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Hotel Bel-Air, Los Angeles

By Conde Nast Traveler Wednesday, November 09 11:34 AM

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The '60s have Mad Men, and the '20s have Boardwalk Empire. But what about the golden intervening years? Mr. Sorkin, do we have a pitch for you: a drama based at the 103-room Hotel Bel-Air, that glam hideaway of Hollywood stars of the '40s, '50s, and today. Fresh from a two-year restoration, the French Deco-meets-Spanish Colonial set is ready, Wolfgang Puck is on craft services, and the extras are already boldface.

New additions to the lush 12-acre property include a La Prairie spa and fitness studio, seven open-plan suites (some with grand pianos and private pools), and 12 loftlike hillside accommodations with canyon views and outdoor fireplaces on spacious decks. Like the hotel's signature swans, the faultless service remains the same. It's a wrap.

Photo: Courtesy of Hotel Bel-Air

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.

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

StandART 2011, The Standard Hotels

By Conde Nast Traveler Wednesday, June 29 07:00 AM

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Feeling guilty for spending your trip shopping and boozing instead of getting your culture on? Well, the fine folks at The Standard Hotels have partnered up with arty nonprofit Creative Time to absolve you of your vacation sins with StandART 2011.

Contemporary artists including Terence Koh and Slater Bradley have created a video art installation to run on all televisions in The Standard's hotels in New York City, Miami Beach, Downtown L.A., and Hollywood until the end of the year. From social commentary to bunny narratives, they're a real trip.

Photo: Allison Schulnik's Forest, courtesy of The Standard Hotels

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

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

Beacher's Madhouse, Los Angeles

By Conde Nast Traveler Friday, April 08 03:55 PM

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Beacher's Madhouse, a 1920s-style cabaret in the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, is the most over-the-top bar to open in Los Angeles in years (and this is not a city known for subtlety).

Let us show you to your seat--it's just past the sexy librarian, through a trick bookcase wall, and inside a giant golden birdcage. Order at the Midget Bar (we don't make the names, it's labeled that way in neon), where a little person will make you mini cocktails in mini glasses. Looking for table service? A waiter flying through the air on a pulley system delivers the drinks. And don't get us started on the madcap cast of contortionists, monkeys, and mini Lady Gagas onstage. Oh, and half-naked ladies, too. This is L.A., after all.

Photo: Courtesy of Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel

Wood & Vine, Los Angeles

By Conde Nast Traveler Thursday, March 17 06:35 PM

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Today, your average American is gearing up to throw back a green beer (or four) in honor of St. Patrick's Day. But when it comes to drinking, you've always been above average. So we suggest that you celebrate like the real Irish do, with serious alcohol and people who know how to drink it.

Sure, the new Wood & Vine in Hollywood isn't an Irish bar, but that's exactly its selling point on this most green of days. Instead of elbowing through the amateur masses, you can sip one of the bar's small-batch whiskeys from the comfort of a buttery leather armchair. And you can't help but find the craic among the pretty people who flock here for truffled duck-fat fries. Good food, good friends, good drink. Just as St. Patty would have wanted it.

Photo: Courtesy of Wood & Vine

Ray's and Stark Bar, Los Angeles County Museum of Art

By Conde Nast Traveler Friday, March 11 07:17 PM

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Los Angeles
has its fair share of beautiful people. So it makes sense that one of the city's top museums would want to put that beauty on display. Enter Ray's and Stark Bar, the newest addition to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, named for Ray Stark, the late film producer and former LACMA trustee.

Ray's glass-box design, by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Renzo Piano, makes people the exhibit. Outside, museumgoers observe diners noshing on seasonal Mediterranean fare prepared by chef Kris Morningstar (formerly of District and Mercantile). Inside, diners survey museumgoers frolicking in Chris Burden's famous lamp-post installation, Urban Light. The open-air Stark Bar offers similar people-watching opportunities as well as market-fresh cocktails. Just don't overdo it and make an exhibition of yourself.

Photo: Courtesy of Dustin Downing

Aburiya Toranoko, Los Angeles

By Conde Nast Traveler Thursday, January 20 11:42 AM

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Here are two words for those of you who are guilty of ordering the same old dish at the same old restaurant month after month: Aburiya Toranoko. Go there, order the shiokara-marinated intestines, and open your palate to a whole new set of sensations. Good ones, we hasten to add.

Aburiya Toranoko, opening tomorrow in downtown L.A.'s Little Tokyo, is the latest offering from Michael Cardenas, who also owns the Lazy Ox Canteen next door. Alongside those intestines, you might also like the miso-marinated beef tongue. But don't worry, there are plenty of play-it-safe dishes on the menu, too, from sumiyaki to sushi--all expertly created by former Nobu Matsuhisa chefs.

As you'd expect from an izakaya cocktail bar, the menu includes an extensive sake selection as well as plum wine, Japanese beers, and cocktails with an Asian twist-- surefire ways to guarantee you won't chicken out.

Photo: Courtesy of Elizabeth Daniels

 

Simplethings Sandwich & Pie Shop, Los Angeles, California

By Conde Nast Traveler Friday, November 12 10:55 AM

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Feeling overwhelmed? The complexity of life getting you down? We have the answer: Pie. There are few things more comforting--perhaps it's the taste of simpler times, when your meals were home-cooked and you didn't have to pay rent. From next week, Angelenos can get back to basics at Simplethings, a quaint little shop selling pies and sandwiches that's sure to become a standout among L.A.'s innumerable girly cupcake and frozen yogurt joints.

This Third Street shop will offer five or six sweet and savory pies daily, as well as two or three specials, including executive chef Carrie Cusack's signature Missouri Mud Pie. And since they come in individual four-inch sizes, you can also take home a sampler six-pack. Now, that's a whole lot of comfort.

Photo: Simplethings

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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