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Cool Spots, Food, Happenings, Where to Eat

‘Steep After Dark’ Takes Over an Entire Chinatown Courtyard

October 22, 2020 by Christina Champlin
Food and cocktails at Steep After Dark. Photo by Christina Champlin.

“Steep After Dark” is a new concept from Samuel Wang and Lydia Lin’s specialty tea cafe Steep LA. The casual outdoor affair resembles Japanese izakayas—bars that serve tapas-style food. The pop-up tapped Chef Shawn Pham to create the small plates and General Lee’s head bartender Philip Ly for tea-based libations.

Mandarin Plaza’s entire courtyard has been transformed for evening dining. A decorated lounge area is lush with greenery, and a newly installed canopy covers tables all spaced well over six feet apart.

A plate of skewered eats at Steep After Dark. Photo by Christina Champlin.

Chef Pham trained in several Michelin restaurants and most recently worked at Tsubaki and Ototo in Echo Park. He cooks items over a Konro grill right in front of guests. Skewers dominate the menu and a variety of Asian seasonings and sauces are used for an extra dose of umami. Sour and spicy Thai Nam Jim is drizzled over giant prawns. Xo sauce is brushed on corn. Grilled oysters are topped with Vietnamese Nước chấm. Chunks of lamb are seasoned with Gochu powder and Sichuan pepper.

But it’s not just the seasonings. Everything at the pop-up incorporates some type of traditional Asian influence. For example, Pham uses Binchotan charcoal, a type of activated white charcoal cultivated in the Kishu province of Wakayama in Japan for over 300 years.

Additional nibbles include fries, salt & pepper calamari, steamed clams in basil and Shaoxing butter sauce, and chicken cabbage salad served with shrimp chips.

Skewers cooking on a Konro grill at Steep After Dark. Photo by Christina Champlin.

Mock-tails crafted by Ly will come with a Chinatown twist fusing Steep’s teas with ingredients commonly used in Asian cooking, like lemongrass, pandan, and five-spice.

Steep After Dark launches this weekend, October 23-24 from 4-9 p.m and will continue into November. Steep LA is only taking walk-ins for this pop-up.

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Food

Taqueando Takeover Brings Five-Week Taco Pop-Up to DTLA

October 21, 2020 by Christina Champlin
Ponchos Tlayudas
Ponchos Tlayudas. Photo by Jon Endow.

Bill Esparza’s Taqueando was one of Los Angeles’ best food events of 2019. But this year, with large gatherings on hold due to the pandemic, the team at Taqueando is pivoting to a pop-up format.

The James Beard Award-winning Esparza co-founded L.A. Weekly’s Tacolandia event and for years helped curate a lineup of vendors that attracted thousands of hungry Angelenos each year.

Last year, Esparza created a new event, dubbed Taqueando, which brought taqueros and taqueras together from Southern California and Mexico for a one-day all-you-can-eat taco feast at ROW DTLA. Unfortunately, COVID-19 put the brakes on duplicating last year’s event, but that doesn’t mean the taco show won’t go on.

This year’s affair, dubbed the “Taqueando Takeover,” will be held at the former site of Church & State in Downtown. Instead of a big, one-day festival, they’ll be throwing a five-week long celebration of all things tacos.

The series of rotating pop-ups kicks off October 22-24 with Chef Poncho Martinez of Poncho’s Tlayudas and continues weekly with collaborations from SoCal’s most talented taco purveyors, including Chef Ray Garcia, Mariscos Jalisco, Tacos El Ruso, Tuetano Taqueria, and Chef Eduardo Ruiz.

Guests will have the choice of dining in at an expanded outdoor patio, as well as ordering takeout. Cocktails, wine, and beer will also be available.

The five-week celebration runs Thursdays through Saturdays and concludes in December with a virtual event and fundraiser featuring cooking demos, live performances and much more.

Check out the full lineup below:

  • Week 1 (10/22 – 10/24) – Chef Poncho Martinez of Poncho’s Tlayudas joins for three nights of Oaxacan cuisine from the Valles Centrales and Sierra Norte regions. 
  • Week 2 (10/29 – 10/31) – Surf and Turf Taco Nights with Mariscos Jalisco and Tacos El Ruso serving their signature shrimp and carne asada tacos.
  • Week 3 (11/5 – 11/7) – Chef Priscilla Curiel, San Diego’s “birria queen”, brings Tuetano Taqueria to DTLA.
  • Week 4 (11/12 – 11/14) – Chef Eduardo Ruiz (Corazon y Miel, Chica’s Tacos) will be whipping up Modern Mexican-American tacos. 
  • Week 5 (11/18 – 11/21) – Chef Ray Garcia (Broken Spanish, BS Taqueria) shines a light on Alta California tacos for a four-night run.
  • December TBDVirtual Taqueando event/fundraiser.

The pop-up will be located at 1850 Industrial Street, 90021, with open hours on Thursdays to Fridays from 5:30 to 11 p.m., and Saturdays from 5:30 p.m. to midnight. Per the events’s Instagram account, it doesn’t look like you can make advanced reservations. Instead, it’ll be first come-first serve.

For more information and updates including whats on the menu every week, follow @Taqueandofest on IG.

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Cool Spots, Culture, Food, Fun Stuff, History, Lifestyle, sightseeing, Where to Eat

Things to Do in Little Tokyo During the Pandemic

October 16, 2020 by Christina Champlin
Japanese Village Plaza in Little Tokyo
Japanese Village Plaza in Little Tokyo. Photo by Christina Champlin.

Little Tokyo is 135 years old. It’s one of only three remaining Japantowns in the nation, and it’s the second oldest neighborhood in Los Angeles. Several storefronts are legacy businesses run by the same families for decades. Mochi shop Fugetsu-Do, open since 1903, is literally the oldest Japanese-American-owned business in the United States! The first Shabu restaurant in North America is also right here in our Little Tokyo as well.

This neighborhood has survived the Great Depression and the incarceration of 120,000 Japanese-Americans during WWII. Now, it’s trying to weather COVID-19.

Many businesses are suffering from financial hardships due to the pandemic, but there are several ways you can support Little Tokyo right now. Several restaurants are open, pivoting to outdoor dining, street dining, rooftop dining, and takeout. You can also do some Japanese-focused shopping and stop by a few key historical monuments to learn more about this beloved neighborhood.

Dining in Little Tokyo

Before the pandemic, restaurants in Little Tokyo were so busy that they didn’t even take reservations. During peak hours, wait times would sometimes span one to two hours. Now, almost all of the restaurants have pivoted to takeout, delivery, and outdoor dining. While indoor dining is still prohibited, Little Tokyo plazas have transformed free spaces into outdoor dining areas—and the wait times are now much shorter.

In Japanese Village Plaza, several restaurants offer outdoor seating and one izakaya spot has even taken over the rooftop of the plaza’s parking lot. Over on historic 1st Street, the north side is completely closed off to expand al fresco dining onto the road. Some restaurants have also moved into alleyways, fixing them up with twinkling string lights. At Honda Plaza, half of the parking lot is now a community food space with first-come, first-served picnic tables and patio umbrellas. Two restaurants inside Little Tokyo Galleria have ventured outdoors, setting up shop on the top levels of the mall parking lot.

Find a description of each plaza, the businesses open during the pandemic, and some nifty tips on how to enjoy Little Tokyo below. Kanpai!

Japanese Village Plaza. Photo by Prayitno via flickr.

Built in 1978 and located in the heart of Little Tokyo, Japanese Village Plaza is home to Japanese-themed shops and a variety of authentic Japanese food. The Village has several small outdoor tables and additional public seating is a short walk away at Honda Plaza.

Dining Options

Open since 1991, Shabu Shabu House is the first Shabu Shabu restaurant in North America. It’s famous for its long wait during dinner service, but now, the restaurant offers takeout. The Shabu Shabu dinner set ($18) comes with all the fixings and coffee jello for dessert. They also have a popular Angus beef curry ($12) with house-made pickled cabbage on the menu. Orders by phone at 213-680-3890. Note that the restaurant is cash only. –> More information

Hama Sushi famously has a warning sign on its front door stating, “No tempura, no teriyaki, no noodles, only sushi and sashimi.” True to the sign, you’ll find pristine cuts of fish turned into rolls and sashimi here. There used to be a pretty long wait for seating inside the cozy establishment. Now, Hama is taking phone orders every day from 5-9 p.m. Sake and beer are also available for takeout. –> More information

Opened in 2009, TaNoTa Takoyaki serves takoyaki, the most popular street food in all of Japan. Nicknamed “octopus balls,” this street snack is made with flour batter, pieces of octopus, and other savory items. Cooked on a special molded pan, the balls come out crispy on the outside and gooey in the center. TaNoTa owner Mr. Takeo was born and raised in Osaka, the birthplace of takoyaki. He infuses a special chicken bone soup (cooked for five hours!) into his batter. He also gets creative with his offerings. Seven types of takoyaki toppings are on the menu including jalapeño, spicy caviar, parmesan, and truffle oil. Delivery through a number of apps and curbside pickup is available, though you can still catch a glimpse of the takoyaki being prepared in the front store window. –> More information

Established in 2011, Cafe Dulce is the premier spot to get a good cup of coffee and some opulent doughnuts. But that’s not all they serve—the green tea cookie-crusted roti filled with red bean is a signature sweet you must try. –> More information

Sushi Komasa has served traditional Japanese dishes and sushi for decades. There used to be a constant line outside this tiny eatery, but now they are operating on takeout orders. The updated menu features several fan favorites like the Sushi C combo, Sashimi & Tempura plate, and BBQ Eel over rice. –> More information

Honeymee serves “true milk” soft serve topped with a chunk of honeycomb. The milk used is from a local family-owned and kosher-certified farm. Chocolate, yuzu, and matcha are also topping options. –> More information

Enjoy open-air dining at Izakaya Fu-ga’s new beer garden located on the rooftop of the parking garage. The new setup also comes with a new menu of Teppan items, yakitori skewers, and seafood BBQ platters alongside Japanese whiskeys, sake, and more. –> More information

Operating on takeout, Mitsuru Café is an old-school casual dining spot serving teriyaki and tempura. The attraction here is the menu of made-to-order snacks like Imagawayaki, a hockey puck-shaped pancake stuffed with red bean and Mitarashi dango; mini rice dumplings; and skewers drizzled with sweet soy sauce. –> More information

Oomasa is a great choice for diners who like combination bentos that come with a little bit of everything. They also offer a number of specialty rolls and traditional sushi. Takeout only. –> More information

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Yamazaki Bakery sells Japanese-style bread, cakes, steamed buns, and other baked goods. –> More information

Ramen Maruya offers housemade ramen and broth. For a few dollars more, you can turn a meal into a combo, which comes with a mini donburi of your choice. They also have their own small outdoor dining area. –> More information

T.O.T. is offering premium Tonkatsu Sets on their menu like Black Pork Lion, Mille Shiso Cheese Katsu, and Chicken Oroshi Katsu. There’s also donburi, curry, and noodles. Outdoor seating is available and so are takeout and delivery. –> More information

Pick up some Japanese groceries at Nijiya Market. You can find pre-packaged foods, ramen, unique snacks, and fresh produce here. –> More information

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The first Chinchikurin opened in 1999 in Hiroshima, but now has over a dozen locations in Japan and three locations right here in Los Angeles County. Little Tokyo’s Chinchikurin serves Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki. Okonomiyaki is a savory omelet with a smorgasbord of ingredients. Usually, there are 11 layers of vegetables, protein, and carbs. This thing is a beast you’ll probably want to share with a friend. The Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki is slightly different from the classic Osakan-style omelet. The ingredients are all distinctively layered instead of merging, and there is a hardy serving of cabbage and a layer of grilled noodles thrown into the mix. There are nine combinations on the menu, including seafood, ground beef, torched green onion, and Japanese mayo. Available for delivery, takeout, and outdoor dining. –> More information

Kagura offers a little bit of everything. There are affordable specials where you can build your own meal from 35 tasty choices that include sashimi, bowls, curry, ramen, and salads. The special is only available during outdoor dine-in lunch hours from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Delivery is also available through a number of apps. –> More information

Honda Plaza Little Tokyo Outdoor Dining Picnic Tables
Public picnic tables at Honda Plaza. Photo by Christina Champlin.

Grab a cocktail, slurp some ramen, sip matcha, and dine on fine sushi all inside Honda Plaza. Half of its parking lot is now a community food space with picnic tables and patio umbrellas.

Dining Options in Honda Plaza

Sashimi Deluxe from Sushi Gen
Sashimi Deluxe from Sushi Gen. Photo by Christina Champlin.

For over 40 years, Sushi Gen has been one of the most popular sushi restaurants in Los Angeles. During the pandemic, they’ve pivoted to takeout only. The menu is limited but features all the hits like the sushi deluxe, sashimi deluxe, and yellowtail collar. You can also order sushi and sashimi a la carte over the phone. –> More information

PASTA e PASTA by Allegro serves Japanese-Italian-style pasta. The Allegro family started as a pizzeria in Japan and here, you’ll find Beef Ragu, Uni, Squid Ink, and Chicken Spinach Cream pasta. Open for takeout. –> More information

South Korean bakery Tous Les Jours is a global franchise with over 1,600 stores around the world. French-Asian inspired baked goods are made fresh every day. Find breads, colorful macarons, and savory croquettes filled with kimchi here. A must is the Milk Bread filled with buttercream. It’s like eating a fluffy cloud that’s carting a stick of soft and creamy butter. The bakery is also a great place to get a birthday cake. The cloud cream cakes are seriously delicious. –> More information

Men Oh Tokushima Ramen offers a number of classic ramen broths. You can find Shoyu, a light chicken and soy-based broth, and Black Garlic, a base made of Kurobuta Pork bones. Turn your meal into a combo for a couple dollars more. The Tokushima pork rice bowl add-on is the best option. –> More information

Enjoy Hawaiian comfort food from Aloha Café, open since 2004. You can find items like Loco Moco, Kalua Pork, and spam musubi here. The breakfast and lunch menu are both served all day. They are open for takeout, and there are small tables in front for dining outdoors. –> More information

BBQ Chicken DTLA is a Korean-style fried chicken shop. On the menu, find fried chicken bone-in or boneless in a variety of different spices, and chicken wings in eight different sauces. –> More information

Matcha café and green tea shop Tea Master is offering Japanese-style matcha soft-serve and a variety of green tea drinks. Walk-ins are welcome. –> More information

The Mermaid bar is serving wings, burgers, and other bar bites alongside several tropical punches and specialty cocktails, including boozy slushies. Dining is all outdoors at public picnic tables. Delivery and pickup is also available through GrubHub. –> More information

Kinjiro‘s Izakaya dishes and hearty quick meals are available for takeout through the Tock app. They recently set up their own section in Honda Plaza for al fresco dining as well. –>More information

1st Street Outdoor Dining in Little Tokyo
Outdoor dining on 1st Street in Little Tokyo. Photo by Christina Champlin.

The entire north side of 1st Street is closed to make room for an expanded outdoor dining space. 1st Street is home to legendary mochi store Fugetsu-Do, award-winning ramen, and Japanese beers.

Dining Options along 1st Street

Daikokuya is hands-down the most popular ramen joint in Little Tokyo. Order the Daikoku ramen with Tonkotsu soup. It’s served with pork belly chashu, marinated boiled egg, bamboo shoots, and bean sprouts. For a richer broth, ask to add Kotteri (pork fat). Ramen can be turned into combination meals with small-sized dishes and salad for an extra fee. Keep in mind, this place is cash-only. –> More information

Fugetsu-Do has been family operated since 1903 and is the oldest Japanese-American-owned business in the United States. It offers a wide variety of hand-made Japanese confections and a colorful selection of mochi. Some flavors, like cherry blossom and Ichigo Daifuku (mochi topped with a fresh strawberry), are seasonal while chocolate and red bean are always on rotation. The store is open for socially distant shopping. –> More information

Suehiro is a late-night diner that’s served homestyle Japanese food in Little Tokyo for decades. Open for takeout, delivery, and outdoor dining, the entire menu is available including Sukiyaki, Chazuke, and combination meals with all the fixings. –> More information

Open for takeout and outdoor dining, Sushi Enya is serving Chirashi bowls, sashimi, and specialty rolls. Vegans can also enjoy a meal here with inventive dishes like sweet corn tempura, Japanese tomato, and truffle asparagus. –> More information

RAKKAN Ramen is an award-winning ramen restaurant straight out of Japan that serves plant-based broth. It also offers a number of noodles to suit every diet, including gluten-free and kale noodles. There are plenty of vegan dishes, like the avocado tofu bowl and vegan gyozas, but they also offer meat here, like grilled pork on ramen and a crispy chicken bowl. –> More information

Get a full afternoon tea experience with tiers of tea sandwiches, scones, and more. Chado Tea Room is located at the Japanese American National Museum and is open for outdoor dining, delivery, and takeout. –> More information

Far Bar has a patio and outdoor dining area to enjoy local beers on tap, Japanese bottles of beer, and bar eats like wasabi fries, Asian-inspired tacos, and burgers. Takeout is also available. –> More information

Mitsuru Sushi & Grill offers American and Japanese comfort food for takeout and outdoor dining. On the menu, you can find hearty breakfast plates, burgers, and sushi. –> More information

Marugame Monzo is open for freshly made hand-cut udon. The menu is slightly limited, but there are more than enough signature hot and cold udon bowls to choose from. Takeout is also available. –> More information

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Hachioji Craft Ramen is serving Shoyu and Shio ramen for outdoor dining, takeout, and delivery. If you are going with other members of your household, consider the 84-ounce Sapporo beer tower. –> More information

Near the hustle and bustle of Little Tokyo’s 1st Street is French and Japanese brasserie Azay. Here, critically-acclaimed Chef Akira Hirose, formerly of Maison Akira, offers classics like kakuni omurice alongside Boeuf Bourguignon, Duck Confit, and a full Japanese Breakfast. –> More information

Little Tokyo Galleria is an indoor shopping center with a Japanese market and a few restaurants, including a rooftop drive-in dining experience and a Japanese tapas spot offering an 84-ounce Sapporo beer tower.

Dining Options at Little Tokyo Galleria

Vegan macrobiotic sushi restaurant Shojin has pivoted to a rooftop dine-in-your-car experience every Friday and Saturday. Make a reservation and pre-order your food through the drive-in menu, then pull up to the Little Tokyo Galleria parking lot and head up to the roof where someone will deliver your meal. Time your reservation for sunset for maximum vibes. Alcohol will not be served during this experience. Takeout and in-house delivery are also available Tuesday through Sunday. –> More information

Izakaya BIZAN has outdoor dining in the parking lot of the Galleria. Pull up a chair and order a variety of yakitori skewers, sashimi, and other Japanese small plates. They also have a Sapporo beer tower if you’re drinking with friends. –> More information

Things to Do in Little Tokyo

Go For Broke Monument in Little Tokyo
Go For Broke Monument. Photo by Christina Champlin.

There are key historical parts of Little Tokyo that are a short walk from one another. Visit these places and support the surrounding business nearby.

Go For Broke Monument

The monument commemorates the heroism of Japanese-American soldiers who fought in World War II. It embodies the Japanese-American veterans’ values of courage, sacrifice, equality, humility, and patriotism. Designed by Roger M. Yanagita and built in 1999, the monument is engraved with the names of over 16,000 men and women who courageously fought so that future generations could live freely in the United States without fear of racial prejudice. –> More information

“Home is Little Tokyo” Mural

This mural illustrates 100 years of Little Tokyo history. It was created in 2005 by muralists Tony Osumi, Sergio Diaz, and Jorge Diaz with the help of almost 500 residents and sponsored by non-profits and local business owners. Find it across the street from The Japanese American National Museum along Central Avenue. –> More information

Bunkado gift shop in Little Tokyo
Bunkado gift shop. Photo by Christina Champlin.

Bunkado

Open since 1945, Bunkado (which translates to “house of culture”) is a kitschy shop that sells unique gifts, home goods, books, kitchenware, and other Japanese knick-knacks. Tokio and Suye Ueyama opened the shop after enduring 40 months in a government-run internment camp during WWII. It remains a family-owned business today. –> More information

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Explore Japanese Village Plaza

The Japanese Village Plaza is Little Tokyo’s most popular destination for dining, street food, and shopping. Places like Hama Sushi, Shabu Shabu House, and Nijiya Market are all located here. Hob Nob and Pop Killer are awesome places for clothes, and Little Tokyo Cosmetics carries all the latest J brand beauty products. For an extra dose of cuteness, stop by the Sanrio store. –> More information

The Japanese American National Museum

The Japanese American National Museum is the only U.S. museum dedicated to sharing the experiences of Japanese-Americans and the part they play in U.S. history. Although the museum is not open at this time, it is hosting many virtual events for kids and adults. –> More information

MOCA Geffen

The MOCA Geffen is devoted exclusively to contemporary art. It is temporarily closed, but the public can view Los Angeles–based artist Barbara Kruger’s Untitled (Questions.). The reinstalled monumental wall work takes over the entire wall on the north side of the building. MOCA is offering many virtual programs as well. If you’re in the market for a new mask, several artists have designed face masks for purchase online. –> More information

Donating & Volunteering in the Little Tokyo Community

The Little Tokyo Community Council (LTCC) created the Little Tokyo Small Business Relief Fund GoFundMe in partnership with Little Tokyo Service Center (LTSC) to provide financial support for local small businesses during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. Generated funds help the organization award $2,000 per qualifying small business. –> More information

The Community Feeding Community program provides meals to individuals whose jobs were impacted by COVID-19. For $15, you can help feed someone and support a small business at the same time. Meals are purchased from a rotating list of businesses in Little Tokyo and the Arts District. 100% of donations go directly to hospitality workers in need and those small businesses. –> More information

The neighborhood is also looking for volunteers to deliver food donations to local affordable housing residents. Donations of non-perishable food and supplies are also welcome. The Little Tokyo Service Center’s (LTSC) food pantry is also in need of financial donations. The organization supports underserved individuals and families in the area. –> More information

For more information on additional Little Tokyo businesses to support, visit the Go Little Tokyo website and resource page.

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Fun Stuff, Lifestyle, sightseeing

Tanaka Farms Has Drive-Thru Pumpkin Picking

October 7, 2020 by Christina Champlin

Tanaka Farms in Irvine is offering family-friendly, interactive, pumpkin-themed experiences on its 30-acre farm this month. Highlights include picking your very own pumpkin right out of a real pumpkin patch and watching the team launch pumpkins into the sky from a cannon.

Mondays through Fridays, guests can embark on a socially-distanced 1.5-mile wagon ride around the farm. Stops include the pumpkin cannon, an educational barnyard exhibit with live farm animals, U-Pick veggies, eye-catching installations, the sunflower crop at peak bloom, and pumpkin picking.

Saturdays and Sundays offer a slightly different experience. You’ll drive your own car around the farm with the option to pull over and get out to pick your pumpkin.

All guests will remain in the wagon or car throughout the entire ride until the picking portion. Masks are required.

Make sure to also stop by their drive-thru produce stand. You can find a variety of fruits and vegetables here, plus honey, nuts, salsas, and baked goods from Old Town Baking Company.

Tanaka Farm’s 2020 Pumpkin Experience is open now through October 31. Advanced reservations are required. Tickets cost $25 per person for the wagon experience and $20 per person for the drive-thru experience. Active and retired military with proper identification can attend for free. Children 2 and under are admitted for free as well but do not get the freebies like an individual pumpkin to bring home.

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Food

4 L.A. Spots You Gotta Eat at in October

October 1, 2020 by Christina Champlin
Honey Walnut Shrimp Katsu Sando. Photo by Christina Champlin.

Every month, I explore different corners of L.A. County to curate a shortlist of favorites I believe ought to be on your radar. For October, I’m recommending a devilish Black Pastor Taco, a stacked Honey Walnut Shrimp sando, loaded Shawarma Nachos, and artisanal Twinkies inspired by Filipino ingredients. Enjoy!

Katsu Sando (Chinatown)

The Japanese sandwich trend has found a special home right here in Los Angeles. You can find a number of these sandwiches on the menu at several restaurants, but at Katsu Sando, they’re pushing the boundaries of what gets sandwiched between their freshly baked bread. If you’re drawn to the classics, chicken, pork, and ground beef katsu are all on the menu. There’s even a mushroom katsu for vegetarians. But the most ambitious creation so far is the Honey Walnut Shrimp Katsu Sando ($11.95). A generous portion of whole shrimps is dipped in batter and fried into a crispy patty, then finished off with crunchy glazed walnuts and slaw. Fluffy milk bread holds it all in place with the help of Tonkatsu sauce.

Walk-in ordering is available or get takeout and delivery through ChowNow. Open Tuesdays through Sundays, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. –> More information.

Evil Cooks Black Pastor Tacos. Photo by Christina Champlin.

Evil Cooks (El Sereno)

Walk up to Evil Cooks front yard operation and you’ll witness a slowly rotating trompo of black pastor. This sinister-looking slab of meat is so black that they affectionally nicknamed it “Goth Trompo,” but don’t let the color sway you. The black pastor is the way to go here. The dark hue comes from a marinade of Mayan spices. Fire from the rotating spit seals the flavor into every inch of meat. In taco form ($3), it comes with white onion, salsa roja, avocado sauce, and cilantro. Don’t @me about the missing pineapple. You won’t miss it once you bite into this dark abyss.

Evil Cooks’ defiance on what it means to be a taco stand is even more apparent once you look through the entire menu. Flan and churros are both served as tacos. Their “tortilla” is a sweet crepe-like hybrid. House-made chorizo is bright green instead of red because they use epazote, an herb often found in Mexican cuisine. The chorizo is anything but traditional, giving off an herbal flavor. You can buy it by the pound or try it in a taco.

Drinks are also unique. The Agua De Mazapán ($5) is extracted from a classic Mexican peanut candy. I took one sip and was surprised how refreshing it was to drink peanuts. It tasted like a nutty horchata.

Evil cooks is walk-up and takeout only. Open Fridays through Saturdays from 5 p.m.-8:30 p.m. and Sundays from 3-9 p.m. –> More information.

Filet Mignon Shawarma Nacho from Hummus Labs. Photo by Christina Champlin.

Hummus Labs (Pasadena)

There’s a secret item at Hummus Labs that people are begging to have placed on the permanent menu. The Filet Mignon Shawarma Nachos ($14.95) comes with thick pieces of pita bread fried to a golden crisp, then topped with buttery filet, sautéed onions, and tomatoes. The whole thing is drizzled in Thani and finished off with a scoop of hummus (there are several types to choose from) or garlic sauce.

Shaded outdoor seating is available right outside the cafe. Pickup and delivery are available through the ChowNow app, but nachos are not on the app at the moment, so you’ll have to call (626) 345-5592 to order. We recommend calling ahead for the nachos as they tend to sell out.

Open Mondays through Thursdays, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Fridays and Saturdays, 11 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. –> More information.

Halo Halo Pack from Keyks. Photo by Christina Champlin.

Keyks (Delivery & Downtown)

Keyks owner Jae Javier de Castro’s passion for nostalgic treats inspired her to reimagined the Twinkie with a global twist. Baked from scratch and sold in packs, there are several different flavor themes on the menu. The Halo Halo Keyks pack ($12) gives you three Filipino-inspired Twinkies made of Ube, Pandan, and Jackfruit. All are filled with buttercream. –> More information.

Available for delivery in Los Angeles and Orange County through Keyks’s website and every Sunday at Manila District in downtown L.A.

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Food

25 Spots for the Best Coffee in Los Angeles

September 29, 2020 by Christina Champlin
Coffee from Commodity Long Beach
Photo via Commodity Long Beach

One thing that hasn’t changed during the pandemic is that a good cup of coffee makes everything better. Fortunately, Los Angeles is obsessed with coffee. Our thriving coffee culture has attracted many talented baristas slinging brew at a number of stand-out cafes and coffee bars. So where does one go for the best cup of Joe in L.A.? Consider heading to one of the following 25 coffee shops.

Bloom & Plume Coffee (Westlake)

Los Angeles-based artist Maurice Harris opened and designed one of the coolest spots to sip a latte. Part-cafe and part-flower shop, Bloom & Plume prepares coffee and espresso with beans from Oakland-based Red Bay Coffee Roasters. Fans of fancy toasts need to order the avocado toast—it’s the prettiest one in the city. On Wednesdays, the shop collaborates on sandwiches with Wax Paper. –> More information.

Muddy Paw (Silver Lake & Eagle Rock)

“Have A Cup Save A Pup!” is the motto at this paw-friendly coffee shop. Buying a drink here supports a number of animal shelters and charities, but that’s not the only reason to visit. Muddy Paw makes really tasty drinks, like the Mexican Mocha and the Salty Old Dog—a latte made with dark chocolate, caramel, and sea salt. If you have a dog or just like being around them, the flagship Eagle Rock location has a dog park! –> More information.

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Hilltop Coffee & Kitchen (View Park, Inglewood & Eagle Rock)

Founded by Los Angeles natives Yonnie Hagos and Ajay Relan, Hilltop Coffee not only serve looks (they are super cute inside) but also tasty house-made almond milk lattes, espresso, and tea beverages. You won’t find a bland food menu here either. They serve things you actually want to eat, like Crispy Chicken Sandwiches, Short Rib Grilled Cheese, and Beignets. Look out for their Eagle Rock location opening soon. –> More information.

Swork (Eagle Rock)

Open since 2001, Swork introduced several quality roasters like Stumptown to Angelenos. Their Vanilla Bean Latte and Mexican Mayan Mocha are some of the most addictive drinks in the city. Before the pandemic, their shop was a great space to do some work on your laptop. Parents also appreciated the cozy children’s play area in the back. –> More information.

Menotti’s Coffee Stop (Culver City & Venice)

Cold brew ice cubes? YEP, that’s a thing here. If you’re looking for that extra dose of caffeine order the Heavy Metal Jack Jack, cold brew with maple syrup, half and half, and activated charcoal, then chilled with the brew cubes. Fun fact about Menotti’s: the head barista Christopher “Nicely” Abel Alameda is a three-time Latte Art World Championship winner. –> More information.

Jameson Brown Coffee Roasters (Pasadena)

Jameson Brown has served small-batch coffee roasted in-house since 2006. The beans come from South America to Ethiopia. Classic coffee beverages can be found at the shop, but don’t overlook the specialty drinks. Several creations are seasonal, like the Pumpkin Latte (made with real pumpkin) and Orange Blossom Latte. Popular specialty drinks that are offered year-round include The Lavender Vanilla Breve and Cardamom Rose Latte. –> More information.

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Pouring all day!

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Commodity (Long Beach)

Coffee, beer, wine, and food. This place has it all. On the caffeinated side, Commodity offers several espresso drinks and barrel-aged coffee. –> More information

Demitasse (Little Tokyo, Mid-Wilshire & Santa Monica)

Run by self-proclaimed “coffee geeks,” Demitasse offers small-batch roasted beans from a variety of regions. Owner Bobby Roshan encourages all baristas to experiment and some have developed signature drinks in the past, including a strawberry ginger latte and the Black Mamba latte made with Okinawan black sugar and ginger. –> More information.

Patria Coffee (Compton)

This small-batch coffee roaster sources beans from “Cooperativas,” which empower communities of small coffee growers to form their own enterprises. Beans are roasted on-site at the shop and the menu offers a number of interesting drinks including Café de olla, a Mexican-spiced coffee made with cinnamon and Piloncillo. Mexican chocolate fans should definitely order the Ibarra Mocha. –> More information.

Alfred’s (Multiple Locations)

Perhaps the most Instagrammed coffee in all of Los Angeles, Alfred’s take its drinks as seriously as its aesthetic. Iced vanilla lattes are so popular here that Alfred’s now sells the house-made syrup (made with real vanilla beans) in bottles. Alfred’s also carries its own shade-grown, single-origin matcha blend. –> More information.

Endorffeine (Chinatown)

Literally operated by a scientist, Endorffeine is one of Food & Wine’s 2019 Best Coffee Shops in America. The tiny shop serves unique caffeinated sips like Vanilla Pandan Latte and coconut matcha. They also use some of the most sought after beans from around the world, including Drop (Stockholm), Sey (Brooklyn), and Cognoscenti Coffee (Los Angeles.) Drinks are grab-and-go for the moment with free delivery on select days. Double filtered, 36-hour steeped cold-brew growlers are also available.  –> More information.

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Espresso Tonic. Enough said.

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Verve Coffee Roasters (Multiple Locations)

Founded in 2007 in Santa Cruz, Verve believes in sourcing high-quality coffee that’s cultivated through sustainable growing practices. They work with farmers around the globe and pay them a premium. Coffee aficionados can find single-origin and heirloom coffee varieties to sip on in the shops and seasonal whole beans to take home. –> More information.

Intelligentsia Coffee (Multiple Locations)

Open since 2007, Intelligentsia checks all the boxes for serious coffee drinkers. Baristas whip up drinks with precision and beans are all single-origin, direct trade, and organic. –> More information.

G&B & Go Get Em Tiger (Multiple Locations)

G&B is an award-wining, bar-style coffee stand located inside Grand Central Market. Recognized for having some serious coffee skills, the success of the stand allowed them to expand across Los Angeles under the name Go Get Em Tiger. With nine locations in the city, the shop brews its own beans and make an excellent almond macadamia milk in-house. Order the famous Business and Pleasure, a flight with espresso, almond macadamia milk, and fermented cold tea. –> More information.

Silverback Coffee (Echo Park & DTLA)

Rwanda native Jack Karuletwa sources his beans from family farms and woman-owned co-ops in Rwanda. On the menu are several flavored nitro coffees, classic espresso drinks, and lots of teas. A portion of the sales is donated to Rwandan organizations so you can feel extra good as you sip your coffee. FYI, the Downtown location is currently closed. –> More information.

Sightglass (Hollywood)

The first location outside of San Francisco, Sightglass in Hollywood offers an extensive single-origin coffee menu alongside espresso drinks and a food menu with Roman-style pizzas, bagels, and more. –> More information.

Caffe Luxxe (Multiple Locations)

Owners Mark Wain and Gary Chau travel the world in search of the best beans. Inspired by an artisan approach to coffee, beans are all hand-roasted in small batches by their master roaster. Here you’ll find carefully prepared lattes, cappuccinos, and other caffeinated beverages. –> More information.

Tierra Mia (Multiple Locations)

A South L.A. original, Tierra Mia’s menu reflects the Latin roots of founder Ulysses Romero. A dulce de leche latte, Cafecito Cubano, Mocha Mexicano, or Horchata Latte are all fantastic choices. Grab some guava cheese pastries and tres leches muffins, baked in-house. Several locations also have a drive-thru for quick pickup. –> More information.

Dayglow (Silver Lake & West Hollywood)

Sitting at the #2 spot of Food & Wine’s 2019 “Best Coffee Shops in America,” Dayglow is not only every Instagrammer’s dream but also a place to find a tightly curated list of coffees from acclaimed global roasters. Beans from Hong Kong’s Cupping Room, Montreal’s Kittel, Oslo’s Solberg & Hansen, and more have appeared on the menu. Featured roasters are always changing, so drop in often to explore what the rest of the world is sipping. Give the signature drink, The Warhol, a try. It’s made with espresso seasoned with vanilla, cinnamon, lime, and nutmeg. –> More information.

VanillaBlack (Echo Park)

Vanessa Butler’s small coffee shop offers a variety of drinks like bestseller the Layla Latte, an espresso infused with lavender and vanilla, and the double shot espresso drink Vanilla Bomb. –> More information.

House Roots Coffee (Granada Hills)

This valley coffee shop offers drip, pour-over and nitro brewed coffees, plus specialty espresso drinks like Lavender and Autumn Spiced Lattes –> More information.

Little Amsterdam (Mid-City)

Owner Joshua Mock turned his coffee shop into a local hangout space for people to enjoy some art and music. On the menu are lattes, teas, LAmonades, and health-boosting beverages like mushroom coffee. –> More information.

Dinosaur Coffee (Silver Lake)

An airy neighborhood spot, Dinosaur serves coffee from roasters like Dagwood Coffee Co. (Minneapolis), Terrain Coffee Project (Portland), and Fourbarrel (San Francisco). They also offer tasty seasonal shrubs and teas. –> More information.

The Palm Coffee Bar (Burbank)

Home of the Glitter Latte, this super Instagram-able coffee shop is owned and operated by Ben and Joanna Heart Milliken. The shop offers traditional coffee beverages and deliciously over-the-top drinks. If you are looking for a sugar fuel, order an Iced Cinnamon Toast Crunch made with espresso, oat milk, caramel syrup, and topped with cereal. For an extra fee, people can top any drink with Lucky Charms, glitter, flowers, and rainbow sprinkles too. –> More information

LAMILL Coffee (Silver Lake)

One of the originators of artisanal lattes in the city, LAMILL also roasts a wide variety of coffees. The shop offers pour-over coffee, Japanese iced coffee, a Valrhona Mocha, and more. There’s also a full food menu of small plates and entrees like the LAMILL breakfast plate and smash burger, plus several sweets. –> More information.

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Cool Spots, Food

A Massive Food Hall Opens in the San Gabriel Valley Saturday

September 25, 2020 by Christina Champlin
Glendora Public Market. Photo by Susan Pickering.

The long-awaited Glendora Public Market will soft open this Saturday, September 26. Housed in the 19,000-square-foot former Wonder Bread bakery, the market is set to become the largest food hall in all of San Gabriel Valley.

Several familiar L.A. favorites will call the food hall home, including Smog City Brewing, Boba Break Tea House, Penny Coffee Roaster, Bushi by Jinya Ramen Bar, Belly Bombz, The Taco Man, Portside Fish Co., Bolo, Cassidy’s Corner Cafe, Dog Haus, and Crepes & Shakes. And as for the setting, the build-out maintains parts of the historic building while weaving in a modern floor plan.

The wide-open interior features wall-to-wall exposed brick and 20-foot barrel vault ceilings. There’s also a dedicated full-time space for rotating pop-ups. Outside, guests can gather in the central courtyard and patio space for al fresco dining.

Jason Hsiao, Managing Director with Shaw Investments, the developer of the project, said via a statement that the goal for the market had always been two-fold: “to provide a dynamic gathering anchor for the community and empower small businesses to launch or scale.”

“Markets have always been a personal fascination: the allure of discovery, letting your senses wander down the rabbit hole. When we saw the opportunity to restore and revive this landmark, we knew this was a once-in-a-lifetime chance to bring a unique and vibrant experience to the community,” he said.

This weekend will include yoga on the patio on Saturday, DJs on Saturday and Sunday, and promotions from vendors like a BOGO special from Boba Break Tea House and free swag with purchase from Smog City Brewing.

For the time being, the market will operate with caution following the guidelines set by the state for restaurants amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Communal spaces at the market will have limited capacity, and vendors will also offer curbside pickup and/or delivery to accommodate customer preferences. Until the space is fully operational, the market will host virtual community events, such as cooking classes and demos, via the market’s Instagram page.

Glendora Public Market is located at 905 E. Arrow Hwy, Glendora. Hours are Monday through Saturday, 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Sunday, 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.

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Cool Spots, Culture, Happenings, Lifestyle

16+ Appointment-Only L.A. Art Galleries Open Right Now

September 22, 2020 by Christina Champlin
Ed Clark exhibit at Hauser & Wirth.

I think we can all agree that seeing art online doesn’t always convey the same feelings as viewing it in person. But for some time due to COVID-19, that’s been the only option––virtual galleries and digital exhibits. Fortunately, there’s now another socially distant way to see art in-person.

While none of our local museums have reopened, several galleries are currently available to visit as long as you make an appointment in advance. Although booking an appointment may seem like a hassle, it actually provides a private, more intimate, and safer experience. Plus, most of the following gallery spaces are free.

So, who’s ready to go art-hopping?

Regen Projects (Hollywood)

Operating in Los Angeles since 1989, Regen Projects has a reputation for showing works from acclaimed artists such as Matthew Barney, Catherine Opie, and Wolfgang Tillmans. Currently on view is Raymond Pettibon: Pacific Ocean Pop featuring drawings and collages of pop culture characters like Gumby and Batman alongside Hollywood actors, baseball players, and surfers. Appointments are available Tuesday through Saturday. One additional guest is allowed with each reservation.

William Turner Gallery (Santa Monica)

The latest exhibit at William Turner Gallery highlights new and recent work by Mark Steven Greenfield. Greenfield’s Black Madonna explores the Black experience in America, from the consequences of slavery to racial injustice. View the exhibit’s 17 works Tuesday through Saturday.

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David Kordansky Gallery is pleased to announce the opening of its new exhibition space with the gallery’s first show of new paintings and works on paper by Linda Stark. Titled 'Hearts,' this inaugural exhibition will be on view September 19 through October 24, 2020. We are currently open by appointment. Timed reservations and virtual visits are available at DavidKordanskyGallery.com. . The gallery’s new exhibition space forms part of its expanded Edgewood Place location in Mid-City, Los Angeles. Designed by the architecture practice wHY, the 12,800-square-foot expansion adds an intimate, skylit 2,000 square feet of indoor exhibition space, as well as areas for storage and operations, all located around a landscaped courtyard built for a range of programming, including performance, film, and outdoor sculpture. . Over the course of three decades, Los Angeles-based #LindaStark has produced a body of painting in which material experimentation and concentrated symbolic energy go hand in hand. The work is visionary, open, and suffused with an unlikely combination of humor and pathos; at the same time, it represents one of the most sustained investigations of the mutable potential of paint––as both a physical medium and a site of rich cultural discourse––in contemporary art. . As the show’s title suggests, the paintings in 'Hearts' frequently address iconographies associated with this most resonant of forms. Hearts occupy the literal and figurative centers of human and animal life, but they also appear in a wide range of social and narrative contexts. Emphasizing the physical, even sculptural, qualities of paint as much as its visual or color-based ones, Stark creates objects that reflect the multivalent potential of the heart as vessel and beacon, physical organ and mystical source. In so doing, she reveals a broad array of interests, notable for their historical depth and up-to-the-minute urgency alike. Often years in the making, they are meticulously planned and executed so that they engender intimacy, wonder, and surprise. . 'Cyclops Fountain,' 2020, oil on linen over panel, 20 5/8 x 20 5/8 x 2 1/2 inches (52.4 x 52.4 x 6.4 cm) . @whyheywhynot @why_site

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David Kordansky Gallery (Mid-Wilshire)

The David Kordansky Gallery just expanded to a brand new space and is currently exhibiting new paintings and works by Linda Stark. Stark’s Hearts explores the blood-pumping organ both literally and figuratively. It’s on view through October 24 by appointment only.

Hauser & Wirth (Downtown)

Hauser & Wirth is currently open for timed viewings of ‘Ed Clark. Expanding the Image’. Appointment slots tend to fill quickly, but limited tickets are released weekly on Eventbrite.

The Valley Relics Museum (Van Nuys)

Check out historical artifacts unique to the San Fernando Valley. This open-air museum is home to rare documents, photographs, awesome vintage neon signs, art, automobiles, and so much more. Tickets are $15 a person and support the nonprofit. Open every Friday and Saturday evening. Reserve tickets on the museum’s Eventbrite page.

Blum & Poe (Mid-City)

One of L.A.’s most influential galleries, Blum & Poe represents local and international artists such as Yoshitomo Nara, Asuka Anastacia Ogawa, Lee Ufan, and San Durant. Currently, the gallery is showing 4 from 3 dancers, new works by Los Angeles-based artist Aaron Garber-Maikovska. On September 22, Blum & Poe will also present Sympathetic Magic, a group exhibition organized by Bill Powers with work from 26 artists. Private reservations for one to three people are available online.

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Under / Over, aka #thetpholdershow; West, North, and East Walls.

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Marta (Echo Park)

Marta is offering timed, socially-distant viewings of Under / Over, an exhibition of 62 bathroom-focused works (mostly of T.P. holders) from 53 artists, designers, and studios. On view daily through November 1 by appointment only.

Tanya Bonakdar Gallery (Hollywood)

New York transplant Tanya Bonakdar features contemporary multimedia artists in its Hollywood gallery. Debuting September 26, Restless Index features six artists from a diverse range of media. The gallery is open Tuesday through Saturday. A maximum of three people or one household can reserve advance appointments in 30-minute increments.

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#thebeautywar @cakeland.la

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Cakeland LA (Chinatown)

Artist Scott Hove’s larger than life cake mazes have found a long-term home at Cakeland LA. In his latest exhibit, Beauty War, guests will explore a labyrinth of cake. Some cakes look delicious, others may be frightening, and no guests leave with the same impression. The gallery is open Wednesday through Sunday by advance appointment. Unlike the other galleries listed in this article, there is an admission fee of $20. Beauty War is on view through December 31.

La Luz de Jesus Gallery (Hollywood)

This self-proclaimed “low-brow” art gallery specializes in pop and street counterculture art. Current exhibits include Come on In, featuring Benz & Chang, Septerhed, and Teresa Watson, and Harold Fox’s Working Days End. Timed 20-minute reservations are available online for Saturday and Sunday viewings.

Kohn Gallery (Hollywood)

This modern art gallery‘s latest exhibit is myselves, a group exhibition curated by Joshua Friedman that features over 25 contemporary artists examining the ways identity is structured or fabricated. Half-hour visits can be reserved online, Monday through Saturday. Prepare to social distance from other guests.

https://www.instagram.com/p/CFKZoZngQA6/

GR2Giant Robot 2 (Sawtelle)

Located on a stretch of Sawtelle dubbed Japantown or Little Osaka, Giant Robot is part-whimsical pop culture store and part-art gallery. Since it opened in the 90s, the storefront has hosted countless pop art shows and product drops. The store is still open during the pandemic, and the gallery is offering limited visits.

Fahey Klein Gallery (Hancock Park)

Fahey Klein Gallery specializes in contemporary and 20th-century photography. Opening September 24 is Lost Angeles, collection of works by legendary L.A. photographer Paul Jasmin. Open by appointment only Tuesday through Saturday.

Gavlak (Downtown)

Gavlak is a contemporary fine art gallery based in Los Angeles and Palm Beach. Currently on view are two exhibits: The Feminine Divine, a solo exhibition of drawings, sculptures, and video by multi-media artist Kathryn Garcia; and Wisdom Embedded in the Treads, a solo exhibition of recent work by Jamaican-American artist Kim Dacres. The gallery is open by appointment only Tuesday through Sunday.

Tierra Del Sol Gallery (Chinatown)

Featured artists at this gallery are from the Tierra Del Sol Studio program. Currently on view is artist Helen Rae’s first solo exhibition. Viewings are by appointment only Tuesday through Saturday.

Gabba Gallery (Westlake)

Gabba Gallery features emerging artists from across the world. Though it also hosts virtual exhibitions, it’s open by appointment only when hosting shows in the gallery. Email the gallery here for details on what’s on view and how to visit.

Galerie Lakaye (Hollywood)

Galerie Lakaye is hosting appointment-only viewings of Haitian-American artist Francesca Lalanne’s exhibit Francesca Lalanne: In this Time. Per a release: “The exhibition, which includes mixed media paintings and wall sculptures made of engraved oxidized steel sheets and granite elements mounted on wood speak to a Black woman’s perspective on the body as architectural sacred space; the load of loss and mourning of Black bodies brutalized by the police and by a virus which does discriminate when it comes to people of color. The beautiful executed works also reflect the dynamic resistance of a people who believe that justice might still be attained.”

George Billis Gallery LA (West Adams)

The George Billis Gallery is a contemporary exhibition space with locations in Los Angeles and New York. The L.A. gallery currently has two openings by appointment only: Wes Hempel’s A Portable Eden and Stephen Wright’s Undercurrent

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Food

Delivery/Takeout Picks to Try This Weekend

September 18, 2020 by Christina Champlin
Lost Cove Photo by Jakob Layman

This is not an ideal weekend to dine outdoors as our air quality is still pretty bad. Instead, order some delicious takeout and give your kitchen a break. From tiki and Hawaiian BBQ to some of the best fried chicken & waffles in town, here are a few excellent delivery and takeout specials to try this weekend.

Lost Cove (Fairfax)

This weekend, escape to Island Time with the help of Lost Cove. The new tiki and Hawaiian BBQ pop-up delivers tiki drinks, tiki-themed mugs with all the funky garnishes, and Big Island-style barbecue straight to your door. They even have a tiki Spotify playlist to help set the mood.

Behind the pop-up is Kevin Faerkin, the operations manager of Bludso’s Bar-&-Que. Faerkin tapped Justin Oliver (Smuggler’s Cove, Lono, and Bamboo Club) and Sam Spoehr (Bludso’s Bar-&-Que) to create Lost Cove’s tropical cocktails.

The classic tiki menu includes drinks like mai tais, banana daiquiris, and macadamia nut chi chis. Cocktails are premixed in a glass bottle using fresh organic juices, house-made syrups, and top-shelf rums and spirits. All you need to do is add ice, which is also included with your order.

Tiki drinks can be pretty strong, but you can balance out your island adventure with some food. On the menu are slow-smoked spare ribs, pulled pork sliders, and Huli Huli BBQ chicken. They come a la carte, in combo plates, and as family meals. For dessert, they offer Haupia coconut pudding with guava sauce, double chocolate brownies, and banana pudding. 

Order on Tock, Postmates, Ubereats, DoorDash or Grubhub for pickup at Bludso’s Bar-&-Que or delivery if you’re within an eight-mile radius.

Fried Chicken & Waffles from Poppy + Rose. Photo by Christina Champlin.

Poppy + Rose (Downtown)

Sink your teeth into an exceptional plate of fried chicken & waffles this weekend at chef Michael Reed’s American eatery Poppy + Rose. Reed is a fried chicken whisperer who brines his chicken in buttermilk and coats it with a salty, spicy, lip-smacking seasoning. Once fried, the skin retains its crunch while holding tender melt-in-your-mouth meat inside. Available on the breakfast and lunch menu, the dish comes with a Belgian-style waffle, a bone-in thigh piece, and a boneless breast. Available for takeout through ChowNow.

Azay (Little Tokyo)

Start the morning off with a Japanese breakfast prepared by Chef Akira Hirose, formerly of the critically-acclaimed Maison Akira in Pasadena. Azay is Hirose’s French and Japanese brasserie offering classics like kakuni omurice next to Boeuf Bourguignon. The hearty $15 Japanese Breakfast is served Tuesday through Sunday. It’s a traditional meal made up of broiled fish, Japanese rolled omelette, tofu with bonito flakes, pickled vegetables, miso soup, rice, and tea. Order on their webpage for pickup or GrubHub or DoorDash for delivery.

Salazar

Salazar (Elysian Valley a.k.a. Frogtown)

Salazar recently opened for dine-in, takeout, and delivery. The entire food menu is available to be enjoyed at home, including their signature fire-grilled tacos and refreshing mezcal cocktails. Order on Postmates.

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Food

Randy’s Donuts to Hand Out Free Donuts on Halloween

September 15, 2020 by Christina Champlin
Randy’s Donuts

Halloween might not be the same this year as trick-or-treating is “not recommended,” according to Halloween guidelines the L.A. County Department of Public Health put out last week. If you’re a parent looking for ways to still treat your kids this Halloween, Randy’s Donuts will be handing out free donuts to anyone 15 and under on October 31.

All Randy’s locations will participate in this festive freebie, including shops in Pasadena, Inglewood, Century City, Downey, and El Segundo. Kids do not need to be in costume to redeem a free treat. They’ll all receive a free Randy’s Round, the shop’s take on the donut hole, while supplies last. Randy’s Rounds are sizable, two-to-three-bite yeast donuts topped with glaze and decorated with candy. Adults can join in on the fun and order some full-size Halloween donuts to enjoy as a family.

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Food, Fun Stuff

A Halloween Food Festival Comes to Knott’s Berry Farm

September 14, 2020 by Christina Champlin

Knott’s Berry Farm will host a family-friendly Halloween-themed food festival inside a portion of the amusement park this fall. “Taste of Fall-O-Ween” will feature fall harvest and Halloween décor, themed food, an all-new “Into the Fog” art show, and a Camp Snoopy Trick-or-Treat Trail for junior guests loaded with treat stations and spooky decorations. Don’t forget to bring your trick-or-treating bag!

The outdoor festival will offer over 80 food options from 28 participating locations. Dessert highlights include a “Graveyard Funnel Cake” topped with chocolate ice cream and gummi worms and “The Great Pumpkin Bun”—a deep-fried cinnamon roll topped with pumpkin icing. On the savory side, choose among Butternut Squash Soup in a Bread Bowl, Creepy Cheeseburger Sliders, Pastrami Tater Tots, and more. Adults 21+ can also use their tasting tickets for Boysenberry Sangria, Full Moon Mint Juleps, and other alcoholic beverages.

To enjoy Fall-O-Ween, guests must purchase date-specific tasting cards online in advance. Regular tasting cards (ages 12+) cost $35 and include five food tastings. Junior tasting cards (ages 3-11) cost $20 and include three tastings and access to the Camp Snoopy Trick-or-Treat Trail. Parking for the event is free.

Due to COVID-19, all activities will be spaced according to social distancing rules. There will be a limited number of tickets sold each day to control crowding. Guests are allowed to show up in costume, but costume masks aren’t allowed. Face masks, however, are required.

Taste of Fall-O-Ween runs September 25 through November 1. Hours are Fridays and Saturdays from noon to 9 p.m. and Sundays from noon to 8 p.m. Buy your tasting cards at knotts.com or through the Knott’s Berry Farm mobile app.

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Fun Stuff, Happenings, Lifestyle, Uncategorized

Drive-In Dinner and a Movie Pop-Up Comes to Chinatown

September 9, 2020 by Christina Champlin
Chinatown Central Plaza. Photo by Christina Champlin.

Cinemauto cruises into Chinatown for a monthly series of culturally distinct on-screen entertainment and local eats. Each ticket includes entry, dinner, and a movie for a full night of fun focused on inclusivity and highlighting diverse voices.

A typical night might include a feature film, plus a variety of short films, short documentaries, music videos, and art videos that play beforehand. There will also be in-car, multi-sensory exhibitions and DJ sets by NTS Radio. In support of local businesses, artists, and non-profit organizations, the series will also feature a curated community market alongside local Chinatown restaurants.

Cinemauto kicks off September 18 and 19 with a celebration of Hispanic filmmakers. Programming includes the 1997 film Selena, plus short films and music videos curated by the Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival.

When you purchase your ticket, you’ll select a “takeout” meal box (vegan options available) prepared by a featured local restaurant partner. Meals are delivered via carhop service and eaten inside of the vehicle.

The culinary partner for the September launch is Far East Plaza’s Taiwanese street food purveyor Lao Tao. On the menu are all their greatest hits, including bowls with popcorn chicken, pork belly, braised chicken, or tofu. 

So far, only programming for the first weekend has been announced, but keep an eye out for the schedule here. Cinemauto’s scheduled dates include:

  • September 18 & 19, 6-10 p.m.
  • October 16 & 17, 6-10 p.m.
  • November 13 & 14, 6-10 p.m.
  • December 11 & 12, 6-10 p.m.

Proceeds from ticket and merchandise sales for the entire series will benefit LALIFFHomeboy IndustriesJunior HighLas Fotos ProjectFood Forward, and #XMAP: In Plain Sight. VIP & GA tickets both include entry, dinner, and movie:

  • Double GA (2 tickets): $115 for two people.
  • Double VIP (2 tickets): Starting at $160 (limited availability) for two people. Includes curated goodies and snacks from the Community Market, premier “seating”/parking, early entry and exit, and a dedicated server.
  • Tickets only come in pairs, but you can add an additional single ticket for $60 (includes dinner).

Cinemauto is located at 713 N. Hill Street in Chinatown. Tickets are available here.

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