Los Angeles

Indoor Dining Returns to LA Next Week

The state met its goal of administering two million vaccination doses.

Interior bar at Gigi's in Hollywood / Photo credit Britt Lucas
Interior bar at Gigi’s in Hollywood / Photo credit Britt Lucas
Interior bar at Gigi’s in Hollywood / Photo credit Britt Lucas

California met its target of administering two million vaccine doses to the most underserved communities throughout the state on Friday, March 12, allowing LA and 12 other California counties to move into the less-restrictive red tier that permits indoor dining at 25% capacity, next week. Once advanced into the red tier, reopenings will go into effect within 48 hours.

The latest developments are a direct result of the county’s concerted efforts to increase vaccinations, especially within underprivileged communities. Mobile vaccination sites and additional appointments for certain eligible groups at the county’s massive vaccination sites have assisted in meeting this goal, plus the fact that LA County received its largest vaccine shipment to date this week, with 313,000 doses, including 62% that were expected to go towards first doses, and 53,700 doses of the recently authorized, single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. On Monday, March 15, residents with certain health conditions and disabilities who are between the ages of 16 to 64 will be newly eligible to receive the vaccine.

Barbara Ferrer, Director of Public Health, commended Angelenos for doing their part to slow the spread, saying, “This milestone is the result of businesses and individuals working together and doing their part to prevent COVID-19 from spreading. It will be up to everyone, businesses and residents, to continue driving down transmission and to follow safety directives closely to keep everyone as safe as possible by preventing increases in cases. When even relatively small numbers of businesses and individuals fail to adhere to the safety precautions, many others experience tragic consequences.”

Permitted activities under the red tier include:

  • Museums, zoos and aquariums can open indoors at 25% capacity.
  • Gyms, fitness centres, yoga, and dance studios can open indoors at 10% capacity with masks required for indoor activities.
  • Movie theatres can open indoors at 25% capacity with reserved seating. Each group must be seated at least six feet apart in all directions from any other groups.
  • Retail and personal care services like nail and hair salons can increase capacity to 50% with masks required at all times and for all services.
  • Indoor shopping malls can increase capacity to 50% as long as common areas remain closed.

For restaurants, the requirements for reopening are a bit more complicated: restaurants can open indoors at 25% maximum capacity, but must have eight feet of distance in between tables; can only seat one household per table with a limit of six people; and must have a well-working and recently evaluated HVAC system with ventilation increased to the maximum extent possible. Food courts can also open at 25% capacity as long as they adhere to the above guidance. In terms of outdoor dining, up to six people from three different households can be seated at the same table, so that still remains the best option for dining out with friends you don’t live with.

As for restaurant staff, the department recommends that employees who interact with customers indoors are provided with additional mask protection that exceeds the current requirements of a face shield over a face mask. This might include fit-tested N95 masks, KN95 masks, or double masks and a face shield. It’s also recommended that such staff are informed about and offered the opportunity to be vaccinated.

These developments represent an important turning point for LA County, which just a couple of months ago had some of the highest COVID numbers in the country. The new health order will allow¬†LA residents to enjoy eating indoors at restaurants for the first time in over eight months, though stay tuned for how quickly restaurants are able to pull off this latest pivot. Still, the metered reopening stands to offer¬†our city’s essential restaurants¬†(which is to say, all of them), as well as their workers,¬†some much needed relief.

See the health department’s full news release for more information on permitted activities and associated regulations under the red tier.

Danielle Dorsey is the Los Angeles Editor at Thrillist. 

Los Angeles

How to Spend a Weekend in Topanga Canyon

Nature and the arts collide in this beloved canyon community.

Hanan Isachar/Corbis Documentary/Getty Images
Hanan Isachar/Corbis Documentary/Getty Images
Hanan Isachar/Corbis Documentary/Getty Images

Situated in the Santa Monica Mountains and known for its vibrant creative community, Topanga is one of Los Angeles’s most prized destinations for art and outdoor enthusiasts alike. And while LA boasts its own sprawling landscape of fun to tap into, you’d be remiss to miss a chance to explore this tucked-away collection of state parks, and cafes, and restaurants-especially when it all rests just 20 minutes away from the city. From a quaint caf√© with dazzling canyon views to a world-renowned, open-air theatre, here are the best ways to pass some time in Topanga now.

Photo courtesy of Inn of the Seventh Ray
Photo courtesy of Inn of the Seventh Ray
Photo courtesy of Inn of the Seventh Ray

Friday

Book dinner at Inn of the Seventh Ray
Owner Lucille Yaney opened this iconic restaurant in 1975 after spotting the property on a drive through the canyon with her late husband Ralph, and it’s safe to say she had a good eye. The land perfectly fits into Yaney’s vision of a romantic, alfresco dining space with tables tucked into cozy nooks and gazebos, all beneath canapes and fairy lights. Today, Yaney co-owns the venue with executive chef consultant Brad Miller. Together, they continue to fulfil the restaurant’s original mission to serve pure, natural foods reflective of the season’s best. That approach appears in dishes like 8-Hour Black Vinegar Braised Short Rib with creamy rosemary polenta, duck bacon Brussels sprouts, and caramelized onion and fig jam; Roasted Mushroom Toast with oyster mushrooms and sherry tarragon cream; and Beets & Whipped Black Pepper Creme Fraiche. Consider the carbs here. Pastas and sauces are made in-house and from scratch, as is the bread (available regular or gluten-free), an order of which you won’t want to miss. Check out the wine list, too, which offers a robust organic and biodynamic selection that has helped the restaurant garner some impressive accolades in recent years.

Check into Topanga Canyon Inn
In addition to plenty of excellent Airbnbs available to rent in the Canyon, there’s Topanga Canyon Inn, a charming bed and breakfast comprised of two Mediterranean-style buildings-Casa Blanca and Casa Rosa-both built by the owners. Guests can enjoy bespoke design details in each room, along with gorgeous mountain views from their own private balcony. Come morning, join other travellers for breakfast, served daily at Casa Rosa.

Saturday

Get coffee at Café on 27
Ready your camera for a coffee date at this AM eatery and caf√©, where ample (and busy) outdoor seating offers some of the Canyon’s best views. A full breakfast and lunch menu is available (complete with hearty orders like eggs Benedicts, soups, and club sandwiches), but for lighter morning fare, spring for a pastry and any of their specialty drinks, such as the turmeric latte or Moroccan mocha.

Bradley Allen Murrell/Shutterstock
Bradley Allen Murrell/Shutterstock
Bradley Allen Murrell/Shutterstock

Hike Topanga State Park
Spanning 11,000 acres and 36 miles of trails, Topanga State Park is the largest state park within the Santa Monica Mountains and one of the world’s largest parks within city limits. Visitors can access the grounds via more than 60 entrances. Once on the trails, enjoy sweeping vistas while exploring the region’s range of plants, habitats, and wildlife, including several resident bird species.

Grab lunch at Topanga Living Café
Guided by their Topanga upbringing and need for a community gathering spot with great eats, sibling team Agustina Ferguson and Bayu Suryawan opened this daytime eatery in 2016. Ever since, locals and visitors have found refuge in the caf√©’s warm, airy space and nourishing, hyper-fresh fare-all California-inspired with global influences. Check it out in plates like the Island Style, a breakfast salad with Balinese corn fritters, a poached egg, and house-made chilli jam, or the tacos (Baja Fish or Baja Shrimp, Carne Asada, or Kabocha Squash), made-to-order and served on handmade tortillas. If you’re seeking something shareable, try the Farmers Market Crudite, a seemingly humble order whose bright beet hummus reminds us that eating your vegetables is, indeed, very cool. And take a drink to-go. The team here takes great pride in their coffee (organic espresso, courtesy of their iconic pink La Marzocco machine) and a lineup of made-to-order smoothies, juices, and teas. Shop your way through town
Visitors can stroll through the town centre’s most popular shops for various fun finds, including Moona Star, Pebbles, and Topanga Homegrown. Be sure to stock up on specialty, local snacks at Canyon Gourmet and satiate your sweet tooth while you’re at it. The organic soft-serve there is a must. Pro tip: Top it with any of their artisanal syrups for a winning combo, namely, the vanilla with cardamom.

Photo courtesy of Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum
Photo courtesy of Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum
Photo courtesy of Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum

Catch a show at The Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum
This beloved open-air theatre has hosted productions for decades and is recognized worldwide for its Shakespeare interpretations. In addition to its annual summer season, which includes works like Macbeth and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the venue hosts concerts, rehearsals, and classes throughout the year for budding actors and playwrights of all ages.

Snag a slice at Endless Colour
This family-run pizza joint specializes in from-scratch pies with clever topping combinations (think purple potatoes, fontina, and truffle oil in the Purple Molly Potato or spinach, leeks, and goat cheese in the Super Greens). Bring some friends, order a pie or two, and check out the drinks list, which includes offbeat options like orange wines and hard kombucha.

Photo courtesy of The Canyon Bakery
Photo courtesy of The Canyon Bakery
Photo courtesy of The Canyon Bakery

Sunday

Check out The Canyon Bakery’s “Sunday Funday”
Situated on the grounds of the aforementioned Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum, this bakery specializes in naturally leavened breads, pastries, cakes, and cookies using locally sourced, whole grain flours. There’s a takeout window on Sundays, from 9:30 am until the bakery sells out. A strong following lines up for favourites, such as whole grain croissants and gluten-free pizza, so be sure to arrive early to get your fill.

Try tacos to-go at La Chingona
On your way out of town, grab some tacos at La Chingona, where a team puts forth fresh, organic, gluten- and dairy-free tacos. Orders range to include options like grass-fed beef (carne asada), shrimp (wild-caught), and soy chorizo and can be fashioned into plates beyond tacos, too (think tostadas, salads, and bowls). Open only on Tuesdays, Fridays, and Sundays; this taco stand sees good demand. Plan accordingly, pending your travels, especially to savour an order or two of the churros.

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Nicole Schnitzler is a contributor for Thrillist.

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