Flavorful food, friendly service make for a good combination

Continuing my adventures on the third floor of the new Santa Monica Place, I had lunch at La Sandía Mexican Kitchen and Tequila Bar (which means “watermelon” in Spanish). This restaurant is part of a chain owned by Richard Sandoval that includes about 10 restaurants located from the east coast to the west coast, from Denver... Read more →


Still waiting for Lefty?

As a passionate piece of 20th century history, it works. As a parable for the present day, not so much. Clifford Odets’ 1935 Depression-era play “Waiting for Lefty” is a rabble-rousing tirade against big business and its heavy-handed control of the “downtrodden masses.” A situation that might resonate with... Read more →


A change in attitude without a change in latitude

This is the time of staycations. Everyone is looking to cut back — yet still have the experience of being away. I’ve contemplated the idea of staycations at home, but camping in my backyard is out since I don’t have a backyard. Setting up a tent in my living room just doesn’t cut it, as I still see the stains on my rug... Read more →


Wine on rotation

When I walked into Pourtal I was immediately greeted with a “hello” and a big smile from an attractive young woman. As I approached the bar a handsome young man said “welcome.” I immediately felt at home, and was reminded of the TV show “Cheers.” Yes Pourtal is a bar, and you can get some great beers... Read more →


How to exploit your greatest weakness

Dear New Shrink, I have been on several job interviews lately. I want to go on the record and say that I hate the “what are your weaknesses” question. It seems like every interviewer I have met with has asked me this question in some way or another, and every time I am at a loss as to what I should say. I have talked with others... Read more →


Hollinger’s magnum ‘Opus’ a treat

It takes a super-savvy conductor to lead a group of four extraordinary non-musicians (plus one actual violin virtuoso) through the intricate movements of a play about a string quartet, and Simon Levy is that man. Levy, longtime producing director and dramaturg of the Fountain Theatre, has done his usual fine-tuned job as director of Michael... Read more →

Community Profiles

Bravo deserves a hand

PICO NEIGHBORHOOD — Along a light yellow hand-painted wall with creative creatures that resemble aliens and even Pac-Man figures stands what Joey Bravo calls his “treasure chest” — a colorful chest with bold jungle animals grazing by a bright blue river. “My dad gave that to me and my older brother when we were... Read more →


After a rough start, Xino is on a roll

Finally, a good Chinese restaurant in Santa Monica. When I first moved here there were lots of Chinese restaurants, many Cantonese, but a few Szechuan. I don’t know what happened to them, but I guess the pizza, taco and Italian restaurants took them over. Now our luck has changed, and not only do we have good Chinese food in the... Read more →


Pleasure, front and center

SM BLVD — There’s a new place for pleasure and social activism in Santa Monica. Rory Lovett, along with partners Todd Christiansen and Casey Phillips, are looking to revitalize the Westside club scene with the renovation and roll out of a restored nightclub at the corner of 14th Street and Santa Monica Boulevard called The... Read more →

Community Profiles

Franz-Knight to leave pier director post

SM PIER — The Santa Monica Pier is losing perhaps its most ardent booster. Ben Franz-Knight, executive director of the Pier Restoration Corp., is leaving his post to become the leader of one of Seattle’s most popular tourist destinations, the historic Pike Place Market in the city’s central business district. It’s... Read more →


Deciding when to hold on, when to let go

Dear New Shrink, I am on the verge of ending a 20-plus year marriage, which also means the end of a family, as we have known it. Our children, three of them, are very upset, but generally speaking, doing well. One is ending high school and the other two are away at college, doing well. As a couple, we are not happy, haven’t been for... Read more →

Mommie Brain

Baby boom, zap, pow, bam

Inadvertently, I think I began my son’s interest in guns. I didn’t mean to. I didn’t even realize what I’d done until my husband commented that the cool “Star Wars” light saber I’d just bought our son could constitute as giving him his first weapon. I was quieted by this parenting mistake. I make... Read more →


No liquor, no problem at Le Saigon

Some friends won’t dine with me at Le Saigon because they don’t serve beer or wine, but personally I find the fresh coconut juice a special treat.   It’s a small, plain restaurant with a utilitarian look. There seems to be a lot of waiters around for a small place and I find the service fast and friendly. I love the... Read more →


When sweet-and-sour chicken becomes a grinder

The best weeknight recipes are those that are versatile enough to work not just with what you want, but also what you have. As in this simple recipe for sweet-and-sour chicken. In a creative take on this classic Asian takeout, the lightly sweet and tangy chicken is intended to be nestled into a sub roll. But if you don’t have any or... Read more →