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|| News Item: Posted 2004-11-03

Road Warrior: 'The Last Luau' Dining and Party Guide
By Mongo Johnson

Photo by
Whenever you go to an event, it's the same question.

Where's the food?

Photographers are all about the food. At the Super Bowl, it's not who's playing but which parties do you have invitations for? Are you going to the Commissioners party or the lame media reception?

In an effort to keep you on the right dining track, I've spent the last month dashing back and forth from the set at Raleigh Studios to various restaurants in the beach cities.

Thank god the studio gives me a lavish expense account.

***** Redondo Beach / King Harbor *****

Out the front door of the hotel, see the water? That means you're facing west. To your right is North and to your left is South.

From right to left:

North of the hotel about 200 meters
A very popular chain operation that offers "California cuisine" The menu is quite extensive and it's a great place for veg heads as well. Portions are HUGE so be sure to go hungry or consider splitting dishes. The big draw of course are the cheesecakes. I think they have over 20 different varieties.

Mongo's fave - everything.

North west of the hotel about 175 meters
A Joe's crab shack in Redondo beach is just like a Joe's crab shack in Atlanta. Thanks to FedEx, you can have the same crab legs in Kansas that you'll eat here. Hey come to think of it why the hell would you eat here?

Mongo's fave - all you can eat king crab legs with a pint of butter.

Photo by Aaron Kehoe

Photo by Aaron Kehoe

Trent Nelson, left, and Jack Gruber, center, enjoy the food and atmosphere at Johnny Rockets during dinner at the 2003 Luau with Paul Clapp.
Right in front of you stupid.
Burgers, burgers, and more burgers, well ok, since we're in California, there are chicken sandwiches as well. It's a recreation of a 50's diner complete with a pretty good soda fountain. It's close, it's fast and it's cheap. I can almost guarantee everybody will eat here at least once during the luau.

Mongo's fave - Chicken fried steak.

Next to Ruby's (to the left numb - nuts)
No food, just booze and music at night. Don't even think about trying your fake ID here. Redondo Police and the management of the bar have a zero tolerance policy.

POLLY'S (Mongo's secret spot)
Hidden behind Latitudes, on the little pier jutting out into the marina.
You'll find this is THE killer local's hangout. Good burgers and great breakfasts accompany a wonderful view of the ocean and Palos Verdes. Dine inside or out, plus you'll avoid the long wait for tables at Ruby's. An added bonus, if a big boat goes by, the wake cause the pier to rock back and forth giving you the effect of a 5.0 earthquake.

Mongo's fave - Italian sausage & veggie omelets.

To the left of Latitudes.
Brazilian steakhouse with samba dancers, woo hoo! This is a meat eaters paradise. You sit down, turn a little wooden statue over so the green side is up and out of nowhere, servers come running at you with giant swords of sizzling meat.
Top sirloin, rib-eye, bacon wrapped turkey, chicken wings, roast pork, roast beef, garlic beef, and on and on. It's a non stop protein parade. All you can eat for $25.00.

Mongo's fave - the dancer in the blue outfit.

Across the parking from Samba or about 100 yards south of the hotel.
Hanashiro and Taniwaki's favorite seafood dining adventure. Pick the fish, crab or lobster from the display, tell them how you want it cooked, (broiled, boiled, grilled, steamed, or fried) go out on the deck and pick a table. Spread out a big sheet of butcher paper, open a can of old bay and devour.

Mongo's fave - Dungeness crab.

Next to Captain Kid's
Fancy Italian and seafood restaurant. If you want seafood or pasta in an upscale setting, this is the place. Be sure to tell Noel, the hostess that Wally has a crush on her.

Mongo's fave - Sauteed Sea Bass.

On the Redondo pier, about 250 meters south of the hotel
A fish, steak and chop house. Outstanding food quality and atmosphere. If you're on an expense account this is the place to have dinner or lunch. It's been in 80's and warm at night, so you'll want to check out the outdoor patio dining.

Thursday and Friday, 5:00pm to 6:00pm, don't miss out on their "First seating special". A 3 course meal for $20.00!!!!

Mongo's fave - Fresh catch of the day.


About a 7 minute walk south of the hotel, the pier is jam packed with a variety of dining options. Check out for a complete listing. Since Mongo thinks this place is a giant tourist trap, mongo will refrain from making a recommendation with the sole exception of "Hot dog on a stick" The lemonade is killer stomper and the corn dog is a coronary on a stick.

***** HERMOSA BEACH *****

Out the front door of the hotel and turn right (that's north for those of you that can't tell your right from your left) Just 1 mile north of the hotel, lies Hermosa Beach, the place they filmed 90210 and Solider of Fortune.

Your destination is the PIER AVE. party zone, a (1) block radius area jam packed with bars and restaurants.

>>>WARNING <<<

Parking is a bitch, no really I mean it. Even if you do manage to find a parking space, chances are you won't have enough change to feed the meter. THE primary revenue stream for the city of Hermosa Beach is parking citations. The parking Gestapo pilot the latest 3 wheel INTERCEPTORS, which can do 0 to 60 kilometers per hour in 3.6 seconds. When time runs out on your meter, a micro GPS transmitter sends a signal to the closest meter maid and ZOOM they're on your ass with a ticket written and on your windshield quicker than you can say "god save the queen".

HENNESY'S TAVERN: Take an old world English tavern, add in a beach front location, a second story sun deck with views from Malibu to Catalina, mix in a bunch of bronzed, bikini clad babes and you have Wally Skalij's favorite beach hideout. Good burgers and be sure to try the fish and chips.

LIGHTHOUSE: One of the oldest jazz clubs in Los Angles. Before the House of Blues was even a marketing concept, the Lighthouse was packing them in.

PATRICK MALLOY'S: A pale imitation of Hennesy's Tavern.

ALOHA SHARKEZ: Raging babe fest!

SANGRIA: Raging babe fest!

CAFÉ BOOGALOO: Good jazz club with passable Cajun food.

SHARK'S COVE: Good pool hall. Don't play with anybody that has their own stick.

705: So you want the chic LA club scene but you don't want the drive? Check out Club 705. It's got good sound and comfy couches. Stay away from the sushi bar. You can do better with a can of tuna and some saltines.


There's a smattering of small supper clubs and bars scattered throughout Manhattan, but nothing to compare to Hermosa Beach.

(Besides we don't want any of your ilk hanging out in our backyard.)

There is one dining establishment you will want to know about:

THE KETTLE: Located at the corner of Manhattan Beach Blvd. and Highland Ave. Open 24 hours a day, this south bay fixture has been feeding the post 2:00 am party hordes for decades. EXCELLENT breakfasts, good sandwiches, salads, and soups, this place is 2 big steps UP from your typical Denny's

(Mongo Johnson makes his long-awaited return to the pages of the Sports Shooter Newsletter after a season working as a stand - in for dead bodies on all of the CSI shows. He reports that his next venture into television will be the remake of one of his favorite shows of all-time "My Mother The Car" which will star Owen Wilson and Oprah Winfrey as the voice of the car.)

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