Hockey can also make you broke, what with the $6 bag of peanuts (I s**t you not), $13 pl..."/> Hockey can also make you broke, what with the $6 bag of peanuts (I s**t you not), $13 pl..."/> Hockey can also make you broke, what with the $6 bag of peanuts (I s**t you not), $13 pl..."/>

Hockey makes you hungry. That’s a given.


Hockey can also make you broke, what with the $6 bag of peanuts (I s**t you not), $13 plastic cup of beer, $4 hotdog (allegedly composed of meat) and a $3 pretzel-shaped hunk of wetted down, heavily salted and baked all-purpose flour – not to mention $80 tickets and $20 parking – you’re lucky to have enough petrol in your vehicle to make it home!

{Well, at least it isn’t the Super Bowl ($22,000 per ticket) or basketball ($3,000 per ticket)}

My advice is to load up before the game and order some extra goodies to smuggle in. Not from home, though. The last thing you want to deal with before a game is cooking, eating in a hurry and then doing the washing up because the missus will yell at you if you leave dirty dishes developing a cement-like crust in the sink.

No, you want a place that serves cheap, good, filling, rib-sticking food where the service is fast and the portions make you go “woah!” (a la Keanu Reeves)

Ironically enough, Los Angeles is home to two of the best places to fill up on cheap eats before a game at Staples Center.

Yeah, I know, when you usually read or hear about L.A. restaurants it’s all celebrities and Cristal and $40 appetizers, but as Alton Brown would put it, there’s some good eats out there. Ya just gotta find them.

For a pre-Staples meal, here are three excellent options.

Philippe The Original : (grab and go) You’ve got your choice of beef dip, pork dip, lamb dip, ham dip or turkey dip. Go with beef and ask for “double dip”. I guarandamntee you will not be disappointed. The “dip” jus is comprised of all the drippins from all of the aforementioned meats and makes for a meaty nirvana. For your take to the game snack, order a swiss cheese sandwich slathered in hot mustard. Goes great with Stella Artois! Philippe’s also has some great soups and chili, but I don’t think they would survive the trip in your coat pocket. Of course, if you want to gross-out the people around you, you could bring a couple of pickled pigs feet wrapped in parchment paper.

The Original Pantry : (siddown and enjoy) Founded in something like 1237, their prices are suicidal. You want fuel for the game? Ham steak and eggs followed up with apple pie a la mode or a $14 T-bone (yes, you read that right) with a peach cobbler chaser. For a takeaway snack the garlic bread is pretty good and eminently portable. Plus the place is open 24/7 in case you need to de-booze yourself after the game.

Trader Vic’s : (civility without breaking the bank) Don’t let the Beverly Hills cachet of the name make you nervous. Vic’s is the most reasonably prices restaurant at L.A. Live with the best portions and excellent drink pours. The appetizers are practically main course sized. If you’ve got four people, order 5 or 6 starters. You’ll be amazed when they bring out the ribs. Also, the duck tacos are awesome (yes, they sound silly but they taste great), sliders are unique, the rolls are ok and stay away from beef skewers. For snacky-snacks, there’s edamame, taro chips and spring rolls (but you might not be able to bring the dippin’ sauce).

With regard to L.A. Live in general, all I have to say (with the exception of Trader Vic’s) is DO NOT EAT THERE!!!!! I’ll put it to you this way, on the menu posted outside the Wolfgang Puck restaurant there was listed a potato side dish for $9. Go ahead, check out the menu online. There are no prices listed. Always a bad indicator.

The day I pay that much for a freaking potato is the day I start rooting for the Flyers…or the Redwings…or the Sharks…or – oh never mind, you get the idea!

BTW, our local grocery store has potatoes on sale at $1 per 10lb bag. Maybe I’ll buy a few and hurl them at the restaurant.