I’m someone who firmly believes that kind behavior should be rewarded and mean people should be kicked to the curb. There’s a misconception about Los Angeles that people here are all self-absorbed jerks who are only out to get each other… and while there were times in my life where I bought that script, I’ve learned over the decades that I was wrong. There are bad people everywhere in the world, and when all is said and done I’ve found the majority of Angelenos to be solid, hard-working, good people who are often far warmer to strangers than you’ll find in many other cities large and small.
I’ve explained many times that the “hidden” in HiddenLA isn’t about being elitist, but rather it’s referring to the heart of this place that many people are oblivious to. In my mind, the good people of Los Angeles are a very large part of that heart.
Sooo, let me tell you a little story. Tonight I was driving through Los Feliz and realized my blood sugar was a little low and I needed something quick. I passed Best Fish Taco in Ensenada, thinking to myself that I’d seen it mentioned many times on HiddenLA’s Foodie page on Facebook. Thanks to too much quality time in San Diego I’m a Baja Mexican food snob, but I decided to put my fish taco elitism aside and give it a try because you guys have yet to steer me wrong. I may have a Team Rubio’s t-shirt in a drawer somewhere, but I wanted to finally taste for myself if these tacos lived up to the hype.
I parked across the street and walked inside. It wasn’t until the customer in front of me stepped away from paying that I noticed the sign saying “CASH ONLY” and realized I had none, just my well-worn check card. I apologized and began to walk away, but then I heard a voice say, “Hey!” a few times. I turned around and the man behind the register motioned me forward. He was owner Joseph Cordova.
Our first meetup at the Tonga Hut was so successful, why not hit the ground running and plan another one? In *my* book, the historic Musso & Frank Grill in Hollywood offers the best prohibition-era cocktails in town… so let’s get together and embrace “the depth beneath the shallow” of an old-school martini glass! Their gin martinis and sidecars are awesome!
Parking in the back is pretty cheap with validation. Their food is good… it can get pricey if you order carelessly, but there are very reasonable options. How much you spend is entirely up to you. The bar can get busy and is not always the easiest place to strike up conversations with people, so we will probably look into getting a table for the group. Word on that later.
**SUPPORT SMALL, LOCAL BUSINESSES!!!**
WHAT: Galco’s Old World Grocery
WHERE: 5702 York Blvd, Highland Park (323) 255-7115
DETAILS: Galco’s purveyance of vintage sodas and candies is clearly a labor of love for owner John Nese. He took over the business from his father, who originally ran the Highland Park market as a grocery store. With 174 rave reviews on Yelp, John’s enthusiasm is definitely contagious… so go there and drink up the fun! Literally. :)
According to Google Analytics, the only state in all of America that has yet to visit HiddenLA even *once* is North Dakota. Seriously! Even though we did a nice big feature on one of their native sons! Sigh.
Feeling a bit sad and rejected with this news, naturally the only solution was to turn to the internet for possible answers. It was tough admitting that all I really knew about North Dakota was to stay away from wood chippers. It seemed a good time to learn a bit about the commonalities we share so that perhaps we might have a better chance of forging a bond of web friendship. (I mean, how tough could it be… the word Dakota MEANS “allies” in the Sioux language, for Christ’s sake, so they’ve gotta be super friendly people. Right?)
After a bit of research it’s easy to see why North Dakota might be a bit intimidated by Los Angeles, though… the entire state contains nearly ONE THIRD the population of the San Fernando Valley alone. Wow.
Well, we may be big city folk, but that doesn’t mean we don’t care about stuff that’s important to our fellow Americans, though. We do! So after a bit of research, here are a few things I’ve come up with… an olive leaf of sorts. An itemized list with links after the jump.
SUNDAY, AUGUST 2nd
What: 4th ANNUAL PUBLIC FRUIT JAM
Where: Machine Project, 1200 N Alvarado Street
Details: “Yesiree, it’s that ripe time of year again! Making jam and getting into sticky situations with Fallen Fruit collective is one of our favorite summertime traditions! Bring along your home-grown or public fruit and any clean, empty glass jars you have. At the end everyone will leave with a jar of communal jam. If enough people bring surplus, even the empty handed will leave with jam. Vats of fun for all!
The kinds of jam we make will improvise on the fruit that people provide. The fruit can be fresh or frozen. Fallen Fruit will bring public fruit. We are looking for radical and experimental jams as well, like basil guava or lemon pepper jelly. We’ll discuss the basics of jam and jelly making, pectin and bindings, as well as the communal power of shared fruit and the liberation of public fruit… Thanks very much to Slow Food LA for their help in funding this event!”
SATURDAY, AUGUST 1st
What: 16th Annual Long Beach Crawfish Festival (Note: The Newport Beach Lobsterfest is on Sunday as well, but it appears to be sold out.)
Where: Rainbow Lagoon Park, Long Beach (562) 495-5959
Price: Various tickets available. For $2 off door admission, go to their web site and click on the crawdad.
Details: After scathing reviews for running out of beignets, beer and crawfish last year, the promoters of the Long Beach Crawfish Festival are determined to prove themselves on Saturday. Not only is Yelp now their official sponsor, but the promoter used the site to say the following to potential attendees: “Last year attendance 3X (tripled) in number 4 hours prior to the festival. This was not anticipated and we do acknowledge that there were longer lines, we did run out of beer, and we were low on Live Crawfish. The Crawfish are flown in Live the day of the festival and adjustments could not be made within hours based on the influx of sales… We have accommodated for the additional Live Crawfish to be flown in. We have extensive beer reserves stationed onsite for immediate use. There are two entrances. Bars have been expanded with extensive signage in place. Overall the festival has been expanded to accommodate last year’s attendance and more giving a fun festival experience to all that attend. We thank all those that make Long Beach Crawfish Festival the largest Crawfish Festival outside of Louisiana — right here in Southern California. “
Their official promotional blurb: “The 16th Annual Long Beach Crawfish Festival serves mouth-watering Cajun Crawfish dinners! Delicious Louisiana-style crawfish prepared to spicy perfection by chefs from Bristol Farms. Crawfish feasts include succulent red baby potatoes, buttery corn on the cob and a special remoulade dipping sauce. Dance to live Cajun, Zydeco and New Orleans bands. Also, giant food court, beach bars and a children’s area.”
*To launch a photo gallery documenting our pilgrimage for holy pumpkin bread, click on the adorable nun below.*
Read full story after the jump. (more…)
Dwell Magazine‘s fancy shmancy LA design event ended last month, but they left something very cool behind for us to enjoy. Behold Dwell’s GUIDE TO LOS ANGELES, a handy little compendium of coolness compiled for their event attendees. (I love alliteration, don’t you?) The Dwellsters clearly have good taste. Me likey this list. Me likey this list long time.
Details: According to Wikipedia, The Chicas Project is “a reality television show on the bilingual television network Mun2, preeminent voice for Latino youth in America, that chronicles the adventures of the ‘Chicas,’ two VJs for Mun2, Yasmin Deliz and Crash Barrera.” Apparently their show is in its third season, but up until now I had no idea they existed. Which is okay… after watching a few clips it was easy to tell I’m just not their focus demographic. Well, I wasn’t until today. I am officially their demographic as of this moment solely because they’ll be handing out free food from 2-6pm and I’m always a fan of pro bono deliciousness. Yep, these two cute girls have decided (or rather, their show’s PR people did) that the best way to find out whether people prefer a Pink’s Hot Dog or a Joselito’s taco (ie, the best publicity stunt they could think up to promote season four of their show) is to give away 1,000 of each delicacy at a tourist mall. So if you’re in the area and feel like finding parking and braving the Captain Jack Sparrow impersonators this afternoon to snag a free snack from hot chicks, go for it. ¡Buen provecho, Los Angeles!
UPDATE: As of January 18, 2010 Betty Bryant’s show at Street is on hiatus. :(
*To launch the image gallery for this HiddenLA Pick, please click on the tasty drink below.*
What: Your own private jazz concert… featuring Betty Bryant singing her heart out
Where: Feniger’s Street, 742 Highland Avenue, Hollywood (323) 461-7813
When: Thursdays 7:15-11 pm and Sundays 6:15-10pm
Some of the best secrets in this town are hidden in full view. You may not have seen the wonderful jazz pianist and vocalist Betty Bryant but if you’ve eaten at the new hotspot Street in Hollywood she just might have seen you. A long-time fan, when chef Susan Feniger took over the old Highland Grounds location, she had her architect create an upstairs nook with the specific purpose of giving Betty a place to play and sing her heart out to the diners below… and that’s exactly what she does every Thursday and Sunday night. Accompanied by long-time bass player Tom Gargano, Betty seranades the dining masses below from her own private catbird seat above them. The secret is this: few diners wonder where the music’s coming from so they’re missing out on where the real fun is. (more…)
What: Opaque Restaurant
Where: Please note: the restaurant is no longer at the location shown in the video. V Lounge 2020 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica (310) 546-7619
Price: Not cheap. You might need to sell a filling or two, but nobody there will be able to see that they’re missing.
Details: If you’re looking for a unique place to take your favorite person on a particularly special evening (or perhaps you just don’t want to see someone’s face when you break up with them), consider a blind date at Opaque. Their menu isn’t cheap, but you’re really not just paying for the food (according to one Yelp reviewer: “Expect to pay $99 each before drinks and tip. The food is not $99 a plate great, but it is not bad. The experience makes up for it!”). The restaurant’s main concept (an idea which began in Germany in 2001) is to serve up fare that is intended to be consumed in pure pitch blackness. Yes, it’s exactly as it sounds. The dining room is kept completely light-free, so helping your food find its way from the plate to your stomach will become a bit more of a challenge than you’re used to. Quite logically, the waiters are all blind so the lack of visibility doesn’t bother them one bit. I must confess, I’m not exactly sure why there’s a dress code, however…
6/25/09 – Harold & Maude EXTRAVAGANZA!
6/28/09 – Free Food at Ruby’s Shake Shack in Malibu; Discounted Tickets for The Los Angeles Accordion Festival; Mondo Jerry Lewis Barbeque at Cinefamily
ALL WEEK: 6/22-28/09 – Bigfoot Drink Discounts
ALL SUMMER: Free food/drink specials at Arby’s
THURSDAY, JUNE 25th
A Salute to Hal Ashby – A HAROLD & MAUDE EXTRAVAGANZA!!!
Place: Samuel Goldwyn Theater, 8949 Wilshire Boulevard, Beverly Hills
Time: 7:30pm showtime, doors open at 6:30pm
Price: ONLY $5 for non-Academy members, $3 for Academy members
Note: YES, this fabulous Harold & Maude event is SOLD OUT, *BUT* a standby line will form on Thursday afternoon. Standby numbers will be assigned at approximately 5:30pm and any available tickets will be distributed shortly before showtime.
Details: I love this movie. Always have. And if you have too, then check out the following details about this incredible event: it’s hosted by Cameron Crowe and Peter Bart; features a discussion with Ashby’s colleagues and admirers including Judd Apatow, Diablo Cody, Seth Rogen, Jon Voight and Haskell Wexler; and includes a performance by Yusuf (formerly Cat Stevens – !!!). On top of that, Ruth Gordon has been defrosted from her cryogenically frozen state and will be doing an Egyptian fan dance as Yusef performs the soundtrack from the film. Okay yeah, unfortunately I was only kidding about that last sentence (her fan dance would’ve been GREAT!) but I’m *not* kidding when I say that when everyone stops gushing over how insane and wonderful the movie is, they’ll be screening a brand new print of it from the Academy Film Archive. (Note: The Hal Ashby tribute continues through the end of June at the Linwood Dunn Theater, with The Landlord and Shampoo – June 26; The Last Detail and Coming Home – June 27; Being There – June 28)
SUNDAY, JUNE 28th
Ruby’s Shake Shack – MALIBU LOCATION GRAND OPENING
Place: Malibu Pier, Malibu
Time: Between 11am and 4pm only
Details: During the hours shown above, everyone who shows up will be treated to *FREE* burgers, fries, and shakes. Garden salads have also been mentioned. Official opening day is June 29.
Mondo Jerry Lewis Barbeque
Place: Cinefamily at the Silent Movie Theatre, 611 N Fairfax Ave, Hollywood (323) 655-2510
Time: See below
Details: To close out their Jerry Lewis retrospective–the first in LA ever!–Cinefamily is celebrating with a Jerrython, an all-day (and we mean it!) blowout of all the assembled rare Jerry footage they could find, including our own mash-up of our favorite moments… So, come early, get a couch, and settle in for hour upon hour of FLAVIN! with hot dogs and the JERRY!
Here’s an approximate itinerary (things might run 15-30 minutes over, give or take):
3-5:30 BBQing, and watching Colgate Comedy Hours with Martin & Lewis
5:30-6:30 Mondo Jerry mix of great scenes and rare clips
6:45-8:15: Cracking Up
8:30: Three on a Couch
10:30: The Big Mouth
Los Angeles Accordian Festival – SQUEEZE FEST L.A.
Place: John Anson Ford Amphitheatre, 2580 Cahuenga Blvd. East., Hollywood (323) 461-3673
Time: Pre-show picnic/party: 5:30 pm; Show: 7:30 pm
Price: Full Price $40, $30. Mention “NELA” for a 20% discount.
Details: “The LA Accordion Festival hosts SqueezeFestLA at the majestic outdoor John Anson Ford Amphitheatre, one of LA’s most underappreciated architectural gems. After making forays into music scenes from the parlor to the speakeasy for nearly 200 years, the accordion has also recently experienced a major comeback on the indie stage, expanding its modern influence. This evening, three very different groups showcase the rich, nostalgic sounds of the instrument: operatically infused, neo-boho cabaret act Vagabond Opera, Conjunto Los Pochos (the epitome of culturally complex Tex-Mex music), and Louisiana’s Feufollet. Visitors are encouraged to come early and picnic on the grounds, while local “accordion diva” Gee Rabe performs in the plaza before the show.” (SOURCE)
Oh, and as long as I’m looking for good deals to put into the events listing to help everyone survive financially during these tough times… I’ll just sneak this little tidbit in for ya. It’s not a local thing, I believe it’s nation-wide, but Arby’s is giving away FREE FOOD/DRINKS EVERY WEDNESDAY THIS SUMMER as follows:
July 1st – Free Regular Beef and Cheddar with soft drink purchase.
July 8th – Free Orange Cream Shake with sandwich purchase.
July 15th – Free Regular Roast Beef with soft drink purchase.
July 22nd – Free RoastBurger with soft drink purchase.
July 29th – Free FruiTea with sandwich purchase.
August 5th – Free Regular Roast Beef with soft drink purchase.
August 12th – Free Roast Chicken Club with soft drink purchase.
August 19th – Free FruiTea with sandwich purchase.
August 26th – Free Roast Beef ‘n Cheddar with soft drink purchase.
JUNE 22-28, 2009 – WEEK-LONG DRINK DISCOUNTS
Bigfoot Lodge – TEN YEAR ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION
Place: 3172 Los Feliz Blvd., Los Angeles, CA, 90039
Time: Opens at 5 p.m. daily, Closes at 2:00 a.m. with happy hour from 5:00-8:00 p.m.
Details: Calling all lushes! Longtime Los Feliz hipster hang the Bigfoot Lodge has officially been around for a decade, and in honor of the bar’s 10th anniversary, drinks will be slashed to 1999 prices through Sunday night. WOO HOO! Plus, if you’re in the mood for a little spa treatment as you get your party cocktail on, just check out Bigfoot’s Happy Hour Friday with dtox Spa. (RSVP required)
“Celebrating its 10-year anniversary, Bigfoot Lodge brings us a week of special events, reintroducing live bands on Sunday afternoons, “Sasquatch sightings,” vintage drink prices and the opening of a sister-bar in Culver City, Bigfoot West. Bigfoot Lodge’s weeklong 10-year anniversary party takes place June 22nd-28th. Drinks will be priced as they were way back in 1999! Plus, they’re bringing back Sunday Sessions of live bands to entertain the masses as we down their Bloody Sunday crafty cocktails, which we can only imagine will be spicy as hell. On Tuesday, June 23rd, check out the fourth monthly Knotty Pine Derby—and enter your own pint-sized car for the heated races across the bartop. Take home a trophy! For those who reside on the west side, Bigfoot’s coming to you with a new venue called Bigfoot West, taking the place of the old Rae’s Tavern on Venice Blvd. The flaming Toasted Marshmallow cocktail, of course, is always waiting for a new victim.” SOURCE
The Food Network’s travel show Man Versus Food follows actor and food enthusiast Adam Richman as he explores the “big food” of different American cities and enters a long-standing eating challenge at a local restaurant.
In February, Adam brought the show to Los Angeles. If you’d like to try his local menu for yourself, here it is:
Where: El Tepeyac Café
Where: 812 N Evergreen Ave, East LA (323) 267-8668
What to order: The five-pound Manuel’s Special, designed to feed two to four people. He also ordered a machaca burrito, which is shredded beef with egg. Having grown up in San Diego, I just prefer to call this “breakfast.”
Where: Phillipe’s French Dip
Where: 1001 N Alameda Street, Downtown (213) 628-3781
What to order: He tried all of the French dips and rated them in order of his favor: 1. Beef; 2. Lamb; 3. Pork; 4. Turkey. (I concur with his results.)
Tip: Eating aside, I would also recommend walking around the corner to the back dining room and checking out the walls. Philippes used to have a strong tie to the local union of circus performers and there’s still some vintage circus memorabilia gracing the walls if you look to your left. Model trains, too!
THE FOOD CHALLENGE
Where: Orochon Ramen
Where: 123 Onizuka Street Little Tokyo (213) 617-1766
What to order: The “Spicy Ramen Challenge”… basically, any person who can finish the serving of Special No. 2, a spicy soup featuring 10 kinds of chiles, is awarded a place on the Wall of Bravery. He finished. Will you?
Full episode of “Man Versus Food” is viewable after the jump. (more…)
Although a bunch of enterprising UCLA law students recently helped to overturn that stupid ban on taco trucks in Los Angeles (THANK YOU!), there are some things that will never be the same again. It’s now the dawning of the age of Twittered food in Los Angeles. It all began when word leaked out that Kogi was twittering the locations of their Korean taco trucks to keep one step ahead of the kerfluffle with authorities. Public reaction was unprecedented… soon thanks to word of mouth, the excitement built up until people began lining up curbside for two hours just to get the chance to try a Kogi spicy pork slider. (Which, let me say from first hand experience, are definitely tasty. Perhaps not two hours standing on a curb worth of tasty, but tasty.)
Since Los Angeles is so big, we’re behind the food cart culture of cities like Portland. And we’re always a little bit behind New York, where twitter will lead you to Belgian waffles, red currant ice cream and a brazen guerilla coffee truck that parks outside of Starbucks (NICE!). But with the success of Kogi, we knew it had to be the beginning of a trend. So below is a listing of the current food vendors that are riding the twitter train, as well as tips on how to get Kogi without waiting in line forever. It makes perfect sense to me that with the economy the way it is and the overhead of a mobile restaurant being so low, this list will probably multiply soon. So keep your eyes and ears open and let us know if you discover any great ones we should know about. (more…)
We met our first, utterly delightful Unknown Angeleno while enjoying a sunset dinner with visiting friends from Montana. (Shout out!)
Where we met her: Yamashiro’s
Occupation: Food server
Has lived in L.A. for: 15 years
Why we chose her: She was very sweet. And she serves up an awesome lychee martini. We’ll do anything for a lychee martini. Well, *almost* anything.
1. “Even though I’m Japanese, there are a lot of really great Korean places I like to go for Happy Hour. They have really good deals and great people. I can’t read the menus at all, but that doesn’t matter. I’ve had a lot of fun.”
2. “$15/hour foot massages in San Gabriel. You can’t beat them.”
This reoccurring column will feature three local tips and/or insights from anonymous locals we meet during our daily travels.