In looking at August in review, I’m blown away by what an all-around terrific month it was. Not only did I get to experience some incredible music, food, cocktails, and adventures, I got to share in all of those experiences with my husband and friends. September has a lot to live up to.
SEEN AND HEARD
Ventura County Fair and Third Eye Blind
My husband and I kicked off the month by going on an adventure to Ventura, a city an hour up the California coast. Each summer the Ventura County Fair rolls into the beach town, bringing with it a handful of rides, classic carnival games, copious amounts of fatty food, rodeos, livestock auctions, and, best of all, concerts. This year’s concert lineup was pretty awesome and featured Styx, UB40, Patti LaBelle, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, and, the reason behind our journey, Third Eye Blind.
As someone who grew up in the 90s, Third Eye Blind holds a special place in my heart. I have vivid memories of being ten and listening to “Deep Inside of You” with my mom as she drove me home from school. My twelve year old self remembers listening to “How’s It Going to Be” following what I only assumed was my first heartbreak (spoiler alert: it wasn’t even close) on repeat after recording it on a tape cassette off the radio. I can still picture a segment from Real World Hawaii where Teck is standing on the breaker in the backyard of the Real World house with “Jumper” playing. Needless to say, my love for Third Eye Blind is deep rooted.
When we discovered that the band would be playing at the fair as a warm up to their Outside Lands performance in San Francisco the following day, my husband and I were all in. Never been to Ventura? Not a problem. Haven’t set foot in a fair in 15 years? All the more reason to go!
Our spontaneous decision to attend the fair paid off in the form of an absolutely stellar, and I mean STELLAR, performance from Third Eye Blind that included a lengthy spur of the moment encore after the enthusiastic crowd screamed for one for over five minutes. My husband and I had an incredible time running around the fair acting like kids and eating food that normally wouldn’t pass through our lips because, hey, what’s a random adventure without some questionable decisions thrown in?
10939 Venice Blvd
Following our Ventura County adventure, my husband I met up with two girlfriends at Bigfoot West in Culver City. We rarely find ourselves on the Westside (for those of you who don’t live in LA, the Westside is essentially anything West of the 405 freeway) and wanted to take advantage of the fact we were over that direction and meet up with friends who live out that way. Enter Bigfoot West as the perfect meeting point.
Bigfoot West is notable in that its decor is quite impressive. It’s designed to feel roughly like a Pacific Northwest Native American lodge and is complete with a totem pole and stuffed woodland critters. Creepy.
It was jam packed on the Saturday night we went and I can see how it would be a good spot to go and meet people. It seemed like there were a lot of singles milling about. We all hung out in the less crowded smoking area outside because we wanted to be able to have a conversation and left after a few drinks. It seemed like a fun spot and I’d definitely go back in the future.
Rüfus du Sol at the Santa Monica Pier
Each summer the city of Santa Monica hosts a group of concerts at the Santa Monica Pier called the Twilight Concert Series. The shows are all free and range from surprisingly in-demand acts to less popular groups from the 60’s through 90’s. Highlights of this year were Mayer Hawthorne, Børns, The Psychedelic Furs, Rüfus du Sol, Save Ferris, and Unknown Mortal Orchestra.
You can listen to the shows on the pier itself or on the beach below. I always choose the beach because the pier gets so packed in with people that it overwhelms me. The beach generally offers a more open and relaxing listening experience. Generally.
This was NOT the case with Rüfus du Sol’s show. Fortunately for me, two of my friends were celebrating their birthdays and had staked out a huge spot on the beach at noon the day of the concert. We had prime seating and all would have been great had my husband and I not been running around for two hours trying to meet up with our other friends.
There were so many people in attendance of the concert that cell phone reception was so poor it can only be likened to Coachella. We spent way more time trying to find people amidst the mass of bodies than we did listening to the music. By the time we found our friends the beach around us had turned into a very festival-esque dance party and I was so stressed out that I wasn’t quite feeling it. Ah well, lesson learned…always make clear meetup plans PRIOR to the night of a concert at the pier!
Check out my friend Jessica’s guide to the summer Twilight Concert Series at the Santa Monica Pier for additional information about this Santa Monica tradition.
5925 Franklin Ave
On one scorching hot Saturday in LA, my husband and I made a mid-morning trip to Home Depot to pick up supplies for my DIY acrylic tray. It was one of those days so hot and sticky that making a pit stop for a brunch cocktail seemed like the only reasonable thing to do. My husband had been talking about Birds of Hollywood, a restaurant that has a chicken-based menu, for quite some time and since we were driving right by it we decided to stop in.
Birds of Hollywood is part of an adorable strip of establishments on Franklin Avenue that is collectively known as Franklin Village. The restaurant has been a pillar of the Village since it opened in 1994 and has reached Los Angeles landmark status. The entire area has a very local feel to it and is predominantly tourist free. It’s a mere ten minute drive from where we live and is definitely a strip I will come back to in the future.
We ended up spending over an hour there sipping on seasonal beers and snacking on onion rings and loaded nachos while watching Major League Soccer games. The food was excellent, their air conditioning was divine, and the unique and cheeky decor of the place definitely makes it worth a visit.
Recommended: Try their famous rotisserie chicken, homemade chicken nachos, onion rings, and corn bread.
One of the awesome things about my Around LA posts is that part of the process of putting them together is actually spending time in each of the neighborhoods I write about. That meant not one but TWO trips to Venice Beach during the month of August. While I mostly dine at the restaurants I share with you on these fact finding missions, my husband and I made an exception when we came across the Kogi Taco Truck sitting in a parking lot on Abbot Kinney Boulevard.
Kogi BBQ has been an LA and Orange County mainstay practically since its 2008 inception when the first Korean taco truck began meandering through the streets of Los Angeles selling $2.00 tacos. Founded with the principle that delicious, quality food doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg, Kogi BBQ quickly gained a cult-like following.
Fast forward to 2016 where the Kogi group now owns several brick and mortar restaurants as well as four trucks that make their way daily through Los Angeles and Orange Counties. I had encountered the Kogi trucks before at music festivals but had not wanted to wait in the thirty-person lines to sample their food. Lucky for us, the line at the truck in Venice was a mere two people long and we were treated to delicious tacos in no time at all. For all of my meat eating readers, do yourself a favor and track down one of the Kogi trucks the next time you’re in LA. You won’t regret it.
Recommended: Their short rib tacos are what they’re known for and are ridiculously moist and flavorful. If you’re feeling adventurous, try their calamari tacos which I personally feel are better than the short rib version. Their sweet chili chicken quesadilla and Blackjack quesadilla both receive honorable mention.
1534 Montana Ave
As I mentioned previously, when my husband and I are on the Westside of LA we do our best to meet up with friends who live there. That meant, on a particular Saturday in August, meeting an old friend of my husband’s at Ox & Son, a Santa Monica restaurant serving Modern American food. We went into Ox & Son completely blind with zero background on the eatery and were treated to quite a feast.
The accessibly upscale restaurant offers an extensive largely meat-based menu, but also includes a delectable assortment of salads. The interior of Ox & Son is incredibly chic while still feeling warm and inviting and takes on a romantic feel once the sun goes down. Every single menu item we had the opportunity to try was absolutely outstanding, making a return trip a no brainer.
Recommended: For lunch or dinner try their Prime Beef Tartare, any of their burgers, one or two of their unique ice cream flavors (we sampled apple pie and a frosting flavored one), and La Fin du Monde on tap. Yelpsters also indicate that their brunch menu offerings are out of this world, but be sure to make a reservation if you’re trying to go on a weekend!
6255 Sunset Blvd
After driving past Sunset Boulevard waffle house The Waffle multiple times I finally decided to take a look at their menu even though I assumed I wouldn’t be able to eat much off of it. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that they make gluten free waffles! I knew I had to check it out.
My husband and I got to The Waffle around 11:30 on a Sunday and had to wait 30-45 minutes for a table. Supposedly they don’t take reservations on weekends which is a major negative in my book, but fortunately there are some shaded places you can sit and wait for your name to be called. (I say supposedly because it appears some people are able to get reservations…apparently we are just not those people. So it goes in LA.) Lucky for us, the food was worth the wait and I’d have no qualms with standing around for 30 minutes again in the future.
Recommended: Their extensive menu offers just about every breakfast food you can dream up however I suggest trying one of their namesake waffles. Their Strawberry Cheesecake Waffle and Hash Waffle garner rave reviews. I was thoroughly impressed by their gluten free waffle which tastes every bit as delicious as a regular one.
Note that they also sell “Woofles” to dog patrons. Dogs are allowed on their outdoor patio, though we opted to leave Lola at home when we went due to the 85 degree temperature. We brought her home three Woofles in a little takeaway container and she gave them two paws up.
1551 Ocean Ave
Nine times out of ten when my husband and I go to Santa Monica we end up at Del Frisco’s Grille. The eatery is directly across from the Santa Monica Pier, making it the perfect place to enjoy a cocktail and a bite to eat prior to one of the Twilight Concerts. Since we had some time to kill before heading to the Pier for the Rüfus du Sol show we decided to pop in for a drink. We have now been there for brunch, lunch, dinner, and drinks and everything I’ve ever tried has been outstanding.
Recommended: I can personally attest to the deliciousness of their chicken and waffles, crab cakes, sweet potato fries, garlic parmesan fries, ahi tacos, and any of their sangrias.
I’m closing out August by hopping on a plane to Paris tomorrow and enjoying a much needed break from reality with my husband so I will be out of office for the next week. If you like, you can follow along on our adventures on Instagram or Snapchat (kasiechelanne). I’m excited to come back relaxed, inspired and ready to share our Parisian exploits with you!