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A 'Bizarro' sequel preview

August 30, 2007|Tony Lovett and Matt Maranian

The revised, expanded and updated edition of "L.A. Bizarro" will give us the opportunity to -- like pigs rooting for truffles -- push deeper into the dark, moist cracks and crevices of Southern California. Sure, we'll drag out and dust off more of the extreme, little-known and outré, but a lot has changed since "L.A. Bizarro" first hit bookstores. Hollywood Boulevard was sleazy then and Hustler hadn't become the Mrs. Fields Cookies of adult retail. Part 2 will offer home-grown alternatives to the prefab corporatization of the last decade. Take Mexican food. Why gorge at a lousy chain like On the Border (a brisket taco with barbecue sauce capped with a chocolate turtle empanada? Did someone's abuela just puke?), when L.A. contains places like Tony's Mexican Grill, a gem squeezed into a muy poquito strip mall in Sherman Oaks (12910 Magnolia Blvd., at Coldwater Canyon, [818] 769-8785)? Tony's scores with weather-dependent dishes, so if you want albondigas soup, check the forecast for rain. A mural of Chichen Itza and a doting staff are as close as you'll get to atmosphere, but then we've been know to dine at places for the murals alone.



Dinner, movie is passé

Anthony Lovett and Matt Maranian offer some typically unpredictable alternatives for those looking to impress that special someone on a first date.

Farmer John Slaughterhouse

You can't get inside this 10-acre abattoir, centrally located in the industrial blight of Vernon, but no worries: The view from outside is to die for. Bucolic murals on the Cinerama-sized walls depict the salad days of prancing porkers still blissfully unaware they'll soon be luncheon meat. And isn't love like that too? (3049 E. Vernon Ave., Vernon)

Circus Liquor

Astride the parking lot like a candy-colored colossus, the gargantuan neon-and-steel clown will thaw even the most frigid heart. Imposing by day, breathtaking by night, our favorite argon-fired Pierrot is a beacon of hope for all in search of social lubricant. And since Alicia Silverstone's character gets dumped here in "Clueless," it's also the perfect place to end a less-than-perfect relationship. Now that's convenient. (5600 Vineland Ave., North Hollywood)

Skeletons in the Closet

Flowers and chocolates? So predictable. Increase the odds of a successful hookup by making a lasting impression. Hop by this shop at the L.A. County coroner's office on the way to dinner and bribe Ms. Right with a whimsical gift -- a custom toe tag or black beach towel emblazoned with the chalk outline of a dead body. This being the coroner's office, risk of running into weeping citizens retrieving dead relatives is high. Try not to let them rain on your love parade. (1104 N. Mission Road, Los Angeles)

Camera Obscura

We like to think of Camera Obscura as visual entertainment for Luddites, but it's also perfect for lovers! The dark, stuffy room at the top of a flight of stairs in this senior recreational facility doesn't instantly scream amore. But sit yourselves down in front of a periscope-type contraption, turn a small wheel, and it will project a faint 360-degree view of the surrounding area on a large white disc in the center of the room. A view and the dark -- killing two romantic icons with one stone. (1450 Ocean Ave., Santa Monica)

Clifton's Cafeteria

Pretty much any restaurant with a waterfall and no windows is a sure thing in the passion department, and Clifton's is the Cadillac of surrealist dining. When was the last time you stole a kiss alongside an AstroTurf-covered grotto? Wow your date in the low-rent version of Country Bear Jamboree on the main floor, or digest your meatloaf while listening to a prerecorded sermon in the tiny chapel on the second floor. (648 S. Broadway, Los Angeles)

Bahooka Ribs and Grog

If you think a carrot-eating fish and the pseudo-Polynesian wonderland of illuminated parrots and sundry marine themes will score points with your date, just wait till the cocktails and ribs arrive at your table. Bahooka is proof positive that reality is indeed stranger than fiction, and that love can blossom just about anywhere -- especially when small, colorful cocktail umbrellas are involved. (4501 N. Rosemead Blvd., Rosemead)

Old Town Music Hall

So what if they rarely run a film that postdates the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and talkies are overrated anyway. Here you can catch a movie, sing along to a psychedelic pipe organ and cop a feel to the tunes of Janet Klein and Her Parlor Boys. Plus, it's in El Segundo, and you can't get much sexier than that. (140 Richmond St., El Segundo)


This steadfast giant in the world of old school Tiki bars is a 45-year-old institution that knows how to mix a drink -- 85 of them to be exact. We recommend not trying them all on your first date, unless your paramour is a big Bukowski fan with a high tolerance for regurgitation. Tiki-Ti might be small in scale, but it's big on impact. (4427 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles)

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