Many people feel an indescribable urge to follow in the footsteps of celebrities long passed?hoping that a connection to their genius or charm still lingers in the air of their apartments and favorite pubs. The guides of Esotouric understand and share this urge, though they prefer to roam the paths of history by bus. After scouring the famed neighborhoods of Los Angeles in search of interesting and outlandish locations, they share their findings on bus adventures that retrace the trails blazed by local artists, filmmakers, writers, and actors.
Esotouric's odysseys wind through haunts such as Raymond Chandler's favorite breakfast spot and the salon Charles Bukowski visited for his weekly knuckle-hair perm. Coloring their tours with anecdotes about the films adapted from his noirish stories, guides also visit locales captured in the cinematic landscapes of James M. Cain. Various tours explore Southern California?s culture, literature, and architectural sides, giving history hounds the chance to sniff out sinister deeds in old-time tattoo parlors, burlesque shows, and crime scenes.
Dave Reinitz packed up all his belongings into a motor home, left New York, and began driving across the country because he was bored. When the engine finally blew, he was in Los Angeles, and decided that was where he would stay. As if by providence, Dave immediately took to his newfound city's comedy scene. Eventually, he partnered up with comedian Barbara Holliday for his life's next great adventure—Flappers Comedy Club.
Today, Barbara, whose credits include Naked Gun 33 1/3 and Friends, co-manages the multipurpose club she owns with Dave. A breeding ground for new talent, the venue plays host to standup comics and variety acts, and gives up-and-comers a hand with comedy classes called Flappers University. Many local and rising comedians have tested their standup material at Flappers, and the stage has supported the seasoned weight of stars such as Dave Attell and Jason Alexander. Before, during, or after shows, patrons can fuel their giggle fits with grub from the club's onsite restaurant, including Cajun-spiced burgers, seared ahi, and brick-oven pizzas.
The chefs at Chadaka Thai shower traditional spices over a bevy of fresh seafood, spicy curries, and refreshing vegetarian dishes. Tender steak and succulent lamb chops don flavors of lemongrass and hot peppers as egg and rice noodles take on a range of shapes beneath savory sauces. In the dining room, towering windows and pillar-like pendant lights illuminate dark-wood décor as stark geometric furnishings find a rustic complement with burl accents and a patchwork-quilt ceiling. Candlelit tables for two fan the flames of a romantic evening or passionate fire-eating contest, whereas an outdoor patio framed by pinewood-hued beams grants diners a glimpse of the bustling shoppers just beyond their savory sanctuary.
Sardo's pacifies yelping stomachs with a menu of delectably pubbish fare while fostering intradiner friendliness with a suite of entertaining distractions. Guests can feel free to feast eyes on sports-related imagery projected on one of seven large-screen LCD TVs, or donate their pipes to the restaurant’s award-winning karaoke. The appetizer platter, like the feel-good final scenes of cafeteria coming-of-age films, lets its popular chicken tenders go to prom with nerdy yet attractive mozzarella sticks and onion rings ($8). Meanwhile, the lunch menu features a hearty sandwich list ($5.25–$8) and providential pasta possibilities, such as the penne pomodoro, featuring penne rigate tossed with fresh garlic, basil, and extra-virgin olive oil ($6.25). Nocturnal nibblers can nosh nighttime-only entrees, such as fried chicken ($9) and sirloin steak ($14), as well as libations from the ornate, amply stocked bar.
At Tony's Darts Away, all 38 draft beers have one thing in common: they're from California. Tony Yanow, the bar's owner, chose to work with local brewers not only to ensure quality, but also to cut down on the waste associated with shipping. As for the high number of taps, Tony explains his reasoning in a video on his website. "If I have a big selection of beer, it means I can satisfy anybody who comes in. I think that's a really important thing: To give people beer they like, not beer I like." Because they carefully source every brew, Tony and his team can help customers find the best ones to suit their palates. For example, they might tell you that an oatmeal stout is softened by nutty, earthy notes, or that a bock is dark with a strong and malty flavor. The bartenders also know which beers should be guzzled from pint glasses and which savored from snifters. They'll never serve beer in a bottle, however. This practice helps the establishment minimize waste and lets bottles stick to their most important job: storing the Lilliput navy.
Chef Randy St. Clair complements the beer selection with meat and vegan sausages, which he serves on warm, locally baked buns. To continue the all-California theme, St. Clair uses local ingredients whenever possible.
Soak up the solid surroundings before perusing the equally solid menu. Start the feastivities with three mini sirloin sliders ($8), house-cut garlic and parsley fries ($5 for small), and a fighting pint of Stone Brewing Co.'s Arrogant Bastard ($5). Those with an itching appetite can dive straight into larger bites. Equip yourself with a house sirloin burger ($11) or order of chicken and biscuits ($16).