Saturday Night! Mexican food, Blues music and BBQ in Pasadena, California

Saturday Night! Mexican food, Blues music and BBQ in Pasadena, California

So you’re probably wondering about the title….here’s the story:

We got invited to see and hear a blues band play in Pasadena on Saturday night at a place called Big Mama’s Rib Shack. I was not responsible for the planning or execution, once again I was a passenger along for the ride.

Someone may have told someone that the Rib Shack’s food wasn’t good, so the plan was to eat before the show and the decision was to go for Mexican food.

Two Tacos at La Fiesta Grande Mexican Restaurant

Take the 101 freeway south to the 134 east past Glendale and into Pasadena. I wanted to take more pictures along the way, but “stupid” traffic had us running late to dinner. We finally arrived (only ten minutes late) at the restaurant and found a good parking spot on the street right out front.



La Fiesta Grande Mexican Restaurant in South Pasadena

The restaurant is a relatively small place, with simple Mexican decor, and it quickly filled up with people once we were seated. We ordered drinks and then perused the menu.


La Fiesta Grande Mexican Restaurant in South Pasadena



La Fiesta Grande Mexican Restaurant in South Pasadena



La Fiesta Grande Mexican Restaurant in South Pasadena



It’s a standard Mexican restaurant menu with tacos, burritos, enchiladas and the usual appetizers and entrees. EXCEPT THE FOOD IS GREAT! IT’S REAL MEXICAN FOOD! 

On the Menu: 2 crispy tacos, one shredded beef and one chicken, two chicken enchiladas in mole sauce with rice & beans, chips & salsa and a margarita pre show!


Margarita – with a lot of tequila!


Two Crispy Tacos – One Chicken & One Beef with Chips & Salsa

Really good crispy tacos! Excellent Mole sauce! Gringo style Mexican food done right!


Two Chicken Enchiladas with Mole Sauce and Rice & Beans

I was told that we would be eating at the show later, so I didn’t try a burrito, a combo or the Fiesta platter of appetizers…and I would happily go back. They also have an “All you can eat” Taco special that I would like to try.

We finished eating and then motored across Pasadena to Big Mama’s Rib Shack.

Blues & BBQ at Big Mama’s Rib Shack in Pasadena, California

Go north up Lake Avenue, past The Hat (really good pastrami sandwiches) and Roscoe’s Chicken & Waffles, and you’ll come to Big Mama’s BBQ Southern Country Rib Shack.


Big Mama’s Rib Shack in Pasadena


Big Mama’s Rib Shack in Pasadena – Southern Country BBQ

The building’s not much to look at and the interior design is “whacked”. There are white vinyl booths on one side, tables in the middle with both plastic and wood chairs, and a beer & wine bar in the corner of the dining room. there was an area cleared as a stage (but no stage) next to the bar and a small area for the band’s merchandise as well. They have Saturday night performances, but it’s not real design as a performance space at all.


Big Mama’s Rib Shack in Pasadena


Big Mama’s Rib Shack in Pasadena



Here’s the menu: pork, chicken, seafood or beef, beer, wine and soft drinks and a full list of classic BBQ sides. Tickets were $20 for the show and dinner was also required, so we ordered food, with the plan to take home a good portion for lunch on Sunday.


What’s on the Menu at Big Mama’s Rib Shack?

On the Menu: BBQ Baby Back Ribs, mac’n’cheese, hush puppies, cornbread muffins, collared greens, yams & Heineken beer



BBq dinner

There were only two servers and a bartender covering the crowd, so we ordered before the first set and the food came during the performance before the intermission. And contrary to what we had been told, the food was good (not great, but good) country BBQ.

8:00pm – SHOWTIME!  John Németh and his blues band from Memphis, Tennessee


John Németh from Memphis, Tennessee


He Brought His Many Harps! (Blues Harmonicas)

I checked out the merchandise and the band’s setup before the show. I had never seen or heard the band before, but when I saw the collection of harps I knew it was going to be a good show. And I was not disappointed, the music was great!

John Németh and his blues band played two rockin’ sets of Chicago and Texas inspired music. He really is a master of the harp (blues harmonica) and his backing band was tight! The guitar, bass and drums were well rehearsed from playing gigs all over the country. At one point in the second set a guest bassist ( a former band member) stepped in for a few songs. I periscoped three of the songs and links to the live performance videos are located below.




Rockin’ Blues on Periscope> view on YouTube

More Rockin’ Blues on Periscope> view on YouTube

Even more Rockin’ Blues on Periscope> view on YouTube

The “JoshWillTravel AdventureScope” is now available on Youtube!>

The John Németh website>

John Németh’s Upcoming Gigs! Check them out if you can!

Screen Shot 2016-02-21 at 9.58.49 AM

La Fiesta Grande1107 Mission St, South Pasadena, CA 91030 (I’m told the Colorado Blvd location is closed)

Big Mama’s Rib Shack1453 N. Lake Ave, Pasadena, CA 91104

All photos copyright 2016 JoshWillTravel | 





A couple of my travel answers about South Lake Tahoe

A couple of travel answers about South Lake Tahoe:

Q: Nice hotels in South Lake Tahoe? I will be traveling to Reno/ Lake Tahoe in the beginning of December and I’m having a tough time figuring out where to stay. I would like to stay between 100-150.00 a night. Any suggestions? I have looked at the Hyatt and Harrahs but wanted to try something maybe a little less corporate. Not much of a skier so I’m trying to stay away from big ski lodges. ~Stacey B., Denver

Aston Lakeland Village (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Aston Lakeland Village (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

A: Aston Lakeland Village Resort in South Lake Tahoe is a pretty good value. The lodge rooms are nice (and some have full kitchenettes if you like to cook on your own to save money). The property is right on the lake so you can walk down to the beach and watch the sunset. There are tennis courts and 2 swimming pools, a jacuzzi spa, laundry room and free coffee too. The property is a 10-15 minute drive from state line and the casinos: Harrah’s Lake Tahoe, Harveys Lake Tahoe, MontBleu Resort Casino & Spa and the new Hard Rock Cafe Lake Tahoe. It’s definitely not corporate and there are lots of walking paths and tall pine trees on site. For less expensive accommodation options try the motels along Hwy 50 Lake Tahoe Blvd. (Watch out for the Police and Don’t Speed!)


Q: Best bars and restaurants in South Lake / near Heavenly? In a few weeks I’ll be spending a weekend snowboarding at Heavenly Mountain in South Lake Tahoe (and will be staying at the new Hard Rock Hotel). What are some of best places to eat in the area? I’m specifically interested in good breakfast spots and must-visit places for dinner (from $-$$$$ I’m open to all suggestions). Also, if there are any great bars (especially those with a great beer selection) I’d love to know. Thanks! ~Trevor M., Los Angeles

A: The Forrest Buffet at Harrah’s Lake Tahoe in South Lake Tahoe is pretty good. It’s on the 18th floor and has a great view of the lake and mountains. If you time it right you can watch the sunset while you dine. “All You Can Eat”, there’s a lot of good stuff on the dinner and Saturday/Sunday brunch (sorry no breakfast or lunch) menus and it’s a pretty good value for the price in my opinion. (and you can usually find a coupon for a few dollars off per person)


Lake Tahoe Sunset (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Lake Tahoe Sunset (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)


A couple more travel answers about Las Vegas

A couple more travel answers about Las Vegas:


Q: Best Buffet for the money in Vegas? I’m heading to Vegas and naturally looking for the best all you can eat buffets that will put all other buffets to shame. What are your favorites and why? ~ Cameron W., Los Angeles

A: Best Buffet in Las Vegas?

The Bacchanal Buffet at Caesars Palace, The Buffet at Bellagio, and The Buffet at Wynn are three of the best ($$$). I also like the Flavors Buffet at Harrah’s which is less expensive and has a huge variety of good things on the menu (and you can usually find coupons for Flavors and save $5 per person on the regular $18-$30 price)

NOTE: I ate at the MGM Grand buffet last year and it was TERRIBLE! It was the worst buffet I’ve ever eaten at in Vegas. The food looked good but literally everything was cold and tasteless…. I would also advise avoiding the buffet at Circus Circus.


Q: Which hotel would you choose?

Having some difficulty choosing my hotel for my next trip to Vegas.  I actually have a reservation at the newer SLS hotel but am hesitant about it. Hesitant simply because it’s on the North side of the strip which I don’t usually stay. Everything I want to do/see is on the South end. So do I try out the newer hotel with a really nice room or go with something else location wise? Which would you choose and why? ~Karen H., Maryland

SLS –  Lux Deluxe King – Corner High Floor With extra wind – got a great Cyber Monday deal on the room at 1/2 off the regular price.  Price $122 per night

Tropicana –  either a 1 KING BALCONY W/POOL VIEW – BUNGALOW or 1 KING 2 ROOM SUITE – CLUB TOWER Suite.  price either $88 or $100 per night

Treasure Island –  Petite Suite or Tower Suite at $98 per night or $115 per night.

A: SLS Las Vegas Hotel, Tropicana Las Vegas, or Treasure Island?

Tropicana Hotel - Las Vegas, Nevada (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Tropicana Hotel – Las Vegas, Nevada (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

The Tropicana has the advantage of being across the street from the MGM Grand Las Vegas (lots of great restaurants just don’t eat at the buffet) and monorail adjacent (which will save you time and money). Spend the extra money on the Suite and ask them to waive the resort fee. Get a monorail pass and you have transit access to Bally’s & Paris, the Flamingo & Caesar’s, Harrah’s & the Linq, and the other “center Strip” hotels: Mirage, Bellagio, Monte Carlo, the Venetian, etc. And also off-strip to the Westgate (Las Vegas Hilton) and SLS (the Sahara) at the north end.


World Cup Facts!

Every Four Years…WORLD CUP SOCCER! (aka Futbol)

World Cup!

World Cup!

The World Cup or Coupe du Monde” is the most viewed sporting event in the world exceeding even the Olympic Games.

FIFA World Cup Brazil 2014

FIFA World Cup Brazil 2014

Tournament Kickoff: 12 June, 2014

Final (Championship) Game: 13 July, 2014

732 Players on 32 National Teams

A record 204 countries entered qualification for the 2010 World Cup.

BRAZIL is the host nation in 2014 

World Cup 2014 - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

World Cup 2014 – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

FIFA -Fédération Internationale de Football Association

FIFA Membership: 209 national associations

FIFA Headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland

FIFA President is Sepp Blatter

FIFA was founded in Paris on 21 May, 1904. Founding Members: Belgium, Denmark, France, the Netherlands, Spain (the Madrid Football Club; Spanish Federation wasn’t created until 1913), Sweden and Switzerland. The same day, the German Association telegrammed its intention of affiliating. Membership expanded beyond Europe with South Africa 1908, Argentina and Chile 1912, Canada and the United States 1913.

In tournaments from 1934-1978, 16 teams competed except in 1938, when Austria was absorbed into Germany after qualifying, and in 1950, when India, Scotland and Turkey withdrew. The tournament was expanded to 24 teams in 1982 and then to 32 in 1998 allowing more teams from Africa, Asia and North America to take part.

FIFA World Cup Trophy

“Coupe du Monde” FIFA World Cup Trophy

The 1974 FIFA World Cup, the tenth staging, was held in West Germany. The tournament marked the first time that the FIFA World Cup Trophy, created by the Italian sculptor Silvio Gazzaniga, was awarded. The previous trophy, the Jules Rimet Trophy, had been won for the third time by Brazil in 1970 and was awarded permanently to the Brazilians.

Largest official attendance at a World Cup match: 173,000 in Maracana, Brazil, July 16, 1950 (unofficial attendance: 220,000)


WORLD CUP 2014! USA! USA! USA! USA defeats Ghana 2-1 on 16 June, 2014!

The next two World Cups will be hosted by Russia in 2018 and Qatar in 2022.

World Cup! United States - One Nation One Team!

World Cup 2014! USA! USA! USA! United States of America – One Nation One Team!

UPDATE: 1 July, 2014 United States eliminated. Belgium 2 – United States 1

Great game! – Extra time! – Heartbreaking loss! – Belgium wins. Thank you and good night! Tim Howard played an amazing game as Goalkeeper, making 15 saves and keeping the U.S. in it until extra time. Too many opportunities for Belgium and too many missed opportunities for the United States. It was a good run, but now the U.S. is out of the competition. Congratulations Belgium. Good luck against Argentina.







The first week of May is recognized as National Travel and Tourism Week, a tradition first celebrated in 1984, established by a Congressional joint resolution passed in 1983.

Visitors Center - Lee Vining, California (copyright 2011 Joshua Weisel)

Visitors Center – Lee Vining, California (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

The U.S. travel community has collectively marked the event in a number of creative ways, from staging local rallies and conducting media outreach to securing proclamations and resolutions from local legislative bodies. Each year, localized events are presented in cities, states and travel businesses nationwide to champion the power of travel.


This year’s theme is “Travel Effect”:

This theme aligns with the current industry-wide campaign to prove the benefits of travel.

Research studies on travel’s positive effect on relationships, health, education, meetings and more, provide opportunities to tailor messaging about the impact of travel. Access current economic impact data, including a state-by-state interactive map, to spotlight the Travel Effect in your area.

In 2014, Travel Effect will broaden its focus to examine America’s “Day Off Deficit” and explore what it could mean to individuals, businesses and the economy if U.S. workers were motivated to use more of the time off they’ve earned and deserve. Stay tuned for new research in the coming weeks.

Champion the Benefits of Travel! Travel Rally Day is Tuesday, May 6! 

Travel Rally Day is a concerted effort to demonstrate travel’s positive impact on local workers, businesses and economies – and, of course, on personal lives of travelers. Individual events are staged in cities nationwide during National Travel and Tourism Week.

The goal of Rally Day is to unite the local travel community with its supporters and publicly represent the importance of travel to media and elected officials.

Join the conversation by following @USTravel, #NTTW and #TravelEffect.




■ Direct spending on leisure travel by domestic and international travelers totaled $564 billion in 2011.

■ Spending on leisure travel generated $86 billion in tax revenue.

■ 3 out of 4 domestic trips taken are for leisure purposes (77%).

■ U.S. residents logged 1.5 billion person-trips for leisure purposes in 2011.

■ Top 5 leisure travel activities for U.S. domestic travelers: (1) visiting relatives; (2) shopping; (3) visiting friends; (4) fine dining; and (5) beaches.


■ Direct spending on business travel by domestic and international travelers, including expenditures on meetings, events and incentive programs (ME&I), totaled $249 billion in 2011.

■ ME&I travel accounted for $99 billion of all business travel spending.

■ U.S. residents logged 458 million person-trips for business purposes in 2011, with more than one-third (36%) for meetings and events.

■ For every dollar invested in business travel, businesses benefit from an average of $12.50 in increased revenue and $3.80 in new profits.

(Person-trip defined as one person trip away from home overnight in paid accommodations or a day or overnight trip 50 miles one-way or more from home.)

U.S. Travel Association

U.S. Travel Association


■ In 2011, international traveler spending (export receipts) totaled $153 billion and travel spending abroad by Americans totaled $110 billion (travel import payments), creating a trade surplus of $43 billion in favor of the U.S.

■ The U.S.received 62.3 million international arrivals in 2011. Of those, approximately 27.9 million were from overseas markets and 34.4 million were from Canada and Mexico.

■ The United States’ share of total international arrivals is 6.4% (down from 7.5% in 2000).

■ International travel spending directly supported about 1.2 million U.S. jobs and wages of $28.5 billion.

■ Each overseas traveler spends approximately $4,300 when they visit the U.S. and stay on average more than 17 nights.

■ Overseas arrivals represent 45% of all international arrivals, yet account for 78% of total international travel receipts.

■ Greatest challenges facing international visitors: burdensome visa process; unwelcoming entry experience.

■ Top 5 leisure travel activities for overseas visitors: (1) shopping; (2) dining; (3) city sightseeing; (4) visiting historical places; and (5) amusement/theme parks.

9th Annual Travel & Adventure Show - Long Beach Convention Center (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

PRESS CREDENTIAL – 9th Annual Travel & Adventure Show – Long Beach Convention Center (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

The U.S. Travel Association is the national, non-profit organization representing all components of the travel industry that generates $1.9 trillion in economic output. It is the voice for the collective interests of the U.S. travel industry and the association’s 1,400 member organizations. U.S. Travel’s mission is to promote and facilitate increased travel to and within the United States.

Tuesday Afternoon at the Woodland Hills Country Club

Tuesday Afternoon at the Woodland Hills Country Club:

Another Day, Another Golf Course!

The Woodland Hills Country Club

The Woodland Hills Country Club  (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Celebrity Cruises (and Air New Zealand) threw us a party tonight at the Woodland Hills Country Club. Wine and other beverages to drink, tray passed appetizers to eat, and a presentation on Modern Luxury.

Tuesday Afternoon at the Woodland Hills Country Club (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Tuesday at the Woodland Hills Country Club (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Tray passed appetizers: Crab cake balls, vegetable quesadilla cones, beef wellington puffs, tomato and cheese on mini-bruschetta toast, and chicken potstickers. I didn’t drink the wine because I have to work tonight, just alternated between the iced tea and lemonade. –


I’m a Four Seasons Preferred Partner Travel Consultant!

The Four Seasons Preferred Partner program is an exclusive, invitation-only network of high-end travel consultants from around the world. Contact me for all your travel needs!

Willett Travel 12532 Ventura Blvd Studio City CA 91604 818-762-0676 x326

Willett Travel – 12532 Ventura Boulevard Studio City CA 91604  818-762-0676 x326

Visit the Four Seasons website:

Contact me at for all your travel needs!

“Your Travel is My Business!”

Joshua Weisel (aka JoshWillTravel)

Luxury Travel Advisor 

Travel & Lifestyle Writer







Pic of the Day 24-Mar-13: New York City

NYC –  View from the top of the World Trade Center

New York City - View from the top of the World Trade Center (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

NYC – View from the top of the World Trade Center (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

East River, FDR Drive (South Street), Brooklyn Bridge, Manhattan Bridge and Brooklyn.