Cal-Neva Roundup – January 2013

Happy to report this monthly column will now include festivals, events and places to visit in Nevada.  Hope you enjoy the expanded coverage from California, the Golden State and Nevada, the Silver State.


East County San Diego – There’s a lot going on at Viejas Casino. On a recent visit I started the day by sitting in on an Omaha tournament. I managed to finish third.  The poker room is well run with a friendly and helpful staff. Additionally, they serve complimentary soft drinks and coffee and feature highly discounted meals. For gaming fans there are lots of slots, table games and off-track betting. After the tournament, I had a great lunch at The Grove Steakhouse (don’t miss the crab bisque).  It’s a rustic-clubby feeling and its menu features aged prime meat and fresh seafood.    Note: there are five additional restaurants at Viejas.  I wandered over to the outlet shops and got a super deal on a fleece jacket.  If you are an ice-skater, you will enjoy the largest skating rink in Southern California at Viejas.  There’s also a bowling alley.  Viejas’ new hotel is well underway and its grand opening is scheduled for this spring.  Look at the website,, for the never-ending array of promotions, including specials for the military.  While online or in person, join their free V Club to earn points towards discounts and benefits.

San Diego – Restaurant Week is back, January 8 – 13.  Over 180 restaurants offer set menus for lunch and dinner.  This year, I’m heading to The Shores Restaurant ($15 for lunch), Deborah Scott’s newest hot spot, Vintana, for lunch ($20), 100 Wines for dinner ($30) and Nine-Ten for dinner ($40). The list of participants, prices and menus can be found at


Las VegasMy latest visit was for a travel writers’ conference at the newly remodeled Plaza Hotel.  They have spent millions upgrading and it shows; great style, updated amenities and comfortable rooms. Former Las Vegas Mayor Oscar B. Goodman’s restaurant, Oscar’s, is located inside the hotel and it’s a perfect spot for cocktails and steaks. The tagline is Beef, Booze and Broads. The Plaza anchors the Fremont Experience which features pedestrian walkways, glitzy vintage neon signs, restaurants, bars, and lots of entertainment choices (there’s even a zip-line). Another favorite of mine is El Cortez’ Cabana Suites; it’s cool, eclectic and quiet.  Two other pluses at the El Cortez are its low-limit poker room and the excellent ½ pound burger and beer for $5 in the Cortez Café. Also

photos courtesy of Howard Hian

downtown is the fabulous Mob Museum, located in the historic U.S. Post Office and Federal Courthouse; a must-see attraction. There are three floors featuring fascinating law enforcement and mob history with high-tech theater presentations, iconic one-of-a-kind artifacts and interactive exhibits; plan on spending at least three hours.  For further information about the area, logon to,, and

Hope you enjoy the new coverage.  Happy new year, safe travels and enjoy the journey…

Howard Hian

Our guest post and monthly column comes from Howard Hian who was recently awarded a Gold Medal/First Place Award from the North American Travel Journalists Association’s annual international writing contest.