By Vic Gerami
I have lived on three continents, traveled around the globe, and I’m grateful to regularly participate in press trips that take me to some of the world’s best destinations. But LA is home. I grew up here and would not want to live anywhere else on the planet.
I’ve had the privilege of experiencing the best of LA from a unique vantage point. For me, working in the media for so many years, including with Frontiers Magazine, the longest-running regional gay publication in the country, and later, LA Weekly, “Best of LA” is not just an idea—it’s a competition. Local businesses strive to be, make or provide services in ways that are better, more memorable and created with that certain aspect of Los Angeles culture that make them contenders for an array of “Best of LA” lists. But there’s also a competition among several magazines, news and lifestyle web sites and even TV stations to make their list the Best of LA.
Now as editor and publisher of The Blunt Post, I’m ready to take you on a tour that will lead to the ultimate LA icons of Southern California food, entertainment, nightlife, recreation, music and beyond.
I have stayed at five-star, five-diamond hotels, as well as clothing optional resorts. I have slept in the homes of mega, “A-list” celebrities, then on other nights, crashing on friends’ sofas after all-night parties. I have eaten at Michelin three-star restaurants, as well as from food trucks and enjoyed all of them. With the range of my experiences and the broad spectrum of my tastes, rest assured that The Blunt Post’s Five Icons Best of LA annual feature will bring you highlights from my personal choices of some of the most exceptional places in the City of Angels to eat, shop, play and enjoy a variety of services.
Don’t expect the usual “Best-of” list. The Blunt Post 5 Icons are the best of the best of the best. Whether you’re used to staying at five-star-five-diamond hotels, an experience many Angelinos, myself included, have had the good fortune to enjoy – or if you, like many of us, work to make your dollars stretch, you’ll find a uniquely curated set of iconic and accessible world-class resorts in our hospitality category. I relish all levels of experiences that have a quality offering. You’ll want to join me as, each year from now on with the launch of The Blunt Post’s 5 Icons, we redefine what is the Best of LA.
Aroma Café Studio City
Quaint is the best word to describe this gem that has been a long-time favorite of Studio City residents, employees of nearby studios and celebrities. Originally a house, it is now a restaurant and café that transforms you to an east coast resort town. Their extensive menu offers a great variety for all types of pallets, including many vegetarian and vegan options. They have some of the best cakes and pastries, so budget your appetite so you can taste some sweets too. 4360 Tujunga Avenue, Studio City 91604
GIFT & COFFEE SHOP
Marie Et Cie
It’s cliché to say that something is the ‘best kept secret’, but it’s apropos for Marie Et Cie.
Founded in 1998 by French Armenian mother and son duo of Marie and Charles, who travel the world seeking unique and unusual items to grace the shelves of their charming, 5,000 square foot French boutique.
Marie Et Cie is also a full-service cafe serving in house made breakfast and lunch daily until 3:30PM. The menu is as unique as their gift items. Try their omelette aux cochon, eggplant mozzarella panini or any of their assorted French pastries. Whether you are stopping by for your morning coffee, meeting friends to catch up, looking for home decor or your favorite candle brands, Marie et Cie will transport you across the globe. 11704 Riverside Drive, Valley Village 91607
Descanso Gardens is an urban retreat, a place of year-round natural beauty, with internationally renowned botanical collections and spectacular seasonal horticultural displays. Accredited by the American Alliance of Museums as a museum of living collections, Descanso Gardens has one of the largest collections of camellias in the Western Hemisphere; a rose garden with specimens from all corners of the globe; and significant presentations of lilacs, maple trees, cherry trees and iris. 1418 Descanso Drive, La Cañada Flintridge 91011
Politix Beverly Center
Politix is the only store for which I will go to a mall. I park right underneath the store close to Bloomingdale’s, go up the escalator and voila, there it is. Politix is where I buy most of my clothes. The owner travels to Europe several times a year and hand picks the latest fashion, not only from major labels but also from up-and-coming designers. This is where LA’s musicians, fashionistas and hipsters discover under the radar designers and create their own trends. 8522 Beverly Boulevard, Los Angeles 90048
The owner of the restaurant, Mamma Loredana Cecchinato brought her original recipes to LA and opened Osteria Mamma in 2010. She makes her own pastas and makes sure that the portions are generous. You can expect the true taste of the Veneto region of Italy, in a beautifully lit space with a very friendly vibe. 5732 Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles 90038
Hobart Auto Center
If you live in LA then you know the pain of going to a mechanic shop, not knowing what to expect. At Hobart Auto Center (HAC), a comprehensive auto repair company, you are in for a treat. Most of us who visit a mechanic shop expect to be misquoted, upsold and ripped off, wishing that we had a family member who was a mechanic. Without getting warm and fuzzy, I can comfortably say that Hobart’s staff is like family and I’ve been going there for more than ten years.
Partners Gary and Arthur take care of every customer like family for the last twenty years, including everyone I recommended. They are friendly, transparent and will beat anyone else’s estimate, while treating you like a superstar. 5255 Santa Monica Boulevard, Hollywood 90029
When someone asks me about Erwhon Market, I tell them that Erwhon makes Whole Foods look like a flea market in a developing country. This is where the most serious health, fitness and nutritional experts go for their groceries, lunch, juice and snacks. 7660 Beverly Boulevard, Suite A, Los Angeles 90036
MEDICAL DAY SPA
MetroMD Institute of Regenerative Medicine is the Bergdorf Goodman of all medical day spas. They are consistently at the cutting-edge of evidenced-based, new technologies of regenerative medicine that addresses health & cosmetic concerns currently unresolved by conventional medical-surgical approaches. If you are looking for LA’s foremost experts on stem cell infusions, HGH therapy or non-invasive cosmetic procedures, look no further. Fractional CO2 laser treatments, botox, fillers and IV vitamin drips and only a few of their extensive services. With Dr. Alex Martin at the helm, MetroMD has a reputation for cutting-edge innovation, comprehensive care and a five-icon staff. 7080 Hollywood Boulevard, Suite 815, Los Angeles 90028
Actor David Arquette and business moguls John Terzian and Brian Toll created this 60’s art deco inspired nightclub on the infamous Sunset Strip. The venue, named after Arquette’s mother, offers a variety of live entertainment, including costume burlesque dancers, musical acts and impromptu concerts. I especially like it because it doesn’t have the usual cookie-cutter architecture and décor. 9229 West Sunset Boulevard, West Hollywood 90069
Solar Earth Choice
Deciding to switch your home to solar power is a big commitment that requires a lot of research to make sure that you don’t get fooled with overpriced equipment or improper installation that limits the ability of your renewable energy system. Sofia, who co-founded the company lives and breathes solar energy. Additionally, she is as much of an expert on related topics, technologies and policies as an environmental journalist. She can tell you about the latest innovations, laws and statistics on solar energy on a local, regional, national and even international level.
Sophia’s knowledge and enthusiasm for the industry trickles down to her staff and that’s why Solar Earth Choice is one of the most trusted solar companies in LA.
Palms Thai Restaurant
Palms Thai Restaurant in the heart of Thai Town in east Hollywood is known to have the best Pad Thai in LA. I have been eating there for over ten years and their food and service are consistently impeccable. It’s authentically Thai, always fresh and very healthy. Whether you like seafood, a vegetarian or even vegan, the menu has something for everyone.
But what makes Palms Thai even more special is their exceptionally friendly and hospitable staff. I have celebrated countless birthdays there and have a very special relationship with their team. I receive personal cards from several of them on my birthday and for the Holidays. I even get one from a former general manager who now lives in Thailand. 5900 Hollywood Boulevard, Suite B, Los Angeles 90028
Glen Arden Club
A historic and exclusive social club in the heart of Glendale, California, with a rich history dating back to 1930, the Glen Arden Club has been revived as an exclusive social club serving a diverse cross-section of the community. Whether you are planning a large black-tie gala or an elegant wedding, a fundraiser or a conference, Glen Arden Club has the right space.
They have an impressive main ballroom on the ground floor, a slightly smaller one on the second floor, a refined conference room, a members’ parlor and a reception bar and lounge. I produced an event there last year and loved working with their staff, especially the owner Alex Baroian and general manager, Jeanette Hovanessian. It is less stressful and a much better experience when you work with an exceptionally efficient, professional and friendly team. 357 Arden Ave, Glendale 91203
ITALIAN DELI & PIZZA
I Panini Di Ambra
You feel like being in Italy when you enter I Panini Di Ambbra on Hollywood Boulevard. They offer twenty-five different types of original panini, pizza/focacce (al taglio), large organic salads, fresh baked brioches and authentic super tasty Italian espresso, café latte, cappuccino and other Italian delicacies. Like a lot of exceptional places, it’s a small space with food that leaves a big impression. 5633 Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles 90028
Gold’s Gym Hollywood
Angelinos are very particular about their gym. We need a great location, ample space, easy parking, cleanliness, diverse amenities, friendly staff and visual ‘inspiration.’ If you agree, then Gold’s Gym Hollywood beats the competition hands-down. It is located just east of West Hollywood and has a big parking lot that won’t fill up even during peak hours. 1016 Cole Avenue, Hollywood 90038
Kung Pao Bistro
Since 2001, Kung Pao Bistro has been LA’s discriminating tastemakers’ favorite Chinese restaurant by blending traditional and modern flavors for a dynamic new take on Asian-American cuisine.
They specialize in traditional dishes of China and Taiwan, but owner and Chef Frank Chi’s local and world travels have also influenced their menu to incorporate Thai, Japanese, Singaporean and American flavors. The food is impeccable, always fresh and the menu has many options for meat eaters, vegetarians and vegans alike. Similar to other places I recommend, customer service is exceptional at Kung Pao Bistro. 7853 Santa Monica Boulevard, West Hollywood 90046
GAY NIGHT OUT
Adonis Lounge at Fubar
From New York to LA, as well as Palm Springs, Adonis Lunge is the nationally recognized premiere all male strip club. With shows every Wednesday and Sunday nights at Fubar in West Hollywood, Adonis Lounge LA continues West Hollywood’s gogo dancing tradition. Brothers Tim in NY and Matt in LA, have combined their dance, fitness and modeling background to create a unique club unlike any other where the highest caliber of dancers come to perform from all over the world. 7994 Santa Monica Boulevard, West Hollywood 90046
Andaz West Hollywood
As the first hotel on the Sunset Strip, Andaz West Hollywood attracted legendary rockers in the mid-60s. At 3,600 square feet, The Sundeck surrounds the pool (the highest rooftop pool in Los Angeles) and has one of the best views in southern CA. 8401 Sunset Boulevard, West Hollywood 90069
NATURAL SKIN CARE
Bee Stung Cosmetics
The effects of Bee Stung Cosmetics’ creams are so incredible and immediate that anyone notices them. You don’t have to be a skincare expert to realize the difference between their all-natural facial products than commercial brands sold at department stores.
Katsu-Ya Studio City
I am not a foodie, but I have many friends with very sophisticated pallets. I also used to work at LA Weekly, an authority on food in LA. I’ve been told by more than one occasion that the best sushi outside of Tokyo is available at the original Studio City Katsu-Ya, found by master chef Katsuya Uechi. Even their vegetarian options are exceptionally better than other places. 11680 Ventura Boulevard, Studio City 91604
GAY BAR (It’s a Tie)
For over thirty years, Micky’s has been a staple in WeHo nightlife. Even after its remodel several years ago with its polished new look, Micky’s does not take itself too seriously and that’s why people like to go there. It has mass appeal to visitors who want to experience LA’s authentic queer nightlife, while it maintains its charm for the local community.
Owned by Michael Niemeyer, Micky’s has always had a soul that trickles down from the top. The late Mary Ann McClintock was the captain at the helm of this landmark and now the torch is carried by the equally committed Adam Eramian. PS, my first boyfriend took me to Micky’s as my first gay bar when I came out of the closet. 8857 Santa Monica Boulevard, West Hollywood 90069
A West Hollywood institution for gays since the 80’s, Revolver Video Bar is a favorite destination where friends can catch up over cocktails while watching one-of-a-kind music videos. Named for its revolving front door where guests funnel in and out of the popular spot, Revolver Video Bar sticks to its roots of the best music video and iconic movie mash ups and inexpensive drinks.
Revolver is another bar whose owner and general manager make the venue special. Owned by Chris Miller and managed by equally modest and humble Robert Baumanns, Revolver is fun but not obnoxious, chic yet warm and sexy yet welcoming. 8851 Santa Monica Boulevard, West Hollywood 90069
If you have ever seen a flower arrangement somewhere that stood out above the rest and had that, ‘Je ne sais quoi’, then it was likely made by The French Florist. Since 1978, the French Florist has been the Los Angeles Florist of choice for exclusive event planners, the entertainment industry and sophisticated Angelinos who prefer peonies over roses and can tell the difference between stargazers and Casablanca lilies. 8658 W Pico Boulevard, Los Angeles 90035
I have seen shows at some of the most incredible venues around the globe, such as the Acropolis, Opera Garnier, Vienna State Opera, as well as some of the best in the USA. There are many exceptional performing arts venues in LA, but none are as magical as the Hollywood Bowl.
The season opening night at the Bowl is one of the best shows to catch when they induct three big stars into the Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame. You haven’t really experienced 4th of July unless it was at the Bowl. The orchestra synchronizes the music with the fireworks so well that it gives your goose bumps throughout the night. Picnicking at the Bowl before a show has been a SoCal favorite since 1922. 2301 N Highland Avenue, Los Angeles 90068
Everything about Café Gratitude is right. Seizan Dreux Ellis oversees the development and execution of the plant-based menu. The food is delicious, always fresh, very healthy, and made with ingredients locally grown. Although I always find something vegetarian to eat in almost all restaurants, Café Gratitude is a vegetarian’s dream as I can order from the entire menu. The LA location in Larchmont Village, next to Paramount Studio, makes it even more special. 639 N Larchmont Boulevard, Los Angeles 90004
KPFK 90.7 FM
KPFK is a listener-sponsored radio station based in Los Angeles and was the second of five stations in the non-commercial Pacifica Foundation network. The Pacifica Foundation was founded in the late 1940s out of the peace movement surrounding World War II, becoming the birthplace of a listener-sponsored radio.
KPFK has been broadcasting since 1959 over 110,000 – Watts, the strongest signal west of the Mississippi. KPFK continues to produce the majority of programs in-house giving it the flexibility to provide a platform for stories, news, music, and information to serve the cultural welfare of the communities in and around Southern California that you will not hear anywhere else.
KPFK believes forging social change is a fundamental part of how radio can make a positive impact on communities.
ALL ABOUT DOGS
The Pupper Club
The Pupper Club is a dog daycare social club, boarding hotel & grooming style salon in the heart of downtown LA. Furry little angels 35lbs and under can meet friends, engage in a day of play, snack, sleep, roll, bounce and just be dogs! The facility is boutique in its design, with “parks” built to resemble a home environment, while still offering plenty of room for activity. 603 South Los Angeles Street, Los Angeles 90014
COMPREHENSIVE VIDEO PRODUCTION
A talented, forward-thinking team of professionals, producing entertaining, informative and relevant content you can use and share. Their TV and video production company, located in the heart of Los Angeles, caterers to small businesses, local and national brands, pop culture and independent personalities, and beyond.
Founder Henrick Vartanian is a perfectionist with a very sophisticated aesthetic; so he produces the best quality videos for TV and online use, including corporate videos, marketing videos, company profiles, event videos, concerts, short docs and more.
You Matter-Not Alone
You Matter-Not Alone is a suicide prevention & suicide awareness charity based in Burbank. The charity was founded by Donna K. Quach, a Licensed Marriage Family Therapist specializing in individual, couples and family therapy. Donna is an active Army Medical Reservist and comes from a military family that has served in all branches of the Armed Forces.
Their team of clinical staff and volunteers travel to various schools, churches, military installation on a pro bono basis to educate students, teachers, parents and the community on suicide awareness, bullying prevention and sexual trauma counseling. They partner and collaborate with many local, national and international non-profit organizations that share their values and objectives, such as UNICEF, St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital and Class parks.
DELICIOUS BITE FOR A GREAT CAUSE
Homegirl Café & Catering
Homegirl Café & Catering is a part of Homeboy Industries, an organization that provides hope, training and support to formerly gang-involved and recently incarcerated men and women, allowing them to redirect their lives and become contributing members of the community. 100% of proceeds benefits Homeboy’s comprehensive wraparound programs.
In 1992, after the Los Angeles riots, Homeboy’s bakery opened in Boyle Heights. The first of Homeboy’s social enterprises, it started as a training ground for aspiring bakers. Supplying fresh breads, pastries and specialty goods to the walk-up counter at Homegirl Café, LA farmers markets and restaurants throughout Los Angeles, it is a place where former enemies bake bread side by side, learning the art and science of preparing breads, pastries, cakes and much more. As Father Greg says, “We don’t hire homies to bake bread; we bake bread to hire homies.” 130 West Bruno Street, Los Angeles 90012
Sean Abbot Fitness
There is no shortage of out of work actors who do a few rounds of steroids and decide to become personal trainers to supplement their income. I have met many of them. A few become good trainers, while others move on to different careers. Sean Michael Abbot is NOT one of them. I know because he was my trainer a few years ago and he is exceptional. I’ve watched him develop into a world-class trainer and change people’s lives-with a big smile.
Sean is everything you would want in a trainer wrapped in one package. He lives and does what he preaches. Whether it’s weightlifting or boot camp, online training or outdoors, Sean is your guy. Not to be cliche, but Sean is genuinely a nice guy who is vested in his clients’ success and achievements.