Ravi and Sunitha Koneru don't much care for limitations. Not in their food, their decor, or their vision. When designing the menu for Chakra Cuisine they saw the entirety of India as a source of inspiration, from the tandoori of the North and the curries of the South to the street food of Bombay and the recipes of their native Hyderbad. And then they looked even further. What they found were ingredients such as banana leaves, scallops, and caramelized pineapples—ingredients rarely used in Indian cuisine that expertly matched the flavor profiles they dreamed up. The result is a blend of traditional and modern, where classic dishes such as chicken tikka masala segue into spicy reinventions, including a vegetable masala quiche.
The dining space is likewise a mix of old and new. Indian accents anchor the sleek, contemporary aesthetic of the dining room and private lounge, while colors drawn from the dishes themselves combine to create a cohesive backdrop. Red and gold dominate the interior, but brighter colors surround the bar, notably inside its seven specialty martinis. As for the outdoor patios, their tables center around a circular fire pit, whose flames tempt guests to sit amid the mandarin-orange trees and tell scary stories about hitchhikers with samosas for hands.
In an opulent, Eastern-inspired dining room that steeps in the scents of intoxicating spices, Nirvana blends classic Indian cuisine with the sophistication of Beverly Hills. Chefs call on both traditional Indian grilling methods and the excitement of new flavors to prepare an assortment of unusual dishes, ranging from unique curries and tandoori breads to whole legs of lamb marinated in Indian rum and spices. Beyond the vibrant mural and white booths of the dining room, the lounge and bar lure patrons in with the comfort of canopied beds, damask sofas, and the tranquil gaze of a giant Buddha's head. A flowing river—sealed with glass to protect feet from above and seafood escapees from below—runs along the floor and leads guests through each of the restaurant's distinct areas.
Behind padded, black-leather doors, a modern speakeasy resides. In an elegant mishmash of styles, chandeliers and a gleaming white baby grand piano give way to the cement floors and thumping music of a European-style discotheque. A full bar mixes up premium cocktails, and the kitchen keeps stomach rumbles to a minimum with shrimp-tempura rolls and moroccan-spiced chicken.
Rusty's Rhythm Club's founder, the hyperqualified Rusty Frank, took to dancing at the tender age of 6, and has been light-tripping professionally since her college days. Since then, she has been inducted into the California Swing Dance Hall of Fame and has performed in locations from the Hollywood Bowl to Disneyland and other worldwide locales. Rusty is joined in instruction by her effusive teachers, who bear multitudinous dancing awards as well as an actual portal to 1920s-1940s America.
They impart the dancing skills of the 1940s at both Rusty's Rhythm Club, a weekly swing dance emporium, and Lindy by the Sea beginning-class series, a dance school for all experience levels. Rusty's Rhythm Club sharpens soles with an all-ages dance fest accompanied by the tunes and Prohibition-era conversational topics of live bands in the air-conditioned Westchester Elks Lodge in Playa del Rey.
Lola’s bartenders are happy to whip together any one of their more than 50 different martinis, but they smile a bit bigger when they’re asked to make the concoction they invented: the apple martini. Their pride has caught the attention of various press outlets—including LA Weekly and Vogue— and spills over onto the menu, where martini-pairing suggestions accompany each plate of pasta, seafood, and signature mac ‘n’ cheese. Once encore chants finally subside, eaters can settle on the kitchen’s cocoa-centric desserts, such as flourless chocolate cake and chocolate bread pudding.
Located on Sunset Boulevard, The Den is outfitted with a peaked roof, fireplace, and other cozy touches furthering its lodge aesthetic. The warm interior resembles a transplanted Aspen abode complete with a laid-back attitude. Lay your skis and ski-goggle tan lines at the door and warm up with a selection from the menu's preamble such as bacon-wrapped blue cheese–stuffed dates ($8) or angry mac, which is punched and ornery with chorizo, chipotle, and pepper jack ($8). Visit a green scene with a market tossed salad of pomegranate, butternut squash, goat cheese, and candied walnuts ($11), or spring for the fan-favorite TV dinner with boneless crispy chicken, mashed potatoes, corn, and a slab o' brownie ($13).