DTLA: Going Into The Grid


It’s been a long time since we have done a Bizcation, our term for turning work into pleasure.

Since long before Shutdown, Andy has been working from a home studio for Spotify. But every now and then, it’s good to go into the office to connect with co workers and put in a little face time other than the Brady Bunch Zoom Meeting grid. Now that Spotify’s swanky new LA office is open, it is time to do just that.

biz·ca·tion \ biz-ˈkā-shən
intransitive verb
to turn work into pleasure

I have been secretly planning for this event for quite a while. My scheme: Andy goes to the office, we book a few nights at nice nearby hotel and avail myself of the amenities, then report back my findings to you.

The news from LA makes the city seem a bit sketchy these days, so you might think this is a scary plan. But now that the world is opening up, we are all required to step out of our Comfort Zones. So whether it’s for business or just to satisfy our curiosity, this is our account of our three days in the Concrete Jungle.

Do Your Homework

We researched several hotels within a two mile radius of the office. Price, rooms, and amenities such as restaurants, pool, and spa were a factor. Another big consideration was access to attractions in safe walking distance.

The four-star Omni Hotel at California Plaza in the Bunker Hill area checked all the boxes. Another tip is to check the latest updates on sights you want to visit. Popular attractions could still be closed, and museums typically require advanced reservations.

And don’t forget to ask about discounts. The Omni offers both AAA and senior discounts (yes, we are that old), but we saved the most with AAA. Depending on how long you are staying and the things you want to see, remember to check out their package deals.


The Omni Hotel is on Olive Street in downtown Los Angeles, right among some of the tallest buildings that define the skyline. We are quickly welcomed and a valet whisks our car away to their protected underground garage while a porter loads our bags onto a rolling cart and brings them inside for us.

The lobby of the Omni Hotel is posh but not ostentatious, with lovely flower arrangements and fruited water available to refresh you. The desk staff is friendly and very efficient. Even though there are two others checking in ahead of us, our wait is minimal.

So Much Wow!

An attendant brings our bags and escorts us to our spacious corner room on the 9th floor with an amazing view of the city. There is so little smog today that we can see the mountains to the north through the canyons of tall buildings.

Pro tip: ask for a room ending in “35.” They’re on the NW corner with this view!

We pull back the curtains on one side, and what a view! We’re overlooking a courtyard with the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in the foreground. Just over that, the honeycomb of The Broad and the whimsical swirls of The Disney Concert Hall.

We pull back the curtains on the other side, and we’re looking west through more buildings into the setting sun. Below us, a semicircular plaza filled with tables and chairs for the below-ground Cal Marketplace. They have several food choices, mostly open just for lunch.

After a long drive, we need to chill. Let’s crack open a bottle of DAOU 2020 Sauvignon Blanc and do a toast before we head out on foot to explore!

Getting the Lay of DTLA

The Omni Hotel is atop Bunker Hill in an area known as Museum Row. This part of downtown is very “scrubbed.” It’s super-clean and at least feels safe, a stark contrast to the tent cities lining the sidewalks of Skid Row just blocks away.

We see a few people, but everyone seems to be in their own chill bubble. Even the obvious occasional lunatic, which plague many cities. There are just enough people to enjoy people-watching without feeling like we’re gawking!

Besides The Broad, MOCA, and Disney Concert Hall, we pass more landmarks. There’s Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Grand Park with its fabulous fountains silent today, with City Hall looming at the end of the park just like the badge on Dragnet… all just steps away from (and much in view of) our room. We pass plenty of restaurants, but many are only open for lunch when the skyscrapers looming over us are filled with workers.

Bring on Evening

After a long walk, we freshen up for dinner and check out the hotel restaurant and bar, Noé. There is a special event on the patio, so we are seated by a window inside. The giant buildings of downtown make a dramatic backdrop for our meal!

We start with cocktails. Andy orders his classic Old Fashioned and a Chipotle Paloma for me. It’s very good. Our appetizer is a sashimi platter. Colorful pickled ginger, cucumber, radish, and wasabi decorate the plate. We have fun turning our tender slices of sashimi into tasty little works of art on our plates!

My entré is fettuccini with shrimp and basil. This dish also includes Kalamata olives and tomatoes. Very tasty! Pasta is al dente, and the shrimp is cooked just right.

Andy gets the steak, served on a bed of roasted veggies with mashed potatoes. He let me have a bite. As we know, he likes his steak cooked a bit more than I do [Andy’s note: which is to say, I like it cooked!], but it was still very tasty and tender.

Look at that sashimi! All our food was very good at Noé.

As we dine, the building lights of Los Angeles and their glass reflections fill the night sky. As beautiful as this is, the restaurant is on the 3rd floor. We wonder how amazing our corner view over Museum Row from the 9th floor will be after dark! We finish dinner slowly, savoring the atmosphere and every bite!

We head back up to the room, pour some wine, and enjoy the nighttime city lights!

Breakfast: The Most Important Meal

The Omni has a small café where you can get a fast coffee and light morning snacks, but we head back to Noé for a real breakfast. WOW!!! Good move!

We order cappuccinos, and they are the size of a hot tub. I always feel special when I sit and sip a cappuccino. I also get a tropical smoothie and avocado toast. The toast is a work of art!!! It includes crunchy sprouted quinoa. Fun and yummy!

The Tropical smoothie is so good, you have to try my version of it at home. Check out my recipe below.

Andy has Huevos Rancheros, and makes a point of telling the server that this is the best he’s ever had! It’s made with tender short ribs, and I watch Andy’s eyes practically roll back in his head as he eats it. I will be working on my own version of these short ribs at home! Our breakfast keeps us going all day.

Play Before Work

Before he heads off to the office, we walk several blocks, enjoying the city. He wants to take me to the Lookout Deck at the US Bank Tower and then slide down the glass side outside the building, 1,000 feet above the LA street. Oh yay (I mean, “Darn!”), it’s closed… maybe forever!

LA isn’t just glass buildings.

Likewise, the iconic Bradbury Building is locked up. Still, even the outside architecture is great! And Andy loves city architecture, so he’s on Cloud 9.

As a foodie, I’m excited to find that we are close to Grand Central Market. I love food halls! We decide to go on a recon mission to the market, then return the next day for some serious shopping and in-depth investigation.

Our first glimpse of Grand Central Market! We’ll be back… later in this post.

But Andy has to go do business now.

A Little “Me Time”

I am heading to the spa and pool for a little Darcy Time! The spa is by the pool and gym on the 4th floor. Being more familiar with the spa at Omni La Costa (just a few blocks from my house, where my mom and I have spent many enjoyable hours), I find the LA location with just two treatment rooms smallish. But my massage is wonderful.

My LMT Rhonda knows her stuff and quickly assesses my arm and shoulder pain. Seems I have been typing too much! Yup. She strongly recommends I follow up with a glass of red wine. Will do!

Bonus beauty tip for those still having wear a mask and experiencing acne: mix a little vitamin C serum with hyaluronic acid and apply to the effected area.

After my massage, I float to the pool and relax on a shady chaise until Andy joins me.

Imbibing Culture

We start our evening with a little of that red wine my LMT prescribed. We brought a bottle of Ofila Benign Neglect with us. We’ll sip while we freshen up. We were hoping to order up a snack, but room service was not available until 5pm. Doh! We are off to The Broad at 5:30! Bummer.

The Broad is a museum of contemporary art just steps from our hotel. Admission is free, but you need to book your tickets in advance.

Okay, I’m more of an Old-World-antiquities-type girl when it comes to museums. Andy is more the modern art guy.

But here we are, in the presence of Jeff Koons’ Balloon Dog!!!

We also get a chance to experience The Infinity Mirror Room by artist Yayoi Kusama, a one-minute visit to a dark room filled with mirrors and lights. It’s very enchanting!

Sup With That

We’re famished after art, so we stroll a half-block and drop into Vespaio, within view of our hotel room. I really don’t know how we do this, but once again we walk into a trendy restaurant at dinner time while there are several events going on, with no reservations… and get quickly shown to a great window seat!

Vespaio serves their Italian and Mediterranean cuisine just across a lovely grass promenade by The Broad. We are set up for some awesome people-watching, as Angelinos in their finest stroll by… some to the Mark Taper Forum for a play about Lebron called “King James,” and others to the Disney for the LA Philharmonic. But we need to talk about the food!

We order a cheese plate with crostini and brie, gorgonzola, Manchego, and a house-made jam with a light orange flavor. Our Baby Kale Ricotta Salata is wonderful, with cherry tomatoes, avocado, fresh ricotta and parmesan cheese.

Andy’s Porcini mushroom risotto is creamy, but still al dente. My Paccheri Bolognese is amazing, tender, fresh pasta with a perfect meat sauce! I am definitely going to try to copy this at home! My Marchesi Sangiovese Cabernet blend was the perfect complement.

Andy lost his mind and ordered a Nutella cookie to go.

Back at the room, we chill back with our Nutella cookie and Orfila wine and once again take in the lights of the city.

DTLA Midweek Morning

After checkout, we head back to Grand Central Market with an empty cooler backpack ready to fill with goodies. We are going to skip dried shrimp and fish in favor of dried chilies and molé sauce at Valeria’s. They have 18 varieties of dried chilies in open air bins. Be prepared for your eyes to water as you get near!

At DTLA Cheese, we grab a big block of Bay Blue California blue cheese and a couple of petit Buure Weichkasli discs, a Swiss triple-cream cheese.

Clark Street Bakery surprises us with Swedish cardamom buns for Fika.

Our loot from Grand Central market: cheese, cardamom rolls, three different bags of peppers, and mole!

This is just a small fraction of what is available: street tacos, Asian food, doughnuts, candy, oysters… the list goes on in this noisy, bustling food hall!

Brakes, Then Gas

We are controlling ourselves because our next stop is Olvera Street, a historic section of town with buildings like Avila Adobe, dating back to when California was still part of Mexico, and the oldest brick building in Los Angeles.

We have a fun time shopping through the colorful stalls, consider picking up a pretty dress, some decorative tile, or maybe a stuffed Llama. We wander through the Avila Adobe house and see courtyards, kitchens and rooms displaying what life was like in 1818. Admission is free, though they appreciate donations.

We are hungry, and decide on El Paseo Inn for some tasty Mexican food and a margarita. We are not disappointed! This restaurant has been on Olvera Street since 1930. Their friendly staff will seat you indoor or outdoor, and bring their yummy chips and salsa to get you started.

We opt to sit outside for the best people-watching, and are rewarded for it! It’s election season, and various candidates and politicos are working the crowds, literally shaking hands and kissing babies as Mariachis follow!

And the food… El Paseo Inn’s enchiladas are very good, especially Andy’s mole enchiladas. Also try the pomegranate Margarita.

A little more shopping, then it is time to fight LA traffic back to San Diego.

LA Tropical Smoothie

My version of a fabulous morning smoothie I had on a trip to LA.
No ratings yet
Prep Time 5 minutes
Course Breakfast, Drinks
Servings 4
Calories 456 kcal



  • 10 oz cubed pineapple
  • ½ cup matcha powder
  • 13.5 oz can coconut milk
  • 1 mango chopped
  • 1 carrot chopped
  • 2 tbsp almond butter
  • 1 tbsp ground flax seed
  • 1 tbsp agave nectar


  • Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
    There will still be some texture to this smoothie.
  • Serve in chilled glasses and garnish with edible flowers (Optional)


This smoothie makes about 40 ounces.


Calories: 456kcalCarbohydrates: 30gProtein: 20gFat: 28gSaturated Fat: 21gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 4gSodium: 27mgPotassium: 539mgFiber: 6gSugar: 22gVitamin A: 4627IUVitamin C: 57mgCalcium: 68mgIron: 8mg
Keyword coconut milk, matcha, pineapple
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

LA Short Rib Taco Meat

Inspired by our recent trip to LA, I created this amazing bowl of tender short rib meat. Substitute any other meat you like.
No ratings yet
Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine Mexican
Servings 4
Calories 333 kcal



  • 2 ancho chilies
  • lbs beef short ribs
  • tsp sea salt
  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 cup onion chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves whole
  • 1 tbsp mole pre paired
  • 1 tsp cumin ground
  • 32 oz beef stock


  • Soak ancho chilies in boiling water for 10 minutes until soft
  • Remove the stem and seeds, set aside along with one cup of the soaking water, strained,
  • Rub short ribs with 1 tsp of the salt
  • Heat the canola oil in a Dutch oven and brown the meat about 3 minutes on each side
  • Remove meat and pour off all but 2 tbsp of the pan grease
  • Add the chopped onion and garlic cloves, and sauté 5 minutes
  • Add ancho chili and the mole and cook 1 minute, stirring
  • Add cumin and ¼ tsp salt and stir
  • Add the reserved cup of ancho liquid and the beef stock and bring to a boil
  • Return the meat to the Dutch oven and place in a 325° oven for 2 hours
  • Remove the meat and let rest for 10 minutes
  • Shred the meat and place in a bowl
  • When the pan sauce has cooled, place in a blender or food processer and blend
  • Serve with your favorite taco toppings, and drizzle on some of the pan sauce.


Safety Tip: I always place and hold a kitchen towel over the lid of my blender when pureeing warm or hot liquids. This provides an extra layer of protection against hot liquids blowing the top off the blender.
Bonus:  This recipe makes a lot of pan sauce you can cook way more meat than I did or save the sauce to make a tortilla soup. It freezes well.


Calories: 333kcalCarbohydrates: 8gProtein: 29gFat: 21gSaturated Fat: 6gPolyunsaturated Fat: 3gMonounsaturated Fat: 10gTrans Fat: 0.03gCholesterol: 73mgSodium: 1260mgPotassium: 960mgFiber: 1gSugar: 3gVitamin A: 79IUVitamin C: 4mgCalcium: 46mgIron: 4mg
Keyword Ancho Chilies, Mole, short ribs
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!