DineLA Starts Today

Los Angeles Restaurant Week starts again today, running through Friday and then again from October 11-16. Meaning you can get the special menus every day but Saturday. Over 250 restaurants have signed up, so there are plenty of deals to be had at some of the hottest restaurants around. Participating restaurants offer three course meals for lunch and dinner at a fixed price ranging from $16 to $44. Drinks, taxes and gratuity are not included. Go ahead and browse the hot list of who’s in and what’s for dinner here. Highlights include Asian spiced pork ribs and Mexican donuts at Asia de Cuba, chile rubbed mahi mahi and goat milk cajeta flan at Ciudad, and sirloin steak with honey poached Seckel pears at Nick & Stef’s.

This is the second helping of Restaurant Week this year for Los Angeles, and it’s a great opportunity to check out some places you’ve never been before. The more popular restaurants fill up fast, so it’s best to make a reservation, which you can do on the DineLA site, or by contacting the restaurants directly.

Recessionista Barhopper’s Delight: Soup Kitchen @ Edison

imageTough times call for tough measures. Like toughing it out in Los Angeles five o’clock traffic going from the West Side to the East Side. For those of you who live somewhere else, this is a painfully dull, slow-moving slog wherein you lose an hour of your life trying to get 11 miles away. Why suffer? Well, we decided on a whim to try out recessionista happy hour at ultra beautiful retro bar The Edison. From 5 to 7 p.m., “Friday Soup Kitchen” offers a 35-cent cocktail and complimentary grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup (25 percent of the proceeds go to local food banks and charities).

After trudging our way through Venice Boulevard, we landed Downtown just in time to sample the special menu. Upon entry in the cavernous club, we were given two tickets: one for the drink, one for the cheese and soup. Though the drink they were serving for that particular week — the gin daisy, made with gin, lemon juice, sugar, and grenadine syrup — was probably stronger and tastier than we were anticipating, let’s just say in terms of size, you get what you pay for. The drink was served in a tiny glass, and was barely half full. The cheese and soup combo was even tinier … thimble-sized tasting of admittedly delicious soup, and thumb-sized bits of sandwich. It was a great way to get us really hungry and thirsty, and was more like a sampling than an actual portion, or even a half portion.

So we ordered some more food, which failed to come 30 minutes later, and more drinks, which also failed to arrive, and finally, after complaining, an employee nicely hurried everything out and comped us, which was a fair trade. Some places just pout when you complain.

The amazing thing about the Edison is that it’s this gigantic, overwhelming space that still manages to preserve a semblance of intimacy. We scored a two-top table in one of the side rooms, surrounded by lush curtains and feeling cozy under the low light amongst dark-colored wood and Tiffany lamps. When the girl with the butterfly outfit and the absinthe cart rolled by, we were a tad tempted.

We’d do Soup Kitchen again if we were already near downtown, but we’re not sure anything is worth that drive. Still, timed right, we could hit up a couple of other cheap drinks Downtown: The Edison’s Thursday-night special (also from 5 to 7) features a 1910 martini at a 1910 price; pair with Ciudad’s happy hour (Monday through Friday, 4 to 7), where you get mojitos, sangrias, beer, and wine for $4.50 a pop. That would get you just fuzzy enough to shake the work day.

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Earth Hour 2009

imageThis Saturday, cities all around the world are participating in a little thing called “Earth Hour“. From 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. local time, the lights are going out. Restaurants are serving by candlelight, hotels are creating entire packages around the event, and monuments like the Golden Gate Bridge and the Eiffel Tower will go dim for the 60-minute tribute to promoting awareness about climate change.

In New York, the Empire State Building, the Coca-Cola Billboard in Times Square, and NYU are just a few of the businesses participating. In Los Angeles, Border Grill, O-Bar, and Ciudad will be participating in an hour of darkness. Las Vegas is stepping it up and turning off the “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign, and dozens of hotels, including the Wynn, Four Seasons, Golden Nugget, Paris, and Bellagio are hitting the off switch as well. So if you find yourself sitting in darkness this Saturday, don’t panic; just make sure to pack a flashlight.

Los Angeles: Top 5 Happy Hours

image1. Violet (Santa Monica) – $7 apps, $7 plates, ends at 7 p.m. 2. Blowfish Sushi (West Hollywood) – $5 design your own roll, $5 sake cocktails. 3. Luna Park (Mid-City West) – Snack menu is $4.50, cocktails are $5.

4. Ciudad (Downtown) – $2, $4, and $4. Baby bites, big bites, cocktails. 5. Tangier (Los Feliz) – $5 small plates, $3 beer and wine.

LA Lesbian-Friendly Wining & Dining

imageWe covered the parties, now here’s the pads (so to speak). Ladies, meet the Los Angeles lesbian contingent. Prada mixed with trucker hats, cowboy boots and mini-skirts — there’s a veritable smorgasbord of women seeking same.

Ariya, known around town and referenced on The L Word as “Lesbian Sushi,” is a sure bet for running into the fairer sex. Any night of the week you can find the patio filled with girls. Don’t leave without ordering one or five of the OMG rolls.

Move from surf to turf at Jar, a 194’s American chop-house. Lesbian chef and owner Suzanne Tracht has a rep for some of the best steaks in Los Angeles. The bar and restaurant are packed every night of the week with the non-vegetarian varietal of lesbian. Try the burger — it’s not on the menu but is available at the bar.

Ciudad, Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger’s downtown Los Angeles restaurant, has the east-side scene covered. Don’t miss the ceviches or the Latin-influenced desserts.

Club promoters Sandy Sachs and Robin Gans of Girl Bar fame teamed up with Jeffery Sanker of White Party (though Sanker’s since moved on) to create Murano, conveniently located within stumbling distance of the best gay clubs in the area. Show up between 8 and 10 p.m. to call shotgun on the brunette with the sleeve tattoo before heading out.

Saint Felix, née Bin 8945, in West Hollywood is also a prime gathering spot for Sapphic beauties fueling up before dancing it off. Tapas, sangria, and hot waitstaff make an irresistible combination.