Monday, September 13, 2010

Make Money!

Playing Poker! Like my previous post these locations were also from the latest issue of ESPN the magazine. I was actually surprised that so many places were in LA. The only time I was in the Hollywood Park Casino it was surreal - especially when you're used to stumbling through a Vegas casino at 4 in the morning. Also, Berlin played a concert that night which was the strangest concert I've ever been through (note to self: don't wait to hear Take My Breath Away for any length of time no matter your love of Top Gun). And I've never been at a 'real' card table so there's that. Also, these places have nothing on the Cayucos Tavern (complete with MySpace page!). Liquor in front, poker in the rear. Heyo!

View Top 10 Places in the Country to Make Money Playing Poker in a larger map

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Book Report: Cloudsplitter

I just finished Cloudsplitter by Russell Banks. It tells the story of abolitionist John Brown from the point of view of is son Owen. You can get salient links from the Wikipedia page. It's a monster book - 758 pages - that I was reading on and off for a couple months. I'm not sure I have a ton to say about it that isn't included here or here.

I liked it because it covered a historical subject that I had learned about from US History classes in high school and college but really paints the scene of how society worked and the motivations that (perhaps) could have been the cause of such an important piece of our history.

Friday, September 10, 2010

This is not what we do on Baseball Trip

I realize this is a bit out of character for this blog (misogyny anyone?) but after getting the September 20th issue of ESPN the magazine (The List Issue) and reading Bill Simmons' tweet about Edge James' favorite strip clubs, I had to make a map. (And no, I haven't forgiven James for 1998). Get Bill's first book: Now I Can Die in Peace, or his second: The Book of Basketball.

View Edge James' favorite Clubs in a larger map

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Holy Mother of BSE!

Here it is almost Labor Day and not one single Best Summer Ever post?!?!?!?!?! First off I highly recommend four wheeling in the country. I spent a week in central Illinois and had a blast: cousin's wedding, side trip to Memphis (and Graceland!), a family reunion, and a great drive through the countryside on ATVs. The coolest part was when, after driving through countless fields of corn and soybeans, we came across a shack that was built on stilts because it was next to the Sangamon River (in case of flooding, right?). So this shack is total redneck fishing cabin - no running water, an outhouse, random bones everywhere, no real road to get there, etc. But once we took the ATVs to a sandbar on the river it was amazing. You couldn't see a single hint of civilization, not counting sandy beer cans (even oldies with pull tabs). But this was great because of the sense of history: you see, Abraham Lincoln was the Postmaster General of New Salem, Illinois, not 10 miles up the river. He lived in those parts before becoming a lawyer in Illinois (and getting into that whole politics thing). His first love, Ann Rutledge, is buried in the same cemetery as my grandparents (and great grandparents, and relatives that came from Denmark to the new world). So yeah, that was pretty great.

Also I've been to Vegas a couple times for bachelor parties, been to some weddings (and took the train to one), had a couple of work trips in Salt Lake City, went to the Strawberry Festival in Oxnard (good corndogs and strawberry shortcake bar but big crowds), did a baseball trip to Southern Florida in May (the real start of BSE round these parts), played hooky to see an Angel game on a Wednesday (Ferris Bueller style), and am wrapping up a beach volleyball league.

Makes me tired just thinking about it!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Book Report: Mind over Money

My most recent financial book was Mind over Money: Match Your Personality to a Winning Financial Strategy by John W. Schott. It's not exactly recent - published in 2000. Schott's advice lies somewhere between day traders and buy and holders - tailored to specific personality types. It was published before the recent wave of behavioral economics books (to wit: Mind over Money: Overcoming the Money Disorders That Threaten Our Financial Health, which I have not read but was published in late 2009.

I didn't really feel like I matched any of Schott's personality profiles but there were a couple of things I like. First a quote:

Wealth accrues from a pattern of generally right behavior, not from trying to extract the maximum profit out of each and every situation, since one never knows what the maximum might be.

Which I liken to my baseball analogy: it's better to hit singles and doubles, get men on base and move the runners rather than hit a home run at every at bat. The next part I liked was Appendix B: Net Present Value: A Calculation for Confident Buying. For awhile I've been looking for methods to calculate values of companies that is short of getting an MBA. This is a great 3 page start.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Oh give me a home....

Every time I either drive or fly in and out of Los Angeles I think about moving. I grew up in a small town and being surrounded by so many people and so much stuff can be kind of clausterphobic. Plus it's hard to imagine having a family here. And houses cost a LOT of money. So I was interested when Barry Ritholtz (an investment professional cum financial blogger) commented on a site at Forbes about where Americans are moving (using IRS data).

(Look, people move to LA from the east coast and then from LA to the South and the west coast).

This tool would be a great compliment to Richard Florida's "Who's Your City" website (and book too, although I haven't read it). Choosing where to live is a multi-dimensional problem that is hard to contemplate. These sites are a great start.

Somewhat randomly the Wikipedia entry on Who's Your City says that my boy Tim Harford has been critical of the book. This couldn't be verified because Wikipedia's source was an article in Canadian Geographer (which I don't have access to) and the only mention I could find was Tim referencing Florida's work.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Book Report: The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest finale of Stieg Larsson's Millenium Trilogy and my 13th book of the year. A great book but bittersweet because of Larsson's premature death from a heart attack. Mostly the same characters as The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and The Girl Who Played With Fire. Start reading now!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Book Report: The Girl Who Played with Fire

The Girl Who Played With Fire, book two of Stieg Larsson's Millenium Trilogy. I finished this book on a bus/train ride from San Luis Obispo to Union Station (Amtrak!). Then I took the FlyAway Shuttle from Union Station to LAX. Fun!

View Bus/Train Fun! in a larger map

I want to FlyAway

At one point I thought I had posted about a trip I took on the Metro from Pasadena to El Segundo but it's still sitting in my 'not completed' file. That trip consisted of the Gold Line, Red Line, Blue Line, to the Green. Which was cool because I got to go through Union Station, the 7th Street Metro Center, and the Rosa Parks station. The uncool part was that it took about 1.5 hours and required a separate ticket for each hop (although now I find out they have day passes). Obligatory Metro link.

Today I had a similar mission: get from downtown to the SouthBay. I could have done a similar trip but I wanted to try something I had only read about called the FlyAway bus service. It is operated by Los Angeles Regional Airports and consists of shuttles that go from all the regions airports to Union Station and other population centers. My experience was great. I asked some very nice people at Union Station where the kiosk was and after a short walk and seven dollars I had a ticket in my hand. Buses leave every half hour and although the driver told us that the trip would be longer because it was rush hour it only ended up taking about 35 minutes (and even went over my second favorite interchange: 110 south to 105 west carpool lane - booyah!). I waited longer for my friends to pick me up at the Southwest terminal.

Map of where the FlyAway kiosk is:

View Los Angeles Union Station in a larger map

Also here's are a couple of ideas: how about taking and rating all the different transportation agencies in Southern California? Or how about some enterprising young programmer puts a database together of all the timetables of said agencies along with the cost for different hops and transfers and walking times, uses a little Dijkstra magic, and figures out routes that are either cheapest or fastest (or better yet let you weight each). Kind of like the Metro Trip Planner but cool and useful. Has GoogleMaps done this yet? Actually, can I have that job? Thanks...

Stupid video link even though the stupid record company won't allow embeds

Monday, June 28, 2010

Treme Recap

Treme season 1 over. Read some reviews:

Compared similarly to The Wire. I hope they get a few more seasons - the music is great and like The Wire did for Baltimore, Treme makes New Orleans a central character.

Book Report: 9, 10, and 11

Reading my 9th book of 2010, Babbitt by Sinclair Lewis, was a taxing ordeal. It's a satire of American culture in the early 20th century but with everything happening now (hello income gap!) it was basically super depressing and made me read magazines for a couple months.

Fortunately I borrowed the hot novel The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson from my mom and tore through it in a couple days. Very cool noirish story set in Sweden. It's the first in a trilogy so hopefully I can get to the other two pretty quickly. Unfortunately Steig died unexpectedly a couple years ago. (Also he was a socialist so watch out!)

To round out my latest trilogy I pulled The Perfect Storm by Sebastian Junger from my bookshelf which I probably 'borrowed' from my mom as well. Great piece of reporting/writing and of course the movie starts George Clooney so I'll probably watch that too.

Monday, May 17, 2010


Well Treme has started and it does not disappoint. Start watching.....

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Book Report: The Undercover Economist

The 8th book I've read this year was The Undercover Economist by Tim Harford. I initially read Tim somewhere on the internet and liked his writing style enough to buy his book.

The Undercover Economist was thoroughly enjoyable although I wanted to understand it so I took my time reading it. In addition, some of it I had to take with a grain of salt. I don't know that any book will convince me that markets are inherently free and that taxes are simply inefficiencies in markets. Experience would dictate that markets are under constant flux because of both government and market participants and taxes can be ways of either correcting for inefficiencies of market structure, forcing participants to address externalities, and (yes) inefficient in and of themselves. He glosses over the example of how Singapore provides health care to its citizens but that seems to me the crux of the type of question his book can help to answer: requirements by governments that in effect create a market. How can this market be created so that consumers win and no monopoly rents can be generated?

That being said, this book was excellent at pointing out ways in which economics can be useful in explaining why prices are what they are (scarcity power driving up rents, barriers to entry, extracting information, and even auctions to name a few) and other such interesting economic phenomena (like congestion pricing - which is good!). It really gave me a lot to think about in how to think about a lot if that makes sense.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Book Report: The House of Mirth

Financial advice from Edith Wharton that Thomas J. Stanley and William D. Danko would be proud of:

"You asked me just now if I could understand why Ned Silverton spent so much money. Of course I understand-he spends it on living with the rich. You think we live on the rich, rather than with them: and so we do, in a sense-but it's a privilege we have to pay for! We eat their dinners, and drink their wine, and smoke their cigarettes, and use their carriages and their opera-boxes and their private cars-yes, bu there's a tax to pay on every one of those luxuries. The man pays it by big tips to the servants, by playing cards beyond his means, by flowers and presents-and-and-lots of other things that cost; the girl pays it by tips and cards too-oh, yes, I've had to take up bridge again-and by going to the best dress-makers, and having just the right dress for every occasion, and always keeping herself fresh and exquisite and amusing!"

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Book Report: The Four Pillars of Investing

I just finished an excellent book on investing: The Four Pillars of Investing, by William J. Bernstein. His style is very engaging, especially for a subject that is inherently technical. There are a lot of ideas and I especially like learning about the theory of investing (pillar 1). Here's a brief synopsis of the pillars:

Pillar 1: The Theory of Investing

Risk and reward are inexorably linked no matter what the asset class (stocks, bonds, etc.) and it is relatively easy to determine long term expected returns. Results touted by money managers and mutual funds are almost all due to luck, not to skill. Portfolio theory and diversification are the names of the game.

Pillar 2: The History of Investing

Markets can become irrational with both optimism and pessimism. As recent events have shown, this boom/bust cycle has not ended (nor will it). And the counter intuitive point "is that at times of great optimism, future returns are the lowest; when things look bleakest, future returns are highest." Just like risk and return predict.

Pillar 3: The Psychology of Investing

The biggest obstacle to success in investing is you the investor, and our nature of of looking for the next Microsoft or lottery ticket. This leads to high trading churn (enriching traders rather than ourselves) and making poor buy/sell decisions.

Pillar 4: The Business of Investing

The incentives of most brokers and mutual fund companies are not aligned with the interests of the investor. They exist to make money - your money.

Investment Strategy: Assembling the Four Pillars

Most small investors are deficient in the areas of theory and psychology. As defined benefit plans (pensions) are being replaced by contribution plans (401k) it is increasingly important for 'average investors' to educate themselves on investing.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Health Rules

I read this article of Health Rules by Jane Brody in the New York Times. She quoted Michael Pollan, which I will recycle:

"Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants."
"If it came from a plant, eat it; if it was made in a plant, don’t."
"Stop eating before you’re full"
"No snacks, no seconds, no sweets — except on days that begin with the letter S."

All good advice. But the last one is terrible. I do love Sthursdays though.

RLOTW: Farmstand

I have not heard good things about Farmstand. Nobody I know has had a good experience at this self proclaimed "Urban Country Food" establishment. So with some amount of trepidation my coworkers and I decided to go after one coworker expressed his desire to eat somewhere "with salads" since he's on his annual cleanse. Despite the fact that my word of mouth reviews were positive, yet the the Yelp reviews are all decidedly okay, and the fact that I love the mixed-use building in downtown El Segundo, I successfully lobbied to go.

The results definitely exceeded my expectations. I knew we were in for a treat when the hostess who greeted us looked like she just got done taping an exercise video. I've never seen such fit arms in my life. And I don't have an arm fetish (chicken wing maybe). Anyway, we sat down, took a gander at the menu and ordered. I got a chicken sandwich and side of greens, coworkers ordered salads, and we split an order of fries. The fries were just a tad cold because they had probably sat out for a minute but they were super tasty - they were the uber-thin shoestrings, sprinkled with Parmesan, and served with a red sauce that tasted and smelled like ketchup to me but my coworkers swore it was not. After our meal (which I alone did not finish), we were pleasantly surprised when the steel armed hostess offered us a complimentary mousse. I'm not a super giant dessert fan but wow was that good.

After the meal one coworker, who was especially vociferous relating her prior bad experiences, proclaimed it the best meal she had ever had. Hyperbole aside Farmstand was definitely someplace where I would dine again.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Book Report: Siddhartha

I don't have much to talk about. I started reading Siddhartha, by Hermann Hesse, last year after I stole it from my mom. I remember reading parts of it in high school and it's a thought-provoking story. But my brain is full so all I have is this quote:

I have had many thoughts, but it would be difficult for me to tell you about them. But this is one thought that has impressed me, Govinda. Wisdom is not communicable. The wisdom which a wise man tries to communicate always sounds foolish. (p. 142)

Maybe that's why nobody in DC listens to Paul Krugman?

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Book Report: The Virginian

My fourth book of 2010 was The Virginian, by Owen Wister (free ebook!). Self proclaimed "The Most Famous Western Novel Ever Written." The copy I had was published in 1970 but it was originally published in 1902. Accordingly the dialogue is a bit hard to follow. However this really is an excellent book. Wikipedia tells me that "the character is seen as the first real cowboy character that has set the standard for the cowboy character stereotype. The book is seen as one of the first great western novels about cowboys."

An instructive lesson was to do a cursory look at the old US history book (aka Wikipedia) to find out what was going on in the country. We had exited the gilded age and in the early 1890's suffered through a long depression (worst in the country at that time). Our president (McKinley) had just been assassinated and Teddy Roosevelt (the author's friend) had just been sworn in. A tumultuous time to say the least.

With that in mind I thought there were a number of interesting quotes that really resonated with both my personal beliefs and current events:

I have thought that matter of dress and speech should not carry with them so much distrust in our democracy. (p. 25)

I know a man that mostly wins at cyards. I know a man that mostly loses. He says it is his luck. All right. Call it his luck. I know a man that works hard and he's gettin' rich, and I know another that works hard and is gettin' poor. He says it is his luck. All right. Call it his luck. I looked around and I see folks movin' up or movin' down, winners or losers everywhere. All luck, of course. But since folks can be born that different in their luck, where's your equality? No, seh! call your failure luck, or call it laziness, wander around the words, prospect all yu' mind to, and yu'll come out the same old trail of inequaility." He paused for a moment and look at her. "Some holds four aces," he went on, "and some holds nothin', and some poor fello' gets the aces and no show to play 'em; but a man has got to prove himself my equal before I'll believe him." (p. 103)

Now cyards are only one o' the manifestations of poker in this hyeh world. One o' the shapes yu' fool with it in when the day's work is oveh. If a man is built like that Prince boy was built (and it's away down deep beyond brains), he'll play winnin' poker with whatever hand he's holdin' when the trouble begins. Maybe it will be a mean, triflin' army, or an empty six-shoter, or a lame hawss, or maybe just nothin' but his natural countenance. Most any old thing will do for a fello' like that Prince boy to play poker with. (p. 111)

"It's might hard to do what your neighbors ain't doin." (p. 137)

"Anthing a man's bread and butter depends on, he's going to care about." (p. 138)

"It is not praying nor preaching that has ever caught me and made me ashamed of myself, but one or two people I have knowed that never said a superior word to me. They thought more o' me than I deserved, and that made me behave better than I naturally wanted to." (p. 152)

"As for salvation, I have got this far; somebody," he swept an arm at the sunset and the mountains, "must have made all that, I know. But I know one more thing I would tell Him to His face: if I can't do nothing long enough and good enough to earn eternal happiness, I can't do nothing long enough and bad enough to be damned. I reckon He plays a square game with us if He plays at all, and I ain't bothering my haid about other worlds." (p. 157)

The latter half of the book deals more with how the plot unravels so unfortunately no more quotes that I wrote down. Until next book!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The First Nachos of 2010

With all this talk about resolutions, books, and random lunches I almost forgot about THE FIRST NACHOS OF 2010! First let me set the scene:

My good friend Tannaz, of All Kinds of Yum fame, decided a couple years ago to hold a bake sale, No Cookie Left behind. This is gained a huge following of not only ardent cookie eating supporters but an entire bake sale organizing network. So after the devastating earthquake in Haiti, Heather Taylor of Taylor de Cordoba thought that a fund-raising bakesale for Doctor's Without Borders was a good idea.

Now you might be asking yourself what the heck this has to do with nachos. Never fear, it will become clear in a moment. On the day of the event my sister and a friend made the sojurn from SouthBay up to Scoops to drop off some Ranger Cookies and see of the workers needed any tacos. Because there's a taco stand near scoops. A very delicious taco stand by the name of Tacos El Pastor. Where we got nachos. Very delicious nachos.

It's hard to tell from the picture but the chips are really strange. They are round with the fake nacho-cheese flavoring. Kind of old school - definitely not what I expect at a taco stand that looks super authentic. I definitely wouldn't want those kind of chips on very many orders of nachos but because they were so unusual it turned out to be pretty good. My only other complaint was that the 'chos were a little beany. But the carne was good, the avocado slices were a nice touch (the guac with the tacos was REALLY good), and who doesn't love the ketchup squirt bottle filled with crema? Seriously, WHO DOESN'T LOVE IT?

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Book Report: Outliers

Everyone has heard of Outliers. If you haven't, you might actually be an Outlier. HEYO! Anyway, I was reading a post about becoming an expert, by Penelope Trunk. Penelope links to a couple posts. And although Penelope's post and links have more to do with the first part of Outliers (Opportunity) none of them discussed the book at all. And it would have been interesting if those articles explored the Legacy aspect the way Gladwell does.


The part about Outliers that was the least accessible to me was his quote from Matthew at the VERY beginning of the book:

Matthew 25:29 - "For unto everyone that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance. But from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath."

This quote did not make much sense to me so I asked my cousin if he could expound. Which he did with aplomb:

The verse comes at the end of a parable that Jesus tells called “the parable of the talents”. In brief, a master leaves 3 men in charge of a great deal of money (a ‘talent’ may be the equivalent of 20 years of wages, so in other words, a boat load of cash. This is important because it is not about ‘natural talents’.) (for a modern translation, read: this [sic]).

To one guy he leaves 5 talents, to the second 2 talents, and the third 1 talent. The first two dudes double the money, but the last guy takes the money and hides it in a hole. He’s worried that the master will be mad if he looses any, so when the master comes back, he gives all of the money back, down to the last cent.

Well, that pisses the master off, and the master takes the money and gives it to the guy who has done really well, leaving the the 3rd guy with nothing. Which leads to the verse in question.

Why is the master so upset? He got his money back. Well, technically the 3rd guy did ‘less than the least’. The ‘least’ he could have done was taken the money to the bank and collected interest. But he didn’t even do that. Instead he operated from a place of fear, and the explanation point for Jesus here is that that is the real sin. (side note: the end of the story talks about “throwing the 3rd guy out into the outer darkness”. Its tempting as modern readers to read that as “the third guy” or “people who fail” go to hell. Not the case. Jesus is saying that the fear itself needs to be cast out. But, this is getting off topic.)

Why it works for Gladwell: His book isn’t about people born extraordinary. Bill Gates wasn’t born a computer genius, he was born in a very specific window of time in history and had extraordinary access to technology at a critical age. BUT, he also worked. Hard. 10,000 hours. The first two guys in the story above take what they have, whatever it is, and work. Plain and simple. The third guy does not work. He doesn’t do anything.

The message I most take from Gladwell (and Jesus), is that it is the opportunity directly in front of us that matters. Not the pie in the sky what-ifs, but making the most of what you have each day. And, as ‘proven’ by the 10,000 hours theory, hard will will repay itself. Exactly like Jesus said it would.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Book Report: Bonfire of the Vanities

I just finished Tom Wolfe's Bonfire of the Vanities. It took me a couple weeks to get my Krugman post up but I wanted to get through this one is much faster, mostly because I've been reading the book off and on for a few months and I'm sick of it being in my life. Nevertheless, I'm still taking credit for one of my 26 books of 2010 though.

There are a couple reasons this book took so long: it's mammoth (almost 700 pages), the characters are very hard to identify with, and I just can't seem to get into Wolfe's writing style. There are a lot of similarities between the characters in Bonfire and the current mess on Wall Street, which if anything made me like the book less. It would have been better if we had left the Gordon Geckos in the 80's (or Vin Diesel in the Boiler Room?). I also have a dog-eared copy of The Right Stuff that I plan on finishing this year but for the same reason that I decided to read Bonfire: I just want it off my shelf. At least Right Stuff is about some cool historical shit, er, stuff.


Book Report: The Return of Depression Economics

I'm testing a new feature here at Nacho Lovers Anonymous, cataloging the books I read throughout 2010. A friend of mine made a resolution to read 25 books in 2010. I thought that was a good number. I actually like 26 better (a book every 2 weeks) but let's not quibble over details. So in addition to my previous resolutions (which, as it turns out, isn't such a great idea) let's add "read 26 books".

My first book of 2010 was The Return of Depression Economics and the Crisis of 2008 by Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman. For those who have never heard of him, I apologize. For those who dislike him, I'm not sure I like you. And for those who know and like him this post will be relatively meaningless since I don't have anything of substance to add to any of his topics.

In addition to his work as an economist Paul is a columnist and blogger for the New York Times, with an article entitled Conscience of a Liberal (an interesting sidenote is that while his is very liberal and progressive, Times' policy does not allow him to endorse political candidates). I read the blog regularly and have read a couple of his other books. His writing is clear, concise, and persuasive. He makes the subject of economics extremely interesting (at least for this humble blogger), in addition to offering keen insights to other parts of the political spectrum (especially health care).

Here's a quick book review, another from the UK, and an interesting video of a talk he did recently about the book.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

RLOTW: Indian Summer

Oh yeah, and the coworkers and I did a ROLTW at Indian Summer (in the pouring freaking raining to boot). Yelp already has a ton of reviews so I didn't do anything there but I was pleasantly surprised that they had samosas as part of the buffet. It also seemed like they had a bigger selection than other places. Although all the meat was chicken they did have a big assortment: chicken tikka masala, curry chicken, biryani, and chicken kabob (including some sausage-like pieces). Anyway, I highly recommend.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Maybe New Year's Resolutions aren't such a good idea

Okay, so maybe it's not such a bad idea that I didn't write a post about my New Year's Resolutions. Turns out that they are really hard to keep. One of my favorite bloggers, Penelope Trunk, did all the research here. These are her takeaways:

  1. Start Small
  2. Think in Increments of Three Weeks
  3. Get the Wording Right
  4. Visualize what you will look like
  5. Forget New Year's day. Start now

RLOTW: Fantastic Cafe

Well we didn't do RLOTW last week but my coworkers and I survived the inclement weather and made it out today to Fantastic Cafe in downtown Gundo.

Yelp only had 9 reviews so I added my $0.02:

The aforementioned burger combo is now up to $5.39 but that's still not bad. I almost got the Patty Melt, which is my usual goto at places like this, but the Cheeseburger did me fine. Coworkers got the grilled chicken sandwich and were pleased (especially after adding a dollop of the homemade salsa verde). Unfortunately we all got fries, which were great, but had onion ring envy after we saw a plate walk by.

I've had breakfast here too, which is really where Fantastic shines. The breakfast burrito is dense and delicious and the omelets aren't too shabby (the avo was surprisingly fresh). Solid times.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

All your RLOTW are belong to us

Over the holiday break my cousin 'dval' reminded me about his prior blogging experience with the Scary Lunch of The Month (SLOTM). This is the best idea ever and I wanted in. Fortunately I have a couple of adventurous co-workers that I coerced into helping me form the Random Lunch of The Week (RLOTW), which is still tentatively named. Our goal is to randomly eat at every restaurant in downtown El Segundo.

To get RLOTW off the ground I started by compiling a list of all restaurants in downtown Gundo. Then I went through and marked off the places we dined at in 2009 as a group (sorry Big Mike, you will not be part of our Thursday plans). Additionally, prior solo missions do not remove a restaurant from the list. Eventually this list will become its own map.

To pick today's restaurant one coworker picked a number, another picked a direction (either up or down) and the third randomly selected a restaurant on the list. Then from that starting location he moved either up or down by the number selected. I have a feeling like this process will change sporadically, or restaurants will be picked based upon a certain desire for special occasions. Or yearnings for sushi or burritos. Fortunately there are over 30 restaurants on the list so we have a lot to choose from.

View Larger Map

My other goal will be to spread the word about Gundo restaurants on Yelp. Because I'm anal I already went on Yelp to 'help' them with some of their info. I amended the Tavern on Main page to include their website. I informed them that the El Tarasco on Grand closed and has since been reopened as Beach Mex. My other goal will be to write reviews of places we go, but only if they have 10 or less reviews already. In that vein, I wrote a review for the restaurant we dined at today, Melting Pot Rotisserie:

I went there with 2 coworkers. I had the chicken pita, coworker 1 had the half chicken combo, and the other coworker had the brochette (ka-bob) combo with chicken and beef. Really good food all the way around.

The chicken pita was made by sauteing precooked chicken with raw onions and peppers and rolling up in a warm pita. Very good spices and Tzatziki sauce. The half chicken was reheated in one of those Subway cheese melting devices and had a green pesto-ish sauce on it - also very tasty and not dry at all. The beef brochette had a thin vinegar based bbq sauce with a nice tangy flavor although coworker reported that the beef was tough. The chicken brochette had a yellow sauce of unknown origin.

Other amusing notes were that the meals were served with salsa while the menu also included some Indian cuisine (paneer and curry). Gotta love LA.