Best of L.A.

Best Of 2009


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  • + West Hollywood
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Bars & Clubs

Food & Drink

People & Places

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Best Of :: Bars & Clubs

UCLA and USC Open Studio Nights

UCLA and USC host open studio nights about twice a year, and they usually list them on the art-school Web sites. What's the draw? A night of wine, cheese and art being offered by some of the premier graduate art schools in the country, and a bevy of smart, well-dressed and well-connected arty types. Basically, a wonderful opportunity to make a lo-o-o-ve connection. Hecuba and Pacific Trim played at the last USC open studio, and the thing turned into an all-night party as kids wandered in and out of the studios, lounged on scrappy couches and nibbled on Trader Joe's snacks. Beware the cigarette smoke, confusing art films and the pantheon of Snobby McSnobbersins, the latter of whom will most likely be disgusted that this tip was published. Consumerism, baby! Eat it up. You're going to have to find a new place to hate, because we're blowin' up your spot! UCLA: (310) 825-0557; USC: (213) 743-1804.

—Nikki Darling
665 Exposition Blvd., Los Angeles, 90089
Westwood Blvd. & LeConte Ave., Westwood, 90024
Bouzy, La Cabaña and Mucho Ultima Mexicana

There's only one way to drink a frosty, get-your-head-spinning citrus-tequila blend — and that's near the beach. If you're going to knock back the hallmark drink of spring break you might as well feel like you're on vacation. The city is home to showy flaming margaritas, cotton candy-based margaritas, and $2 specials, but it's in the beach towns that you'll find the signature Mexican drink paired with happy hour truffle fries and late-night "hand-hacked" guacamole. He'll say: If the tequila you're drinking isn't 100 percent Agave, it ain't real tequila. And freshly squeezed lime and lemon juices are supremely important. She'll say: Not too much ice or salt, and its got to have a kick to it ... you want to be buzzed all the way to the sand. He: Margaritas are serious business at Bouzy in Redondo Beach during their "Happy Cocktail Hour." They have potent, lip-smacking libations for $4. Plus, their truffle fries and "Kogi" hot dogs are fresh twists on favored classics. She: The staff is easy-on-the-eyes at Bouzy and you'll love their sleek leather booths. But if you must have your chips and salsa, and want to feel like you're in a foreign land, then it's La Cabaña in Venice. They use fresh limes and have more than 20 varieties of margaritas, like coconut or banana. He: Banana margaritas just sound wrong. She: You also need to hit up Mucho Ultima Mexicana in Manhattan Beach for their late-night specials. But it's only $5 for house margaritas and they've got BBQ shrimp tacos. He: Is that the swanky restaurant that serves 150 types of tequilas? She: So amazing. Their "Mucho Margarita" beats the overhyped Cabo Wabo and Sharkeez any day. He: If you're looking for fruity, ice-blended margaritas to swill on sultry nights, Mucho is a choice spot. Bouzy, 1611 S. Catalina Ave., Redondo Beach. (310) 540 1222; La Cabaña, 738 Rose Ave., Venice. (310) 392-7973; Mucho Ultima Mexicana, 903 Manhattan Ave., Manhattan Beach. (310) 374-4422.

—Kee Chang and Sophia Kercher
1611 S. Catalina Ave., Redondo Beach, 90277
738 Rose Ave., Venice, 90291
903 Manhattan Ave., Manhattan Beach, 90266

Michael Stock's years hunched over boxes of records, trolling for vinyl treasure, certainly has paid off. Every Thursday afternoon Angelenos benefit from the staggering breadth of his musical archive. Stock is half of Part Time Punks (with Benjamin White), the duo who put on the eponymous Tuesday night series at the Echo, which means he's keyed into happenings on the local scene. He's been DJing for the past two years in clubs all over the city, including Spaceland, Silverlake Lounge, Tangier and the Vanguard, and has even taught a course at UCI on punk rock and the cinema. Can he be long-winded and verbose? Occasionally. Is he informative? You bet. There's much to be transmitted from Stock's encyclopedic brain, so give him a break. Tune in Thursdays and catch surf punk, scratchy R&B records, new pop, indie, experimental electronica, old Goth hits from the crypt, and international post-punk colliding on air. This professor, booker, promoter, DJ, human database of musical knowledge and radio personality has something to offer everybody. P.S. What did you do today, Jim Ladd? Thursdays, 2-6 p.m. on KXLU 88.9 FM.

—Wendy Gilmartin
The Smell

With all due respect to Echo Curio, host to a consistently compelling combination of outsider art both audio and visual, Jim Smith's The Smell remains the single best venue for showgoers of all ages to experience not only the music of their peers, but that of some bona fide legends, to boot. Despite its rising profile, the downtown venue has kept admission cheap (almost always $5) and its M.O. intact: to play host to the noisiest, messiest, most genreless and generally outside-of-the-box hand-hewn musical experiments around, while maintaining a downright wholesome sense of community fueled by vegan pancake brunches, haircut parties and a generous library of nifty zines. And of course, it's still the home base of local heroes like No Age, HEALTH, Abe Vigoda, and Mika Miko — not to mention possible future stars like Pocahaunted and Widow Babies — as well as the stopping point of choice for Thurston Moore when he's taking time off from Sonic Youth. What's more, the Smell offers myriad ways for youth to get involved, whether behind the scenes or working the front door. 247 S. Main St., dwntwn.

—Chris Martins
247 S. Main St., Los Angeles, 90012

Straddling Echo Park's south side and downtown, L'Keg sits tucked between a rotisserie-chicken restaurant and a vinyl–sign-making shop, downplaying its claustrophobic, punk-rock interior with a quiet exterior in the daytime but lighting up when night falls — long after the strip mall's other tenants have left for the day. L'Keg — named after a line in the film Velvet Goldmine (L.K.E.G. is an abbreviation of "Lipstick Kissed Elbow Glove") is, at its heart, a gallery/project space launched by members of the local band Blue Jungle. Exhibitions consist of crafty arts, pop illustrations, photography and heavy-on-the-graphic-design works on paper. But its founders — Cory Myrick, Leticia Llesmin, Nosebleed and Shannon Paley — know that rocking, too, is an art, so they've opened the space to homegrown bands of every persuasion, including Torches in Trees, Bi-polar Bear, Man's Assassination Man, Foot Village, Puppy Dog, and the folksy Leslie and the Badgers, to name a few. In addition to the venue that L'Keg offers to spotlight great local bands, the space is also a distributor of records and publications for local artsy/musical folk, and hosts occasional outlying events, like Sunday hangover poetry parties and screenings of teenage snuff films. 311 Glendale Blvd., Echo Park.

—Wendy Gilmartin
311 Glendale Blvd., Los Angeles, 90026

Touting itself as "Valley chic," Moon Shadow Lounge in North Hollywood, more often known as NoHo, offers a regular happy hour, go-go dancers, live music and Sunday brunch. You can play darts or pool, dance to DJ Boulevard's spinning of hip-hop and electronica on Saturday nights, or sing karaoke on Tuesday nights with host KJ Tony, who offers more than 60,000 song choices. The bar has multiple TV screens tuned to pro football, baseball and basketball. The lounge has such a great vibe that it's been featured in lesbian films such as But I'm a Cheerleader, Girl Play and A Marine Story. It's also a fun jaunt into the Valley if you live, or party, on what 1.6 million Valleyites call "the other side of the hill." 10437 Burbank Blvd., N. Hlywd. (818) 508-7008,

—Patrick Range McDonald
10437 Burbank Blvd., North Hollywood, 91601



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