This may be obvious to most people, but it wasn’t to me: Restaurants don’t really want your group of 20 on a Saturday night without a pre fixe menu or per-person minimum. This is understandable—you don’t want to overwhelm the staff, and you don’t want the kitchen to run out of ingredients—but I thought I could turn up a venue in Los Angeles that would nevertheless be eager to accommodate our sizable group in honor of my husband’s birthday.
We found $35-per-person minimums, with pre-set menus, wherever we looked. We weren’t hosting the dinner (that is to say, we were gathering the group, but not picking up the tab), and we hate to impose on our friends’ wallets. Some drink, some don’t drink, some just nibble a nosh, others are hungry for a full dinner, some have cash to spare, others are between jobs — why should everyone pay the same? Causing stress and resentment among friends isn’t hospitable. I searched and searched but by Friday before the party, I was still without a confirmed location and I was starting to sweat it, mini-panicked that I was losing my detail-minded-group-leader-knows-the-hell-out-of-Los-Angeles-venues touch.
And then I stumbled upon the perfect place! All of this is to say, if you’re encountering a similar problem, I have a great solution for you: Yxta Cocina Mexiana in downtown Los Angeles. Read more…
Who’s noticed the new residential-feeling lobby area in the parking garage at the Grove? It’s the kind of thing that makes you go “only in L.A….”—and it’s totally gorgeous.
The design-minded lobby revamp made its debut a couple of months ago and includes pretty stone flooring, opulent chandeliers, a leather ceiling, and seating groups that feel plucked from a five-star hotel lobby. In fact, the look comes from the Rockwell Group, also known as the folks behind such hotels as the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas (another personal favorite since I covered its impossibly splashy opening), not to mention the wildly imaginative Crystals at CityCenter. Read more…
In the week between the first and second weekends of pool and open-water training, I’m working with some new advantages and disadvantages alike.
As for the advantages, the fear of the unknown is somewhat diminished. And I now have a certain faith in the power of the anti-motion-sickness drug, Bonine, plus the knowledge of how and when to take it for maximum effectiveness.
As for the disadvantages, I’ve seen how badly some people fared on the first trip out. I’ve seen a bunch of green faces, borderline hypothermia cases, and even a perforated eardrum. Read more…
Hubby decided now — ahead of our trip to Vietnam and Bali — was the time to pull the trigger on the scuba certification we’d been talking about since before our Tahitian honeymoon in 2010.
I resisted a little bit, only because of the significant expense (close to $1,000 for the pair of us), and time commitment: eight hours of online coursework, followed by two weekends of solid training in the classroom, pool, and open water. But far be it for me to deny hubby any bucket list-y item — and I’m always game for an adventure. Plus, if we want to be certified in time for our trip, it’s now or never, with nary a weekend to spare. (We’ve never been interested in getting certified while on vacation because we move around a lot and don’t want to waste precious few days on a short trip on training dives anyway.) So away we go. Read more…
Breaking news: Condé Nast Traveler has come out with its 2013 Gold List. Of the 510 places on earth named to the list, the United States claims 195 spots (oh hey) and California itself claims 29 (snap!) — more than any other state in the union. This makes me enormously proud, and also doesn’t surprise me even a little bit.
Among the properties new to the list is the Montage Beverly Hills (pictured above) — truly one of my favorite places in the area, with a special personal resonance (the site of my bridal shower, a pre-wedding spa day with hubby, and the place where my brother-in-law proposed to his bride). It’s also maybe the most luxurious and comfortable spa I have had the pleasure to visit (which is saying a lot, given my affinity, a.k.a. obsession, with gorgeous spas the world over). Read more…
This is a very personal and potentially contentious topic that could (ahem) get the claws to come out. People who are salon loyal will have other opinions and will think mine are lame, and will quietly roll their eyes (mentally) and pity me.
But I characterize myself as 1) committed to nice nails, 2) having rather high expectations for salons, 3) not interested in paying more than I have to, and 4) selectively lazy as hell and willing to go to great lengths to avoid a schlep or parking drama. That said, here are my picks for three amazing places to get a great mani/pedi in the three neighborhoods I know well: Westwood (where I used to live), Beverly Hills (near our new home in Carthay Square), and West Hollywood (walking distance from Equinox, where I work out). Without ado: Read more…
I’ve been so excited over so many personal projects that I’ve not slept much this week. Today I woke up at 3:45 a.m. and thought, “I’m going for a hike.” There’s a lot that doesn’t add up about that. “It’s arithmetic,” Bill Clinton might have said mockingly of my suggestion.
Anyway, it’s now 6 a.m. and I’m at the summit of Runyon Canyon — writing you, dear readers, from the most perfect bench in Los Angeles County. Regular Runyon hikers will know it well.
Without ado, here are my tips for hiking Runyon Canyon before sunrise: Read more…
You and hubby are so good at getting away that I figured you would have a good tip on a romantic, chill, place where the two of us can go, sans baby, for one or maybe two nights while we are in Los Angeles. Any ideas?
[Pasadena-bred gal, now a resident of Zimbabwe on diplomatic business, so a bit out of practice with the local stuff (But Zimbabwe! How cool is that?!)]
Dear Pasadena Bred,
Oh my gosh, yay. Romance and vacations are two of my favorite things. I totally got this one. Here are three (of so very many wonderful) ideas for weekend trips within driving distance of Los Angeles: Read more…
You guys. You’ve got to go do this hike.
I’ve hiked to the Hollywood sign several times, and have publicly declared it my favorite local trek. It’s such a great combination of urban and rustic — well, no, it’s actually totally urban, but it’s on a mountain in dirt, so. You can approach this hike from several different angles, with varying degrees of difficulty. LAist has a really comprehensive guide to the various options. And Modern Hiker, the best local hiking blog I can recommend, has a great step-by-step guide too. Read more…