Ben Canter and his brothers had been manning the counter of their deli in Jersey City, New Jersey, for five years—familiarizing faces of regulars and catching their culinary stride—when the stock market plummeted in 1929. Like many, they were forced to scrape together the little they had retained, a mere $500, and head west. Los Angeles in 1931 wasn't a delicatessen owner's dream location, but they opened Canter's Deli nonetheless.
Throughout the next 83 years, three generations of Canters would do their parts to help the displaced deli fit into its Hollywood setting. They moved to their current location at the old Esquire Theatre, added a cocktail lounge named the Kibitz Room, opened a new store in the "O" of the Hollywood sign, and watched their doors open to a who's who of celebrities, including Marilyn Monroe, Jack Benny, Elizabeth Taylor, Wilt Chamberlain, Prince, and the band members from Guns N' Roses.
The Canters overhauled their menu in 2012 to reflect the changing times and West Coast tastes. Among the newcomers are panini-style deli melts (all less than $10) and updated burgers such as the Black and Blue, which comes loaded with thick-cut bacon. The best East Coast staples remain, of course. A good example is the hot corned-beef Reuben served on rye bread that's double-baked in-house and grilled to perfection. Available 24 hours a day, the expansive selection of deli fare and baked goods has garnered an equally expansive amount of press, including the monte cristo’s designation as one of Esquire's Best Sandwiches in America.
As a microcosm of the deli's convenience and culture, the staff validates parking for up to 90 minutes in its parking lot, where muralist Art Mortimer's seven-panel collage-style mural depicts Jewish history in Los Angeles.
In 1927, after seven years of Prohibition, Vincent Rizzo had an idea. He would buy a winery. While this may have been an unconventional move, he knew he could get Bernardo Winery at a lower price and keep the business thriving with an unlikely product: olive oil. In a stroke of cunning and arguable genius, the first-generation Rizzo owner made use of the olive trees growing on his property, selling the cold-pressed virgin oil to many of the tuna canneries in downtown San Diego. He also continued production of sacramental wine and grape juice that was, according to the winery's website, "guaranteed to ferment by the end of the road."
The winery grew to be one of San Diego County's major wine suppliers in the late 1940s, and Vincent turned the family business over to his son, Ross, in 1962. Ross's passion and dedication fueled the winery's success until his passing in 2008. Ross Rizzo, Jr. now keeps his father and grandfather's legacies alive, adding new varietals and winemaking techniques to the company's repertoire while paying homage to the old ways. Ross still sources his grapes from local vineyards and produces and cellars his wine to develop each variety’s distinct flavor.
Guests can get a behind-the-scenes look at the historic winery during tours and tastings, and the scenic spot also hosts private parties at several outdoor venues and in the Barrel Room, where wooden rafters and huge redwood wine-storage vats create a rustic feel. Once they are done tasting, visitors can wander through a micro village of shops and studios or get a bite to eat at Cafe Merlot. The sprawling property features nods to its storied past with accents such as wagon wheels and an antique thresher machine and events such as grape stompings, otherwise known as do-it-yourself purple pedicures.
After marinating some beef tenderloin with galangal herb, chef Richard Yu finishes off the succulent cut with a sweet-and-spicy cambogee sauce. This signature dish is emblematic of the China-born cook's creative work at Mosaic, where his Asian-fusion and American meals stand out with locally grown produce, hand-cut meats, and fresh seafood. He also puts his unique stamp on other classic Eastern and Western dishes, such as his orange chicken with sun-dried mandarin-orange peels and his 8-ounce salmon stuffed with crab, shrimp, and cheese.
To complement Chef Richard's cuisine, bartenders craft a variety of hand-shaken cocktails such as Mosaic's signature Mosaic-Tini, a blend of muddled strawberries, simple syrup, and organic riesling. Many of those cocktails come spiked with house-infused vodkas, and other imported liquors also stock the bar alongside wines and domestic and imported beers.
Meals unfold on Mosaic's outdoor plaza or in its chic lounge inside the historic Four Points by Sheraton San Jose Downtown hotel, which affords stunning views and often hosts late-night entertainment. A nightclub sets up residency Thursday–Saturday nights, and jazz musicians improvise their way through tunes in the dining room each Friday and Saturday.
Samba Global Cuisine's menu spans continents, uniting dishes toasted over the leaping flames of a Brazilian grill with those cooked in the heated clay interior of a tandoor oven. Samba's signature rodizio dinners deliver skewered meats to tables, where they are carved by servers directly onto diners' plates. Picanha, a cut of beef, is a popular choice. For those who would rather not indulge in the all-you-can-eat option, the picanha burger—covered in mozzarella, grilled mushrooms, and peppers—offers a taste of the Brazilian beef.
Indian offerings include seven types of naan bread, chicken tikka masala, and biryani rice entrees. Samba serves Mediterranean as well, from falafel appetizers to shish kebab lunches and pizzas dotted with feta cheese.
Though the food comes from various regions, the venue positions diners under the same sky—or at least, a ceiling charmingly painted to mimic the clouds. Samba also celebrates birthdays with above-average fanfare: drums, tambourines, and song, instead of the traditional treat of fine-dining establishments, a lobster clutching candles in its claws.
The bride stood under the photographer’s lights, resplendent in her wedding gown, as her family looked on from a distance. As she and her photographer, M. Chen, prepared for the shoot, she was handed a package—a prewedding gift from her soon-to-be husband. When she lifted the lid, she immediately burst into tears. Inside laid a photo of a great dane puppy—the dog she’d always wanted, which her husband planned to give her on their wedding day. As she ran to hug her mother, Mr. Chen ran after, shooting image after image, capturing the exact moment she fell into her mother’s arms. These quick reflexes have been honed through his nearly 30 years as a sports photographer and professional fly swatter, and he draws on photojournalistic techniques to compose a traditional portrait or snap once-in-a-lifetime, candid moments.
Regardless of specific approaches, he consistently draws from the landscape style of Ansel Adams and the dramatic lighting techniques of Monte Zucker. His work as a photojournalist and private portrait photographer has earned him more than 300 publications in the glossy pages of New York Daily News, Popular Photography, ESPN Magazine, and Professional Photographers of America magazine. When not snapping on-location engagement shoots, family portraits, or boudoir sessions, he passes on his technique through traveling photography seminars, hands-on workshops, and by gently tapping the heads of his students. Though formerly designed only for professional-level photographers, these classes instill confidence and camera basics in beginners. As he frequently finds new class examples and takes feedback from his students, Mr. Chen frequently fine-tunes the curriculum after each seminar.