Is it the cheese bread? Is it the bacon-wrapped filet mignons? Is it the thrilling sensation you get when a waitress asks if you want the Daily Double, minutes before bringing you what looks like a glass Big Gulp cup filled with bourbon? Is it the fact that on race day the restaurant's customers tend to include both big-spending big shots and smallish men well-acquainted with silk blouses and rocketing mountains of horseflesh?
A short furlong or two from the track at Santa Anita, The Derby, in business since 1922, is practically a shrine to its late owner George Woolf, aka "The Iceman," the jockey who rode Seabiscuit in some of the most famous races in track history, and who died at Santa Anita when he was thrown from his mount in 1946. Would Woolf have regaled his fans over plates of Chilean sea bass, seared ahi or scalone amandine? We suspect not. Steak and whiskey was the correct call in 1938, and steak and whiskey is the correct call here today.
The Derby: 233 E. Huntington Dr., Arcadia. (626) 447-2430.
Look for more "Best of L.A." pieces in our annual Best of L.A. issue, coming Oct. 7th.