Enjoy French cuisine, California style at Gigi’s LA.
In spite of the ever-present pandemic, some bright spots are happening throughout Southern California, and the opening of Gigi’s LA is among them. Imagined by Alexander Wilmot and Samantha Ressler, Gigi’s, a chic and fabulous new restaurant, with Anäis Nin and Henry Miller vibes, offers a California interpretation of French cuisine. The interior decor (designed by the late Osvaldo Maiozzi) is something to revel in, with hand-painted walls that create a French bistro vibe with an air of eloquence, with touches of understated glamour and California tranquility. LA-based artist Andie Dinkin painted the beautiful mural that wraps around the entirety of the restaurant’s interior, marrying elements of NYC, France, and Los Angeles. Named after Ressler’s grandmother, Gigi’s is the kind of restaurant you slip into for intimate conversation, contagious laughter, and creative inspiration. Gigi’s brings to Los Angeles the allure and romance we can’t help but flock to. Chef Matt Bollinger’s menu offers a range of cuisine from foie gras torchon and Parisian gnocchi to fresh succulent oysters and smoked trout rillettes. Enjoy fanciful cocktails curated by bar director Courtney Rose, including the French Polynesian, La Parisienne, and Gigi’s Old Fashioned. Sommelier Kristen Olszewski spearheads a refreshing wine program. Due to recent COVID restaurant dining closures, Gigi’s is offering takeout, curbside, and delivery.
Gigi’s LA / 904 N. Sycamore Ave., Los Angeles
Up, Up, and Away!
The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway is open for business.
The Coachella Valley is known for swanky design, amazing live events, and killer natural hot springs, but it is also home to one of the most fascinating tram rides in Southern California—and it’s finally open to the public again. The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, which boasts the world’s largest rotating tram car, ascends a magnificent 8,516 feet in elevation. At the top of the mountain, you can enjoy observation decks, more than 50 miles of hiking terrain, and two restaurants. The natural history museum and two documentary theaters are not yet cleared for opening, but with the loss of revenue from the coronavirus, the reopening is a massive high point for the region. The tramway schedule has been altered, with trips every 20 minutes and a maximum of 10 to 12 riders at a time. In 2021, the tramway may be granted a $15 million loan to renovate the prominent landmark.
$17–$27 per person / pstramway.com
Mindfulness and Compassion
With a focus on empathy, UCSD is raising the bar.
The University of California San Diego’s Center for Mindfulness, the Sanford Institute of Empathy and Compassion, and the Compassion Institute have created a free program for anyone who needs it. The program website and all its resources and tools are open to the public during the uncertainty of the pandemic. “Ongoing news such as the pandemic or the upcoming election may have some of us feeling anxious and worried,” reads the program’s statement. The three institutions have come together to develop accessible resources “to help create a sense of ‘equanimity.’” Author and Buddhist practitioner Jack Kornfield describes equanimity as, “embracing the loved and the unloved, the agreeable and the disagreeable, the pleasure and pain. It eliminates clinging and aversion.” The holidays, the pandemic, and the uncertainty of what’s happening with the present state of our democracy and our economy means there has never been a more appropriate time to be mindful, present in the moment, existing in a place of nonjudgmental awareness. The cultivation of mindfulness can give neurological dose responses that lead to a place of inner peace. And let’s face it: We need that!
To access free resources, visit medschool.ucsd.edu/som/fmph/research/mindfulness
Offering Afro-Mexican cuisine, a new LA restaurant is the first of its kind.
Recently opened in Bell Gardens, Tamales Elenas y Antojitos is the first Afro-Mexican restaurant in Los Angeles, serving cuisine from la Costa Chica of Guerrero, an area along Mexico’s Pacific Coast. The infusion of Afro-Mexican ingredients, including pozole, beef tongue, fresh fish, and a wide array of spices, makes this not just the only eatery of its kind in LA, but one worth driving to Bell Gardens for. Dishes include quesatacos of beef barbacoa, pescadillas (fish fillets cooked in their own juices with tomatoes, onions, and spices), picadas (fresh tortilla pocket), tostadas, tamales, enchiladas, green pozole, and beef tongue guisado with plantain.
8101 Garfield Ave., Bell Gardens /
Get Your Vegan On
PlantX flagship is set to open in early 2021.
Vancouver-based PlantX is opening its flagship plant-based store in the Hillcrest neighborhood of San Diego in early 2021. E-commerce expert Sean Dollinger first launched the company in February 2020 as an all-vegan online grocer offering items from frozen goods to pantry products, as well as recipes and meal delivery. The success of the online store led Dollinger to launch the flagship in the heart of San Diego. PlantX partnered with San Diego–based Liv Marketplace, established by Shawn Kattoula of Country Wine and Spirits, to bring the online store to life. Taking COVID compliance to heart, they have implemented a contactless shopping experience into the store’s design, making it easy to keep shoppers healthy and safe.
“All products will have QR codes that can be scanned via the PlantX app and added to the cart on your phone,” explains Alexandra Hoffman, PlantX’s chief marketing officer. “You can literally check out on your phone and walk out.” Traditional checkout will be available as well. PlantX will offer plant-based pantry products, premade grab-n-go meals made by Los Angeles chef Gregg Drusinsky, as well as refrigerated and frozen foods. It is also offering a 360-degree glass greenhouse and education center to help consumers better understand the plant-based food model and its impact on the environment. The goal is to use this launch as a springboard for further expansion in the hopes of becoming the vegan equivalent to amazon.com.
PlantX / 3930 5th Ave., San Diego
1 The more the merrier One in three Americans now lives in a state where recreational cannabis is legal, thanks to voters in New Jersey, Arizona, Montana, and South Dakota supporting measures to legalize the plant for adult use.
2 Money where their mouth is Supporters of marijuana legalization in Arizona outraised and outspent opponents 10 to one leading up to Election Day. In New Jersey, that number was 99 to one.
3 The Court of Public Opinion According to a new Gallup Poll released in November, 68 percent of Americans support cannabis legalization. That’s 5.5 times more support than five decades ago in 1969. If you’re a young adult American male with a college degree earning more than $100k, there’s at least a 74 percent chance you support legalization, according to the poll. If you’re Republican or attend religious services weekly, there’s a 52 percent chance you don’t.
4 Magic Money David Bronner of Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps wrote checks totaling more than $6.4 million toward drug-war reform campaigns this year, thanks in part to COVID-19, which has the soap business booming.
5 Tripping over nothing Psychedelic mushrooms send the fewest people to the emergency room of any drug on the market, according to a massive report by the Global Drug Survey. Related: there are more than 100 varieties of psilocybin-producing mushrooms, aka “magic mushrooms,” aka the kind Oregon voters legalized in November’s election.
Pack it in
A one-time citrus packing warehouse transforms into a vibrant market hall.
The Anaheim Packing District was established in 2014, encompassing four historic landmarks (Anaheim Packing House, the MAKE Building, Farmers Park, Packard Building), as well as the beautiful two-acre grassy area inside Farmers Park. The District has become the city center. Officially recognized as a historic landmark in 2015, the Packing District is a great American market hall housed in one of Orange County’s last remaining citrus packing warehouses. The Packing House is described on the website as “a food hall reminiscent of the great public markets of South America and Europe. These markets serve as a resource for the neighborhood (daily food production) and a community gathering space (restaurants and entertainment). The two-level Packing House features a large central atrium with communal dining surrounded by cafes and kiosks of varying sizes as well as outdoor picnic gardens and a building-length dining porch looking out to the outdoor marketplace, Farmers Park.” Visiting this historic space happens to be one of the more fascinating things to do in the county (sorry, Disneyland). It’s become a draw for locals and tourists alike, and while you do some holiday shopping, stop in to feed your need with dozens of outdoor eateries, an impressive lineup of bars, and culturally expansive cuisine. The Packing House is the place to go.
440 S. Anaheim Blvd. / anaheimpackingdistrict.com