Free Parking Restaurants Los Angeles!

3 Dec

Here in L.A., home of the Valet- free parking of any kind is enough to make a person become a loyal diner! These restaurants all have free lots, validated garages or ample shared parking areas.

1. Frida Mexican Cuisine

750 Americana Way
Glendale, CA 91210
(818) 551-1666 

I was so excited to realize this is part of the same small chain I had fallen in love with in Old Town San Diego. Only three restaurants though, so don’t be scared by the word chain. I have been here a few times since 2010.

Awesome drinks, awesome food, awesome service. It’s very much a bar in the sense that half of he seating is at a large illuminated wrap around bar. Not the same authentic ambiance as the restaurant in San Diego, but an upscale Cali vibe just the same. I did come here on a first date a couple years ago and the mariachi was quite loud for conversation, so maybe check out the schedule before coming here.

The ceviche frida and the pork (al Pastor) are two of my very favorite dishes here. I’ll have to come back to try the Pozole!

 2. El Patron

5545 Reseda Blvd
Tarzana, CA 91356
(818) 643-3033 

This place is so close to my work, I can’t believe I haven’t been here in all these years until now!! The fresh chips come with spicy salsa and bean dip. I checked in on yelp to get a free order of taquitos. The $9 skinny margaritas are AMAZING here! There is a $9.99 lunch buffet so I find myself coming here about once a week lately. We are even going to have the work Holiday Party here,

 3. K-ZO

9240 Culver Blvd
Culver City, CA 90232
(310) 202-8890 

What an unbelievable sushi experience. The staff greets you as you enter. It’s a really cute spot inside. There were 3 of us, one had the Prix Fixe, one ordered Omakase ($55-80) and I ordered the crunch roll, blue crab roll and spicy scallop roll. We split a large high end bottle of cold sake. Unlike a lot of sushi joints, this one has a full bar.

All of the fish was perfection. Interesting combos, great cuts and a huge menu. Favorites included the trout, halibut, sea bass (cooked) and spicy scallop roll. The banana fritter dessert is a must-try. Skip the purple sweet potato parfait.

 4. Katsuya

702 Americana Way
Glendale, CA 91210
(818) 244-5900 

I have been here a few times, first time was in March. Not as expensive as people make it out to be. Specialty rolls are $15-16 and come with 10 large pieces. The corn roll is good (interesting). I shouldn’t have ordered a rainbow roll because I’m not that big of a California roll fan. But the fresh fish on top was excellent. The Brussel sprouts here were also amazing.

Food was extremely slow to come out the first time I was here, but good the second time. Thankfully it was we lunching ladies and we weren’t in a hurry. Ladies room was not very clean the first time either. All and all though a nice atmosphere, great lunch menu and consistent food.

 5. Green Street Restaurant

146 S Shoppers Ln
Pasadena, CA 91101
(626) 577-7170 

I have been here twice for lunch. The salads are to die for and so is the zucchini bread. It’s tough to make a salad really stand out as interesting but their dressings do it. Both the Dianne salad and the Spinach salad are a must-try. Champagne by the glass is only $5. Our server was super friendly and attentive.

The patio is great, perfect for lunch on a sunny day right in the shopping walkway area off Colorado. Fun sounding mixed drink and martini selection for evening too.

The restaurant doesn’t validate the garage but it only cost me a couple dollars. There is also a free large public lot next door if you’re there at an off hour or don’t mind waiting for a spot. Or you can always try to find street parking nearby. It’s a fun area to walk around so it’s worth the drive/parking.

 6. Zinque

Wine Bar
600 Venice Blvd
Venice, CA 90291
(310) 437-0970 

This place is packed in the evenings. It’s got a sort of understated location and vibe. It’s beer and wine only. Great atmosphere to come grab a drink, just be warned you may have a hard time getting a seat.

 7. Miyako

5001 Lankershim Blvd
North Hollywood, CA 91601
(818) 508-0788 

I was in the area and craving sushi so decided to give Miyako a try. I walked in, grabbed a to-go menu and was immediately greeted by a nice server who took my order when I was ready. It was a bit of a wait because I ordered the crispy rice roll (with spicy tuna and topped with avocado) which is hot. It wasn’t really crispy because I didn’t wait for it to cool down it looked so good! This would possibly be my last meal on earth selection it had such perfect flavors! Amazing sauce, perfectly cooked, and the tuna melted in my mouth. Yummmm. Also had the yellowtail roll (hand cut) which was very fresh tasting.

Total bill- $15. What a steal! The menu lists the $25 all-you-can-eat sushi bar dinner without day restrictions, so I think it’s available any time.

 8. On The Thirty

14622 Ventura Blvd
Sherman Oaks, CA 91403
(818) 788-0330 

This place has been open for a few months.
+ Good salads (the chop is excellent)
- The chop salad is $14 and I believe if you want it with meat it’s $19. A little steep for a gastro pub
+ Flatbread Pizza is very tasty, lots of options
-  I would have ordered a fun variety but took the bartender’s suggestion of the Simple (like a margarita pizza) which wasn’t overly exciting.
+ Nice atmosphere.
- No advertised Happy Hour visible inside once you are seated. We got here closer to 7 so probably wouldn’t have been in time if they have one. But nothing is mentioned on their website either…
+ Very Friendly and Helpful staff
-  No full bar yet (they are working on getting a full liquor license)

I’ll come back for another try once they can serve up fun cocktails.

 9. Mad Bull’s Tavern

14649 Ventura Blvd
Sherman Oaks, CA 91403
(818) 379-9511 

Came back for the second or third time 8 months later and had an even better experience. The 32 oz mason jar drinks were only $11 (Wednesday special). Check out their website for the daily specials. $12 Thai salad was a hearty portion we split on two plates. Happy Hour flat bread pepperoni pizza was $9 and good size (albeit greasy). The tuna tare tare was tasty, and the chicken sandwich comes with a large mound of fries.  My hard cider was $4 and specialty cocktails were $7 I believe. The cucumber one was to die for. Love it when two people can still get out of a happy hour with good grub for around $30. Score!

When we women hear the word tavern we normally want to run the other direction. Not the case with Mad Bull’s at all. In fact the menu offers salads and all kinds of non-fried options. Also at the top of the cocktail menu there are low cal drinks as well as some fun mixology.

Our bartender Moses (yes that is actually his name) was AWESOME! It’s so refreshing to find someone in the L.A. hospitality industry who actually enjoys his job and is friendly!!

The bar stools aren’t real comfortable but that’s actually smart thinking on their part… if you’ve come for a game you are less likely to stay and hog a table for 3 hrs with no bar stool backs. Lot’s of screens to watch the games here

 10. The Spitting Chicken Cantina

14633 Ventura Blvd
Sherman Oaks, CA 91403
(818) 377-6777 

I have been here a couple of times. Great happy hour with appetizers and cocktails around $6. Very friendly service. The passion fruit margarita is awesome. As are the lobster balls and the fresh guacamole with chips.

 11. Red Moon Restaurant & Lounge

Hookah Bar
12516 Riverside Dr
Los Angeles, CA 91607
(818) 755-4500 

Let me start that I am sort of bias because my girlfriend works upstairs and therefore these guys treat us like gold, she brings them a lot of business.

I think the Hookah may be expensive, I just come here for food and drinks. The service is friendly and the servers always remember what I like to drink the next time I come back. I really like the food, particularly the salad and chicken.

 12. Lucy’s El Adobe Cafe

5536 Melrose Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90038
(323) 462-9421 

A hidden jewel. Lucy’s has personality like a dim Mexican restaurant but with style. Really great drinks. Really tasty enchiladas. Salad has great dressing. Really big food portions. And noteworthy chips and salsa. All without a Hollywood price tag. Just don’t forget to bring cash, no credit cards accepted here. And don’t you dare complain when it’s free parking!

 13. Bodega Wine Bar

260 E Colorado Blvd
Pasadena, CA 91101
(626) 793-4300 

Bodega is a little hidden in El Paseo, upstairs by Equinox. I’ve been to the one in Santa Monica but really like this one. It has a good vibe with an outdoor patio and communal tables with bar stools inside. The whole place is open so we were able to get just enough sun. Really wish we had stayed longer it’s a great place to spend a Sunday afternoon or come on a date. We each had a glass of the Torrentes (my favorite wine). This was a REALLY good one. It’s about $9 a glass, but that’s expected at a wine/tapas bar. We had eaten dinner already so I didn’t try the food but will be back. Happy Hour is great here with a selection of $5-7 snacks and $5 glasses of wine. Monday nights HH extends all night so it draws a good little crowd.

As we left I forgot my pashmina. The server came chasing after me outside. Now that’s customer service! Had a great experience at Bodega.

 14. Big Wangs

Sports Bar
5300 Lankershim Blvd
North Hollywood, CA 91601
(818) 985-2449 

Holy Dudes there are a lot of Dudes here. I met a guy friend for a drink and place was packed with sports fans. I’ve never seen so many tv’s!!! The menu is more diverse than I would have expected (still on the greasy side) and the ladies room is much cleaner than the Hollywood Big Wangs. Much better layout here too. Good job guys I’ll be back to watch my Ducks Football games this season!

Downside to this place is that the shared parking garage is fairly small and shares with a gym. Took some time for me to park.

 15. Porto’s Bakery

Casual Dining 
315 N Brand Blvd
Glendale, CA 91203
(818) 956-5996 

It’s pretty rare to find a place that tops the 4 star mark with 3000 yelp reviews. Part of that is because hearty helpings are still only $5-8, unheard of in Los Angeles.

This place is the real deal. Plantain chips, potato balls, fresh breads and pastries, Americanized “Cuban” deli style meals and a great espresso counter. They even do custom cakes upstairs which I have tasted a few times (not cheap). The pineapple custard cake is a must.

The only reason I’m not giving 5 stars is because it’s claustrophobic on weekends (think Disneyland lines on a holiday weekend). I’d much prefer to pay a couple dollars more for my food to find a table, parking, and avoid 5-10 minutes of a line. I’m sure tons of people will hate me for this but Porto’s it’s time to raise your deli prices on sandwiches, soups and salads.

Also, when my salad was brought out with steak instead of chicken we asked the person who delivered it a question and she could not understand me. She brought out the correct salad and said she’d send someone to answer our question. Never happened.

HINT- Order at the to-go counter (even if you’re eating there). That’s assuming you can find the to-go counter.

 16. Yard House

Bar & Restaurant
330 East Colorado Blvd
Pasadena, CA 91101
(626) 577-9273 

They must have like 50 beers on tap. Yard House has a good setup, particularly this location. There’s a huge wraparound bar, tables and booths surrounding that, and a separate patio for people that just want to come for dinner away from the bar area. The food is similar to a Cheesecake Factory or BJ’s.

Good Happy Hour specials on food and drinks. So a lot of 20′s and 30′s frequent, and there seems to be good amount of people during the week. For a bar that is a chain this one is at the top of my list.

 17. Red Lion Tavern

2366 Glendale Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90039
(323) 662-5337 

I came here during the day on Christmas Eve with a friend who is from Berlin. It was a fun and fairly authentic experience. While the place is rough around the edges and not big on presentation, the sausages are well seasoned and the portions are plentiful served with mashed potatoes & gravy and sauerkraut (I substituted purple cabbage).

Sit upstairs in the Biergarten (a covered patio). While you do feel like you’ve been transported to another land, the faded flags and dusty silk plants take away from that experience. Red Lion needs a face lift badly to restore some youth, it’s just not the type of place you would want to bring a date. Bottom line, it’s a Tavern. I might come back for the food, but not often.

HappIER Hour Los Angeles- Great Reverse Happy Hours

13 Jun

The hottest new craze is Reverse Happy Hour. What better way to grab drinks with the girls (or guys) than with cheap food and specials!

Here are 14 Late Night Happy Hours in the L.A. Area that I have visited.

 1. The Village

12345 Ventura Blvd
Studio City, CA 91604
(818) 752-9222 

Neighborhood: Studio City

We had a great time here. I got off work on a Saturday night and met a girlfriend for drinks after. I came here a couple weeks ago for a yelp elite event and was able to sample the food and cocktails. This time I liked the drinks I ordered were much better. Delish! Tons of people in here, we were lucky to snag a table. I like the atmosphere.

The Blacklisted Basil is pretty good. You have to like sour though, it’s got a lot of lemon. The Scotty Boy is really really good. Only complaint is that it’s a champagne cocktail which means you get about a 3 ounce drink for $13. The $12 Cool Clemens is also really good, probably my favorite drink off of the menu. It was weird that we both ordered the drink at different times and one came out with tons of muddled cucumber and was sweet. Mine on the other hand must have been strained because there was zero cucumber pulp. It was also less sweet which was fine by me. Clearly different bartenders.

The Meatballs here are moist and flavorful. Chopped salad is awesome. The potatoes bravos (thick cut fries) are SO good and worth the $5 price tag. The Short ribs are nothing short of perfection, served over polenta. And the Aglio Olio pizza has great garlic flavor- Wow, they really know how to do crust.

For dessert, the Butterscotch Budino is to die for as well. A perfect medley of sweet and salty. Pass on their churros.

 2. Chaya Brasserie

8741 Alden Dr
Los Angeles, CA 90048
(310) 859-8833 

Neighborhood: Mid-City

I’m so bummed after reading other reviews that we didn’t have room for dessert! This place has a wonderful menu. The beet with goat cheese salad and balsamic was one of the best I have had anywhere. 3 kinds of beets including golden. The lobster and crab ravioli with pesto was really a good combination, lots of flavor but slightly salty. The pesto risotto was delish. I tasted the seabass and wasn’t impressed, but did like the crusted albacore tuna. The fresh warm french bread they brought to the table was so good that the four of us went through two big loaves (I only managed to snag two pieces).

The bar scene was hoppin, small bar, but hoppin. Nice atmosphere. Glad I suggested the place, all four in my group liked their meal. I’ve seen menus of this caliber at much higher prices. Can’t wait to come back and try the dessert soon!

 3. Congregation Ale House

300 S Raymond Ave
Pasadena, CA 91105
(626) 403-2337 

It’s a pub or “public house.” Here you order at a counter and the drinks/food are brought to you. There are a lot of community tables, and the prices are low. No waiter service to add to your order, and sometimes the counter line gets a little long, but it’s still a good deal. I have now been here a handful of times and had a great experience each time. While other places along Colorado are anxious to close their doors at least 30 minutes before their listed closing time, Congregation both welcomes you with a smile, and keeps it’s doors open well until closing.

I really enjoyed the flatbread. The burger was nothing special. But for a cider and flatbread mine came to only $12; score! The atmosphere is cool too, great juke box with quarter plays and the place looks like a chapel, while I don’t know about making the whole place a worship for beer, lol! I liked the vibe. Crowd is mixed, a lot of younger 20′s but some other. Open late and a super cheap happy hour including $3 late night on fries and pretzels with your choice of dipping sauces. Plus they have a full bar here so  if you aren’t into the large tap beer selection there’s always booze.

Oh, they have a parking lot that is FREE!

 4. Mexicali Cocina Cantina

12161 Ventura Blvd
Studio City, CA 91604
(818) 985-1744 

Much better experience this time around. Came 6 months ago and had a really bad margarita. This time I ordered the Watermelon Spa which is a strong cocktail with tequila, watermelon juice, muddled cucumber, sprite, orange liqueur, lime and basil infused simple.  Great spot for Happy Hour with good specials and you can sit anywhere in the restaurant to order them. There’s a second happy hour after 11p.m. and the place is open until 2 in the morning (kitchen until 1:00).

The Slim Margarita is fantastic (though I don’t think it’s on the Happy Hour menu). They also mix in “Nontraditional Mexican” ingredients like goat cheese in some of their dishes. I like it when places branch out a little. The service is always great, very attentive.

The chips were fresh and delish but the salsa was a little bland.

 5. Lola’s

945 N Fairfax Ave
West Hollywood, CA 90046
(323) 654-5652 

A group of 6 (1 vegetarian) all coming from different locations. Where was I going to take everyone in the We-Ho area where we could talk, have good cocktails, food and atmosphere but not spend a fortune??? I stumbled upon Lola’s Martini Bar and I had my answer.

They claim to have originated the apple martini here and it was a good one made with Absolut. The martini list goes on and on and on… something for everyone! Try the Pulp Fiction it is absolutely awesome!

Great spot, though a little quiet around dinnertime on the weekend. Interesting menu, didn’t care much for the bruschetta. All in all a versatile martini bar with atmosphere and good food.

 6. Lucy’s 51

10149 Riverside Dr
Toluca Lake, CA 91602
(818) 763-5200 

I have been here a good amount of times now. Atmosphere is an interesting fusion of sports bar/ swanky lounge/ singles bar. It’s a little pricey if comparing to Sports Bar nosh but there are some good mixed drinks particularly for $6 happy hour specials. Appetizers are cheap for Happy Hour too. There are even some parking spaces in back if you can nab one.

Lucys is a good place to watch a game if you aren’t so into dive bars and greasy food. Not much of anything on tap though. Not my fav singles scene late night but a decent date spot. Monday night had live music, not bad.

 7. Stir

13359 Ventura Blvd
Sherman Oaks, CA 91423
(818) 986-2000 

Neighborhood: Studio City

This is sort of a Sports Bar but with better food options. Three of us were meeting there to discuss business during Happy Hour. I really liked the little lounge seating corner that they blocked off for us. It was quieter and more private. The service was also very attentive.

The empanadas are really tasty and the cucumber cocktail on the specials was so good that we all three ordered one. The caprese is a huge portion with a ton of mozzarella. Could have used a little S&P.

Prices for happy hour aren’t exceptional, about 30% including 30% off drinks. Apparently our server was confused as she told us the specialty cocktails were also on Happy Hour (they aren’t normally I guess) but when we got the bill they had to make an exception to correct it for us.

 8. Cafe Del Rey

4451 Admiralty Way
Marina Del Rey, CA 90292
(310) 823-6395 

Unlike the other overpriced joints on the Marina, this one is actually worth the price tag. I’d made a reservation because of the holiday boat parade and didn’t honestly have high expectations (having been to most every other restaurant on the Marina in the past). While the restaurant view of the parade isn’t so great the food sure was! We started with the short rib pizza, a must try! The blackberry mojito is well made. For dinner I had the salmon which they subbed wild mushrooms instead of the eggplant. The flavors were so out of the ordinary. And my date had the lobster pasta special. It was rich and lots of flavor.

The service was super friendly, attentive and competent.

The final touch was when we left to our car. The valet had left fresh macaroons in a little white box by the center console. We were thrilled and gobbled them all up!

 9. Casa Vega

13301 Ventura Blvd
Sherman Oaks, CA 91423
(818) 788-4868 

Neighborhood: Studio City

I walked in and realized I’ve been here a couple times before. The inside is better than the outside, let’s put it that way. This is a busy late night spot with a relaxed atmosphere. The food is yummy, salsa is on the spicy side. Service is really friendly, and it’s a bar where the bartenders actually have personality, image in that! They speak to you like you are a person, and not just someone with a dollar sign on your forehead.

 10. Magnolia

6266 1/2 Sunset Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90028
(323) 467-0660 

Neighborhood: Hollywood

Great vibe. Happy Hour menu is great. Regular menu portions are good size and they have a good wine selection. I loved the White Bordeaux wine (similar to a Pinot Grigio) at about $10-11 a glass (not on the happy hour menu). Was fairly empty on a Friday in the lounge which was great to catch up with a friend. I hear dinner is excellent here as well. I had to leave early.

 11. Big Wangs

5300 Lankershim Blvd
North Hollywood, CA 91601
(818) 985-2449 

Holy Dudes there are a lot of Dudes here. I met a guy friend for a drink and place was packed with sports fans. I’ve never seen so many tv’s!!! The menu is more diverse than I would have expected (still on the greasy side) and the ladies room is much cleaner than the Hollywood Big Wangs. Much better layout here too. Good job Big Wangs, I’ll be back to watch my Ducks Football games this season!

Downside to this place is that the parking garage is fairly small and shares with a gym. Took some time to find a spot.

 12. Yard House

330 E Colorado Blvd
Pasadena, CA 91101
(626) 577-9273 

They must have like 50 beers on tap. Yard House has a good setup, particularly this location. There’s a huge wraparound bar, tables and booths surrounding that, and a separate patio for people that just want to come for dinner away from the bar area. The food is similar to a Cheesecake Factory or BJ’s.

Good Happy Hour specials on food and drinks. So a lot of 20′s and 30′s frequent, and there seems to be good amount of people during the week. For a bar that is a chain this one is at the top of my list.

 13. Cabo Cantina

30 Washington Blvd
Venice, CA 90292
(310) 306-2500 

I have been here twice to watch football. There are great seating areas including a sort of separate little mezzanine with a closeup of the big screens, perfect for a group. Also good patio seating. $5 parking lot or there are meters if you can find one.

But it was hotter than hell in here. Someone get this place some a/c stat! Oh and don’t expect much ambiance, this isn’t one of those places. It’s a cantina. But it does have a late-night HH!

 14. The Hudson

1114 N Crescent Heights Blvd
West Hollywood, CA 90046
(323) 654-6686 

I came here a couple of times and I really didn’t care for the building structure and therefore the “feel” of this place itself. Apparently it used to be a train station which makes sense but unfortunately they don’t visibly reflect that heritage anywhere, even on their website. So if you don’t know it was a train station it just sort of seems like a low ceiling bungalow with no a/c or heat.

Neither time had a memorable experience so I’m guessing they draw a crowd because of their location. There are just so many “wow” restaurants, bars and lounges in this neighborhood that I certainly wasn’t impressed. But they do have a late-night HH if you are looking for one in We-Ho.

Choosing The Perfect Bikini for Your Body Type

17 May

The Perfect Bikini for your body type… because itsy bitsy teenie weenie yellow and polka dot aren’t for everyone!

Struggling to find a bathing suit for your figure? Here are some tips from A Blog For the Girls, on how to hide your flaws and flaunt your assets! Because let’s face it, most of us wouldn’t choose an itsy bitsy teenie weenie yellow polka dot bikini!

SMALL CHEST- A halter style bikini top will enhance your chest size, and as I’m sure you have already found, good ole’ Victoria’s Secret has mastered the push-up bikini top. If you have nice legs try a bikini with a print on bottom and a solid color on top. This will draw attention down.
BROAD SHOULDERS- Try a bikini top with wide straps, a balconnette or a v-neck top. But avoid halters which flaunt your shoulders. Draw attention down to your torso with a scoop bottom.
THICK WAIST- Try a one piece with ruching; or a tankini with a long top to cover your mi8ddle. Highlight your other assets with a low cut top or a cheeky bikini bottom. There are even makers that specialize in bathing suits with slimming stomach panels!
LARGE RUMP- Stick to dark solid colors without any design or detail. The more lycra the bottoms contain the better, as this fabric will suck you in. Try a bikini with a print or detail on top to draw focus up. You may need to try to find a plus size bottom to give coverage. And don’t worry about the size, be proud you have junk in your trunk!
NO CURVES- Try a string bikini or a suit with frills. Bandeau tops can also give the illusion of curves as can balconnette tops if you aren’t flat chested. Boy shorts can help create curves on bottom.
CURVY/THICK LEGS- Try a bikini with a print on top and solid color on bottom. This will draw attention to your upper half. Low slung bottoms such as a Hipster will help to minimize your hips by elongating your torso.
SHORT LEGS- Try a high cut bottom to lengthen the appearance of your legs. A vertical stripe print can also help to give you height. And when you aren’t in the water try sandal wedges.

Wedding Planning Pitfalls

15 May

A great article on the mistakes commonly made planning a wedding- from the Pros at On Bended Knee, Coordinators in the Los Angeles area (818) 859-9524 for Jackie.

Best of L.A. Bars and Restaurants

14 May
Best Los Angeles Hotel for restaurants and bars-
The Historic Roosevelt Hotel in Hollywood. Not only is it located in the epicenter of Hollywood, but it also contains Library Bar (a mixology haven), a rooftop pool bar with a DJ in the summertime, and a couple of other great restaurants.
Best Los Angeles Pizza-
Best Los Angeles Salad- Green Street Restaurant in Pasadena
Best Los Angeles Lounge- The Edison in Downtown
Best Los Angeles French Fries-
Best Los Angeles Happy Hour menu-
Best Los Angeles Date Restaurant-
Best Beachfront Restaurant-
Best Los Angeles Sports Bar-
Best Los Angeles Café-

My Beauty Product Fixes

2 May

My name is Jackie and I am a beauty product addict. Between hair and skin care, makeup and teeth whitening I spend thousands of dollars each year. Here are a few of my recent product “problem solvers.”

blog pic


Max Factor’s Pan-Stik

Time for some added coverage when it comes to foundation. There are a few companies that make foundation sticks which are super easy to apply. I liked Bobbi Brown’s but it is over $30 and the coverage is a little chalky. I decided to try Max Factor’s Pan-Stik in True Beige. It can be a little bit drying, so apply moisturizer first to insure it blends well if you have dry skin. Pan-Stik is a great amount of coverage and I love it, particularly for the price tag of around $10-12!


Sephora Collection Smoky Kohl Eyeliner

If you are anything like me then you have a terrible time putting eyeliner on straight. This is the first liner I have ever been able to draw a line with. I first apply Benefit’s Stay Don’t Stray so that the eyeliner glides right on and it lasts.


I found myself continually trying different mascaras for their brushes and found that I was still unhappy! What I learned finally is that when that brush sits in the mascara it will always be clumpy and horrible to apply. Disposable mascara brush wands were my inexpensive answer. Plus they are more sanitary than touching your eye and reinserting it back into the mascara for months. The Cost: only about $5 a month!


Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Daily Peel (Original Formula)

That 12 years of tanning beds has started to show. Now I stay out of the sun and use products that will help to nourish my skin and bring it back to life. This product is expensive but gives you a glow. I use it once or twice a week. Start with the original formula before trying the Maximum Strength peel. $3 per application


Oxy Sensitive Pads

After having a terrible incident with another expensive acne product my back broke out much worse. Thank goodness for a facial and Aesthetician who told me that salicylic acid would do the trick. And guess which popular product contains this miracle? Oxy pads! They are easy to apply and they made my acne clear up in only a few days. I use the Oxy Sensitive.

A special 100th blog posting- Unique Los Angeles

15 Feb

Unique Los Angeles

Los Angeles, the home of mobile car washes, cupcake shops, dog hotel spas and Hollywood Pool Parties. Here are tips and favorite gems, from Costumers to Christmas Warehouses, only to be found in the City of Angels. I tried my best to limit restaurants here, as I mean to focus on experiencing the city vs. eating a good meal. 325 yelp reviews and 100 blog posts later, here it is…

 1. Hollywood Bowl

2301 N Highland Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90068
(323) 850-2000

If you have not been to a concert at the Bowl then you have not fully experienced Los Angeles. There is something magical about sitting on a picnic bench in an amphitheater with friends listening to live music while sipping a glass of wine and enjoying a picnic,  surrounded by the Hollywood Hills and a view of the Hollywood sign. It doesn’t get much better than this. Even WAY in the back where the seats are only $25-30.

 2. California Market Center

110 E 9th Street
Los Angeles, CA 90079
(213) 630-3600
First Friday shopping in this building is the hidden gem of LA that you never knew about. 

In high school I bought every designer formal dress here and never paid more than $40 (sample sizing only). That’s the only part I’ll give away ;) Happy hunting

 3. Hamburger Mary’s

8288 Santa Monica Blvd
West Hollywood, CA 90046
(323) 654-3800

I can’t praise this place enough. Drag Queen Bingo on Sunday nights is entertaining, plus the money goes to a good cause each week. It’s traditional bar food, nothing too fancy but lots and lots of burgers to choose from. The margarita pizza was yumm.

It’s $20 to play bingo and some of the charities have great prizes. The bingo lasts a long time, plenty of games.

 4. The Magic Castle 

7001 Franklin Ave
Hollywood, CA 90028

(323) 851-3313

There is something alluring so I’ve been told, to an invite-only club. It was a weekend evening and I received an invitation from a client, so I brought a friend who was dying to come along.

Yes, it is a castle, and a lot of heart was put into the actual building by it’s members. There is a lot of neat history here and we were welcomed and given a tour (even drinks) by one of the Castle board members. Such hospitality. The restaurant is traditional and on the expensive side, but it’s about coming here for the experience so you won’t mind it. There are magic show throughout the evening, both close up and stage. Visiting the Magic Castle is something you have to do once, to say that you did it.

 5. Cinespia Cemetery Screenings

6000 Santa Monica Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90038
(323) 469-1181

Where should you go to do some real Hollywood people watching? This is the place. Plus you’ll get in a big screen movie outdoors with your picnic, wine and friends.

Some of the movies are odd and eclectic, but that’s when you will get in some really good people watching!

 6. Studio Tour

1000 Universal Studios Blvd
Universal City, CA 91602

If you want to show around out-of-towners, or you’re visiting our city be sure you go on the tram tour at Universal Studios. The tour takes you through the back lot where Desperate Housewives, Leno and many a flick have been filmed.

I have the fortune to work on the back lot here a few times a year, so I generally see the sites without a tram. But I’ve been on the tram tour and it’s really great. If you have my college buddy Joe D as your tram tour guide (at Christmas you will recognize his white beard) tell him I said hi, and give him a hard time.

 7. Stats Floral Supply

120 S Raymond Ave
Pasadena, CA 91105
(626) 795-9308

There is something really special about this place. Imagine a warehouse full of Christmas tree vignettes, glittery decorations and a room of collectible village houses. Stats really gets you into the holiday spirit. As a small child I can remember coming to Stats at Christmas and being in awe as if it was Disneyland.

After Christmas the discounts are deep!

 8. Carousel Restaurant

304 N Brand Blvd
Glendale, CA 91203
(818) 246-7775

Apparently The Kardashians are regulars here which was almost enough to deter me from coming. Blechh, but I’m glad I gave it a try it was a fun experience, and the food just kept coming.

I came here for a holiday so the standard weekend dinner seating ($44) was $70 per person, though it did include a glass of champagne and I believe they added more food options to their traditional spread. I will say the entertainment was great and included belly dancers and live music. $60 would have been more reasonable I think.

I somehow managed an 8:00 reservation online. The seating is at 8:30 so we were lucky enough to be seated first and get started on the vast array of mezze which just kept coming.

There was the standard assortment of Plain Hummus, Olives, pickled turnips, carrots, falafel, sarma (very tasty dolmades) and tabbouleh. There were also some more eclectic and interesting varieties as I am not that well versed in Lebanese food. I have 5 “must try” dishes on my list, outlined below.

-Must try- The Labneh Khaleejhi was sort of a tatziki only better, like a cheesey yogurt dip.
-Must try- The Pink hummus (made with beets) was equally as surprising and scrumptious. What a treat.
-Must try- The Muhammara made of pomegranate, red pepper and walnuts was a little spicy and different from other middle eastern varieties I have tried.  Really spectacular.
-Must try- Soujuk B’jeben (or it was the arayas, but pretty sure it was Soujuk) was very seasoned and served between toasted lavash bread. To die for, wish they had brought out more!!! My favorite dish.
-The simple cole slaw Armenian cabbage salad with vinegar was surprisingly flavorful and balanced out the other foods.
-I really loved the Fatayer (Cheese Boreg) fried and stuffed with crumbled cheese. So good!!
-I’m not a huge eggplant fan but the Mutabbal (Babba Ganoush) was actually very well prepared. Fresh, not too much bite, moist, and well blended.
-I liked the Fattoush Salad, it was refreshing with the other dishes as an accompaniment. By itself a little bland, but great served along side so many other powerful flavors.

I couldn’t believe we were just now to the main course, wow. Along with all the vegetarian stuff this is a very beef heavy traditional restaurant. So if you don’t like beef it may not be for you. It was a little much for me.
-Must try- The Chicken Kebob was juicy goodness with SO much flavor!
-The Khash-Khash Kebob (Lula kebob) was really yummy, beef and herbs ground into links like a koobideh.
-The Beef Shwarma (I think) was like filet kebob only a little dry and not that tender. The kabobs are served with a Bulgar pilaf and another grain, very hearty and moist.

Our cocktails were nice and strong and the bartender served me a complimentary hypnotiq cocktail. Thank you!! I was a little disappointed that they don’t have a cocktail menu. They do have a full bar and wine menu here.

For dessert, Osmanlieh (cream filling with phyllo hairs on top). And Halaweh B’Jheben (double cream roll) that is sort of like eating the best sweetened butter mixed with cheese. Holy!

Service was rather routine it seemed (not in a good way). When the place is fairly full wait staff serves food in waves and there were times that our waters sat empty. Not terrible service, it just didn’t seem to match our $200 bill, nor the dress code, nor my expectations. Dinner on Friday and Saturday men should plan to wear  a suit jacket, and women semi-formal. Most women were in dresses which was refreshing in Los Angeles where people show up to 5 star restaurants regularly in jeans.

All and all my consensus: a special dining experience with live entertainment. A great way to delve into the experience of Lebanese/Armenian food and culture in Los Angeles.

 9. Western Costume Company

11041 Vanowen St
North Hollywood, CA 91605
(818) 760-0900

This is the authentic costume rental warehouse used by many wardrobe folks and movie studios. Massive selection. The staff helps you not only find a costume but fits you in it (of course you do literally pay them by the minute for their time) I have used them both for a couple of actors/model I’ve hired, as well as for myself.

For Halloween if you get an appointment they do a fantastic job putting together a jaw dropping costume that will be “meant for you”. At Halloween be aware though that the price will double the norm. I was a showgirl with all the trimmings for $500. Well worth it in the end if you’re going somewhere like a Playboy Mansion party, or somewhere with a costume contest. You just might win it!

 10. Halloween Harvest Festival

20800 Victory Blvd
Woodland Hills, CA 91367

If you haven’t been to a corn maze around Halloween, you have to go! And bring a date, it’s a lot of fun. Go on a week night, because on weekends there will be a lot of people and part of the fun of a corn maze is feeling like you are out in the middle of nowhere. The maze is $13 for adults but if you buy activity tickets, chances are they’ll let you in for 5 of them (they are $20 for 12 tickets).

The only reason I didn’t give 5 stars is because they advertise the maze as “haunted”. If you’ve ever been to a haunted corn maze, that usually means there are people dressed in costumes that jump out at you (yes, as you may have guessed I’m not from So-Cal originally)! This one wasn’t haunted, just a corn maze.

 11. The Edison

108 W 2nd St
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 613-0000

Late night on the weekend there is an acrobatic show. The decor and ambiance can’t be beat, very “speak easy” I believe the building used to be a power plant.

3 of us came for happy hour. The drinks were about $8-10 and really tasty. Try a Brass Furnace. After Happy Hour we ordered $12 glasses of Prosecco. The 3 of us probably spent $130-140 before we were asked to move from our table for the dinner seating crowd. This was expected, but did upset one member of our group who was here from NYC. I agree that if the minimum for a table is $50 per person on a Fri or Sat evening, they should proceed with caution.

 12. Tropicana Hollywood

7000 Hollywood Blvd
Hollywood, CA 90028
(323) 466-7000

Where is the place to be come June when you’re not at the beach? Poolside at a swanky Hollywood boutique hotel, of course.

Tropicana is the very nice pool (with nobody really in it) and a lovely looking crowd at the Historic Roosevelt Hotel. There’s a DJ on the weekend starting around 1. The pool attendant Jeff went to CVS to buy sunscreen for me. We managed to snag open tables and met some nice people and stayed for about 8 hours. If you’re not staying at the hotel try to get there by noon because they won’t let you in if it’s busy, particularly if you’re a dude.

The only cons, there was a little shortage with the towels which is supposedly rare. The pool loungers are all full unless you get there in the early a.m. Ask for something with Absolut and you may swing a cocktail for $11 otherwise you’ll end up paying more (mojitos $17). Oh, be sure to note that they add a “service fee” gratuity onto every bill. Two of the bartenders were really friendly, the third was more “Hollywood.” The food is pool food but you pay about double the normal price for it here. All in all, we had a blast and I’d come back again.

 13. Library Bar at Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel

7000 Hollywood Blvd
Hollywood, CA 90028

This is not a lounge, it’s an experience. Yes, that sounds cliche but it’s true. There is no lounge sign; to enter the lounge you must walk through hallway corridors to this little dark space. Greeted by your cocktail server you will be instructed that there is no cocktail list, but your drink will be custom made to your personal preferences. My preferences were that I like gin, champagne, cucumber and st germaine. I received a great concoction with strawberry, gin and topped with st germaine foam. Very cool. Do be specific though, one of the guys in our group said “enthusiastic” with vodka. He got a spicy cocktail that probably wasn’t what he had in mind. But if you don’t give much guidance you leave a lot to interpretation.

Expect to pay about $17-18 for a pretty looking short cocktail with plenty of garnish and a very large ice cube. Library Bar is an awesome date spot if you want to impress. Go to Public Kitchen for dinner inside the hotel yummy food!

 14. Sleepover Rover

1301 Devlin Dr
Los Angeles, CA 90069
(310) 907-5070

I had a wonderful experience with Sleepover Rover. I needed a dogsitter for the next day, knowing I’d be gone at work for about 16 hours. The service found me Laurie in Thousand Oaks which was convenient to where I was working. The home where Koi (the doggie) stayed for the day was beautiful with a huge fenced backyard and pool. She got lots of attention and had 5 sweet playmates that greeted us at the door, heaven for a playful lab!

Laurie was flexible with me and I was able to pick up Koi late at night when I was done with work. She is a friendly person that truly loves animals. Also, the price was very reasonable for this area. Sleepover Rover is a fantastic service, I would recommend them and use them again myself.

15. Hotel Bel-Air

701 Stone Canyon Rd
Los Angeles, CA 90077
(310) 472-1211

It is back, re-opened after two years. I had the pleasure of touring part of the facilities with a client a week ago. It looks to be everything it was but with a sparkling new finish. The banquet staff was dressed in their best for training, very classy. The event space seats 180 and has a min. 45k food and beverage minimum+ service fee and sales tax. The perimeter of the ceiling features led color changing lights.

Hotel rooms start at about $675 per night. The lobby is an intimate boutique feel surrounding a fire hearth. Check in to the hotel on an ipad. This is a must visit property live swans and all, even if only for cocktails.

 16. The Bazaar

465 S La Cienega Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90048
(310) 246-5567

Comfort 1 Star (the stools and benches are cute but very impractical and not a pleasant experience to sit for long periods)

Service 3 Stars. below par on the weekend for this caliber of an establishment. After dinner we waited for a table in the patisserie for a half hour. I’d requested the table 4 times in the month since I’d made the reservation.

Decor 5 stars amazing, the ambiance is worth the bill alone

Food 4.5 stars. The one dish I would have liked to try would have been the Hilly or the Philly. We passed because of the price tag but it is the Bazaar Signature from what I hear.

Jicama guacamole was a big hit great presentation and flavor

Apple fennel salad is inventive. Cheese and thin curls of apple, it’s light, fresh and different. Very refreshing

Croquetas De Pollo crispy outside with chicken and goodies inside. Reminiscent of pot pie. Great comfort food.

Papas Canarias was innovative. Not joking about salty, after about a half dozen I was seriously bloated but well worth it. Mini potatoes infused with salt and served with a light pesto. Sooo good.

Chicken and dates was another big hit with my group not quite as much for me. Good flavors but very rich. Caviar went well with the rich dark flavor of the chicken and other flavors. A bit too much mustard and I could go without the dates too overpowering. The chicken was cooked very nicely with a crispy touch, similar to the flavor of duck however.

Sautéed Couscous- AMAZING, I think I could live off of this stuff. It had pomegranate and the most amazing mix of sweet and tangy flavors. The best grain I have ever tasted hands down.

Rossejat Shrimp paella was different than expected. Not what you would think of as paella at all. It was more of a soy sauce base sauce with a crunchy noodle. Very good. A bit pricier than certain items but the portion size was larger too. And the shrimp are prawn size.

I’d pass on the Baby Beet Salad although my group absolutely adored it. Unfortunately,  I’ve had a lot of beet salads and this one was a bit plain for my taste. The golden beets mixed in were good but I’ve had better, and I make this better at home.

Also, pass on the mussel can, it was a let down. Our group had about 5 mussel fans and nobody cared much for this. They had decent consistency but were served cold and were forgettable. By now we were all stuffed but I asked my guests to hang in there for dessert so they appeased me.

For dessert we moved to the Patisserie where there is a cute counter where you can inspect all the fun sweets. Once we were finally seated I was pleasantly surprised that as the birthday girl, they set a huge fuzzy throne at the head of the table for me. Very chic and cute.

The nitro coconut floating island was great. Like coconut merange but better, filled with pineapple and banana atop fosters style caramel rum. There’s a touch of a coffee type goo in there they could skip on even as a coffee lover.

Heart shape chocolate was good, like a lava cake though not at all resembling a heart? The salty cream stuff that came with it was terrible, stay away.

Tres mousse was also nice, not too rich

Chocolate covered pop rocks were fun and inexpensive, great to pass around the table.

Mojitos were perfect try one

A group of 8 the bill totaled $900 but we also didn’t order the most expensive items on the menu or a lot of extras. Approximately 9 tapas orders per person.

 17. Rose Bowl Flea Market

1001 Rose Bowl Dr
Pasadena, CA 91103
(323) 560-7469

Con- Parking sorta sucks, it’s the Rose Bowl so to be expected I suppose.

Plus- There are A LOT of merchants here you could spend the whole day. Plenty of food stands too. Bring cash!

Con- The entrance fee to get in seems pretty steep.

Plus- The merchants that sell vintage/second hand are on a separate side from those selling new stuff, so the layout of this huge Flea Market actually makes sense.


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