Thursday, August 22, 2013

Five Good Things

Just a moment to recognize the wonderful in an otherwise fairly straightforward day.

  1. Miraculously, I made it to my morning meeting on time without counting seconds at stoplights.
  2. I had an amazing yoga class at lunch. I looked in the mirror and felt strong, capable and beautiful.
  3. I heard this.
  4. I get to see my little man tonight.
  5. Little Man No. 1
  6. Well, I get to see both of them.
Little Man No. 2

P.S. If any of those wonderful things weren't enough to put a smile on my face, there's this spectacular photo essay of manly dudes with badass long hair ... in updos.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Favorite First-Date Spots on the West Side

Last week, a friend of mine asked me for West Side restaurant recommendations for a date with a girl he was hoping to impress. I guess because I’m a single girl living on the West Side, I’m considered an expert on restaurants that impress a girl on the first date. I’ve been impressed quite a number of times. And equally unimpressed.

It should be noted that I tend to cringe when I hear someone self-identify as a “foodie.” I refuse to call myself that pretentious, oft-misused word. But I read a lot about food and restaurants in L.A.

I got to work compiling the below list of West Side restaurants that would be great for a first date. Most of them I’ve visited; some I’ve not. But all of them (I’ve heard) provide a fun, hip ambience with great menus. Most importantly, taking a girl to one of these places will most likely impress her. They’ve impressed me, and I’m not generally easy to impress.

According to the outdated-yet-somewhat-classic dating bible, The Rules, Wednesday is the last day of the week it is acceptable to ask a girl out on a date. I figured, then, that Wednesday was a good day to post my list of impressive first-date spots on the West Side. It's important to note that I do not think taking a girl to a very pricey, fancy place (think Nobu) is the greatest idea for the first date. It's flashy, obvious and seems thoughtless in some respects. It's better to find a lesser-known hot spot. So you won't find any L.A. standards like Spago on my list.

Here we go!
Image credit: Hungry Cat

Hungry Cat, Santa Monica Canyon. $$$. This place is a delicious seafood place with good cocktails and fabulous ambience.  Shorebar, a super cool bar, is right next door if you want a nightcap. And if the date is going really well (and I mean, really), you can take the tunnel under the PCH to the beach for a late-night beach stroll. Don’t try anything shady, gentlemen.
Notes: It is a little pricey. They take reservations.

Plan Check, Sawtelle in West LA. $$ My favorite neighborhood in L.A. these days. This is an Asian-inspired burger place on Sawtelle. The burgers are really good, and I'm told everything is delicious. It's a very hot spot right now and on Eater LA's Heatmap list. It's affordable ($13ish for burgers).
Notes: They do not take reservations.

Freddy Smalls, West L.A. $$. Also on Eater LA's Heatmap. Really, really good food and drinks. Gastropub, so it has a fun and casual vibe. If you go, you must try the deviled eggs. They are delicious, and your savvy menu choices will demonstrate you know your stuff. (The last guy I dated actually took me here for our first date. We ordered the deviled eggs -- divine -- and closed the bar down. Safe to say we went out again.)
Notes: They take reservations and there's usually street parking.

Flores, Sawtelle. Another place that juuuust opened, so I've yet to visit. It's $$$, according to Yelp, but looking at the menu I'd say it's more on the $$ side. It's on Eater's heatmap. It's brand new, so that adds to the cool factor for sure. Apparently it's American food and they take reservations.

Me, enjoying the "Pavo en Mole Oaxaqueno," which is supposedly a turkey leg but seems like the whole body to me.
Mercado, Santa Monica. This is a very delicious Mexican-inspired place with a great vibe. They take reservations, and it's only $$ in my opinion. Great tequila cocktails. Good mood lighting and nice setting. Order something that involves house-made tortillas.
Notes: No valet and parking is tough so you'd probably have to park in the garages.

Picca, Beverly Hills. $$$. Now I know this is not technically West Side, but it's on Pico and Beverlywill, so it's not too far. Let your date know you’re cultured by telling her the word “picca” means “to nibble.” It’s probably my favorite restaurant of late. Chef Ricardo Zarate is a genius. It's Peruvian, and when I went with friends a couple months ago, we each had our fill and two cocktails or so and I think we spent about $50 each. Really not too bad for such a fun, mouth-watering experience. The ambience is great. The oysters a la chalaca are fantastic and the cocktails are one-of-a-kind. Avocado cocktail, anyone? (No? Yeah, me either.)
Notes: They take reservations. Valet parking.

There you have it. So get on that phone and set up the date. Then log onto Open Table and make the reservation. Good luck in the romance department. If you’re reading my blog for advice, God knows you probably need it.