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On the first Saturday of the month, hip-hop fans clad in baseball caps converge on Grand Star Jazz Club, a 60-year-old Chinatown bar. The night features resident DJs like Inka One spinning Grandmaster Flash and Doug E. Fresh while folks break dance.
Kick off the evening with a glass of wine while perched atop the new and improved Santa Monica Place (395 Santa Monica Place, 310-394-5451). Yes, it’s a mall, but it bears no resemblance to those dreaded retail vortexes (or to the bunkerlike Frank Gehry-designed structure that was razed to make way for it).
Some see it as a flood of ego, others a surge of affection for older European architecture, but enormous homes of Mediterranean derivation were soon consuming entire residential lots. Most were circuslike concoctions of elements (columns, towers, ornamental carvings) that historically had been used sparingly and for subtle effect.
Sip from a rotating selection of 36 craft beers at one of the communal tables fronting Father’s Office 2.0 (3229 Helms Ave., 310-736-2224), a choice spot from which to observe the line of hopeful diners milling outside the gastropub in the Helms Bakery building.
You make custom guitars. How did you start throwing concerts in the alley beside your shop? After I moved in a year ago, I was looking for ways to promote the store. The building used to be a furniture-refinishing place, so it’s got the loading dock and alley—the perfect approximation of a venue.
You’ve made some bargains. We all have. Maybe you allow yourself a single Tommy’s burger every six months. Maybe you’ve given up meat altogether, or red meat anyway, most of the time. Maybe you’re serious about this and you’ve given up all refined grains and any processed anything; the extra buck a pound to buy organic seems a reasonable sacrifice.
The heavenly Oaxacan raspados at Natura Bar are filled with syrup or Mexican eggnog, garnished with tamarind fruit chunks and nuts, and sweetened with raw sugar.
The classic torta—served hot or cold on an oblong bolillo roll and stuffed with almost anything—is just the start of Mexico’s bread-based specialties
What do you mean there’s smut in my quesadilla? Huitlacoche, or corn smut, is a harmless (to us) plant fungus that has a robust, nutty taste. Nicknamed the “Mexican truffle,” it’s considered a delicacy and shows up in all sorts of dishes.

People have been having fun with nitrous oxide – even in the name of science – virtually since its discovery more than 240 years ago. In January 2012, an attractive woman over 40 and that guy from That ‘70s Show were going through a rough patch (spoiler alert: it didn’t work out). Demi Moore, the woman in question, allegedly turned to the comfort of nitrous oxide, also called “whip-its,” “whippits,” “whippets,” “nossies,” “hippy crack,” and, of course, “laughing gas.”

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