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Random New Year Musings

Hello Enthusiasts –

As we ease into 2016, I realize that I neglected to do a year end post the way I have in the past.  Although for you avid link followers, you’ll note that this link directs you to a post from 2013, so I’m not sure why I feel compelled to write a year end/new year post now.  I think that I think about it every year, and then don’t, and then feel like I should have.  So here I am.  (Also, note to self:  I didn’t do any of the things I wrote that I would try to do back then.  Sigh.  Clearly, my dedication to blogging is less than my dedication to, oh, I don’t know … work, home, exercise, travel, etc.  So while I know that you loyal readers of this little vanity project are dying for me to write more (aren’t you?), just accept that these posts will remain a rare-but-hopefully-savored treat).

Also, I usually know what I want to write before starting a post, but this one?  Blank.  Which means no photos (I think), no “here’s the latest place” (though a couple new ones are already coming to mind), no grand pronouncements about the future or lamentations for the past (except there probably will be).  So, without further ado, some random thoughts as we enter 2016 (apologies if the links are hard to read.  Not sure what to do about that…):

  • * Here’s some places I haven’t written about that I wish I would have and/or probably will: Le Petit Paris (romantic, beautiful, French, new), Little Sister (new, Asian-inspired, welcome addition to 7th St., which is Downtown’s de facto Restaurant Row),  Barrel Down (probably the best beer hall in Downtown), Orsa & Winston (one of Downtown’s best, post WAY overdue.  Just found a draft I started but never finished from 2 years ago calling it the “restaurant of the moment”), Urban Radish (also WAY overdue, not a restaurant, but an awesome market in the Arts District), Broken Spanish (in the old Rivera space. Good and worth knowing about but, like its predecessor, maybe just a tad overrated),  and Stone Creek Bistro (OK, this one would require a drive to Lake Arrowhead, but man is it good and worth at least having on the list).


  • * I hope the remodel of Hotel Fig provides some much needed upgrading but retains its quirky charm.  An underappreciated Downtown gem.


  • * Pedro and his team at Bar Jackalope in the back room of Seven Grand pour some amazing whiskey.  Go on an off night (so that you get good attention and maybe an extra treat or two), look for the unmarked door on the right just as you enter the hallway to the restroom, press the button, wait for them to come get you, and enter the 18-seat lair.  They have an incredible selection – some of which you literally can’t find anywhere else (yes, they even have Pappy Van Winkle – a bunch, actually – but don’t fall for the hype created by arbitrarily limited supply).  Seven Grand sells so much whiskey that distributors want to take care of them, so they get rare/exclusive stuff.  And what’s especially cool is that they sell 1 ounce pours so you can try more of them and not pay high (because it costs a lot) full shot prices.  Tell Pedro I sent you and maybe he’ll make those pours just a bit heavier…


  • * The remake of Pete’s into Ledlow has left me a little cold and I don’t know why.  It’s from Josef Centeno, the same chef as Orsa & Winston (see above) as well as Baco Mercat and Bar Ama so we know the food will be good, and it’s certainly an improvement on Pete’s.  And the décor isn’t really all that different.  I think it’s because Pete’s was such a trailblazer – I remember thinking “they’re going to put a restaurant among the bums at 4th & Main??” when it opened 15 or more years ago – that I’m a little nostalgic, but Pete’s also had more of a “neighborhood” flavor to me.  Ledlow is … fiiiiiine … but feels a little phoned in.  That being said, if you haven’t been, you might as well go – the food is good, and it might just be me.


  • * I sometimes need to remember to go back to great places.  I haven’t been to Faith & Flower in months after being pretty much a regular when it first opened … I rarely go to the Varnish even though it still makes the best cocktail in Downtown (the fact that it doesn’t open until 8:00 doesn’t help since I’m more of an after work guy, but still) …  the Edison is still one of the coolest bars in Downtown, even after all this time … Bottega Louie is still thronged 24/7 for a reason, but not usually by me (though the crowds may be correlated to my relative lack of patronage) … the Golden Gopher is still just a great bar, and is especially cool now that there’s an outpost of Silverlake’s legendary Bar Keeper in the front, where you can even buy liquor-to-go due to an ancient grandfathered-in liquor license … and Colori Kitchen is still pumping out great neighborhood Italian food in a place that’s modest but way cheaper than it could be for the quality.  At least I think it is.  I’ll have to go back to be sure.


  • * I’m absolutely ashamed that I haven’t been to the Normandie Club yet.  It’s in Koreatown, but still.  That will be rectified soon.  And don’t get me started on its even cooler back room, reservations-only cousin, Walker Inn.  My cocktail blogger credentials (if there were such a thing) are gonna be revoked if I don’t make it there soon.  (Note:  since beginning to write this post, and inspired by starting this post, and not wanting to lose my non-existent blogger credentials, I have rectified the situation.  At least got to Normandie Club – not Walker Inn yet.  And yes, it’s incredible.  For a pretty random location, it’s got a great speakeasy vibe and the drinks are delicious and super creative – from a creativity standpoint, among the best.  And you can get old school burgers right next door, which is a plus).


  • * Speaking of Koreatown, have you been to Break Room 86 yet?  I actually already wrote about this.  I’m just reminding you to go.  It’s worth the effort.


  • * I haven’t written about Q on 7th St., and it’s probably the best sushi in Downtown, with a great overall “experience”. the chef serving you personally and explaining every dish.  So why haven’t I written about it?  Because I spent $100 on lunch there (for just me – my fellow Enthusiast paid the same), and we both looked at each other walking out and said “that was great … but we have to go across the street to Bottega Louie and actually eat now.”  I get small portions and fine dining and sashimi and all that, and I have a pretty high tolerance for dollars-to-food ratio … but that was just too much.  But hey – if you have money to blow and love sushi, it’s worth a try.  Hopefully the wait at Bottega won’t be too long afterwards (though you really should go down the street to B.S. Taqueria now that it’s open).


  • * I want Artisan House to be better than it is.  I love the space and I love the market and it seems like it should be such a welcoming, “I want to go back” place.  But it always seems just a little off to me.  They should just go for comfort food in a comfortable setting like The Must.  Right now, it’s sort of in between.  And it’s such a great location too, near lots of great stuff.


  • * Speaking of Artisan House’s location, I always tell people to start at 6th & Main for a “bar crawl” kind of night out in Downtown.  It would take too long to attach the links to all these names, but from there, you’re two blocks or less in any direction to Cole’s, The Varnish, the Association, Las Perlas, Crocker Club, the Falls, Spring Street (a brew pub), Beelman’s, Crane’s, Wendell, Preux & Proper, and even the Down & Out.  And I’m probably missing a few.  And you can eat at the aforementioned Artisan House (at 5th & Main) to get ready – don’t be scared off by what I said.  It’s perfectly fine.  I just wish it was *better*.


  • *Otium is amazing and will get its own blog post soon.


  • * Late and lamented:  Provecho.  You probably don’t even remember it, but it was in the space that now houses 800 Degrees.  Just awesome, creative Mexican/South American food.  It never quite found its following.  Late and not lamented:  Coco Laurent.  Random French place across from Bottega Louie that had a random set up, spotty service, and too-fancy food.  WANTED it to be good, but it just wasn’t.  So it closed. Still going and lamentedSeven.  On the corner of Seventh & Grand, with unremarkable/cheesy everything, I have no idea why it’s still in business.  Still going and happily so:  so many places, but I’ll just pick Seven Grand.  Nice to see the original still going strong.  Not sure how long they’ll be in business (the no-don’t-go version)Guild.  Another under appreciated gem on 7th just west of Grand.  It’s simple, but it’s comfortable and they do a good job.  But I never see anybody in there.  Not sure how long they’ll be in business (the please-go version): Salvage.  A little farther west on 7th, Salvage *seems* like it should be cool.  But it’s just … not.  It seems like a USC hangout bar, which is fine near USC.  But out of place where it is, and doesn’t fit the DTLA vibe.


  • * the new bar attached to the Whole Foods is surprisingly cool … for being attached to a Whole Foods.


  • * The new event/restaurant/observation deck on the 71st floor of the US Bank building will be cool.  What’s especially weird is that I used to work on that floor. I’ll have to figure out where my cubicle was…


  • * I wish the drinks and food at Perch matched the view and décor of Perch.  That being said, the Sunday brunch is surprisingly good.


  • * As this goes to publish, RIP David Bowie.  Just because.


Well, this turned into quite the post.  And made me realize a bunch of places I never talk about or haven’t talked about in awhile.  And also made me realize that, while I generally try to only write about places I like and not pile on to the places I don’t, it’s fun to be a little spicy from time to time.

Happy travels.

(wayyyyy too many places to do my usual ‘facts and figures’ at the bottom.  Click the links.  You’ll figure it out).