Archive for the ‘Places to Eat’ Category

LA Live

March 30, 2012

For a lot of entertainment options in one place, visit LA Live.   Located at S. Figueroa and W. Olympic Blvd. near Hwy 110 in downtown Los Angeles its a mecca of hotels, dining and entertainment.

The dozen or more restaurants include Trader Vic’sFleming’s Steakhouse, The Yard House2 Wolfgang Puck restaurants and my personal favorite,  Rosa Mexicano.   This upscale Mexican restaurant has been expanding outside it’s NYC roots and this is the first of 2 LA area locations.  The successful chain is known for their tableside guacamole and frozen pomegranate margaritas.

The complex is home to Staples Center where you can catch a Lakers basketball game, a hockey game or a major concert such as Madonna.  The Nokia Theatre is a popular mid-sized venue for concerts and other events.  There’s also a Regal Cinema with 14 screens showing the latest Hollywood releases. You can even bowl at LA Live!

The Grammy Museum also calls LA Live home.  There they offer both exhibits and history but  concerts and other programs in an intimate setting.

There’s underground parking and plenty of entertainment to add to your visit to LA whether you’re there on vacation or on business at the nearby convention center.


Up on the Roof

March 16, 2012

Downtown Los Angeles has been going through a lot of changes the past few years.   Condos and restaurants have given new life to ornate buildings.

Several interesting night spots are among the skyscrapers and offer unique vantage points on LA.  Two are Perch and the Rooftop Bar at The Standard Hotel.

Billed as “an elevated resting place”, Perch is both a beautiful bistro and cozy outdoor bar.  Located in the Pershing Square Building at the corner of 5th & S.Hill Street they are only steps from the Pershing Square Metro stop.  They have fireplaces and fire pits plus lots of comfortable seating both outside on the restaurant level and more one level up.

On the top level there is more seating,  fire pits, a bar, restrooms and breathtaking views.  Some nights there is live music and they do take reservations for dinner.

While Perch is warm and cozy The Standard Hotel at 6th & S.Flower St. is cool and chic.  Their “Rooftop Bar” has a beer garden section which is the best value (lower cost, larger quantity and even a glass glass.)   The main bar is hip and spendy but remember you are paying for atmosphere.

Atmosphere that includes fire pits,vibrating waterbed seating pods, a dance floor, DJs spinning tunes nightly and a blue lit heated pool.  Didn’t bring your trunks?  Never fear, there’s a vending machine where you can buy a pair and take a dip!

Both venues offer unique opportunities to go up on the roof, enjoy a beverage with friends in an open air setting among  the spectacular lighted skyline of downtown LA.  Check them out next time you are in LA on business or just for fun!

Where There’s Smoke

March 9, 2012

There’s something about the desert that always puts me in the mood for barbeque.   Maybe it’s the memory of old Westerns set in the Southwest that makes me think of cookouts, wood fires and slow smoked meats.

Of course,  great barbeque is hard to find and Catalina BBQ Company is as well.  It’s located on a very dark road leading up to the JW Marriott in Tucson.  When you begin to see the lights of the resort in the distance, keep your eyes peeled on the left side of the road for the restaurant sign.  They share a lobby with Shell Golf Suites but the restaurant is part of the Marriott resort.  If you are a guest at the resort they have complimentary shuttle service to the restaurant but it is open to the public and definitely worth finding.

The setting is comfortable and the aroma will make your mouth water as soon as you walk in.  Don’t fill up on the wonderful jalapeno and chile biscuits even though they are hard to resist.  The honey butter offers a nice sweet/savory balance.

All the meats are served without sauce and a trio of sauces presented at the table so you can suit your taste.  Personally I favored a hearty spoonful of the spicy sauce blended with the sweeter sauce on my sausages.

My husband had a combo plate with brisket that barely stayed on a fork it was so tender.  The meats bore the telltale pink of hours of slow smoking.

I had the creamed corn side which was a little too milky for my taste.  However I tipped the dish to drain the excess liquid and found the corn to be amazing.  My husband had the macaroni and cheese but didn’t eat much of it.  Same with the chile/sea salt fries.  It’s not that they weren’t good, but when you find such delicious meats, we focus our appetites there instead.

Our server was warm, friendly and more than accommodating.   When we asked about hikes in the area,  both she and the manager gave us great information.   She even got us a copy of an area trail map without our even asking.

This was truly a “find” and we look forward to the opportunity to eat there again.

Dining Experience That’s Pure Silver

February 17, 2012

Like other upscale ski towns such as Aspen or Vail, Park City, Utah has no shortage of great restaurants.  The latest jewel in the culinary crown is called Silver.  Smack dab in the middle of Main Street, this cozy, chic restaurant could be in West Hollywood or Manhattan.  The decor turns a historic brick building into a hip spot with their use of dark blue velvet, croc print silver leather, etched, lighted glass and edgy silver metal accents.

This is not a case of style without substance though, the meal was amazing!  We started with a signature cocktail; there are over a dozen with clever names such as “Catch Her in the Rye” and “The Departed”.  My personal favorite was the Lavender Sidecar served in a sugar rimmed snifter.

The bread delivered to the table warm was like a soft pretzel with a basil dip.  I could have made my meal of that alone.

My hubby enjoyed the grilled octopus and the chicken coq au vin.  I was impressed by the innovative twist on popular favorites.  The Caesar salad was made with black kale and roasted cherry tomatoes.  The brussel sprouts were grilled (my favorite) with pomegranate giving an interesting touch of sweet to the savory.  And then there were the truffle fries… does anything more need to be said?

Not normally a dessert person, I had to at least peek at the offerings.  Given the creative drinks and meal selections, I was curious to see what they had to end the meal.  I was not disappointed!  The Pumpkin Chiffon Bombe proved irresistible.  Yes, that is spiced cotton candy atop the pumpkin treat and a sliver of grilled pineapple in the chocolate sorbet.

The service at Silver was warm and attentive making it a perfect evening in every way.  You can make reservations using OpenTable or UrbanSpoon.  The bar area is a great place to meet friends and be sure to check out the lighted sink in the unisex bathroom upstairs!

Why Wait?

April 29, 2011

It happened again.  We walked past a HUGE crowd waiting to be seated at il Fornio and were immediately given a table.  Same thing happened last week at Dragonfish.  It’s also a regular occurrence at P.F.Chang’s, Stanfords, BJ’s and countless other popular restaurants.


Why?  Certainly not because we do anything each and every one of you COULD do but somehow don’t think to do.  We simply make reservations.

When we have tickets to a concert or play, I use the internet to decide a nearby restaurant for dinner beforehand.  Same once we decide on a time to see a movie.  I prefer to only park once so walking distance between the two is a priority.  If they validate for free or reduced cost parking – even better!

Even if you are not one to plan days ahead, you usually have at least 30 minutes notice of where you are planning to eat.  After all, it takes that long in most major cities to get from where you are when you decide to the actual restaurant.

Do you have an iPhone, Droid or other “smart phone”?  There is typically an app for a free reservation service such as OpenTable or UrbanSpoon.  You can often earn points towards free dining bucks just for using one of these services that allow you NOT wait in line!

Some restaurants such as P.F. Chang’s don’t offer their reservations through 3rd party providers such as OpenTable or UrbanSpoon.  That doesn’t mean they don’t take reservations!  In their case, the reservations are done directly through their website.

If you don’t have a “smart phone” or find the on line process tedious, just call and see if you can get a reservation when you are on your way.  If they don’t have an open spot, see if you can get put on a waiting list or if the wait time they quote is too daunting, ask for a recommendation of another restaurant nearby that may be able to take you more quickly.

Even casual restaurants such as BJ’s and Applebee’s which don’t offer reservations have a “call ahead” service.  You phone the restaurant when you leave your house and get put on their waiting list.  When you walk in, if you are given one of those pagers at all, your wait will be much shorter.

Our family is so accustomed to having a reservation that even the younger members walk up to the counter and give their name automatically.  It even happened once at a restaurant we love in Park City that doesn’t take reservations!

Yes, we do sometimes eat in restaurants that don’t take reservations but only at off-peak times or when we don’t have something better to do than wait.

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