Few professionals can credit Flashdance with rerouting the course of their career. In fact, Richard Giorla could be the only one. The unconventional dance moves he saw in the film motivated the former Pennsylvania Ballet Company member to hit the streets of his new home, Manhattan, and learn breakdancing from dancers at the heart of the movement, trading his own dance expertise as payment. Richard’s career was in full swing when, struck with an injury, he started teaching a ballet-barre class. Though he appreciated its stretching and toning components, Richard craved a more aerobic workout. So he created his own solution—Cardio Barre.
The unique workout consists of high-energy, zero-impact movements that sculpt the long, slender body of a dancer without a student ever having to step foot in a traditional dance studio. As they balance on the ballet barre, or whichever classmate is closest, pupils direct all their focus to one muscle group at a time, while the entire body stays in motion for maximum fat burning. His approach’s pudge-busting abilities have made the fitness method a favorite of many health magazines and celebrities.
Though all the food at Nola's is modeled after the Cajun and Creole cuisine of the Big Easy, the restaurant’s housemade ingredients give it a personalized spin. Chefs toss fried wings in a special tangy hot sauce, serve popcorn shrimp with a signature honey-chipotle sauce, coat 10-ounce catfish fillets with a special blend of seasonings, and cook fried chicken for 20 minutes.
When it comes to classic dishes such as jambalaya, the cooks approach from various angles, adding shirmp and crab claws to create a seafood version. For vegetarians, they've come up with a version that uses tofu sausage and fresh veggies. Rounding out the jambalaya variations, there is also a breakfast jambalaya soufflé, for those who love breakfast at all hours of the day. For lunch, they specialize in shrimp, oyster, and catfish po' boys, which are drenched in a cornmeal-and-flour batter, fried, and served with housemade roasted-garlic tartar sauce.
To complement feasts, bartenders whip up specialty cocktails, including a tequila-and-watermelon-juice blend called the Witch Doctor, inspired by the witch doctor that lives on the roof. Beneath the chandeliers and wooden beams of the rustic dining room, meals unfold as live musicians serenade diners with the sounds of New Orleans–style blues and jazz.
A rare outlet for commercially sanctioned laughter in downtown Los Angeles, Garrett Morris’ Downtown Blues and Comedy Club helps visitors escape the stresses of the workweek with a rotating stable of top-tier standup talent every Friday and Saturday. Comic legend Garrett Morris, now seen as Earl on CBS’ 2 Broke Girls, hosts showcases of comic talent with charming wit and tales of how he outlived the original cast of Saturday Night Live. The bill remains consistently loaded with fresh-faced and seasoned funny folk, with past luminaries including George Lopez, Margaret Cho, and Wayne Brady, along with aspiring stars in the twilight before their first mismatched-marriage sitcom.
Keeping true to its name and Morris’ roots in the New Orleans music scene, the venue often punctuates its comedy shows with performances from top blues artists—including Morris himself, who has lent his soulful pipes to the Harry Belafonte Singers—that add melody to the mirth. While weekend shows feature Garrett’s hosting and harmonies along with the headlining acts, the Thursday Night Experience allows youthful burgeoning comics and musicians to hog the spotlight.
Dreamed up by the masterminds of Vintage Bar Group, The Well pours gourmet cocktails alongside refined pub morsels in a sultry lounge atmosphere. Behind a center island bar that swirls around an aquarium of tumbling martini glasses, barkeepers shake signature cocktails—such as the Hot & Dirty martini with olive juice and hot sauce and the Rumba Punch—and pour beer and wine such as Delirium Tremens and Buena Vista pinot noir. A vast menu of appetizers and small plates elevate simple bar dishes of onion rings, taquitos, and flatbreads with gourmet additions such as sweet-corn batter, fire-roasted salsas, and goat cheese. Co-designed by premier bar stylist Fred Sutherland, the white maple and mahogany-flanked hideaway leads to a majestic keyhole-shaped doorway, revealing a semiprivate lounge perfectly suited for special events or visits from Lewis Carroll. Whether seated on the lounge's overstuffed ottomans or perched on a leather banquette on the main floor, guests can sing along with tunes on the house jukebox, which was lauded as one of the best in Los Angeles by CBS Los Angeles.
Now in its third generation of management, Taix satisfies the palates of Franco-feasters with a menu of country cuisine presented in generous portions. Begin the edible expedition with a bowl of traditional french onion soup ($6.95), or start with a half-dozen escargots in garlic butter ($12.95), which arrive at tables still modestly dressed in their shells to accommodate prudish American attitudes toward gastro-nudity. Leaf lovers can focus their forks on an assortment of salads, such as a mélange of baby greens, sesame-seed dressing, tomatoes, and bell peppers topped with a boneless chicken breast ($12.95), and carnitarians can seek out the proteined pleasures of grilled skirt steak with lemon parsley butter and pommes frites ($18.95). Roasted fresh salmon is served with champagne cream ($19.95) to permit taste buds to toast their good fortune, and a savory schedule of daily specials allows mouths to keep track of what day it is without chewing on a calendar. Midday munchers can sate their cravings with a lunch menu sporting an array of sandwiches and other selections suited to daytime dining.
At L'Scorpion Tequila Bar, sommeliers pour nearly 200 varieties of tequila, including a premium collection of blancos, reposados, anejos, and mezcals. The vast, expertly curated selection earned it a spot on the Huffington Post's list of LA's Best Tequila Bars. Fittingly, the focal point of L'Tequila is the bar, where dark stone arches frame row after row of tequila bottles illuminated by the nearby wrought-iron candelabras. Brick walls envelop plush leather booths, which serve as private enclaves for sipping margaritas or spelling out social-security numbers in limes. To complement libations, L'Scorpion also serves a menu of tapas and tacos.