Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Where to Eat: Buffalo Wings @ Art’s Wings & Things

Update: This location is now closed. 

Hot, fried, buttery, succulent, tender pieces of crispy bits of ecstasy. Hooters, watch out! Wing Stop, fall back! And Pizza Hut, please move to the left, to the left. When it comes to L.A.’s best, most tastiest Buffalo wings, Art’s Wings & Things trumps all other establishments. Might I even say that these wings are not only the best in the city, but maybe even the state and possibly even the nation.

Several key factors mesh together to create memorable wings. First off, it’s the chicken. Tender, juicy and quite flavorful. Not to fail to mention, these wings are also well-sized. These suckers don't look as if they were picked from any scrawny, malnourished, under-fed chickens. Secondly, the skin is perfectly fried so that after the coat of Buffalo sauce has been applied, it still retains its crispiness, never becoming too soggy or mushy. I must also note how delicious the Buffalo sauce is. You know how some sauces are so spicy that you can only taste fiery peppers, and nothing else? Well that’s not the case with this sauce. While it has a nice bite to it, it also still retains a zesty, remarkable flavor. In fact, as I think about it more and more, I’d say it’s probably Art’s sauce that truly makes these wings such winners.

All wings are accompanied by triangle slices of wheat bread and fresh carrots and celery at no additional cost, but I suggest throwing in a bag of fries. They are magically delicious. Thin, golden brown and seasoned with salt and pepper.



Now, I have to offer a few…“tips”…because I wouldn’t be doing my rightful duty if I didn’t share my “insider’s insight.” But please, don’t let the following deter you from stopping by - simply take it with a grain of salt! Please come prepared to pay in cash (or EBT). No credit cards accepted. I always, always, always call in advance to place my order and I always, always, always request my food to go. It’s not that I don’t want to wait and/or eat in the dining room – after all, the artistic murals of celebrities are captivating – it’s just that I can only look at Stevie Wonder and Prince so many times. And when you do call in and the lady who answers says that she’ll call you back immediately to confirm your order, and ten minutes passes by and you still haven’t heard from her, don’t fret. Calmly call her back and remind her to please place your order, and everything will be all good.





With all of this said, do keep Art’s Wings & Things in mind, especially with this sports season in full effect. Just as there are football and basketball games to be watched, there are savory snacks to be consumed. So the next time you’re about to spend your Sunday perched in front of ESPN, pick of a box of wings – you won’t be disappointed!


For more information:
Art’s Wings & Things
4213 Crenshaw Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90008
(323) 294-9464




Thursday, November 25, 2010

And Where do you “Where To”?: Thanksgiving Edition

‘Tis the season to be thankful!

I know that personally, I’m beyond thankful for the many culinary destinations that have spectacular food, exquisite drink and grand places to be merry...
Destinations like Simply Wholesome, RockSugar, Playhouse, O! Burger …
and the list goes on and on.

But most importantly, I’m thankful for my amazing, talented friends with whom I have to share my culinary and thrill-seeking experiences. So for this Thanksgiving, I asked a few of my fellow cohorts which Los Angeles gems they were thankful for. Here’s what they had to say!


Miss Chrystal of www.myfusionla.com says:
“I like Townhouse Kitchen & Bar at the Sherman Oaks Galleria. It's a nice building, it's not too crowded and they have $5 (good-sized and tasty) appetizers and well drinks on weekends from 11 pm tp close! Great for a midnight snack and drink!”



Miss Zoe of www.fabulouslyeverafter.com is thankful for:
Creme De La Crepe, which offers the most authentic French food I've tasted this side of the Atlantic. They serve a full menu of delicious French cuisine, but I go for one thing -- the sweet crepes. They're absolutely amazing! My fave is the crepe Splendide, but you can't go wrong with anything on the menu. Go for dessert and perhaps stay for dinner.”


Mr. Justin of www.thecommercialmix.com says:
"I enjoy hitting up Bayou Grille in Inglewood from time to time for some authentic New Orleans flavor. The Red Snapper and Catfish dinner with a side of spicy seafood Gumbo is my go to dish and it never disappoints."


Miss Lindsey of www.madewomanmag.com says:
“Living in LA the past 7 plus years has made me a bit of a Mexican food snob, but one spot that I'm soo thankful to have nearby is El Conquistador in Silverlake. Whether stopping in for a quick Margarita or a full meal, from the tacos to the chiles rellenos to the guacamole, everything is on point. Add all this to their friendly and attentive service and you have a true LA gem.”


Miss Nailah of www.PolkaDotCoaching.com says:
Zengo in Santa Monica is a new restaurant that is fast becoming one of my faves. The atmosphere is laid back and the views from the heated patio are incredible. Since it's a tapas style restaurant, you'll get the opportunity to try a few different things on the menu. I recommend the Chicken Empanadas and the Unagi Sushi Roll. Enjoy!”


Eat turkey today, and then tomorrow,
try one of these fantastic five places.
Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 5, 2010

And Where do You "Where To"?: The Floacist

For another Nu-Soul Mag project, I interviewed the ever-so-talented Natalie "The Floacist" Stewart of the internationally acclaimed group Floetry.

We talked about her upcoming project Floetic Soul (released on November 9th!), her love of the arts and whether or not we'd ever see another Floetry reunion.

I had to sneak in a question about where she "Where To's" in Los Angeles. Check out what she had to say, then head over to Nu-Soul to read my interview with her!

Me: “You mentioned that you had recorded in Los Angeles. Is there any place that you like to go in Los Angeles, or a favorite place that you have? It’s my hometown, so I’m just curious.”

The Floacist: “Are you talking about places I like to go? Yeah, they’re pretty much all going to be food (laughs). I like Koi. I like, oh gosh, what’s the name of that great Japanese fusion spot? Koi is the Thai spot, and there’s another one – oh goodness, I can’t pull its name to my mind right now. There’s one in LA and there’s one in New York…”


The Floacist’s Manager: “Fusion Sushi.”


The Floacist: “No it’s not Fusion Sushi. But I do like Fusion Sushi in LA, but that’s not what I’m talking about.”


Me: “Is it Katana maybe?”


The Floacist: “It’s a three-letter word, but I can’t think of it right now, which means, you know, that you really love it (laughs). I just know what they make there. Their Japanese black cod miso club is just amazing... Gosh, what else do I do in LA? I like to hike in LA. I like to hike in California, get up in the mountains. Gosh, what else do I do? That’s pretty much it. I’m usually working.”

Me: “Well, I’ve only been to London once, but I remember going to the West – I think it’s the West End – where all the plays are. It’s a really great city.”


The Floacist: “It’s a pretty cool spot, London. It’s best to do, I think, with someone who knows the place.”


Me: “Right, right. Well thank you so much for your time – I appreciate it, really I do.”


The Floacist: “Thank you.”


(Circa 2005: Me, The Floacist, The Songtress, Lauren)

To read my Nu-Soul Mag interview with her, click here!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Where to Drink: Shhhhh! I’m Studying @ Bricks & Scones


I’m not one to be at a loss of words often, but Bricks & Scones leaves me speechless. To describe how this enchanting cafe arouses an excitement that builds up so rapidly, that by the time it reaches my throat, I'm fumbling my sentences, grasping for the right words, getting besides myself. I compare the feeling to how Mary Lennox must have felt in The Secret Garden after turning the key in the keyhole to unveil a magically curious new world.

A stone’s throw north of the bustling Larchmont Village, Bricks & Stones stands in the middle of a nondescript block of grey, bland, boring offices and houses. Clusters of shrubs and trees protectively hide what lies within the vicinity of this café, but a step through the entrance (to the left) reveals a splendid courtyard and a darling two-story converted house. Inside, flamboyant colors splash the walls lined with bookshelves. Twisted stairwells lead to hidden enclaves where patrons muse over textbooks, study guides and magazines.

Oh, the patrons. I’ve fallen madly in love with the clientele who languidly sprawl out over cozy leather couches in the main area (pictured below) – who furiously type on their laptops in between sips of lattes amongst outdoor tables. Intently studious, alarmingly friendly…They’ve made me feel connected to a bigger part of humanity. I’ve never felt alone here; I always feel as though I’m joining a community of writers, readers, intellectuals and sensitive souls.



I almost love them as much as I love Bricks and Scones’ snacks and beverages. Its namesakes – the scones – are delicious, as are the “carrot cake” cupcakes, filled with real carrots and nuts. But don’t try one until you’ve filled up with one of the various grilled sandwiches (pictured below). They are as incredible as they appear. Teas – from scalding hot to frostily chilled – compliment any meal or dessert, and the hot chocolates are a great energy booster for an afternoon devoted to reading.


So if you need a quiet place to venture for a nice cup of tea or coffee and to get serious studying and/or writing completed, you now know where to turn. See you there soon!


For more information:
Bricks & Scones
403 N. Larchmont Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90004
323.463.0811
www.bricksandscones.com

Friday, October 22, 2010

And Where do you "Where To"?: Calvin Richardson

(Photo courtesy of Shanachie)

I recently had the opportunity to interview Calvin Richardson for Nu-Soul Mag. At the end of my chat with this soulful crooner, you know I had to ask:

When you lived in Los Angeles for several years back in the early 2000s, where did you "Where To"?

“To be honest,” Calvin admitted. “When I was in Los Angeles, when I lived out there, I didn’t hang out that much. I was working on my album 2:35pm. I stayed there for two years, basically, and the whole time I was studio to studio. If I hung out with somebody – like me and Tyrese were good friends – I’d go out to Temecula to his house and hang out over there. But I didn’t really go out to clubs or hang out that much.”

I'm just saying: If I were friends with Tyrese, I wouldn't be going anywhere either. I'd be at his house 24/7, all day and all night...you think I'm joking.

I've been a fan of Mr. Richardson since his album 2:35pm, so it was a pleasure to have a one-on-one with him and learn more about his newest project, his new label record and his take on soul music. To read my interview with Mr. Richardson, click here!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Where to be Merry: Partying @ Playhouse Hollywood

Quite frankly, I find the L.A. nightclub scene to be rather boring and a waste of my time. After partying in some of the most magnificent clubs in Las Vegas, Barcelona, Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires, Paris and Madrid, it’s downright depressing to pay $25 bucks for nearby parking, feel my self-worth crumble as tall, model-like bombshells indifferently shuffle past me while I stand in line for an hour, pay a dub to enter and then wait in another line at the bar to pay another $20 for watered-down well drinks. Oh and then these places have the audacity to start kicking everyone out at 1:45 a.m. Really, Los Angeles, really?

So that’s precisely why Playhouse Hollywood is like a welcomed breath of fresh air in this wretched nightclub circuit. For the past year or so, this Hollywood destination has proven itself time and again that it is THE nightclub that’s truly worth all of the hype. Impromptu burlesque shows, bartenders who double as trapeze artists and a state-of-the-art light system that streams flashing lights every couple of minutes makes coming here an over-the-top experience. In other words, it makes your trip out of the house worth it.

What initially captivated me about Playhouse was the feeling I got upon entering – I didn’t feel like I was in Los Angeles anymore. At the entrance, a dark corridor eventually spills out into an expansive main room that comfortably holds almost 1,000 people, similar to Vegas' Tryst or Buenos Aires' Club Museum. Suddenly you’re under soaring ceilings and a serious sound system that steadily belts out Top 40 hits.

And it gets better. The crowd that packs the dance floor isn’t the typical douche-bag prototype so prone to the Hollywood Blvd. area. Dare I say that the majority of Playhouse club-goers are as friendly and social as they are beautiful, draped in their designer threads? I do.

So venture off to Playhouse on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights for a steady dose of eye-candy, amidst a great clubbing experience. It’s big, it’s bad, and it’s offering a whole lot more than those other clubs down the street are. You know where to find me next Saturday night!

For more information:
Playhouse Hollywood

6506 Hollywood Blvd.
Hollywood, CA 90028

323.655.4800

www.playhousehollywood.com

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Where to Eat: Bangin' BBQ @ Robin's

I have to give Los Angeles props when props are due. This city seriously has every type of ethnic cuisine ever imaginable: Brazilian, Peruvian, Lebanese, Spanish, Italian, French, French Japanese, Thai, Ethiopian, Tex-Mex, Southern soul food… You name the region, and there’s a restaurant somewhere in Los Angeles preparing that area’s specialty dish.

Yet on the flip side, finding good – and I mean really good – BBQ in this city is like trying to find a clear street to coast down during rush hour traffic at 8 a.m. I’ve searched high and low, left and right, north and south for satisfying, one-of-a-kind BBQ, but most has left me disappointed, disillusioned and grumpy. It’s been too smoky. Too tough. Not enough sauce. Bad after taste. I’ve resorted to stalking church picnics, 4th of July gatherings and summer cookouts to get my spare ribs from the folks – like Uncle Charlie – who know how to throw down on the grill.

Yet as fall quietly settles in, the thought of eating remarkable BBQ only in the summer troubles me. To go eight months without baby back ribs? I'm mortified. So imagine how I squealed with delight when I discovered Robin’s for the first time this past weekend.

Lying in the suburban outskirts of Los Angeles in Pasadena, within this eccentrically decorated diner is some of the best bone-suckin’ BBQ in town: baby back ribs, spare ribs, beef ribs, chicken, pork chops, tri-tip (pictured to the right) and combinations of all of the aforementioned. Each slab of hunky meat is slithered in just the right amount of BBQ sauce. There are four staple BBQ sauces - the Carolina Sweet Mustard, Memphis Red Vinegar, Robin’s Tangy Original and Smokin’ Spicy Mad Dog. I suggest asking for a side of all of the sauces to sample each and every one.

The meat itself is so tender and succulent that it just slides right off the bone. And, the portions are astronomically gigantic. One plate can easily feed like five people, especially when you add in Robin's signature blueberry cornbread with blueberry butter and blue cheese coleslaw (pictured to the left). They accompany each dish. You can also select a side, like the three-cheese mac’n’cheese that’s so thick and creamy that you can immediately feel your arteries begin clog with each bite.

I haven’t tried every item on the menu, otherwise I’d have to get a 10-year membership with Jenny Craig and go to boot camp five times a week. But, each selection on the menu looks irresistible, so with that said, I'll be back frequently. Hope to see you there soon!

For more information:
Robin’s Wood Fire BBQ & Grill

395 N. Rosemead Blvd.

Pasadena, CA 91107

626.351.8885

www.robinsbbq.com

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Where to Drink: Speakeasy Libations @ The Varnish

Often times when I go out drinking, I want somewhere excitingly exhilarating. Otherwise, I could save $50, pop a 40 at the crib and call it a Saturday night. But watering holes like The Varnish exist, forcing me out of my PJs and into my toe-stabbing stilettos and designer denims.

The Varnish isn’t just a bar; it’s an experience. First of all, in order to even access it, you have to walk through Cole’s, the historically restored French dip restaurant in the heart of downtown (pictured to the left). Stepping into Cole’s is like stepping back through time: dim lighting, rustic burgundy walls, low tin ceilings, worn wooden tables. It's a place you’d expect Conrad’s Charles Marlow or Camus' Mersault to haunt. When you finally reach the threshold to The Varnish in the back of Cole's, it's not exactly...easy to find. Nondescriptly, the door blends into the wooden wall with no signs and barely a doorknob to mark it. I hesitated the first time I ever so slightly cracked open the door (seen in the photo above), as nothing but thick blackness seeped out from the space.

Once inside of this speakeasy, you're immediately enwrapped in an encompassing darkness, the faint flicker of candles glowing in corners. It’s a small room, scattered with wooden tables and chairs, a bar area, a piano and antique knick-knacks at every level. No flat screen televisions, no windows, not even Cole’s infamous menu. The only thing that reigns supreme here is alcohol.

Cocktails, which come in all sizes, shapes and forms here, are serious. No matter which one you choose – whether it’s the Eastside or the Mexican Firing Squad (pictured above, to the right) – it’s going to be strong and aesthetically appealing. From the selection of ice – crushed, or in perfect rectangular squares – down to the assortment of glassware – from stem to highball glass – these bartenders craft brilliant drinks that demand you to sip, not chug.

In fact, posting up in front of the bartenders (pictured to the left) is where I recommend starting off the night, because while there's a menu of roughly eight drinks, there really are hundreds of cocktails that aren’t even listed that might spark your interest. So watch these master of the spirits mix, stir and brew in order to see which libation might tickle your fancy next.

The next time your looking for a good cocktail, whether with a group of friends or a casual date, you know where to turn!

For more information:
The Varnish (Inside of Cole’s)
118 East Sixth St.
Los Angeles, CA 90014

213.622.9999

www.thevarnishbar.com

Thursday, September 23, 2010

And Where do You "Where To"?: Bullets 4 Peace Fashion Show

Earlier this week, I had the pleasure to attend the Bullets 4 Peace Fashion Show at the W Hollywood. Scores of celebrities came out to support the Bullets 4 Peace designer Rafi Anteby and his breathtaking fashion show filled with soulful musical performances and gorgeous hand-painted models adorning stunning bullet necklaces.

I caught up with a few household names before the show to see exactly where they enjoyed going out in Los Angeles. I’ve strung together all of their answers in the clip below, which is set to Alicia Keys’ “No One (Reggae Remix).

Now let me just say this: first and foremost, I’m a writer. I’m not a videographer, an editor, a sound editor or a director. So, forgive me for the technical nuisances and the lack of lighting, lol. And, I couldn't upload the highest quality video - Blogger wouldn't let me (boo!) - so in order to see a higher resolution version, please click here.


video
I also have to give a shout-out to funny man Zack Pearlman (pictured below), who shared with me a few of his favorite L.A. spots:

“On Alvarado and Sunset, Burrito King, for Mexican – it’s amazing,” he proclaimed. “For a burger you can go to The Oaks on Bronson and Franklin – that place is pretty good. And then if you really wanna go somewhere nicer, I’d say [Osteria] Mozza. All those places I love. And then if you wanna go drinking, Ye Rustic, off Franklin and Hillhurst.”

Anyone who can come dressed to a high-end fashion show as a superhero gets a thumbs up by me. Check out his new movie coming out this weekend, The Virginity Hit.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Where to be Merry: Darby Park

Thanks to Los Angeles’ moderately mild Subtropical-Mediterranean climate, we Angelenos have the privilege of enjoying traditional summer activities all year long. Have you stopped by a BBQ for the Holidays in December? Worn flip-flops in November? Ever frolicked in the sand by the beach in October? While most of our fellow Americans grumpily begin to hibernate in their gloves and scarves come autumn, we, without so much as a blink of an eye, go about our merry summery ways, indulging in pools, beaches and outdoor malls.

One great place to go this fall is Inglewood’s Darby Park. I hadn’t been to a park in ages, but when my father (pictured above) caught a case of nostalgia and decided he wanted to revisit his old childhood stomping ground one day, lo and behold, I found myself in the midst of this hidden gem.

As a Gemini myself, I was immediately intrigued by the park’s dual nature, complex and simplistic at the same time. On one hand, Darby Park is like a park on steroids. It is literally jam-packed with activities for all ages to enjoy: a wading pool for toddlers, playgrounds for the kiddies (pictured to the right), a skate park for adolescents, infinite soccer fields for the athletically-inclined and even a recreation center with basketball courts, pool tables and a kitchen.

Yet amidst all of the frenzied action, there’s a subtle peacefulness that hovers over the park. There’s nothing like grabbing a picnic basket and a blanket one lazy weekend afternoon, laying on your back in the grass and watching the planes that are en route to LAX fly so close above you that you can see their passengers gazing down at you (OK, maybe they're not that close – but they do soar pretty low to the ground). Plus, from all over the park, there are captivating views of Inglewood’s former glory days – of the Great Western Forum (pictured to the left, with my dad) and the Hollywood Park Race Track – granting a bittersweet glimpse into the city’s heyday.

Pools and outdoor malls and strolls in open-air markets are lovely, but I suggest that the next sunny autumn day, you make the trek to Darby Park. It’s free, provides hours of fun for any age and any interest, and it even has a bit of history surrounding around it. See you there next time!
For more information:
Darby Park
3400 W. Arbor Vitae St.

Inglewood, CA 90305
310.412.5391

www.cityofinglewood.com

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Where to Eat: The Wave Smooth Jazz Sunday Brunch @ I. Cugini

Update: As of June 2011, I. Cugini has closed its doors. :(


They saunter in with their summer suits, sundresses and linen pants. Many arrive in pairs, but most travel in groups of family and friends, often with boisterous little ones tagging along. They walk through the decadent dining area, their eyes wandering over the sturdy columns and grandiose marble finishes and angelic paintings. Intently watching, the band members grin easily – just as easily as they spew out the contagious R&B jazz that richly vibrates throughout the room. As the groups head to their respective tables, it’s apparent that while all of what they’ve just soaked in is fine and dandy, their eyes hungrily search for more. Their eyes greedily fixate on the feast of fresh seafood, assorted salads, carved meats and other breakfast and lunch delights so eloquently displayed before them. You can tell they've been waiting for this moment - the moment of utter self-indulgence for the next couple - or four or five - hours.

I’ll unashamedly admit that I’m a part of that group of customers who repeatedly flocks to Santa Monica’s I. Cugini (pronounced EE-coo-Gee-NEE) for the restaurant's spectacular Sunday Jazz Brunch. I personally savor this classy affair for its over-the-top decadence. It's the Bentley of brunches, sitting on prime real estate that pompously overlooks the Santa Monica Pier and the beach. With made-to-order pastas and even its own dessert room (pictured to the right, the bottom photo), it quickly shuts down any other buffet on the Westside. The brunch also features a live broadcast from 94.7 the Wave, and also Jazz bands who stop by to play covers and original pieces.

As the saying goes, you get what you pay for, so expect to pay generously. Brunch costs about $55 per person, but do I think it’s worth it? Absolutely, and especially if you have relatives or friends visiting the Los Angeles area that you want to impress. The top-notch dining, unlimited champagne and mimosas, great music and scenic view will have you contently sitting in I. Cugini for hours. Hey, I know I tend to spend an average of three hours there. Maybe I'll see you the next time!


For more information:
I. Cugini
 

1501 Ocean Ave.
Santa Monica, CA 90401

(310) 451-4595
www.icugini.com

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Where to Drink: One of the Only Neighborhood Bars in the Adams Area: The Cork

Do not visit The Cork as a dream destination; do visit if you just happen to be within a one-mile radius from it, and you’re in need of a few good drinks.

Do not visit The Cork if the thought of being patted down at the door repulses you; do visit The Cork if wearing whatever you like – sneakers, stilettos, flip-flops, white tees, suits, head scarves, etc. – sparks your interest.

Do not visit The Cork if shouting over the swell of bass-infused music bothers you; do visit The Cork if you feel like grooving to classic R&B hits like Sade’s “Sweetest Taboo” and Jodeci’s “Come and Talk to Me.”

The Cork is your festive neighborhood watering hole, with a personality that’s rough around the edges, but still pleasantly amusing and quite entertaining. It’s one of the only bars in the Adams area, thus attracting a myriad of returning customers ranging in age, profession and social status. I've seen men as old as my grandfather, groups of friends my parents' age and college kids who don't look a day over 21 sit side by side, jovially talking and enjoying themselves. Without a doubt, patrons - especially the returning customers - are unforgettable. Many have no problem approaching your table to strike up a conversation with you, whether you were looking to talk with them or not. All of this takes place in an eccentric yet simple setting, complete with poinsettias and Christmas lights adorning the main bar, pictured below.



I personally enjoy The Cork for two main reasons: the drink specials and the music. Like most dive bars, The Cork serves stiff drinks. One of the waitresses mentions she averages about 2 ½ shots per drink. During the Sunday-Thursday happy hour (from 12pm-7pm), Margaritas, Adioses, Piña Coladas, Long Islands and Long Beaches are only $7. If you stick around until 8:30pm, which you might as well do since you're already here, more discounts surface. The Sangria and Caipirinha, pictured to the left, drop down to $8. On any given night, the music selection is incredible. A jukebox quietly sits near the entrance, offering not only classic R&B hits, but new singles, too. I can’t help but sway in my chair when The Dream starts to blast, or even sing along when D’Angelo starts to croon.



Would I recommend driving down from Pasadena or somewhere as equally far to come to The Cork on any given day of the week? Probably not. But if you’re already on this side of town, stick your head in, order a happy hour drink and appetizer - like the Margarita and red snapper basket pictured below - and stay for a few hours to beat the traffic before heading onto the nearby 10 Freeway. See you there soon!



For more information:
The Cork
4771 West Adams Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90016
323.731.2030

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Where to Eat: Randy's Donuts

Some things are undeniably L.A….palm trees, chucks, Venice Beach, Kobe Bryant and the Lakers, The Reject, Crenshaw Blvd., fake personalities…pretty boys…

Randy’s Donuts should also be included on that list. You may have seen the monstrous 32.5 feet donut in Coming to America or curiously glimpsed at it while driving down the 405 Freeway. For more than 50 years, that big circle has been the beckoning call for Angelenos and visitors alike. Many – including myself – have flocked to this Inglewood landmark at all hours of the day and night for a sugary snack. I recently met a Canadian who, as he held a donut in each hand and munched on a glazed twist between crumbs falling from his mouth, passionately professed that he couldn’t leave the city without sampling at least three of these things.

Randy’s bakes pretty decent donuts. They taste fresh and homemade, and they're the perfect balance between sweet and savory. They’re pleasantly sweet, but not too sugary that you'll wonder if you need to schedule a dentist’s appointment the next day. Yet what I personally like the most is that the doughnut bread itself is delicious, too. It’s not too dense or too stale; it’s fluffy and soft. So as you bite into a doughnut, the frosting isn’t overpowering – you can actually notice the rich flavor of the bread. My favorite, pictured to the right, is the maple log.

It’s almost a little too easy to buy my favorite log – or anything, for that matter, since Randy’s is open 24 hours a day, and it has not one, but two drive-thru windows (one is pictured to the left). Although I do feel guilty about not going the extra mile to park my car and walk to the window as a means to counteract the calories I’m about to greedily digest, I will say that the drive-thru comes in handy, especially when it’s cold outside, or my favorite song is on the radio, or I’m on an important call…

I highly recommend Randy’s the next time you’re in the mood for a real doughnut. And in case you want to savor the experience long after it’s gone, you can always purchase a t-shirt or a hat, amongst other paraphernalia. See you there soon!

For more information:
Randy’s Donuts

805 W. Manchester Ave.

Inglewood, CA 90301
310.645.4707

www.randys-donuts.com

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Where to Be Merry: The Perfect Date @ Griffith Observatory & Cliff's Edge

I have a confession. I’m a little hesitant to say, because it's somewhat arrogant and pompous, but I’ll tell you anyway: I plan the best dates ever. Really, I do. Call it a gift, call it luck, or call it drawing upon my two-year stint covering the Los Angeles night scene. Whatever the reason, I’ve got the intuition to make the perfect evening filled with magical sparkles for anyone, on any budget.

One of my spectacular date ideas in particular has received praises and standing ovations from everyone I’ve referred there, and that’s to the Griffith Observatory, followed by a relaxing dinner at Cliff’s Edge.

So this perfect adventure begins on the way up to the observatory. After the ten-minute climb up a windy, twisted mountainside road into the municipal park, you’ll be more than 1,000 feet above sea level, far from the high-strung urban jungle below. Just being in the presence of majestic mountains and acres of rugged wilderness brings a welcoming sense of calm and peace, and who doesn’t want that on a date? A walk through the observatory’s astronomy exhibits inspires interesting conversations, but the best part, hands down, is cuddling up outside to watch the fiery sun slowly fade into the distance.

After an indescribably gorgeous sunset, dusk quietly settles in – along with a chilly nighttime breeze. But you don’t want this experience to end. And it shouldn’t. So, you just move it right along to Cliff’s Edge, a Silverlake restaurant that’s only minutes from the observatory. On its impeccably decorated patio, leafy arms of a grand oak tree graciously extend the width of the entire outdoor area, painting a picturesque scene to enjoy a hearty dinner. The strings of lights that adorn the branches and the candles scattered throughout provide just the right amount of subtle light to create a sultry vibe. I’ll be honest: the food isn’t as memorable as the setting, but the ambiance at Cliff’s Edge is still worth the trip. Trust me.

So for the next date night, skip the movie and dinner, and opt for the adventure off the beaten path!


PICTURED BELOW: Ok, so maybe my idea isn’t that original: for 75 years, the Griffith Observatory has been a sought-out destination for couples of all ages.


PICTURED BELOW: At every turn, the views of the city languidly sprawled out below will leave you speechless. Guaranteed.

PICTURED BELOW: Didn’t you know? Science is sexy. Wander through the exhibits and impress your date with how many astronomical facts you remember from your high school science classes.


PICTURED BELOW: There’s plenty to get your hands on at the observatory: star gazing (pictured above), exciting shows in the Samuel Oschin Planetarium and a rotating lecture series.

PICTURED BELOW: A peak into the patio of Cliff’s Edge. So warm and inviting!


For More Information:
Griffith Observatory
2800 East Observatory Road
Los Angeles, CA 90027
213.473.0800
www.griffithobs.org

Cliff’s Edge
3626 Sunset Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90026
323.666.6116

www.clifssedgecafe.com