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Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A. 1945-1980, Los Angeles

By Conde Nast Traveler Thursday, November 03 11:52 AM

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Los Angeles's edgier side sometimes gets lost among the Botox and bling of tabloid Hollywood. Yet SoCal has long been a locus of left-field creative endeavors. That's why we're loving Pacific Standard Time, an ambitious six-month project exploring the often turbulent history of art in L.A. Sixty cultural institutions in the area are taking part by hosting exhibitions, performances, and concerts now through March 2012.

The Pacific Standard Time Performance and Public Art Festival, meanwhile, slated for January 19-29, will restage performance pieces and seminal works. For Accidents in Abstract Painting at the Armory Center for the Arts, for example, Richard Jackson will load a large-scale model airplane full of paint and then crash it into a wall. We can't wait to see whether the performance--originally staged in 2003 at Zurich's Hauser & Wirth gallery--makes as much of a splash this time around.

Photo: Courtesy of Harry Gamboa, Jr.; © 1974 Harry Gamboa, Jr.

Shore Hotel, Santa Monica, California

By Conde Nast Traveler Monday, October 24 09:10 AM

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You drove your Prius to the airport, bought carbon offset credits for your flight, even saved your leftover pretzels to compost back home. And now you have a place to lay your head guilt-free, thanks to Santa Monica's new Shore Hotel, the only LEED Silver-certified property in the city.

Half of the building materials were "upcycled," the pool is solar-heated, a Green Concierge directs guests to nearby eco-friendly businesses. And the building itself, designed by L.A. firm Gensler Architects, is quite the looker. The 164 rooms have bright poppy- and turquoise-accented interiors, custom teak furnishings, and balconies that overlook the Pacific. Hotels of green, skies of blue, what a wonderful world.

Photo: Courtesy of Skott Snider

Hotel Lautner, Desert Hot Springs, California

By Conde Nast Traveler Thursday, September 29 10:21 AM

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Those gentle tulip curves, those slender tapered legs. You've always had a thing for midcentury modern. But she's starting to look a little cheap these days, what with everyone from Urban Outfitters to Walmart knocking her off. What you need is to get back to the source, at the Hotel Lautner in Desert Hot Springs, California.

Interior designer Tracy Beckmann and furniture designer Ryan Trowbridge have completely restored this 1947 icon, which architect John Lautner originally created as a prototype for desert living. You'll find vintage furniture by a who's who of midcentury talents (the likes of Milo Baughman, Harry Bertoia, and Sigurd Russell) inside the concrete and redwood hotel. The four suites, lit by geometric shafts of sun filtered through skylights, are surrounded on three sides by gardens of succulents, and the new owners have added a pool. If that doesn't rekindle your midcentury love affair, perhaps the hexagonal fire pit will.

Photo: Courtesy of Hotel Lautner

Young & Free Exhibition, San Francisco

By Conde Nast Traveler Tuesday, September 27 07:00 AM

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Australia, it seems, is a hotbed of street art. But if a trip down under is looking unlikely anytime soon, you can check out the U.S.A.'s biggest exhibit of Aussie urban art at San Francisco gallery 941 Geary. The Young & Free show brings together a diverse group of mixed media artists, wheat-pasters, and spray-painters.

Running through October 22, the exhibit includes mixed media pieces by Reka, haunting aerosol portraits by Ha-Ha, and gold-leaf skulls by Vexta. Those who wish to take one home, be forewarned: Taggers' work commands a high price these days--possibly as much as a plane ticket to Melbourne.

Photo: The Kelly Gang series, from left: Steve and Ned by Reka, courtesy of 941 Geary

Mateo's Cocina Latina, Healdsburg, California

By Conde Nast Traveler Friday, September 23 07:00 AM

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Oenophile gridlock. Dot-com blowhards pontificating on tannins. We hate to be whiny winos, but if there's one thing California wine country needs, it's a shot of tequila. Thankfully, chef Mateo Granados has answered our plea with a new Yucatán-inspired restaurant in the tony hamlet of Healdsburg.

Granados shored up his Sonoma cred with roving restaurant Tendejon de la Calle but is now ready to put down roots in a rustic-modern space heavy on salvaged materials, along with a communal dining garden. You can watch him work his magic in the open kitchen, adding French flare to Yucatán Peninsula favorites like achiote marinades, homemade habañero salsas, and pit-roasted pork. And, of course, there's the fully stocked tequila bar--just the thing to wash away grape fatigue.

Photo: Courtesy of Mateo's Cocina Latina

Fred Segal Lending Library, Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel

By Conde Nast Traveler Tuesday, September 06 11:33 AM

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You were so busy California dreaming, you forgot to pack your favorite studded clutch. Now what? Well, if you're staying at the Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel, you can just check one out from the property's new accessories library.

Guests staying in suites at the 342-room oceanfront hotel will have complimentary access to a curated collection of designer goods starting today, courtesy of the new Fred Segal Lending Library. So you now can borrow an oversize snakeskin cuff or classic Ray-Bans, statement cocktail rings or funky fedoras, all plucked straight from Los Angeles's cult designer department store. There goes your last excuse for not packing light.

Photo: Courtesy of Loews Hotels

Ink, Los Angeles

By Conde Nast Traveler Tuesday, August 23 07:00 AM

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Chef Michael Voltaggio knows a thing or two about ink: Not only are his arms covered in the stuff, but plenty has been spilled over his talents, thanks to star-making stints at José Andrés's Bazaar at SLS Hotel and Charlie Palmer's Dry Creek Kitchen. (Did we mention he also won the sixth season of Bravo's Top Chef?)

Come September, the 32-year-old chef is opening the doors to his long-awaited signature restaurant--called, you guessed it, Ink--on L.A.'s Melrose Avenue. While the menu is still under wraps, expect unorthodox creations like Voltaggio's cult pigeon pastrami. And an eight-person omakase-style bar off the main dining room will offer a prix-fixe chef's choice tasting.

Can't wait until September to get your Ink fix? Mosey down the block to newly minted sandwich shop Ink.Sack, serving up banh mi (Voltaggio's version uses chicharrónes) and Reubens made with corned beef tongue. Grab a pen, you'll want to write this one down.

Photo: Courtesy of Bart Nagel

Vodvil, Los Angeles

By Conde Nast Traveler Friday, July 29 07:00 AM

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It's game on for Vodvil, L.A.'s newest adult entertainment venue. But before you grab that pile of $1 bills, you should know that this adult entertainment comes with a PG rating. And prizes.

Vodvil is like game night for the stiletto set, with trivia, game show-style challenges, charades, and other classic fun. Tables play against each other for prizes such as penny candy or donations to charities. The look is haute-1960s rec room, with lemon, lime, and orange retro furniture. The menu includes pretzel bites, chips with onion dip, and bowls of punch (try the No Whammies with whiskey, elderflower liqueur, and lemon juice). Add the private karaoke rooms, and it's pretty much the most fun you can have with your clothes on.

Photo: Courtesy of Vodvil

District 13, Los Angeles

By Conde Nast Traveler Thursday, July 21 05:34 PM

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Cultural appropriation goes both ways, it seems. While Angelenos are busy installing East Asian meditation gardens and yoga studios up in the Hills, popular Hollywood Thai restaurant Soi 56 was reincarnated last Friday as District 13, a gourmet SoCal version of a hofbrauhaus.

The restaurant features an industrial urban design, with graffiti murals and TVs tuned to sports and Speed networks. Former Soi 56 chef Aoi Ratanamanee's menu is similarly no-nonsense, with an emphasis on beer and brats and other tried-and-true brew foods like mini pizzas, fish 'n' chips, and peanut butter pie for dessert. Pick from 18 different kinds of wieners (including beef, lamb, duck foie gras, alligator, and vegan chipotle), eight dipping sauces for your fries (wasabi mayo, tzatziki yogurt), and more than 19 draft beers from the Golden State. If you're still craving that Thai heat, top your meat with some red rooster sriracha chile sauce. Did you know it's actually made in California? Fancy that.

Photo: Courtesy of LM&A

Boxing Room, San Francisco

By Conde Nast Traveler Thursday, June 23 10:02 AM

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Creole cuisine bubbled up out of a mixture of cultures. So why shouldn't you throw a few more ingredients into the gumbo? That's the idea at San Francisco's Boxing Room, a New Orleans-flavored restaurant and bar that's just opened in Hayes Valley. The space, formerly a packing room of a shirt factory (hence the name), reflects a mix of influences: Douglas fir walls and reclaimed Monterey cypress say California, while the zinc bar and faux-alligator stools nod toward the Big Easy.

Chef and Louisiana native Justin Simoneaux includes seasonal Californian ingredients in traditional Cajun and Creole dishes. The results? A salad of fried Pacific oysters dressed in Herbsainte vinaigrette, perhaps, or grilled Monterey squid with tasso, roasted-garlic aioli, and fried okra. With food like this, everyone's a lover, not a fighter. "Laissez les bon temps rouler."

Photo: Courtesy of Boxing Room

ArtPad SF, San Francisco

By Conde Nast Traveler Thursday, May 19 07:00 AM

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When you go on vacation to relax, running around a city trying to catch all the latest art exhibitions can be counterproductive. But what if all those events were brought to your hotel? Well, lazy traveler, you're in luck. Starting tomorrow, the new ArtPad SF art festival is checking in to San Francisco's Phoenix Hotel until May 22.

You can watch performance pieces as you sit by the pool, and see the work of emerging and established artists from some of the Bay Area's top galleries, including the White Walls Gallery, which is showing Shepard Fairey's work. And those suckers who decided to pursue a culture fix all over town will end up at your hotel for video art screenings, live bands, and DJs. 'Cause after the art party, there's the after-party.

Photo: Clockwise from left, Alexis Laurent, Les Chardons, Courtesy of LTMH Gallery; Aaron Parazette, Color Key 16, Courtesy of Gregory Lind Gallery; Shepard Fairey, Rise Above Fist, Courtesy of White Walls Gallery; EINE, The Bigger, Brighter, Louder, Faster, Courtesy of White Walls Gallery.

L.A. Delivers Mail-Order Munchies

By Conde Nast Traveler Thursday, May 12 07:00 AM

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Your next meal in L.A.? Signed, sealed, and delivered at Manhattan Beach Post, a new restaurant located in a former post office in a boho beachy community of southwest L.A.

From the open kitchen, chef and co-owner David LeFevre, formerly of the shmancy Water Grill, sends out hearty shared plates to the funky vintage-style dining room, with walls of mismatched reclaimed wood, lab stools, and old industrial lights. Fleur de sel soft pretzels come with house-made mustards. Bacon cheddar biscuits are slathered in Vermont maple butter. Then there are the seafood dishes LeFevre is known for, such as green curry mussels with Vietnamese sausage and sticky rice. Wash it all down with the only-in-L.A. take on a Manhattan: whiskey, vermouth, and sea salt-caramel bitters in a glass rimmed in bacon dust--strong enough to make you go postal.

Photo: Courtesy of Manhattan Beach Post

Locanda, San Francisco, California

By Conde Nast Traveler Sunday, May 08 12:53 PM

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Brought to you by the fine folks behind cult San Francisco restaurant Delfina, the Mission District's newest arrival, Locanda, is an update on Rome's family-style eateries. Traditional Thonet bentwood chairs, candles flickering in old anchovy tins, and geometric wall tiles give this open, loftlike space a warm, contemporary feel.

Since this is San Francisco, seasonal local produce can be taken for granted (the pancetta couldn't be more local--it's cured in-house). However, there's no nattering about farms and free-range this and that on the menu of Roman pasta classics, including cacio e pepe and bucatini all'amatriciana. There's also a nod to the Eternal City's love affair with entrails. Fear not: Locanda's capable crew can win over the most determined sweetbreads skeptics. But there's only one way to put that to the test.

Photo: Courtesy of Eric Wolfinger

Lexington Social House, Los Angeles

By Conde Nast Traveler Thursday, April 28 01:33 PM

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The new Lexington Social House brings a dose of cool to what was once L.A.'s most (in)famous intersection: Hollywood and Vine. Hookers and panhandlers, out; Victorian wallpaper, pressed-tin ceilings, and Carrara marble bar, in.

There's also some serious muscle in the kitchen: Chef Mette Williams honed her craft in the celeb-driven fires of Spago, Cut, and, most recently, Soho House in West Hollywood. The latter stint no doubt influenced Lexington Social House's casual private-club vibe and elegantly rustic menu (fried chicken, confit pork belly, crab salad). On the libations front, there are craft beers and artisanal cocktails featuring Earl Grey bourbon, peanut rum, and other house-infused tipples.

But don't get too cozy. Twice-weekly dance parties are slated for the coming months. Until then, L.A.'s pretty people will keep things hot around the garden's outdoor fireplace, nestled safely away from the paparazzi. And those fried-chicken calories.

Photo: Ryan Forbes, Avablu

Wilson and Wilson, San Francisco

By Conde Nast Traveler Thursday, April 21 01:33 PM

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Looking to add a little dose of intrigue to your average night out? The folks at Wilson & Wilson in San Francisco are mixing up some delicious (and drinkable) mystery on a nightly basis. Hidden down a series of passageways, through an unmarked door in Bourbon & Branch bar, the newly opened Wilson & Wilson got its name from a driver's license found in a purse wedged into the wall of this former speakeasy. How's that for a shadowy origin story?

Cocktails have names like "Truth Serum" (Highland Park whisky, Amaro Nonino, brown sugar cinnamon syrup, sarsaparilla aromatic bitters, licorice root), but this is no kitschy theme bar. Here you'll find some of San Fran's most talented mixologists, and an undercover cool vibe--think Sam Spade's office, only bathed in flickering candlelight. And the three-cocktail tasting menu might just give you the liquid courage to invite that doe-eyed dame by the door for a teapot tipple-for-two. Where it goes from there, well, we'll leave that to you, gumshoe.

Photo: Courtesy of Wilson & Wilson

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Prices and other information were accurate at press time, but are subject to change. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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