Monday, January 4, 2016

Wilson's Words of Wisdom: Top 5 of 2015

Before we get too enwrapped in the New Year, let’s take a trip down memory lane and reminisce on all of the marvelous experiences that 2015 had to offer.

To do so, I've compiled a “Top 5 of 2015” list, featuring the best highlights from this past year, as captured through my #WilsonsGuide blog posts.

Read on and feel free to leave me your 2015 highlights, in the comments section below. Hope you enjoy and I look forward to capturing many more exciting new adventures, in 2016.


#5) Phenomenal Seasonal Events. While L.A. most certainly has outstanding restaurants, bars/lounges and other permanent social destinations to keep us thoroughly entertained, there’s no shortage of seasonal happenings that are exclusive only to the City of Angeles. Marquee events like dineLA Restaurant Week and GRAMMY Week (pictured below) continued to give us access to fun, out-of-the-ordinary culinary experiences and high-profile concerts featuring the best artists of the day, respectively. A few really good new series launched — and unfortunately didn't continue — in 2015. “The Soul Shakedown” debuted as a monthly series at The Federal Bar, featuring live bands playing soul, funk and R&B, and “Taste Saturdays” featured chefs from around the States whipping up incredible brunch creations, all to the backdrop of a DJ spinning decade-spanning hits and endless mimosas. Hopefully, they’ll be resurrected in 2016, because they were a lot of fun.




#4) The names of high-profile women slaying it in the political sphere are steadily increasing. Fortunately, this trend is inspiring and enabling more amazing women to pursue careers in politics, on the national and international fronts, but also on a very important level: the local one. In February 2015, Candace Nafissi announced her run for Redondo Beach City Council District 3. What makes her story so motivating is that she was literally like any of us — a mother, a wife, a full-time worker — who decided that she wanted to make a difference, and went after her dream with guts and resilience. She became one of the youngest candidates to enter a race and if elected, would have been one of the first women on the Council. While she may not have won the seat (she lost by 13 votes in a runoff), her story of balancing diapers and debates is still noteworthy and incredible to read.




#3) I had been slightly distraught when Public School 213, one of my favorite happy hour haunts, temporarily closed for a rennovation, but my spirits were immediately lifted with the March grand opening of its sister location, Public School 818 in the San Fernando Valley. A school-themed gastropub, Public School 818 takes a nontraditional approach to the American classics we’ve come to love. Buffalo wings morph into Crispy Buffalo Cauliflower; mac’n’cheese gets topped with kale, sea salt & vinegar chips and chorizo sausage; kale replaces romaine lettuce in the Caesar Salad. But most importantly, the food is done very, very well — in taste and presentation. It’s great to see the Public School brand expanding, also opening locations in Dallas and Las Vegas.




#2) Fantastic, FREE Live Music. There’s most certainly not a shortage of opportunities to hear exceptional live music in L.A., and I got to see and write about some breath-taking performances, including by Meg Mac, a recording artist from Australia, and GRAMMY Award-winning singer Bruno Mars. But hands down, one of the best shows I attended of 2015 was the Janelle MonĂ¡e and Wondaland Present The Eephus Tour, powered by Toyota at The Fonda Theatre in August. Yes, she and her Wondaland crew (St. Beauty, Deep Cotton, Jidenna and Roman GianArthur) put on an entertaining free concert, but more importantly, they made a point to address current social issues plaguing the U.S. They sang “Hell You Talmabout,” which pays homage to the African-Americans who have died from police brutality. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: I applaud and happily support artists who don’t only make amazing art, but who are also using their positions of power as leaders to bring about positive social change.




#1) It’s Still All About Traveling…Back in 2012, traveling made my No. 1 spot, and three years later, traveling remains in the same position. More than ever, so many people are itching to check out another city, new travel groups are forming and thriving, and there’s a proliferation of mad crazy airfare deals to make jet-setting more accessible to the masses. In the spirit of exploration, I wrote posts about a few travel destinations: nearby Catalina Island (pictured below), for a quick weekend getaway, and Houston, which is a marvelous city to eat, drink and be merry in (almost right up there with L.A. — almost). I can’t wait to get back to both of these places!