8Eightyeight Cigar Merchants serves delectable libations and cultivates cigar-chomping camaraderie within a private facility that fuses elements of a cigar lounge, pool hall, and sports bar. The club's massive walk-in humidor houses brand-name cigars for members to puff away on while monitoring news and sports such as pay-per-view UFC fights on a cluster of flat-screen TVs arranged in front of comfy leather chairs or while shooting pool within the white-brick billiards room. In addition to members-only cigar and alcohol tastings, 8Eightyeight Cigar Merchants hosts a plentitude of private fundraisers, corporate events, and parties for Groucho Marx enthusiasts.
It didn’t take long for Brian Kozak to discover his passion for food: at the age of three, after he first tried shrimp cocktail and crème brulee, he would spend hours leafing through cookbooks and family recipes in his parents’ kitchen. His fascination with food led him to build an impressive culinary resume: after graduating from Le Cordon Bleu, Brian spent four years cooking for Bon Appetit, opened his own catering company, and learned how to fold a puff pastry according to army-bed making standards. Today, he demonstrates his culinary prowess as the resident Chef at Sage Restaurant and Lounge. Kozak’s influences span the globe: try the Spanish saffron paella with chorizo and shrimp, or any of six 10-inch pizzas. The dining room also has global flair, from its Tuscan yellow walls to its terra cotta tile floors.
At Tava Grill and Lounge, owner and chef Punita Patel infuses her seasonal menu with Indian flavors and fresh, local ingredients. The paneer fajita tacos, for instance, ooze authenticity along with housemade cilantro mint chutney that can double as smelling salts for a food-comatose date. The seafood biryani paella evokes both India and Spain with a blend of shrimp, mussels, squid, and crab in a creamy curry sauce.
A separate menu in the lounge marries the food of India and California, as the atmosphere fuses nightclub and fine-dining establishment. Beside a softly lit bar, benches and ottomans are scattered around low tables, which break up regular tables and booths without the staff having to dig trenches around each.
At Kitsch Bar, "Happy Hour" is both a daily occurence and a multivalent term. Some nights, it means special discounts for industry workers; on Phresh Wednesdays, it means cocktails crafted with fresh-squeezed fruits and veggies. Outside of Happy Hour, the bar is equally festive, with DJs spinning on weekends, and regular bartending classes for anyone who have always wanted to climb onto the other side of the bar gracefully.
It all began with a young wanderer named Ernest Gantt. Inspired by the culture of the South Pacific, where he sometimes worked on film sets, he opened a small watering hole just off Hollywood Boulevard in the mid-1930s. He decorated it with old fishing nets and trinkets he’d picked up during his travels to the South Pacific and created a menu of exotic rum drinks, which he etched onto a board hanging behind the thatched tiki bar. Back then, drinks cost a quarter, or five wooden nickels.
Today, Don The Beachcomber still serves some of Ernest’s original rum cocktails—including his signature mai tai—in a tiki lounge inspired by that 1930s watering hole. A few things have changed over the years, however; the joint now serves a full menu of Hawaiian specialties such as ahi-tuna tacos and Kalua pulled pork piled on sweet a hawaiian bun. On Friday nights, live musicians perform Hawaiian tunes next to an indoor waterfall.
The well-regarded executive chef at Zimzala, Vincent Muraco, worked with menu expert and cookbook author Joyce Goldstein to develop a creative menu of Mediterranean cuisine with a California tinge. They researched the 22 countries of the region, incorporating the flavors of Spain, Greece, Italy, Northern Africa, the Middle East, Alabama, and more into a collection of healthful, exotic delights built from fresh, top-quality ingredients.