Archive for the ‘Drinks’Category

Warm cheese and spicy cocktails at Barcito

One of downtown Los Angeles’ best low-key spots for a drink and a bite to eat is Barcito, an Argentinean-style tapas restaurant and bar.

Located in the South Park neighborhood, Barcito has been my go-to after-work hang for the past couple of years, taking over the short-lived ChocoChicken space on 12th Street. It’s easy and convenient — gratuity is included in the menu prices, and it’s within walking distance of a Metro stop. And drinks on the happy hour menu, called aperitivo hour here, come with snacks.

Food + beverage

My favorite dish at Barcito is hands-down the provoleta, grilled Argentinean provolone cheese served warm with toasted bread and a grilled half lemon. This provolone is mild in flavor and crumbly, unlike its Italian cousin. Squeeze the lemon juice over the cheese, cut off a slice of warm cheese, spread it over the toasted French bread and enjoy. So simple, so satisfying.

Provoleta at Barcito


As for drinks, I’m partial to the Paloma on tap. Barcito’s version is spicy with the addition of habanero to the requisite tequila and grapefruit.

Paloma at Barcito


During aperitivo hour, Barcito offers a cocktail, beer and a shot, or a glass of wine for $9, which includes a snack trio (nuts, olives and chips) and gratuity. Stick to the beer + shot or glass of wine for maximum value here. Also, happy hour is offered every day of the week, which should be attractive to all the people living in the nearby new apartment and condo buildings.

Barcito recently started offering breakfast and lunch, so I’m going to have stop by soon to check it out. Stay tuned!


11 2017

Punch Bowl Social Denver Offers Pumped Up Brunch

Brunch at Punch Bowl Social Denver

Brunch at Punch Bowl Social Denver

ShopEatSleep contributor Eros David has moved to Denver, expanding our coverage. Stay tuned for more from Colorado!

As the original location of the nationwide watering hole playground, Punch Bowl Social Denver took over an old Big Lots building and made it a destination for craft cocktails and scratch kitchen entrees. On the corner of 1st Ave and Broadway in the historic Baker district, the place is hard to miss with big windows and a giant neon sign.

After teaming up with Top Chef’s Hugh Acheson to revamp the menu from standard bar fare to their own take on Southern-influenced entrees and side dishes, I dropped in to check out their brunch.

The food

For starters, it might be worth grabbing a table here just for Punch Bowl Social’s biscuits. That might be blasphemous to say with Denver Biscuit Company just a few blocks down the road, but PBS really did biscuits justice here. Served with a house-made jam, the buttery-not-oily biscuits are accented with a unique strawberry jam highlighted by hints of ginger, sambal and orange zest.

Biscuit at Punch Bowl Social

Biscuit at Punch Bowl Social

The always-popular chicken and waffles is a satisfying choice at PBS. The chicken is fried with no complaints as to the technique and even has a little kick toward the end of your bites. They tell me there are no special spices on the chicken, just garlic salt and iodized salt, so it might be more sodium than anything else. It’s a solidly executed dish that won’t disappoint, but it’s not my favorite version of chicken and waffles. (That distinction goes to Black Swan in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn).

Chicken and waffles

Chicken and waffles

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09 2017

Get 15% off admission to Masters of Taste food festival

Masters of Taste

Masters of Taste

The 2nd Annual Masters of Taste, a luxury food and beverage festival, will be held May 7, 2017, on the field of the Rose Bowl in Pasadena.

Masters of Taste will bring together food and beverage from more than 70 restaurants and chefs, confectioners and bakers, bartenders, wineries, craft breweries, pressed juicers, coffee roasters, as well as live entertainment. The list includes:

Bone Kettle and Komodo, Chef Erwin Tjahyadi (Pasadena and Los Angeles)
CAST at the Viceroy Santa Monica, Chef Larry Monaco (Santa Monica)
Celestino, Chef Calogero Drago (Pasadena)
Church & State and Spring, Chef Tony Esnault (Downtown Los Angeles)
HACHÉ LA, Chef Michael “Mick” Schepers (Silver Lake)
Hamasaku, Chef Yoya Takahashi (Los Angeles)
Hyperion Public, Chef Paddy Aubrey (Silver Lake and Studio City)
Little Beast, Chef Jose Perez (Eagle Rock)
Magnolia House, Chef Evan Colter (Pasadena)
Mama Lion, Chef Michael Hung (Koreatown)
Mexikosher, Chef Katsuji Tanabi (Los Angeles)
Milk & Honey, Chef Lulu Cai (Hollywood)
Miro, Chef Gavin Mills (Downtown Los Angeles)
Momed, Chef Alex Sarkissian (Beverly Hills and Atwater Village)
SpireWorks, Chef Kuniko Yagi (Westwood Village and Eagle Rock)
Redbird, Chef Neal Fraser (Downtown Los Angeles)
The Raymond 1886, Chef Tim Guiltinan (Pasadena)
True Food Kitchen, Chef Phil Noresetter (Pasadena)
Venice Whaler, Chef Nick Liberato (Venice)

Masters of Taste, which is for those 21 years old and older only, will take place Sunday, May 7. A VIP Power Hour will be held from 3-4 p.m. and general admission from 4-7 p.m.

Tickets cost $105 for general admission and $185 for VIP. But use code SES17, specifically for ShopEatSleep readers, and get 15% off the ticket price. Buy tickets today!

Best of all? All proceeds from Masters of Taste will directly benefit Union Station Homeless Services. Last year, the event raised more than $435,000 for Union Station Homeless Services, and this year Masters of Taste hopes to reach  $560,000!

ShopEatSleep Masters of Taste


04 2017

Lauded barman Damian Windsor brings craft cocktails to the Salon in North Hollywood

The Salon is located upstairs at The Federal Bar (5303 Lankershim Boulevard) on the north side of the NoHo Arts District in North Hollywood. Walk past the art school kids you’re going to park by, skip the crowd at the main bar downstairs, and tell the host you want to go up to The Salon for some honest-to-goodness handcrafted cocktails. Go through an Employees Only door, up a flight of stairs and you’ll find the entrance to The Salon, a cocktail hideaway tucked into the second floor. Opening up quietly at the end of 2016, but four years in the making, Damian Windsor (The Roger Room, Warwick) created a drink menu that’s both accessible and finely tuned with a focus on classic and craft cocktails.

Crafty cocktails

You have drinks like the Montgomery Martini, which is just a really good martini. But you also have the popular Horse’s Neck that features Lairds Applejack, ginger beer, Angostura and citrus oil. If your friends are just getting out of plastic bottles and into cocktails, chances are they’re enamoured with those mules in copper cups. The Horse’s Neck will be familiar and is the drink you’ll indoctrinate them into The Salon with. Be careful, though, because you most likely won’t be able to get away with just one round of these.

Horse's Neck cocktail at The Salon

Horse’s Neck

Maybe your friends just graduated from Jameson blackouts and now they only drink Old Fashioneds. The Fransisco San [sic] is right up their alley. Taking inspiration from Japanese whisky and San Francisco (as the name implies, despite the curious spelling), this cocktail features Suntory Whisky Toki, Punt e Mes and D.O.M. Benedictine. It’s a bright take on a whisky drink that goes down easy while still remaining respectable enough for Bill Murray to toast while wearing eyeliner.

Fransisco San cocktail at The Salon

Fransisco San


Double dazzle

Fortune Favors the Bold is ironically probably the least bold cocktail on the menu. Double Cross vodka, Carpano Antica Formula, Manzanilla sherry, Cointreau and Spanish Queen olives combine into a smooth but powerful, not delicate, taste. The vodka, vermouth, sherry and triple sec serve to heighten the Spanish Queen olives, making them more than just an accent. What this drinks holds back in adventure, it gives you in unrestrained flavor.

Fortune Favors the Bold cocktail

Fortune Favors the Bold

When you’re ready to commit to a new cocktail experience, go ahead and do yourself the favor of ordering up a Tequila Por Mi Amante. While the pickled watermelon dazzles your tastebuds, the Pueblo Viejo tequila blanco and Chamberyzette dry vermouth await your commitment. The watermelon cubes are more than a garnish; this is closer to a pairing in a glass. Salty, fruity, refreshing, boozy. This is what I started my night with, and it set the bar high. I could most likely drink more rounds of Horse’s Neck on any given night, but the Tequila Por Mi Amante was my favorite.

Tequila Por Mi Amante cocktail at The Salon

Tequila Por Mi Amante


Welcome to The Valley

The Salon has limited operating hours, generally Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 8 p.m. until late, but it would be wise to call and check ahead as there are sometimes performances (comedy, music) in adjacent showrooms. The walls upstairs are not very soundproof, so activity in the other room would be definitely noticed. Nevertheless, The Salon is a welcome addition of handcrafted cocktails in an intimate atmosphere that you frankly don’t always find in The Valley.


03 2017

Viviane takes up residence at Avalon Hotel in Beverly Hills


Photo courtesy of Viviane

When I first heard that a new restaurant was taking over Oliverio at the Avalon Hotel in Beverly Hills, I was kind of bummed. I could always find a solid meal there in a sleek setting without having to endure a “scene.”

So when I heard that local French restauranteurs Stephane Bombet and Francois Renaud were taking over the space to open Viviane, I was both excited and sad. On the one hand, Bombet and Renaud have a good track record with Terrine, and Bombet and Chef Michael Hung found success together at Faith & Flower. On the other hand, I have great memories from Oliverio, including having my bridal brunch there.

After having dinner at Viviane soon after its official opening, I’m intrigued enough to want to return. The menu focuses on contemporary takes on the classics in both food and drink. Chef Michael Hung offers seasonal, elevated versions of well-known dishes such as linguine and clams, steak tartare, and chicken and dumplings. And barman Ryan Wainwright, he of The Tasting Kitchen and Terrine fame who designed Viviane’s cocktail menu, has variations on the Manhattan, Cosmopolitan and even Long Island Iced Tea.

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11 2015

Spend this Halloween week with Rooftop Film Club

Rooftop Film Club

Rooftop Film Club

UK import Rooftop Film Club is screening a bunch of Halloween-appropriate movies for its last week this season. Set atop the roof of The Montalban theater in Hollywood, Rooftop Film Club offers a classier outdoor film experience than your typical picnic-style one so you can enjoy Halloween week in style.

Here’s the schedule:

~Tuesday, Oct. 27: The Thing
~Wednesday, Oct. 28: A Nightmare on Elm Street
~Thursday, Oct. 29: Psycho
~Friday, Oct. 30: Friday the 13th
~Saturday, Oct. 31: Beetlejuice

Tickets are $15, and all screenings start at 8 p.m. (doors open at 6 p.m.). Get there early to save a seat — yes, there are actual seats — and grab a drink from the bar and a burger from Silver Lake’s own Haché LA (there’s frozen custard, too). If you get cold, there are blankets for you to use, and you’ll listen to the movie through your own personal headset, so you can block out most of the noise around you.

Hache LA's Karma Burger

Hache LA’s Karma Burger

Want even more fun? Sip on one of guest barman Brady Weise’s themed cocktails, which feature different combinations made with beer, wine and vermouth, as the Club lacks a liquor license. No matter: The Hockey Mask, made for the screening of Friday the 13th, with Chenin Blanc, lemonade, dry vermouth and fresh seasonal fruit still sounds perfectly appropriate for an outdoor movie.

A screening with Rooftop Film Club is one of the more fun outdoor film experiences I’ve had in Los Angeles. Seating is limited, so there aren’t hordes of people to contend with, and the ambiance on a Hollywood rooftop can’t be beat. It’s sure to make for a fun, low-key Halloween (my favorite kind).

Rooftop Film Club

Rooftop Film Club

Note: Seats to a screening were hosted.


10 2015

The Arthur J offers fun twist on classic steakhouse

Arthur J table
Steakhouse The Arthur J rounds out Chef David LeFevre’s mini restaurant row in Manhattan Beach, adding a meat-focused eatery to seafood restaurant Fishing With Dynamite and small plates place MB Post. What makes The Arthur J special is not just its quality meats but its take on additions and sides. LeFevre has created a fun spin on the classic steakhouse while maintaining its elegance.

That mentality extends to The Arthur J’s cocktail list, too. My favorite is The Long Goodbye made with Oxley gin, lime, tumeric, honey, carrot and cardamom. Based on the ingredients, I didn’t think I would like this. But one sip — and one look at its vibrant color — changed my mind completely. It’s sweet and savory, giving a nice balance for someone who can’t decide what kind of drink to order (which is often me).

The Long Goodbye

The Long Goodbye

And then we turn to the menu. Yes, the Parker House rolls with deviled ham spread are delicious. Get them. And the Emmental popovers with strawberry preserves are the stuff of dreams. Get them, too. Get all the bread.

Parker House rolls

Parker House rolls

Emmental popovers

Emmental popovers

However, I didn’t love the roasted bone marrow toast. I think it was the focaccia bread that threw me off; the oiliness was too much paired with the already rich marrow. For a lighter starter, the hamachi tartare offers sweet and spicy notes, but in the end it’s just a nice raw fish-and-avocado dish and nothing groundbreaking.

Bone marrow toast

Bone marrow toast

But nevermind that. You could order the bone-in ribeye Tomahawk chop for two (or three or four, since it’s so large) or the Japanese Wagyu ribeye cap and be happy. But you’ll be happier when you start adding sauces and toppings.

Arthur J steaks table

The Sauces & Butters menu has all the usual suspects plus chimichurri, Vietnamese caramel, black truffle butter, yuzu koshu butter and foie maple butter. The toppings menu includes a sunny side up egg, lump blue crab, foie gras and a steamed half lobster.

Foie-topped steak

Foie-topped steak

If you get one side, get the potato gratin. Lefevre’s version is like nothing I’ve had before: a brick of layered potato, cheese and sauce that could stand on its own as a meal.

Potato gratin

Potato gratin

Desserts at The Arthur J are legit, too. The kitchen turns out solid versions of classics such as cheesecake and a chocolate bar, but it’s the strawberry shortcake that stood out for me. Not only do you get the fruit with the cream and a sugar-dusted biscuit, but the dessert comes with strawberry sorbet to boot, providing another dimension to an otherwise standard dish.

Strawberry shortcake

Strawberry shortcake

Note: This meal was hosted.


10 2015

Getting fancy with Hennessy VS summer cocktails


We were invited by Hennessy to its Essential Summer Cocktail tasting at Commissary at the Line Hotel. An early evening affair on a Wednesday in Los Angeles, the airy restaurant was the perfect setting for the tasting of three spotlighted drinks using Hennessy VS: Coca Mule, Carrot and Splash.

The Coca Mule is a take on a Moscow Mule with the interesting ingredient of Agwa de Bolivia coca leaf liqueur, rounded out by Hennessy VS cognac, lime and ginger beer. Whenever I order a mule, I hope for the fancy copper cup, so I have to confess being a little biased when I get a mule not in one. But the Coca Mule is an inviting drink, especially to come in from the sun to. Adding more than a strong hint, whether you’re partial to ginger beer will determine if this drink is for you. Also, if you’re partial to copper cups or not.

Coca mule

Coca mule. Photo by Eros David.

The Carrot was my personal favorite. No, it did not taste like carrot juice. With the striking flavor coming from the agave nectar and passion fruit, this cocktail has a smooth yet full-bodied taste. In a funny way, the consistency is somewhat reminiscent of carrot juice, but I did wonder if they meant to spell it “Carat.” Both satisfying and refreshing, it walks the line between business and casual. You can kiki about money or your love life with this one.

Carrot cocktail

Carrot cocktail. Photo by Eros David.

The Splash has more of a citrus appeal, with lemon and a flamed orange twist. The mint and creme peche add extra layers of taste experience by adding fragrance and softening the acidity, but ultimately this is a cocktail that will have you shaking the ice in your glass before you expect. This is a safe choice when deciding whether to barhop or stay put.

Splash cocktail

Splash cocktail. Photo by Eros David.

I typically drink gin cocktails in the summertime — a gin and tonic while at a BBQ watching the sun set, or even at home eating BBQ-flavored potato chips while enjoying the A/C. Just kidding, I don’t use my A/C (are you trying to run up my electric bill?!). Hennessy VS provided an alternative to my usual summer cocktail, and I was not mad. When I think of Hennessy, I think of my uncles sippin’ yac at family parties. The drinks at this tasting showed me that Hennessy didn’t always have to be Hen-dogg. These drinks were full-bodied and delicious, grown but not old-man. Sure, there were fruit accents (we are talking summer cocktails, after all), but they were far from fruity drinks. Your typical college spring breaker would not be guzzling these down while being Snapchatted by their friends in Hollister hoping to draw the attention of the guys whose boat they’re on.

Hennessy server

Instead, you’ll want to sip these drinks while conversing with good friends about your life’s current events and how they fit in your overall journey. (Not to be confused with overalls journey — I hear they’re making a comeback.) You won’t hop out of the pool wanting these drinks for a #hydrationsituation, rather you’ll be more likely dressed in your high-level summer fashion for a sophisticated discussion about how early or late you sleep, or how unwilling you are to settle down with someone. But, hey, it’s summertime. We all know cuffing season is in winter. Cheers to that!

Hennessy toast

Note: This tasting was hosted. All photos courtesy of Hennessy unless otherwise noted.


08 2015

Downtown gets a treat with Broken Spanish restaurant



Ever since Chef Ray Garcia left Fig restaurant in Santa Monica, I’ve been waiting for him to find a new home. So when news came that Garcia was taking over the old Rivera space in downtown Los Angeles to open Broken Spanish restaurant, I couldn’t wait to check it out.

While Rivera’s loss was mourned, Broken Spanish has more than filled the void with inventive food and drink. This is contemporary Mexican food turned up to 10. And Garcia’s team has opened up the space so it feels lighter and more festive. (Bonus: It’s just a few blocks from my office!)

For smaller bites, the requeson cheese accompanied by snap peas, black sesame, agave and sea beans is a light way to start before moving on to the esquites, or Mexican street corn salad. Garcia’s version uses Kewpie mayo, manzano pepper and parmesan, changing up the classic.



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07 2015

ArcLight Culver City adds entertainment value to downtown

ArcLight Culver City

ArcLight Culver City

Out with the old, and in with the new. ArcLight Culver City has arrived.

The Pacific Theatres in downtown Culver City is now an ArcLight Cinemas movie theater, which means your night out just got a little more interesting. Complete with a full-service bar serving movie-themed cocktails and craft beer, alongside real food from a real kitchen, ArcLight Culver City is now a one-stop experience for food, drink and entertainment.

Johnny's Drama, an "Entourage"-themed cocktail

Johnny’s Drama, an “Entourage”-themed cocktail

Everything has been upgraded here, from the snack bar to the theaters themselves, which now feature ArcLight’s “black box” viewing experience for minimal distractions. As with other ArcLight theaters, seating is reserved, and you can bring your bar drink with you to screenings. Unfortunately, ArcLight Culver City doesn’t have the room for a seated dining area like ArcLight Hollywood does, but you can comfortably eat at the bar from a menu that offers tasty bar bites. The chicken wings with sweet Thai chili sauce, popcorn chicken, and tomato bruschetta with burrata are among my favorite dishes here.

Chicken wings

Chicken wings



With the opening of ArcLight Culver City, there are now two such theaters on the westside, including ArcLight Beach Cities in El Segundo, and a Santa Monica location is in the works.

Note: A menu tasting and movie viewing were hosted by ArcLight.

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07 2015