Offbeat L.A.: It’s Not About the Food – Kitschy Cool & Retro Local Theme Restaurants

The Author at Pinocchio Italian Restaurant in Burbank (photo by Danielle Reierson)

The author at Pinocchio Italian Restaurant in Burbank (photo by Danielle Reierson)

Have you got a special occasion meal coming up that doesn’t necessarily call for elegance, but rather calls for celebration and fun? Are you looking for some out-of-the-ordinary, old school places with genuine character for a joyous get together?  If you’re willing to risk upsetting your foodie/no-gluten/vegan friends with a menu that’s stuck somewhere in 1972, then try one of the 5 eclectic restaurants listed below.  You’ll find that atmosphere is their main selling point, but if you’re like me you’ll find that is more than a fair trade…

The Chowder Barge (photo by Nikki Kreuzer)

The Chowder Barge (photo by Nikki Kreuzer)

If you’re looking for authentic character head down to Wilmington, near San Pedro, and the incomparable Chowder Barge. Located over some railroad tracks, down some stairs and in a somewhat hidden location, it is L.A. Harbor’s only floating restaurant. Built in 1934 as a support vessel for the film Mutiny on the Bounty, it was cemented in place and turned into a restaurant in 1974. With amazingly cheap food prices on burgers, fish & chips and of course tasty chowder, you can actually pull up on your boat, tie down your rig and have a strong drink at the bar inside while fantasizing that you are co-starring in an episode of Magnum P.I. The interior is straight out of the mid-’70s, complete with wood beamed ceilings and the prerequisite hanging cone fireplace. This is thankfully not a place to hobnob with tourists, but rather a place to experience local atmosphere and real flavor in a most intriguing setting- right on L.A.’s docks.

Interior of deklightfully mid-'70's Chowder Barge (photo by Nikki Kreuzer)

The Chowder Barge (photo by Nikki Kreuzer)                                                                             

The Chowder Barge: 611 Henry Ford Avenue, Wilmington, CA 90744; (310) 830-7937.

The Chowder Barge

*Offbeat L.A. tip: Search directions in advance well. You will likely have trouble finding this hidden gem.


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Middle-Aged Rebel: Observations


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Kina Grannis at the Fonda Theatre – Review and Photo Gallery

Kina Grannis at the Fonda Theatre.  Photo by Genesia Ting for the Los Angeles Beat.

Kina Grannis at the Fonda Theatre. Photo by Genesia Ting for the Los Angeles Beat.

Last night I attended Kina Grannis’ concert, at the Fonda Theatre. Her spouse, Jesse Epstein (Imaginary Future) served as her opening act. Jesse performed a couple of his songs off of his recent album, “Fire Escape.” He sang his songs with a soulful voice, and lightened the mood in between songs with hearty jokes. His songs were, for the most part tearful and sad, but nonetheless authentic music.

Although Kina had a small hiccup with her audio system, she captivated the audience’s attention from start to finish. She started with her most popular songs off of her “Elements” album, such as “Write it in the Sky” and “The Fire,” and threw a couple of older songs in there as well.

At one point, she invited a couple of fans on stage to sing to her very first song she ever uploaded onto YouTube, “Message From Your Heart.” Her slow and steady vibe gave way to an amazing cover of “Sweater Weather” by the Neighborhood. During one of Kina’s more personal songs, “Oh Father,” she had actually shed some tears, and took moment to gather herself. She had explained that she wrote this song about her grandfather who had recently passed. The audience cheered her on to finish the song, and she definitely sang her heart out. Kina’s band played some upbeat Mario themed music in between breaks, which was a hit with the crowd. Kina answered some Q&A questions as well. It was overall a very enjoyable concert for both many others and myself.

Photo gallery after the break

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20 Gifts for Under $20

There is no reason to break the bank during the holidays. It’s more important to choose something thoughtful and fun instead of something expensive and predictable. These gifts are perfect for that work friend or the new date you don’t want to weird out with something extravagant. But they are also nice enough to give to the person at the top of your list. I will admit some of the selections are a little bit quirky; I’m a little bit quirky.

socksKnee High Cozy Socks

Usually these fuzzy slipper socks only come up to the heel, but these seasonal socks at Target keep you extra warm. They come in a variety of cool styles, and no one would ever guess they are only $4. Buy a set of 3 different colors for the perfect gift. Plus Target has free shipping for the holidays.



painkillersPainkillers Pocket Tin

 Not only is this tin big enough for the massive doses of medication required to combat those horrible headaches, but just looking at the picture will make you immediately feel like your headache isn’t really that bad after all. Snaps shut securely to carry in your purse or backpack. You can also use it as a wallet to carry credit cards or business cards. $7


dog teethHumunga Teeth Dog Toy

Make people at the dog park do a double-take when they see how happy your dog is with his new toy! I’m sure the dog must pick it up sideways half of the time, but when the teeth line up it’s hi-larious. Made of non-toxic materials; ball is hollow with a hole on the top and bottom. Diameter is 2.4″ similar to a tennis ball. $12

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Giuliano Cardella and Marco Bragaglia: A Feast for the Senses by way of a Duet of Deliciousness in the form of Delectable Drawings and Good Eats for the Ears!

Guiliano Cardella:  Photo by Jennifer K. Hugus for The Los Angeles Beat

Guiliano Cardella: Photo by Jennifer K. Hugus for The Los Angeles Beat

It is a warm but cool, breezy, but still pre-Christmas, non-holiday evening as I saunter by Counterpoint Records and Books (5911 Franklin Ave). Catching my eye through the window:  a cinematic screen alive with effervescent artistry and a guitar flanked by a guy in all his glory playing with gobs and gobs of gusto under the guise of Guiliano Cardella. Art magicially materializes miraculously and masterfully behind said musician!  His steadfast strummer’s stance silhouetted by a sea of story books; no one the least bit bookish or librarian berates him.  His meticulous mate in markestry—Marco Bragaglia–a most singular and stunning sketch artist!  It is as though every note plucked determines the length, swoop and contour of each and every impending line.  I must find out more.

Touring from Italy, both have teamed up to create a musical multimedia extravaganza combining the most wailing of solo guitar solos with “live digital painting” as Bragaglia has termed his real-time master creations.

Photos after the jump

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First Ever Velveteria Tiki Christmas This Weekend! Black Velvet Paintings Galore!

Velveteria Tiki Christmas

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Acabar Celebrates its One Year Anniversary, but You Get the Presents!

acabar tagineAcabar is celebrating its one year anniversary by featuring a Marjolaine birthday cake for dessert, and a tiki-style Zombie, which naturally is served on fire. The Zombie is complimentary for dinner guests on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. We skipped the cake, but the rum Zombie will knock you right on your ass. Seasonal spices such as cinnamon take the cocktail from island breezes to Winter’s chill.

If the ownership team behind The Little Door, The Little Door Santa Monica, and Little Next Door had continued in the same vein, Acabar would be named Gigantic Silver Door. The design of Acabar keeps the opulence of the previous occupant, Dar Maghreb, intact, including that impressive door. The rooms are opened up, and the central fountain has become a fire pit, but the gorgeous tilework remains, along with a Moroccan themed interior. Heavy draperies and upholstered banquettes strewn with pillows muffle the sound even when the room is bustling, and maintain a warm and cozy feel in spite of the grandeur.

The management aims for the chic and creative types, and they certainly succeed. On the evening we visited, well-dressed diners with a variety of accents table hopped and hugged each other, giving the dining room the feel of a dinner party. Yet the room maintained a quiet elegance for couples enjoying romantic dinners. Even the music was unobtrusive, with quiet strains of Bob Marley wafting in from the bar.

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This Sunday: Shop for Tots at M Dot

Event Flyer
Pop Up Shop with Urban Flat and 8th + Hope Residency this Sunday, December 14th from 1pm to 6pm

This Sunday, M Dot Studios is collaborating with Toys for Tots and are accepting toy donations in addition to a donating a portion of proceed sales. Do right – twice!

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Crappy Classics: Brides of Blood

As long as we are on the topic of Monsters on a tropical island, here is the 2nd half of the double feature. The first film of the blood island trilogy, unless you count “Terror Is A Man” some years earlier. Trashy goodness.

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‘What the Lady Wants’ Combines History, Romance, Department Stores and Chicago for a Great Read

9780451466716_WhatThe#85FA7 2. Cover courtesy of NAL.Nowadays, we take for granted what we’ll find when we visit a department store. Sales people in each department waiting to spritz perfume, help pick clothes and even offer suggestions on matching accessories. If the shopping takes too long, major stores like Macy’s, Nordstroms, Saks and others have restaurants where shoppers can relax before returning to look at more items.

A little over 140 years ago, though, stores were not like that. It took one man, the ‘Merchant Prince’, to completely change the concept of what a store was. It is a story that is very interesting and author Renee Rosen tells a compelling version of those days and what that transition was like in her historical novel, What the Lady Wants. Ms. Rosen, who previously wrote about gangsters in the early 1900’s in Dollface, turns to real characters this time, building her story around entrepeneur Marshall Field, the woman he wanted but could not have, Delia Caton, plus Delia’s husband Arthur and a host of friends who were the Who’s Who of Chicago in the late 1800’s; the Swifts, the Armours, the Pullmans and many of the other merchants and industrialists that took Chicago from a backwater town almost destroyed by the Great Fire of 1871 to the showcase of the world and the future in the 1893 World’s Columbian Exhibition. Continue reading

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