I've got a few days off before I head out of town for my official vacation. Thought it'd be fun to share a few go-to's, some new (to me), some tried and true.
  1. The burger at Butchers & Barbers
    All kinds of good burgers in L.A., but B&B has a great meat blend and unlike Comme Ca or other higher end burgers, the bun/patty ratio is just right. No top-heavy brioche overwhelming things.
  2. The omakase-style cocktails at the Walker Inn
    Was doing research for an upcoming feature on Koreatown and took @carolineoncrack's suggestion to go to the Walker Inn, a tiny 27 seat bar tucked inside the Normandie Club on 6th. Book a reservation for two online (just two--it's a perfect date/best friend thing), skip the menu, and ask them for the omakase service--best cocktail experience I've ever had. Eat beforehand. They only serve popcorn and there's a lot to drink.
  3. The baklava at Ara's Bakery
    I live in Little Armenia & about a year ago, I took a week to try every single baklava offered on Hollywood Boulevard--about 14 different kinds at six places. The best is the walnut or almond baklava at Ara's on Hollywood and Kenmore. It's $10 for a big tray you can bring as dessert to a dinner party.
  4. Mezas at Carousel
    While we're in Middle Eastern mode, over the past year I've become a devoted regular at Carousel restaurant inside a strip mall (course) on Hollywood--it's the lower key version of the Carousel in Glendale. Great place to go with a group of friends for family-style plates. Good smoky baba ghanouj (sp?). Vegans and meat eaters find common ground here without sacrifice. BYO wine and beer--no corkage fee.
  5. The outdoor bar at No Vacancy--before 10pm
    The Houston brothers are brilliant at theatrical bar concepts (Breakroom 86, Davey Wayne's) and I love taking out-of-town guests to No Vacancy. The speakeasy vibe --which door do I choose?! Who is this madam?!--and the 1900s mansion in the heart of Hwood is a gem. I like going early for a spot on the patio. It's been around since 2013 but I saw Joaquin Phoenix there last week so guess it's still happenin'!
  6. The "grandma breakfast" at Cuscatleca
    El Salvadorean bakery on Sunset in Echo Park serves breakfast including the "desayuno de la abuela" which the owners' actual grandma makes in the back: eggs with salsa, sweet plantains, beans, and Salvadorean baguette-type bread. Such a nice little bakery. Will be bummed if it goes away with the development over there.
  7. Barnsdall Movie Nights
    The Hollywood Forever screenings are the best but so crowded, I'm heading over to Barndall for the new season of outdoor movies on the lawn of the Frank Lloyd Wright house. The screenings go through Sept/Oct.