Dinner at Davenport’s in Encino

Dinner at Davenport’s in Encino

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Wednesday night we went for dinner at Davenport’s in Encino. We wanted to try a neighborhood restaurant we had never been to before. They opened last year in the space formerly occupied by Dupar’s and John L. Groats on Ventura Boulevard west of Woodley Avenue. And so, on a cold winter weekday evening we made a reservation for 7:15pm.

Parking is in the rear and the lot was full. There was a line at the host station, located just inside the front door and the restaurant was packed at the sushi bar, long bar, bar dining  area and dining room. The outdoor patio was empty because it was “effing” cold and there was a nice wind blowing through the courtyard that even the outdoor heaters couldn’t warm. We know this because the reservation was made for “Outside”, even though we didn’t ask for the patio. When we asked to sit inside, the hostess seating us said there was an hour wait for a table and we almost left and went somewhere else…

Instead we went inside and found the manager and explained the situation. He was very understanding and they found a nice table in the corner of the dining room for us in a very short time. BRAVO! 

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The restaurant is divided into different spaces as mentioned above: there’s a sushi bar, long bar, bar dining area and formal dining room/private party space where we were seated. the interior is very nice, albeit a little crowded when the place is packed. If you’ve followed my Blog you know there are more than 20 sushi restaurants in the neighborhood, so a restaurant with a sushi bar (and raw oyster bar) is nothing new and the prices for sushi and sashimi were higher than most. They were offering a combination sashimi and oyster plate for $42 when we offered the specials by our friendly waiter.

We decided not to have sushi or oysters, knowing that we were going to have a big meal and instead just started with their tasty cornbread and bread & butter. They have some nice appetizers but again we didn’t order any know the entrees were large. We did share an $11 Caesar salad, but ended up giving it to another member of our party because they added kale (WE HATE KALE) without mention of it on the menu.

We had the BBQ baby back ribs ($29 for a full rack) and they were delicious! Fall off the bone and cooked really well. The BBQ sauce was tasty and we substituted sautéed asparagus for cole slaw. The fries were tasty, but they weren’t served hot enough. We ate a few of the ribs at dinner and took the rest home and ate them with hot (reheated) fries for lunch the next day, and the ribs were delicious the day after too!

Or party also tried the lobster roll, lobster (Cobb) salad and the ribeye steak. We also tried a glass of red and a glass of white wine, which were both excellent choices. And everything they served us was very well prepared, visually appealing, very tasty and super quality food! We tasted the brownie sundae dessert which was shared by our party, and it was wonderful but we were full and didn’t want dessert.

NOTE: We LOVE dessert and the brownie sundae was good, but the meal service had taken a long time and we were tired of sitting, a little claustrophobic, and really ready to go before we even ordered dessert.

The service was good, just a little slow because it was slammed, crowded and the layout of the restaurant makes it harder to serve. We never had to wait very long for our waiter,  and he did an excellent job tending to our requests.

On The Menu: BBQ Baby Back Ribs with fries and sautéed asparagus, cornbread, bread & butter, Caesar salad, Lobster Roll, Lobster Cobb Salad, Brownie sundae and a coke

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All in all, it was a very nice dinner to celebrate the end of Hannukah and the Winter Solstice (see our previous Blog Posts) and we left happy, full and with leftovers in hand. It was a good dining experience at a restaurant we had never been to before, and we would definitely return for another meal.

Davenport’s16120 Ventura Blvd, Encino 91436 (at Woodley Av)
http://www.davenportsrestaurant.com

All photos copyright 2017 JoshWillTravel

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Pretty Christmas Tree at Davenport’s!

 



 

Dinner at the Lakeside Cafe in Encino

Dinner at the Lakeside Cafe in Encino, California

NOTE: This Blog is still under construction!
Once again wordpress is acting weird, so we published before the Blog was finished!

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Dinner at the Lakeside Cafe in Encino, California

It’s Thursday night and let’s go out to dinner!
Chinese? Japanese? Deli? Where do you want to go?
I don’t know, someplace different.
Okay, ….

How about the Lakeside Cafe in Encino?

We went there one time for dinner a long time ago, it was soon after they opened in the old El Torito building on Ventura Boulevard (just east of Balboa Blvd) adjacent to Los Encinos State Historic Park with a fantastic view of the lake.

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El Torito Mexican restaurant had been in the same space for years and was an Encino “constant”! After they closed, a couple of other restaurant/bar/club ventures tried to make a “go” of it and failed. And now the tenant is the Lakeside Cafe, a combination coffee house and bar-restaurant and now also a performance space with live jazz and other music.

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El Torito Mexican Restaurant

We went there just for dinner at about 6:30pm. They have Valet Parking for $3.00 in a lot off Ventura and there’s metered street parking that operates 8am-8pm everyday except Sunday. We found a spot on the street and entered through the Valet lot entrance (there’s also an entrance on Ventura).

 

The “Front-of-House” on Ventura is set up like a coffee house.

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Lakeside Cafe “Front-of-House” on Ventura Blvd – Coffee House

 

You can enter the restaurant from Ventura Blvd through the coffee house area and center room. There is additional inside table seating here away from the bar area.

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Lakeside Cafe Center Room, Host Desk Entrance from Valet Lot, Additional Indoor Tables and the Waiting Area as seen from Coffee House side

If you enter through the Valet lot you walk into the center room and arrive at the Host desk and the waiting area. There are couches, a coffee table and benches for additional seating against the wall.

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There is a side guest table as well. Would you care for some literature?

Sunday Brunch, Happy Hour 3pm-6pm, Live Jazz on Saturdays and the Catering Menu are featured on the promotional material available on the guest table, on your table and inside the menu. Quality marketing and promotion is good business (direct to customer inside the restaurant).

The Dining Room, the Bar and the Outdoor Deck Patio on the Lake

The restaurant’s dining room is open to the elements because of the outdoor seating and deck. It was a lovely evening, the doors were open, but as the sun set it got cooler, and then colder due to its location on the lake. We knew this was inevitable and we decided to sit inside the bar area dining room away from the doors when we arrived.

There was a good crowd, but it wasn’t too crowded when we arrived. They have it set up as a “cafe” with wood 4-top tables and nice chairs in the dining room. On our previous visit we sat at a bar table on tall stools and it was not comfortable. The dining areas are wide open, so it has a cafeteria vibe where you’re eating with everyone in the room. Also, there are only hard surfaces indoors (wood floor and glass windows), so it gets really loud inside even when it’s not crowded. I would not recommend trying to have a romantic dinner inside, although it might be nice place for a rendezvous outside during the afternoon or on a warm summer night.

There is a small covered outdoor deck patio, which is separate from the other outdoor seating by the lake. It would be nice for having a small private cocktail or dinner party.

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They have a very nice bar, unfortunately it takes up a lot of space in the Dining Room area, and makes the dining room part of the bar area, adding a lot of traffic and noise to the room.

NOTE: There is a DISCLAIMER NOTICE in the menu!

 

 

Outdoor Seating – Dining Al Fresco on the Lake!

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The Lake and the Dining Room Entrance from the Outdoor Seating Area

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There’s outdoor seating by the lake, which is a beautiful place to dine al fresco on a warm San Fernando Valley day or night. Be sure to read the Disclaimer in the menu though!

The Dinner Menu and Bar Offerings:

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Cocktails $12?
It’s a nice place, but they have “westside” prices in the heart of the valley!
The food was good, but their food items and drinks are expensive compared to many other neighborhood restaurants, which is probably the reason we haven’t been back since the first time we ate here. We most likely would have ordered drinks otherwise.

On The Menu: fried calamari, a Santa Fe salad, fettucine chicken alfredo and a coke

The calamari was excellent, lightly fried and crispy/chewy! The Santa Fe salad was good, but The Cheesecake Factory’s salad dressing is the standard to which all other Santa Fe salads are compared. This one “not as good”. And the fettucine chicken alfredo was tasty, but just a little bland. The thin sliced chicken and pasta was cooked perfectly, which is sometimes hard to accomplish with a pasta sauce. The service was only okay, it was a little scattered and could have and should have been better. Our entrees arrived pretty soon after the appetizer (while we were still eating the calamari), which is good for fast service, but bad in relation to “timing the meal”. Nothing to really be upset about though.

According to the literature, they have Sunday Brunch and Happy Hour at the bar 3pm-6pm. They have live music on Saturdays and they do catering too.

Here’s their Catering Menu:

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Lakeside Cafe Catering Menu

Lakeside Cafe16817 Ventura Blvd., Encino, California 91436
818-616-2430  www.lakesidecafe.com @LakesideEncino

Read our previous Blog Los Encinos Park

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Visit & Win at the Lakeside Cafe!

GBTA 2013 Convention in San Diego! (Global Business Travel Association)

GBTA 2013 Convention in San Diego! (Global Business Travel Association)

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NOTE: For ThrowbackThursday and FlashbackFriday we found this Blog draft. We laid out all the type and captions back in 2013 and never added the pics or details. So we went to the files for collateral from the convention, found old travel picture files on our other laptop for pictures that were never seen and also went hunting for the pics that we had already downloaded or posted, then we filled in all the details we could remember and constructed this Blog! And even though the event happened in 2013 we still hope you will enjoy this Blog for TravelTuesday in 2017!

We were invited to attend the GBTA 2013 Convention as a “Hosted Buyer”, but we had prior commitments and could only attend the first and second day of the event. So we made a one-night hotel reservation and arranged to attend the “preview day” on Sunday and the first day on Monday.

GBTA 2013 Convention Schedule for Sunday and Monday:
(Vendor Parties not shown) CLICK to SEE A LARGER PIC!

Road Trip to San Diego! – Ride along with me!

It was a foggy Sunday morning when we woke up very early and hit the road to San Diego. We left the San Fernando Valley at 7am to avoid traffic and drove south on the 405 and 5 freeways for about three hours. We were successful and drove fast (we also took pictures as we went) but other drivers were driving really fast! We were really amazed at the speed of some of the cars passing us at very high speeds like we were parked.

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GBTA 2013! – On The Road to San Diego (405 freeway south to 5 freeway south)

Ride along with me to San Diego, just click on the pics below:

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GBTA 2013! – Downtown San Diego

Embassy Suites Hotel Downtown San Diego (A Hilton Hotel)

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GBTA 2013! – Embassy Suites Hotel Downtown San Diego

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GBTA 2013! – Embassy Suites Hotel Downtown San Diego Atrium & Skylight

We arrived in San Diego and found our hotel, the Embassy Suites Downtown, sometime after 9am. We found metered street parking two blocks away from the hotel which was FREE and available because it was Sunday. We walked over to the hotel, had breakfast at the complimentary buffet and got an early check in.

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GBTA 2013! – Breakfast Buffet at the Embassy Suites Hotel Downtown San Diego

We went up to the room, checked it out and dropped our luggage. We set up the laptop, hooked into the hotel’s wi-fi and did our morning business via the internet and cell phone.

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After a short time in the room, we walked over to the Hyatt Regency and caught the Free Shuttle to the Convention Center.

Sunday was a “preview” day, so it was not very crowded, just busy. There were a lot of people checking in and the vendors and staff were making preparations for the week ahead. The Exhibition Hall didn’t open until Monday, but we were invited to the “First-Timers” lunch and the Welcome Party at the Hilton on Sunday evening.

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GBTA 2013! Global Business Travel Association Convention in San Diego

We rode the shuttle to the Convention Center, walked to Check-In, checked in and got our credentials, and then we walked to the “first timers” lunch in an adjacent meeting hall.

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GBTA 2013! – San Diego Convention Center

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GBTA 2013! – “First Timers” Lunch, Orientation and Welcome

On The Menu: Turkey sandwich with mozzarella cheese balls, lettuce & tomato and a slice of apple pie with iced tea, water and coffee

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After lunch, we attended the “Going Global” session, walked around the Convention Center and then we walked to the shuttle pickup point, rode the shuttle back to the Hyatt and then walked back to our hotel. We cleaned up and enjoyed a free cocktail and complimentary appetizers at the Embassy Suites’ afternoon Happy Hour downstairs.

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GBTA 2013 Welcome Reception Party Buffet at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront

After the Happy Hour we drove over to the Hilton Bayfront Hotel and paid $15 to park for the Welcome Reception and Party on the Great Lawn which runs along the Marina.  An outdoor evening buffet for 7000 people or so, with beer/wine and magaritas at the bar.

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GBTA 2013! – Hilton Bayfront Hotel in San Diego

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GBTA 2013! – Hilton Bayfront Hotel in San Diego

NOTE: It was a huge convention! Every hotel in San Diego remotely close to the Convention Center was at capacity and filled with Travel Agents, Vendors, Travel Writers and other attendees from all over the United States and other parts of the world. We commented on the size of the crowd to a staff person at the Convention Center and they just laughed because Comic-Con had been in town the week before and the size of GBTA convention wasn’t even close to the overflow crowd for Comic-Con.

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GBTA 2013 Welcome Reception Party on the Great Lawn – the Hilton Bayfront Hotel in San Diego

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GBTA 2103 Welcome Reception Party on the Great Lawn – the Hilton Bayfront Hotel in San Diego

On The Menu at the Welcome Reception Party Buffet at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront:
Buffalo chicken meatballs, lamb meatballs in a tomato sauce, pasta in lobster sauce, pita chips and a bunch of types of hummus, prime rib sliders with cheese, chicken potstickers, veggie potstickers, pork potstickers, other stuff too, and then on to the dessert table! Nice truffle selection, chocolate covered strawberries, candy lollipops in a bunch of weird flavors and mini-pastries…

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GBTA 2013! – Sunset Over A Sea of Travel Industry at the Hilton Bayfront Hotel in San Diego

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We walked to over to Roy’s Hawaiian Fusion Restaurant for the next party. It was a long “Las Vegas” walk just after dark along the Marina and Bayfront to get to Roy’s, but it was worth it! We immediately regretted eating at the Welcome Party Buffet, because there was an amazing assortment of incredible food at Roy’s!

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GBTA 2013! – The Kitchen at Roy’s Hawaiian Fusion Restaurant in San Diego

There were all kinds of sushi and cut rolls, egg rolls, chicken and beef satay skewers, Hawaiian style ribs, other tasty appetizers and finger foods, fresh fruit and a lot of fancy desserts. We ate and drank and networked until it got too crowded inside the large restaurant and we didn’t take any pictures (except the one of the kitchen above). We left the party early and took a little food “to go” for later at the hotel. We didn’t want to do anymore walking or make the long dark walk back to the Hilton parking structure, so we negotiated with a pedal cab guy and survived a really fast and wild nighttime ride back to the hotel along the Bayfront for $10+tip.

We walked to our car and drove back to the Embassy Suites. We valet parked our car at the hotel and retired to our hotel room. We did some work, ate the “to go” food (ribs, sushi and little chocolate balls) after midnight and went to bed.

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Monday morning, we were up early and we enjoyed the Embassy Suites’ breakfast buffet again. We took the food up to the room, ate and did some more work, and then packed up our stuff, went downstairs and had a second breakfast. After eating again we got our stuff and checked out of the hotel. We picked up the car from the valet, drove to over the Convention Center and paid to park there. Parking was $15 for all day until midnight.

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GBTA 2013! – Embassy Suites Hotel Breakfast Buffet (in the room)

We arrived in time and got a pretty good seat for the Keynote Address and Lunch for 6000 people with a presentation and performance by singer/songwriter Jewel. All of the front area tables were “Reserved” so we took a seat at a forward table in the first section behind the front area. The hall at the Convention Center was massive! Lunch for 6000 is not an easy task!

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GBTA 2013 Keynote Lunch with Jewel at the San Diego Convention Center

Monday’s GBTA 2013 Keynote Speaker Jewel performs
“Who Will Save Your Soul” live at the San Diego Convention Center

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On The Menu: iceberg lettuce salad, bread & butter, stuffed chicken breast with pesto sauce, vegetables, a fruit tart dessert and iced tea.

After lunch they opened the massive Exposition Hall which ran the entire length of the Convention Center and was filled with Vendors and Suppliers. There were also Vendor meetings scheduled for the afternoon. We walked a portion of the Exhibition Hall, collected brochures/information/swag and received invitations to events later on that evening and later in the week. It would have been impossible to cover the whole Exhibition Hall in one day, so we didn’t try. Instead we did what we could between 3-6pm and dropped all the promotional material in our car before beginning the evening activities.

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GBTA 2013! – The Gaslamp District Sign in San Diego

The Gaslamp District!
The Historic Heart of San Diego is located across the street and train tracks from the Convention Center. Bars, clubs, restaurants, hotels and plenty of gift shops are within easy walking distance (unless you’ve already walked all day).

Let’s get this party started!
We were invited to eight different parties happening at different locations around the Gaslamp District and the Bayfront near the Convention Center.

Monday Party # 1 – Sunset cocktails and dinner at the Altitude Lounge

Our first invitation was for a party at the Altitude Lounge on top of the Marriott Gaslamp Hotel. We walked over to the Marriott Hotel next door to the Convention Center, but it was the wrong Marriott. So then we walked over to the Gaslamp District and found the right hotel. We ate and drank and watched the sunset from the rooftop patio.

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Excellent view of San Diego and Mission Bay from the outdoor patio!

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GBTA 2013! View from the Altitude Lounge in San Diego

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GBTA 2013! – View of Petco Park from the Altitude Lounge in San Diego

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GBTA 2013! – Sunset in San Diego from the Altitude Lounge

On The Menu: tray passed appetizers and a buffet with eggrolls, beef on toast, beef and chicken satay, tuna on wonton crisp, crab on cracker, pita bread and hummus and more… catered by Flemings Steakhouse!

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Monday Party #2 –
We crashed The Parking Spot Party at Lou & Mickey’s at the Gaslamp

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GBTA 2013! – The Parking Spot Party at Lou & Mickey’s at the Gaslamp

We left the party and walked across the street and crashed The Parking Spot’s party at Lou & Mickey’s restaurant. We ate and drank and met the nice folks from The Parking Spot and told them we crashed their party. They didn’t mind. Their party ended early, and the place emptied as the crowd left for other parties that were just getting started.

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Monday Party #3 – GBTA 2013 “AMPED” Party at the Hard Rock Hotel San Diego!

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GBTA 2013! – Stevie Ray Vaughn’s Guitar at the Hard Rock Hotel San Diego

We walked over to our next event: the AMPED party at the Hard Rock Hotel! We ate and drank and met a bunch of really nice people. It started slow but soon the crowd at the main bar was five people deep, the music was rockin’ and it got pretty hopping.

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This party was on a very large rooftop patio, with several permanent bars, a couch area with fire pits and portable heaters, several floating bars and a bunch of buffet stations with a great selection of food. There was good music, of course, and a stage was set up for performance, but it didn’t get used until later. There was even a photo booth for taking pictures with silly wigs, hats and props.

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GBTA 2013! – Buffet Station at the AMPED Party at the Hard Rock Hotel

We asked permission before taking these pics of one of the Go-Go Dancers on a raised pedestal (there were several). She said “Go ahead, I don’t see why not” and posed for the first one. And she was a fantastic dancer too!

Monday Party #4 – Level Skye Club at the Andaz Hotel in San Diego!

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GBTA 2013! – The Bar at Level Skye Club at the Andaz Hotel in San Diego

We had one more party to check out or we would have just stayed at the Hard Rock, instead we left the hotel and walked over to Level Skye Club at the Andaz Hotel. We walked a lot and we were wearing our dress shoes, so by the end of the night our feet were really hurting. We were also tired from a long day at the convention and a long night of partying.
When we got to the club the upstairs was deceptively quiet because downstairs in the basement it was raging! The party at Level Skye was really “off-the-hook” with funky dance music and lots of light and a lot of drunk travel agents. Travel industry people love to party! Thanks American Express!

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GBTA 2013! – Big Party at Level Skye Club in the Andaz Hotel Basement in San Diego

We didn’t eat or drink anything alcoholic because we still had to walk back to the car and drive home to Los Angeles. So, Monday late night we walked back to the car on sore feet before they closed the Convention Center Garage for the night (at midnight).

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GBTA 2013! – San Diego Convention Center Parking ($15 all day – closes at midnight)

We drove back to Los Angeles on the 5 freeway north after midnight and hit a impossible “Stop-and-Go” traffic jam along the way because of construction at 2am in the morning.

When we finally made it home after 3am, we unloaded the car and crashed hard. We had a really good time, did a lot of business and networking, saw Jewel play live music, enjoyed our “budget” stay at the Embassy Suites, and ate and drank and danced and partied in San Diego for two days.

NOTE: We did a lot of walking, a whole lot of walking in our dress shoes, so next time we bring and wear more comfortable walking shoes.

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GBTA 2013! – San Diego Convention Center Stairs at Night

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GBTA 2013! – We did not attend GBTA 2014 in Los Angeles

FINAL NOTE: We finished this Blog and hit “PUBLISH” and it did not. WordPress lost the Blog and the draft(s) totally disappeared! We had to use Google Cache to rescue it and then we had to start over and rebuild the original Blog again. Total waste of time. There is a flaw (BUG) in the wordpress program, because when we went looking for help we found that this has happened to other people as well. So, please ENJOY THIS BLOG, a lot of time went into it.



 

UPDATED Wednesday March 29, 2017 – We posted this Blog yesterday!

We collected a bunch of FREE stuff in the short time we were there, two bags full of stuff actually! Most was promotional “paper”: sell sheets, pamphlets, maps and brochures. But there was some fun giveaway stuff and cool “incentives” for visiting certain booths.

We were given a “Swag” bag at check-in provided/sponsored by Delta and the padded bag was very nice. We recently found it in Storage (see our previous Blog about Storage) and we are now using it as a laptop bag.

UPDATED April 5, 2017 – TRAVEL TIP!
We found these “hospitality cards” (restaurant and bar coupons, freebies, come-ons, etc.) from the San Diego trip. We had so much FREE food and drink and were only in town for one night, so we didn’t use any of them. They can be found at the Concierge Desk at the San Diego Convention Center (and these are just a few of the ones available).

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Hospitality Cards (Restaurant and Bar Coupons, Freebies, Come-Ons, etc.)

#WineWednesday Again!

It’s #WineWednesday Again!
Celebrate the end of November!

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!
Make it “A December You Won’t Need to Remember!”

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Wine Tasting at the Belle Fiore Winery in Ashland, Oregon

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Dinner in the Backroom at Mozza Osteria in Hollywood!

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Wines, Single Malt Scotch and Tequila from Thanksgiving 2016

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Fine Wines and Finnish Chocolate from Thanksgiving 2015

 

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Party on the Patio at the LUXE Hotel on Sunset!

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Dinner at The Stand in Encino, California

Dinner at The Stand in Encino, California

Thursday evening and it was decided that we would have dinner at The Stand on Ventura Boulevard (just west of Balboa) in Encino, in the beautiful San Fernando Valley, in city and county of Los Angeles, in the golden state of California.

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Dinner at The Stand in Encino, California

There’s a big lot with FREE parking, metered (8am-8pm Mon-Sat) street parking on Ventura Blvd and FREE street parking on the side streets.

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Dinner at The Stand in Encino, California

Enter through the gates and the outdoor patio and then enter the restaurant through the covered patio. You’ll be greeted by the large Menu Board on the wall and (usually) a line of people waiting to order at the registers.

TIP: Know your order! Decide before arriving at the register and know what you want.

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The Menu at The Stand in Encino, California

CLICK ON ANY SMALL PIC TO SEE A LARGER PIC AND VIEW THE GALLERY!

 

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Dinner at The Stand in Encino, California

Everything is cooked and made to order. Once you place your order and pay, they will give you a number for your table and then you’ll have to decide whether to sit inside or outside.

It was a beautiful evening outside, but because it wasn’t crowded we chose to sit inside. They have nice outdoor seating, covered and uncovered, but you’re still Ventura Blvd adjacent and it can be noisy and/or crowded at lunch and during “rush hour” dinner time.

Burgers, Hotdogs, Sandwiches and Salads are the choices at The Stand. With lots of options, extras and side orders available. Burgers start at $7.50, hotdogs are ~$4, sandwiches and salads, desserts (good cobbler & ice cream) and drinks. They serve fountain beverages, bottled sodas and water, coffee, tea, Beer, Wine, milkshakes and floats!

On The Menu: Cheeseburger, onion rings, sweet potato fries and a chocolate milkshake with whipped cream. Our party also ordered a Polish Dog and a Grilled Chicken Salad.

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Cheeseburger, onion rings, sweet potato fries & a chocolate milkshake w/whipped cream

We chose a table inside the small dining room and waited for the food to be delivered. After a brief waiting period and some nice conversation, our dinner arrived and we ate our food.

We read another review while we were composing this Blog that called it a “BlandBurger” and that about describes it. Too much bun. Not enough seasoning on the meat patty, and it just wasn’t cooked right. We used Bbq sauce and mustard and it was still pretty tasteless. The onion rings and sweet potato fries were great and the chocolate milkshake was perfect, but  we wouldn’t order the cheeseburger again and it was a real disappointment. The Polish dog and the grilled chicken salad both looked good and got good reviews.

The Stand17000 Ventura Blvd, Encino, CA 91316
818-788-2700 www.thestandlink.com
Open Daily:  Serving Lunch & Dinner 11am-9pm

and 2000 Avenue of the Stars, Century City, CA 90067 310-785-0400
and 5780 Canoga Ave, Woodland Hills, CA 91367 818-710-0400
and 19600 Plummer St, Northridge, CA 91324 818-709-3820

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Dogs are allowed on the outdoor patio!

 

Dinner at Gio Cucina Napoletana Italian Restaurant in Encino!

Dinner at Gio Cucina Napoletana Italian Restaurant in Encino, California

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Berry Panna Cotta & Berry Sorbet at Gio Cucina Napoletana Italian Restaurant

Thursday evening and time for another happy birthday dinner! Neapolitan Italian Food at Gio Cucina Napoletana in Encino. We’ve eaten here before and the food has always been excellent. Tonight’s dinner was a lovely dining experience and the meal was great.

The restaurant is located on the 2nd Floor of a small shopping center/mini-mall on Ventura Blvd and in addition to the small storefront dining room and kitchen there is a large outdoor patio available for dining.

There is limited free parking in the shopping center’s front and rear lots and metered (8am-8pm) street parking available.

The restaurant has been here for years and the food is made with only fresh ingredients. The pasta and gnocchi is made from scratch. They offer rice pasta as a substitution for the “gluten free” diner and have a number of vegetarian options on the menu.

There’s a nice selection of appetizers, vegetable soups and fancy salads (and they have a Caesar Salad that’s off the menu but easily ordered with or without anchovies). There’s pizza, pasta, meat and fish entrees on the menu and always creative daily specials on the whiteboard in the dining room. If you like lasagna, try their beef or chicken lasagna.

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Gio Cucina Napoletana Italian Restaurant in Encino

We got there early and chose to sit inside. We had the dining room all to ourselves for most of our meal. It got busy inside just as we were finishing up.

Everything is made to order and you can almost watch them cook from across the dining room. Fresh baked bread and olive tapenade are offered as a starter. They have a nice selection of wine by the bottle or glass to choose from and their desserts are very tasty.

This picture and cutout from Valley Magazine was above our table in the dining room and provides a wonderful description of the restaurant and the dining experience:

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Dinner at Gio Cucina Napoletana Italian Restaurant in Encino

“Gio’s Cucina Napoletana is a tiny restaurant with a big heart. Toques off to chef and owner Roberto Castellanos, who cooks with olive oil rather than butter, makes pasta from scratch and bakes mini-loaves of killer bread for each table.From his minuscule open kitchen, Castellanos presides over a menu of variety and quality. His dairy-free pureed vegetable soups have deep, rich flavor. His radicchio, endive, fennel and shaved Parmesan salad could pass muster at a  far fancier restaurant. And his homemade spaghetti with seafood in white wine-tomato sauce with roasted garlic is hearty, tasty,old-fashioned fare. I’ve yet to try the cracker thin pizza, but it’s next on the list. Prices are reasonable, making it easy to go back.” – Valley Magazine May-June 2008

CLICK ON ANY SMALL PIC TO SEE A LARGER PIC AND VIEW THE GALLERY!

On The Menu: Meat Lasagna, 1/2 Caesar Salad, fresh baked bread with olive tapenade, fried calamari with marinara sauce, berry panna cotta & berry sorbet, tiramisu and a coke

NOTE: There was also lobster & vegetable risotto and mushroom & vegetable pasta as the other entrees (not pictured). Both dishes received excellent reviews!

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Meat Lasagna with pasta and sauce made from scratch!

CLICK ON ANY SMALL PIC TO SEE A LARGER PIC AND VIEW THE GALLERY!

NOTE: We sent the fried calamari back. It was pan fried, not deep fried, in a very light batter and two of us were fine with the preparation, but two of us didn’t like it.

Here’s a pic of one of the best dishes we ordered at a previous dinner: Hawaiian Prawns with spaghetti, garlic and olive oil:

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From a Previous Dinner: Hawaiian prawns with spaghetti, garlic & olive oil

Gio Cucina Napoletana Italian Restaurant15826 Ventura Blvd., 2nd Floor, Encino
818-905-7446

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Dinner at Gio Cucina Napoletana Italian Restaurant in Encino

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Gio Cucina Napoletana Italian Restaurant in Encino at Night

 

Updated December 29, 2016
A nice dinner at Gio Cucina Napoletana
Fresh baked bread, fried calimari with marinara sauce, beef lasagna and a coke

 

Updated Friday, April 7, 2017
Dinner delivered!
Spaghetti bolognese with parmesan cheese and fresh baked bread: Excellent!

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Spaghetti Bolognese with parmesan cheese and fresh baked bread

 

UPDATED Friday April 28, 2017:

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Beef Lasagna at Gio Cucina Napoletana

My old college friend Kent came out to the valley and took me to dinner. We went to Gio Cucina Napoletana and had some great Italian food. Carpacchio, fresh baked bread and olive tapenade, fried calamari, Caesar salad, beef lasagna, tiramisu, red wine (cabernet sauvignon) and a coke. So much fun.

500 Blog Posts! – It’s Flashback Friday!!!!!

500 Blog Posts!

It’s FLASHBACK FRIDAY!!!!! And it’s our Blog’s three year anniversary too.

It was only two years ago that we hit 250 blog posts and we were celebrating our one year anniversary…. Tempus fugit! How time flies!

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Here’s the big pic of the Rooftop Pool and Patio at the London Hotel in West Hollywood:

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The London Hotel Rooftop Pool & Patio – West Hollywood, California

Happy! Happy! Happy! Three years and 500 posts.

It is still my hope that by sharing my journeys and experiences you will be inspired to embark on your own adventures. This blog is interactive, so please join the conversation!

Luxury Travel Advisor, Travel & Lifestyle Writer & Blogger, Independent Consultant

CONTACT ME via email: joshwilltravel@yahoo.com or via facebook or Twitter

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ps. 23807 Independent Blog Hits (if that’s accurate?) to date without paid promotion

Dinner at Frankie’s Italian Kitchen

Dinner at Frankie’s Italian Kitchen

Wednesday night in the San Fernando Valley, let’s go out to eat!

We were going to go to CPK (California Pizza Kitchen) in Tarzana, but there were a bunch of people waiting in the small reception area when we arrived. The confused looking hostess told us there were six parties in front of us and there would be a 35 minute wait to be seated, even though we could see more than ten empty tables on one side of the restaurant through the floor to ceiling glass windows that line the front.

After considering our options, we decided to go to Frankie’s Italian Kitchen a few blocks away on Reseda boulevard.

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Dinner at Frankie’s Italian Kitchen on Reseda Blvd in Tarzana

Frankie’s has been in the same location since 1993, and I have fond memories of meeting my Grandmother (of blessed memory) here for their “early-bird” special. I hadn’t been back in long time. They renovated and upgraded the decor, and enlarged the front patio, but they still serve the same Italian classics, and they still have an “early-bird” special menu before 6pm Monday-Thursday.

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Dinner at Frankie’s Italian Kitchen – open prep area, cashier & host desk

It’s not a big space, but not small either. There’s an open prep area behind the cashier and host desk as you enter and the dining room to the left. They have regulars and there are groups that meet here for both lunch and dinner, and even when it’s crowded, it’s not loud. Dine indoors or al fresco on the patio which is inside the Gelson’s parking lot and not actually on Reseda Blvd., so there’s a lot less traffic going by.

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Dinner at Frankie’s Italian Kitchen – Dining Room

The menu is classic Italian fare. Pizza, pasta, chops, and even a selection of veal dishes. Normally I would have had fried calamari and lasagna, but instead opted for a pasta entree with a side salad. We didn’t order any appetizers, drinks or wine and instead drank ice water. Yes, I know, but we’re trying to save money and calories this month.

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Dinner at Frankie’s Italian Kitchen – Dinner Menu

On the Menu: buttered garlic rolls, caesar side salad and chicken fettucine alfredo. We also ordered a broccoli fusilli pasta (it was split and a 1/2 order is pictured below).

And for dessert they were all out of tiramisu….

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Dinner at Frankie’s Italian Kitchen – Buttered Garlic Rolls

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Dinner at Frankie’s Italian Kitchen – Caesar Side Salad

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Dinner at Frankie’s Italian Kitchen – Chicken Fettucine Alfredo

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Dinner at Frankie’s Italian Kitchen – 1/2 Order of Broccoli Fusilli Pasta 

The food is very good. Italian classics done right! The fresh baked rolls are served hot and covered in butter and garlic. So good, I requested a second basket. The chicken fettucine alfredo and broccoli fusilli pasta dishes were delicious. I’ve had the lasagna and can definitely recommend it.  And as I mentioned, they were out of tiramisu! It’s real good stuff, and they must have had an “early bird” rush, but an Italian restaurant should never run out of tiramisu! Very disappointed, but I left the restaurant very full and happy with some leftover rolls and pasta for the next day.

Frankie’s Italian Kitchen – 5538 Reseda Blvd. Tarzana, CA 91356 (818) 705-1295
and 267 N. Pass Ave. Burbank, CA 91505 (818) 567-2288  www.frankiesonline.com
Hours: Mon – Thurs 11am – 9:30pm Fri – Sat 11am – 10pm Sun 4pm – 9pm

 

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O’Ryan’s Irish Pub and the Black Sheep Pub & Restaurant in Ashland Oregon

O’Ryan’s Irish Pub and the Black Sheep Pub & Restaurant in Ashland Oregon

There are two Pubs in downtown Ashland, one English and one Irish, that are competing for the “biggest dive bar” award. The Black Sheep Pub & Restaurant is an English themed pub upstairs on the Plaza. O’Ryan’s Irish Pub is, you guessed it, the Irish pub/dive bar farther up Main Street with Oregon Lottery machines and two (2) pool tables.

O’RYAN’S IRISH PUB

This is probably the “go to” place in Ashland on St. Patrick’s Day. It’s the “DIVE BAR” downtown. Just like the name says, it’s an Irish Pub bar. It’s dark, dirty and smells like old beer. The pool tables and lottery machines give this place the feel of a basement game room. They have a good selection of beers on draft and a full bar, but I didn’t stay long enough to have a drink. If you like dive bars, you’ll like this place.

O'Ryan's Irish Pub

O’Ryan’s Irish Pub

O'Ryan's Irish Pub

O’Ryan’s Irish Pub

O'Ryan's Irish Pub

O’Ryan’s Irish Pub

O'Ryan's Irish Pub

O’Ryan’s Irish Pub


THE BLACK SHEEP Pub & Restaurant

Upstairs, behind the double red doors on the Plaza, is the Black Sheep, an English themed pub & restaurant, that is an “institution” in Ashland (and some of the patrons should probably be committed!). Above the Front Door and at the top of the stairs is a Union Jack. There are pictures, art, signs, photographs and tapestries decorating the brick  walls. It’s dark, dirty and smells like old beer. They have live music and entertainment (on a previous night they had a drag show), and a good selection of draft beers & ales on tap and a full bar. The also have a pretty traditional pub menu and are open for lunch & dinner and late night dining and drinking.

The Black Sheep Pub & Restaurant

The Black Sheep Pub & Restaurant

The Black Sheep Pub & Restaurant

The Black Sheep Pub & Restaurant

The Black Sheep Pub & Restaurant

The Black Sheep Pub & Restaurant

The Black Sheep Pub & Restaurant

The Black Sheep Pub & Restaurant

I went upstairs and sat at the bar alone for about 15 minutes without anyone smiling, saying hello, or even acknowledging that I might want to order a beverage. It was loud, and the small crowd was pretty much locals who knew each other. As you can see from this next pic, I might as well have been invisible. After waiting patiently, I got up, walked back down the stairs and went in search of a friendlier and more comfortable place to have a drink.

The Black Sheep Pub & Restaurant

The Black Sheep Pub & Restaurant

They have a rear entrance and street seating on Guanajuato Lane on the creek with a nice view of Ashland Creek Park.

The Black Sheep Pub & Restaurant

The Black Sheep Pub & Restaurant – rear entrance on Guanajuato Lane

The Black Sheep Pub & Restaurant

The Black Sheep Pub & Restaurant – street seating on Guanajuato Lane

All photos copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel.

O’Ryan’s Pub – 137 E Main St, Ashland OR 97520 (541)482-8572

The Black Sheep Pub & Restaurant – 51 N Main St, Ashland OR 97520 (541)482-6414

We recommend the new Brickroom on the Plaza – 35 N. Main Street, Ashland OR 97520 (541)708-6030 http://www.brickroomashland.com

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TBT: Magical MAUI Sunsets

Sunsets on magical Maui! 

Hawaii, USA – Magic Hour on the Garden Island. These pictures are only memories of the real thing… you really had to be there.

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Hawaii - Lahaina Sunset

Maui, Hawaii – Lahaina Sunset (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

Lahaina Sunset - Maui, Hawaii (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

Lahaina Sunset – Maui, Hawaii (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

Magic Hour! Maui Sunset (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

Magic Hour! Maui Sunset (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

Magical Maui - Lahaina, Maui, HI

Magical Maui – Lahaina, Maui, HI (copyright 21010 JoshWillTravel)

What are your favorite memories of Hawaii? I took this sailboat picture during an evening dinner cruise out of Lahaina, Maui. When I see this picture I think about the blue Pacific ocean, tropical breezes, “umbrella drinks” and the beautiful sunsets.

BONUS: Sunrise in Hana, Maui

Hana Maui Sunrise - Hana, Maui, Hawaii (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

Hana Maui Sunrise – Hana, Maui, Hawaii (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

 

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