The best thing about the holiday season in Los Angeles is that “Holidays in Los Angeles” can mean just about anything. Surfing in the ocean to snowboarding in the mountains, Southern California is the place to be during the holidays. Because of that, we are finding that there are timeless dining institutions that go full out on holiday decorations every year without fail. Through them we find respite in a magical land of tinsel, garland and boughs of holly, if only for a couple weeks!
It should come as no surprise that Burbank’s premiere retro steakhouse, a favorite haunt for Old Hollywood, goes pretty hard on holiday decorations (including a pair or illuminated nutcrackers that stand guard near the front door). Eat some comfort food, enjoy a Manhattan, and bask in the holiday glory.
El Coyote – 7312 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles CA 90036
Another storied local institution known for keeping its Holiday lights up all year round, El Coyote takes things one step further by draping its dark comfy booths with plastic poinsettias and installing a tree and a cute holiday displays in the foyer. Be sure to ask for your burrito “Holiday-style,” smothered in both red and green salsa.
It might not seem fair to include Santa Monica’s oldest restaurant on this list, if only because the strands upon strands of multicolored Christmas lights lining its tiki-pirate ship dining room are left up all year long. However, you should probably visit the beachside favorite in December anyway, at least to sip a Mai Tai with the cheery regulars. Maybe you’ll even cajole Captain Ron into telling a couple jokes.
The crispy-crust, rectangular Sicilian pies served at Barone’s are tasty, but the real reason to come to this Valley Glen pizzeria is the sweet 1940s décor. It’s like an Italian grandmother’s postwar dining room frozen in amber, complete with red carpeting and carved wood trim. As you might imagine, it looks even more amazing after the Holiday decorations go up. Plus, there is spumoni for dessert.
HMS Bounty – 3357 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles CA 90010
Rumor has it that Richard Nixon and Winston Churchill were among the famous faces known for knocking back a drink or two at Koreatown’s famed 69-year-old nautical- themed dive bar. All we know is that the holiday decorations are cheery and bright, the bar snacks are solid and you always count on the Wise Man’s Special to provide a Start of Bethlehem-worthy glow.
The sparkly holiday decorations are up at Echo Park’s long-running French restaurant, including some elf dolls that look like they might come alive when your back is turned. Taix’s classic French onion soup is always a good bet, but look out for the annual dessert special, Buche de Noel, which should appear on the menu the next couple of weeks.
Holiday door decor is not necessarily at the top of your list of things to decorate during the holidays. However, a well put together door speaks volumes to those who pass it by. There is some sort of energy influence that a well-decorated doorway has over those who acknowledge it. Using decorations like wreaths, garlands, lights and decorative window art will have your whole neighborhood in awe. There’s no better way to welcome family and friends to your home this season.
Frost The Glass
Visitors will be in awe of these instant etchings – vines and fauna. As intricate as it looks, this artwork is easy to create! Start by printing out a template of choice, which comes in sections, onto paper. Trace onto the back of white vinyl using transfer paper, cut out designs with scissors, and align to form the larger design. Static holds the pieces in place on a glass or mirrored surface without the need for adhesive, so you can reuse this snowy silhouette for years to come. Talk about eco-friendly.
Dazzle with Evergreen Stars
Think of the front exterior of your home as a blank canvas. Pictured here, these eight-point stars are staggered, making the front door its focal point. Evergreens are formed on simple bases made from wooden strips; using varieties like rosemary, juniper, cedar, boxwood or white spruce. (Tip: When choosing cuttings, opt for cedar, which can withstand wintry weather). You can also gather trimmings from your backyard.
Keep it Pretty and Practical
Even the smallest front porch and its door can be an efficient use of space. On this front porch are the most important items: sturdy boots, firewood, extra pinecones, and moss for the weekend projects. The lush wreath requires no complicated tools for assembly – just floral shears and wire.
Upcycle Your Treasures
Among all the holiday guests who come flocking to your door, none are as charming as the feathered ones who already inhabit your backyard. An idea that caters to them is easy: Prop a weather-worn basket onto the door with a bundle of greenery and perhaps a pinecone or two coated with peanut butter as a special treat for the birds? Sit back with a cup of hot chocolate and watch the show from your window.
Add Greenery and Shine
Wreaths are considered the darling of any front door, but why not exaggerate its grandeur with a trailing greenery of laurel branches and silver baubles. For a cohesive look, you can enliven an urn or potted planter that’s empty for the winter with any leftovers of laurel and a gazing ball.
Invite Familiar Characters
Charm and tradition go hand in hand for the holiday season. At this holiday open house in Wilmington, North Carolina, the front door is decked out in merry red and green colors. On either side: ribbon-tied topiaries with poinsettias, glass lanterns and a larger-than-life Nutcracker standing at attention.
Craft a Whole New World
The most well-decorated front door offers your house guests a few telling clues about what awaits them inside. Outside, a welcoming sight of mushrooms, woodland gnomes and bottlebrush animals greet those who approach to enter.
Get the Party Started
If you’re playing hostess to a crowd, here’s a sweet idea to greet your guests: roll out a bar with your signature cocktail and a few decorative elements. At this whimsical holiday party, a life-size Nutcracker stands nearby, offering a fun photo-opp as people enter the party. And if you didn’t the transformative power of paint, just check out that cotton-candy pink hue.
***Most of these projects have an added advantage: the structural underpinnings can be saved and reused. After the holidays, you can dismantle the displays, discard the faded greenery and save the base decoration. Next year, when winter returns once more, you can unpack your creations and dress up your doorway for the holiday season. Ideas sourced from Martha Stewart.
With the holidays just a short time away, you won’t want to miss out on these events to get you in the mood! From fun-filled events like live performances at Wallis Annenberg to beautiful museum exhibits at LACMA!
Friday December 6, 2019
Handmade Ornaments Show
Location: iam8nit, Echo Park
Artists from around the world have crafted hundreds of original ornaments in an assortment of mediums, from plush to metal, and most are affordably priced. The pop-up market kicks off with an opening reception on December 5 (7-10pm) and continues during regular gallery hours through December 22.
For The Record: Love Actually Live
Location: Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, Beverly Hills
Throughout December, cult-favorite musical series For the Record presents a stage show based on one of the world’s most beloved holiday movies, Love Actually. Using a multimedia set, a 15-piece orchestra and songs from the film, the show will turn Beverly Hills’ Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts into a feel-good winter set for musical numbers and scenes of the movie’s intersecting love stories.
“Shirin Neshat: I Will Greet the Sun Again”
Location: The Broad, Downtown
This exhibition will make you angry, angry about the subjugation of women around the world, angry over entire populations being unwelcome to their own homelands and angry that such a beautiful body of work from Shirin Neshat hasn’t been on display in Los Angeles before. Covering 30 years of the Iranian-born artist’s photo and video works the Broad is a must-see.
Saturday December 7, 2019
A co-presentation with New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art, LACMA takes a first-ever mid-career look at the Ethiopian-American artist’s striking large-scale abstractions, with 35 paintings and 40 works on paper.
Artisanal LA Holiday City Market
Location: Multiple Venus
L.A. markets is a 30 vendor pop-up at Bunker Hill’s Bank of America Plaza, a gathering of 75- plus markets in the parking lot behind the Pasadena Playhouse.
Location: THE BLOC
Sparkle LA is setting up shop at the Bloc through the end of December, and it’s bringing a bunch of programming along with it, including a holiday card and wreath making workshops.
Sunday December 8, 2019
W | ALLS: Defend, Divide, and the Divine
Location: Annenberg Space for Photography
The latest challenging exhibition from the Annenberg Space for Photography examines the real and imagined barriers that have separated societies and ideas for centuries, from the Roman Empire to the U.S.-Mexico border.
“Loitering is Delightful”
Location: Barnsdall Art Park & Hollyhock House, Los Feliz
Loitering is delightful celebrates the process of taking your time and enjoying your surroundings without any particular aim.
Rose Bowl Flea Market
Location: Rose Bowl
The world-famous Rose Bowl Flea Market takes place on the second Sunday of every month! Come shop from over 2,500 vendors selling everything from coveted antiques, rare vintage finds, and today’s most up-to-date trends!
Devin McNichol and Aaron Bernbach (of the McNichol Bernbach Group of Rodeo Realty), hosted their first annual McNichol Bernbach Group Thanksgiving Food Drive. They hosted the event on Saturday November 23rd, 2019 in front of the Rodeo Realty office based in Pacific Palisades.
For those who brought more than two cans or packages of non-perishable food items to the drive, they qualified for a token. This token was good for a complimentary lunch, catered by Ortiz Kitchen (a Los Angeles based gourmet food truck). Along with a complimentary lunch, those who donated received a raffle ticket to enter into a drawing for gift cards to local businesses in the Pacific Palisades area.
The first two people who showed up to donate ended up having their complimentary lunch together, realized they were neighbors, and made coffee plans for the following week. Both McNichol and Bernbach were “thrilled to hear about this” as their mission for the event was “all about bringing the community together and giving back” as stated by Bernbach.
The McNichol Bernbach group shared they “had over 100 people donate and collected over 800 pounds of food” – talk about making a difference! All donations were sent to the Westside Food Bank. The Westside Food Bank provides more than five million pounds of food each year for those in need.
On top of hosting a Thanksgiving Food Drive, the McNichol Bernbach group recently delivered 500 pumpkins throughout Pacific Palisades in October. These two are not shy about giving back to the community.
As Angeleno’s we know LA has no shortage of places to grab a bite from am to pm. On this holiday of love, our favorite spots will be raising the bar and prices for their Valentines Day offerings. Whether your preference is pre-fix or simply exquisite cuisine, we’ve rounded up the best places to dine with your special someone.
Inn of the Seventh Ray
Forget the Topanga stereotypes of burning sage and healing crystals (OK, they sell those here, too). Off Old Topanga Road, love-stricken diners can enter a bucolic, wooded city escape: a multi-tiered outdoor dining space draped in lights, lilac and oak trees—and, yes, the wafting scent of incense that hits you on your way in. Take in the serene, creekside surroundings under heat lamps and twinkling stars. This idyllic setting will be offering both Brunch and Dinner for the Hallmark holiday of love. Menu’s are pre-fix(with some a la carte dinner options) and can be viewed here.
Location: Santa Monica
Escape to Nantucket at this beachside destination seducing lovers and landlubbers alike, where you can grab front-row seats overlooking the Pacific. If that’s not enough to impress your sunset-discriminating friend, cozy up to the roaring fire over surf and turf plates such as fresh pasta with lobster, seared scallops with bok choi and soy caramel, 24-day–aged rib eye and Sunday-night prime rib dinner served table-side. The quiet dining room jazzes up, literally, come nightfall with live piano and jazz in the hotel’s Living Room lounge, perfect for graduating on to cocktails and more fireside canoodling. View there Valentine’s Day Dinner Menu here.
Transport yourself to another place and time at this Downtown bistro where it’s all about the outdoor patio. Settle under olive trees decked in twinkling lights and a towering skyline overhead, with the Art Deco Central Library as your up-close-and-personal view. When it comes to the menu, expect an extensive wine list, eclectic flavors and elegantly-composed plates from this Patina-owned restaurant. Those seeking romance can pine over the lavish Valentine’s Day pre-fixe menu which can be viewed here.
Location: West Hollywood
Soft, flattering lighting that bounces off the delicate gold wallpaper? Check. An artful, at times decadent, menu that’s perfect for sharing bites with your date? Double check. Traditional Japanese technique meets California flavor at this intimate bungalow on the edge of Chateau Marmont. Pro tip: For an even more intimate experience, huddle over sake and cocktails at the front bar. For next Wednesday they’re offering a stunning Valentines version of their Kaiseki menu. Click here for more information.
Location: Eagle Rock
There’s romance even in the story of this Eagle Rock gem. The cozy Craftsman bungalow turned bistro is run by—of course—a husband-and-wife team. Chef Sean Lowenthal and Deborah Schwartz-Lowenthal cook up a hyper-seasonal New-American menu romance filled setting. Share your way through braised meatballs, duck liver mousse with sherry gastrique, and charred flat iron steak. Outdoors, the lights flip on when the sun goes down, providing an intimate patio that glows as much as your date will. For more information click here.
The Bazaar by Jose Andres
Location: Central LA
This Valentine’s Day, plan a night as unique as your romance. With three outstanding José Andrés experiences to chose from, the way to the heart begins with a feast for the senses. There are multiple dining rooms, each with a different menu focus and ambience. Dine dangerously in the more masculine, matador-themed banquettes or opt for comfy-yet-modern seating. For more information on their menu options click here.
Wolfgang Puck at Hotel Bel-Air
Location: Bel Air
Since opening its doors in 1946, Hotel Bel-Air has been the site of Old Hollywood’s (then-new) city escapes. From honeymoons to camping out in the secluded hills away from the lights. The Mediterranean-influenced menu sees glimpses of old and new with updated Puck favorites. Finish with a stroll by the fabled Swan Lake for a fairy-tale ending. Click here to view their Valentine’s Day menu offerings.
Scopa Italian Roots
Oh, Scopa, what are you doing to us? Those crispy squash blossoms and house-made meatballs are making our hearts melt. Not to mention the intoxicating glow of the fully-stocked liquor bar that lights up the restaurant. Couples canoodle in dark booths, sharing plates of rigatoni in vodka sauce and fusilli tossed with capers, olives and anchovies. Chef Antonia Lofaso has a knack for churning out quality comfort food in a date-worthy atmosphere. End the night with a fried fluffernutter (trust us). To view their menu click here.
Location: Santa Monica
Ask anyone in L.A. what the best fine-dining spot is, and Mélisse always comes out toward the top of the list. Serving dinner only, suited waiters bring course after course. You can opt for the basic four, seven or 10 courses, plus caviar service—of artfully-composed plates of pure decadence. (If that doesn’t seduce you, we don’t know what will.) While two private dining rooms offer a more intimate setting, the main dining room hosts couples, who should request a booth. To view their pre-fixe menu options click here.
Location: Echo Park
Because vegetarians are lovers, too. This Echo Park haunt is a date night go-to for vegetarians and omnivores alike. Fall for the Middle Eastern and Mediterranean menu that changes with the season. Call ahead to claim a spot with your date inside the cozy, matchbox-size dining room. Sip on any number of wines—all natural wine, of course—and toast over vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options. Click here to view their menu options.
Location: Studio City
Firefly may be the closest thing to a modern-day secret garden in L.A., walls of tangled ivy included. The fine-dining restaurant offers Modern-American cuisine in a romantic, cozy setting. Their heated, fire-lit patio is decorated in candles and twinkling lights, while the library-like bar area offers an ideal date-night vibe. In this secret garden, you’ll be fed exquisitely constructed dishes off their pre-fix Valentine’s Day menu which can be viewed here.
When the parsley sprinkled over the house-made pasta you’re eating has come from a garden right outside the restaurant’s doors, you know you’re eating fresh. Such is the case at the picture-perfect mar’sel, where an onsite herb-and-vegetable garden is mere steps from the kitchen, its goods incorporated throughout the menu. Overlooking the beautiful Pacific Ocean, mar’sel is the perfect place to impress your date. Their menu options can be viewed here.
Location: Beverly Hills
If a restaurant could make you weak at the knees, Il Cielo would have diners dropping left and right. Serving dinner under a canopy of twinkling lights, the romantic Italian eatery aims to be a “country restaurant in the city”. Bubbling fountains and white tablecloths create a darling ambiance to rival a Tuscan trattoria. Their decadent Valentine’s Day menu is sure to rival other as well and can be viewed here.
Location: Silver Lake
This hidden gem’s patio is one of the prettiest on the east end of the city. An open structure that’s outfitted in hanging lights and a fireplace under a huge banyan-like tree. The menu reads like an exotic escape—to the Mediterranean or Asia, perhaps—with a California influence. Enjoy menu items like French butter lettuce with radish, quinoa, or whole branzino with papaya salad and nuoc cham. To view their full menu click here.
Location: West Hollywood
Long heralded as one of the top restaurants in the city, Melrose Avenue’s Lucques continues to draw foodies and the fashionable set. The menu takes cues from the season with local farmers’ market ingredients highlighted on the plate. While the bar menu features a separate selection of eats and seasonal concoctions, another experience and reason to visit. Indulge by flickering candlelight over a bottle—the well-curated wine selection features worlds both old and new—and don’t skimp on desserts. View their seasonal menu here.