By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
BEST COFFEE SHOP FOR MUSICIANS
Café de Leche, located on the corner of York Boulevard and Avenue 52 in the increasingly gentrified neighborhood of Highland Park, seems to have satisfied the communal hunger that the growing ramshackle hipster contingent was craving. Already appearing in a New York Times piece about the changing face of Highland Park, the always-crowded café seems to have become the locus for such convergences — a positive or negative turn of events, depending on who you ask. As in: You can go there and see cute boys and girls in ratty-tatty clothes; when could you ever get anything in Highland Park except a good taco? It is not uncommon now to walk into the bright, open coffee shop and see Luke of Lucky Dragons, Rob Barber of High Places, or either Hecuba member tooling away on their laptops, giant earphones in place. Members of Silk Flowers were spotted during a recent visit to L.A. Local artists now line the boulevard with their studios, and stroll out into bright sunshine to grab a drink. Aside from an amazing array of musical and artistic hotness lurking at every booth, the coffee shop also boasts a great new drink: iced horchata and espresso, a perfect drink to cool off with while heating up. 5000 York Blvd., Highland Park. (323) 551-6828, cafedeleche.net. Open daily 7 a.m.-7 p.m.
BEST COMIC HANGOUT NOBODY KNOWS ABOUT
Yeah, Sunday nights at the Unknown Theater have featured drop-ins by the likes of Jim Gaffigan, Neal Brennan, Brett Ernst, Chris Porter and Bryan Callen. And how cool is it that Bobby Lee is content to mingle without going up, while Bill Burr enjoys playing drums in the postshow musical jams? But here’s the real kicker: $5 scores all the Bud and Bud Light you can pour down your gullet. Is it any wonder the 3 1/2-year-old weekly show attracts both regulars and after-work employees from the legit clubs? Not that 100 or so folks milling about in the cavernous, multimedia space is anything to sneeze at, but for Sean “Sax” Carr, who serves as Unknown’s director of promotions, and whose Insiders of Comedy recently took over the evening, it’s all about growth. “We don’t exploit the comics or the audience. We don’t do bringers; we don’t have drink minimums. We just want everyone to hang out and have a good time.” 1110 Seward St., L.A. (323) 466-7781, unknowntheater.com.
BEST COSTUMES ’N’ KARAOKE BAR
Dimples is an often-rowdy Valley bar and restaurant that fills up most nights with groups of friends who arrive together to support the bad singers among them (though a lot of amazingly good singers can be heard each night, too). But singing talent doesn’t really matter, because the real attraction here is the chance to don hats, boas, fur jackets and masks provided for anyone with the nerve to get up and sing. Everyone is videotaped, so Dimples attracts the extroverts — even for karaoke — and things get bawdy. Huge bouncers are part of the décor, as are the hot hostesses. Owner, host and world traveler Sal Ferraro, and his frequent co-host, former executive VP of Polygram records, Dick Kline, hold court, greet patrons, mingle with customers and keep the fun going. It’s all about instant gratification in a rough but accepting environment: Each singer gets to see a video of himself shown in instant replay for the entire restaurant as the next crooner gets ready to go onstage. 3413 W. Olive Ave., Burbank. (818) 842-2336, dimplesshowcase.com.
BEST CLUB THE BLACK CAT DRAGGED IN
Every Wednesday through Sunday at 11 p.m., Lady Gaga’s club jams slowly fade away as El Show de Maritza y Sus Divas takes over the stage at Silver Lake watering hole Le Barcito. Decked out in glitter-flecked gowns and flashing beauty-pageant grins, the performers engage the crowd in a drag revue set completely to Spanish pop songs. If you’re itching to see drag queens lip-synch to songs that don’t involve Beyoncé, this is the place to go. Le Barcito typically has no cover charge, and drink specials aplenty. Sunday’s beer bust features shows at 7 and 11 p.m., often with guest performers. More important is the venue’s history: In 1967, the club was known as the Black Cat. A New Year’s Eve police raid led to the first major gay-rights protest in L.A. Le Barcito won historic status earlier this year, which made it more than a club with a fun drag show. 3909 Sunset Blvd., L.A. (323) 644-3515, lebarcito.com.
BEST DRAG NIGHT, OR, BEST PLACE TO BUST AN ARTY MOVE OR NUT
J.D. Sampson, Brian Degraw of Gang Gang Dance, Penny Arcade, Hecuba, Nite Jewel, Mirror Mirror, Barr, A.L. Steiner and many other amazing performers have done their drag thing at Wildness, the weekly Tuesday tranny/arty/hipster night at Koreatown’s Silver Platter. Happening for a little more than a year, the spot is a weekly dose of OMG and WTF, as a kaleidoscope of outfits and hairdos breeze past on their way to the back table to eat the complimentary chips and (sometimes) free tamales. The place has the tinge of ’80s N.Y. downtown — before things turned dark and sad. Wildness’ most memorable Tuesday so far was last November, when Barack Obama won the presidency. Artists, locals, ladies of the night, hipsters, trust-funders and others all pressed together to dance, chant and pump their fists for a nation that celebrated individualism as a strength rather than a hurdle. Neon-manicured fists, dirty, bit nails, fake eyelashes and weaves came together in unity and sweated it out on the smoky dance floor. It was emblematic of a club that continues to pour positive energy into good times and grooviness — the ultimate symbol of universal love. 2700 W. 7th St., Koreatown; realwildness.com.Tues., 10 p.m.-2 a.m.