Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Eating, Drinking... and Outlasting the Competition

As I was waiting for my doctor to come in and start my physical this morning, I thought back to another medical waiting room I was in several months ago. I was waiting to be taken into surgery for a broken elbow, and a resident was reviewing my chart. We started talking, and it came up that I had moved to LA in 1981. “A long time ago” he said. ”Yeah, I’ve seen a lot of changes- good and bad” I responded. “What are the good ones?” That silenced me for a moment- traffic is worse, housing is still expensive- but I came up with something! The restaurants have gotten better. They are more varied, with many more cuisines, and healthier to boot. A lot of restaurants have come and gone- which is all the more astonishing when some of them last over 40 years.

Dhaba has been on Main Street in Santa Monica since 1971. In LA terms, it is an absolute dinosaur. But next to Chez Jay (1959) and The Galley (1934!), it’s a youngster. Will today’s trendy places be around that long?

Monday, November 28, 2011

Shoot Me!

You know you’ve become a true Angeleno when you start recognizing where they shoot movies and TV shows. Part of watching a story unfold on-screen is to be fully drawn into the scene- and I am constantly taken out of the story for a minute when I realize where I really am. It’s one thing if the story is actually set in LA- but what if it’s not? During an NCIS marathon one weekend, I watched  two agents chase a suspect down the street in Washington, D.C.- until I thought “Gee, that looks suspiciously like the Main Library downtown!” (Also re: NCIS: my cousin has commented on the fence thay always show when someone is driving in the countryside is in Santa Clarita!) I’ve gone through the same thing with the Showtime series “Dexter”, which is set in Miami. Many of the exterior shots are in Marina del Rey, and the houses are in Long Beach.

My pictures for this post are at the building where Two Face (Tommy Lee Jones) had his HQ in Batman Forever (1995). It’s really an office building on Figueroa St. with cool art work- which I’ll save for another post on public art in LA!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Gobbling Up Good Wishes

Voyager Los Angeles wishes you a Happy Thanksgiving- and be thankful for everything that you have!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Where the Streets Have (Famous) Names

Sure, Paris and London have beaucoup streets and monuments named after famous statesmen, artists, and politicians- like Nelson’s Column and Victoria Station (London) and Boulevard Voltaire and Boulevard Henri IV (Paris). But they’ve had a head start, since LA only became a city in 1881. We certainly measure up with these:

-Someone in Beverly Hills had the foresight to intersect these two streets:

-The Japanese American astronaut killed in the Challenger explosion in 1986- Ellison S. Onizuka- has a street named after him in Little Tokyo.

-For you readers under 30, ask your parents who these two are:

-Just south of the Ronald Reagan Freeway is Richie Valens Park- Bonzo vs. La Bamba!

-Non basketball fans may have trouble identifying this:
Of course, Chick Hearn Court is right next to the home of the Kings and the Lakers- Staples Center. Maybe cities in Europe and Asia can start naming their monuments after office supply stores...

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A Tale of Two Cities: Commerce Vs. Industry

When I moved to LA in 1981, I was an outside sales rep, so I had to learn the city “on the run”. The first time I saw these two cities on the map:

City of Commerce
City of Industry

I tried to envision what they looked like based on their names. I thought the City of Commerce would resemble Wall Street, with financial institutions everywhere. And the City of Industry would look like Cleveland or Pittsburgh, with smokestacks forever.

Boy, was I wrong.

The City of Commerce, aside from its casino, and its outlet center The Citadel (which started life as the Samsom Tire & Rubber factory), looks like the industrial city (not quite like Cleveland though).

The Citadel- above and below

The City of Industry, with its 219 residents (much like Vernon) and oddly gerrymandered shape, is newer, and relatively green. Although it is geared towards business- 92% is industrial, 8% is commercial- it doesn’t have that Rust Belt city feeling. It has a regional shopping mall (Puente Hills), an award-winning golf course (Pacific Palms Resort, formerly Industry Hills Sheraton), and wants to be the new home of Los Angeles Stadium, if Los Angeles ever gets an NFL team again .

Monday, November 14, 2011

Best Views in Los Angeles for Foodies

Every dining guide has a list or category of “Best Views in Los Angeles”. Zagat’s category currently has over 50. Aside from the usual suspects- places like Moonshadows or Geoffrey’s on PCH in Malibu; The Lobster in Santa Monica; Parkers Lighthouse in Long Beach- here are my 5 places to eat or drink with a great view:

1) Perch, on the 13th floor of
448 S. Hill St. -
 The Standard downtown has a great rooftop bar- but Perch, which has been open about 2 months, is the hands-down winner for best view in downtown. Best at night.

Perch yourself above it all!

2) Yamashiro, 1999 N. Sycamore, Hollywood- I think the food has improved, but basically this is a place to have a drink and enjoy the view of the LA basin. Best at night. (Go to to see the views.)

3) The Penthouse at the Huntley Hotel, 1111 2nd St., Santa Monica – The most unobstructed view of the Pacific Ocean you’ll ever see. Best during the day- because at night, there’s nothing to see.

4) CafĂ© Pinot, in front of the Central Library, at 5th and Flower- The view is not up in the air- it’s the feeling of being surrounded by all the skyscrapers in downtown. Best at night.

Looking up from Cafe Pinot (above and below)

5) West at Hotel Angeleno, Sunset Blvd. at the 405- The circular penthouse restaurant that overlooks the 405. Best at night, when you’re looking at all those taillights, and are happy you’re not on the road.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Market Watch

I barely touched on the huge number of ethnic markets in LA in my post last week. Besides Japanese, Chinese, Mexican and Dutch(!), there are also:

  • Persian, concentrated in Westwood;
  • Indian, on
    Pioneer Blvd.
    in Little India (see  in Artesia;
  • Filipino- but, surprisingly, there are almost none in Historic Filipinotown, just west of downtown on Beverly Blvd.- instead go to Island Pacific (a large chain) at 3rd and Vermont; Seafood City Market near Eagle Rock Mall (another chain); or head out to West Covina, which has many of them;
  • Armenian, in Little Armenia in Hollywood (go to and Glendale at the Central Grand Market on Central, and Glendale Ranch Market, also on Central ;                                          
  • Greek, in the Byzantine Latino District, which I mentioned in a previous post
Italian markets are all over. The one closest to me is Bay Cities, on Lincoln Blvd. To say this place is popular is an understatement- traffic backs up both ways because of all the cars trying to get into its small parking lot.
Also in Santa Monica is Shoop’s, a place I walked by for ages before going in and discovering all the imported German food you’d ever want to taste.

Auf Wiedersehen!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Yes, This Is Downtown Los Angeles- Photo Edition

Today's post is a rehash of something I did on Facebook a few years ago. I posted pictures I had taken in Downtown LA which were not what most people associated with that area.

The Fine Arts Building, 7th Street

California Club, Flower Street

Front of the Main Library

Front of the Main Library

Main Library Gardens

Parking Structure(!), Flower Street

Medici Apts, Bixel Street
So for all your readers who don't live or work in Downtown- it's not just skyscrapers and government buildings!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Dutch Treat

It’s obvious that there is a multitude of ethnic markets/grocery stores in Los Angeles. Little Tokyo, as well as West LA, has Japanese markets; Monterey Park and Chinatown have- well, Chinese markets.(And speaking of Monterey Park- WP24, Wolfgang Puck’s newest restaurant, just did a market tour there, where attendees went to the markets, then came back and made a six-course tasting menu.) Markets specializing in Mexican/Central American food are all over the city. And Grand Central Market in downtown is the granddaddy of them all.

But how many Dutch markets are there?

I can see I’ve stumped you with this question. Well, there’s only one that I know of. It’s Holland American Market, located in Bellflower.

 It’s also one of the largest Dutch (and Indonesian) markets in the country. You can check out their website at, or drive to Bellflower to see it for yourself.

For more information on cool food tours (including specialty food tours), go to

                                                              Delft tiles for everyone!

(And let me know if you like the new template!)