Kathy Leonardo

Kathy Leonardo  Photo:Gregory Dahl

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LA Art Party Newsletter

LAArtParty is an arts and entertainment website. Established in 2010, it is an online go-to guide for what's happening in and beyond the LA area - this includes dining, travel and more.

Founded by journalist, and "Blues Mama" Kathy Leonardo (a longtime performer), the campy site has an unusual slant which will keep you entertained. Leonardo has been writing for the past 15 years about various subjects for the Huffington Post, THRIVE GLOBAL, LA Weekly, etc.

Each month the LAArtParty staff, led by Kathy Leonardo decides which events will be featured. Posted at noon on the Thursday prior to the last week of the month, LAArtParty.com features the Top Ten Art Parties, plus other fun events each month. VIP subscribers find out ONE week prior to the public and receive discounts and invites to VIP parties throughout the year.

See Contact Page to find out how to become a VIP subscriber so you don't miss any more great ART Parties!! See Contact/Rates Page to find out how submit and promote your own events!

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Hotel Review: The Capri, Ojai CA

HotelReview-theCapriI recently enjoyed a beautiful drive up the coast with a stop off at Ojai California. I needed a break from my hectic schedule. A friend had recommended the Capri Hotel for a quick lodging stay. I will say I was quite impressed, which is why I am writing this review. When I first got out of my car, I was astounded by the view overlooking the Topa Topa Mountains.  

A modern hotel, the room I stayed in had refrigerator, and a microwave, not that I needed it for my one night stay. I did enjoy the cable television, and complimentary wi-fi though. The lush greenery surrounding the hotel made me immediately want to go for a walk. It was a bit too brisk for me to take a dip in the pool, but one family seemed not to care about the weather. The kids were having the time of their lives in the pool, while the parents were kicking back in the cabana.

On my walk...I found myself headed toward the town, which was charming and decked out for the holidays. I passed by a delightful gallery called Porch Gallery...stopped and walked into a two person show entitled "10,000 Days." The exhibition featured husband and wife artists Richard Amend an exceptional painter and Susan Stinsmuehlen-Amend who created some stunning glasswork. The exhibition will remain on view through April 26, 2015. For more info visit http://porchgalleryojai.com

FoHotelReview-Topa-TopaMtnsr dinner, I had a wonderful meal at the Deer Lodge. The wine was fantastic ...of course I am not a wine reviewer like Kathy (founder of LAArtParty). The restaurant was quite close to the hotel and slept like a baby. I am planning to come back for a longer stay. I found out certain rooms do allow for animals - I wish I would have known, I sometimes travel with one of my neighbor (who has a dog) but I decided pretty last minute...I just had to get away. I highly recommend the Capri Hotel for a quick or long stay.

The Capri hotel is located at 1180 E Ojai Avenue Ojai, CA 93023-3013. Call (805) 646-4305 for reservations or visit the website http://hotelojai.com

Scuba Divers Unite to Honor our Oceans!

Image: Turtle at Karpata dive site, Photo by Richard Bilow

Scientific analysis shows that the future of our planet depends on the health of our oceans. Global climate change, warming oceans, and bleaching of our coral reefs are just a few of the harsh realities that our oceans are struggling to cope with. Careless development and unsustainable fishing practices are also stressing our oceans to the point of no return.

What started out as a trip to rejuvenate from a stress-filled life of deadlines soon turned into an awe-inspiring educational awakening. It all began when I decided that I needed a break to re-charge and disconnect from my busy lifestyle in LA. A trip to Bonaire in the Dutch Caribbean was an obvious choice. Bonaire is widely known as one of the world's best and easiest places to dive, so it was an appropriate place for me to return to diving...after some ten years away from one of my favorite activities.

The trip inspired me to write several articles - one for PADI about my underwater adventure, and one more for Arianna Huffington's new website, THRIVE GLOBAL. The artice touts the benefits of un-plugging and re-connecting with one's inner peace. See my article titled Running Away Never Felt So Good!!
Image: File fish on the Buddy house reef;
Photo by Richard Bilow

Since 2010, the population of the island has been growing rapidly, and local entrepreneurs have responded by introducing new fine dining and luxury lodging options to this tranquil island. With so much to see and do, we grabbed our bags and quickly headed over to the Budget Car Rental, located right on the airport premises. A pickup truck is the way to go for divers, and Budget had just what we needed.

I decided to stay at Buddy Dive Resort, which hosts a mandatory lecture each week for all divers intending to explore the coral reefs. Here, I learned about the Coral Restoration Foundation (CRF) via Augusto Montbrun, manager of Buddy Dive operations, and Laura Summers, dive master/instructor. CRF is an important and increasingly effective nonprofit organization which helps to develop other nonprofits such as Coral Restoration Foundation Bonaire. CRF Bonaire works to restore the reefs around this specific island.

The next day, Summers led us on a preliminary dive at the house reef right off the Buddy Dive dock as part of our refresher course. Later in the afternoon, we were taken by boat for an amazing dive at Klein Bonaire, a small uninhabited island just across the water from the resort.
Image: Coral diversity at Klein Bonaire dive site; Photo by Richard Bilow

Richard Bilow, a professional underwater filmmaker/artist (and my travel companion) raved about this particular dive site. It was perfectly suited for his needs. Bilow is producing an underwater video installation using 4K footage designed to make viewers feel like they are one with the sea. "Bonaire is one of my favorite destinations for underwater photography," explained Bilow, "because the island is filled with easily accessible dive sites and you can dive almost every site from shore. When Laura took us to Klein Bonaire, I was so blown away by the shallow zone we swam through on our way back to the boat, that I had to change my production plans."

Summers comes from a family of divers and has worked around the world in the dive industry. In addition to working as a Buddy Dive instructor, she also volunteers for Coral Restoration Foundation Bonaire. She is the project leader for the Buddy Dive team and oversees Buddy Dive's nursery of twenty-three coral "trees" as well as the restoration sites. She also coordinates daily Coral Restoration activities for the staff at Buddy Dive. "I love being involved in an environmental project where you can see that it is working right before your eyes," explained Summers. "To plant a coral and watch it grow into a habitat over time is so inspiring and gives me hope for the future of our oceans."

There are a total of five nurseries around the island, and several dive shops share the responsibilities related to their management and care. Volunteers with CRF Bonaire include the staff of Harbour Village, Wanna Dive, and Gooodive, among others.
-4--Growth Pix-CRF
Image: Photo courtesy of CRF

Discovering the work of CRF was fascinating and unexpected. I wanted to know more about the organization, so I reached out to Ken Nedimyer, founder and president of the original nonprofit and flagship company, Coral Reef Foundation. Nedimyer was living and diving in the Florida Keys when he saw the reefs dying and wanted to do something about it. What started out as helping his daughters with their 4-H project evolved into the idea of growing and replanting enough corals to actually turn the clock back and restore coral reefs. "To do this, I knew I was going to need help, so I decided the non-profit model would be the best way to achieve this vision. In founding CRF, I wanted to create a company that could develop effective and efficient ways to restore corals reefs and then train others to do the same thing throughout the world."

Nedimyer has seen his dream come to fruition while helping other CRF organizations set up in locations such as Curacao, Mustique, Colombia, etc. He cited CRF Bonaire as an incredible example and acknowledged the team at Buddy Dive for all its hard work. "I like to say that what we are doing at CRF is 'selling hope and buying time.'" He went on to say that in addition to needing funding to continue supporting CRF's ongoing work and to expand into new areas, qualified people are also needed to get involved in the process and help continue building a strong international network of self-sustaining, independent businesses, focused on coral reef restoration like CRF Bonaire.
Image: Photo courtesy of CRF

There are currently over 9,000 corals included in Bonaire's nursery project - all in various stages of growth. Over 8,000 corals to date have been transplanted to the reef. Summers gave us an underwater tour of the Buddy Dive nursery. It was quite inspiring to witness the growth of the corals and see the restoration first hand.

Project Coordinator Francesca Virdis has worked for Coral Restoration Foundation Bonaire since it started in 2012 and was involved in the initial nursery set-up. She has been diving for over twenty-five years. "Diving in a restoration site, swarming with colorful fish seeking shelter in the thriving branches of the growing corals, is something that will make everyone happy."
Image: Elkhorn coral, one of the two types of coral being grown by CRF Bonaire, Photo by Richard Bilow

Summers and Virdis both agreed that they love working with CRF Bonaire. Summers added, "I take incredible pride in my work with the corals, but I am most proud of my students who show up just to give back. I just hope that we can impact enough people so that one day we won't have the need to restore."

The public can help CRF Bonaire by donating directly or they can adopt a single coral for $50, a tree for $500, or a coral thicket for $1000. See bottom of this article for websites.

In addition to boat diving and the exceptional diving at the resort, one can head to popular dive sites on the north end of the island such as Karpata,1000 Steps, and Oil Slick Leap. On the south end, some favorite dive sites include: Hilma Hooker, Tori's Reef, and Margate Bay. There are over sixty easy-to-reach dive sites and nearly every spot holds potential for a diver to see the wide variety of sea life found in this part of the world. I personally prefer boat dives, and Rock Pile off the south side of Klein Bonaire was one of my favorites.
Image: A school of goat fish at Buddy House Reef; Photo by Richard Bilow

One afternoon, we went for a couple of shore dives with VIP Diving, a top-notch dive business with a highly personalized approach to customer service. Founded in 2009, VIP Diving was created by dive master and professional guide Bas Noij who moved to Bonaire in 2006. An avid traveler, he and his wife fell in love with the island and decided to make it their home. "We chose Bonaire because of the relaxed pace of life, good weather year round, and fantastic nature." Noij is currently on the board of BONHATA (Bonaire Hotel and Tourism Association) and STINAPA (National Park Foundation).

We had a great time diving with our VIP guide - Jossue De Palm, a young dive master who has been diving since he was sixteen. Jossue drove us up north for some fantastic shore diving, helped us manage all our gear, and then took us for lunch at Posada Para Mira. We enjoyed fresh Wahoo and Cod with plantains and rice. Iguana soup was available, although I did not partake. Then it was back to another fantastic dive site called Tolo, where we started a slow drift north to our exit at Karpata.
Image: Trumpet Fish at Buddy House Reef, Photo by Richard Bilow

If you are looking for a great diving destination with gentle currents, clear water, and lots of sea life, Bonaire should be at the top of your list. It's a perfect choice for novice divers to perfect their skills, while experienced scuba enthusiasts come back year after year and leave the island with beautiful photographs to share with family and friends. Those who love the freedom and simplicity of snorkeling also return to the island year after year to marvel at the sea life.

Here are some helpful links about Bonaire and CRF. Bonaire National Marine Park is managed by STINAPA  http://STINAPA.org https://coralrestoration.org  http://crfbonaire.org/

Review: The Good Pizza

I love to review food, and even though my taste buds are drawn to the complicated cuisine of upscale restaurants, I am still open to finding terrific versions of basic food, at all types of venues. One can find delicisous quick bites at many casual pay-at-the-counter type food establishments...such as this one in Marina Del Rey.
Image: courtesy of LAArtParty;

I was recently introduced to The Good Pizza on Lincoln Boulevard. And as a New Yorker, I am especially particular about my pizza. My boyfriend had been raving about this place, so I decided to give it a try.

Although not a vegetarian, I love vegetables while still enjoying pepperoni on my pizza from time to time. While my boyfriend chose a few slices loaded with meat, l was drawn to a slice covered with artichoke hearts, spinach, and mushrooms. Underneath the veggies, I found pepperoni - an added bonus. Very often pizzerias offer one or the other (meat or vegetables) on its pies...not a combination of both. I am assuming a true vegetarian would first confirm that the pizza was meat-free, but I was delighted by the topping variety. The pizza was easy to fold (important for us New Yorkers) and covered with a delicious tomato sauce. The crust was chewy with just enough crunch...delish!
Image: courtesy of LAArtParty; a meat eaters dream

If you are looking for NY quality pizza, pop by The Good Pizza, 4222 Lincoln Boulevard, Marina del Rey, CA 90292; 424 835-4243; http://www.thegoodpizza.com

Restaurant Review: Happy 30th Anniversary Modo Mio Cucina !

ModoMio30th-diningroomModo Mio Restaurant opened in 1985 and is still bringing it's unique, delightful and quality Italian experience to Pacific Palisades. It is located inside The Village of Pacific Palisades, with an ambiance that is both inviting and relaxing. When you step inside, you feel you as if you are in Italy. It is like a mini vacation. Modo Mio's owner, George, has infused his restaurant with homeyness and authenticity. 

There was a fine array of wines, appetizers, entrees and desserts at the 30th anniversary celebration. Modo Mio Cucina made sure their guests felt appreciated.

ModoMio30th-appetizerIf you enjoy fine wine, this is the place to go. At the anniversary party, Beau provided guests with the perfect wine for them. All you had to do was let him know what you liked, and he poured you a beautiful glass of Italian wine. The wine flowed freely. Considering that Beau is a waiter and not a sommelier, his knowledge proved quite impressive. It also served as testimony to the highly trained and hospitable employees you will encounter at Modo Mio Cucina. They will gladly attend to your every need, ensuring a quality dining experience. (Can I mention that the waiters were adorable...)

The two appetizers I was most impressed with were the Caprese E Pomodoro and the Mosaico Di Peperoni, with the Mosaico Di Peperoni being my personal favorite. The mozzarella in the Caprese E Pomodoro was magnificently creamy, the way only real mozzarella can be. And the goat cheese in the Mosaica Di Peperoni perfectly accented the tri-colored peppers and sun dried tomatoes.

AsModoMio30th-Ravioli2jpg far as the entrees go, they were all fabulous. The Pollo Alla Diavola was pounded thin and tender. The sauce on the fluffy Gnocchi Modo Mio was unique and delicious. The Rigatoni Alla Melanzane was cooked to al dente perfection, with sauce that was rich and full and complimented by the tender pieces of eggplant. But, the star of the show was the Ravioli Dello Chef. How many ways can one say "YUM"? They were light, creamy and melted in your mouth.

Plus, there were big baskets of breads provided (including rosemary bread) to sop up the delicious sauces with, so not a drop of the fine flavors needed to go to waste.

After all that, there was a dessert spread consisting of Tiramisu, Apple Tart, and a Modo Mio CuModoMio30th-desertcina specialty named The Sweet Nuns. They are adorable mini delights, perfect for when you want something sweet but are too full to have dessert. Just a little bite will do ya!

I know I will be going back. It will be hard not to repeat the raviolis, but I want to see what other delights Modo Mio has to offer. The prices are extremely reasonable. The restaurant is located at 15200 W Sunset Boulevard, Pacific Palisades, CA, and there is free parking. One can't ask for more! I encourage you to take this quick trip to Italia.

Travel Review: Re-discover Harlem, NYC!

Music has long been a big part of the culture of New York. Growing up in this city, I spent many a night in Harlem hanging out in clubs such as Bill's Place, Showman's Jazz Club, and of course the very popular Apollo Theater. Back in the day, the neighborhood was very different. Today, the signs of gentrification are everywhere, but thank goodness Harlem has managed to keep some of its retro soulful dives alive.
Les Goodson Soul Jazz Band, photo by Richard Bilow

Paris Blues is a classic dive bar located in West Harlem. It's a throw-back blues venue featuring local jazz and blues. I stopped in to see the Les Goodson Soul Jazz Band. The bar was relatively quiet when I first arrived at 9:45pm, but it soon filled up...standing room only. I met owner Samuel (Sam) Hargress, Jr., who informed me that he just turned eighty. He had always been a lover of music and opened Paris Blues fifty-eight years ago. When I asked if the name was inspired by the Paul Newman/Sydney Poitier/Joanne Woodward movie with the same name, he replied, "No, it was inspired by my family's history with the Harlem Hellfighters in Paris." Paris Blues, 2021 Adam Clayton Powell Jr Blvd, New York, NY 10027;

Red Rooster Harlem has an excellent reputation. Chef and co-owner Marcus Samuelsson's signature cuisine is just one of the many attributes this club has to offer. Featuring a weekly mix of styles - Jazz, Latin Jazz, World Music, and DJs - it creates a wonderful community atmosphere. Talented veteran musicians play the Red Rooster along with special guest musicians and singers allowing an off-the-cuff experience to unfold.

Manager Tynae Lester gave us a quick tour before leading my travel partner/photographer and myself to our table. We ordered a delicious Malbec (Susanna Balbo Crios, 2014, Mendoza) - a fruity full-bodied red, with cherry overtones. The place was starting to jump when the Yep Chicken and Waffles circa 1930 (Jesus' hot breath, Vermont syrup, pickle chips) arrived at the table. The chicken was perfectly fried with a spiced batter that tantalized my palette. The waffles were soft with a delicate crunch and complemented the dish, along with the zesty cilantro dip.
Yep Chicken and waffles circa 1930, photo by Richard Bilow

Next, we enjoyed the Warm Beef Kitfo (beef tartare, berbere spiced yogurt, awase vinaigrette, fried Injera) and Sister Franny's Crab Toast (blue crab, cheddar, ginger, yum tom, crispy shallots, cilantro, grilled flat bread). Both dishes were sensational. The Warm Beef Kitfo offered a multi-dimensional spice pairing. It was an exquisite flavor, but Sister Franny's Crab Toast knocked my socks off. The delicate crab mixed with cheddar was a wonderful savory combination, but the spicy sauce and jalapeños on top brought my taste buds to a whole new level. Dessert was also delightful. We enjoyed La Isla Bonita (tres leche cake, rum, passion fruit, and banana) Coffee and Doughnuts (dulce de leche ice cream and mocha).
RedRooster-SisterFrannysCrabToastSister Franny's Crab Toast, photo by Richard Bilow

For a Monday evening, the Red Rooster attracted a huge crowd. The Rakiem Walker Project (RWP) played to a group of enthusiastic fans. The jazz band played from 8-12am and featured horns, drums, vocals, guitar, keyboards, etc., with many guest performers jumping in.

Supervisor and artist Leon Johnson came by to say hello and recounted his personal history with the restaurant. Johnson was recently promoted to supervisor at the Red Rooster, but has been a server for the past five years. Johnson is an artist and first met the owner at the Red Rooster. Samuelsson was working on a new cookbook. "I actually became involved with the cookbook when I handed Marcus my business card in passing," explained Johnson. "Later, he mentioned that he was putting together a cookbook and asked if I would be interested and I, of course, was totally honored." Johnson's illustrations that were used in the book are also on display at the Red Rooster. "I like my work to come together like jazz - incorporating every line, every mark, every splat of ink in order to create my visual song."
RedRooster-LeonJohnsonArtArtwork by Leon Johnson featured in the Red Rooster Cookbook: The Story of Food and Hustle in Harlem; Original art is on view at the Red Rooster

The restaurant sports additional art on the walls by artists such as Derrick Adams, Howard Cash, Brandon Coley Cox, Bobby Fisher, Mark Leckey, Lorna Simpson, and more.

After talking to Lester and Johnson, I soon realized the restaurant staff and musicians were a tight-knit family, blending food, music, art, and cookbook to boot. Red Rooster Cookbook: The Story of Food and Hustle in Harlem recently published, features recipes of many of the restaurant's top dishes. Samuelsson has long been a lover of jazz. His book tour in October/November of 2016 featured the Rakiem Walker Project. Samuelsson's idea was to bring a slice of Harlem life with him on the book tour, so he invited the band and the dance group W.A.F.F.L.E., thus creating a one-of-a-kind experience for all. Red Rooster Harlem, 310 Lenox Avenue, New York, NY 10027; http://www.redroosterharlem.com

If you happen to be in New York City and love music, take some time to re-discover Harlem...it's fantastic!

Wine Tasting...With LA Art Party!

A group of talented artists and wine lovers April-2015-Wine-Tasting-LAAP1gathered at an informal wine tasting at the headquarters of LA Art Party. Our tasters consisted of Michael Baroff, Barbara Kosoff, J.J.L'Heureux and Jennifer Verge. Of course, I (Kathy Leonardo) hosted, offering some finger sandwiches and other various other bites.

Earlier in the month, Gruppo Mezzacorona generously donated some wine to a an art opening and charity event benefiting Miracles for Kids produced by LA Art Party and nitespa. Wine rep John D'Alvia attended and poured at the event. "BaciVivaci--meaning "Lively Kisses" in Italian--is our newest sparkling from Sicily," explained D'Alvia. "It's a light sparkling made from Grillo, Sicily's most prominent white grape. This wine has all the components of a great white wine: lively aromatics, hints of tropical fruit, and delicately balanced with minerality and nice acidity. It's perfect for the spring and summer months ahead." For more info see http://www.gruppomezzacorona.it/

It was a delightful wine. Lively and crisp...bubbles danced on our tongues. Coincidentally, I happen to be a huge fan of this company's 2013 Pinot Noir and had mentioned to John that I was always searching for it in local markets. He brought some to the event as well. The Pinot Noir sells for less than $10, and was well rounded and smooth...not too heavy. 

I April-2015-Wine-Tasting-LAAPdid go home with some....alas it did not make it to the tasting...Mama had at it late one night as I was tirelessly writing a Huff Post article.

Back to our wine review...We started with a chilled Pinot Grigio 2013 from Cliffhanger. It was quite lively and refreshing. "Fruity, but not too sweet" exclaimed Barbara. Michael said it was crisp with a lovely bouquet. J.J. detected the essence of pears...(we all said "yes"). Jen also commented on how crisp and delightful it was. Truth be told, I am more of a red wine lover, but would definitely consider purchasing some for a summer evening by the beach. That's any  summer night for me, since I live a half a block from the ocean.

The Cliffhanger Pinot Grigio can be found at Robert Burns Liquor in Beverly Hills, Hillhurst Liquor in Los Feliz and Remedy Wine and Spirits in Glendale. It is also featured at the Beverly Hill's Avalon Hotel (by the glass).

Next was a lovely red blend that may have beenApril-2015-WineTasting-LAAP3 my favorite. At first taste, J.J. said, "It's peppery." Barbara commented (as she swirled the wine in her glass), "It has a nice bouquet and good legs with a little bit of spice." Jen agreed, with Michael adding that it had a rich full body and was quite delectable. All in all I thought this one was thoroughly smooth and as it opened up, the taste of the spice lingered.

Cliffhanger Rosso can also be found at Robert Burns Liquor Beverly Hills, at Remedy Wine and at Spirits in Glendale and Hillhurst Liquor in Los Feliz.

Our third wine to try was a full body Chianti. "It really takes you back to Italy," remarked Jen, who also noticed the oak flavor. J.J. (a fan of labels – which she often incorporates into her artwork) pointed out that the bottle had an authentic Chianti label specifically noting the rooster at the top of the bottle. "It's.more tannic then the blend," Barbara added. "You can taste the earth." Michael admitted that although he would not normally reach for a chianti when purchasing wine, he would indeed purchase this one. He also suggested that this full bodied red would go great with pasta. "And pizza or a steak," chimed in Barbara. Finally J.J. suggested that the chianti continued to "hold up" as it opened.

Querceto Chianti Classico can be enjoyed at these establishments: 800 Degrees Pizza (Downtown LA), Centanni (1700 Lincoln Blvd. Venice), Fireside Farms (Santa Monica) Hotel MdR (Marina Del Rey).

April-2015-Wine-Tasting-LAAP-bottlesRounding off the evening, we decided to enjoy a delicious Deco Port brought to us by J.J. She is a fan of Sonoma port works and often brings back multiple bottles from her trips up the coast to bring as gifts to her friends back in LA. I have had the pleasure of tasting this once before at J.J.'s home and loved it. The chocolaty aroma and taste seemed to delight the group...that...or the fact that we were now on our fourth bottle and perhaps anything would be tasty at this point.

I can say with certainty (since I have had it before), it offers a scrumptious rich flavor. Not usually a fan of port, the chocolate after taste is delightful and engaging.

A wonderful time was had by all. Thanks to Gruppo Mezzacorona for sending samples and to J.J. L'Heureux's contribution of the Deco Port from Sonoma Portworks.

Keeping it Local...Two Fabulous Venice, Santa Monica Happy Hours!

Most of our crew here at LA Art Party live in Venice...a couple in SM too. Venice is home to many incredible restaurants....

See Kathy's Huffington Post article about the Taste of Venice. Here she spotlights the food of the many exceptional restaurants in the Venice area.

Well here are HappyHour-CandleStickCafea couple of favorites.

For a casual and inexpensive meal...Hang by the beach and enjoy the sunset. Summer or Winter...

Located right on the Venice Beach Boardwalk, Candle Café & Grill is a very "local" relaxed cafe...offering classic beach fare. We often meet our clients at thie local eartery...it's also the pefect spot to watch the colorful Venice performers.

My favorite happy hour item is the pulled pork sandwich...for just $5. Lots more on the happy hour menu such as tacos, the fries are hand-cut. Breakfasts, appetizers, pastas, pizza, burgers, salads and popular entrees are the core of the six-page menu. Relax with one of 22 beers on draft, wine, or specialty cocktails. Try some recent additions to the menu: Hummus Platter, Vegetarian Chipotle Burger, or fresh Scottish Salmon Steak. They also offer tasty pizzas.

Check the website for latest Happy hour Times

Where: Candle Café & Grill 325 Ocean Front Walk, Venice 90291
Phone: (310) 314-4456
Website: www.venicecandlecafe.com

Or if you are looking for a bit more upscale...enjoy breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean while dining at the Hungry Cat Santa Monica Canyon. 

HappyHour-HungryCat-SMThis is the third location for Chef/owner David Lentz to continue to create delicious dishes. This seafood based restaurant put a spotlight on fish... paired with the best locally sourced ingredients. 

Start off happy hour with an oysters shooter ($5). Cocktails such as the Hungry Cat Margarita will run $7. Wine runs $6 - $7, with a variety of beer available for $4. Happy hour itnem include fish tacos, Lil pugs (sliders) merguez sausage and mussels and more. Prices range from $3.50 to $7. With a 1/2 dozen oysters also available for $14.

Where: The Hungry Cat Santa Monica, 100 W. Channel Raod, Santa Monica, CA 90402
Phone: (310) 459-3337
Website: http://www.thehungrycat.com/santa_monica

LA's Dining Hot Spots!

One thing great about big cities....LA, NY....is the ever-changing restaurant scene. New, incredible, inventive and trendy dining spots pop up every other day. It's a hard road for restaurants. Some truly wonderful ones fall to the wayside sometimes. So get out there and discover them quick kids. It's up to us foodies to keep them alive.

Here are a few that are new to the Los Angeles Dining scene.....be sure to pop in and give your taste buds a treat!

In Los Feliz...HomeState or as listed on its website My HomeState...celebrates just that.

SeeHomestate-pix photo from HomeState's website

Owner Briana Valdez's pays homage to the food from her home state of Texas. The restaurant showcases Tex-Mex dishe that she grew up with, which is a perfect fit for Los Angeles. Its a new breakfast and lunch cafe serving up some down home Tex-Mex dishes such as breakfast tacos, queso and frito pie, and more.

HomeState, 4624 Hollywood Blvd. Los Feliz; 323-906-1122; http://www.myhomestate.com/

There's a new hotspot in Koreatown called "The Bun Shop." A natural progression from The Bun Truck....Chef James Seok stepped up his game and opened the new brick & mortar eatery in January 2014. Don't worry, you can still get all those great tasting buns, but in addition Seok has added a whole new line.....featuring fried spam, pork belly and fried avocado for vegetarians.

This Bao Bun & Brew bar features a "Dosirak" rice box, as well as other favorites such as rosemary fries, ba'corn cheese, and lots more. The Bun Shop 151 N Western Ave, LA 90004; (323) 468-1031; http://www.thebunshopla.com/

Touted as a seafood restaurant, Salt Air in Venice is one more restaurant to take its turn at 1616 Abbot Kinney...Yes this location has been home to to many food establishments, so let's keep our fingers crossed for this one. The dinner menu features raw and fried oysters as well as salmon, lobster rolls, and bouillabaise (fish stew) for two. However both steak and burgers share the page along with LA's mandatory veggie burger.

Salt Air, 1616 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice 90291; 310-396-9333; http://www.saltairvenice.com

Mercado-WthirdChef Jose Acevedo and co-owner Jesse Gomez open a second location for Mercado in Beverly Grove. Offering traditional Mexican fare with an upscale flair, Mercado features dishes such as shrimp tacos, Carne Asada as well as a marinated skirt steak and more. The menu is much the same as the original Mercado in Santa Monica. 

Cucumber jalapeño margaritas are a welcoming cocktail which only add to the trendy open-air feel of the place... complete with leather booths and fireplaces as well as a covered patio space.

Mercado, 7910 W. Third St.; (323) 944-0947 http://www.mercadorestaurant.com/