A Buddha statue sits serenely against one wall inside Lotus, a spot that's part art venue, part restaurant, and part indoor hookah garden. Stalks of bamboo support the bar and the tables where diners grasp sushi with chopsticks or submerge thinly sliced steak, seasonal vegetables, and other morsels into Japanese Shabu-Shabu filled with boiling kelp water.
Fruity smoke drifts through the open space of the hookah garden, melding with fragrant steam from cups of hot tea. Egyptian rugs and massive cushions create an opulent, relaxing vibe for puffing away or sipping a cocktail.
Over the course of the summer, Street Food Cinema rolls out more than a dozen events that showcase the greatest hits of the silver screen and the LA food-truck scene. When the gates open, guests spread blankets on the grass, pop open coolers, and, when showings are at Exposition Park, even settle down with their dogs—the park is pet friendly and broadcasts canine subtitles for each film. Live bands presented by The Viper Room play until dusk, when crowd-pleasing movies such as Edward Scissorhands and Reality Bites slide across the big screen. Meanwhile, a rotating food-truck schedule assembles a diverse curbside lineup, which might include short ribs from Kogi Korean barbecue or the gooey delights of The Grilled Cheese Truck.
Street Food Cinema's eclectic assemblage of food, music, and films has picked up attention beyond the park's bounds, snagging mentions on NBC4 and in the Huffington Post's Broke Girls Guide. It's also become known for its philanthropic work: each year the organization supports one designated local charity.
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 souffle, 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.
Step one: local farmers hand pick organic fruits and vegetables. Step two: they make their way, five pounds at a time, into Juice Crafter's 20-lb. hydraulic press. Step three: it's cold-pressed juice, and you drink it. Operating under the simple motto "live well and be well," Juice Crafters creates healthy, vitamin-rich elixirs designed to give bodies a boost. Powerhouse smoothies carry the nutrients that systems need after a workout without giving stomachs the heavy feeling associated with eating vitamin rocks. Cleanse & Detox juice programs, which last three to eight days, help evict unwanted toxins while helping bolster the immune system, among other positive effects, and made-to-order juices tickle both the taste-buds and the food pyramid.