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Café La Maze

1441 Highland Avenue, National City, CA 91950

I bet this is like doing lunch at Musso and Frank’s in Hollywood. You’re eating the legend as much as the steak. Marcel Lamaze, friend to the stars, built this in 1940 as a halfway house for Hollywood en route to TJ’s Caliente Racetrack. It still has a hidden gambling room upstairs.

Seventy years later, the classic steakhouse with its full cocktail bar and half-round red booths doing a waltz around the big room is intact and fashionable again.

Marcel’s friends — Marlene Dietrich, Carole Lombard, Clark Gable, Errol Flynn, Jane Russell — watch you from the walls. Your cocktails are their cocktails: martinis, daiquiris, old-fashioneds, Manhattans. Judean the barista mixes me a sweet-and-dry vermouth martini with gin.

Steaks are staple, but there are also bar-top appetizers like jumbo shrimp cocktail, beef bones in barbecue sauce, prime rib bites.

I take the sautéed mushrooms ($6), then the petite cut prime rib (about $18) with baked potato, veggies, horseradish, albóndigas soup.

They have live jazz Thursdays onward, with a big following. Tonight, Monday, I sit back to soak up Ron Bell on the guitar. Only thing missing is Marcel, table-hopping, schmoozing with his French accent.

  • Prices: Prime rib bones (BBQ sauce), $5.50 each; sautéed mushrooms, $10.95; French onion soup, $6.50 (bowl), $5.50 (cup); sirloin burger, $13.95 (with steak fries, or for $2 more, baked potato, mash, salad or soup of the day); prime rib dip, horseradish, au jus, same sides, $15.95; prime rib petite cut, 9-ounce, $25.95; “regular” cut (12-ounce) $29.95; “La Maze” cut, (16-ounce), $35.95; Grand Cut (24-ounce), $46.95; 9-ounce “petite cut” top sirloin steak $20.95; 12-ounce filet mignon, $36.95

  • Bus: 929

  • Nearest Bus Stops: Highland and E.13th (northbound); Highland and E.14th (southbound)
  • Additional Info

    Hours

    Sunday 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.
    Monday 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.
    Tuesday 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.
    Wednesday 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.
    Thursday 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.
    Friday 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.
    Saturday 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.

    Restaurants details

    Cuisine
    Price range of entrées $14 - $33
    Delivery No
    Outdoor seating No
    Party room Yes
    Reservations accepted Yes
    Kids menu Yes
    Occasional live music Yes
    Vegetarian friendly Yes
    Payment options Accepts credit cards

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