Sunday, May 31, 2009

Homegirl Cafe and Homeboy Bakery

I'm strong to the finich cause I drinks me spinach... and this is just one reason to visit the Homegirl Cafe and Homeboy Bakery. Angela's Green Potion, actually lemonade with mint and spinach, is worthy of a visit on its own. However, once you realize that the non-profit Homeboy Industries focuses all its divisions (cafe, bakery, silk screen/embroidery and maintenance businesses, merchandising) on gang intervention and re-entry, your reason to stop is now two-fold. While savoring the Potion (granted, a boggish-looking beverage), a massive plate of breakfast arrived. This is the Chilaquiles plate with the tomatillo salsa and cojita cheese, roasted potatoes and scrambled eggs. If I took an after photo, this plate would be cleaned and the glass would be drained. And just to make sure my meal wasn't a fluke, I sampled a few treats from the Bakery, and grand-slam-home-run all were amazing! Located literally across the tracks from the Chinatown Goldline station and easily accessible, I can't wait to get back to try the lunch menu and more of the baked goodies.

Click here to go to their Web site.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

LA Flower Market

After several visits, the most surprising thing about the Los Angeles Flower Market is still how quickly I become acclimated to the sweet scent of millions of fresh flowers. The aroma hits you the second you walk in, then blends into a floral stimulus package of colors. The LA Flower Market, dating back to 1923 at this location, is the largest wholesale flower district in the US. You don't need a resell license to experience this sensory overload, you just let those who do have first dibs at the goods. In the early AM hours. Which means you can sleep in and still select a bouquet to brighten your day.

Click here to go to their Web site.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Downtown Library

Miss Los Angeles, looking all perky on this orange crate label, is obviously proud of her Los Angeles Downtown Library. Although the Library is now surrounded by lots of tall buildings, inside the 1926 portion, time has stood still. My favorite space is the rotunda area, with the wonderful globe light and history of California murals up high, with the old-school card catalog drawers down low. This banner also hangs in that space, along with special exhibit galleries off the corridors. Then there's the new renovated portion of the library, with eight floors of material waiting to be checked out. The Library gift shop is my downtown go-to spot for books and other gifts, as I've always found the perfect present. Note that if you have a Library card, parking downtown is a bargain!

Click here to go to their Web site.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Papa Cristo's

So I was leaving my cardiologist's office and was planning to go to Helm's Bakery to hit the antique mall and have a late lunch. Once I realized I turned the wrong direction on Venice Boulevard and saw the traffic crawling on the 10, I immediately started to think about how I could salvage my drive back to the SGV. One second later I thought Papa Cristo's! I haven't been there in ages!! Papa Cristo's, on the corner of Pico and Normandie, is the ultimate Greek getaway sans passport. The travel posters and lively music set the mood. The pita bread is sinful, and the tzatziki (loosely translated as "food of the Gods") the best. And, not only do you get mounds of food - shown here is the gyros plate with the lemony roasted potatoes and salad - there's a food market and a bakery for any souvenirs you want to get through customs on your way out the door. I declined these temptations; after all, I was just at the heart doctor and baklava isn't recommended as part of his Mediterranean diet plan.

I was there on a Thursday afternoon, too early for the "Big Fat Greek Family Style Dinner" with the belly dancers, but I will be back. And you will hear about it!!

Click here to go to their Web site.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Gerlach's Grill

Why am I showing a liquor store? Well, because attached to Gerlach's liquor store is Gerlach's Grill, home of the best salmon tacos in the universe! Gerlach's, near the border of Pasadena/South Pasadena, is better known as the "drive in" liquor store. Notice the yellow arrows on the paving to direct your driving from Fair Oaks and Glenarm. Whenever I notice my omega-3 meter is running low, the Grill is my first thought. Their salmon tacos are awesome, with the salmon burger -- an actual slab of grilled salmon and not the flaked canned stuff -- a very close second as I'm deciding what's for dinner. Note that it is primarily take-out service, with a ledge and a few green plastic tables for eating outside in the parking area. The liquor store has a good selection of snackies and sodas, in addition to the hard stuff. I have been known to place an order, step next door for a pack of Sno Balls and a jug of milk, come back for my food and be content the whole night long.

No Web site at this time. Street address is 1075 Fair Oaks Avenue, Pasadena 91105. Cross street is Glen Arm. Phone is 626-799-7575.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

La Brea Tar Pits

American lions and saber-toothed cats and short-faced bears, oh my! A trip back to the Ice Age is available at the Page Museum and the La Brea Tar Pits. Shown here is a mastodon family, with the mother trapped in the world-famous tar. The Page Museum is in the background.

Remember the saber-toothed kitty from the Flintstone's cartoons? That was my introduction to these cool creatures. Although Hanna-Barbera mixed and mingled dinosaurs with our Ice Age friends, you won't find in dinos here as they were long gone by that time. Inside the Museum, there's a whole wall of dire wolf skulls, and an amazing glass-walled laboratory where you can watch the staff and volunteers clean, sort and study the fossils recovered on site. Kids love this place, and there are fun hands-on exhibits for everyone to enjoy. And even though there are animatronics and Disney-esque visuals inside the Museum, that's naturally-occurring methane gas escaping from the Lake Pit if you're wondering about the bubbles.

Click here to go to their Web site.

Friday, May 15, 2009

The Huntington

Of all the options to chose from at the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens, I'm raising my hand for the Conservatory as my favorite. Granted, the Huntington is better known for the Gutenberg Bible, Pinkie and Blue Boy, the Greene and Greene gallery, plus the roses, cacti and the new Chinese Garden, in addition to special exhibits. But, I pick the Conservatory for it's hands-on exhibits and carnivorous plants! As a kid, I loved my Venus flytrap and was very intrigued by how it did what it did. Shown here are pitcher plants, which use a different method for the same bug-devouring outcome. I also like that you can smell vanilla or cinnamon, then get to see what the source plant looks like. Finally, the Conservatory looks like the building on the back of a nickel (AKA Monticello), so it's like walking into money! The Conservatory is located near the American Art building and the Chinese Garden.

Click here to go to their Web site.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Nickel Diner

OK, I wasn't planning on doing another foodie posting quite so soon, but after a meal at the Nickel Diner on Main Street downtown, I had to reconsider. I went with a group of 10, and there were no unhappy campers. I split a Lowrider burger with poblano chili and pepperjack cheese and the Smac and Cheese with such creamy, croutony yumminess you just smile as your arteries are clogging on the spot. Desserts are also stellar. Our group shared s'mores cake (smelled like you were sitting by the campfire once lit up with the blowtorch), red velvet cake, and my rock star of the pastry planet right now - salt peanut cake. Peanut butter, chocolate and I think crunched-up potato chips. Need I say more?! Shown here is their version of a Pop Tart. They also have a Ding Dong on the menu. Not to worry, I'll let you know how these are as I will be back. They have catfish on the menu, and it's purring my name already.

Click here to go to their Web site.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Clifton's Cafeteria

My first venture into the fine dining options available in LA has to be Clifton's Cafeteria! Located on Broadway between the historic theatres, Clifton's is the coolest cafeteria I've ever been to. In addition to the classic plastic trays sliding on metal tracks and little bowls of bean salad and my beloved confetti jello, Clifton's is decorated like a redwood forest with carved bears and flowing streams. My favorite spot is the second floor, preferably on the railing, where I can see the moose head nestled in the trees and the glowing moon and owl. Word on the street is that Mr. Walt Disney himself frequented Clifton's when he was an animator, and it served as his inspiration for Disneyland. Oh, and at Christmas, just imagine the bonus decorations on all the trees. Then go see it for yourself.

Click here to go to their Web site.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Broadway Theatres

Last Remaining Seats, the fabulous summer movie series from the Los Angeles Conservancy, is starting May 27th. This is the Los Angeles Theatre, location for two of the six films. The other theatres utilized this season are the Million Dollar and the Orpheum. Some of the evening programs are already sold out, so take advantage of what is still available. Classic movies in historic movie palaces make for an evening of pure entertainment. I'm especially looking forward to the opening night show with Charles Phoenix AND the Orpheum's pipe organ pre-show. Throw in some confetti jello and other nibbles from Clifton's Cafeteria beforehand, and this girl's content!