Once you’ve segued into adulthood, and luxuries such as summer vacation no longer exist, it’s really easy to get pumped about summer existing in the first place. Fantasizing about the possibilities of what you’ll do with all those extra sunlight hours is electrifying. You’ll actually get to spend a day at the beach. Or finally hike out to the Santa Monica Mountain waterfalls. In fact, you’re so intoxicated by the romance of summer you’re convinced that this will be the time when the one who never called will finally find a moment to locate your number and dial! In celebration of the upcoming July 4th holiday and the start of summer, here are our top 10 recommendations on what to do with our favorite season in Los Angeles. And if they still don’t call? Get over it. It’s Independence Day, after all.
Summer Happy Hour at Sotto
We’re not quite sure what you’ve been doing with the last year of your life if you haven’t yet made it to Sotto. Chefs Steve Samson and Zach Pollack imported a stove, brick by brick, all the way from Naples and had it built by a third-generation Italian oven-craftsman. For goodness sake, the least you could do is figure out why they went through all of that effort. Here’s your chance. For the first time this year, Sotto is launching a happy hour special from July through August where you can have one of their beautifully blistered pizzas, such as the guanciale, topped with slivers of house-cured pork cheek, ricotta, scallions and fennel pollen, and a Julian Cox cocktail for $19. Not that you needed an excuse to eat at Sotto before, but now, it would be a downright shame not to.
9575 West Pico Boulevard Los Angeles, CA 90035. (310) 277-0210. Summer Happy Hour from Tuesday – Friday, 5:30 pm – 7:30 pm, at the bar.
Host A Seafood Boil
Forget candlelight dinners – there’s something wildly sexy about summertime seafood boils: forcefully cracking open those tiny crab claws, sucking the briny juices off your fingers; the sun beating down on your back, while chilled white wine flows from the bottle through your bloodstream. Why not take advantage of participating in an event where it’s appropriate to eat with your hands? It’s quite easy to purchase fresh crawfish from Louisiana online, so start with a 15 pound order. Then mix it up with mussels, oysters, prawns and crabs. We’d suggest making crawfish etouffee with the leftovers, but frankly, we know there won’t be any.
Do yourself a favor and drive out to Boyle Heights to devour what will be the best tacos of your life. The thick, cushioned handmade tortillas are served gently toasted and garnished with a kaleidoscope of fragrant, simmered toppings. Fiery braised pork coats a smear of black beans, then is reversed with a cooling slice of avocado. Curls of shrimp are delicately charred and topped with a mess of sweet onions and peppers. Then wash back the burn with an icy Horchata, a muddied cinnamon delight. It won’t take you another long weekend to return to Guisados – fitful dreams of those impeccably dressed saucers will haunt your taste buds, and the only cure is to race back for another bite. Before you know it traveling east of the 10 will be a regular jaunt.
2100 E Cesar Chavez Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90033. (323) 264-7201.
Have A Picnic at the Hollywood Cemetery Screenings
Just because you live in the film capital of the world does not mean you have to love black and white flicks, but take a cue from us and attend a Hollywood Cemetery screening, because from a picnic standpoint, there is no better setting. Show up with several bottles of wine, two or three cheeses, a fresh baguette, grapes, a roll of salami, and you’re pretty much looking like the next Giada. Then roll out a blanket, light a candle, and gorge until you’re sure you’ll have to be buried right there next to Rudolph Valentino. It really doesn’t matter that you didn’t catch a frame of the movie because you were mindless staring at the stars and enjoying the wine coursing through your body. What matters is now you can claim you’ve dined next to Peter Lorre.
6000 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California 90038.
Experience A New Type of Cuisine
If you’re anything like us, you’ve already done the math: a normal weekend is comprised of 3 dinners and 2 brunches (Breakfast? Hardly. Rolling out of bed in time to eat the first meal of the day is nothing more than a pipe dream). And because you have a finite amount of meals, it’s that much more difficult convincing yourself to spend one of them eating something you’re unsure about. Take the long weekend, and an added meal opportunity, to try a new type of cuisine. Did you even know that L.A. is home to a “Little Bangladesh”? We recommend getting over to Fairfax for Ethiopian, or ordering a plate of cheese vareniki at Russian restaurant, Traktir. And if you find a Tibetan restaurant serving up fried momos would you mind letting us know? We’ve been searching for a while.
We understand – endeavoring to pick up a sandwich at Bay Cities is like looting a tactical supply store during a Zombiepocalypse. It’s a daunting and exasperating experience. But it’s not a thankless one. The reward is in their plump subs – bread straight from the oven, blankets of fresh deli meats and cheese layered with pepper salad and doused in Italian dressing. From the godmother to the meatball sandwich, it’s worth battling the swarming parking lot and hungry crowds to get your hands on these subs. Then head to Venice beach, dig your feet in the sand, and enjoy them in the SoCal sun.
1517 Lincoln Boulevard Santa Monica, CA 90401. (310) 395-8279.
Momed and LACMA Jazz
Two words. Duck Shawarma. At Mediterranean marketplace, Momed, this cocoon of homemade pita encases the juiciest of duck confit, packed with pungent heat and a hint of garlic. There’s also a selection of Turkish pide, creative variations on crisped flatbread, and a showcase of colorful spreads: avocado hummus, muhammara, tzatziki. Pick anything on Momed’s menu, seriously anything – it’s that good, and enjoy it on LACMA’s lawn while the sweet sound of jazz blows in the summer air. As the sun sets and your appetite is satiated, you’ll find yourself reclining in the grass. This is the best side of L.A., and sometimes you’ve just got to find time to appreciate it.
Momed, 233 South Beverly Drive, Beverly Hills, CA 90212. (310) 270-4444.
LACMA, 5905 Wilshire Boulevard Los Angeles, CA 90036. (323) 857-6000. Until September 28th, Friday nights at 6 pm.
As they should, Saturday night extravaganzas result in comatose Sunday mornings, which means you never rise in time to make it to a weekend Farmers’ Market. This is where Thursday nights at Yamashiro come in – finally a farmers market open long past sunset. A complimentary shuttle service, stationed at the Fifth Christian Science church at La Brea and Hollywood Blvd, will transport you up the hill until you find yourself overlooking the blinking lights of the city. Then you’re going to want to get in line at the taco booth where the open-faced sweet miso cod is a succulent and sophisticated rendition of the standard street taco. The duck carnitas taco is also highly addictive. We enjoy kicking back with a bottle of wine at the outdoor bar and marveling at the landscape, before returning for seconds at the taco booth.
1999 N. Sycamore Avenue Hollywood, CA 90068. (323) 466-5125.
Cook A New Recipe
Okay, that’s cute that you can mix up Bisquick pancakes and serve them to your significant other as breakfast in bed, but it’s time to get a few real recipes under your belt. You really have no excuse when epicurious.com is one click away. Start with Gourmet’s recipe for pesto, or invest in a fondue pot and all you have to do is grate some cheese and slice bread. Seduce your lover with a new dish, and they’ll be working on getting you right back under the covers.
Stock Up Your Kitchen
You’ve been meaning to do it for a while but every time you actually make it to the grocery store, it just seems so, well, difficult. But it’s time to grow up, kid. Frozen burritos and cup o’ noodle days begone. Fill your pantry with the handful of necessities you’re going to need to cook a delightful meal on a whim. Here’s a list to get you started (in an order that will hopefully help you navigate through the grocery store):
Kosher salt, whole black peppercorns, a sack of arborio rice (risotto), a box of rigatoni, a pound of spaghetti, white wine vinegar (for poaching eggs, silly), basalmic vinegar, red wine vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, canola oil, a can of anchovies (trust us – do you know how many Molto Mario recipes use anchovies? In fact, get two cans.), two cans of cannellini beans, one 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes, one 28 oz can of whole tomatoes (in juices), sriracha, Japanese panko breadcrumbs, soy sauce, dried mushrooms, corn meal, light brown sugar, white granulated sugar, vanilla extract, baking powder, baking soda, oatmeal, and every dried spice imaginable (seriously – everything from curry powder to dried sage).
Hand to heart, these pantry items will not only save you at 3 am on an evening you’re unexpectedly famished, but these ingredients will also last through countless meals.