Monday, July 26, 2010

Where to Be Merry: A Harlem Cabaret Story in the Heart of Los Angeles

The solo note of a jazz saxophone teasingly floats through the air. It winds its way through crowds clustered around the bar and through couples seated at tables. The note halts when it reaches the stage. There, it lingers, caressing not one, but four dangerously beautiful women draped in flattering lingerie and staggering stilettos. With hands on hips, they direct their attention towards a deviously handsome gentleman seated to their right. Their fixated gaze slowly follows his every move, watching. Waiting. Anticipating. The problem? Why, he’s managed to seduce all four. The solution? Well, it ain’t always that easy…

And so begins the tale of Harlem’s Night: A Cabaret Story featuring The Brown Betties. These memorable characters and their friends take you on a journey of what happens when a woman lets a man in her life, and he just don’t treat her right. Between scenes of jaw-dropping dance numbers, sensual stripteases and passionate exchanges, the four Brown Betties eloquently reveal what it means to be a woman – and more specifically – a woman scorned. Expressions of infatuation, longing, bitterness, rage, desperation, pain and hurt surround the underlying theme of seduction, making this burlesque show more than a tale of lust. It’s a quintessentially human story that examines how the quest for love can bring out the best – and worst – in all of us.

I’ve seen Harlem’s Night twice now, and let me tell you, this is a show you do not want to miss. Yes, there’s enough serious eye-candy to last a lifetime (not just for the men either…Ladies, Joe, the main bad boy, is rather easy on the eyes, too), but also expect to be tickled to the bone, as the show adds a good dose of comedic, light-hearted scenes throughout the night. And don’t expect to be a passive audience member; these Brown Betties demand attention – both from Joe and the audience as well. That’s all I’ll say on that note.

The next show will take place Wednesday, August 3rd at 8pm at The Mint. Tickets are on sale now, so hurry and get them!

PICTURED BELOW: Make sure you leave the kids with the babysitter! This is an intimate show, strictly for the grown and sexy.

PICTURED BELOW: Peppur Chambers, the founder of The Brown Betties and creator of A Harlem’s Night. In her own words: “A night with the Brown Betties is perfect for girls night, alone or for a fellas night... you'll be enveloped into a sultry atmosphere that will have you thinking of us long after you've left the show!”

PICTURED BELOW: Fierce, unforgettable and fabulous, the show truly redefines what a cabaret story should be!

For more information:
The Mint
6010 Pico Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90035

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Where to Drink: Unlimited $2 Margaritas @ Tequilas

$2 margaritas. Unlimited. Need I say more? I was tempted not to write anything else, because in my opinion, you should be hooked at the $2 part. And if not at that, then definitely at the mention of unlimited. However, I do understand that these two factors alone might not wow everyone, so that’s why I continued to write, to elaborate on all of the many reasons I love Margarita Mondays at Tequilas Restaurant Bar & Grill.

Oh how I could spend hours upon hours counting all the reasons to venture out to The Valley on a Monday. First and foremost, Tequilas' delicious little margaritas are dangerously potent. After one, I’m slightly buzzed. Two, I’m slurring my words. I haven’t made it to three yet, but if I do one of these days (and miraculously still spend a whopping $6), I’ll let you know if I end up passed out underneath a booth.

Also, unlike many other restaurants that only offer discounts on the traditional margarita flavor, Tequilas slashes the prices for all of them. Coconut, strawberry, melon, watermelon…you name it – any flavor you like, it’s yours. And, as if it couldn’t get any more enticing, Margarita Mondays happen all day long, from open to close. That means no more rushing to leave work early to catch happy hour prices just before they end at 6pm. Plus if you happen to wake up one Monday morning craving a margarita with your breakfast instead of a mimosa or bloody Mary, you now know where to turn.

I could go on and on about these little margaritas, but I’ll stop now, and just let you taste one for yourself. Enjoy!

Pictured below: The $2 margarita, in a city where the average price for a cocktail is $12 and rising.

Pictured below: Tequila’s also serves Mexican food. EntrĂ©es are reasonably priced, averaging about $10 per dish.

Pictured below: The handful of Mondays that I have shown up, the tropically festive dining area has been somewhat empty. Not to fret: this translates into quick, attentive service and less time waiting for more margaritas.

For more information:
Tequila's Restaurant Bar & Grill
13627 Victory Blvd.
Van Nuys, CA 91401
**Also a location in Burbank**

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Where to be Merry: Tuesday Reggae Nights @ Carbon

In the black darkness of the night, a structure shaped like a wooden hut surrounded by foliage protrudes. A stocky, somewhat menacing-looking bouncer nonchalantly guards the structure’s entrance, grunting before permitting anyone to enter. Inside, a dimly lit, narrow hallway leads to a one-room lounge area. Men the color of smooth ebony pebbles with neatly twisted dreadlocks hug the walls, while cinnamon-hued women with gracious hips sway coyly to reggae music. A figure slowly emerges from the shifting shadows, murmuring something barely audible in a thick island-accent…

Every time I step into Carbon on Tuesday nights, I swear I’ve been transported from Los Angeles to another country. Carbon’s physical address might be in Culver City, but its soul is far from there. The enthralling movies silently playing on the bar’s flat screen televisions that hail from West Africa… the patrons who hail from Senegal, Jamaica, Trinidad and Eritrea…the drum-heavy music that blasts from the speakers…all of these elements blend harmoniously together and are a testament to Carbon’s colorful roots.

Most, like myself, come to Carbon on Tuesday for this exact ambiance. It’s a beautiful thing to be greeted with “My wondrous Queen” and “My beautiful Sistah” by brothas who look like they stepped out of a casting call for the next Common music video. The rhythmic reggae – from Sister Mary to Beanie Man and Sean Paul – intensifies the electricity in the air, beckoning men to pull women towards the dance floor. Throw into the mix no cover charge, no hassle and cheap cocktails, and quite frankly, I see no need to ever go anywhere else but to Carbon on a Tuesday night.

Pictured below: A glimpse into Carbon from the entrance.

Pictured below: Carbon carries one of my favorite beers, Red Stripe. Most well drinks are strong and also cheap. They average around $5.

Pictured below: I know this photo is extremely dark, but it’s a shot of the bar area, where many couples to quietly sit and converse while people watching.

For more info:
9300 Venice Blvd.
Culver City, CA

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Where To Eat: Delicious Desserts @ Kiss My Bundts

Update 10/2011: The storefront is now officially closed, but you can still order bundts online: 

On Third Street between Robertson Blvd. and Crescent Heights Blvd., there’s a plethora of world-renowned restaurants with stellar dining options. But no matter at which one of these reputable establishments I dine – whether it’s for lunch or dinner, or whether I’m by myself or with a group – I’ll never order dessert. Instead, I’ll politely pay, excuse myself and leisurely stroll down to Kiss My Bundt to savor a real treat: the Bundt cake.

For those who might not be familiar with a Bundt cake, it’s a ring-shaped cake with ridges, often dense in texture and with a thin layer of glazed frosting on top. While I’m somewhat ambivalent towards the traditional Bundt cake, I truly savor Kiss My Bundt owner Chrysta’s southern interpretation of it. Her creamy, velvety frostings replace mundane glazes, and her selection of cake flavors transcends chocolate, yellow and lemon to include Bourbon Pound Cake, Carrot Cake and Sticky Toffee Pudding Cake, amongst many others. It’s as if the boring Bundt cake has been sophisticatedly dressed up and propelled into the modern, urban age, giving us a new twist on an old-time classic.

My personal Kiss My Bundt favorites are the Red Velvet cake and the Cookies and Cream cake. The Red Velvet cake is intensely gratifying, as each bite richly resonates with chocolate flavor. The Cookies and Cream cake is so buttery and moist that it instantaneously melts in your mouth. Literally. I also like how there are several sizes selections, ranging from tiny individual proportions to large “big ole” Bundt cakes, to accommodate the size of my sweet tooth cravings.

Kiss My Bundt busily whips out Bundts by the batches, so the next time you find yourself on Third Street, make sure to stop by and grab a Bundt or two. I know I will!

PICTURED BELOW: Some like itty bitty Bundts, while others like big ole Bundts. But, there’s a Bundt for everyone. The smallest is the Mini Bundt Cake (left), ideal for one person, while the Baby Bundt Cake (right) is perfect for sharing.

PICTURED BELOW: While there are more than 40 Bundt flavors, cake flavors change daily.

PICTURED BELOW: Feel free to savor your Bundt in this modest, one-room storefront. Or, you can always take one for the road.

More information:
Kiss My Bundt
8104 W. 3rd Street
Los Angeles, CA 90048