On Our Radar

Kitson Carries Something For Everyone
Business/Location: Kitson (closed)
Address: 115 S Robertson Blvd
City: Los Angeles
State: CA
Zip Code: 90048
Phone: 310-859-2652
Website: www.shopkitson.com

Posted by:  Beth Deitchman
Photo:  Beth Deitchman
Robertson Blvd. is home to many shops that target the chosen few, and a few chains that target the many, but truly only Kitson carries something for everyone. High end Marc Jacobs tote? They've got it. Lower priced coin purse decorated with celebrity mug shots? They've got that, too. The Kitson buyers have a wonderfully irreverent sense of humor, but like all good satirists, they make sure they know their source material before they start having fun with it. This is Kitson's strength: they're a cheat sheet for what's trending now -- or what will be trending three months from now. They don't carry entire designer collections, but they hone in on the breakout pieces you'll see at the mall in six months. Their gifts and books tend to work on multiple levels: Sure, the retro Pop Phone handset looks like a novelty as you plug it into your iPhone 4, but then you learn that the handset's design actually eliminates 99% of the radiation emitted by your cell phone. Fabulous, fun and functional! Just like Kitson.

Temple of Architecture
Business/Location: Walt Disney Concert Hall
Address: 141 S Grand Ave
City: Los Angeles
State: CA
Zip Code: 90012
Phone: 323-850-2000
Website: www.laphil.com

Posted by:  Khurram Siddiqi
Photo:  Khurram Siddiqi
   Walt Disney Concert Hall
My dad's an architect, and when I was leaving Pakistan for USC, he told me how this "Frank Gehry" person went to my school and had managed to defy traditional construction techniques by doing only what he thought had to be done. There's something temple-like about this place, not for the music venue and the crowd it attracts, but because of the indifference it spews towards the rest of the architecture around it. Let's face it, Downtown LA's architecture isn't as iconic as Chicago's or many other cities. With this building however, LA's been able to breathe easy again as far as just the downtown area is concerned. Every city needs to hit something out of the park. In my opinion, this is probably it for Los Angeles. West LA, the coastal towns--they can't save LA's reputation. They're outer portions of it. There's a LOT of otherwise classic, and beautiful architecture in downtown, but since most development seems to have taken place away from this part of town, the Walt Disney Hall does more for Downtown's rejuvenation than all the other recent modern architecture. Thanks Frank.

Stogies & Art
Business/Location: 2nd Street Cigar Lounge & Gallery
Address: 124 W 2nd St
City: Los Angeles
State: CA
Zip Code: 90012
Phone: 213-452-4416
Website: www.2ndstreetcigars.com

Posted by:  Emerson Dameron
Photo:  Emerson Dameron
   2nd Street Cigar Lounge & Gallery
Downtown Los Angeles is where weirdo Angelenos take refuge from LA stereotypes. Should you grow weary of health-conscious, self-pampering, forward-thinking mega-capitalists, check out this insulated fiefdom of Macanudos and cheesy pop art. The proprietors of 2nd Street Cigar Lounge & Gallery make no efforts to fit in--this place caters solely to the tastes of its ownership and subsists on a core clientele of stogie-puffing Scarface wannabes and curious passersby. If, say, Chicago is "a city of neighborhoods," Los Angeles is a city of self-contained worlds like this one, and 2nd Street does old-school manliness as well as Jefferson Park ever did.

Colorful One-Of-A-Kindness
Business/Location: The 12 Step Store
Address: 8730 Santa Monica Blvd
City: West Hollywood
State: CA
Zip Code: 90069
Phone: 310-623-1702
Website: www.my12stepstore.com

Posted by:  Emerson Dameron
Photo:  Emerson Dameron
   The 12 Step Store
Cold beer pours into a frosty pint glass. A sweaty group of dancing friends hoist their bottles, enjoying their big night out, the day's care forgotten. America's commercial environment is no friend of the recovering alcoholic. As someone who's actively dialed back his boozing over time, I know that, when you're pushing through a bad day without the stuff, the carefree promotional initiatives for cocktail culture can turn menacing. WeHo's 12-Step Store serves two purposes: It raises scratch for local recovery programs and it shifts the cultural balance a tad, rendering the AA lifestyle (often perceived, rightly or wrongly, as cultish, humorless and doctrinaire) into a brightly colored world of clever slogans, wacky baubles, Bill Wilson bobbleheads, and enjoyably cheesy fun. Even if you've never hailed the wagon, it's worth a pop-in for its one-of-a-kindness alone.

Perfection Achieved
Business/Location: Ananda
Address: 1356 Abbot Kinney Blvd
City: Los Angeles
State: CA
Zip Code: 90291
Phone: 310-399-4186

Posted by:  Alisha Miranda
Photo:  Alisha Miranda
I've found my dream store. The perfect travel inspiration. And the perfect street to live on. This is Ananda on Abbot Kinney in Venice Beach, about an hour from LA. The ultimate shopping experience for hippies, eclectic artists, and decorating fanatics, Ananda boasts a unique collection of boutique furnishings and fashions that will leave your wallet empty. No spot is left untouched as shoppers sift through just about every inch of the store in search of the perfect purchase. Be prepared to fall in love.

Panorama Perfection
Business/Location: Griffith Observatory
Address: 2800 E Observatory Ave
City: Los Angeles
State: CA
Zip Code: 90027
Phone: 213-473-0800
Website: www.griffithobservatory.org

Posted by:  Alisha Miranda
Photo:  Alisha Miranda
   Griffith Observatory
Science geeks take note: the Griffith Observatory will be your new favorite place. Set inside Griffith Park in Los Angeles, it's a favorite for locals and tourists due to prime panoramic views, an impressive astronomy lesson, and a sizeable interactive planetarium. Despite the hoards of people always here, it's a must-see landmark, especially in the evening which provides an extra stellar atmosphere.

Taste Bud No. 5
Business/Location: Umami Burger
Address: 1520 N Cahuenga Blvd
City: Los Angeles
State: CA
Zip Code: 90028
Phone: 323-469-3100
Website: umamiburger.com/

Posted by:  Alisha Miranda
Photo:  Alisha Miranda
   Umami Burger
Umami stands for the fifth taste bud. Apparently, the Japanese invented a flavor that is savory, sweet, sour, and bitter all at the same time. The burgers created here are an art form, a true testament to modern man coming a long way from learning to use a grill. Biting into an Umami burger (or if you want to prove yourself, order the Manly Burger with bacon lard and fried onion straws) is an outer body experience filled with confusion, lust, and pleasure. You won't have any idea what you've just tasted but you know you'll want more.

Breakfast at the Beach
Business/Location: Uncle Bill's Pancake House
Address: 1305 Highland Ave
City: Manhattan Beach
State: CA
Zip Code: 90266
Phone: 310-545-5177
Website: www.unclebills.net

Posted by:  Emerson Dameron
Photo:  Emerson Dameron
   Uncle Bill's Pancake House
I love breakfast. I love eggs, coffee, and carbohydrates. I love it for lunch, for dinner, for dessert, and as my mysterious Fourth Meal. I also love the beach. Like most Angelenos, I have a particular affection for Manhattan Beach, the purdy seaside community where the Beach Boys first saw people surfing. If you're going to hit MB on a warm weekend, you'll face a Hobbesian parking situation and you'll need to get up extraordinarily early. If you can beat the rush, why not celebrate with pancakes? Personally, I love it best on weekdays, when it's off-season and grey and the existential reverb is exquisite. I can usually force myself out of bed in time for Happy Hour, and I can usually make it to Bill's before it closes at 3 pm. (If you're still around when they're cleaning up, tip generously.) What makes this joint special? It's not the food, which is hearty but standard-issue diner fare. It's not that it's any kind of a secret--if you miss the weekend sweet spot by seconds, you may have to wait for hours. But, come on: It's breakfast at the beach. It's the view and the people and the smell of suntan lotion. More than that, it's the oddball decor and character, the sense that you're part of a small-town inside joke. That's worth another lathering of syrup.

The Gruff Charm of the Neighborhood Tap
Business/Location: Black Boar
Address: 1630 Colorado Blvd
City: Los Angeles
State: CA
Zip Code: 90041
Phone: 323-258-8800

Posted by:  Emerson Dameron
Photo:  Emerson Dameron
   Black Boar
I've spent many hours in the dark confines of the Black Boar, knocking back the happy-hour special (a Pabst and an Evan Williams shot, which I christened the "meal deal") and wishing the day's care into the cornfield. So I got to know the bar's mustachioed proprietor. Like me, he has a history in Chicago, and we discussed the idea of opening a "Chicago-themed bar" in LA. But, in many ways, he's already done it. The Black Boar is modeled on British pubs, but like the most grounded Chicago taverns, it feels more like a particularly kempt dive than a theme bar. It's not well known enough to drive traffic from parts west, but like a corner tap in Chicago, it caters to a range of immediate locals: the craft beer selection rivals LA's best, but there's plenty of cheap swill for the kids. The jukebox rocks macho FM staples, contemporary indie-electro fads, and some surprisingly deep cuts. Key bartenders are enthusiastic to the point of flamboyance, but they're much more theatre/improv-comedy types than Hollywood types, if you get me. Bouncers and older regulars are chummy and charming in a gruff, avuncular way. The dark interior and huge wooden booths shut out the world. Daily specials include the Mystery Shot. Do not ask what this is.

200,000 Strong & Glowing
Business/Location: Santa Monica Pier
Address: Colorado Ave & Ocean Ave
City: Santa Monica
State: CA
Zip Code: 90401
Phone: 310-458-8900

Posted by:  Emerson Dameron
Photo:  Emerson Dameron
   Santa Monica Pier
Near the ends of the last few summers, the touristy area around Santa Monica Pier has transformed, for one long Saturday night, into LA's most fascinating outdoor art museum. The annual Glow Festival focuses on art that looks cool in the dark, but ranges from a lifeguard tower being slowly swallowed in foam to a locomotive-shaped barbecue to a brass band performing on a merry-go-round (courtesy of the geniuses at Machine Project). The fest runs from 7 pm to 3 am, and it's wildly popular--most businesses along the shoreline and Promenade stay open late to accommodate the 200,000-some bodies that show up and hang out. A lot of these people probably don't spend a lot of time in indoor museums and only show up for this because it's The Thing To Do This Weekend, and around sundown, you'll overhear a lot of philistine wisecracks about certain exhibits. But after a few hours of live music, artsy intrigue, and rampant weed smoke, most people settle in and realize what most little kids realize without thinking about it too much: Art is pretty damned nifty. As is its wont, Los Angeles dresses up for this thing: You'll see a huge number of people in glow-in-the-dark clothing, and some people trying way too hard. (I'm looking at you, glowstick-dreadlocks girl, and not without a certain admiration.)