[LA Life] Lunchtime Relaxation Along Echo Park Lake

Arguably, one of the best things about Autumn and Winter in Southern California are that they feel like anything but.  Beyond an occasional fresh breath of brisk air around dusk, the sunshine is radiant, flowers are blooming around every corner and the parks around the city are bustling with an effervescent energy.  What I’ve discovered recently, is that no matter what part of Los Angeles you’re in – you’re never more than 10 minutes from a lovely and lush patch of park, if that.  And I would know – recently, I’ve started up (yet another) part time gig and it’s required me to be slightly more mobile than working from my home office, and I’ve found myself getting reacquainted with neighborhoods from Silver Lake to Echo Park, Los Feliz and Highland Park; mostly to do with the fact I’ve gotten lost more times than I’d like to admit.  One of the highlights to these recent roadtrips is roaming open space and breathing in the little treasures our city has to offer.

The great outdoors –  something that more often than not is taken for granted.  Did you know that for basically the entire time you’re working Monday through Friday, the sun is gallivanting through the sky, on a predictable yet beautiful path while it doles out showers of sunlight at every angle – even gracing us with technicolor beginnings and endings when we’re lucky enough to be in the right location?  Yet, for the most part – we’re inside, staring at a computer monitor, behind a desk, wearing a monkey suit and tap-tap-tapping away at our tasks until the sweet sensation of five o’clock rolls around.  Let’s be honest, that’s no way to live – so during lunchtime, do yourself a favor: get out, get moving, lap up some sun and reenergize your day the natural way.

Plants use sunlight do undergo photosynthesis, creating the oxygen that we breathe.  As humans, we don’t necessarily go through the same exact process – but sunlight clearly has it’s own set of health benefits.  Just a few minutes of sunlight has proven to improve mood by boosting levels of serotonin (have you ever visited Oregon in the Winter…?), and stimulating the body to produce Vitamin D, boosting health and the immune system. Plus, getting some exercise in the middle of your day is always a good call – a brisk walk might not be a run, but it’s not sitting on your ass at home, either.

Slowly but surely, I’ve been compiling a list of my favorite public spaces to plop into – and after several visits in the last few months, Echo Park Lake is slowly topping my list. First and foremost, there’s that spectacular view of the downtown skyline – it looks fantastic, especially with some clouds dotting the sky.  Then, there are loads of space on the luscious green grass skirting around the lake, while geese and duck gleefully flock around the park.  If you’re feeling adventurous, or a tad romantic – rent out a paddleboat for a spin on the lake!  Two points for you if you happened to paddle out to the floating library installation earlier this year, you’re the real MVP.  Though there’s no designated parking for Echo Park Lake, the outer rim of the lake offers a plethora of street parking – as do the surrounding neighborhoods.  The park has also accepted that we’re living in the 21st century and has it’s own WiFi for anyone trying to get some work done, or maybe just stream their music a little bit easier.

 

For more on Echo Park Lake, head to their social media channels – or just pay the park a leisurely visit.

Website | Facebook | Yelp 

[LA Life] Downtown Goes Dapper For A Night On Broadway

Last weekend as the threat imminent downpour loomed over the quite literal horizon, we decided to throw caution to the wind as we got dolled up and dappered out for a ‘Night on Broadway.‘ A party with a purpose, the second annual event sprawled through the stunning cityscape of Downtown Los Angeles and into the historic Broadway District.

Commencing back in 2008 under the guidance of L.A. City Council member José Huizar, Bringing Back Broadway set its sights on reinvigorating the entire outlying area, from the preservation and display of the old school neon signs to re-opening doors to awe inspiring theaters, bringing back the fabled streetcar and even the relatively new facade lighting brought onto Broadway in 2013.  A chip off of the ‘Bringing Back Broadway’ initiative block, the second annual ‘Night on Broadway‘  is designed to restore a variety old theaters in the fabled Broadway district and reinvigorate local interest in the art, music, culture and community of the area.

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Revelers are encouraged join in the shenanigans surrounded by the amazing architecture and interior design of theaters from The Palace to The Los Angeles Theater, The Ace Hotel and The Globe.  Festivites included a brains to brawns chess and boxing match, a wide variety of interactive street art, comedy from Reggie Watts, my personal highlight, Rebel Bingo, and last but most definitely not least live music and entertainment and even some of the local talent, like Skrillex from both the OWSLA and Mad Decent imprints, plus hourly performances from city’s very own electric and eclectic avant garde performance troupe Lucent Dossier Experience (which was a serendipitous treat in itself considering a friend of mine had landed himself DJ duties at the same stage for the night).

Don’t fret if you missed out on all the fun, because one of my favorite things about the city of angels is there’s simply always something stunning to do about town, and half of them are free! But, if you’re feeling the festive FOMO, make a calendar reminder and don’t forget to catch Night on Broadway next year in Downtown Los Angeles when it returns on Saturday, January 28th 2017.  For more about the city’s famed ‘Night on Broadway’ event or Bringing Back Broadway initiative, head to their website or socials –

Night on Broadway: Website

Bringing Back Broadway: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

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[Oh, Snap] Street Art v19

Yesterday afternoon, Danny and I took to the downtown arts district / Little Tokyo in search of some All You Can Eat Sushi; a personal favorite, plus the only way to really rock and roll if you’re hankering for a stomach full of sushi. After scavenging the streets and actually almost exiting downtown, we nestled into Zip Sushi on 3rd and for 25 each plus tax, we got our nom on in a huge way. To be honest, I’m still a tad full 😸.

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The great thing about the arts district, is no matter your intended destination – whether you’re looking for it or not, you’re going to stumble across awesome street art and chances are it’ll knock you socks right off. Here are some of our favorite captures from yesterday; enjoy!

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[Local Love] LA’s Best Pho

According to my family, my desire for strange food was indirectly proportional to my understanding of what I was eating.   There are tales they’re all too fond of telling: me running around saying ‘Hi!’ to everyone in the restaurant, converting my chopsticks into drum sticks and becoming a rock chick and last but not least, there’s me being enthralled by strange and squishy foods. Squid used to be one of my favorite foods and as of 2014, unless it’s Calamari I really would prefer it to get away from my mouth; sushi too, though – over time I’ve managed to shed those bad thoughts and feast my heart out fish.  One thing that definitely hasn’t changed though, is my love for all types of Asian cuisine – traditional Japanese sushi (none of those weird rolls, please and thanks), Dim Sum and Thai curries are some of my absolute favorite dishes and the Bay Area was the perfect melting pot for each of the above dishes.  Unfortunately for my pallet and appetite, one dish that I didn’t get into until I moved to Los Angeles was Pho.

When I moved into my last house in LA, my roommate wanted to take me out for food one obnoxiously frigid evening; I was in the mood for a hearty soup that took away my head cold an she told me she had just the fix.  As we fidgeted our way into her car, I asked where we were going – and with an ear-to-ear grin, she replied ‘Pho! It’s the best!’  Now, first of all – as a basic rule – if I can’t pronounce it, I probably don’t want it.  Over the last decade, I’ve mastered ordering Sushi in broken Japanese and it’s become a sort of silly point of pride.  So, when I questioned back ‘Pho?!’ (pronounced ‘/fə/‘), I’m pretty sure I butchered it beyond belief.  As I’ve become accustomed to putting it in my stomach, I’ve also gotten a little better at saying it.  Plus, the plethora of places that use Pho as a play on words doesn’t exactly hurt either; between places like 9021-Pho and Absolutely Pho-bulous, I’m pretty sure I’ve got it own.

There’s something to be said for warm, hearty comfort food – and Pho falls smack dab at the top of that category.  Made from thin, Vermicelli rice noodles and a rich broth full of sorted herbs, beansprouts and thinly sliced meat – Pho has skyrocketed from an unknown quantity to my go-to meal.   One of the great – and not so great – things about LA is that there’s a lot of everything; meaning (a) that every craving you have can be satiated and (b) that more likely than not you’ll be absolutely overwhelmed by the variety of choices like I was.  Thankfully, with the help of Yelp and a few friends who share similar meal cravings, I’ve crafted a list of my favorite Pho joints in town and I can’t wait to share!

Via Cafe in Chinatown, Tues-Sun 11-10pm

Located in the heart of Chinatown in Downtown Los Angeles, Via Cafe boasts ample seating, quick service and a stellar beer menu with traditional Vietnamese cuisine.  As an app, I suggest the Summer Rolls are scrumptious and come with a delicious peanut sauce; for your main, you can’t go wrong with the Rare Steak Combo but if you’re in the mood for something mouthwatering, the Minced Rare Filet Mignon with Thin Rice Noodles is the way to go.  If by some strange stroke of luck you have room for dessert, dive in – you’ll thank me later!

Blossom Vietnamese Restaurant in Silver Lake, Mon-Sun 12-4, 5:30-11

Having a Pho craving on a Sunday night at 10pm used to be an issue – until I met Blossom Vietnamese Restaurant.  Situated in Silver Lake, Blossom is open until 11pm seven days a week and have more bottles of wine than you can bat an eye at.  My first takeaway was that the venue was deceptively large – from the second we walked in, we were whisked away into an intimate downstairs area, completely hidden from the outside.  We were both seated and served promptly, and within minutes I had some of the best Beef rolls I’ve had the pleasure of eating sitting in front of me.  Per usual, I went with the Rare Steak Pho and attempted to finish it all (much to the dismay of my stomach).  Sadly, there are only dessert wines and no real dessert but you can’t win’em all, right?  With the rich flavors of the Pho, I doubt there was any way I could’ve fit more into my stomach but lord knows with that track record I would have tried.

PHONOMENAL in West Hollywood, Mon to Sun 12-10pm

Looking for Pho near Downtown where Chinatown and Thai town sit is one the easier side of things in LA, but what about further West?  Don’t worry – Phonomenal’s got you covered.  I came in thinking it was actually a different restaurant with an equally silly play on words (Absolutely Phobulous), but couldn’t have been happier at what I found.  Phonomenal has an adorable, tranquil and dimly lit outdoors area – perfect for date nights; and to boot, if you don’t want to eat in, they have an incredibly quick turnaround for takeout orders.  I recommend their Summer rolls and (you guessed it) the Rare Steak combination bowl.  For kicks, I suggest a Buddha beer – they’re so tasty!

Gigo’s in Chinatown, Mon to Sun 9 to 7pm

Family owned and run, Gigo’s has a long standing history in Downtown of churning out some of the tastiest (and most affordable!) Pho.  Located just around the corner from Via Cafe, the Pho at Gigo’s is flavorful and almost doesn’t need the accompanying Siracha or Hoisin sauce. Gigo’s Cafe is a cash only venture and doesn’t serve beer, but with the assorted bars in the area – the drinks aren’t too necessary.   The venue itself seats approximately 30 people and depending on the time of day you got your hunger pains, the line could very well be out the door.