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Despite the Lakers’ painful loss to Boston on Saturday, March 9, there was still much to celebrate at L.A. Live when friends like Tiffany Haddish and Chauncey Billups as well as family came out for the official grand opening of Shaquille O’Neal’s new namesake restaurant, across from Staples Center.

To help ease that loss, guests grazed on items from chef Matthew Silverman’s Southern-style menu such as mac and cheese, shrimp and green chili cheese grits, deviled eggs with country ham, brisket sliders made with 16-hour smoked Revier Cattle Co. beef, black pepper biscuits, fried green tomatoes, banana pudding and specialty cocktails.

BC mac and cheese with cheese cracker crust; Credit: Kelli Maruca

BC mac and cheese with cheese cracker crust; Credit: Kelli Maruca

Shaquille's famous fried chicken; Credit: Kelli Maruca

Shaquille's famous fried chicken; Credit: Kelli Maruca

And yes, there’s still room for more fried chicken in L.A. — Shaq’s famous fried chicken is a juicy and crunchy Jidori free-range chicken brined for 48 hours and served with house-made BBQ and hot sauce with true Southern flare.

Also on the menu of the airy iCrave-designed space with private enclosed patio are a Shaq burger (American cheese, red onion, house-made pickles and Shaq sauce) alongside the Kobe Burger (Greg Norman prime Kobe beef, Gruyère, roasted tomatoes, arugula and bacon jam).

Shaquille's at L.A. Live; Credit: Kelli Maruca

Shaquille's at L.A. Live; Credit: Kelli Maruca

There’s an all-star dessert lineup that includes a Hummingbird cake, with pecans, banana, pineapple and cream cheese frosting, and a butterscotch pot de crème with chocolate ganache and whipped cream. There’s also an impressive selection of ports and dessert wines and liqueurs in addition to whiskey flights and a fully stocked wine vault.

DJs keep the energy high and there are celebrity nooks throughout the restaurant, including a table with a Shaq-sized chair for the host himself, who pops in now and then after hosting friends and family to a Lakers game in his VIP suite at Staples Center.

Chauncey Billups, left, Shaq, Diplo and Paul Pierce at the opening of Shaquille's; Credit: Capra Photography/Courtesy AEG L.A. Live

Chauncey Billups, left, Shaq, Diplo and Paul Pierce at the opening of Shaquille's; Credit: Capra Photography/Courtesy AEG L.A. Live

LA Weekly