Yours truly's very first date in life was at a zoo. But had it included rock 'n' roll cover bands by the monkey cages ... well, perhaps we wouldn't still be dating. Lucky for Angeleno lovers, the LA Zoo will be providing such entertainment come next week. Party like an animal -- with the animals. Then, go get dinner and a free canele.
Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens: The zoo, just a mere chunk of the expansive Griffith Park, features your mammals, birds and invertebrates, but on certain summer nights -- like this upcoming Thursday, July 28 - the zoo will feature rock 'n' roll cover bands throughout the animal kingdom. These tribute bands will cover songs of The Beatles, U2 and The Doors -- all at a sing-song decibel that will be comfortable for giraffes, monkeys and humans. You're invited to bring along your own picnic basket ... but that might result in un-caged birds snagging the unoffered contents of your Susan Feniger Bento Box.
Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens, 5333 Zoo Drive, at Riverside Drive (323-644-4200 or lazoo.org)
Canele: Exit the zoo via Crystal Springs Drive, and a left turn onto Glendale Boulevard will take you to Canele, easily the beating gastro-heart of Atwater Village. You're well-versed on chef Corina Weibel's brunch menu (oh, the eggs in cocette! The fried chicken sandwich!), but come dinnertime, the intimate bistro and its open-kitchen bar take on transportive powers, a la France. Its boeuf bourguignon is served with buttered noodles and the duck confit with roasted apples and sweet potato ribbons. But if eating meat post-zoo gives you any bit of pause, the chickpea pancake with cavolo nero is vegetarian divinity. And, oh, you get a free little canele on your way out.
Canele, 3219 Glendale Boulevard, at Brunswick Avenue (323-666-7133 or canele-la.com)
The Big Foot Lodge: LA's original Big Foot is the non-dive "dive" bar to still beat. Drinks are cheap, stiff and slid across the bar with a comforting splash of surly. It's just not as polished as Big Foot West on Venice Boulevard (in Los Feliz, you just wouldn't order that vodka martini thing with the toasted marshmallow) or in-the-family Thirsty Crow in Silver Lake (again, no pining for a Pimm's Cup at the O.G. Big Foot). It's the underachieving outcast of the family, the sasquatch if you will, but damn, it's the only dirty log cabin we want to end our night in.
The Big Foot Lodge, 3172 Los Feliz Boulevard, at Glenfeliz Boulevard (323-662-9227 or bigfootlodge.com)