The Bodega Wine Bar provides wine lovers a casual setting to share plates and try new wines with friends without requiring a deep grapey understanding. Fluff out your cheeks for a cheese plate's offering of the day's selections paired with crackers, nuts, and quince paste ($13) while sipping a glass of Ferreira tawny porto ($9) or one of Bodega's Private Label wines—a Paso Robles red and a Santa Ynez white ($8). While gargling bored doe merlot ($9/glass), snack on a smoked-turkey panini made with tomato, arugula, pesto mayo, and goat cheese ($10). Various pizzas are also available ($11–$13), and beer, cold sake, and soju cocktails await those who don't like wine but want to keep their tongues from shriveling up into a tongue-raisin.
The husband-and-wife duo behind Magicopolis, who have become seasoned television guests thanks to frequent praise from the press, delight and surprise audiences with the all-ages Broadway-style magicomedy stage show Escape Reality. The 90- to 120-minute spectacle showcases original takes on classic magic enigmas such as dangerous escape acts and on-stage levitation, a skill first used during dunks at Salem all-star basketball games. Eye-popping feats are punctuated with engaging music, comedy, and audience participation, including mind-boggling mind-reading demonstrations. Magicopolis is an especially up-close-and-personal affair, and unlike Hollywood films, where the actors are eternally imprisoned behind an impersonal screen, the Magicopolis magicians make lasting connections with their guests.
New York-native John Cassese's motto is, "If you can walk, you can dance." The celebrity dance instructor and choreographer's own quick-stepping career began at the tender age of 10, jumpstarting a passion that would eventually take him careening across the stages of off-Broadway productions, nightclubs, dance competitions, and the occasional monster-truck rally. It wasn't until he relocated to Los Angeles that an agent dubbed him "The Dance Doctor," and soon after, he found his fleet-footed prowess and teaching abilities in high demand amongst production studios such as Sony, Paramount, and 20th Century Fox.
Between choreographing a Charleston dance sequence on AMC's Mad Men and singing at the 50th birthday parties of Billy Crystal and Wolfgang Puck, John leads a team of instructors as they teach celebs and everyday Tinseltowners the finer points of styles ranging from ballet to hip-hop. Despite all the fanfare, his biggest praise comes from his work with soon-to-be-married couples, who seek his advice on everything from basic steps and song selection, to the length of the post-cake-cutting conga line.
Executive Chef Junior Perez draws on traditional French and Italian cuisine as inspiration for the upscale menus of pasta, steaks, and seafood, which have garnered an impressive number of features on local food blogs. At the Culver City location, brunch lures palates and sentient flatware with dishes such as pork-belly hash, bedecked with tuscan potatoes and mustard sauce ($10). House-made agnolotti pouches enclose wild mushroom and mascarpone under a wave of truffle butter ($16). Cap off the epicurean experience with mascarpone cheesecake accompanied by cranberry sorbet and exotic coulis or the chocolate purse, which totes candied hazelnuts, vanilla ice cream, and a caramelized day planner. A fleet of flickering candles perches on walls and tables inside the Santa Monica locale's dining area, casting a dim orange glow on dark hardwood floors.
At twin cinemas in Hollywood and Santa Monica, American Cinematheque preserves the thrill of classic films and introduces the newest works by modern auteurs. A relic of the glamorous past, the Egyptian Theatre was built in 1922 and inspired by the search for the Valley of the Kings in Egypt. From its first showing of Robin Hood until today, it has operated as a movie house, and now sends 60-foot-wide images and crystalline sound flashing through the ornate mirage of its interior.
Today, the screens' ever-unpredictable and constantly changing lineup can include anything from the lightweight whimsy of Citizen Kane to the modern masterpiece Spaceballs, and frequent festivals focus on themes from world cinema to film noir.
At both cinemas, modern works are often further illuminated by their creators, with events and post-show discussions featuring the directors and actors.