Travel

By Stephanie Ila Silver-Silberstein

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“Ca-li-for-nia, here I come”….for some reason that’s the only part of the song I remember….”right back where I started from,” maybe?? Anyway, I just got back to where I started from – New York City, that is, and if it weren’t for the gorgeous summer weather hanging on to the Big Apple with dear life, I might’ve opted to stay in Ca-li-for-nia! Los Angeles is a sunny, laid-back, movie quoter’s paradise, and though I sat in an absurd amount of traffic and had no celebrity sightings for the 3 days I spent there, I still have to admit, “I love LA”.

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By no means was the paparazzi following me around, but celebrity treatment is what I got when I arrived at Frida, a Mexican restaurant featuring healthy and authentic cuisine, and located in the heart of downtown Beverly Hills. The ambience was festive and colorful with lavish yet tasteful artwork imported directly from Mexico. With dim lighting, a sophisticated clientele and an extensive wine and drink list, Frida is ideal for dinner parties as well as the romantic date. Furthermore, a secluded bar area is equipped with an unobtrusive television featuring ESPN. But what makes the Frida experience so unique and satisfying is the food.

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Having lived in Austin, Texas for a time, I have high standards for good Mexican; With one taste of their salsa, I knew Frida would go well beyond my expectations. I highly recommend the Resplendor De Mango – a salad tossed with mango, caramelized walnuts, grapes, goat cheese and passion fruit dressing. For an entrée, the Camarones Al Tequila was superb with its adventurous combination of flavors that typifies Mexican cuisine. I encourage you to save room for dessert – a challenging task, indeed, but well worth it! It might have been the margarita talking but the apple cake with caramelized bananas was by far the best diet buster I’ve had in awhile! Check out their website at www.fridarestaurant.com and be sure to make Frida part of your LA experience. Offering the best Mexico has to offer, it’s like having 2 vacations in one.

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On my last night in LA, I made my way out of the land of Brenda and Brandon Walsh, and drove to Santa Monica, the sexy city for great night life, relaxing beach time and a fantastic ride on the Ferris Wheel. Located in a prime location on Ocean Avenue with spectacular views of Palisades Park and the Pacific Ocean, is “the jewel of Santa Monica” – the Georgian Hotel. Watching the gorgeous sunset on their serene veranda, I enjoyed a smooth glass of Cabernet, taking some time to relax before the exciting nightlife of LA got underway.

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The Georgian Hotel, built in 1933, still retains the rich history of past decades. An elevator operator still greets the guests, the Red Griffin Room was once considered an actual “Speakeasy” and gracing the hallways have been the likes of Bugsy Segal, Clark Gable, and Rose Kennedy, among others. Designed with a combination of Romanesque Revival and Art Deco architecture, the Georgian, featuring 28 suites and 56 uniquely decorated guest rooms, is reminiscent of the quaint boutique hotels of New York City.

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The historical aspects of the hotel truly add to the total Georgian experience. But not to worry – all modern conveniences and high tech amenities are incorporated to pamper all guests, whether they’re traveling on business or for leisure. Visit georgianhotel.com for more information and to make reservations.

With the exception of a seeing a Dodger game, my visit to LA was not the touristy experience I thought it would be. I never meandered down the Hollywood Walk of Fame, I steered clear of Disneyland, and I failed to purchase a “Star Map of Houses”. Back in New York City, I can’t tell you the last time I went to the Empire State Building, but I can tell you where the best hotel bar is in Soho and where to find the most authentic Mexican food on the Upper West Side. It’s nice to know I can do the same for Los Angeles.

Originally published October 2004
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