Category Archives: valley


The 405 in 4:05 – a Batesian Compendium

Shot in HD, it’s more elements of Los Angeles in time-lapse rather than a full-fledged focus on the freeway itself, though the construction is the ‘main star’ of the video. Entitled The 405 in 4:05, it’s definitely worth the four+ minutes of your time, even if the soundtrack is a bit corny. Great, great shots and if you love L.A., you’ll love this video. Created/produced/edited by San Fernando Valley’s own Darren Bates.


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Filed under valley, westside

The Valley. Circus Liquor, to be precise.

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Portuguese in the Valley? Uh Huh. Natas.

13317 Ventura Boulevard
CA 91423-6212

I’ve passed this (literal) hole-in-the-wall Bakery countless times without giving it second thought; buried in the back corner bottom floor of one of those countless mini-malls lining Ventura Blvd., Nata’s Pastries seemed very esoteric – I mean, do I really need pastries?

Okay, the answer is YES, but I’m not going to go out of my way, hassle with parking, deal with a mini-mall, just to get some run of the mill stuff. So for five years, I looked at the place quizzically like I guess it’s good, I mean it’s still in business.  Flash forward to the car wash across the street, who one day featured free samples of some of the pastries. Delicious, and I made a mental note to check the place out one day.

A year later, I made good on that note – finally stopping in because my wife wanted ‘some cake,’ we parked in one of the eight (!) parking spaces, expecting a bakery. And being that the spot was Portuguese, it fell in line with our love of new experience, namely with ethnic foods.

Once we went in, we were surprised at the joy and wonders a 300-square foot retail location could offer:

selection from the bakery, supplied by LAIst

interior sit-down,  courtesy of my daily find

In short the good were wonderfully diverse, featuring dozens of selections from their Bakery. We had to try the Portuguese classic Nata, which was cooked to perfection with a crisp, light outside with a soft, perfectly-textured interior.

The Classic Nata

Not wanting to limit ourselves, especially when experiencing the authentically tiled & accoutred environ – I swear to you, I thought we were in Europe – we tried a few of the hot foods, though unfortunately  no entrees (yet), so the spinach puff pastry and crab/shrimp rissois fit our need. . .and boy were they delcious. Again, cooked to perfection. Meals this delicate and sensitive can easily be over- and under-cooked, but these were ideal.  Take a look:

Spinach Feta Puff Roll

We will most certainly be back, and this time we’ll really dive in. In sort, though, GO now. Beautiful place, great employees and delicious food.

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Filed under dine.o.saurus, valley

Bringing the Heat

Want to capture the essence of Los Angeles, a la Michael Mann’s brooding, impeccably-directed flick Heat?

Throw this on in the background, whether at work, at home, or in your car:

Ambient downtempo set against the backdrop of live police scanners, all within the vast milieu of Los Angeles and its never-ending evening skyline.

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Filed under central, eastside, south bay, valley, westside

Vallarta, Vying for Viability.

13051 Victory Blvd.
North Hollywood, CA 91606

Okay, confession time – as an avid, non-discriminatory food connoisseur, I am an addict of all things delicious. Well, that’s not the confession per se. What IS a confession is that the largest bounty of delicious in the greater Los Angeles region may well be at Vallarta Supermarkets.  At ANY of their 20 locales, in fact.  Don’t believe me?  Take a look:

A theme park?  Nope – that beaming color wheel of fresh produce is just a sliver of their wonderful selection, which also includes Carne, Cremeria, Produce, Botanas, Taqueria, Liquor, Beer, Tortilleria, Bakery, Pasteleria, Catering, Food to go and Juice Bar (And just in case that’s not enough, the also have Van Service, Customer Service, Banking, Lottery & Check Cashing).

Here’s a shot I was able to sneak of the carne/meat section before my wife, embarrassed that I was ‘The Gringo taking pictures’ almost bailed on me:

Like I’m saying, this is only about a quarter of the meat counter. The have everything from lengua to carne de res to pollo asada to cow’s hooves to tripe to chincharron to softshell crab to tilapia to fresh salmon. Dudes are so serious about their meat that the butchers wear hardhats. I’m serious – check the guy behind the counter in the red helmet.

One of the best things about Vallarta is that they also feature restaurant-type food, like some serious carneceria/taqueria type stuff. Here are the street tacos we ordered:

That’s asada on the left, carnitas on the right. Totally succulent, delicious, and even more important – the most robust condiment bar we’ve seen; cilantro, onion, jalapeno, lemon grilled onion and four types of salsa, all gratis.

In short, GO. It’s a modern American experience right here in your backyard.

Locations in Los Angeles County include:


Filed under central, dine.o.saurus, eastside, south bay, valley, westside

a baseball nerd plays hooky

With an impending three-day weekend and an imminent rain storm threatening to (literally) dampen enthusiasm, I took drastic measures & utilized a floating holiday. Boom – parlayed my three-day into four, but what was I going to do with only half a day of sunlight (or better, Seattlelight) before the storm?

Being that this is All-Star We: ekend for the NBA (and most Angelenos), I decided it was a no-brainer to attend the anticipated sporting events of the winter – OPENING DAY. Both the Cal-St. Northridge Matadors and UCLA Bruins played home games today. CSUN was taking on Seattle at 11am at Matador Field (Lindley and Lassen):

. . . while UCLA faced off against the University of San Francisco at gorgeous Jackie Robinson Stadium.

UCLA’s Gerrit Cole, a preseason All-American, started (and finished) the game for the Bruins, striking out 11 in dominant fashion – he was hitting 97mph in the 9th inning on the radar gun in front of this bevy of scouts:

leading UCLA to the victory, sealing their #1 preseason ranking and setting off this celebration.

The swift game was completed in just over 2 hours. . .and immediately thereafter the rain started falling. Only  in L.A. can you get in not one, but TWO baseball games prior to the rain.


Filed under valley, westside

Top 5 Last Minute Valentine’s Day Restaurants

I don’t have a girlfriend anymore. Eff all that noise. But when I did, I knew how to treat a lady right. And that often meant hastily making terrific Valentine’s Day dinner plans at the last minute. So don’t panic, Pro-Crastanova. These places are all super romantic, reasonably priced, and strangely available each and every year:

1. La Fondue Borguignonne, Sherman Oaks: What the? A real French fondue place? In the Valley? That’s right, friends, and it ain’t bad. Then again, how hard is it to screw up melted cheese, soft bread, and an assortment of tasty meats? The place has truly been untouched by time, with a quaint little bar area that is tres Europe. Cozy lighting and the cooking-at-the-table factor adds to the intimate vibe, and the chocolate fondue dessert is not to be missed. [Editor’s note: Apparently this restaurant is now closed, and will soon be re-opening as a Gyu-Kaku. Apologies for the confusion.]

2. Cafe Luna, West Hollywood: Yes, this place was way better in its original incarnation (Caffe Luna) and the food isn’t anything to write home about. But the courtyard patio, with its cute two-tops huddled together among vines of twinkling lights, is almost magical. A perfect place to share a bottle of wine and make crayon drawings on butcher-paper tablecloths. [Editor’s note: This place no longer exists and no evidence was found of it online or elsewhere. It may have only existed in the writer’s memory.]

3. Cafe Bellissimo, Woodland Hills: Recommended for couples in the initial relationship stages, where things like singing waiters and 45-minute food times are still amusing. Yes, this is THAT kind of place. Own it. Sure, you can get a more authentic chicken piccata at Sbarro, and the service is downright abominable, but where else can you hear ‘O Sole Mio’ live, belted out at full volume a mere three feet away from your table? [Editor’s note: Unable to find a review of this place post-2003, it seems as if it no longer exists either. Future editions of this piece will refer to this restaurant as ‘Miceli’s.‘]

4. The Hump, Santa Monica: This tiny Japanese restaurant overlooking the runway at the Santa Monica Airport was once one of the city’s most romantic hidden treasures. That is, until a year ago, when they got busted for selling endangered whale sushi and shuttered their doors. So why is it on this list? Let’s just file it under “the one that got away.” Oh, and by the way, whale sushi? F*cking delicious. [Editor’s note: This restaurant is also closed.]

5. Malibu Seafood, Malibu: What’s more romantic than watching the sun set over the ocean while devouring half a lobster, a basket of shrimp and fries, a pile of ceviche, and one of those bread bowls filled with clam chowder? This little shack serves up no-frills seafood done right, plucked right out of their literal front yard. The views from the deck seating are stellar and the $0 corkage fee is a tremendous bonus.

Malibu Seafood, 25653 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu 90265. Technically closed at sundown but you could probably still get served as late as 7:45 on Valentine’s Day.


Filed under dine.o.saurus, valley, westside