Thursday, July 2, 2009

Drinks, Eats and Movie

We’re in the middle of summer now and it’s a great time to go out with friends, see the latest blockbusters and grab a few drinks or some quick chow. So what are the key areas in LA? Where do we find the best combo of movie theater and eats? Here are four of my favorite spots to catch a movie with friends.

Culver City

I’ve already gushed about one of my favorite spots in the entire city. But here’s a rundown of all the entertainment offerings available.
Drinks: A+
Just about anything you want. For a great deal on a happy hour go to Gyenari. Want something a little more upscale, there’s Rush, Bottlerock, and Father’s Office.
Eats:A+
Up and coming restaurant section for LA, Akasha, Ford’ Filling Station and Fraiche are all just across the street from the theater.
Movies: B-
Pacific Theaters. It’s a typical chain multiplex. Nothing special really. Average seating, snacks and ambience.

Hollywood

The Sunset and Vine area. Home to the Arclight Hollywood, Amoeba Music, and K&L Wine Market. There are plenty of reasons to come down here, not just the movies.
Drinks:A
Boho, The Bowery and the Cat and Fiddle all within easy walking distance plus there’s a bar inside the Arclight itself.
Eats: B+
Not the treasure trove Culver City is, but still good. Hungry Cat, Fabiolous Café, and gastropubs Bowery, Boho, and Cat and Fiddle give it options. The large Club Sushi is right next to the Arclight but for me it isn’t any better (but no worse) than the Kabuki Sushi just around the corner.
Movies: A+
The Arclight Hollywood is one of the best venues in the city. Nearly 50% more per ticket but you will see where that extra cash went to. Comfortable seats, gift shop, café and full bar inside. And it looks great inside. Great décor with actual props and costumes on display. The Cinerama Dome is one of the widest screens you’ve ever seen. Visit they’re website to see what’s playing. They don’t always have all the latest blockbusters. They mix their slate up with a lot of independent fare. Movie buffs will love the frequent screenings of classic films, often with special guests. This is maybe the best single spot for movies in all the city.

Sherman Oaks

For those in the Valley who don't want to make the drive into the city, you have a nice little spot at Sepulveda and Ventura.
Drinks: C
The Arclight has its own bar and there’s a bar at all the restaurants. But there’s no one great watering hole.
Eats: B-
It’s all chain restaurants in the Sherman Oaks Galleria. And there’s nothing wrong with dinner at the Cheesecake Factory or PF Chang’s. But if you want a little personality in your meal, cross Ventura Boulevard and walk about a block and a half down Sepulveda. There you will find some good sushi and Indian food.
Movies: A
The Arclight Sherman Oaks is nearly as swank as the Hollywood original. Not quite as diverse as the Hollywood location and it doesn’t have the gigantic Cinerama Dome. But still a really great movie going experience within.

Howard Hughes Parkway

Near the airport and just a short drive from Venice.
Drinks: B
Marie Calendar has weekend happy hour that goes from three to close. Its bar menu is okay, but won’t be winning any awards. There’s also drinks at Island Burger and Kabuki.
Eats: C
Only chain restaurants in the mall and the best of those might be Jodi Maroni. Worst yet, the mall is in the center of an office complex so what’s in the mall is all that’s available.
Movies:A
The Bridge is one of the best venues in town. It has a great art deco interior, great seating and concession carts inside the theaters.

Highland and Hollywood

Hollywood. The place is always alive 365 days a year. Beware the hordes of tourists flood this part of town year round.
Drinks: A-
There are a number of watering holes within easy walking distance. There are the bars at the Daily Grill and California Pizza Kitchen. There’s the Pig n’ Whistle just a short distance up Hollywood. There’s a Hooters. But my favorite bar is gastropub Lucky Devils which is a bit of a walk from the theaters but well worth it.
Eats: B
You definitely have options. There are restaurants all over Hollywood. Several of them pretty famous (and pricey). There’s Musso and Franks and Geisha House if you have the cash. Inside the Hollywood and Highland Center there’s a Daily Grill and a California Pizza Kitchen. My favorite spot there is actually The Dip, for a fast, affordable French Dip. But my favorite spot to eat is also my favorite spot to drink, Lucky Devils. They have a chili cheese fries and a brisket sandwich that will blow you away.
Movies: A+
There isn’t one single place here that as good as the Arclight Hollywood but the number of venues in this area is boggling. There’s the Mann Chinese multiplex which is pretty average. But right next door is the famous Grauman’s Chinese, a piece of LA history that is a must for any movie buff. Across from the Grauman’s is the El Capitan owned by Disney. If you have little ones it’s a great place to take them to see the latest Disney or Pixar release. And down the street don’t forget the Egyptian. This is a famous indie venue that serves up plenty of classic films and plenty of off beat releases.

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