Friday, August 25, 2006

Hollywood and Vine Metro Portal - The Hungry Cat as a Destination

The ExperienceLA Metro Adventures originally were car-based cultural tourism sightseeing tours developed with community groups by the Los Angeles Convention and Visitors Bureau for the 2000 Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles. In 2003, the adventures were updated and integrated with the respective Metro Red, Blue, and Green Lines portals along with the Wilshire Raoid Bus. During these six years, the area around the Hollywood and Vine Metro portal has become a destination onto itself. When my wife and I began going to the restored Cinerama Dome and Arc Light Theaters, the number of restaurant choices in the immediate area were limited. As the Sunset and Vine residential complex and shopping center was nearing completion, I heard about one of the restaurants that would be in the inner courtyard off of Vine. This was The Hungry Cat. The word on the street was that David Lentz, husband of Suzanne Goin, owner/chef at Lucques and AOC, was developing a small informal upscale seafood restaurant that would be open for dinner along with brunch on the weekends. Our first introduction to the restaurant was on Sundays during the early days of the restaurant, as we wandered over from the Sunday Hollywood Farmers Market. One of the specials that we loved was the soft-shell blue crab omelet. Also, whenever we go for brunch, the beignets are a must. Possibly the best, west of New Orleans. Earlier this year, Hungry Cat extended its hours to lunch during the week.

Since the early days of the restauant, I have been telling everyone about The Hungry Cat hidden inside the courtyard of the Sunset and Vine complex. Now with all of the awards and publicity, reservations for dinner and brunch are a must. For those without a reservation, the restaurnt serves the entire menu at the bar. Thus, on the spur of the moment, you can get there when the restaurant opens for dinner, eat at the bar, and make an early movie at the Arc Light or even a show at the Pantages. Many of the articles that have been written about David Lentz and The Hungry Cat have been about the mixed drink specials. Making use of fresh fruits from the local farmers markets, he has even created a drink using cantalope. There was also a lime cocktail with lavendar.

One of the great things about The Hungry Cat are the specials which reflect was is available from the Wednesday Santa Monica Farmers Market, Sunday Hollywood Farmers Market, and their seafood purveyors. I am always on the lookout for the fried Ipswich clams, while the lobster roll is a menu staple. With David Lentz growing up in Maryland, he delivers a standout crab cake, and he has been known to Maryland crabs as a special. A meal can be ordered in stages, as the mood fits, and makes for much fun in sharing dishes with friends. For those who don't like (or can't eat) fish and shellfish, there is the outstanding Pug Burger. Maybe one of the best burgers in LA.

Finally, there is the wine list, and from a family who brought you AOC, you will definitely enjoy this small wine list that pairs well with seafood. And with always a choice of roses, including one of the best champagnes from France, I feel that I might be in one of the small seafood restaurants of Nice. Treat yourself to this restaurant, before or after going to the movies, theater, or clubs. And like me, you will keep on coming back. The Red Line for lunch at The Hungry Cat.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Downtown LA/West LA: Grand Performances & Diddy Reese

Speaker Theatre Arts Last Friday (August 18th) I met up with my friends to catch Grand Performances at California Plaza (only a block from the Metro Red Line - Pershing Square Stop).

Showing at Grand Performances that evening was Speak Theater Arts - N*W*C: The Race Show (MMM). I previously saw the show two years ago when they performed at USC's Bovard Auditorium and had been trying to go back to see the show since (and of course tell all my friends about it). And for those who may be Trojan haters, the artists reign from UCLA.

N*W*C* (Find the full title at the NWC site - I can't write the real title in because the entry has to be somewhat family friendly) stars performance artists Miles Gregley, Rafael Agustin, Allan Axibal in a must-see show about race in America - it touches on humorous personal narratives, stereotypes, historical references, etc. I can't really sum up what a great show it is - just that it's hilarious, moving, and a worthwhile experience to watch. Unfortunately for the Los Angeles area, N*W*C heads out on a national tour until December - but there is a stop at Chapman University in Orange, CA tomorrow (08/25). I'll try and give a head's up when they're out here again.

Of course there's a lot of awesome shows coming up at Grand Performances including Beijing LDTX Modern Dance (08/25-26), Masanga Marimba Ensemble (09/08), and Seña y Verbo - Noche del Tigre (Night of the Tiger) (09/15, 09/17).

After seeing the show, I headed off with my friends (Damon, Sara, Hollie, and Serena) for Diddy Reese (West LA - Bruin Territory). Unfortunately, the line for Diddy Reese was out the door and winding, so we ate at BJs across the street for a bit before heading back over when there was no line. The cookies were worth the wait though!

-Charity Tran, ExperienceLA Web Coordinator

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Transit: LAX/Union Station Flyaway

One of the many questions that go through ExperienceLA is: "How do I get from LAX to Union Station?" Recently, the answer became easy: the LAX/Union Station Flyaway.

I took the Flyaway from LAX (See ExperienceLA Spotlight: Go Metro: Flyaway Bus Service Between Union Station and LAX) just this past weekend and was glad at the ease in using the service.

The LAX/Union Station Flyaway opened a few months ago (for those in the San Fernando Valley, there's also a Van Nuys/LAX Flyaway that's been in existence longer) and it's an affordable and easy way to travel to-and-from two of Los Angeles' main transit hubs. The fare is only $3 dollars one-way ($6 roundtrip). Metro currently estimates the route's driving cost at about $11.29 (based on AAA's formula at 56.2 cents/mile).

Once you're at Union Station, you can roam onto Metro's major transit lines to get to any number of great Southern California destinations.

-Charity Tran, ExperienceLA Web Coordinator

Friday, August 11, 2006


The idea for an ExperienceLA blog dates back about one year, and I am excited that it is now beginning to slowly evolve. My vision is to have a group of 6-10 diverse people from around Los Angeles contributing to this blog. The ExperienceLA blog is to provide an opportunity for those participating in the blog to personally relate their interaction with the wide ranging arts and entertainment culture of greater Los Angeles, including dining experiences.

In 1998, I created the idea to use the Internet to promote cultural tourism and public transit in Los Angeles. However, it took several years to successfully compete for public funding to launch the project, as the idea was considered quite novel at that time. was launched in July 2003 on the same weekend that the Gold Line began service to Pasadena. Two years later, ExperienceLA helped give birth to ExperienceLA WiFi Pershing Square, and more recently was invited to provide a similar service at the Marvin Braude Constituent Center, as ExperienceLA WiFi Van Nuys.