July 3, 2008
The Best of (Jewish) Los Angeles 2008
(Page 3 - Previous Page)Sinai Temple, 10400 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 474-1518. Temple Israel of Hollywood, 7300 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles. (323) 876-8330.
-- Danielle Berrin
Best Place to People-Watch for Israelis: Aroma Bakery Cafe
Some go to Aroma Bakery Cafe for the food, the deliciously thin-layered Jachnun, the pillow-puffy Samboosaks and the crispy Jerusalem Bagel toasts, but those are only half the allure of the Valley's definitive Israeli hot spot. On any given lunch hour, or even into the wee hours of the night, sexy and stylish Israeli expats congregate in droves at this ultrahip outdoor eatery that could double as a catwalk. As a see-and-be-seen sidewalk cafe with simply good fare -- and a social vibe to rival that of a nightclub -- a whiff of this Aroma is the closest you'll get to the sunny scene on Tel Aviv's beaches. 18047 Ventura Blvd., Encino. (818) 757-0477.
Best Place to Get Into a Fender-Bender With a Black Hat: Elat Market Parking Lot
The frenzied chaos that overtakes the Elat Market parking lot must be a testament to how good their groceries are. Whether it's innocent-looking Orthodox mothers (with infants in car seats) crossing off their produce list, or hungry men in traditional garb on a Talmud break, or eager yeshiva students racing for the last box of matzah, no one gets in, out of, or through the Elat Market lot unscathed. Just try to enter, exit or drive safely up Wooster Street without honking your horn, slamming on your breaks, stopping short, cursing your brains out and then, finally, getting hit -- this is what happens when Jews go food shopping. 8730 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 659-7070.
Best Place to Buy Judaica on Shabbat: Audrey's Museum Store at the Skirball
Come on, admit it: There are Saturday emergencies, when all you need is a pretty little mezuzah to gift the b'nai mitzvah with, and everything Jewish is closed. Maybe you need a pair of candlesticks, or something Hebrew and housewarming for the newlyweds. Not to worry -- Audrey's Museum Store at the Skirball Cultural Center is home to one of the city's finest Judaica shops, and, yes, it is open on Shabbat. And since you're making the tremendous trek up the 405 on a weekend, you might as well make your stay worthwhile by visiting the museum's incomparable Noah's Ark exhibit. The life-sized re-imagining of Noah's voyage on the open seas, replete with colorful and creative pairs of every biblically extant animal from the days of creation, is truly a ship to behold: think "Titanic" but with wild animals instead of rich people -- oh, and God actually saved this one. 2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 440-4500.
Best Place to Witness More Middle Eastern Coexistence
Local Israelis and Arabs agree that the Carnival Restaurant is tops for Lebanese/Middle Eastern dining. Located at the rear of a mini-mall, the place isn't much on ambiance, but after generous portions of baba ghanoush, hummus falafel, kafta kebab, shwarma and knafeh, who cares. 4356 Woodman Ave., Sherman Oaks. (818) 784-3469.
-- Tom Tugend
Best Place to Impress the Intellectuals for Your Family Simcha: UCLA Faculty Center
You don't have to be a Nobel Prize winner or even a Bruin alumnus to hold your bar/bat mitzvah, wedding or any other simcha reception at the UCLA Faculty Center on the Westwood campus. You can't beat the address for academic prestige, and general manager Ali Tabrizi makes the advance planning relatively painless. Ask for him. (310) 825-0877 or e-mail email@example.com. 480 Charles E. Young Drive, Westwood.
Best Secret Dress Shop (For Shul and Jewish Affairs): Maritere's on Wilshire
A girl doesn't always like to divulge her secret bargain stores, but Maritere's is so underground that I just have to spread the word. The Koreatown clothing store's front window looks like it sells schmatte discount clothing, but after you pass the bargain racks, you'll find discounted Max Studio clothes -- dresses, cocktail outfits, suits, pants, sweaters (cashmere) -- at half the price of even the Max Studio outlet in Santa Monica. You can go -- but just don't beat me to it! 3540 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 107, Los Angeles. (213) 385-1812.
-- Amy Klein
Best New Community Multicultural Hangout Spot: Gardner Park
If you're in the "hood" and looking for a great place to take the kids without spending a dime (except maybe a couple of bucks on ice cream from the truck) head to the newly redesigned kids areas (two!) at Pan Pacific Park. Colloquially known as Gardner Park (by my 4-year-old niece), the smaller kids area, next to the Fairfax branch of the Los Angeles Public Library on Gardner Street, is situated on a combination of sand and that springy cork floorboard. It has baby swings, small slides and climbing contraptions. If you want a sand-free experience, try the upper park, off Beverly Boulevard, which has a smaller climbing complex and a larger one, as well as a sprinkler for the mermaid children. The noise level is gargantuan, with kids and parents shouting in all languages -- especially Yiddish and Hebrew, because of the location. 7600 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles. (323) 939-8874. PanPacific.RecreationCenter@lacity.org.
Best Place for Communal Monthly Shabbat Dinners: Chabad of Los Feliz
There are many great Shabbat dinners around town, but if you're looking for a religious, communitywide dinner that brings in an eclectic bunch from the East Side -- actors, Israelis, people looking for a minyan -- head to Chabad of Los Feliz, which holds dinner once a month at its new(ish) center (donation suggested). The irrepressibly cheerful and welcoming Rabbi Leibel Korf will not only offer many words of Torah, but a few shots of schnapps to wash it down. His wife, Dvonye, who grew up in Morocco, cooks up a vicious traditional meal including chicken soup, gefilte fish, potato kugel and broccoli salad. If we're ever there together, I can show you my sandwich combining them all into one. 1930 Hillhurst Ave., Los Angeles. (323) 660-5177.