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Saturday, May 13, 2017

Arts District: Downtown Los Angeles

Last month, Brian - a co-worker, along with his wife and kids - took me to the Arts District for dinner. 

Dinner was at Wurstküche. You can read about that here. Afterwards they walked over to Salt and Straw for dessert - and I took a few minutes to walk around. 

I grew up on the westside of Los Angeles. The Arts District was, of course, completely unknown. Most of my friends never went to downtown Los Angeles. Downtown L.A. woo far, nothing to do - especially for teenagers. Maybe an obligatory elementary school trip to Olvera Street, or the revolving restaurant on top of the Bonaventure Hotel - but that was it. For most of the kids I grew up with, Santa Monica, or maybe Westwood, was "downtown."

Tristan Eaton's mural across the street from Wurstküche, painted in June 2016. This covering his old one that got ruined by a tagger. Really sucks. Something similar happened to me -- on a much smaller scale. 

Apparently, this will also be the last mural on this wall, the new owners of what was Zip Sushi are going to be removing the wall and putting in a big window.

Random bougainvillea at the edge of a parking lot in the Arts Distric. No reason to post this, except that I LOVE how these plants look. What look like flowers are really leaves and bougainvillea can be in full color year round, A native the Africa and South America, nothing says "Southern California" - at least in my short lifetime - like bougainvillea.

Walking to Salt and Straw. This being Los Angeles, one of the streets was closed to traffic for filming. Finishing up filming something. 

Unlike the massive office tours of Bunker Hill, the Arts District is generally very low rise, with one and two story buildings - many of which are former warehouses and industrial buildings.

Salt and Straw Ice Cream. High end chain, with one location San Francisco, three in Portland, and five in Los Angeles. 

Inside. Apparently, they use liquid nitrogen to make the ice cream. 

High end candy selection. Bring your wallet. 

There was some sort of miscommunication with the order, so there was no charge. Thank you to the awesome sales staff. 

Waiting outside for Brian, Christina, and their kids. 

I had a few more minutes to walk around and explore: Cornerstone Theater Company, established 1986.

Arts District Brewing Company, located at 828 Traction Avenue.  

Another view of Arts District Brewing Company

Fritzi Coop, serving (of course) chicken: 814 Traction Avenue. 

Binford Lofts, corner of Traction Avenue and Avery Street. A one bedroom 1600 square foot loft goes for $3390. I realize that's 1600 square feet is size of an average house - but, wow, that seems steep. Unfortunately, the law of supply and demand have made La La Land one of the most expensive places of live in the country. 

Looking northwest up Traction Avenue. LOVE the three large threes on the right. A reminder that even Los Angeles' industrial areas can have spots of green. 

811 Traction Avenue = a work in progress. I

I don't want to be a stalker, but I love the three guys on the left hanging out in front of Groundwork Coffee - next to this unfinished building. 

Bougainvillea + Palm Tree + Razor Wire = Los Angeles. 

800 Traction Avenue. Apparently, this building -  plus the ajacent 2 story building - just sold for $20 million dollars. Wow.  

American Hotel. According to their website, all the rooms have shared bathrooms - with rooms starting at $100 a night. Sorry, not my kind of adventure. 
Beautiful tree out front, though. 

Brian and Christina's kids got ice cream, adults wanted boba: next stop Little Tokyo (above). 

Little Tokyo is a small enclave of downtown Los Angeles, center of the area's Japanese American community. 

Inside Twinkle Brown Sugar Tea.

Never had boba? You're missing out. Originally from Taiwan, it's gained popularity beyond the Asian American community. Boba is tea with fruit or milk, and a FAT straw with chewy tapioca balls at the bottom. Yum.  

Brian dropped off his wife and kids at their home, located immediately south of downtown, with the downtown L.A. skyline in view. 

Rather than commute every day from out of the area - they bought a house a mile east of USC, where they work as campus ministers. They have a great relationship with their neighbors. And, yes, it's a very urban setting. 

With Brian at USC - on our way to the Veritas Forum event. 

Brian is originally from Florida - and has fully embraced living in in Los Angeles. His wife Christina is a USC alumni - and loves being back and ministering at her alma mater. 

It's one thing to live in Los Angeles as a single adult. That's easy. Well, sort of. Same with married without kids. 

Quite another to make it happen with a family. When my wife and two kids lived in Los Angeles, we lived on "cushy" westside. In contrast, Brian and Christina and their kids have really jumped in the deep end. I have a tremendous amount of respect for them. 

Obligatory photo of Tommy T (Tommy Trojan, USC mascot). 

As a UCLA alumni, I've posted numerous photos of UCLA over the years. You can have school spirit and still post a photo of a rival, right? 

Below is a map featuring Salt and Straw, located in the Arts District.

© 2017


Saturday, April 29, 2017

Wurstküche Restaurant: Arts District, Downtown Los Angeles

Last month, I joined my co-worker Brian, along with his wife and kids, for dinner in Arts District - downtown Los Angeles. A stop sign outside where we ate was covered in both graffiti and stickers. Looks a bit more like political commentary than gang activity.   

Dinner was at Wurstküche, located at East Third and Traction Streets, with outdoor dining along the East Third. 

Inside, Wurstküche specializes in grilled sausages and imported  beer. 

Lots and lots of choices: Vegetarian Italian. 

Vegetarian Mexican Chipolte. 

Kielbasa, which is pretty standard. My relatives - proudly Polish American - would probably go for this. 

There's also higher end: Duck & Bacon with Jalapeño Peppers. 

Or if you're really adventurous: Rattlesnake & Rabbit with Jalapeño Peppers.

Once you order, they grill it up for you. 

$75 for a bottle of Belgian "2012 St. Bernardus"? Seriously?

While most beers are $9-$12 - which still seems like a lot - they also feature $3 Pabst Blue Ribbon for the rest of us. 

Inside, waiting for dinner. 

I LOVE being not only with co-worker Brian and his wife Christina, but with their three kids. 

They work as campus ministers at USC, located just south of downtown Los Angeles, and made the intentional choice to live close to campus and students. And, yes, the fact that there were crayons and butcher paper was a smart choice with kids. 

This wasn't the kids - apparently, who ever was the table before us had a bit of artistic talent. After all, this is the Arts District, right?

Outside Wurstküche. Here's a link to their website. 

Brian and his family wanted to get dessert down the street, giving me a few minutes to explore the neighborhood. More on that next time. 

© 2017

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Ignatius Cafe, West Adams

"Meet at Ignatius Cafe, 1451 Dana Street."

Last I month I was in Los Angeles for a few days. A co-worker suggested we meet at a coffee shop called the "Ignatius Cafe." Never heard of it.

About a mile west of USC, I turned off of Vermont Avenue on to Dana Street. I honestly thought I made wrong turn turn. I imagined the coffee shop would be in a strip mall or commercial center. Dana was a residential street - no coffee shop or other businesses.

I re-check the address: 1451 Dana Street. Looked like some homes behind a large hedge. The sign at the front said St. Agnes Korean Catholic Church. Didn't look like a church or a coffee shop. 

More signs for the church - but still, no coffee shop.

Behind the hedge were three beautifully restored Victoria-era homes. This is not what I expected. To say that I was amazed by the landscape and surroundings would be an understatement. 

Umbrellas, tables, and people enjoying coffee let me know I probably was in the right place.

Ignatius Cafe is located in the ground floor of the last of the three restored homes.

It's run by St. Agnes Korean Catholic Church. This didn't look or feel anything like I would have expected.

Outside on the front porch was the USC campus ministry staff - getting together for a planing meeting. I'd be joining them in a bit.

Inside, Ignatius Cafe has restored the beautiful 100+ year old home. There were a few older men and women inside, sitting at tables and speaking in Korean.

Coffee for sale.

Information in Korean about an upcoming event for their church.

I'm not Korean. I'm not Catholic. That said, St. Agnes has done an outstanding job in both restoring and improving the property.

Behind the homes was a large outdoor fellowship area, as well as areas of for food preparation.

God's Wonderful World. I LOVE this artwork outside of the small classrooms used for children's Sunday School. 

Such a great creative and whimsical style. 

Fruit trees planted alongside on of the buildings out back.

Apparently, the property continued to extend back to Adams Blvd. I'm assuming these apartments are used by church staff. These are obviously newer building - and, like the rest of the property, fantastically maintained. I didn't want to overstay my welcome so I headed back up front. 

More tables and chairs out front. 

Several people were in smaller tables along the large hedge in front of the property. 

Isn't this incredible? Beautiful, private seating areas sheltered from the street by a trained hedges. 

Great time connecting with the USC campus ministry staff team. What an amazing group of people. 

After our meeting, everyone hung around getting work done. Ignatius Cafe, of course, has wifi. 

I was planning on meeting friends on the westside, but didn't want to leave. It was a combination of perfect afternoon weather, and getting a lot done with a great group of people. Can a place be described as both "peaceful" and "productive" at the same time? 

Here's a few quotes from some Yelp reviewers: 

- Serene and idyllic place to relax, study, or meet with friends. It brings me back to my childhood and imagining being in the secret garden.

- Ignatius is a beautiful green oasis tucked in the urban neighborhood near USC. 

- This is a hidden secret garden in the middle of a bustling and busy city.

- You just feel so welcomed here like it's the house my grandma I never had.

After years of living in, and being in and out of, Los Angeles - it's so cool discovering a place I never knew existed. Looking forward to visiting again. 

© 2017