Category Archives: review

LA Weekly’s Best of L.A. 2017 — West Hollywood Re-Deux

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LA Weekly just came out with their annual Best of L.A. issue, which I picked up by happenstance on Friday night. As a native of this awesomely diverse and sprawling city,  I can’t wait to flip through even more, as there are some really interesting places profiled: a Romanian restaurant in Highland Park, a body-positive gym in Mount Washington, late-night Thai food in East Hollywood (as well as a magic-themed bar), veggie soul food in Leimert Park, a history museum in the west Valley, and countless others.

I was, however, quite thrown off when I reached the section for West Hollywood — a literal half-page-and-a-column about the following: a boxing gym, a marijuana dispensary, a new restaurant, and The Chapel aka The Abbey lite. Also included was a brief note from an expert that mentioned the aquatic center and mural on the back of the library, but nothing that really stood out.

West Hollywood featured in LA Weekly’s “Best of LA 2017”.

Hmm.

Like… really? That’s all that LA Weekly could come up with?

Thanks to the Sunset Strip, I’ve never really been a stranger to Weho — any time between 2006 and 2010, you could find me taking the 218 over the long and windy Laurel Canyon pass then the 2 west, just to get lost in a show at the Viper Room or the Roxy. My diminutive, reserved Lake Balboan self was eyeballs deep in dreamland every time, and I just loved it.

After making the move in 2012, I can truly say that it’s one of those unique cities where everyone can be who they want to be. It’s also very walkable– it isn’t out of the ordinary for me to park my car after work on  Friday evening and not get back into until Monday morning. It’s a small town in a big city, a real community of people from all walks and income brackets — real folks who work, live, volunteer, and create here.

It really is a special place, full of culture, color, flavor, life, and pride, with something most always going on, and someone most always glad to see or get to know you.

So I’ve decided to do my own “Best of West Hollywood” feature –not from the perspective from a trust-fund hipster, but from a former Valley girl and aspiring writer who works a 9:30-to-7 near LAX.

Best Ramen Place: Daikokuya
Not that I’m complaining, but I used to have to drive all the way to Little Tokyo, then Little Osaka on Sawtelle to get my spicy miso ramen fix. So now having Daikokuya available within walking distance just makes life all sorts of shiny (especially following a night of 2-for-1 drink specials on Santa Monica Blvd). Not only ramen, but they serve up some awesome rice bowls — shredded pork with ginger, teriyaki chicken, eel, oh my — with miso soup and cabbage salad with a dressing worth the caloric indiscretion. Every time.

Best Sit-Down Pizzeria: Dough
The name says it all — the dough makes the pizza. There really is something that just makes it taste so damned good. Do they fly in cases of Poland Spring water from New York, or utilize a water filtration process similar to Brooklyn Water Bagel Co.? I don’t know but what I do know is that it is so delicious every single time. Single slices are priced from $2.50 (cheese) to $3.99 (BLT), and there are innovative menu selections and  specials every day of the week. My personal favorite special is Monday’s buy one get one pizza special, and $0.99 pizza slices with the purchase of a drink on Wednesdays.

Best Happy Hour: Cecconi’s (Tuesday to Saturday from 4 to 7pm, enjoy food and cocktails priced from $4 to $7!) and St. Felix (daily from 4 to 8pm; Sundays start at 2! Just. So. Good. Just go. Go.)

Best Frozen Yogurt: Yogurt Stop
The prospect if dessert is worthy of a smile in itself, but throw in flavor names such as Bottoms Up Banana, Salted Caramel Booty, Milk My Harvey Chocolate, and Original Weho Tart John Duran, and you’ll be guaranteed at least a yelp of amusement. Plus, their vegan flavors — including coconut, almond; watermelon sorbet — actually taste like and have a non-imitation consistency.

Best Car Wash: Santa Palm Car Wash
I could go to the gas station closer to my office, or anywhere on the way home from wherever I may be headed — but I always end up at the local car wash on the corner of Palm and Santa Monica Blvd. You just feel where your dollar is going — into local business versus dime-a-dozen machinery. Newly remodeled and located across the street from Yogurt Stop and sharing geographical real estate with LA Buns hot dog and hamburger stand, its service with a smile is in actuality.

Best Disco FriesKitchen 24
Somewhere in between poutine and heaven falls an order of disco fries. Fun story: one night I was attempting to make my way back home after a liquor-ish maiden voyage to FUBAR and I had the drunken munchies. I walked by Kitchen 24 and dropped in to request the K24 Breakfast Sandwich and disco fries, the former of which I devoured on the rest of the walk home. The latter, however, my boyfriend ate the following morning as I slept off the booze. I forgave him eventually.

Best Gay Bar: Flaming Saddles 
Now, I personally can get into regular old country, but this isn’t regular old country. It is West Hollywood country, honey — a.k.a. attractive men in tight denim, boots, and hats, sometimes dancing on tables. Not that there’s anything wrong with a posh, scene-y vibe, but if you’re going for hella fun, go for the cowboy. Always the cowboy. (Runner-up: Micky’s.)

Honorable mentions —
Best Bottomless Mimosa Brunch: Jack n’ Jill’s Too, Marco’s Trattoria
Best New Place for Alternative Tacos: Tocaya Organica
Best Pet Supply Store: Collar & Leash
Best Tucked-Away Hotels:  Le Montrose, Le Petit Ermitage
Best Restaurants (That I’ve Been To): The Granville, Sandbox on Melrose
And finally, Restaurants/Shops/Places That I Hope to Visit Soon: Pono Kitchen + Bar, The Butcher, The Baker, The Cappuccino Maker, Salt & Straw

Ah… see? Much better.

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Coconut-Scented Everything: White Rain Bar Soap (Product Review)

Hear me out.

Coconut is an uber-fad that arrived atop the roof of the wellness train about five years ago and has been milked, oil pulled, punctured and drained for all its worth. The sad thing is that, unless from the actual fruit, most artificial coconut scents smell too chemical-y for this world. It’s true: most beauty products at a consumer-friendly price point smell like headache in a bottle.

As a writer, most ideas come to me in the shower. As such, I take some effort in making sure that my shower experience is both functional and relaxing. From bath bombs to aromatherapy gels, sugar scrubs and oil-infusions, I have tried an array of products with respect to budget and interest, and have still managed to come up short in the zen department. 

That is, until I came across White Rain body soap.

About a month ago, my boyfriend and I were at the grocery store stocking up for the week as per usual. I’d capped off a long lavender streak after having run out of my favorite Dr. Bronner’s liquid hemp soap, and decided to try something different. Making our way down the personal care aisle, I went through the prerequisite rigamarole before landing on a product that I was sure I’d regret buying. “White Rain, huh?” I thought to myself. “In Lavender Shea.” Sitting in between safe Ivory and inflated Tom’s, I thought, “meh, why not?”, a decision made infinitely easier with a two-pack of bars having been marked down to the very friendly price of $1.49.

Little did I know what a beautiful relationship was to bud from there on. Again, with tax, you get two quality bar soaps for around $0.80 each. In addition, the formula is smooth and doesn’t melt away easily (unlike the aforementioned Ivory) — each bar has lasted me nearly two weeks, even with vigorous use. Also, the scents are not overpowering, nor do they smell like chemicals. I have previously stuck to the Lavender Shea scented bars, but recently tried out the Coconut Creme scent (during a 4 two-packs for $5 sale) and well…. let’s just say that I am thisclose to crowning a new favorite in my besprinkled shower kingdom in which I am both subject and ruler.

It’s not that I won’t splurge on something more seemingly decadent, like an oil infusion, serum, or otherwise. But again, as a writer, the shower is one of the few places where one can let the mind fully wander and process for a guaranteed two to five minutes before the day really gets started. And because showering also involves cleanliness, White Rain has made both possible.

There you have it.

I’m an Idiot: ArmorSuit Military Shield Product Review

I’ve only had the ArmorSuit Military Shield for 18 hours and can already tell you that it’s one of the best products out there for protecting your smart device’s screen. I can tell you this with absolute assurance because I am a complete idiot.

I ordered the product on Thursday after reading about it on Digital Trends – it was at the top of the list, so naturally, I found it on Amazon and purchased it for the awesome price of $7.85 + tax. When it arrived on Friday afternoon, I was so giddy that I just had to put it on right away.

The instructions on their website are super clear and easy to follow: Basically you power off your smart device, wipe the screen with microfiber cloth, spray a spray bottle solution on the non-adhesive side of the product, then the adhesive side, lay it on, then smooth out the bubbles with an applicator. (All of the above tools come in the product’s package.). Ideally, this should be done before bed so that the product has time to dry and adhere to the screen.

Well, I did all of this last night, and was really glad to have found a solution to my screen troubles. I was about to call it a night when I randomly received a call last minute to go out with friends. No biggie, I figured; I’d just be careful with my smart phone and have a good time. So I did and all was fine and dandy.

I woke up this morning to look at my phone, as the ArmorSuit should have dried and been good to go. I really couldn’t believe just how amazing my screen looked — I couldn’t see where the screen protector ended any my screen itself began. I was really impressed with the product and geared up to give them five stars on Amazon.

Little did I know that it was definitely too good to be true, as the screen protector had SLID OFF in my clutch at some point last night. Not only that, but it had folded upon itself and adhered to bar receipts, a book of matches, and a pack of gum.

I freaked out. OF COURSE this would happen. I was thoroughly distraught. I started to peel the paper off the shield, thinking I’d ruined it — game over, time to but a new one. Then I thought, well, why not at least try to salvage it? I can always buy another if I have to. (Now keep in mind, ArmorSuit has a lifetime warranty on their products, but I would have totally purchased another because I’m that idiot that ruins things in less than 24 hours.)

So I gave it a shot and  basically did everything you’re not supposed to do:

I put soap on the adhesive side and rubbed it vigorously.

I used a scrubby pad to get the red dye from the Trident gum package off.

I lathered and scrubbed, and lathered and scrubbed, lathered and scrubbed some more.

And this product just TOOK it. There may be the teensiest scratch in the entire thing, but if there is, I can’t see it.

After a good hour of this, I was able to repeat the application steps and let it dry as I’ve been going about my chores this beautiful Saturday.

I am highly impressed by this product because it has withstood me, an idiot. I really thought I’d ruined it, but its technology kept me from doing so. Do yourself a solid and keep ArmorSuit and its Military Shield products on your radar. 10/10, would wreck again.