Best of L.A. 2006

I always look forward to Los Angeles magazine’s Best of L.A. issues, so I was thrilled when they asked me to contribute. I wrote about beauty, nightlife and…upholstery.

Express Mani-Pedi

A manicure shouldn’t take longer than a Silver Lake-to-Santa Monica drive, especially if all you want is a pronto paint job. At Larchmont Village’s Jessica from Sunset, a polish change takes the usual 30 minutes, but an application of the salon’s exclusive quick-dry oil seals the paint in a surprising two. The “quickie” manicure at Varnish, a retro-chic spot in West Hollywood, takes 15 minutes and includes cuticle cleanup and nail shaping. When time is tight, Bellacures in Beverly Hills offers the best express mani-pedi. It took us about 15 minutes from start to dry, yet nothing felt rushed. Two skilled manicurists gently file, oil, and polish your nails as you lounge in a cozy, oversize chair—but don’t get too comfortable. It’s high-end at high speed.


For the past 30 years, Anthony Kafesjian has worked at Lloyd’s Custom Furniture, a small shop that his father opened in 1969, and has mastered everything from reupholstering oval-shaped Arne Jacobsen Egg chairs, which he says is “like tailoring a suit for a jellyfish,” to stripping a leather Chesterfield sofa to its bones and starting from scratch. He covers more than furniture: A Saudi royal recently hired him to upholster the walls and ceiling of a 20,000-square-foot room in a mansion on the Red Sea in bamboo and lauhala, a coarse Hawaiian matting. Kafesjian is comfortable working with any material, be it a vintage tapestry or $1,400-a-yard leopard-print velvet. The price of each project is based on how long it takes to complete. Lucky for us, he works fast.

Special Club Night

When a celebrity host lets anyone with a smile, proper attire, and $10 past the velvet rope, you know something’s up. Every Sunday, starting at 10 p.m., Danny Masterson (formerly of That ’70s Show) transforms Guy’s bar into a glamorous jazz venue called Kid’s Cotton Club. The house band — which he assembled with co-host and musician Joe Firstman — has the chops to entertain the crowd, which might include Ashton Kutcher, Demi Moore, and Leonardo DiCaprio. But over the past two years jazz greats and pop stars have joined in for impromptu sets, from Roy Hargrove on trumpet to John Mayer on guitar to Christina Aguilera at the mic. Suits and ties are required for all dudes; as for the ladies, “they can wear whatever they want,” says Masterson, “but they have more fun when they’re in a dress and full make-up. Rumor has it that Lindsay Lohan has been turned away more than once because Masterson doesn’t approve of her wild-girl behavior. Talk about a role reversal.

Hangover cure

Want to bar hop without having to hop on the freeway afterward? With the thriving  club scene a stone’s throw away, the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel is the ideal base camp for a night of boozing and sleeping it off. Reserve a cabana room (rates start at $600), and you’re guaranteed entrance to the poolside Tropicana Bar. Then for a buck catch the Holly Trolley bus at Hollywood & Highland, which stops nears spots like LAX, Mood, and Shag. Back at the hotel, have a nightcap at the Lobby Bar. There’s no bedside aspirin, but there is a prescription bottle filled with M&Ms, our favorite hangover helper — besides a big breakfast at the hotel’s steak house, Dakota, which opens at 6 a.m. Sink into a deep brown leather banquette, and let the steak and eggs or lemon ricotta pancakes soak it up. Checkout is at noon, but you have until 1 before you get charged for a half day.

New DJ

Unlike DJs in the ’90s, who stayed safe within on genre, today’s hot turntablists skillfully blend hip-hop with rock, the ’70s with the ’80s. If DJ AM is on the decks, everyone wants to get into the club — we wouldn’t think Nirvana with jibe well with the Pussycat Dolls, but AM works it by keeping the beats consistent. This year, however, DJ Splyce has heated things up , packing clubs with high-energy sets that jump from Beyonce to Michael Jackson, the White Stripes to Salt-N-Pepa. Wilmer Valderrama once got so pumped by Splyce’s tunes at Mood in Hollywood that he grabbed the mic and sang along. In February the DJ was hired to entertain the discriminating crowd at the official Grammy after-party. And how’s this for range: Janet Jackson and Larry King have booked Splyce for their private soirees.

Happy Hours

Decked out with piñatas and Corona blowup toys, Fiesta Cantina is where cute, casual guys go to feel like they’re in Cancún (if Cancún weren’t so trashy). Shirtless bartenders with perfectly chiseled everything pour two drinks for the price of one every day from 4 to 8 p.m. and from 10:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. »8865 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood, 310-652-8865.

You can almost hear the Sex and the City theme song as you enter Luna Park , which is classy and lady friendly. Monday through Friday, from 5:30 to 7 p.m., drinks cost $6 and tasty hors d’oeuvres are $4 or less. Just as appetizing—and free for the viewing—are the handsome bartenders in tight black T-shirts. »672 S. La Brea Ave., L.A., 323-934-2110.

Three-ounce pours at La Maschera Ristorante & Enoteca cost $3, and any of the 150 bottles of wine are up for grabs, Monday through Thursday, from 5 to 7 p.m. Superthirsty? A 15-ounce carafe of Chianti or pinot grigio costs only $7, and the bruschetta is a buck. »82 N. Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena, 626-304-0004.

British expats and Valleyites crowd the Fox and Hounds to watch soccer matches on the telly, throw darts, and knock back pints of Abbot ale and Carlsberg lager. Beer costs $4 from morning until 7 p.m. (blimey!), and a free platter of assorted grub, like banger bits and sausage rolls, is served daily at 4. »11100 Ventura Blvd., Studio City, 818-763-7976.

Jackets come off and ties get looser at Ciudad every weekday from 3 to 7 p.m. You can sip $4 mojitos and sangria and munch on inexpensive appetizers like chicken quesadillas. Add live rumba Wednesday through Friday, starting at 6 p.m., and you may never go back to the office again. »Union Bank Plaza, 445 S. Figueroa St., L.A., 213-486-5171.