I have a crazy travel schedule from now until December and it all started this week when a webcast scheduled to shoot in New York City was relocated to Santa Monica. I was delighted, because I realized I needed one more good trip this year to get the miles I needed to keep my flying status for next year, even though I was traveling home (I was writing this from 30,000 ft) for my 19th year wedding anniversary.
My trip was an honor to be part of, as I was hosting the Goldwell Salon Alliance Networking Experience Webcast. I interviewed two amazing salon owners from Aura Salon and Spa in Scottsdale, Arizona, Christy and Sarah, and Stacey Soble, the Editor-in-Chief of Salon Today, about the Salon Today 200. As I said before, it was an honor to spend some time with these ladies,because it is no accident that their salon Aura is an 8 time recipient on the 200 list.
Where We Stayed
I rarely get excited about hotels, because when you are using them for their intended purpose (for me that’s sleeping), as long as they are safe and clean, once you close your eyes they all look the same. But, when I’m going to Santa Monica I am always happy when I find out I’m staying at the Huntley Hotel. Even though I’m not getting the points I usually get at major hotel chains, in this part of California, it’s the boutique hotels that rule the landscape, and The Huntley gets it just right for me. Only one block from the beach and just a few blocks from there to the famous Santa Monica pier, The Huntley is just far enough away from the chaos and steps from all the action. From the 3rd Street Promenade and its world class shopping and dining, it’s just a short walk to Venice Beach. Then at night there are dozens of high-end eateries to dazzle your taste buds, and just as many low cost options that will make you wonder why they didn’t charge more. But that’s not all The Huntley offers, because it’s Penthouse Bar is not only popular with the hotel guests, with its sweeping views and tempting food and cocktails, it’s also a magnet for young ladies in little black dresses and hipster guys with designer white or black tee-shirts and hats. Good news as a guest, the hotel has a separate cue for those visiting the Penthouse for the night and guests get priority going up to their rooms or the Penthouse Bar.
Great Food, Lots of Different $$$
I flew out early Saturday morning from the east coast, and even after a connection, I landed in LAX before 10:30am, which meant I was up for 9.5 hours and everyone around me was still thinking breakfast. With assistance from LA traffic on the way to the hotel, what was an 18-minute ride without traffic was now closer to 1 hour. So, I went for a walk to see what I could find that would appeal to my hungry stomach.
Low Cost, Great Taste
As I walked through the 3rd Street Promenade, it was alive with street performers and some main streets were closed off for farmers markets. There were even some tempting food trucks, but then out of the corner of my eye I saw ShopHouse. Once before I had eaten here, trying it almost by accident because I saw a line of people and figured if they were waiting it must be good, and it was! So, I pivoted from the food truck line and dashed into ShopHouse. The dozens of bottles of sriracha that wait patiently lining the wall make you realize this is not your average cafeteria line and the simple menu masks the complexity of the tastes your mouth is about to experience. I ordered the bowl with jasmine rice, pork and chicken meatballs with Asian pickled vegetables, and after my meal was assembled, I added a healthy shot of sriracha. This, for me, is one of the meals that you wish you could make at home, because it’s that good and so simple too; bite after bite the mix of favors are just magic.
Dinner With The Team
I travel with a great team, and this time again that included my road wife, Mary, and because she is such a foodie, I always know the food is going to be good when she picks the restaurant. Reservations that night were booked at Del Friscos and everyone was happy! From steaks to sushi, the menu had it all. This night, I went with the sushi roll that included crushed wasabi peas and the Ahi tuna taco that were served slider size in what would be best described as a crispy taco shell made out of what you traditionally get a taco salad in. This combo paired perfectly; the shell held the sashimi red tuna while the light taste from the shell did not interfere or overwhelm the delicate taste it held.
I love visiting Santa Monica, because for me it seems like the one place I can go to in LA that a cab can drop me off and pick me up 3-5 days later and I didn’t need to get in another car in between. I love that in Santa Monica I can walk to almost anything I want; shopping to dining, visiting the Santa Monica pier with all it has to offer, long strolls on the beach that offer everything from spectacles to stunning sunsets that take your breath away.
Although this visit was quick, I made some new friends, and after dinner with my wife for our anniversary, it was off again for more adventure as a very lucky traveling hairdresser.