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


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

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


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Where to Drink: RockTail Hour @ RockSugar

I recently introduced my good friend to the RockTail Hour at RockSugar Pan Asian Kitchen, and she simply yet so eloquently summed up the essence of what this happy hour is all about. She stated: “For the price point and the drinks, what more could you ever ask for, especially in this ambiance?” I blinked back the tears forming at the corners of my eyes. I was just so elated that she got it – she understood.

I want you to get it – to understand – too. On any given night, dinner with a couple of drinks can easily run you $60 per person. So when the weekday Rocktail Hour rolls around, and instead of $60, I’m averaging $24 – for the same award-winning dishes, the same invigorating drinks and the same gorgeous setting – do you see why this place, no pun intended, truly rocks? Prices are slashed significantly. Rocktails are no longer $12; they’re now $6. And most appetizers, which normally average around $12, are now a shocking $3.

A trip here is worth every single quarter, nickel and dime you’ll spend. The selection of regional dishes from Thailand, Japan, China and India are brought exquisitely displayed to the table, and taste just as tantalizing as they appear. Secondly, the Rocktails (i.e., cocktails) are killer. Case closed. Revitalizing, rejuvenating, generous with the flavor and alcohol. And finally, the space is visually captivating. From the moment you step through the majestic wooden doors to emerge into the front patio areas, it’s as though the congested L.A. jungle has vanished, replaced by a serene oasis.

Next time you're in need for a Rocktail, you know where to turn!

PICTURED BELOW: The Tamarind Margarita and the Crispy Sweet-Hot Shrimp with tempura eggplant. Other appetizers I recommend are the Chicken and Mushroom Lettuce Wraps and the crispy chicken samosas.

PICTURED BELOW: The lovely Orchard Road Martini an insatiable vegetable flatbread. This martini is less potent, more pretty to look at. If you’re looking for a stronger drink, I’d try the Tamarind Margarita or the Bourbon Sling.

PICTURED BELOW: Sitting on the front patio is a must. In every corner, at every direction that the eye can see, hand-picked artifacts from distant lands adorn the indoors and outdoors.

For more information:
RockSugar Pan Asian Kitchen
Westfield Century City
10250 Santa Monica Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90067

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Where to Eat: Very Vibrant Veggie Burgers @ O! Burger (CLOSED)

One bite into an O!veggie burger and you will see the light. You will instantly understand how a veggie patty was intended to taste. You will realize that for all these years, that bland, mushy gunk you’ve been eating has been a poor imitation of the real deal: a patty with corn, spinach and other scrumptious vegetables that you can see and taste.

That’s precisely the goal of O! Burger: to bring much-needed freshness into the grey, mundane fast-food industry. Priding itself as Los Angeles’ first organic fast-food joint, it specializes in making burgers, hot dogs and other American classics (like chili) that have no food coloring, steroids or other modifications. In fact, co-owner Andy Soboil is more than ecstatic to discuss how healthy those French fries you’re ordering are. Even if that order includes a dose of organic ketchup.

With fries come burgers — veggie, beef or turkey — that are stacked so high with cucumbers, onions, tomatoes, lettuce, pickles and cheese that they look as if they’ll threaten to topple over at any second. A variety of organic beverages, like the O!vegan shake made with oat milk or one of the kombucha teas, will quench anyone's thirst.

Next time you’re in the West Hollywood area, you know where to stop for a quick — and healthy — bite to eat!

PICTURED BELOW: The Very Vibrant O!veggie burger. Tastes as good as it looks.

PICTURED BELOW: The delightfully refreshing kombucha tea complements any burger and fries.

PICTURED BELOW: O! Burger’s interior is as bright and colorful as its food. Dining options are available both inside and out on the front patio, which happens to be a great centralized location to people-watch on Santa Monica Blvd.

For more information:
O! Burger
8593 Santa Monica Blvd.
West Hollywood, CA 90069