Showing posts from 2011

Flying Saucer Draught Emporium ~ Addison, Texas

There was a time when the RJG had very little use for beer. Unlike many college students, I pretty much eschewed guzzling cheap beer for a cheap buzz. In the 1980s, the US beer industry was all about price. Pale lagers and light beers was all there was to quaff. And at Texas Tech, Coors was the clear winner followed by Budweiser. I didn't dislike the stuff, but I just didn't understand what the big fuss was. Once I started going to Europe later in the 80s, I began to realize what a good beer can taste like. Then my move to Colorado in 1993 opened my eyes up to the craft beer industry. Unfortunately I didn't take advantage of it as much as I should have back then, with only an occasional foray into a brewpub. And I didn't take notes, and I'm rather certain I tried some beers from breweries that are extinct. I finally got serious about beer about 6 years ago, and I've been making up for lost time (especially while in Colorado during the summers). According to my…

***CLOSED*** ZuRoma Sicilian Kitchen ~ Keller, Texas

A few years ago, sometime in the 2004-05 range, the Mrs. and I had dined at the original ZuRoma location in Grapevine near 121. We thought it was good Italian food, and had returned at least once. A couple of years later, while planning a return visit, I reviewed their entry on Urbanspoon, and it was clear a major event had taken place. Best I can tell the original owners sold the place, and the new proprietors subsequently ran the place into the ground. I never sampled this debacle, but as is foreshadowed by now, they did close down shortly thereafter. Meanwhile the original owners opened up in the Ice House in North Richland Hills. We never did go to the hockey arena, but now they also have a to-go only place in Keller, so I decided to try their pizza on a recent evening that Mrs. RJG and one of our official nieces had something else going on. "ya on ya own" in Mrs. RJG speak.

ZuRoma specializes in the "Sicilian" styled pizza, which I sometimes refer to as "…

***CLOSED*** Best Tex Burger ~ North Richland Hills, Texas

Best Tex Burger is in the same Shell station that once housed a Billadelphia's** location, and if I recall right was originally a Chester Fried Chicken.

Best Tex Burger arrives with a feel-good story, that one has to admire. This is the American spirit at its finest.

Onto the food we go. Their website talks about a variety of gourmet burgers and a chicken sandwich option. However, they have recently reduced their menu significantly. All they now serve are hamburgers, cheeseburgers (with a double option on each) and fries. And that's it. As you all know, the RJG is very much in favor of the small menu. So my expectation was set to a high level, figuring that they only do one thing - so it will be awesome. I kept it simple and ordered a double cheeseburger and a small drink. The burger comes out with the condiments on the side and include fresh romaine lettuce, pickles, onion and tomato. They also bring a variety of sauces to put on your burger. But other than the usual suspects …

***CLOSED*** Jalapeno's Mexican Cuisine ~ Keller, Texas

Last update: June, 2013: Jalapeno's moved to the other side of US-377 to Fort Worth. And renamed it Las Pinatas. Review of new location here.

If you live around Keller, the name Jalapeno's can be a bit confusing. There's a taqueria by that name in the old town, with the exact same logo, and yet it's entirely different than this restaurant found on Keller Parkway. Apparently there's different ownership, but obviously they are related in some way. So if you too were confused, as the RJG perpetually is, then I do recommend you try both. We'll cover the taqueria at another time, but today's post will reflect the restaurant only. To the best of my knowledge, this is their only location and not related to other Jalapeno's in and around DFW.

Jalapeno's sits in the old Keller Pizza place (itself no doubt once a Pizza Inn). Upon entry, there's a cavernous space filled with booths and tables - and even an old fashioned 1980s styled video game area. I was …

El Paisano Taqueria ~ Dallas, Texas

Our first Mr. Music review!

I took a trip to El Paisano last Weds with my friends. I’ve been going to El Paisano regularly for over a decade now. I usually don’t go to any single restaurant that often, but I really love this place! It was the first place that really opened my eyes to what are commonly known as “street tacos”. No matter how many I try, El Paisano consistently remains my favorite place for them. Now I won’t say I’ve tried every place around; there are hundreds of them, but I’ve been to dozens. My friends and I meet on Wednesdays for a night out and make El Paisano at least 3 times a month. Tacos are a pretty simple; you’ve got a tortilla, some meat, toppings and the sauce. All of them are important, but for me the sauce is the key! Of course the meat is very important too, but the sauce can propel a “really good” taco to “OMG!”.

At El Paisano there are 3 types of tortillas: maiz which is a factory bought corn tortilla dipped in manteca (pig lard) for $0.99, then there is…

***CLOSED*** Panchita's Mexican ~ Keller, Texas

Panchita's is a new restaurant that opened its doors this August. It's housed in the former Windy City Deli location, and is a couple of doors down from Niki's (featured on this blog somewhere). They are a husband and wife run establishment, and you can tell that they use only fresh ingredients. No large platters of enchiladas here - each meal is individually handcrafted. The food is a mixture of Tex-Mex and Mexican from the interior. There's even a hint of New Mexico, and not surprisingly there's a family heritage from there.

The chips are crispy corn and the salsa served is what we typically see in Colorado: A mixture of tomatoes, chilies, onions and cilantro. It was good with a nice kick. As such I wasn't sure they would have a "hotter" one, but indeed they do. It's a tomatillo based green sauce blended with jalapenos and/or maybe serrano's. Definitely contains more heat and thus smooths out the bitterness typically associated with tomatill…

***CLOSED*** Tres Jose's ~ Fort Worth-TX

Situated at the edge of the tony River Crest neighborhood, Tres Jose's seems an unlikely place to find an authentic Tex-Mex restaurant. We first visited a few years ago while visiting some museums at the nearby Cultural District. And while we await the renovations (and new ownership) to be completed over at the RJG's favorite Ft. Worth Mexican food destination - Fernandez Cafe - we decided to revisit Tres Jose's since we were over in Ft. Worth anyway.

While Tres Jose's is a reliable neighborhood spot, it's not extraordinary. We both enjoyed the blue corn enchiladas with the heavily seasoned chicken doused in a sour green tomatillo sauce. The rice was well prepared, and the charro beans had the right mix of chile's, beans and bacon. The chips are homemade and crispy, while the standard salsa is tomato based with a mild kick, and includes black pepper (something the RJG likes in his hot sauces). We asked for the hotter one, as we often do, and out came a very cre…

Everything German ~ Hurst, Texas

June 2015 update: Everything German has relocated to Hurst. More to come soon hopefully
Two of the most popular posts from the RJG were about German restaurants. The first post was when we took a trip up to Muenster and visited Rohmer's. But even more so was our visit to Gerhard's in Roanoke. We went there not long after it opened, thought it quite good, and wrote about it here. We haven't been back since, but not because we didn't like the restaurant, rather we just haven't taken the time to do so. Just by reading the comments on Urbanspoon, it appears the restaurant is hotly debated amongst those that seem to passionately hate it - and those who love it. Much of the "discussion" revolves around service issues, which quite frankly the RJG feels gets too much attention in today's world. Believe me, service in Europe is far less attentive (note I didn't say worse). We're just a very restless society I'm afraid. We've had a couple of outr…

Princi Italia ~ Dallas, Texas

While browsing the main DFW page on Urbanspoon, a little blurb caught my eye from the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram: "Homemade Italian sausage". The RJG is always on the lookout for good, high quality, homemade Italian sausage, whether from a restaurant or a local grocer. Unfortunately for us folks on the Ft. Worth side of the house, almost all of the great Italian sausage to be found is in Dallas. And even though it was the Startlegram that brought it to my attention, sure enough the restaurant is in Dallas. Preston Royal to be exact.

I spent a lot of my youth in the Preston Royal area. Not that I grew up here (I wish!), but many times my folks and I would "head east" for a weekend dinner out. While still in high school in the early 1980s, there was a great Italian restaurant called Rodolfo's Colosseo that we frequented often (anyone remember it?). He later dropped the Colosseo moniker, and I can recall my last meal being after college sometime in 1988. I suspect he…

Babe's Chicken Dinner House ~ Roanoke, Texas

Last visit: January 2017 (actually it was a catered event, not a visit to the restaurant)

This is only my second visit to Babe's, the first being about 7 years ago with a former co-worker from my days at Lockheed-Martin in Denver in the late 1990s. Mrs. RJG had been curious about what the fuss was, so we took this day to head over for lunch and get us some fried southern food.

Babe's is a now legendary place in the DFW area and it's not an uncommon sight to see large lines on weekend nights. Babe's first opened its doors in 1993 in old town Roanoke, long before anyone else was there. Due to its increasing popularity, Roanoke is now the town that never was, and is a re-creation of a classic old Texas settlement as one might find at the turn of the last century. Lots of independent restaurants and local chain legends line the streets. It's quite an awesome sight to be honest. I think few would argue against the notion that Babe's popularity was the impetus behind…

San Diego Tacos Shop ~ Richland Hills, Texas

San Diego Tacos Shop proclaims to be the "best Cal-Mex fast food in DFW". I'm not quite sure who the competition is, but based on our one visit, I'm willing to give them the title (for now)!

Set in a day-glo mustard colored old fast food taco joint*, San Diego Tacos provides a wide array of every day Mexican fast food, as one would find in southern California. So what's the difference between Tex-Mex and Cal-Mex? Their website provides one chef's view, to which he articulates the various nuances of the two regional food cuisines. The website also describes their menu in detail - and in English. You may want to familiarize yourself with some of it before heading out, because the restaurant itself does not. However, pictures of the food line the wall for gringos like me.

Mrs. RJG, native of Sonora and a two year resident of Los Angeles, went straight for the Sopes which San Diego Tacos describes as "a traditional Mexican dish which at first sight looks li…

***CLOSED*** Red Dog Right ~ Southlake, Texas

December 28, 2017 update: Closed in 2016

Like many folks who live in NE Tarrant, if I have to go to the airport or to the other side, then I must get on Hwy 114 East. Many times I'll do that via Southlake Blvd, and when you do, you'll see on your right a Kirby's Steakhouse, and then Red Lobster and then... whoa... hold up there. What happened to the Red Slobster? It's gone baby. In its place - Red Dog Right. The RJG doesn't shed a tear when the publicly traded company gets replaced with a more local option. In this case, it's still a (local) chain, but I'm guessing Red Dog Right still isn't ringing a bell. And it won't either, as this is a new entry from the folks at Front Burner Restaurants, founded by a Rockfish Seafood guy (guess he knew Kenny too right?).

Front Burner is behind Ojos Locos, Whiskey Cake, The Ranch at Las Colinas... and their most famous brand is Twin Peaks. The name is a wink-wink deal, and what was originally supposed to go into…

***CLOSED*** Cantina Laredo ~ Dallas, Texas

December 30, 2017 update: OK, so the below was written for the Far North Dallas location. Then we had gone to our local restaurant on Grapevine in 2015, and it's now closed! The chain is still quite active, even internationally. So when we do get back to one, we'll update this post and move forward.

Earlier in the week, we once again had a new project kicking off in Plano, so we had employees all over the country fly in for the start. Sounds like a team event to me! As noted last month, we recently went to Pappasito's, and this time we selected a very similar place with Cantina Laredo. Old time DFW citizens know Cantina Laredo well, as it was one of the first "upscale Tex-Mex" places in the area. I can remember going to the one in Addison as far back as the 1980s.

I've always found Cantina Laredo to be reliably good. On this visit I tried the Tacos Cascabel which they describe as "Sautéed chicken with cascabel sauce on soft corn tortillas with cilantro, …

Whataburger ~ Keller, Texas

I know, I know. "Gee RJG, where do you find these obscure restaurants anyway?" To Texans, Whataburger is family. They're the little brother we pick on. We call them gross, stinky, dumb, and goober. But we don't mean it. Now that In-N-Out Burger is here, suddenly we become all protective, and yell back that Californians don't know what a good burger is. Hell, if they could only eat a Whataburger then they'd know!! But it's really two entirely different burger experiences. Whataburger's are Texan BIG. In-N-Out's are Californian fresh.

When I was kid in the 1970s, it was always a treat when my Mom would take me over to the closest one to our house, which was on Walnut Hill in NW Dallas (an old A-Frame building of course) near the UPS depot. They were also there in Lubbock when I attended Texas Tech in the mid 1980s. I loved them then, and I still do. Though they suffer from the same problems that most large franchises do - inconsistency. But if I…

Italianni's ~ Hurst, Texas

Italianni's started life as a chain concept from Carlson Restaurants (most known for TGI Fridays). Carlson no doubt wanted a piece of the Italian chain dollar and went head to head with Brinker's Romano's Macaroni Grill and Darden's very popular Olive Garden. But the market was already saturated, and they eventually decided to shut down the concept here in the US. The Hurst store however still had a loyal following, and was purchased locally, and has been run independently for close to 10 years now. Interesting to note that the chain is still operating in Mexico, Korea, Colombia and The Philippines - so there's been some discussion about Italianni's needing to change their name. Bud Kennedy on Eats Beat recently reported that was actually going to happen imminently. But on our last visit, they told me that wasn't a concern anymore - and so the name lives on.

Italianni's is one of the few Italian restaurants in the area not owned by families from the fo…

Red Barn Bar-B-Que ~ Colleyville, Texas

Nestled in a quiet corner of the very busy Hwy 26 and Glade Rd, Red Barn is a throwback to the rural country barn styled Texas barbecue place. No doubt 35 years ago, this stretch of Hwy 26 was just that - rural country. Once in, you'll notice the all wood interior decorated with signs from the past, and country music blaring from the radio. You order up fast food style and off you go to your wood bench or chairs to savor your meal. The folks working here are consistently nice and will throw in an "extra" if they feel that rib you ordered is a little slight.

We've only been a few times over the years, and to be honest, Red Barn has never wowed us much. I've tried various meats over time, because unfortunately they don't offer a meat sampler platter. The flavors just aren't very bold here, but that's just the RJG's preference. Some folks like their barbecue straight down the middle. No question though, the meats are cooked properly with the right a…

Malli's Mexican ~ North Richland Hills, Texas

Last visit: August 2016
Last update: December 28, 2017

Malli's is a favorite of Mrs. RJG and her mom. I haven't been in over a year, but they had frequented the place more recently.

Malli's is a pleasant little Mexican restaurant situated on a busy stretch of Rufe Snow, north of I-820. It's colorfully decorated, and as you may have noted already, their focus is on authentic Mexican food. Based on the menu alone, it would appear they have Tex-Mex offerings, but we didn't try them (though I will next time). They have a lunch and dinner menu, and we didn't ask if they serve them at all hours.

However, they do serve breakfast all day, and Mrs. RJG decided to go hardcore Mexican today (after all, that is where she's from) and ordered the Huevos con Nopalitos. That is to say, eggs with cactus. Seems like that would hurt don't it? I mean, pulling the needles out of your mouth and what not. No silly, says the wife, it's actually quite delicious and she went …

***CLOSED*** Yucatan Taco Stand Tequila Bar & Grill ~ Southlake, Texas

December 30, 2017 update: Yucatan are still open on Magnolia in Fort Worth as well as a newer location in Dallas. If we go there, we'll update this post and move forward.

In the early days of the RJG blog, Yucatan was the most requested place for us to visit. This place was all the rage in 2008. A quick check over to the excellent Fort Worth Hole in the Wall blog shows that no less than 38 comments were left for his post. I don't think the RJG has seen 38 comments combined. We never did make it over to the Ft. Worth location on Magnolia, and dallied around long enough for one to show up right here in NE Tarrant. Typical RJG - always a day late and a dollar short. We're sooooooooooo not hip.

This trip represents our second visit, the first was earlier this year. Yucatan is a relatively new "Taco Stand" concept along the lines of Fuzzy's Taco Shop and the various "Baja" designated places. These are gussied up taco trucks, and when you get the final ta…

Anna's Chicken ~ North Richland Hills, Texas

As promised in the Raising Cane's blurb, the RJG is going to make a solid effort at trying the variety of fried chicken houses in NE Tarrant. Today's visit takes us to Anna's Chicken on Rufe Snow Rd. in North Richland Hills, not far from another RJG haunt - Lina's Mexican Cocina.

Anna's is a classic old convenience store that has been converted into a very bright, fluorescent lighted fast food chicken and seafood joint - where they emphasize that they are a super clean place. Good to know!

Anna's is Asian owned and operated, and they allowed us to try a sample of their butterfly shrimp, which reminded us both quite a bit of the appetizers we've had in some Thai restaurants. For lunch, I chose the 3 piece chicken special with corn and fries while the Mrs. settled on the 2 piece with corn and green beans. Each came with a roll, a pickled jalapeno and a small drink that they dispense for you.

The chicken batter recipe is standard, but they execute it to perfec…

Chef Point Cafe ~ Watauga, Texas

So here we sit in DFW's most highly rated restaurant (according to Urbanspoon). Chef Point Cafe has been featured by both Guy Fiori (DDD) and Paula Deen, as well as numerous DFW area foodie magazines, guides and blogs. The location itself couldn't be more unassuming - a new roadside gas station placed anonymously on a near empty suburban stretch of Watauga Rd. (aka Mid Cities Blvd). A wide expanse of Texas nothingness. A place even Hank Hill would consider dull. And there's no sign to let you know you've arrived. Only a delivery truck sits outside with the name Chef Point. It's an oft told story nowadays: The founders of Chef Point weren't able to secure a loan for a new restaurant, but they could get financing for a new gas station. So up goes a multi-pump / convenience store Conoco with the sole purpose of adding a chef driven restaurant inside. The American can-do spirit thrives once again! The decor could be most politely described as "industrial minim…

Taco Diner ~ Southlake, Texas

It feels kind of funny to label Taco Diner as a "taqueria", as this is about as far away as possible to the classic little humble street vendor as you can get. But essentially Taco Diner is in fact a taqueria. A high end, upscale taco truck. With chairs... and frozen margaritas. The diners' themselves are laid out in the classic 60's googie architecture style mixed with a tres hip late 90s ambiance. So if you feel so compelled, wander in alone with a newspaper tucked under your arm and instead of waffles, order up a taco la parilla... and a frozen margarita. Speaking of which, actually don't order a frozen margarita. They're average at best, and at $8 for a small glass, a ripoff to boot. And there ends my complaints about Taco Diner.

Because the food is quite good, and perhaps a bit surprising given the relative blandness of their flagship Mi Cocina tex-mex franchise. Taco Diner is yet another wing of the "M Crowd" (to me this sounds like a late 90…

***CLOSED*** Ted E's Burgers & More ~ Fort Worth, Texas

Mrs. RJG told me that I was on my own this day, so that usually means pizza or burgers for moi (as the Mrs. doesn't go in much for those choices). The original plan was to visit CJ's Burgers in Keller. But unbeknownst to me, or Urbanspoon for that matter, it is closed and is now an Asian restaurant (incidentally right next to a Thai restaurant - no imagination I tell ya...). So I decided to revisit Ted E's which was only a couple of miles south from where I was. The RJG has been to Ted E's only once prior to this visit, sometime in early 2010. I thought it was good, worth coming back, but not sure if it was going to be Top 10 crave kind of place. After this visit, I will say that it's good, worth coming back, but not sure if I need to anytime soon.

I've never been a big fan of the "& More" moniker, as it loudly proclaims that this particular establishment doesn't really specialize in something. I prefer the In-N-Out model - basically we serve …

Mexican Inn Cafe ~ Bedford, Texas

"Full menu" locations: Bedford, Burleson, Mansfield
"Limited menu" locations: Ft. Worth (4), Lake Worth

January 2014 update: The good news is that Mexican Inn is back in Northeast Tarrant! They built a new structure only a few hundred feet from their old one that had to be demolished due to the construction. The 121/183 road expansion continues, so it's still a bit of a challenge to get here, so I recommend for local travelers anyway, to take back roads to Bedford Rd. It's nice to see that this  Mexican Inn is continuing with the full menu, and as such, I replicated the meal that I had below, since it's been well over two years since I last had it. The trademark greasy fritos styled chips, house salsa, frozen margarita, and chicken/shrimp dish were excellent, as last time. The rice was very disappointing this time, and was slightly mushy in texture. The beans lacked the sharp bacon flavor, and seemed a bit murky. Mrs. RJG tried the chile relleno and it wa…

Al Wadi Cafe ~ Bedford, Texas

On the Prince Lebanese Grill post, I asked if there were any good Middle Eastern restaurants in NE Tarrant? I basically fed that question into Urbanspoon, and out came Al Wadi Cafe - a place that seems to be immensely popular judging by the high rating and number of raters, which as of this writing makes it the #90 most popular restaurant in all of DFW (again, according to Urbanspoon). In fact, the only other restaurant labeled middle eastern in the area is Cafe Medi in Hurst, a place we visited many years ago and need to try again (read: it didn't wow us the first time).

Al Wadi is a classic Regular Joe's hole-in-the-wall. On Brown Trail, just south of Harwood in a shopping center that time forgot, or perhaps it never was remembered - Al Wadi sits patiently awaiting its expected crowd. Next door sits a chocolatier and a middle eastern grocery store. They did everything they could do to spiffy the place up, including adding a charming front patio area for outside dining. Insid…

Cuco's Sandwich Shop ~ North Richland Hills, Texas

For over 20 years, Cuco's has been serving Cuban food to the citizens of NE Tarrant county. The RJG has always liked the Cuban sandwich: Roasted pork, ham, salami, cheese and mustard - then hot pressed. It's basically the same as a classic panini from Italy, though there are some minor differences which I won't get into here. I think the key to a great Cuban is the bread itself, so that it remains crispy, hot and tasty throughout the life of the meal. And Cuco's Cuban is outstanding, maybe one of the best I've ever had. Now to be fair, I've spent zero time in South Florida sampling Cuban sandwiches - but of the few I've had around the US, Cuco's scores well. Mrs. RJG had the same dish but with sweet plantain's on the side, which she said were delicious.

Cuco's is a quaint little deli, painted bright pink, with a few tables and serves breakfast (starting at 10) and lunch only (closed Sunday). They also sell specialized Latin American grocery prod…

Tres Casas Mexican Grill ~ Keller, Texas

In a small white house, nestled away in old town Keller, you can find the flavors of Old Mexico. About 3 years ago, Tres Casas took over the old Enriques place, spiffed it up just a little bit, and brought some recipes back from home. Tres Casas is not another Tex-Mex joint, but rather the cuisine of central and western Mexico, as you might find in Sonora or Jalisco. Mrs. RJG, who is from Sonora herself, noticed the similarities with the rice, beans, and shredded beef flautas - all highly recommended from her. For me, Tres Casas has the best al Pastor tacos I've had since my last visit to Puerto Vallarta (interesting to note that Al Pastor itself was brought to Mexico by Lebanese immigrants). And it would appear the restaurant knows they have something special here as they named the dish Tres Casas. Now I'll admit that I didn't see the spit (though it may be in the back), but however they make it, it's a very good facsimile.

We've been a few times, but only for lu…

Pappasito's Cantina ~ Dallas, Texas

Pappasito's, as many of you probably know, is part of the much larger Houston-based Pappas group of restaurants, and most known for its flagship Cajun-styled Pappadeaux's. Beyond those two, they also own Pappas Burger, Pappas Bar-B-Q, Pappas Bros Steakhouse, Pappas Seafood House, Dot Coffee Shop, and Yia Yia Mary's Pappas Greek Kitchen. Many times you will see these restaurants clumped together, as is the case with the Pappasito's we visited on Lombardy and Northwest Hwy in Dallas. A few of these concepts are only found in Houston.

This particular Pappasito's is inside an ample "restaurant row" area, situated between Loop 12 and I-35E, and serves the Stemmons Freeway business sector. Plenty of hotels and office buildings are nearby guaranteeing a non-stop lunch and dinner crowd. And to the west of Loop 12 is the seedier side of the entertainment industry with plenty of strip clubs, massage parlors, pool halls and liquor stores. Makes for a colorful drive …

Esparza's ~ Grapevine, Texas

Last visit: May 2017
Last update: June 17, 2016 

Let's slip in another update here. We tend to frequent Esparza's roughly 3 to 4 times a year. This is one of the few Mexican restaurants left in DFW where I strictly stay with Tex-Mex. I've tried their more "interior" dishes, and remain nonplussed. So, as bolded by me below, Puffed Taco dinner it is. And Mrs. RJG continues to love the vegetarian Chile Relleno.

We mentioned earlier in this blog that Miguelito's in Hurst was one of our go-to places from 2004-2005. But our very first regular Mexican food fix in NE Tarrant was Esparza's. An old Dallas neighborhood buddy first recommended the place to us, and it was an instant hit at the RJG household. From 2003 to 2004, I'd say we went here more than any other Mexican restaurant. But, as with Miguelito's, the Mrs. began to sour on the place for a variety of reasons. That left Mr. RJG going solo, or with neighborhood friends, on a very infrequent basis. …

La Scala ~ Westlake, Texas

The evening plan was to head towards Westlake and go to Diego's Tex-Mex, a place we first started going to earlier this year. But the bar scene there was definitely happenin', and you know what that means right? Cigarette smoke. Heavy. And it carried to the next door restaurant - and even though the bar is sequestered behind closed doors, it didn't matter. Now Mr. RJG grew up with that unfortunate smell from his parents, so I tend to ignore it, though even I admit it gets harder as the years go by. But Mrs. RJG would have none of it. Plans scrapped - now what? Well, I said, there's an Italian restaurant right around the corner by foot, so let's just go there. And here we are at La Scala.

La Scala is adjoined by a Joe's [Pizza][Pasta][Subs] fast food place. I put that in brackets because Joe's is a loose franchise (with various combination of the names provided) somewhat like Ray's in New York City (and famously sent up in a Seinfeld episode). So La Scal…