The Granada LA is a party school. Part dance studio, part nightclub, it's a place where students can learn the steps of West Coast swing and merengue one night and put them into practice while enjoying bottle service and eats from the on-site restaurant the next. If they do venture out onto the dance floor of the 1930's Spanish Revival-style nightclub, they'll be treated to live music that leans heavily toward salsa. The nightclub, like whatever village The Village People were from, attracts a variety of people: casual dancers looking for zesty nightlife, and also students of the attached dance studio.
Served in the kingly confines of its facility near the shore of Lake Alhambra, Almansor Court's feasts treat revelers to a welcome royal regimen of freshly formed eats. Normally known for housing festive private receptions, Almansor Court throws open the doors of its well-appointed banquet hall for its all-encompassing Sunday champagne brunch from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., serving public palates without the pretense of invitations or fancy tongue-size tuxedos.
One couple commands the hardwood dance floor, strutting under colored lights and glass chandeliers as well-wishers cheer them on from iron-wrought balcony railings, or wander across the foyer’s marble floors on their way to the intricately carved dark-wood bar. The Sofia ballroom, one of the many venues at Noor, host the reception hall’s memory-making parties, which range from weddings to performances by Pasadena Symphony pianists. The hall’s attentive staffers also oversee gatherings beneath the Ella ballroom’s crystal chandeliers or on the terrace patio, where a circle of white curtains and climbing ivy surrounds a starburst-shaped mosaic-tile fountain that gurgles compliments to passing glasses of champagne.
A resident culinary crew feeds the hall’s hungry revelers with Mediterranean-Californian fusion dishes. Noor's chefs devise many of their tapas-style dishes in the reservation-only Ella restaurant, and frequently feature seasonal, locally grown ingredients. Eclectic seating varies throughout Noor's rooms, from lounge sofas and armchairs to high-backed formal dinner chairs, blending modern and vintage aesthetics more smoothly than photos of Benjamin Franklin wearing a Members Only jacket.
Magical Playground gathers play structures, toys, games, and kid-friendly activities within an indoor, socks-only facility. Tykes can bound about in the Magical castle bouncer, navigate their way through the jungle gym, ascend levels in challenging video games, or compete against their pals in rounds of air hockey or foosball. In between frolicking sessions, they can reenergize with healthy meals and snacks in the eating area. A separate baby-development center accommodates visiting toddlers with an age-appropriate bouncer and slide, as well as educational toys such as dolls that quote Nietzsche whenever you squeeze their toes.
Alongside regular open-play sessions, Magical Playground hosts weekly events including Tuesday arts and crafts, a complimentary Wednesday-afternoon story time, and free Spanish lessons every Friday. As their kids bounce between activities, parents can surf the web via free WiFi or leave their children at Magical Playground for supervised games, movie nights, and playtime between 5 p.m. and 10 p.m. any night of the week.
The Nose Wine Bar collects rare and unusual vintages from across the globe, pairing bouquets with a range of hot and cold small plates amid the soft light of flickering candles. A rotating wine menu culls the creations of French, Italian, and Californian vintners and includes three-wine-tasting flights to tempt indecisive diners and three-headed wine critics alike. Rows of gleaming bottles line the walls as creamy leather seating surrounds intimate two- and four-person tables. On Friday and Saturday, live musicians vibrate wineglasses and awaiting eardrums with solo melodies.
Rather than engraving offerings in a block of unforgiving granite as most restaurants do, Happy Trails Catering keeps eaters on their phalanges with a weekly rotating menu of fresh, eclectic entrees, sandwiches, and salads. Previous patrons have enjoyed delicate quiches (tomato, basil, and parmesan or roasted vegetables and goat cheese, $9.50), hearty lasagnas (basil pesto or beef and marinara, $9.50), and a delectable meatloaf sandwich on ciabatta ($9.50). Mindful masticators wishing to achieve a Zenlike meat-and-bread balance can indulge in gourmet sandwiches ($8.50) such as the Nordic sage-roasted turkey breast with lingonberry cream cheese and caper mayonnaise or the herbivore-friendly roasted vegetable with lemon-dill mayonnaise and provolone cheese.