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MY FAVORITE WEEKEND

Eleni Mandell, Singer and Musician

June 20, 2002|Adam Bregman

* The cabaret-style singer, guitarist and violinist has a new record called "Snakebite."

Best Spots on Tour: I guess the Fold is my favorite club to play, which is either at the Derby or the Silverlake Lounge. There are a lot of problems with playing at the Silverlake Lounge--the stage is very low, and the sound isn't that great--but the energy is always really good and so that makes it fun. Sadly, I don't think there are really great clubs to play in L.A. But in Chicago, there's the Hideout Inn. It sort of has a cabin feel with wood-paneled walls, and they have a great sound system and are very friendly. The husband of the owner introduces each band and the audience is very receptive. I also love the True Love Cafe in Sacramento, which is owned by Kevin Seconds, of the punk band 7 Seconds. It's also very cozy and unpretentious. My other favorite would be the El Matador in New Orleans, which is like a bizarre, creepy, wonderful New Orleans bar. It's on the edge of the quarter, so it's not touristy, and it's very old. It just feels really spooky.

The James Dean of Chinatown: I like Quon Bros. Grand Star Restaurant in Chinatown. They have live jazz karaoke on Fridays and Saturdays, and I consider Mr. Quon to be the James Dean of Chinatown. He's a very suave, handsome man, and he will often perform himself. They have a really good jazz trio with a woman pianist, upright bassist and drums, and you can get up and sing with them. I either sing "Pennies From Heaven" or "All of Me." Some of the waitresses will get up and sing too. And tropical drinks are always fun. The crowd is varied from the local Chinese people in Chinatown and a lot of the Art Center kids, though I prefer it when it's a little emptier.

A Regular: I was a waitress, so I always feel it's really embarrassing to be a regular. When I was a waitress, I always hated them. But I am a regular at the Mustard Seed Cafe in Los Feliz. It's very homey and neigborhoody, not hip, and they have really good coffee. I like to eat an English muffin there, and sometimes I will splurge and get myself an omelet with mushrooms and cheese, but all of their food is really good.

Salsa and Chips: La Fe is a great Mexican place in Echo Park on Sunset. It's a good place to practice my Spanish and eat really good, authentic, very cheap Mexican food. There's basically no decor; it's just the real deal. One thing about living on the Eastside of town is that a lot of the communities don't mix. There's the Armenian hangouts and the artsy places and the Latin places, but this restaurant gets a really good mix.

Nobody Walks in L.A.: I love my neighborhood, Los Feliz. It's an old neighborhood with a lot of buildings from the '20s and '30s. I can walk to the movies and to restaurants and up to Griffith Park. I walk everywhere. I think it's one of the few places in L.A. where you can really walk to everything you need. Though it's kind of disturbing how it has become so gentrified. It's getting really expensive because of that. But I'm hoping I can hold on and stay in my neighborhood, because I love it.

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