Tag Archives: get out of town

Get Out Of Town!: Perch

Wow. Simply, wow. For a true Get Out of Town experience, just miles from Burbank, check out Perch, the popular and trendy rooftop restaurant and bar in Downtown Los Angeles.

The sunny, French bistro-styled restaurant is filled with comfortable chairs and tables at which to lounge through an excellently prepared meal or a drink. One floor up, the crowded rooftop bar is quite the scene for daytime drinks and nighttime views.

Perch combines an easy elegance with a strict attention to service, for a unique experience with spectacular views. Reservations are often booked up more than a week in advance for popular times, so unless you’re okay to wait, planning ahead is the way to go.

Scallops with fresh pea salad at Perch. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Valet parking for $10 is available on Hill Street. From there, ride a rickety elevator straight out of the Tower of Terror to the 13th floor. To reach the restaurant, cross the hall and ride up to the 15th floor. Those aiming for the apex of the joint, keep going until floor 16.

Perch’s menu is a treat – gorgeous cocktails and a strong offering of beer and wine are complemented by a well-thought out menu of appetizers, salads, small plates and main entrees. The dessert menu is short and sweet.

On a recent visit we went straight for the entrees: Pan Roasted Salmon, Scallops, Steak Frites and Gnocchi with a side of Brussels sprouts.

The amazing Perch gnocchi with squash blossoms.(Photo By Lisa Paredes)

The salmon was buttery and melted on the tongue,the best salmon I’ve tasted in recent memory. Accompanied by artichoke heart chips, eggplant puree and roasted vegetables, the dish was a symphony of tastes.

Steak Frites at Perch. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

The scallops, tender and seared perfectly, were accompanied by an out-of-this-world fresh pea salad and sunchoke-parsnip puree.

The Brussels sprouts were also excellent. Roasted and tossed with bacon and shaved parmesan, then tossed with a sherry vinaigrette, the Brussels sprouts put most other restaurants’ attempts at the dish to shame.

The steak frites, served medium, was bite after incredible bite of properly prepared flat iron steak accompanied by truffled cheese fries in a bordelaise sauce.

And the exquisite gnocchi – airy little balls of potato pasta drenched in an herby creamy sauce and topped with squash flowers – another burst of well-matched flavors in every taste.

Our excursion to Perch was a fantastic experience, one we will continue to repeat. It’s a busy place, popular with a lot of 20-somethings and trendy dressers, but it’s also a wonderful place for an incredible meal, a relaxing drink and a spectacular view.

Editor’s Note: While there’s always a lot going on in Burbank, myBurbank’s “Get Out Of Town!” highlights some of our favorite activities and events outside the town borders.

Get Out Of Town!: Santa Ynez Wine Country

Editor’s Note: While there’s always a lot going on in Burbank, myBurbank’s “Get Out Of Town!” highlights some of our favorite activities and events outside the town borders.

Autumn is a lovely time of year to visit Santa Ynez Wine Country. Harvest weekend in October is always a big draw, but the peaceful country vibe and relaxed pace of life in the region, northeast of Santa Barbara, is a welcome respite from city life any time of year.

Los Olivos and Solvang are about two and one-half hours drive from Burbank. Nestled in the Santa Ynez mountains, the towns are good jumping-off points for a country ramble. We usually stay overnight and get a good night’s sleep so we don’t have to drive home after a long day of wine and food.

Carhartt Tasting Room, Los Olivos, Santa Ynez Valley. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Carhartt Tasting Room, Los Olivos, Santa Ynez Valley. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Wineries and tasting rooms are typically open 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Driving from one area of the Valley to another takes quite a bit of time; we have found it easier to visit one area of Santa Ynez Wine Country at a time.

We often like to stop at the Calabasas Cantina for breakfast on the way up to Santa Ynez. When we forego the heavy breakfast, we start the day with a lunch at the spectacular Los Olivos Cafe. There are several new restaurants in Los Olivos and throughout the Valley, like Red Barn, Santa Ynez Kitchen and Petros to try.

Little Gem Salad, Los Olivos Cafe. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Little Gem Salad, Los Olivos Cafe. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

After wandering about the rustic town of Los Olivos, looking at jewelry and art made by local artisans, we visit a tasting room or two. Our favorite is Carhartt’s little shack on Grand Avenue, but there are many from which to choose.

Children are not allowed in tasting rooms and must stay outside. Some with patios are able to welcome the under-21 set. Stolpman’s little red barn with a shady patio in Los Olivos is a comfortable option for those with kids.

Plenty of maps to the wineries and tasting rooms in the area are available online and throughout Santa Ynez Wine Country.

Foley tasting room, Santa Ynez Valley. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Foley tasting room, Santa Ynez Valley. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

One thing we’ve learned over nearly two decades of trips to the area – wines change in quality and drinkability from year to year. One year, a favorite winery will pour amazing flights for tastings. The next, we wonder why we liked that same spot so much. However, many times the wines made for wine club members far outstrip the wines available at tastings – depending on the vintner, of course.

Recurring favorites from year to year include: Foley, Lincourt, Foxen, Babcock, Melville, Carhartt and Alma Rosa. Some wineries such as Foxen and Dierberg Starlane have upped their tastings to $20 each, while most are pouring 6 tastes for $12 or $15.

For those aiming to try 10 wines for $10, there’s always Blackjack, just outside of Los Olivos. Made popular in the movie Sideways, of which there continue to be numerous references throughout the area, Blackjack has some great specials on cases.

Foley vineyards. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Foley vineyards. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

We loved Lincourt and Foley’s whites and reds – both tasting rooms in the Valley were pouring excellent varieties, backed up by knowledgeable servers. Very drinkable, very complex, the Foley and Lincourt wines were the hit of the trip.

Babcock’s eclectic, expansive tasting barn provides a fun way to while away an afternoon. Pool table, lounging chairs, gift items to browse, a solid collection of vinyl to put on the turntable and excellent, complex flights combine for a fantastic experience.

Melville’s rich and personable wines underscore the winery’s long and respected history in the area. Foxen’s Shack at 7200 Foxen Canyon Road currently serves a very fun chocolate and wine pairing course through the end of the year.

Melville Winery, Santa Ynez. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Melville Winery, Santa Ynez. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Whether you decide you love the taste enough to buy a bottle or six, the prime attraction of Santa Ynez Wine Country is the leisurely pace, the natural environment and delicious food available.

We also stopped for steaks at The Hitching Post II this trip. The restaurant embraces an old school approach to food, from the artichoke appetizer to top-notch steaks to rich desserts. Reservations are a must on busy weekends.

Another highlight: Danish pancakes and eggy french toast at Paula’s Pancake House in Solvang. No reservations and the wait can be up to an hour on a weekend, but it is definitely worth the wait.

Babcock Winery's lounge area. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Babcock Winery’s lounge area. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

There’s a lot of hotels and luxury resorts to stay in throughout the Valley – something for every budget and wish. Solvang boasts the highest concentration of hotels and restaurants in the area, and is a good base of operations, if you will.

We always like the Hotel Corque for cleanliness, comfort, style and central location, along with the more economical Hadsten House.

After all that wine and rustic food in the Santa Ynez Valley, we often stop for a palate cleanser in Santa Barbara on the way back to Burbank. Sometimes it’s tacos at La Super-Rica, but usually it’s Brophy Bros. seafood at the Santa Barbara harbor.

Seafood pasta, Brophy Bros. Santa Barbara. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Seafood pasta, Brophy Bros. Santa Barbara. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

The best clam chowder on the west coast, fresh fish and seafood and excellent service make this casual seafood joint a popular spot any time of day, night, season or year. After re-fueling with some good grub, the drive back to Burbank takes just about two hours.

For those needing a break from the din and clang of city life, the Santa Ynez Valley is a perfect way to Get Out of Town!

Get Out Of Town!: LA Phil Nimbus

Editor’s Note: While there’s always a lot going on in Burbank, myBurbank’s “Get Out Of Town!” highlights some of our favorite activities and events outside the town borders.

Since opening in October, the LA Phil Nimbus art and music installation at the Walt Disney Concert Hall has added a dimension of visual, musical and environmental esthetic to the cavernous space of escalators and stairs between the parking garage and the Hall.

Walt Disney Concert Hall always provides so much for the community musically, as home to the world class Los Angeles Philharmonic and as a venue with excellent programming.

Nimbus really stirs the senses with subtle chimes, faraway thunder and computer generated music. The clouds change color, glow and pulse, throughout the day.

Commissioned by the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Nimbus integrates visual and musical art. LA Phil Nimbus (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Commissioned by the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Nimbus integrates visual and musical art.(Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Punctuated with compositions performed by some of the LA Phil’s stellar musicians, including Martin Chalifour (violin), Robert DeMaine (cello), Marion Arthur Kuszyk (oboe), Boris Allakhverdyan (clarinet), Andrew Bain (horn) and Thomas Hooten (trumpet), Nimbus lends a sense of drama to an otherwise dull space.

While you’re downtown checking out the LA Phil Nimbus, you may wish to hang around for one of the Walt Disney Concert Hall’s concerts or programs. Currently, a series of classic films including On The Waterfront and Casablanca are screening with music performed by a live orchestra.

LA Phil Nimbus (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

(Photo By Lisa Paredes)

The Green Umbrella new music series, Casual Fridays series and a performance of the ballet The Nutcracker Suite are all highlights on the upcoming schedule. Of course, there are the regular Thursday and Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon classical music concerts featuring the LA Phil and conductor Gustavo Dudamel.

The upcoming Walt Disney Concert Hall schedule can be found here.

Additionally, the Hall gift shop stocks all kinds of eclectic, fun or stylish music-related gifts for the music lovers in your life.

Parking can be found under the Hall. For those Metro minded, a red line stop is one block away.

The LA Phil Nimbus will be on display, with occasional special live interactions and events, though 2019. Walt Disney Concert Hall is located at 111 S. Grand Avenue, Los Angeles, 90012.

Nimbus art and music installation at Walt Disney Concert Hall. LA Phil Nimbus (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Nimbus art and music installation at Walt Disney Concert Hall. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Get Out Of Town!: Burke Williams And Sweetgreen

Editor’s Note: While there’s always a lot going on in Burbank, myBurbank’s “Get Out Of Town!” highlights some of our favorite activities and events outside the town borders.

Just over the hill in Hollywood, a soothing day spa experience awaits at Burke Williams Hollywood. After massaging and soaking and steaming all the stress away, pick up a healthy salad from the amazing Sweetgreen, located just down the street.

While Burbank has some lovely day spa options, there’s nothing quite like the Burke Williams experience with hot steam and cold mist rooms, sauna and warm jacuzzi for melting away the stress of city life.

Photo By Lisa Paredes

Photo By Lisa Paredes

Burke Williams Hollywood, located in a large building on La Brea Avenue, just south of Santa Monica Boulevard, boasts gorgeous and spacious interiors. Nail care, custom scent mixing and Style Blow Dry Bar services are all available, in addition to the standard range of facials, waxing, massages and chiropractic treatments.

Service is attentive and professional and the facility is very clean. No cell phones are allowed, lending to the peaceful atmosphere. Plentiful free parking is available on site.

Our favorite aspect of Burke Williams is the multiple wet and dry, warm and cool, rooms. Relax in the warm bubbles of the gigantic jacuzzi pool and heat up in the hot dry heat of the sauna. Cool down for a few minutes in the cool mist room. Breathe deeply in the hot steam room and open those pores and lungs.

Fresh local ingredients fill this salad from Sweetgreen Nolita. (Photo By Lisa)Paredes

Fresh local ingredients fill this salad from Sweetgreen Nolita. (Photo By Lisa)Paredes

Massages and other body treatments are a specialty of the day spa, and the entire experience is calmly directed and performed for ultimate relaxation.

After all that body and mind cleansing, we felt compelled to feed our bodies with healthy food, so we headed over to Sweetgreen, located near Sunset and Gower.

We first discovered Sweetgreen on a trip to New York City and loved the Nolita spot. The popular chain now has an outpost in Hollywood and is super popular. There always seems to be a line, but it moves fast.

Chicken & Brussels salad from Sweetgreen Hollywood is filled with delicious veggies and a tantalizing dressing. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Chicken & Brussels salad from Sweetgreen Hollywood is filled with delicious veggies and a tantalizing dressing. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Ordering a to go bowl with the Sweetgreen app is easy and convenient. Choose a salad or bowl from the menu, indicate your pickup time and pay via the app. Pop in to the restaurant and pick up your to go order on the metal table near the cash register.

There’s plenty of space to sit down and grab a bite by yourself or with friends, including a fun structure of stair steps along one wall.

We enjoyed the Chicken and Brussels salad this visit. The menu changes by the season and includes locally sourced meat, vegetarian and vegan options, all with calorie counts posted.

Creative dressings add to the flavor of the fresh veggies and meats, without adding a ton of calories. Don’t forget to order your complimentary slice of homemade bread with your salad!

Eating healthy can be convenient and taste great. Maybe we’ll get a Sweetgreen in Burbank soon and we won’t have to Get Out Of Town! to pick one up!

Photo By Lisa Paredes

Photo By Lisa Paredes

Get Out Of Town!: Mid-City Adventure At LACMA And Korean BBQ

Editor’s Note: While there’s always a lot going on in Burbank, myBurbank’s “Get Out Of Town!” highlights some of our favorite activities and events outside the town borders.

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) offers a lot of options for your visual arts and music fix. With programs like “Free After 3,” free jazz, Latin and classical concerts for the public and the NextGen program, there are many ways to keep a visit low-cost.

Add in a side trip for some excellent Korean BBQ in nearby Koreatown and your Get Out Of Town! adventure in Mid-City goes up a notch.

LACMA Rain Room. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

LACMA Rain Room. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

The Rain Room at LACMA is a paid, ticketed esxperience, but well worth the $10-15 fee. This way, smaller, timed-entry groups have access to the room for 15 minutes, making the experience more enjoyable and less crowded.

Some basic tips for a more satisfying and less-wet experience: wear light colors and walk really, really slowly through the rainfall.

The sensors cannot distinguish black clothes from the dark floor and will not stop the water flow.

Slow motion allows time for the area you are in to register with the sensors, to shut off the rain.

The LACMA Rain Room is an amazing and immersive (literally) experience.

LACMA’s NextGen program, which provides free general museum access to children 17 and under, also allows free entry to an accompanying adult. The museum offers senior, student and KCRW member discounts, along with free access for EBT card holders and members of the military. On weekdays, the “Free After 3” program grants free admission to all.

In addition to an excellent permanent collection spanning much of human history, LACMA also offers a series of top-notch special exhibitions, some free with general admission and others require an additional entry fee.

Street parking may be available but is often hard to find. Parking in the LACMA lots costs $14. General adult admission to the museum is $15.

 (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

(Photo By Lisa Paredes)

The museum’s free concerts are a huge draw. During the summer, Jazz at LACMA on Fridays and Latin Sounds on Saturdays bring a multitude of Angelenos with camp chairs and picnic baskets to the museum plaza grounds. Seating directly in front of the featured band is available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Sundays Live, the museum’s chamber music series, runs year-round in the Leo S. Bing Theater and features the best of national, international, local and emerging classical musicians.

After immersing oneself in all that art, music and culture, one can get pretty hungry. Nearby Koreatown offers excellent Korean BBQ, with a lot of busy restaurants. Since our favorite, Woo Lae Oak, left its Western Avenue location years ago and ultimately closed the La Cienaga spot recently, we needed a new Korean BBQ joint.

One of the top-reviewed Korean restaurants in town, Kang Ho Dong Baekjong, did not let us down. On a crowded Friday night, we were able to get a table inside in less than 30 minutes. Excellent, attentive service helped us navigate this vibrant and noisy restaurant.

Kang Ho Dong Baekjong offers only beef and pork to grill, along with the requisite accompanying dishes such as green salad, seaweed and bean sprout salad, bean stew, fried kimchi, kimchi prepared three different ways, sweet potato and daikon. Roasted pepper, onion, corn and egg are cooked next to the grill top.

Brisket at Kang Ho Dong Baekjong. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Brisket at Kang Ho Dong Baekjong. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Refreshing, cold barley tea, which tastes like water, washes everything down. Soju and Korean beers are also available.

We ordered the large beef combo platter, of brisket, short rib and prime rib – it was a little too much food for four, although we were very hungry. The beef was excellent quality and was cooked by our servers, something we’re not used to at a Korean BBQ restaurant.

Servers refilled the sides and tea when asked and generally made sure our table was having a good time.

Short rib at Kang Ho Dong Baekjong.  (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Short rib at Kang Ho Dong Baekjong. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Seats on the quieter patio provide an alternative to the loud music and slightly smoky interior, but we much preferred the party-like energy of the room, especially on a Friday night.

Kang Ho Dong Baekjong is not all-you-can-eat, thus the quality of meat is better than an AYCE place. Everyone working at the restaurant was super friendly and answered questions, so there’s no reason to be intimidated if you don’t speak Korean.

In the future, we would probably order meat a la carte, because there was a lot of brisket. The restaurant also offers cold and hot noodles and soups. The bean soup that came with the BBQ combo was also delicious.

 (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

(Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Parking for the restaurant enters off Alexandria Avenue from Sixth Street, to a valet stand in the back. Street parking is very challenging in the area.

About a 20-30 minute drive from Burbank, both LACMA and the Koreatown area provide a fun alternative for an afternoon or evening out, close to home.

Get Out Of Town!: The Broad

Editor’s Note: While there’s always a lot going on in Burbank, myBurbank’s “Get Out Of Town!” highlights some of our favorite activities and events outside the town borders.

Since opening in September 2015, The Broad has had a steady stream of visitors explore its excellent collection of contemporary art. Any day of the week, the standby line stretches down Second Street with an average wait of 45 – 90 minutes. Free advance tickets are usually completely reserved within minutes of becoming available.

Boasting iconic works from contemporary art stars including Ed Ruschka, Robert Rasuchenberg, Andy Warhol, Cy Twombly, Takashi Murakami and Jeff Koons, the regular collection draws a range of reactions from visitors and makes The Broad a great Get Out of Town! adventure any day of the year.

Jeff Koons' "Balloon Dog (Blue)." (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Jeff Koons’ “Balloon Dog (Blue).” (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

A rotating schedule of special exhibitions and installations, including Cindy Sherman: Imitation of Life which runs through October 2 and Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrored Room which runs through the fall of 2016, result in an exciting experience.

Open, airy and filled with natural light, The Broad may be popular but the timed ticket approach works well to prevent overcrowding inside. Free reserved tickets for the following month are available at noon on the first day of every month by logging on to The Broad’s website.

"Under The Table" by Robert Therrien. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

“Under The Table” by Robert Therrien. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Those interested in viewing the Infinity Mirrored Room are advised to arrive as early as possible, as timed tickets – also free – are required to enter the installation. One person at a time is allowed to enter the room, for about 45 seconds.

Thus, tickets for the room are usually booked up by early afternoon. Timed tickets are available from a kiosk in the center of the first floor, just after visitors enter The Broad’s main doors.

Jeff Koons' "Tulips." (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Jeff Koons’ “Tulips.” (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Parking is available underneath the museum for a minimum $12 to a maximum of $22. Several cafes and restaurants are located near The Broad, including our favorite, Otium Restaurant.

Tickets for the current Cindy Sherman exhibit are $12 and available in advance on The Broad website.

The Broad is located at 221 S. Grand Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90012. Closed on Mondays, Thanksgiving and Christmas Days, The Broad is open Tuesday and Wednesday 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Thursday and Friday 11:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., Saturday 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. and Sunday 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Get Out Of Town!: Joshua Tree National Park

Editor’s Note: While there’s always a lot going on in Burbank, myBurbank’s “Get Out Of Town!” highlights some of our favorite activities and events outside the town borders.

The otherworldly and breathtaking expanse of Joshua Tree National Park transcends photos and description. It is a place that must be experienced in person to be understood.

Much can be seen from the inside of a car, but getting out on the trails, which range from very easy and accessible to extremely difficult and very long, is a prime way to experience the Park.

 Joshua Tree National Park. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Joshua Tree National Park. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

About 2.5 hours drive east of Burbank, bordered by tiny desert towns of Joshua Tree and Twenty-nine Palms on the north and the more developed Indio and Palm Springs on the southwest, Joshua Tree National Park is the meeting point of two massive desert environments, the Mojave and the Colorado Desert portion of the Sonoran.

Whether you go for the day or plan to spend a few days in and around the Park, there’s more than enough scenery and activities to engage even the most cynical urbanite.

Start out your Joshua Tree adventure with a breakfast or lunch at the Crossroads Cafe, near the northwest entrance to the Park. Hearty or light, healthy or indulgent, Crossroads Cafe’s popularity is well-deserved with excellent plates and an eclectic atmosphere.

Polenta and Eggs at the Crossroads Cafe,  Joshua Tree, CA. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Polenta and Eggs at the Crossroads Cafe, Joshua Tree, CA. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Be prepared for a wait at this busy local spot. People watching is a good pastime in this part of town. Service is friendly and funky and restrooms are adequate and clean.

We fueled up on the Crossroads Cafe’s delicious Portobello Mushroom Burger with a flavorful spinach, blue cheese and walnut side salad, a BLTA sandwich and a hand-made juicy burger cooked perfectly with crispy home-made fries and eggs over easy with herbed polenta and black beans.

Getting into the park through the very popular Northwest gate took some time. However, our Joshua Tree annual pass ($30) helped us skip a small part of the line and be on our way.

Barker Dam,  Joshua Tree National Park. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Barker Dam, Joshua Tree National Park. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

The extremely popular Hidden Valley and Barker’s Dam are usually very busy, any day of the week. These hikes are two of the easiest treks in the park with well-marked trails and lots of scenic boulders to climb. Even though the trails are only about 1 – 1.5 miles round trip, a casual walk can easily take close to an hour.

For the more motivated, the heart-pounding trek to the summit of Ryan Mountain at 5457 feet takes about 2 hours up and back down at a good pace, including some rest at the top. The 3 mile round trip hike covers over 1000 feet in elevation gain, at the very heart of the Mojave desert in Joshua Tree.

The Coachella Valley from Keys' View,  Joshua Tree National Park. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

The Coachella Valley from Keys’ View, Joshua Tree National Park. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Another fantastic hike and well-worth the drive to the southern Park entrance ranger station is the 2.6 mile loop to Mastodon Peak from Cottonwood Spring. Only about 440 feet in elevation gain, this hike is not usually crowded and the panoramic views from Mastondon Peak of the surrounding Colorado Desert are lovely.

Remnants of an old mine are visible just below Mastodon Peak. For those more motivated, the hike to Lost Palms Oasis is over 7 miles round trip from Cottonwood Spring and not for the faint of heart in this arid landscape.

Mastodon Peak, Joshua Tree National Park. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Mastodon Peak, Joshua Tree National Park. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

While most of Joshua Tree National Park’s visitors spend time in the Mojave section and the Wonderland of Rocks area of the Park, in between Cottonwood and Ryan Mountain lie interesting stops.

The Cholla Cactus Garden and the Ocotillo Patch showcase two unusual desert plants. The spines of the Cholla Cactus contain micro-barbs that stick to just about everything but rock and are very difficult to remove from skin and clothes. The crazy looking spikes of the Ocotillo are studded with long thorns and every spring in March burst forth with colorful flowers.

Cholla Cactus Garden,  Joshua Tree National Park. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Cholla Cactus Garden, Joshua Tree National Park. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Wildflowers permeate the grounds of Joshua Tree in spring, after winter rains. Joshua Trees are also in bloom. Coyotes, birds and chipmunks abound and Bighorn Sheep roam the park but usually stay far from people and out of sight.

Camping and stargazing are very popular in the Park, along with rock-climbing. Bikes are permitted on the roads only, so riders must share the road. Dogs are not allowed on the trails in the Park.

For those in need of something more than a protein bar and fruit for sustenance, The Restaurant at the 29 Palms Inn is highly recommended for lunch or dinner. Open every day, the restaurant also feature live music in the evenings and can be very crowded with a usual wait of 30-60 minutes for dinner.

Shrimp and Scallops with Jasmine Rice, The Restaurant at 29 Palms Inn. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Shrimp and Scallops with Jasmine Rice, The Restaurant at 29 Palms Inn. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Food at the 29 Palms Inn is worth the wait and the cocktails and wine list are notable. Fresh fish, perfectly prepared seafood and steaks and several vegetarian options are highlights of the short but varied menu. Excellent and friendly service and a laid-back creative desert vibe are pluses.

Depending on how early you start and your fitness/motivation level, multiple hikes and amazing meals may not be accomplished in a single day. Keys’ View is a great way to see spectacular views of the Coachella Valley, from Salton Sea to Palm Springs and the mountains beyond.

The rocky lunar-scape and unusual plants of Joshua Tree National Park seem very different from what we’re used to here in southern California. Gorgeous and wild, the Park is a living treasure with something new for people to discover every visit, any time of day. Get Out of Town, Burbank, and check it out!

 Joshua Tree National Park. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Joshua Tree National Park. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

 

Get Out Of Town!: Daikokuya Ramen Warms The Soul On A Rainy Day

Editor’s Note: While there’s always a lot going on in Burbank, myBurbank’s “Get Out Of Town!” highlights some of our favorite activities and events outside the town borders.

On these windy, chilly and rainy winter days in Southern California, hearty and flavorful ramen soup is a siren call cutting through blustery weather. Burbank’s own Kopan Ramen 2 does a fantastic job of sating the cold and hungry, but what to do if one is marooned in Downtown L.A.? We recommend Daikokuya Ramen at 327 E. First Street in Little Tokyo.

Time after time, hot weather to cold weather, Daikokuya Ramen satiates and satifies. On any given day, about five hundred other people know this fact, so we recommend arriving early or being prepared to wait an hour or two. You will not regret it.

The venerable standard, Daikoku Ramen, at Little Tokyo's Daikokuya Ramen noodle shop. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

The venerable standard, Daikoku Ramen, at Little Tokyo’s Daikokuya Ramen noodle shop. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Luckily, there are some great bars nearby to wait in, if that’s your thing. We like the Far Bar, at 347 E. First Street. Japanese Village across the street and sweet shop Fugetso-Do, on the same block at 315 E. First Street, are fun ways to wait out the time after you’ve put your name on the list.

Now to the ramen. Daikokuya’s menu is very accessible. Choose from three styles: Daikokuya special combo with tonkatsu broth base, Spicy Miso base or Tsukemen – cooled noodles to dip in broth on the side. Add in extras like shiitake mushrooms, more pork or egg, seaweed, sesame seed, bean sprouts and more.

One of the very best flavors on this earth is a soft-boiled egg broken open in ramen broth. Try it. The complexity of flavors and heartiness in a simple bowl of well-made ramen noodle soup is compelling.

Delicious and hot Takoyaki, fried balls of breaded octopus. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Delicious and hot Takoyaki, fried balls of breaded octopus. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Additional favorite offerings on the menu include freshly house-made gyoza or takoyaki (fried balls of breaded octopus) and tsukemono (pickled veggie salad.)

Sure, there are lots of rice-based bowls available too, including pork cutlet, chicken teriyaki, tempura, tuna sashimi and teriyaki eel, in addition to typical fried rice and chow mein. California roll, spicy tuna roll and avocado roll complement the standard fare.

Wash it all down with teas, sodas, coffee, beer and sake.

Freshly made gyoza at Daikokuya, a little crispy this time. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Freshly made gyoza at Daikokuya, a little crispy this time. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Service is fast, friendly and efficient. Bathrooms are decent. Daikokuya is a cash-only noodle shop, with an ATM on the premises. Parking is your own call unless you’ve taken the Metro.

Daikouya Ramen is our very favorite noodle shop in Los Angeles, along with everyone else in the city, and an excellent antidote to our coming season of El Niño.

 

Get Out Of Town!: Lit Crawl L.A.

Editor’s Note: While there’s always a lot going on in Burbank, myBurbank’s new section “Get Out Of Town!” highlights some of our favorite activities and events outside the town borders.

The North Hollywood Arts District hosts the third annual Lit Crawl L.A. on Wednesday, October 21, at various locations throughout NoHo. The free event draws thousands to more than 35 different restaurants, bars, coffee shops, theaters and additional venues in the NoHo Arts District.

Image Courtesy Lit Crawl L.A.

The evening begins at 6:00 p.m. at the Laemmle NoHo 7 with Poets4Progress. Three 45-minute rounds on the hour follow, showcasing a variety of styles and works.

Check out The Return of the NoHo Beat at the North Hollywood Metro Station Plaza, writers from the North Hollywood and Burbank Senior Artist colonies as they reflect on life before cellphones, the Los Angeles Youth Poet Laureate Showcase and comics from the Los Angeles Cartoonists of Color.

Image Courtesy Lit Crawl L.A.

Image Courtesy Lit Crawl L.A.

More than 40 different themed presentations showcasing nearing 200 writers and performers are slated for Lit Crawl L.A. 2015. Check out the program guide here.

The festivities wind up with an after party “Speak-Easy” at Studio 77. Admission to the after party is $15.

Writers from throughout Los Angeles and the San Fernando and San Gabriel Valleys are slated to perform.

Red Hen Press, The Pasadena Writing Project, San Gabriel Valley Poetry Quarterly, Los Angeles Review of Books and Beyond Baroque are just a few of the presenters.

Musician Dave Kendrick hosts “From The Mouths of Musicians” at the Federal Bar at 9:00 p.m., featuring himself, Leslie Bohem, Johnette Napolitano and Chris Desjardins.

The Lit Crawl originated in 2004 as part of Litquake, San Francisco’s Literary Festival, an annual event attracting thousands of attendees. San Francisco’s Litquake literary festival runs every October along with other annual Lit Crawls in NYC, Seattle, Iowa City, Austin, London, Helsinki and Portland. In 2013, Lit Crawl L.A. was founded as a project of the Litquake Foundation and of the Pasadena Arts Council’s EMERGE program.

Get Out Of Town!: L.A. Zoo Provides A Great Day For All Ages

Editor’s Note: While there’s always a lot going on in Burbank, myBurbank’s new section “Get Out Of Town!” highlights some of our favorite activities and events outside the town borders.

Just across the L.A. River and the 134 Freeway in Griffith Park, the L.A. Zoo continues it long tradition as a great day out for all ages and interests. Perfect for a date, a beautiful place to get some exercise or as a fun outing for the whole family, the Los Angeles Zoo & Botanical Gardens has added several new exhibits and features in recent years.

(Photo By Lisa Paredes)

(Photo By Lisa Paredes)

The L.A. Zoo’s paved pathways and lush foliage make for pleasant walking, stroller pushing or electric wheelchair maneuvering through the park’s 113 acres. The Safari Shuttle gives tired feet a lift around the parking, making four stops along the perimeter. Comfortable shoes are a must. On hot days, the Zoo gets very hot, so sunscreen, hats and water are important to pack.

But the animals and plants are worth the trek! From the welcoming sea lions in the entry plaza to busy meerkats, colorful flamingos and raucous monkeys to sleepy koalas, playful orangutans, stately giraffes and massive gorillas, the L.A. Zoo seems to have more than two of every kind of animal.

Silverback Gorilla in the L.A. Zoo's Campo Gorilla Reserve. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Silverback Gorilla in the L.A. Zoo’s Campo Gorilla Reserve. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

For children, the Zoo provides an up close look and interesting information on ecosystems and animals, especially endangered animals, throughout the world. Teens and adults are certainly still charmed by the park and its mission.

Whether you spend a few hours or the whole day, the L.A. Zoo is a treat. Pack your own lunch or purchase food and snacks at the concession stands for a picnic in this gorgeous location.

A hippo opens wide at the L.A. Zoo & Botanical Gardens. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

A hippo opens wide at the L.A. Zoo & Botanical Gardens. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

The Elephants of Asia habitat opened in 2010 on over six acres of land. The Zoo’s exhibit focuses on conservation and education of elephants in different regions including Thailand, India and China. The Zoo’s elephants come out for a visit during specific times of the day.

In 2012, the LAIR – Living Amphibians, Invertebrates and Reptiles – opened which houses more than 60 different species in mini individual environments.

Wild peccaries of all ages eat at the L.A. Zoo. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Wild peccaries of all ages eat at the L.A. Zoo. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

The Rainforest of the Americas exhibit, which debuted in 2014, showcases life in a tropical rainforest from treetops to the river, including piranhas, giant otters, harpy eagles and cotton-top tamarins.

Earlier this year in May, the Zoo unveiled its new jaguar habitat which houses male jaguar Kaloa and male female pair Stewie and Johar.

The L.A. Zoo & Botanical Gardens continues to be a treasure in the heart of Los Angeles. One day admission is $20 for adults age 13 and up, $17 for seniors over age 62, $15 for children ages 2 to 13 and children under 2 are free. Family memberships start at $134 annually. The park is open 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. daily every day of the year except for December 25.