on Facebook

Friday, October 9, 2009

L.A. Restaurant Week

So apparently I am the only person in Los Angeles who knows about L.A. Restaurant Week. Thus, I am going to get you all up to speed since you only have one more week to enjoy it.

L.A. Restaurant Week is an L.A. only experience that happens two weeks out of the year. A selection of restaurants create three-course fixed menus that are way cheaper than their normal menu. It only works on weekdays and you get to choose from three different appetizers, entrees, and desserts off the fixed menu.

There are three levels of pricing:
1) $ = $16 for Lunch and $26 for Dinner
2) $ = $22 for Lunch and $34 for Dinner
3) $ = $28 for Lunch and $44 for Dinner

Here is an example. I went to The Palm in downtown on Monday night. It's a $. Here's the menu I choose from:

Choice 1: The Palm's Signature Lobster Bisque
Choice 2: Traditional Caesar Salad

Choice 3: Iceberg Wedge Salad - Danish Blue Cheese Dressing and Apple Wood Smoked Bacon

Choice 1: Chilean Sea Bass Fillet - over Sauteed Escarole with Marinated Sun Dried Tomatoes and Smokehouse Bacon
Choice 2: Filet Mignon - 9 ounce - Wild Mushroom Ragout & Roquefort Pommes Frites

Choice 3: Broiled Crab Cakes - Mango Salsa

Choice 1: Key Lime Pie
Choice 2: New York Cheesecake
Choice 3: Creme Brulee

I choose the Iceberg Wedge Salad, the Filet Mignon, and the Key Lime Pie.

This menu cost $34 without tax and tip. On the regular menu, the 9 ounce filet is $44 by itself. That should give you some idea of the savings. I went home with half a salad and half a filet because there was so much food so in theory I got two meals for $34!

FYI, here is what some of the other stuff on the menu looks like.

Lobster Bisque

Crab Cakes

New York Cheesecake

NOTE: The New York Cheesecake is flown in daily from New York. Yeah. Amazing.

Go to to see what restaurants are participating, what level of price they are, and what the pre-fix menu offers. Then be prepared for a lot of food and a lot of fun all next week. But hurry because it's only here for the week and it's only in L.A.

Travelers Choice Awards by TripAdvisor

TripAdvisor gave me a PDF that compiles the "best" of hotels around the world based on traveler ratings.

The categories:

1) Best Bargains
2) Best All-Inclusives
3) Best for Families
4) Best Inns & B&Bs
5) Best Hidden Gems
6) Best for Romance
7) Best in the Top 25 World Cities
8) Best Service
9) Best Luxury
10) Best Hotel Brands

It's a lot of information but a great takeaway for planning your next trip.

Download the PDF here:

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

"Lovin'" San Francisco

Just got back from a weekend in San Francisco that originally was supposed to be all about the Weekender. The Weekender is the annual migration of all Los Angeles' USC Trojans to San Francisco to play against Berkeley or Stanford (depends on the year). With glee, we usually ransack the city, spilling beers, fighting Cal fans, and increasing the crime tenfold. But this year, we were overshadowed by something much bigger...SF Lovefest.

Imagine a seething crowd of half-naked people tripping on X dancing to techno while following brightly-colored floats down Market Street. It's like a crazy acid trip. I found myself walking next to completely naked men, staring at middle school girls in "pasties," and being groped by Teletubbies.

But before I show more pictures of the insanity on Saturday let us first rewind to Friday night when I arrived. After dropping my bags at the St. Regis near Union Square, my friend Lamb and I immediately headed to the Redwood Bar in the Clift Hotel for drinks. We met up with Knee, Santa, and Lion, who were already a couple drinks in - it was going to be a good night. A solid few drinks later, after I'd turned down a guy from Google and learned that turntables can be run by a computer, we left for Harlot, one of the current "hot" clubs in San Fran.

Harlot is not a large place. It is essentially made up of a small dance floor surrounded by booths downstairs with a small VIP balcony and bar upstairs that looks down below on the sea of dancers. Unfortunately, I was not having it with the strange men in the VIP area and neither was Lamb so eventually we said our goodbyes to the other girls and went adventuring. But not before I succumbed to a "street dog." For those of you who have never tried them they are the hotdogs sold from the carts on the street. Probably diseased but equally delicious when drunk.

Check out Harlot here:

I was still licking my fingers by the time we met up with our friend, The Shark, and his friends. They took us to Circa, which they described as a dive bar. The 9-0 is a dive bar. This place was, in my opinion, really nice. Maybe I have no standards, I dunno. It was packed. It might have been fun. I was reeling at this point and really just wanted to go home.


Everyone else eventually felt the same way to we headed to the Shark's friend's place. On the way we stopped for doughnuts. I shared a maple bar. I haven't had a maple bar since eighth grade. I forgot how good they are!

The Shark's friend's place was AMAZING. It was a multi-level condo or apartment (I can barely tell the difference) with a rooftop where you can see all of San Francisco. I unfortunately missed the view because I was incapable of getting off the really comfortable couch. I did get a chance to reminisce with B's Australian friend who shares a mutual hatred for Melbourne.

Around 5am, we were sufficiently tired and taxied back to the hotel. Upon entry, we were escorted to our room by security. We still can't figure out if he thought we were hookers or squatters but he was definitely interested in seeing if we had a room in the hotel. Once Lamb produced her key at the door of our room he finally lost interest. Home safe.

The next morning, head pounding, we joined friends at Sears' Fine Food. They apparently have the best sourdough french toast EVER. Considering my unhealthy love of food, I would be the judge of that. Turns out, it's okay. I've had better, but I have had worse, as they say, but the ambiance of the place itself was stellar. I was mostly just impatient to get to Lovefest.

Judge it for yourself: Sears' Fine Food

Which returns us to earlier portion of my story - the naked men and groping Teletubbies. We watched part of the parade and then joined up with Mr. O'Connell and friends. They were like twelve-year-old boys in a porn store (If twelve-years-olds could go in a porn store). We followed them through the crowd as they jumped from costumed person to costumed person taking pictures.

Eventually, we made our way to the main Lovefest Festival. Essentially you follow the parade floats to City Hall and then they round up like covered wagons and you rage at the foot of the floats to music. It's a ten dollar entry to get into this portion of the event and it is COMPLETELY worth it. Just make sure you find an entrance without a massive line. We waited in a huge line at one entrance only to go to the next entrance over and walk right in.

We spent most of the time going from float to float taking more pictures of crazy people. Fortunately, the beer line is really short because everyone else is on drugs so I was easily able to grab a drink. Finally, we had made the entire circuit of floats and tested out all the music options. The Golden Gorilla float won based on their music selection. We spent the next two hours dancing our asses off.

Keys moments while dancing:
  1. A man in a jean jacket who spent some time dancing on Slink's leg.
  2. Another guy wearing beads who tried to seduce me. I quickly pointed out to him that I was wearing more clothes and was more sober than any other girl there and what the hell was he doing talking to me.
  3. At one point I opened my eyes (I sometimes close them passionately while dancing) only to find myself face-to-face with a couple madly making out. I tried to escape by turning to my right only to find another couple making out and another and another. I was afraid.
At 15 minutes to 5pm, we finally left to make it to the USC game on time. I rarely actually go to the game when I go to the weekender because it is a such a bitch. So, Lamb and I headed to the Blue Light to watch the game with a bunch of friends.

The Trojans killed the Bears, of course. It was a pretty standard football-watching experience punctuated by a mysterious, deadly fart that cleared out our booth for awhile. Santa also attempted to drink a pitcher of beer all at once. It didn't go well. Somewhat tired we returned to the hotel to get ready to go out.

By the time we left the hotel it was already 10pm so we realized we'd need to just grab something to eat near Ritch Street, which is where 330 Ritch is located (the club we were headed to). Luckily, Santa works in the area and recommended a small wine bar type restaurant for us to eat, COCO 500. The waiter was kind enough to seat us and promptly told us we had five minutes to order before the kitchen closed.

I ordered the California Burrata salad with burrata, watercress, cherry tomatoes, grilled levain, and olive oil, and the roasted tomato soup. It was the perfect meal after a long day - comforting and fresh, yet not too filling.

The rest of the group ordered the Coppa Salami Pizza and the Braised Lamb Shoulder Pappardelle. They were both good but not as good as my meal.

We finished the night off with the
Chocolate Ecstasy Cake and chocolate-covered frozen bananas.

See the full menu here: COCO 500

Sufficiently full, we walked down the street to 330 Ritch. Thankfully, there was no line. Unfortunately, there was a ten-dollar cover. I think covers are probably the most annoying thing ever. I'm going to spend an assload on drinks once I come in, why are you stabbing me in the gut with a fee to get in. GRR! It didn't help that the girls manning the front table were exceedingly bitchy.

Slightly annoyed, we wandered into the club. Thirty minutes later I still wasn't really feeling it. Then the song, "Shots Shots Shots" came on. Taking the artist's sound advice, we had some shots. Suddenly, the night was a lot better! We spent the next three hours dancing our asses off. The night ended with the lights in the club going on and the DJ putting on "Don't Stop Believing" by Journey. The entire crowd burst out in song. It was pretty awesome.

No night in San Francisco is complete without a trip to Mel's Diner. Their potpie is the best drunk meal ever and their milkshakes and pies are a close second. I wasn't terribly hungry but devoured an apple pie a la mode anyway.

Full of fatty foods we returned to the hotel and passed out.

Sunday morning, I felt like I'd been hit by a bus. We managed to drag ourselves out to breakfast at Cafe de la Presse. I know every time you read my blog I say the last meal I had was the best. While I'm saying it again. The presentation of the food was beautiful, the cafe itself was intimate and cozy and our waiter was both charming and honest. When Knee asked if the orange juice really was fresh squeezed he replied, "Usually it is but we've run out today and so the rest of the day it's Minute Maid." It was nice to have a waiter admit it since had she ordered it she would've been able to tell the difference. Santa also changed her drink order five times and he was super cool about that too. It really did enhance the meal. I had the Salade de Tomates, and my friends shared the Salade Nicoise.

Check out the menu at:
Cafe De La Presse

We spent the remainder of Sunday shopping before heading to the airport for me to catch my plane. Just so you know the H&M and DSW in Union Square are amazing - way better than the ones in Los Angeles. I have never walked out of them empty-handed (This is also the reason that this coming weekend I will be sitting on my couch because I have no money left).

On a side note, the St. Regis in San Francisco is an amazing hotel. When my other friends crashed on Saturday night they provided a free roll-away bed. They also brought us toothpaste and a shower cap. And the best part was the remote control black blinds for sleeping late in style. Lastly, it is in a prime location for accessing some of the better parts of San Francisco.

All-in-all I anticipated this weekender at about an 8 on the insanity meter. It turned out to be at least a 12. San Francisco is an amazing city with so much to do and see. I didn't even do anything touristy and still feel like I saw so much of what makes this city truly unique. And I will definitely be returning to Lovefest every year from now on.