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Safari Sam's: Dinner and a Show

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When your husband is in four bands, you become kind of selective about going to his gigs. But when a show is going to be at Safari Sam's, I always say yes. Because I know I'm going to have a good time and leave well-fed. I really like the club's layout. There is a large hall for watching the bands, and the outdoor smoking area is like being at a cocktail party. My favorite area is the loft, where I can order dinner and watch everything from a distance. It's like three clubs in one. Service is always friendly, they have a large selection of beers on tap, and the food is fantastic.

The menu is standard American bar fare, with a bit of Cal-Mex and pub grub thrown in. Although they have a number of dinners and hot plates, I don't really like to wrestle with a knife and a fork in a nightclub. That said, I will make an exception for my favorite item on the menu, fish and chips. The coating is light and crispy, and the fish is always fresh. Their "seasoned" fries are actually more like garlic fries with a few other seasonings thrown in to keep the garlic company. They are delicious, but so intense I have never even finished an entire side of fries. The appetizer order of fries arrives in a bowl bigger than your head, so prepare to share.

The penne pasta also arrives in the same humongous bowl with your selection of sauces. The Pomodoro-style tomato-basil is a good choice. Vegans can rejoice, because the vegan meatloaf is still available, even though it is not listed on their re-vamped menu. The vegan meatloaf is juicy and flavorful, if a bit spicy. They also have a vegan Boca burger, but you can always make that at home. Go for the house special.

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The sandwiches are where Safari Sam's really shines. It is obvious some thought was put into matching the right fresh bread to each sandwich. Their burger ranks right up there with the best of them. The quality of the ingredients really shows, and this is where little touches like homemade ketchup make all the difference. Even the simple chicken sandwich is elevated with a french roll, ripe red tomatoes, nicely-grilled chicken and a flavorful aioli.

There are a number of intriguing offerings on the new menu, including a ribeye sandwich and a fried fish sandwich. Safari Sam's quesedilla and taquitos are kind of average, so I am not sure the addition of nachos and crispy tacos was really neccessary. The unusual pairing of fried shrimp and zucchini threw me for a loop until I thought about tempura. If it works there, why not? They have an adept hand with the deep-fryer. I'm definitely eager to try the wings.

I recommend arriving around 9:30 so you can finish eating before it is time to socialize and rock out. Service slows considerably as the night drags on as well.

The many faces of Safari Sam's:

Straight into the pit:

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Party in the Parking Lot!

Go, DJ Go DJ, Go!

All photos by Elise Thompson for LAist

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