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.
Juicy tidbits of chocolate-dunked fruit arrive on the doorsteps of family and friends, done up in colorful bouquets and candy boxes by the skilled fruit arrangers at Edible Arrangements' more than 1,100 franchises worldwide. The company's in-house chocolatiers drizzle albion strawberries and daisy pineapples in a trio of chocolate flavors. Once properly chocolated, the workers organize the preservative-free sweets into lush arrangements that resemble flowers in bloom. Customers can choose to plop their bouquets in a variety of vessels, including vases, mugs, and sports- or holiday-themed containers that add a personal touch to the edible gifts. Alternatively, customers can opt to adorn gifts with the cheery, red lids of candy boxes, nestling 12 chocolate-dipped morsels inside to build anticipation and determine if loved ones have x-ray vision as they guess whether fruit will come dusted in shredded coconut or drizzled in white chocolate.
In 1984, Greg and Rose Tcholakian decided that, in order to truly share their traditional Middle Eastern eats with the world, a bigger kitchen was in order. That led them to open Carousel Restaurant in an intimate storefront. In 1998, they passed the business to their son, Mike, who expanded upon his parents' growing legacy by moving to a larger location, where he could incorporate more of his family’s culture into every detail. He enhanced the eatery's decor with traditional artwork and decorative scimitars, and put together a live band to back up a large belly-dancing troupe on Fridays and Saturdays. Over the years, Mike has also added to the menu, which now includes more than 50 appetizers in addition to his parents' signature kebabs and pilafs. Today he still helms the business, steering it toward its 30th anniversary and millionth belly shaken as his guests continue to come nightly for a taste of his family’s food and culture.
Jody Maroni, founder of Jody Maroni's Sausage Kingdom, started linking gourmet sausages in 1979 and now rules over a royal court of meat artisans who assemble more than 20 all-natural varieties. Many of the homemade recipes renounce nitrates and MSG and instead fill the natural pork casings with meat that is naturally low in sodium and fat. Chicken-mole sausages blend chocolate, cumin, and chilies, and the louisiana hot links steep in duck stock and smolder with Boudin-style spices. Like Iowa's delightful airspace, the meaty morsels have drawn bicoastal praise—Splash! Los Angeles argues that they "might just top the Dodger Dog," and Time Out New York thanks the eatery for bringing "rays of sunshine to the food wasteland of Times Square."
Although Urartu Coffee's convenient online ordering system helps guests to nosh on the go, its free WiFi and stylish seating urges them to stay awhile as they savor the menu of fresh pastries and build-your-own sandwiches. Bread and bagels insulate deli-style meats with garnishes such as basil leaves and olives as croissants brim with fruit, chocolate, and cheese, all dunk-worthy in the café’s myriad coffees and teas. For a fruity jolt more satisfying than shoving a strawberry into a light socket, Urartu’s skilled baristas blend smoothies and squeeze juice daily in a wide array of flavors.
Dinah's renowned chicken entices taste buds with a two-part cooking process that begins with pressure-cooking to lock in moisture and finishes off with deep-frying to make the outside golden brown and crispy. Owned and operated by the Pearson family since 1967, the established eatery sates patrons' appetites with its signature chicken, which pairs well with honey-smothered rolls and lots of happy closed-eye chewing. Other soul-warming sides keep the chicken company on dinner plates, including mashed potatoes, fries, corn on the cob, and pineapple coleslaw.