Valley Eats: Al Fresco Dining 

In the wake of recent news, restaurants in numerous counties in California are shutting down their indoor dining operations. Restaurants are exclusively open for take-out and outdoor dining. We have rounded up a list of restaurants that are open for business for a fun al fresco dining experience. Please make sure that upon arrival, you assess the restaurant’s compliance with the guidelines to align with your comfortability. Happy eating! 

Saddle Peak Lodge – Calabasas

For a white tablecloth experience, it’s hard to beat the patio at Saddle Peak Lodge, nestled away in the hills of the Santa Monica Mountains. We recommend starting with their Pink Lady Apple Salad, Salmon dish, and any of their side dishes. 


Idle Hour – Studio City 

The 2015 revamp of this legendary North Hollywood spot provided Valley denizens with an idyllic place to sip cocktails while nibbling on bar-friendly bites. Now diners can once again grab a socially-distanced seat outside under the watchful eye of a replica of the Bulldog Cafe.


Malibu Wines & Beer Garden – West Hills 

The setup at Malibu Wine’s tasting room in West Hills works well for distanced dining, though only on weekends for now. There’s food truck pizza (surprisingly delicious), lots of shade, and bottles galore for enjoying at each well-spaced table. Make a reservation online, now! 


Little Bear Restaurant – Glendale/Eagle Rock

Eagle Rock’s Little Beast is back, offering its broad front porch and big back patio to diners that request the open-air experience. Bring the family, and enjoy an al fresco dinner! 


Nobu – Malibu 

Celebrities have been flocking to the recently-reopened Nobu Malibu, and for good reason. The water, the salty air, the impeccable seafood — it all adds up to a refreshing meal outdoors. We recommend every single thing on the menu, not kidding. Fresh and delicious food with an amazing oceanfront view. 


LA Eats: Al Fresco Dining 

In the wake of recent news, restaurants in numerous counties in California are shutting down their indoor dining operations. Restaurants are exclusively open for take-out and outdoor dining. We have rounded up a list of restaurants that are open for business for a fun al fresco dining experience. Please make sure that upon arrival, you assess the restaurant’s compliance with the guidelines to align with your comfortability. Happy eating! 

Gracias Madre – West Hollywood

Gracias Madre is the sister restaurant of Cafe Gratitude. With a Mexican fusion of vegan cuisine, this place never disappoints. You do not even realize you are eating vegan food– it is that good. We highly recommend the chips and guacamole, sweet potato flautas, and the cauliflower with cashew nacho cheese. Their outdoor dining experience whisks you away from Los Angeles thoughtfully decorated  


A.O.C – Beverly Hills 

AOC has one of the most charming patios in the city, a breezy area that feels like an Italian villa far removed from Los Angeles. Suzanne Goin is preparing market-fresh cuisine like wood-fired clams, while sommelier Caroline Styne pairs them with beautifully curated wines. 


Dama – DTLA 

Downtown restaurant and bar Dama is about as open-air as it gets, with ample patio space and breezes that pull through from every open-angle. It helps, too, that the cocktails are first class and the chef is Antonia Lofaso. This restaurant feels like you are in Latin America– we recommend the steak to share, el lote, and any of the desserts! 


Nobu – Malibu 

Celebrities have been flocking to the recently-reopened Nobu Malibu, and for good reason. The water, the salty air, the impeccable seafood — it all adds up to a refreshing meal outdoors. We recommend every single thing on the menu, not kidding. Fresh and delicious food with an amazing oceanfront view. 


Momed – Atwater Village 

There’s plenty of patio space available at hidden Atwater Village gem Momed, so don’t worry about others not social distancing while enjoying the broad Mediterranean menu. Check out this hidden gem before it gets even more popular!

Home Tips: Outdoor Living in Style

Quarantine or not, for many people, this will be the summer of the staycation. And if you are planning to spend the next few months at home — rather than hop on a plane or venture to a not-so-socially-distant destination — now may also be the time to update your outdoor living area. With a little work, whatever space you have can be transformed into a modern getaway-at-home with fresh air and style to spare. Here are a few upgrades and current trends to consider:

Fire it up

Who doesn’t love gathering with friends and family around a fire under the stars? So is it any surprise fire pits and outdoor fireplaces continue to endure — and grow — in popularity? First, they provide a center of interest and activity. Second, they give you more time to spend enjoying the outdoors —into the night and throughout the cooler months. And if you don’t want to burn wood and clean up ash, gas-fueled fireplaces eliminate the need altogether. Plus, creative homeowners can customize using different building materials other than simple brick and stone.

Movies al fresco

Drive-in theaters are surging in popularity, but there are also other ways to adapt to shuttered cinemas during what would normally be the kickoff to the summer movie season. One possibility: creating your own outdoor movie theater at home. By investing in a screen and projector, loved ones can gather to thrill to a blockbuster under the stars.

Show your colors

Faced with a concrete patio floor as flat and plain as, well, concrete? Add some life and texture with masonry stain or even resurface it with slate tiles. For a less work-intensive solution, splash some color around — whether with a sustainable, water-proof outdoor rug, pillows for the patio furniture or a deck umbrella to provide both personality and shade. And as always, plants can be relied upon to generate bursts of color and warmth in even the dreariest of spaces.

Take the party outside

With the current emphasis on staying at home as well as maintaining a physical distance from others, it only makes sense homeowners would turn to their own backyards to throw parties and entertain friends and family. Not surprisingly then, online searches for outdoor bars have reportedly more than doubled year over year. As well, online searches for outdoor kitchens have increased. And as we all know, the heart of any great party is the kitchen.

Turn on the lights

Outdoor lighting can be key to creating aura and atmosphere. String lighting, for instance, is an especially popular choice. While there are plug-in kits that are simple to install, you might also want to consider solar lights, which require neither batteries nor wiring. LEDs have made solar lights especially appealing to homeowners because they consume less power and can therefore last for hours on stored-up energy alone.

Mixing and matching

Whether in the form of furniture or as a decorative element, rope has emerged as a hot design trend for outdoor spaces, allowing homeowners to experiment with mixing and matching fabrics and materials — from wood and wicker to string and aluminum. Used judiciously, woven rope can add a touch of warmth and compliment colder materials such as steel. More practically, rope is durable, meaning it can weather wind and rain for years.

Home Tips: Spring Cleaning

Nobody has to be told about wiping down doorknobs and washing their hands. But while saying it’s time to spring clean may sound redundant in the age of COVID-19, disinfected clutter is still disinfected clutter. And no amount of hand sanitizer will organize your garage or closets for you. So assuming you have some free time or possibly could simply use the distraction, why not tackle what is one of any year’s most intimidating, oft-delayed around-the-home endeavors? Here are a few tips to help you draw up your painstaking plan of action, room by room.


If you want to save time and energy, clean from the top to bottom — meaning dust the ceilings and ceiling fans first, so gravity does the work for you. Then you only need to vacuum your floors once. (One easy way to dust your ceiling fan while avoiding covering yourself with debris: slip an old pillowcase over each blade, then draw it forward to gather the dust inside. Once most of the dirt has been removed, then you can quickly wipe the blades down with a cloth.)



Start cleaning by throwing almost everything out: the toilet brush, the toothbrushes, the shower curtain, even the trash can. Replacing them is both sanitary and inexpensive. Once that’s done, move onto the medicine cabinet to similarly dispose of anything that’s expired: from cosmetics to medications. You may also want to put in a new fan, since they are key to ventilating moisture, therefore protecting against mold and mildew.


As with the bathroom, toss out everything that has collected over the winter months, such as expired condiments. Then clear out your cabinets to wipe down the shelves. If you have stainless steel appliances, don’t use harsh chemicals or steel wool, which can cause damage. Although you should consult the owner’s manual to see which cleaners to avoid, a simple cloth, warm water and dish detergent should be fine. Then dry them carefully to avoid water spots.


Your first question should be: when was the last time I wore this and will I wear it again in the foreseeable future? Once you’ve answered that question, donate or dispose of the garments and items that are only gathering dust. From there, it’s all about utilizing available space. That might mean a closet system, whether one that is professionally installed or one that you can install yourself. Or it might be something as relatively simple as switching to velvet, space-saving, non-slip hangers.


The same rule that applies to the closet is true of the garage (or anywhere else where you might have skis stored away even though you haven’t hit the slopes in years). Think about what you want to keep and what you are only hanging on to for sentimental value. After that, clean and organize the garage. If square footage is limited, consider vertical wall hanging or ceiling track storage, which secures storage bins onto the ceiling. And remember that some things should never be stored here, including paint or other chemicals that require a constant temperature; leather, which can be damaged by moisture; or food that will lure insects or other pests.

Virtually Out and About: L.A. Museums

Think of it as a virtual staycation. While museums like the Louvre and the Guggenheim welcome interactive, international visitors with tours of their exhibitions, self-isolating Angelinos have plenty of culture, history and science to explore right here – from behind the safety of their screen, of course. Take these five local institutions, for example. They may be shuttered, but thanks to online archives, activities and resources, they’re hardly off-limits to the public.

The Getty

If you were thinking of dropping by the Getty Center or Getty Villa before the lockdown, good news: some of its most popular exhibitions are open to virtual visitors. That includes Michelangelo: Mind of the Master, which examines rare drawings by the artist, ranging from sketches to detailed figure studies. Listen along to a free audio tour as you browse his work. For something fun, in addition to the online archive of art, videos and books, you can download a free coloring book filled with some of the museum’s most iconic artwork.

The Grammy Museum

The doors are closed, but the music plays on. On their website, you can enjoy archived performances by artists ranging from Common to the late Kenny Rogers. Join their album club, which is sort of an interactive book club for music fans, and follow along as founding executive director Bob Santelli discusses such classic albums as Bruce Springsteen’s Born in the U.S.A.


Natural History Museum

For families wanting to hit pause on streaming movies and TV, the Natural History Museum offers the chance to link up with scientists and other students for virtual adventures and crowd-sourced science. It also boasts an impressive video selection. For example, after learning about the animals and plants we share Los Angeles with, you can watch a clip chronicling how scientists uncovered the skull of the prehistoric world’s smallest dinosaur preserved in amber.

California Science Center

For burgeoning young scientists, the California Science Center live streams “Stuck at Home Science” every weekday at 10 a.m. Considering topics include “gross science,” it’s fair to say the goal is to keep children engaged and interested as they learn. Don’t worry about having to leave the house for materials, either. All the projects use common household items.

Museum of Contemporary Art

MOCA offers an entire schedule of interactive activities throughout the week, designed to help the community stay connected. Available on the website as well as across MOCA’s social media channels, these include workshops, classroom curriculum discussions, an Instagram takeover series with a new artist every week, a book club and “Feel Good Friday,” which focuses on meditation and other exercises to relax the mind and reduce stress.

Out & About: Staying Safe Outdoors

Isolating yourself indoors has its limits. So while everything from non-essential businesses to children’s playgrounds to state campgrounds have been closed throughout Southern California as the world grapples with the coronavirus pandemic, some things you simply need to venture outside to do. Here are some ways to stay safe outside your own four walls. 


With online grocers overwhelmed by demand, it’s likely at some point you will need to restock food and supplies yourself. If possible, try to avoid peak hours and maintain the recommended distance of six feet between you and others. While in the store, touch as little as you need to and when you get it home, sanitize what you have purchased. Produce, which on average is handled by at least 10 people before it reaches you, should be sprayed with either a bleach solution (a teaspoon of bleach per gallon of water), a disinfectant wipe or soap and water. Packaged items should also probably be wiped down. And don’t forget to wash your hands with soap and water. If you want to be extra-careful, wash your clothes and have a shower.


Farmer’s Markets, considered essential services, remain open, albeit with new rules. These include ensuring there are more hand-washing stations, more space between stands and in general, more distance between people. Not surprisingly, the sampling of unpackaged food is not permitted. Otherwise, you should treat the market the same as anywhere else: don’t touch your face, be wary of surfaces and once you get home, wash everything with soap and water.


If possible, postpone routine procedures and regularly-scheduled appointments. (Many clinics are already cutting back nonessential services.) If you suspect you have coronavirus – either because you have symptoms like a fever and dry cough or you’ve been in contact with someone confirmed to be infected – you should first call your doctor or make a virtual appointment. If it becomes necessary for you to go into the office, it’s likely the clinic has adapted to guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): providing soap and hand sanitizer, placing chairs apart and using barriers when possible, as well as removing any communal items (such as toys or magazines) and posting COVID-19-related signage.


Obviously, when your dog has to go out, so do you. Keep a radius of at least six feet around you and your four-legged friend. If a street or path seems too crowded, find another way. If you can, avoid peak times. Along with bringing your own water and supplies, remember to wash your hands after touching any handrails or door handles. As for your dog, he or she is perfectly fine. There is no evidence to suggest dogs can either transmit coronavirus or contract the illness.

Streaming: The 5 Best TV Shows You Should Finally Binge 

The 5 Best TV Shows You Should Finally Binge 

So much content, so little time. Until now. With social distancing giving everyone a lot more downtime at home, why not use it to binge a classic TV series you may have missed when it originally aired – or always wanted to revisit but never got around to? Thanks to the vast catalogs curated by the likes of Netflix, Hulu, and others, it’s almost certainly available to be streamed. And if you don’t have a favorite already in mind, here are five picks to consider.

The Sopranos 

Streaming On: HBO GO, HBO NOW, Hulu, Amazon Prime

Like The Godfather, the time has been kind to David Chase’s mafioso drama about a New Jersey crime kingpin and his clan. Considered one of the finest television dramas in history – if not the finest – it’s powered by James Gandolfini‘s explosive performance as Tony Soprano, a mobster in crisis seeking therapy with psychiatrist Jennifer Melfi (Lorraine Bracco). What follows is a turbulent miracle of violence and recrimination punctuated by bursts of jet-black humor. FOR AGES: 18 and up


Streaming On: Hulu

To appreciate Lost, consider how far ahead of its time it was in 2004. Here was an expensive serialized thrill ride that inspired a rabid fandom, stoked pop culture debate, raced with cinematic action and veered wildly down avenues of science fiction and theology. It looked like nothing else on the air at the time – and now resembles much of what’s new to binge. The premise: after crash landing on a mysterious island, the survivors of Oceanic Flight 815 encounter everything from polar bears and phantoms to mad scientists and time travel. For ages: 13 and up.


Streaming On: Hulu

Just because this science-fiction spoof from Matt Groening never enjoyed the blockbuster success of his other animated creation, The Simpsons, doesn’t mean it lacks for witty, weird pleasures. Set in the year 3000, it follows the misadventures of a 20th-century slacker stranded out of time. Along the way, he encounters robots, floating heads, intelligent crustaceans and the one-eyed girl who steals his heart. FOR AGES: 12 and up


Curb your Enthusiasm 

Streaming On: HBO NOW, HBO GO, Amazon Prime, Hulu

Considering Curb just wrapped it’s 10th (and one of its best) seasons, what better time to revisit the entire misanthropic catalog of awkward truths and cringing laughs? As a fictionalized version of himself, Seinfeld co-creator Larry David discovers social aggravation wherever he goes in his West Los Angeles neighborhood. And for fans of Seinfeld who missed it, Curb’s seventh season is as close to a proper Seinfeld reunion as you will ever see. FOR AGES: 18 and up


Mad Men 

Streaming On: Netflix

Like The Sopranos, Mad Men follows an alpha male anti-hero in an existential crisis. But whereas that mob drama is as beefy and swaggering as Tony Soprano, this series set in 1960s New York is as sleek and inscrutable as its chain-smoking ad man, Don Draper (Jon Hamm). Despite its multitude of Emmys and place in pop culture, Mad Men was, relatively speaking, always a niche show, enjoying solid but unspectacular ratings. This means for many people, its immaculate style and shattering drama are yet to be discovered. FOR AGES: 14 and up

Home Tips: Safer at Home

Just because you’re home doesn’t mean the coronavirus can’t follow you inside. By now, we all know the basic steps the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) are urging people to follow in their daily lives:

    • Wash your hands frequently for at least 20 seconds – or about the time it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” twice.
    • Keep your distance from people in general (a radius of six feet is suggested), but especially from those who are sick.
    • Cough or sneeze into a tissue and then dispose of it in the trash.
    • If you are sick, stay home.
    • If you have symptoms such as a dry cough or fever, seek medical advice.

Which, while providing necessary guidance, still leaves unanswered questions for people now sheltering in place. Among them:


In a word, no. Although recent data suggests younger adults and teenagers are not as immune to the effects of COVID-19 as first thought, the virus nevertheless presents the greatest risk to older adults and people already suffering from such chronic medical conditions as lung disease. For example, as of mid-March, when there were about 2,500 cases in the U.S., adults over the age of 65 accounted for roughly 80 percent of the reported deaths.


During this crisis, don’t overlook the mental wellness of your loved ones, particularly the elderly. If grandma and grandpa cannot see their grandchildren in person, arm them with digital devices, even if they aren’t terribly tech-savvy. The Apple iPad Pro 9.7, for example, is both high-end and user-friendly, bolstered by a brilliant display. For a device, even more, stripped down in its simplicity, there is the GrandPad for video chatting and photo swapping 


With gyms shuttered and outdoor activities dramatically curtailed, fitness pros are turning online, offering live-streaming classes and free trial apps for anyone who wants to stay in shape. For a more challenging routine, Orangetheory offers a variety of at-home workouts daily. Boxing studio Rumble is hosting workouts on Instagram Live while CorePower Yoga is streaming free classes. Indoor cycling titan Peloton is also offering a free 90-day trial of their classes, which range from cycling and running to yoga and meditation. Lastly, for seniors, the AARP has several fitness videos posted on YouTube. But whatever you choose, don’t stress. Studies suggest a five-minute workout once a day is all you need to maintain your status quo.


The coronavirus isn’t a cyber-attack, but what would happen if your phone or laptop broke and stores weren’t open to selling you a replacement and online delivery became so overwhelmed, it would take days or weeks to courier a new device to you? If you are now working remotely – or need to stay in contact with a family member digitally – you should consider spending on a back-up phone, batteries and any spare parts for the electronics you rely on.


Experts suggest you clean your home every few days – but pay special attention to the areas and objects that receive the most human contact: doorknobs, light switches, countertops, even TV remotes. As for dish and bath towels, wash them every day after you use them.


For all the talk about making your own hand sanitizer – and a lot of what is discussed online wouldn’t be effective, anyway – soap and water should always be your go-to. (Just like people have been doing to battle viruses for most of history; the first soap was manufactured by the Babylonians in 2800 B.C.) Only if the soap isn’t available should you consider a substitute. If you do have to do it yourself, it needs to be at least 60 percent alcohol. (Most online formulas combine rubbing alcohol, which is 99 percent alcohol, with aloe vera gel and lemon juice.)

Games: Family Edition

Game night has evolved a lot since the days of checkers and Clue. Board games now range from intricate puzzles requiring the utmost strategic thinking to intense mythologies that draw in players for hours (and hours) to raucous adults-only laugh riots. So to say, in this era of social distancing, games are one way to pass the time is a disservice to their makers and the people who play, regardless of current events. Sit yourself and the kids down and break out any of the following 10 family-friendly games. You might end up having a great time, even stuck indoors.

Jax Sequence

As with life, all this takes to win is some luck and a little strategy. Participants play a card while at the same time placing a chip on the equivalent space on the board. The aim is to assemble five in a row: a winning sequence. Suggested for ages seven and up, the game is ideal for almost any setting since it can be played by as few as two people or as many as 12. 


If you think spending a few days on a road trip with your family is a pressure cooker, what about trying to pull off a heist together? That’s the premise behind this game, which sets your team out to crack a safe. Expect as many twists, turns and close calls as an Ocean Eleven’s sequel as your team works to crack a safe. For ages seven and up.

Hasbro Gaming Monopoly

If you have several hours to wheel and deal, backstab and bankrupt, then the classic board game, which dates back to the Great Depression, offers all the pleasure and pain of Wall Street without leaving your living room. It’s recommended for ages eight and up, but honestly, you’re never too young to learn the value of money – or how to connive and claw to get some.

Not Parent Approved: A Card Game for Families            

If you’re in the mood for laughter without having to think about things, you’ll approve. A family-friendly variation on the adults-only Cards Against Humanity, this game challenges mischief makers to match a fill-in-the-blank question with a card from their hand. Silliness ensues.

Throw Throw Burrito Board Game                  

You don’t go into a game called “Throw Throw Burrito Board Game” expecting a master class in chess. The goal is simple enough: “collect cards and throw things at your friends.” Those things, as you might expect, are the ever-smiling burritos. And you lose points every time one strikes you. Recommended for ages seven and up.

Game Mashups – Candy Land Connect 4        

This mashup game takes the architecture of Connect 4 and adds some sweets straight out of Candy Land. Players try to line up plastic candies on the bottom row or vertically from the bottom. Recommended for children ages six and up.

Flying Sushi Kitchen Game    

For parents who find retrieving pieces of sushi with chopsticks a challenge, here’s a game to ensure their children develop vastly superior motor skills. The goal: snare levitating pieces of sushi out of the air and be the first player to assemble his or her platter. This one is recommended for children ages eight to 14.

Twister Scrabble Game


Another mashup of two classic games. In this one, for ages eight and up, the twister mat is actually a giant Scrabble board, with players forced to contort, twist and bend themselves into knots in order to spell out words.

Party Bowl Party Game

From What Do You Meme’s line of family-friendly games, this one is perfect for outgoing players who enjoy Charades-like guessing antics. Words and phrases are tossed into a bowl, then guessed upon by others. Since it allows players to decide how racy they want the game if at all, it’s suggested for ages 12 and up.

Family Feud Trivia Box Card Game 

No explanation required. This trivia-box version of the enduring game show brings the feud home. Just remember, after the game’s over, you’re still going to be stuck with these people for a while longer. For ages eight and up, so the whole family can get in on what the survey says.

Home Tips: Sick-Proofing Your Home

You may not have heard lately, but it’s still cold and flu season. This means as concerned as you are about the coronavirus, there are other germs galore equally intent on making you ill. The good news: most of them, including COVID-19, can be effectively dealt with by simple cleanliness, especially around the home. And while that has predictably created mass shortages of sanitizing products, it also requires more than a simple wipe-down. Here are a few ways to help keep your house a healthier place as you hunker down for the long haul.


Possessing the precious sanitizing wipe isn’t enough – you also need to wield it correctly. First, after cleaning, surfaces should stay wet for a few minutes, then be allowed to air dry. Second, the wipe should be discarded (no matter how diminished your supply is) as studies have shown reusing it will only spread germs rather than eliminate them. If you don’t have sanitizing wipes, try mixing five tablespoons of bleach in a gallon of water as a make-ready disinfectant. Using a vinegar solution isn’t potent enough, especially against COVID-19. 

Wipe your fEET

There’s little point to assiduously scrubbing your house down if you’re tracking in dirt and who-knows-what into the place every time you enter. Slap down a fresh doormat at every entryway and remove your shoes whenever you come inside. Better still, wash the soles frequently because, again, who knows what you stepped in out there.


Linens and towels, which viruses and bacteria cling to, should be washed frequently in hot water. If someone in your home has been sick, a few extra steps are recommended, such as introducing bleach to your laundry – always follow the instructions on the label – and then sterilizing the washing machine itself. This can be done by adding bleach to an empty cycle of hot water, then running it a second time just to make sure the bleach has been drained away.


After you’ve scrubbed and disinfected from one corner to the other, you aren’t finished cleaning until you’ve sanitized the mops, rags and any other items you may have used. Otherwise, you run the risk of having only captured the germs in your home – which you will then distribute around the next time you “clean.” Wash them with hot water and soap as well as a touch of bleach. And if possible, ditch your mops and brooms altogether for disposable cloth refills.


From cutting down on static electricity to keeping wood from splitting, there are many reasons to keep humidifiers around, especially during winter. But most importantly, a humidifier, like the Vicks mist humidifier pictured here on Amazon, can help eliminate flu viruses. And if you are suffering symptoms, a higher humidity level can soothe sore throats and sinus congestion.