Ellen in Lalaland: Thai Town

It sprawls further, but I want to take you through a few clutch blocks of Hollywood Boulevard. East of Western. West of Normandie. Some of your best nights begin or end-ish there—possibly with Thai food as a buffer or a sponge for your liquid dalliances. And, the night may ultimately culminate in making out with someone in a strip mall parking lot as your Uber arrives to take you away from making more regrettable (or not) decisions. Just me? Probably not. Time contracts over these nights. If you are budgeting your rideshares or environmentally minded, you can take the Metro to the Hollywood and Western stop, at least to start the evening. Or take rideshares both ways—who am I, the boss of your carbon footprint? Basically, East Hollywood is Thai Town. And all the places will make you feel cooler than you are. Let’s paint an ideal night: before the drinkity drinks, you will either visit a Thai restaurant to build a pre-drinks base or start at Tabula Rasa, where the food and wine are excellent. In whichever order, Thai food is a helpful element in a Thai Town night. Duh. My most recent visit was to Thai Patio. I split some chunks of warm and comforting tofu and opted for the plain ol’ mixed vegetables, which were delightfully spiced. And I had a sake . I know, I know, that’s Japanese, but it is what I wanted. So either you’ve filled your tummy with Thai food and are headed to Tabula Rasa, OR maybe you skipped Thai and are going to have wine and food at Tabula Rasa. Because, let’s be real, starting at the two establishments I’m going to get to would be going too hard, too early. So, let’s explore Tabula Rasa. I have celebrated two New Year's Eve and one birthday there. I have been on at least one first, at least one second, and at least one fourth date there, at least two being with the same person. It’s a GREAT date spot. My writer group used to meet there, too. It is maybe not a place to study, have therapy, or, I dunno, meditate? But it is suitable for most occasions. The crowd is definitely hip but not intimidatingly so. To me, anyway. The wine list skews natty, with high quality. There are plenty of wines that don’t necessarily taste natty. And some that do taste natty but not flawed. Something for everyone. Tabula eats? Omg, the pretzels—the soft pretzels with salt and two mustards, one spicy, one VERY spicy. Omg the bread. Omg the pickles. The BURRATA. Come on now. There isn’t a single thing on the menu here that is not craveable. The cheese is ripe, the bread hearty, the mustard spicy, and the vibe? Also ripe. Take that to mean whatever you want. So you and whoever you are with (first date/best friends/somm party) decide that the adult portion of the evening is over. Your obvious next step is cocktails at Harvard and Stone. Harvard and Stone—I’ve always been hot or cold on the crowd (if Tabula is hipsters and beyond, H&S is beyond beyond and somehow shadier and yet I’m found there for it). I DON’T like that sometimes you have to wait in line to get in, and I also haven’t figured out how I feel about the burlesque that happens there from time to time, but in theory, I love it. But I’ll wait in line if a friend is having a birthday there, and there's no wait at the right time on a weeknight. So why go here? Seriously? This is a solid cocktail place. I’ve never had a bad drink here, and in fact, have had many a great drink there, although I have had mishaps like the odd sparkling cocktail knocked out of my hand on the dance floor by a drunk girl serving attitude as though I had plowed into her (as I said, I’m hit or miss on the crowd). But honestly, the R&D back bar is my favorite place to be—out of the (really) loud, into the (slightly) more intimate, into the playful, close to being able to go out back if someone desires to smoke (I am known to bum a cigarette, smoke a third of it, and put it out, remembering why I quit smoking). On one of my first visits, I had a short conversation with the bartender, who made me a transcendent absinthe cocktail that was frothy and amazing. I suppose it never made the menu, but I still dream of this experimental absinthe magic. I literally can’t believe I didn’t ask for the specs. On another note, once I was there, the power went out, and eventually, they just shouted at us to… “go, just go,” and so we did. We went. We went to Jumbo’s Clown Room. It was my first (but never last) time there. At Jumbo’s, there is dancing—it is more than burlesque and less than straight-up stripping (no nudity). It IS excellent artistry, often quite gymnastic and contortion-y, and the playlist is fun. It’s a f#@ng fun time. These days, I have a friend who dances there, and I love it because she comes out and does the least but serves all the attitude, and the dollar bills fly at her like a blizzard. All I have ever drunk at Jumbo’s is whiskey , and I’ll likely keep it that way. I’m a Whistlepig girl, and I believe the last time I went there, I got the Piggyback. But there is a full bar, and I’ve heard the cocktails are tasty. At this point, you are done—or are you? You may choose to get Thai food if you did not before. It’s there for you. After all, this is Thai Town. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Want to read more from Ellen? Check out her recent articles: What to Drink When You’re Not Drinking for Dewy or Dry January: 2024 Edition Mad, Mad, Madeira World Crémant On Unexpected Reds Finding Pleasure in Puglia You can also listen to Ellen's podcast , The Wine Situation here . Check out her recent transcripts of the Final Five questions: Wine Situation Final Five! Elle Rodriguez Wine Situation Final Five! Marilee Bramhall