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Best Spots to Celebrate Valentine’s Day in Echo Park

Valentine’s Day is a day of love and laughter, and there’s plenty to go around. With a romantic lake at your doorstep, Echo Park is the perfect backdrop for a romantic Valentine’s Day date.

Every year, there are some amazing, eclectic experiences to be had in Echo Park and the surrounding area.

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If you’re looking for date ideas for the perfect February 14th, look no further. We’ve summed up the perfect events and dinner spots to help you and your loved one have an ideal Cupid’s date.

Start With Drinks

Right before you head over to your evening dinner plans, consider stopping at Bar Bandini. It’s dark, sultry, relaxed, and makes for the perfect introduction to a nice glass of wine. The grapes are processed organically with little intervention, and made using native yeast. There are some small fare plates and wine friendly appetizers to hold you over until dinner. A highly knowledgeable staff that will help you choose the perfect taste if you’re overwhelmed by the large list of wine choices. .

Alternatively, El Prado is an Echo Park wine bar that’s fairly mellow during the week. This is a no-gimmick spot with plenty of wine and beer offerings and appetizing bar bites (think: pita and hummus). It has a cozy bohemian feel, impressive vinyl collection, and outdoor patio.

If beer is more your style, there’s no better place than the Sunset Beer Company. There are 500 varieties of beers here, and several selections of wines. There’s everything from California microbrews to rare Belgian ales. The atmosphere is cozy and comfortable for couples who want a relaxing start to the rest of their evening.

Lastly, at restaurant Mohawk Bend (considered a “beer wonderland” by LA Weekly) there’s no shortage of options. California craft beers are paired with American fare at this highly-rated, brick-walled eatery. Almost the entire menu is vegan, but you wouldn’t recognize it from its offerings: expect vegan-friendly pastas, pizzas, and salads.

Take A Cooking Class

Take your date to a cooking class, where you can both learn something new and feast on your own cuisine. There are plenty of amazing cooking classes in Echo Park and the greater Los Angeles area. For example, the Donable cooking class teaches guests how to make traditional Japanese fare while in a small, intimate setting. At the end of the class, you can purchase any of the Donabe ingredients and products to take home with you and try your hand at home.

Over at Eataly’s La Scuola, you can learn to master Italian dishes with renowned Chef Lidia Bastianich, where handmade pastas are the specialty. La Scuola also offers experimental walking tours and paired wine dinners.

For dessert, why not try decorating a cake together? Duff’s Cakemix is hosting a Valentine’s Day cake decorating class where couples can learn the art of professional dessert decorating while having fun. You’ll be able to pipe, airbrush, roll, and execute other techniques alongside pastry chefs. There will be snacks and drinks available, as well as raffles to win some of the bakery’s delicious baked goods. The price is just $60 per couple.

Take A Dance Class

If you enjoy a unique cultural experience and dancing, why not swing to the beat with your partner at a dance class in a train station? That’s exactly what will be happening this Valentine’s day at Union Station. Afro-Cuban dancer Chris Kizomba will be teaching visitors how to dance in the style of kizomba. Expect this to be a high-energy event, followed by a full-on dance party with live music from Ricardo Lemvo y Makina Loca.

Go See A Movie

There’s nothing like cozying up to a romantic film. This year, there will be a Cinespia screening of Roman Holiday (Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck). Tickets for this event are just $33 for General Admission and come with complimentary sparkling wine from Freixenet Cava.

If that’s not your style, head over to the El Capitan Theatre to catch an animated viewing of the classic tale, The Lady and the Tramp. This film will be showing between Feb. 9th – 14th. Before each screening, there will be a live accordion performance by Ed Vodika. If you don’t get a chance to see it, keep El Capitan in mind for next year — they usually show Valentine’s themed movies during this time of the year.

Make It An Experience

Lucha Vavoom is great for couples who want to combine fun and adventurous with your classic V-day date night. Here, you’ll find fun masked Mexican wrestling matches with and knee-slapping comedy, and it’s sure to deliver a great time. The entire event will be Valentine’s Day themed, and there will be plenty of V-day gifts and surprises.

And if you love high-tech and gear, there’s no better (or more unique) way to spend your Valentine’s Day than the Virtual Room. The Virtual Room is where you and your partner work together to solve a mystery via a full-fledged virtual reality experience. The agency’s current “adventure” scheme is as follows:

“The year is 2217.These are dangerous times. Your mission… Choose your Omega team (two to four people) from your most loyal companions and set off through the corridors of time to find the Alpha team and repair the damage caused by the temporal rift – and save the future of the world!”

Each member of your team will have a dedicated room that’s equipped with the latest virtual reality gear. As you maneuver the game, you’ll be able to be to move around the room and collaborate with your other team members virtually.

Classic Dinner Dates

You can’t go wrong with your classic dinner date, and Echo Park has some of the best restaurants in Los Angeles. Among them are Ostrich Farm, Elf Cafe, and Winsome. At Ostrich Farm, the food is made fresh daily and brunch is especially popular. Recommended dishes include the varied and delicious cheese plate, Pork “ossobuco”, and spicy chickpeas.

The Elf Cafe serves Mediterranean food and the menu boasts an all-natural wine list. Many good things have been said about its cuisine and interior. LA Eater considers it one of the most underrated restaurants in Los Angeles, while LA Weekly stated, “Every dinner here feels like a special occasion.” Try the Moroccan vegetable tagine, California risotto, and buffalo oyster mushrooms.

Lastly, Winsome offers a little bit of everything with classic American food with a twist, served in a laidback, lush California setting. Some of its more popular menu items include the Lamb ribs, bone-in pork chop, and potato rosti with eggs.

Hot Spots Near Dodger Stadium

Whether you’re a die-hard Dodgers fan or just enjoying the baseball game experience, more often than not you want a balanced meal or itinerary of activities on game day. Chances are, you don’t live across the street from the Dodger Stadium, like many of the locations listed here. And furthermore, several hours of hot dogs and overpriced, average beers can be overkill for the most seasoned baseball fans. We’ve put together a list of eight hot spots near the Dodger Stadium to give you a range of game day options to choose from:

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Button Mash

If you’re going to the Dodgers game as a family, Button Mash is the place to go before or after the game––maybe even twice in one day. With a full arsenal of amazing arcade games and an equally appealing Pan-Asian menu, there’s something for everyone at this restaurant. According to Los Angeles food critic Jonathan Gold, the small wine lines is “shockingly good” and the food is “light years ahead” of other food-serving arcades in the country.

Sunset Beer Company

After the game (or before), head over to Sunset Beers for a drink. The tasting bar has 12 rotating taps and 800 types of bottled beers. The bar also frequently hosts Dodgers specials during game days, where there are steep deals on beers and specialty drinks.

The walls are decked in beer decor and there are even plenty of board games to keep your crowd busy until it’s time to go. According to Yelp reviews, this is the perfect pregame spot, and while no food is served, the bar does permit patrons to bring food of their own.

Ostrich Farm

This beautiful sit-down eatery has been touted as one of the best in Los Angeles by publications  like the Infatuation and the Los Angeles Times. It’s a little fancier than your casual pre or post-game stop, but not in a pretentious way. The staff is welcoming, the food delicious and well-thought, and the plates and interior just as beautiful as the cuisine is tasty. The kitchen––which is too small to hold an exuberant amount of food––keeps only enough product stocked for the day, ensuring you get the freshest food possible.

Subliminal Projects

If you’re creatively minded, consider visiting Subliminal Projects, a local art gallery that features contemporary and street art. Artist Shephard Fairey is the owner of the gallery (where many of his own works are features) and is the founder of the popular OBEY clothing line (the space also doubles as OBEY headquarters).

The gallery is spacious, and different exhibitions mean there’s a little something for everyone among the gallery’s revolving themes. The space also hosts lecture series and workshops. If you’ve got tickets to a game, try and coordinate attendance to an event, or just to check out the exhibition space.

Sage Vegan Bistro & Brewery

The Sage Vegan Bistro is a vegan, farm-to-table restaurant with a solid reputation. Locally sustained and produced food is the passion behind the menu, ensuring you get something healthy in your stomach before a long day of eating baseball stadium goodies.

Last year, the vegan restaurant was complemented with an all-vegan brewery, too. A reformed cement taproom gives the space an industrial feel, but it’s the drinks that keep the guests coming. Currently, the brewery is stocked with over 40 taps.

Guisados

Angelenos love their tacos, and Guisados is one of the best Mexican eateries in not just Echo Park, but the entire city of Los Angeles. Tortillas are handmade and the menu is both equally simple and powerful. There are over a dozen types of tacos, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a better deal than the $2.95 tacos or the $8 sampler of six mini tacos. This place is an Echo Park staple, and you’ll quickly discover why.

Tierra Mia Coffee

Sometimes, all you need prior to the game is a nice cup of coffee and a simple breakfast sandwich. And Tierra Mia Coffee certainly delivers. This spot serves Latin-inspired coffee drinks made with house-roasted beans, and an assortment of hot pastries worth trying. Try the horchata latte or the cubano con leche.

Winsome

This high-rated restaurant has great Downtown views and is just around the corner from the Dodgers stadium. The interior embodies the carefree California lifestyle and the food, like other restaurants on this list, comes highly rated by Los Angeles food critics and locals alike. Lush greenery and comfortable banquettes make for the perfect atmosphere for dining. Winsome also serves great cocktails and wines. Try the whole roasted branzino, pork short ribs, or the Buckwheat and semolina pancake.

Best Shops In Echo Park

Echo Park is a growing community in Los Angeles, and every year, adds something new to the roster for locals and visitors to love. Whether you’re an Echo Park transplant or someone considering moving to Echo Park, it’s nice to know there are some great places in store for you. And as far as shopping goes, there’s no shortage of options available. Here are some of the best shops in Echo Park:

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Time Travel Mart

The Echo Park Time Travel Mart––no matter how many times you visited––never seems to go out of style. Each product is reminiscent of a time period: go back in time with a nice can of Mammoth Chunks, or head to the future and purchase a glass bottle of Robot Milk. And if you get sick from all the time warps, don’t fret: there’s always the Time Travel Sickness Pills to keep your system in check.

When you purchase any item from this store, 100% of the proceeds go towards teaching children creative writing, where classes are held in the back of the store. That’s not the only cool thing about Travel Mart, either. If your perusal through the shop inspires you with an awesome product idea, you can talk to the staff, who will assist with design to help get your product on shelves. Furthermore, many of the products were created by students themselves.

Shout and About

Shout & About is a gift lover’s fantasy, filled to the pretty with beautiful stationary and curated design goods. From throw pillows to photo frames to greeting cards to notebooks, there’s a little something for everyone. But where the shop really shines is its extensive greeting card collection. Forget about the cheesy, one in a million cards you can find at your local convenience store. These cards are all about delivering a unique experience to the people you love.

Spacedust

Spacedust boasts an impressive collection of novelty items and specialty clothes. The boutique proudly showcases artwork and fashion from local artists, making it an ideal destination for visitors and locals alike who want a piece of Echo Park to take home.

Situated on Sunset Boulevard, everything here is original and handmade. According to its website, “As long as it’s locally-made, independently-made, or handmade, it doesn’t matter – all subcultures are represented, and all folks are welcome.” From a line of prayer parody candles to a large assortment of pop culture-inspired patches and stickers, Spacedust is worth a visit if nothing else.

 Kaleidoscope Kollective

A “kaleidoscope” of vintage and handmade items fill the racks at this kitschy spot. People from all over the world come to Kaleidoscope Kollective to purchase handmade goods. Founded by five diverse women, tts mission statement is a testament to its offerings: “We are a collective of creative women who transform various materials into works of beauty.” There’s a perfect mix of past and present fashion trends, and with such a wide array of artisan crafts, nearly everything here constitutes as the perfect gift.

The Ampal Creative

The Ampal Creative Shop is a menswear store chock full of creative snapbacks. Here, well-crafted hats are the centerpiece of the store. Each hat tells a story of its own, with unique prints, versatile fabrics, handmade logos, and diverse shapes and styles. This headwear company aims to defy odds by creating a perfect hat for everywhere; each with the perfect style, fit, and fabric. Each hat is premium, and made custom with the utmost care and attention to detail.

Hot Cactus

What’s a home without a plant? Greenery is all the rage in interior design, and not just for its aesthetic: plants and nature are proven to boost productivity, creativity, and happiness. And in today’s design world, succulents, air plants, and various other trendy green species are finding in a place in every Los Angeles home.

Hot Cactus is a hip cactus emporium that focuses on a variety of types of cactus. From budget-priced basics to rare breeds ranging in the thousands, it’s definitely worth a visit. And you’d be surprised to know just how many species of cacti there are. The currently sold-out Pachypodium horombense rings in at $275, while Haageocereus tenuis costs a whopping $250,000 (it’ll be extinct by 2024). At Hot Cactus, you can also purchase tools and supplies, clothing and music, and pots and stands.

Luxe de Ville

There’s simply no better place to go for vintage than Echo Park’s Luxe de Ville. The boutique offers “unique one of a kind vintage garments.” From Middle Eastern threads to 60s skirts and accessories, every piece of clothing here feels like it’s the only one in existence. The store also displays local, handmade jewelry.

The majority of items––even vintage designer finds––are modestly priced. No matter what your style is, you’re bound to find something you like. The owner, Oskar, is very knowledgeable in fashion, and happy to help navigate the stories many racks and shelves in search of something that fits your personality.

 The Dog Show USA

Quirky and full of spirit, the Dog Show USA is filled to the brim with merchandise––and that’s exactly what makes it so unique. Doused in pink, the shop exudes girl power. Everything about this place––profile here in Paper Magazine––is eccentric and eclectic. You’ll notice this as soon as you walk by the oversized unicorn that greets you at the entrance, or hear the pink telephone meow instead of ring. Hair accessories are organized on a giant wall of hair, and items include fun leather tights, multicolored and themed, onesies, wire jewelry, and 90s-inspired graphic design shirts.

3 Financial Steps to Take Before Investing in Real Estate

This guest post was contributed by Dream Home Property Solutions, LLC, your source for expert advice on Ventura County Real Estate.

Real estate has yet again become one of the most popular forms of investing.  With the recovery of the real estate market in many locations, the popularity of the house flipping shows, and all of the real estate gurus teaching their “secrets,” it’s created the perfect storm for people to consider investing in real estate.  Although we love real estate investing and what it can do for people financially, there are several steps you might want to consider before taking the leap.

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Build Your Savings Account

Whether you are investing in real estate or not, most experts agree that everyone should have money saved up in their savings account for emergencies.  The idea behind this is that you want to have money immediately available for you to live on if you were to lose your job for whatever reason and/or are not bringing in any source of income. Even if you have a fairly stable job, this money could be used to pay for any large unexpected expenses, such as medical bills, home repairs, etc.

This money does not necessarily need to be in a bank savings account, but it should be fairly liquid, such as a Certificate of Deposit (CD). We have seen recommendations anywhere from 3 months of savings to 12 months of savings.  The amount you choose will ultimately be up to you and your risk tolerance.  If you have a stable job and not many expenses, you may choose the lower end of that spectrum.  If you are self-employed, or have an older home or car, you may want more savings in anticipation of costly repairs.

Pay Down Debt

As you are building up your savings, you’re also going to want to start paying down any debt you may have.  The most common approaches we have seen for this are either paying off your lowest balance debts first or paying off your highest interest rates.  The idea behind paying off your lowest balance is that once it’s paid off, you can then use the amount of money you were paying per month and apply that additional amount to the next lowest balance.  There are pros and cons to each approach, so do whichever one you feel most comfortable with.

Although some financial planners view all debt as bad, you will find a lot of seasoned real estate investors tell you that leverage used properly is a good thing.  If you have debt with a low interest rate, and can get a higher expected return by investing in real estate, it may make sense to invest in real estate as opposed to paying off the debt faster.  For example, those with good credit can find auto loans for 0% interest.  Instead of paying off the auto loan, you might be better off financially by investing that money in real estate.

Take Advantage Of Your Company’s Retirement Matching

Some companies will match your retirement contributions (401k, TSP, etc.) up to a certain amount.  If your company has this perk, you should strongly consider at least investing the amount up to which your company will match.  This is basically free money for you to take advantage of.  We have heard one financial planner state that you can get higher returns in other vehicles, even when you take into account company matching, but contributing to your retirement account is an easy method to start saving up money for retirement.

At Dream Home Property Solutions, we are here to help you with all of your Ventura County real estate needs. Visit us online at www.DreamHomePS.com

Soap Plant Wacko in Los Feliz

The Los Feliz neighborhood in Los Angeles has become a popular hotspot for local artists, many of whom have opened up innovative gallery spaces and boutiques to capitalize on walk-in traffic from younger residents looking to purchase quirky artwork. Today, we’ll give you an insider look at one of the most unique of these fashion-forward neighborhood fixtures: La Luz de Jesus Gallery, known to neighborhood residents as, simply, “Wacko.”

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Looking for a place to grab a bite nearby? Check out our post on the best restaurants in Los Feliz!

Wacko is what you could call a Kitsch Convenience Store – or maybe Pee Wee Herman’s Roadside Souvenir Stand – a cornucopia of obscure toys, inventive and colorful housewares, eclectic books, vibrant prints, personable figurines, and innumerable other random doodads that you don’t really need but absolutely must have.

Every shelf and wall is densely stocked with myriad odds and ends (but mostly odds), enough to fascinate any visitor for hours. Kewpie dolls in pink pinafores, desktop gumball machines, robot cookie jars, taxidermy moths and beetles, rare art and print books, unicorn statuettes, Star Trek figurines: Wacko aims to have a tchotchke for every taste.

Whether you’re looking for a wind-up Godzilla, a watermelon-scented eraser, a sock monkey shoe tree, or a pair of pineapple-print suspenders, you can probably find it at Wacko. Wacko is also the best place in Los Angeles to shop for a truly unique gift – loyal trekkies, comic-book nerds, kitsch enthusiasts, and lovers of innovative design will all treasure presents purchased at Wacko. Most of the merchandise embodies a singular sense of humor, such as the solar-powered Queen Elizabeth II figurine, who executes a smooth royal wave when installed on a sunny windowsill – the stately statuette has a companion piece, a head-bobbing Corgi that’s solar-powered as well.

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Owner Billy Shire has taken a hands-on role in managing the merchandising and marketing since taking over the family business back in the early 1980s. The store’s full name is Soap Plant Wacko, and it began as a handmade soap shop in Los Feliz, followed by a stint on Melrose Avenue before moving to its current digs on Hollywood Boulevard in 1995. Since then, Soap Plant Wacko has become a Los Angeles landmark, adorned with vibrant murals that can be spotted blocks away.

Staying in the neighborhood for the evening? Stop by the Rockwell Table & Stage in Los Feliz!

In addition to its curio collection, Soap Plant Wacko’s La Luz de Jesus art gallery has been displaying the works of underground artists, showcasing California’s “lowbrow” art movement. Fine arts aficionados know this humble knick-knack emporium as one of the most important, ground-breaking galleries in the Los Angeles area, which quickly gained renown with collectors, galleries, and artists around the world.

La Luz de Jesus Gallery was established several years after the Soap Plant first opened, founded by Billy Shire as a space to showcase innovative art and foster creative expression by unconventional local artists. The original gallery was located in the venture’s bright pink building on Melrose Avenue, upstairs from Shire’s retail outlet, the Soap Plant artisanal soap store and the Wacko literally everything else you could imagine (and many things you probably can’t) store. When Wacko moved back to its original Los Feliz stomping grounds, the gallery went along with it, re-opening in its current gallery space on Hollywood Boulevard near Vermont Avenue. In April 2005, Shire opened a sister gallery in nearby Culver City, California, Billy Shire Fine Arts.

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La Luz de Jesus Gallery provides both an exhibition space and a support structure to the Lowbrow arts movement and associated pop surrealist artists – the movement and the gallery share a sensibility with Wacko’s affectionate enthusiasm for all things pop, and most of the artists producing Lowbrow art use pop culture tropes, palettes, and graphic design features as the springboard for their own original artistic creations.

In a 1988 interview with the Los Angeles Times, Shire summed up the gallery’s philosophy as, “Art should be by the people and for the people. It should be something that speaks to you, that entertains and challenges and changes your outlook.” In keeping with this popularizing, community-oriented approach, the gallery offers an impressive lineup of original art exhibitions, showcasing a fresh exhibit every month that kicks off with an opening reception on the first Friday of each month.

The gallery showcases primarily figurative and narrative painting and unusual sculpture, with a focus on themes and styles including folk art, outsider art, religious-themed art. The gallery has launched the careers of a number of famous artists who were working in near-total obscurity when their work took center stage at the gallery, including Manuel Ocampo, Joe Coleman, and Robert Williams. Notable established artists who have exhibited new work at La Luz de Jesus include Marco Almera and Joe Sorren.

On top of regular solo and two-person shows, and in keeping with its collaborative, pop-culture-oriented brand, the gallery also hosts a variety of group shows throughout the year, including a much-anticipated annual group exhibition called “Everything But the Kitschen Sink,” which is dedicated to promoting the work of relatively unknown and emerging artists still at the beginning of their careers.

So if you’re in the market for a solar-powered monarch, a Chewbacca Pez dispenser, or a Steven Universe-style beanie, stop by Soap Plant Wacko in Los Feliz. Even if you have no idea what you’re looking for, you’ll find something to love.

Real Estate Unlimited is a real-estate company dedicated to representing clients in Los Feliz and other historic neighborhoods throughout the Los Angeles area. We pride ourselves on our in-depth knowledge of the Los Angeles area, and we’re glad to give our clients the benefit of our local expertise. Call us to schedule a consultation today!

The Dresden in Los Feliz

Like so many other neighborhoods in Los Angeles, Los Feliz is home to multiple buildings that are cinematic as well as local landmarks. One such iconic locale is the Dresden, and today we’ll take you on a tour of this atmospheric bar.

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Since its opening in 1954, The Dresden attracted the attention of directors seeking to capture a sense of Old Hollywood magic because its interior gives such a strong impression of glamor and character – it’s the paradigmatic midcentury Hollywood lounge.

In the mood for more music venues in Los Feliz? Check out our post on the Rockwell Table & Stage!

The Dresden’s most famous star turn was in indie classic Swingers – it’s the setting for the “You’re so money!” speech Vince Vaughn’s Lothario character delivers in an attempt to inspire his friend to approach the object of his desires. The Dresden acknowledges the homage with a permanently-installed Swingers poster, which you can find on the wall leading to the back exit. En route, you’ll also be able to check out a wall of headshots donated by the Dresden’s celebrity patrons and regulars, including Jon Hamm, Dolly Parton, Jay Leno, and Adam West

The Dresden has starred in more than one cult classic – it also features in a pivotal scene in comedy That Thing You Do, as the place where striving musician Guy Patterson, played by Tom Everett Scott, finally meets his idol, musician Del Paxton, played by veteran character actor Bill Cobbs. For many moviegoers, the Dresden forms part of their image of classic Hollywood cool and characteristic Hollywood luxury – it’s also been the stand in for that essential Hollywood lounge atmosphere in Los Angeles-filmed movies like Anchorman and What Women Want.

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As soon as you enter through the front door off noisy Vermont Avenue, you’re instantly transported back to the Los Angeles of the silver screen era. The Dresden’s interior has been carefully preserved ever since its renovation in the sixties by then-proprietor Carl Ferraro, and the quiet interior is the perfect place to escape from the crowded streets of contemporary Los Angeles.

As your eyes adjust to the dimly-lit lobby, you’ll see a private room to the right, perfect for intimate gatherings or a refuge from the crush of the always-busy bar area. On the left, you’ll see the restaurant, fitted out in true midcentury style with white leather booths and striking floor-to-ceiling light fixtures. The menu also has a vintage feel, with classic American fare like prime rib and pork chops. The menus capture the succulent Continental fare that was characterized American midcentury fine dining, with offerings like rack of lamb and the hearty chateaubriand for two.

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Straight ahead from the lobby is the lounge, equipped with unforgettable retro-chic décor: semicircular brown leather booths lining the faux rock walls and richly-toned wood paneling, or small white tables with red rolling chairs clustered in the center of the room. If you’d like to be close to the action, you can sit at the long table that wraps snugly around the piano at the center of the room. Heavy globe chandeliers adorn the ceiling. The bartenders wear tuxes, mixing drinks efficiently and expertly – and be warned: cocktails at the Dresden are made at midcentury strength, with liberal pours of whiskey, gin, vodka, and rum. Old-fashioned cash registers are used to settle your tab at the end of the evening.

Music-lovers who visit after 9 p.m. from Tuesday through Saturday – the Dresden’s most popular hours by far – you can sip your cocktail as you listen to live music provided by resident jazz musicians Marty and Elayne, who have been playing soulful jazz standards at the Dresden since 1982. Sometimes they’ll share the stage with a select roster of guest musicians, but more often than not, Elayne plays the piano as Marty plays the drums or strums along on the upright bass. The duo also appeared in Swingers.

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Looking for the perfect place to see a concert? Visit the Greek Theater in Los Feliz!

If you were enchanted by the Dresden when you saw it on the silver screen, or if you just want to grab a drink and listen to some live jazz in watering hole fit for the Rat Pack, then head to the Dresden. Their signature cocktail, the Blood and Sand, is a tart blended rum drink not unlike a cross between a margarita and a Jamaica. If you prefer to stick with classic drinks, you can’t go wrong with an expertly chilled martinis or a bittersweet old-fashioned. The bar is open until two every day but Sunday, when it closes at eleven.

Real Estate Unlimited is a real-estate company dedicated to representing clients in Los Feliz and other historic neighborhoods throughout the Los Angeles area. We pride ourselves on our in-depth knowledge of the Los Angeles area, and we’re glad to give our clients the benefit of our local expertise. Call us to schedule a consultation today!

Vroman’s Bookstore

Are you tired of going to Barnes & Noble and shopping for books at the grocery store? Read on to learn more about Vroman’s Bookstore and other sites in Pasadena, California.

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You won’t believe the selection of books in this independent bookstore, a shopping experience unique to Southern California. Vroman’s Bookstore is the oldest and biggest store of its kind in the Los Angeles area. At Vroman’s, you’ll find a book for any taste, and you’ll have the opportunity to attend events, meet authors, enjoy trivia nights, and go to launch parties. The store was awarded Publisher’s Weekly Bookseller of the Year in 2008 and has hosted Bernie Sanders, Ray Bradbury, President Bill Clinton, Anne Rice, Joan Didion, Neil Gaiman, David Sedaris, Upton Sinclair, and more.

Adam Clark Vroman, the founder of Vroman’s Bookstore, was originally from Illinois before coming to California and selling his book collection following the death of his wife Esther. Eventually, he opened his bookstore in 1894. He is also well-known for his photography of Native American tribes in Arizona and New Mexico, in which he took portraits in a respectful manner. Vroman was also fascinated with taking photos of American western landscapes.

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Vroman left a legacy of giving back to the community. During the second world war, he took books to Japanese Internment Camps in California, even when armed guards tried to stop him with firepower. Additionally, he worked at mission sites, assisted with opening the Southwest Museum, and was a part of the Pasadena Public Library project.

Today, the owner of Vroman’s Bookstore is the great grandson of one of the employees who Vroman left the bookstore to when he died in 1916. This independent bookstore is still family owned, and today the company has two bookstore locations, two smaller locations in the Los Angeles Airport, and the company acquired the independent bookstore Book Soup in 2009 (located in West Hollywood).

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At Vroman’s, you’ll find books, specialty pens and stationery, cards to send your loved ones and friends, and many types of gifts. The store is located at 695 E Colorado Boulevard, and proceeds from every book purchase go towards a charity of the customer’s choice. Furthermore, through Vroman’s Gives Back programming, the store hosts events for community fundraising. Past events have included HIV testing, raffles, pet adoption, book fairs, support for girl scout troops and more. The store puts on more than 400 events for the community annually and has raised $655,998.52.

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While in the Pasadena area, be sure to visit these sites as well:

Pasadena City College Flea Market

Norton Simon Museum

Old Town Pasadena

Real Estate Unlimited is a real estate company with specialized knowledge in luxury real estate in the city of Los Angeles, California. We also have expertise in the areas of Pasadena, Silver Lake, Echo Park, Elysian Park, and more. We pride ourselves on providing excellent customer service for our clients who are buying or selling their homes. Contact us today for a consultation.

The Atwater Bungalows – Hopi-Style Architecture in the Heart of Echo Park

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Photo Credit: Latimes.com

Among the many types of property for sale in Echo Park are buildings with strong architectural and historical interest – for example, the Victorian homes on Carroll Avenue or Frank Lloyd Wright’s futuristic tribute to Mayan temple architecture, the Ennis House.

Today we’ll take a look at the Atwater Bungalows, Pueblo-style buildings that lend their unique architectural flair to Echo Park’s eclectic roster of historic buildings.

The Atwater Bungalows were built in the early 1930s, commissioned by Dr. H. Gale Atwater, an early Echo Park luminary who built several Pueblo-style buildings on Avon Terrace. The Atwater Bungalows were designed by Robert Stacy-Judd, the architect who designed the flamboyant Aztec Hotel in Monrovia, California. The details of the original commission brief are lost to time, but it’s likely that Atwater was enchanted by the Aztec’s majestic design and innovative use of materials.

This period in American architecture was characterized by bold experimentation, and many architects became fascinated with traditional construction techniques and natural materials. Adobe, which comes from a Spanish term that means “mudbrick,” is one of the earliest building construction techniques known to humankind. Adobe construction is common to large parts of North, Central, and South America, but it can also be seen in traditional village complexes in Mali and cottages in Ireland.

Generally, adobe buildings start with bricks made out of earth and a binding material like corn husks and straw. The bricks are stuck together and covered with a thick coating of adobe mud that gives adobe structures their characteristic smooth, rounded textures. Traditional adobe buildings incorporate rough-hewn log beams that are considered a signature element of Mission-style design, and modern adobe specialists have begun to use steel to create an extra-durable interior structure.

Adobe buildings were extremely common California during the Spanish Mission period, in part because mud bricks were easy to manufacture in the warm dry climate, and in part because thick adobe walls promised insulation from the scorching desert sun. Adobe churches and colonial administration buildings can still be seen in California, from as far north as Sonoma to as far south as San Diego. Adobe architecture enjoyed a resurgence in Southern California when the Golden State became famous as the home of Golden-Era Hollywood. A generation after the Atwater Bungalows were completed, Pueblo-style stucco homes would proliferate in California’s expanding postwar suburbs.

Today, adobe is popular both because of its unique texture and shape and because it provides a green air-conditioning alternative to homeowners looking to protect the environment. Since adobe is versatile – it can be used to create many different textures and ornaments, almost like buttercream icing on a cake – contemporary architects in Southern California are exploring creative variations on traditional Mission- and Pueblo-style designs.

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Photo Credit: Latimes.com

As an early experiment in modern adobe construction, the Atwater Bungalows combine architectural innovation with revivalist anachronism. Built from dense unfinished adobe that gives the exterior a rustic appearance, the bungalows are ornamented with pueblo-style windows, staircases, and cone-shaped chimneys. Aqua and orange trim creates a lively contrast with the dun-colored adobe surface.

Stacy-Judd’s creations tended towards the fantastical, and the Atwater Bungalows are meant to capture the spirit rather than the historical reality of the traditional Hopi kivas that inspired his design. He took a fanciful approach to finances, too, and the bungalows were finished “way over budget,” according to Atwater’s grandson.

Although the Atwater Bungalows are a familiar landmark to local residents, they’ve never attracted as much interest or activity as the Ennis House or the Victorian homes on Carroll Avenue, and they’ve never appeared in a movie or music video. Despite their relative obscurity, their imaginative construction and inspired design make them an iconic addition to the Echo Park neighborhood.

Real Estate Unlimited is a real-estate company dedicated to representing clients in Echo Park and other historic neighborhoods throughout the Los Angeles area. We pride ourselves on our in-depth knowledge of the Los Angeles area, and we’re glad to give our clients the benefit of our local expertise.  Call us to schedule a consultation today! 

Antique Treasures on Display at Silver Lake’s Holyland Exhibition

The sprawling outline of Los Angeles contains a wealth of eclectic entertainment, and the Silver Lake neighborhood is home to its own share of quirky tourist attractions and museums. In this post, we’ll take a look at the Holyland Exhibition, a single-bequest archaeological museum in the heart of Silver Lake!

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The Holyland Exhibition represents the lifelong obsession of explorer and historian Antonia F. Futterer, rumored to be the inspiration for Indiana Jones. Futterer passed away in 1949, but his legacy lives on in this uncommon cache of curios from Egypt, Damascus, Babylon, Cyprus, Israel, and other Biblical lands.

Futterer’s life was stranger than fiction, and nearly as cinematic. While Futterer was convalescing after a long illness caused by severe appendicitis, he began an intensive private Bible study. When he recuperated, he became fascinated with the geography and archaeology of the Holy Land. Futterer was especially interested in the Ark of the Covenant – yep, just like the Indiana Jones movie!

Click here to read about wine tastings at neighboring Silverlake Wine!

During the first decades of the twentieth century, he went on several quests to the cradle of civilization in an attempt to locate this storied artifact. Although he never found the Ark of the Covenant itself, Futterer’s expeditions did amass an astonishing collection of ancient art, sculpture, and relics. In 1924 brought them back across the ocean to the mythical desert of Los Angeles, where he put them on display in his own exhibition space. They’ve been here ever since, and you can visit them in Silver Lake.

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Photo Credit: kcet.org

When Futterer returned to the United States, he founded the Holyland Bible Knowledge Study and introduced his trademark “Eye-O-Graphic” Bible seminar, based on his deep interest in the geography of the Middle East. His “Eye-O-Graphic” techniques are spelled out in a large map that takes up an entire wall. Although Futterer’s excavating days were over by the 1930s, he continued to lead his study group on informational trips to the region, including visits to Egypt and Israel, and maintained a scholarly interest in the Middle East until the end of his life.

His museum is fairly small, occupying just one Mission-style building. However, Futterer made the most of the available space, and each room is packed from floor to ceiling with a dazzling display of acquisitions from the Iron and Bronze Ages – some with a provenance that stretches even further back into antiquity.

Click here to read about the Gamble House, a historic building in Los Angeles!

Items on display include smaller curiosities like 5,000-year-old oil lamps, gold and silver jewelry, carved ivory, coins, and rows of glass bottles that predate the founding of Rome. The museum also holds several ancient tapestries, a 2,700-year-old sarcophagus, and a mummy casket that dates back to 600 B.C.E. Also on display are three ears of extinct Egyptian corn, carefully dried and preserved, and a game table from Damascus whose intricate design incorporates 10,000 inlaid pearls and wood from fourteen different fruit trees. As in artifacts retrieved from Pompeii and Crete, the magic is in the details of the everyday – the museum also houses handcrafted baskets, weavings, and ceramic plates and jars. Visitors can see these quotidian prizes up close.

Guests can also look at some artifacts from Futterer’s own life, including his antique desk from 1924. Cinephiles can tour a smaller display of memorabilia from silent-movie idol Rudolph Valentino and furniture used in the set for Rick’s Café in the classic movie Casablanca. Futterer also collected many contemporary costumes, souvenirs and religious artifacts, including a statue of Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane which is installed near the museum’s entrance. Local history enthusiasts can even look at a gallery of photographs that show the neighborhood of Silver Lake growing up around the Holyland Exhibition building.

Tours are led by Futterer’s widow Betty Shepard and daughter Karen Shepard. Their talks include extensive information on the background of each piece and a summary of Futterer’s own theories about Biblical history and mythology. They’ll also tell you stories about Futterer’s early life in Australia and his participation in Hollywood history. He passed away long before the Indiana Jones films premiered, but his work may also have informed epics like Ben-Hur and The Ten Commandments.

At the end of your tour, you’ll be treated to a Middle-Eastern-themed snack: a slice of Mandelbrot, or almond bread; a glass of grape juice; and a strip of apricot fruit leather imported from Damascus. You can also stop by the gift shop to purchase souvenirs like a car mezuzah and “Gifts of the Magi” trinket set that includes frankincense, myrrh, and a small ingot of faux gold.

To preserve its one-of-a-kind collection, the Holyland Exhibition is currently only open by appointment, but Betty and Karen Shepard are happy to give tours to anyone who wants to come for a visit. Admission is only $2.50, a small price to pay for such an uncommon and extensive collection. Why not spend an afternoon perusing the treasure trove accumulated by this real-life adventurer?

Are you interested in learning more about the Holyland Exhibition and other exhibitions and galleries in Silver Lake?  At Real Estate Unlimited, we make it our mission to share with you all of the unique cultural and historical interest of this modern metropolis. Call us to schedule a consultation today!

Eaton Canyon Falls

Northeast of the greater L.A. area and Pasadena is Eaton Canyon Falls, a popular hiking destination. Clocked in at 3.5 mile round trip, with only 375 feet of elevation, the Eaton Canyon Falls trail is a short hike for a beautiful view. At the top of the hike lies the eponymous Eaton Canyon Falls,  Requiring no fee or permit, Eaton Canyon falls provides a pleasantly frugal opportunity for a great time outdoors.

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Photo Credit: Outdoor Project

 

Just a quick jaunt from Los Angeles, Eaton Canyon Falls posses a rustic history in contrast to the bright lights of the city. The Eaton Canyon Falls earned the name“El Precipicio” by the Spanish settlers due to the steep gorges lining the canyon. Now, the canyon is known as Eaton Canyon after Judge Benjamin Eaton, the man who built the original Fair Oaks Ranch House just a short ways from Eaton Creek. Using the creek to irrigate his fields, Judge Eaton went on to grow grapes, raise livestock, and become a major proponent of the Mount Wilson Toll Road.

Today, the Eaton Canyon Falls provides a curious opportunity for visitors, or residents, to the Pasadena area. Starting in the accessible Eaton Canyon Nature Area, the trail to the Eaton Canyon Falls begins up a dry creek bed named Eaton Wash. This area of the trial is open, well-maintained, and quite an easy trip, popular with dog-walkers, families out for a stroll, or those interested in visiting the Eaton Canyon Nature Center. Pack the sunscreen, because this section of the hike is exposed to the sun with only a little bit of cover!

After a ways, the trail enters a small wood and meets at a junction with the Horse Trail. Keep to your left, and continue on for just over a mile. The trail will meet with the historic Toll Road, a dirt hiking trail running to the peak of Mount Wilson. Continue on left, and pass below the large white concrete bridge. At this point, the hike becomes more arduous, requiring criss-crossing the creek numerous times up a narrow canyon. Just a little ways further, and you’ve made it!

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Photo Credit: Victor Leung

 

The Eaton Canyon Falls are more than worth the trip, providing a simple and august example of the San Gabriel Mountains’ ability to produce curiosities so close to the city. The canyon itself squeezes together, allowing only the creek to continue down from the trail’s summit into a 40ft waterfall. This waterfall feeds into a small pool just a short distance from the trail’s end. Not only is the waterfall a pleasant sight after the hike up, but the pool itself is frequented by hikers or residents seeking a cool dip in the pond after working up a sweat on the hike.

If you’re looking for a new adventure, a fun family outing, or the chance to see new sights, visit the Eaton Canyon Falls!

Real Estate Unlimited takes pride in serving those curious about South Pasadena real estate, including the exciting opportunities in the surrounding community. Please get in touch with us if you have any questions about South Pasadena, purchasing a new home, or Eaton Canyon Falls.