew did.

In this video, which also gave a little of a behind-the-scenes look at the show, Watney once again reminded the show's fans that they could send in their photos to the network's Twitter page with the required #quickpitch hashtag from any ballpark they went to throughout the 2017 regular season and that those pictures could possibly be shown during the show as a result of sending them in on Twitter. Now armed with more than enough focus and determination to make this possible dream appearance on my favorite baseball TV channel come true, my parents and I set out for a fun Spring baseball games and stadiums vacation of epic proportions deep in the heart of Texas and Florida.

To make sure everything went off relatively smooth and without too many technological hitches and or obstacles, I enlisted the help of my dad Darryl to be my designated official ballpark Twitter picture sender. For the most part, we were very successful in completing my Quick Pitch ballpark photo mission on Twitter. If my memory of what transpired is correct though, I believe that when we sent in my picture from Globe Life Park in Arlington with the #quickpitch hashtag, I think we forgot to also tag Heidi Watney on her Twitter page so that she could see the picture of me from Globe Life Park as well. The good news is is that as far as I know, that picture of me from Globe Life Park was still included on MLB Network's Twitter page as part of the collection of ballpark photos from other fans but I don't know for certain if my picture from Globe Life Park was put on the show or not.

The good news however is that my Quick Pitch ballpark photo story does not end there. While it is still true that I don't really know if my picture from Rangers Ballpark in Arlington was ever shown on Quick Pitch, I know for a fact that after tagging Heidi Watney on her Twitter page for my photo from Minute Maid Park in Houston for another installment of the Quick Pitch show, my dream of appearing on an MLB Network TV show would soon become a reality! As the saying goes, if at first you don't succeed, try and try again!

Having now made all the necessary corrections in putting my second ballpark picture in the proper way, the momentous day of my eventual MLB Network TV appearance came and went during the late night/early morning hours of May 1-2, my picture from Minute Maid Park would be shown to a national viewing audience for all to see! For my family and I, it was very exciting for us to say the least when lo and behold while tuning into Quick Pitch myself from our downtown Houston hotel room I was able to catch the tail end of the final Quick Pitch show from the previous evening on a laptop on the morning of Monday, May 2, 2017!  It was during this time that I saw that my picture from Minute Maid Park had been included as part of that night's episode of Quick Pitch complete with an on-air shout out my tweet from the show's host Heidi Watney!

Heidi Watney-Host of MLB Network's Quick Pitch show!
Photo Courtesy Of:Wikimedia And Keith Allison from Owings Mills, USA Under CC BY-SA 2.0 License

At that point, once I saw that my picture was indeed being included as part of that night's/morning's episode of Quick Pitch, my parents and I stopped what we were doing at that time (which included brushing our teeth after having breakfast and getting ready for our next adventure on the trip to go see the Johnson Space Center) to focus our attention and listen with great anticipation for what was about to be said by Ms. Watney about my picture from Minute Maid Park that was now plastered in full view on my laptop and the big TV screen video monitor inside the network's very own Studio 21 for everyone who was tuned in to see in all of it's beautiful glory!

While my family and I were watching Heidi Watney talk about my picture from Minute Maid Park that was now being shown for all to see, it quickly became clear to me that all the hard work I had done and put in an effort to make a dream appearance on an MLB Network show come to fruition had finally paid off and was actually really happening!

I should also mention that while mostly everything about my appearance on Quick Pitch that day had gone smoothly and was very exciting up to that point, my growing excitement while watching my appearance that morning was diminished a little when it came time for Heidi Watney to give me and my family credit for sending the picture in to the show by saying the name of our Twitter Handle username When it was time for Watney to say the name of our @musickchannel Twitter Handle username, she had mistakenly through no fault of her own referred to it on-air while speaking as "At Music 'K' Channel!" At that moment for me, I knew that she had not something was wrong and that she had not said our family's last name correctly. The good news was that she did pronounce the first part of the name correctly by saying "Music."  Where she made the made the mistake however was when she actually pronounced The letter 'K' that appears at the end of the "@Musick" portion of my family's Twitter Handle username. What most people don't know about the proper pronunciation of my family's last name is that the 'K' is actually silent. When you take all those things into consideration, the proper way to say our Twitter Handle username is "at music channel."

As I just mentioned above though, the slight error in mispronunciation that was committed by Watney was done through no fault of her own at that time during the show and I'm not going to be too hard on her for it even though she did make a little mistake at that time in saying our family's last name. At least she gave it the "good college try" and actually came closer to the proper pronunciation of my last name that I have heard in previous attempts from other people I have come across such as "Moosik" or "Musik." In the future, for anybody who has difficulties with how our last name is pronounced or is just curious in general about it, a very easy way to remember how our last name is said is to just remember what is the most common thing that we all hear when we are tuned into a certain radio station? That would be music of course!

My apologies for digressing a little bit and getting a little off topic up above, but I should also mention that as far as having to watch Quick Pitch that day on a laptop instead of the TV in our hotel is concerned, I would have preferred to have seen the show on the TV in our room, but sadly MLB Network was not included as one of the channels that the hotel offered as part of their TV channel lineup viewing package. As a result, I had to settle for the next best thing which was the laptop.

All things considered however, it was definitely a thrill for me to have made an appearance on MLB Network in one form or another and make a dream of mine come true. It is something that I will most likely always remember and never forget that happened. The only other thing or experience that could top it is if MLB Network were to someday offer  tours that could be open to the general public of their studio facilities in New Jersey so that baseball fans like me could get an up close look at where all the magic happens as well as getting the chance to meet some of our favorite personalities from the network. As of right now however, as far as I know, the network does not offer any tours to the general public at this time. For the time being, while I can still dream that that may someday change or not, I can find comfort and peace in knowing that I have already done something that not too many too many before me have done. Many thanks to both MLB Network and Heidi Watney for their hard work in making my appearance from earlier this season on the show Quick Pitch possible! It was very much appreciated!

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Tim Musick (Pronounced MYOO-zik. For more information on name pronunciation, you can check my Facebook page in the "Details About You" section.)
Copyright 2017
All Rights Reserved.          

Monday, August 21, 2017

Making the Desert Bloom: A Return to Borrego Springs, Part 1

It may be located between some of the most populated areas in the United States but the roads to get into it are so tough that this remains an oasis of old, undeveloped Southern California. Being that a great majority of it is also a protected state park might have something to do with that.

It's been six years but we're returning to Borrego Springs, the little village located in the heart of Anza-Borrego State Park in Southern California.

Watch the Video!

From our area, there's no easy way to get here. It's either going through the backroads of San Diego County or going through Palm Springs, the Salton Sea, and then a very poorly maintained road for the last 25 miles, which is the way we came in.

Once in, however, you take a step back fifty years to a California desert resort the way is used to be. A sleepy little downtown, yet even the most modest motel has a sparkling pool. Eccentric characters that gather at the town's lone watering hole each night. Spectacular golf courses, tennis courts, quirky art, and some beautiful and very unspoiled desert.

As always in Borrego Springs, our lodgings are the Borrego Springs Resort, about a mile south of the town's traffic circle (traffic signals are outlawed here...mayors must take an oath of office that includes never bringing one of those devices into the town).

It's a large, two-room suite with a patio looking west toward the large mountains separating the desert from the Indian lands dotting eastern San Diego County with their casinos and missions.

After the long and a bit grueling drive, we're just in relaxing mode for today. A Mercedes Benz owner's group is here having a meeting and rally. We admire the Mercs but are more impressed by the old Packards that are in with the group.

We head over to the bar at Arches, the resort's restaurant, to have a couple of drinks before heading out to take a walk through the golf course.

While here, we get a glimpse of what lies ahead for us this weekend...migratory birds relaxing on the greens while the car owners golf through the course in one big group of about twenty golfers. Cacti blooming in spectacular purples, oranges, and pinks.

Back in town, we head to Carlee's, the dive bar that serves the tastiest food around, to have a bite to eat and to chat with the evening's entertainment. The singer shows Tim the difference between a 12 string and a 6 string guitar.  Later, while leaving, we get an impromtu performance of 'Ring of Fire' in the parking lot while they take a smoke break.

We head back to the room where my wife and I star gaze from the patio while Tim relaxes with ESPN on the couch.

Tonight, it's rest. Tomorrow, we head out to the desert to explore.

We'll continue with you then.

Hand Picked Special Occasion Wines delivered to your door.- Wine of The Month Club

Copyright 2015 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved