BABY BLUES BBQ
444 Lincoln Blvd.
Venice, CA 90291
Ph: 310.396.8023

THE DAILY CONTRIBUTOR REVIEW:
Baby Blues BBQ in Venice is pretty amazing. What set Baby Blues BBQ apart for me was the excellent service. In addition to our server, we had two other people coming up to check on us to see if we needed anything, anything at all. Next time you’re in Los Angeles make sure you stop by Baby Blues BBQ in Venice for some great good and great atmosphere!

ERIC SAYS:
Baby Blues is hands-down the best BBQ I've ever eaten. The ribs are fall-off-the-bone good; never chewy or dry. These guys also make their own unique sauces, which are provided on each table. I used to think the sides were just OK, but they have totally improved with each visit. You have to try the "Bleu On The Cob", which is an ear of corn on the cob lathered in chunks of Bleu and Parmesan cheeses. The stewed tomatoes are also phenomenal.



 

ORTEGA 120
1814 S. Pacific Coast Hwy.
Redondo Beach, CA 90277
Ph: 310.792.4120

ZAGAT REVIEW:
"Elegant, authentic Mexican" cuisine keeps customers coming to this "modern" Redondo Beach cantina famed for its "creative" "twists" on tradition like duck confit chilaquiles; the art-filled digs are "loud and busy", the service "spotty" and the bill might set you back, but most agree the "incredible" margaritas will ease the pain.

ERIC SAYS:
Ortega provides a great dining atmosphere and everything I've tried there has been delicious. Their Margaritas and Guacamole will make you weep. I recommend their street taco sampler platter, since it includes all of their tasty taco variations.


 

FOGO DE CHAO
133 North La Cienega Blvd.
Beverly Hills, CA 90211

Ph: 310.374.4422

FROM THE OWNER:
Fogo de Chao is an authentic southern Brazilian steakhouse. Our gaucho chefs expertly grill each of our 15 cuts of meat and offer you continuous tableside service.

ERIC SAYS:
Fogo provides the kind of meal you plan your day around. You start with the extensive salad bar, which has pretty much everything you can imagine, and it's all-you-can eat. Then, the real fun begins when the gaucho chefs start making the rounds with huge skewers of meat. The staff provide you with a two-sided "stop and go" coaster so you can let them know whether or not you're ready for more food. They'll keep coming until you're on the floor, so pace yourself, and as delicious as the salad bar is...don't overload. You're paying a premium for the meat experience, so enjoy it. It's definitely worth it.



 

RUNYAN CANYON PARK
2000 N. Fuller Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90046

LA MOUNTAINS.COM DESCRIPTION:
Runyon Canyon Park is a 130 acre park two blocks from Hollywood Boulevard, just west of the 101 Hollywood Freeway extending north to Mulholland Drive. There are entrances on Fuller Avenue, Vista Street, and off Mulholland. Since 1983 when it was acquired by the City of Los Angeles with a grant from the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, it has been managed by the City of Los Angeles Department of Parks and Recreation as an 'Urban Wilderness.' It is a rare example of wild chaparral with its drought-resistant evergreen trees and shrubs only a stone's throw from the hustle and bustle of the Hollywood community.

ERIC SAYS:
Runyan is an intense hike that rewards you with breath-taking views of Hollywood and the surrounding areas. On clear days, you can see all the way downtown and to the beaches. The hike begins with a very steep incline, but winds down at a gentle angle for the second half of the loop back to your car. There's no designated parking area, so you have to find street parking. On weekends, I've had to park as far down as Hollywood Blvd., but since you're there to hike anyway, it just increases your excercise a bit. Great place for celebrity sightings as well.



 

ESCONDIDO FALLS
27200 Winding Way
Malibu, CA 90265

LA MOUNTAINS.COM DESCRIPTION:
Accessed from Pacific Coast Highway about a mile south of Kanan Road in Malibu, the trail through Escondido Canyon Natural Area leads hikers, mountain bikers, and equestrians 4.2 miles through oak woodland, riparian woodland, and Coastal sage scrub to the spectacular, multi-tiered 150-foot Escondido Falls—the highest in the Santa Monica Mountains. Allow yourself at least two hours to enjoy this trail and spectacular waterfall. From the parking lot the trailhead is a one mile walk up the paved road. At the Escondido Canyon Trailhead sign, head to the left, walking upstream. The trail criss-crosses the creek several times and then opens onto grassy flats. A mile into the trail you will reach the base of the waterfall. This is the lower tier of the huge limestone fall. The upper tier is 150 feet tall with a deep pool at its base.

DIRECTIONS:
The parking lot is on Winding Way East at Pacific Coast Highway. Park cars here and walk north along Winding Way East (private road) to dirt trail that starts at the end of the paved road.

ERIC SAYS:
This hike is a real trek, but if you really want to get away to another world that's close to home, you've got to try it. It's definitley off the beaten path, and once you're on the trail a bit, it starts to feel like you're really in a jungle in some South American nation. This is a great day trip to pack a lunch for, since there are no restaurants or services once you're back in the sticks.



 

POINT DUME STATE PRESERVE
Westward Beach Rd.
Malibu, CA 90265

FROM CA STATE PARKS SITE:
Point Dume State Preserve features headlands, cliffs, rocky coves and vast beach access. The beach is presently operated by Los Angeles County, which also operates Zuma County Beach. These facilities are noted for swimming, surfing, scuba diving and fishing. Point Dume is a perfect place to watch for California gray whales during the December - March migration period. At the end of Westward Beach Road, access to Point Dume State Preserve begins from the cul-de-sac. A gradual ascending trail leads to an ancient coastal bluff sand dune. An incredible view encompassing the entire Santa Monica Bay, north Malibu Coast, inland Santa Monica Mountains and distant Catalina Island may be enjoyed from the top on a clear day. A boardwalk, just below the summit, leads to a viewing platform - it tends to be more sheltered on a windy day. A stairway from the east side of the bluff-top preserve allows access to a more isolated beach and fine tide- pooling opportunities. Some disabled parking is available along Cliffside Drive, adjacent the bluff-top park area. For viewing platform access, negotiating a slight grade will be necessary.

LOCATION/DIRECTIONS:
From Santa Monica follow Pacific Coast Highway 18-miles west to Westward Beach Road. Turn toward the ocean, go beyond the fee collection station to the very end of the road.
From the 101-Freeway, exit at Kanan Road, follow it south 12-miles to Pacific Coast Highway, then turn right. Westward Beach Road is over the rise, at the foot of the hill.

ERIC SAYS:
Point Dume offers one of the most beautiful views of the Pacific in Malibu. There's a parking lot right on the beach, so you don't have to lug your stuff too far. Once you get tired of laying out, hit the nearby trails and enjoy the view.


 

BARNEY'S BEANERY
100 Fisherman's Wharf, Suite H
Redondo Beach, CA 90277
Ph: 424.275.4820

ERIC SAYS:
Although there are multiple Barney's locations throughout LA, I find the newest one on the Redondo Beach Pier to have the nicest atmosphere and views for watching a game. There simply isn't a bad seat in the house for game day, with plenty of flatscreen TVs showing multiple games, as well as breathtaking views of the beach and ocean. On Sundays, you'll find fans from every NFL team here. Also, the place offers a ridiculously huge menu, tons of beers on-tap, and serves breakfast anytime. They also offer several drink and food specials on Sunday mornings (such as bottomless Mimosas), which is practically unheard of in the area.



 

SONNY McCLEAN'S IRISH PUB
2615 Wilshire Blvd.
Santa Monica, CA 90403
Ph: 310.449.1811

ERIC SAYS:
Sonny McClean's is the West Coast source for all Boston sports in Los Angeles. They cater almost exclusively to Celtics, Red Sox, Patriots, and Bruins fans. Famous players past and present often stop by, and Sonny's goes big for St. Patty's Day. Space is extremely limited, so get here early on game day.



 

THE DOWNTOWN STANDARD HOTEL: ROOFTOP BAR
550 South Flower St.
Los Angeles, CA 90071
Ph: 213.892.8080

DESCRIPTION FROM STANDARD SITE:
The Rooftop Bar at The Standard, Downtown LA, offers an unmatched visual feast of surrounding skyscrapers and panoramic views of Downtown Los Angeles. The Roof encompasses a heated swimming pool, red AstroTurf deck, dance floor, bar, outdoor fireplace, vibrating waterbed pods and a grassy knoll with sculptured topiary. Nightly DJs, excellent food and special events have established the Rooftop Bar as one of the most coveted nightlife destinations in downtown Los Angeles.

ERIC SAYS:
The Downtown Standard Rooftop Bar can be difficult to get into, and the drinks are pretty pricey. However, the jaw-dropping views of downtown LA at night make it totally worth the hassle.


 

WP24 AT RITZ CARLTON - LA LIVE
900 W Olympic Blvd.
Los Angeles, California 90015
Ph: 213.743.8800

DESCRIPTION FROM HOTEL SITE:
WP24 Restaurant & Lounge offers chef Wolfgang Puck’s modern interpretation of traditional Chinese fare on the 24th floor of The Ritz-Carlton, Los Angeles while floor-to-ceiling windows provide stunning panoramic views of Downtown Los Angeles and the surrounding city.

ERIC SAYS:
We recently visited this lounge after a Lakers game. It's on the 24th floor of the Ritz Carlton, located at LA Live in downtown Los Angeles. Easy to get into, and very low-key. Breath-taking views of downtown.


 

LONG BEACH AQUARIUM OF THE PACIFIC
100 Aquarium Way
Long Beach, CA 90802
Ph: 213.892.8080

DESCRIPTION FROM AQUARIUM SITE:
Take a journey of discovery through the world’s largest ocean at the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, California. Explore our exhibits, and discover sunny Southern California and Baja, the frigid waters of the North Pacific, and the colorful reefs of the Tropical Pacific. Come face-to-face with, and even touch, the ocean’s ultimate predators in Shark Lagoon. And hand feed lorikeet birds. With affordable prices and an entertaining and educational experience for the whole family, there is no better time to visit the Aquarium of the Pacific than now.

ERIC SAYS:
The Aquarium in Long Beach is one of the best in the world, and it's great for kids of all ages. Even babies enjoy watching the fish swim around with all the exotic colors. The Aquarium is very easy to get to and located within walking distance to tons of other restaurants, shops, and activities in downtown Long Beach. We recently purchased a yearly Family Membership (which included 2 adults plus all children living in the household) for $115, which is a fantastic deal considering that the cost of a single one-day adult ticket is almost $25.