THE MICHELADA: AN ODE

The Sierra Madre Oriental is remote and inaccessible, a Central American mountain range shrouded in myth. Probably best known for the 1948 film starring Humphrey Bogart, it runs through an area that at one point contained both Mesoamerican and Aridoamérican cultures. On a lone stretch of the Sierra Madre Oriental lays the mining state of San Luis Potosi. It is a windswept and a plain land, scoured for centuries for its gold and silver deposits. Within its capital city of the same name, on a far end of town sits the oldest sports club in the city. Built in 1940, Club Deportivo Potosino is nationally renowned for swimming and tennis. It was here after a hot day on the courts, at some unknown date in the last century, that a club member by the name of Michael Esper gave birth to what has arguably become one of L.A.’s hometown drinks: The Michelada. It is rumored that Esper would drink his beer with lime, salt, ice, and a straw. A tasty adult beverage akin to a beer lemonade.  As with all refreshingly cold drinks, consumed after much physical exhaustion, the drink was a welcomed hit and the community at Club Deportivo Potosino began ordering “Michael’s Lemonade.”

Time often justifies its passing with our interpretations on tradition, and the Michelada is no different than any of our others. Today, you’ll find it served with more than just lime and salt. Variations include the use of tomato or clam juice and Worcestershire sauce. More often than not, the lip of the glass will be rimmed with thick salt and chili powder. Popping up on menus at the innumerable Mexican and Lagtin restaurants around LA, it has also found its way into our bar scene.  It’s typically inexpensive to make, which might make it more appealing and affordable than other crafted drinks. It has less of an alcohol content than either liquor or wine. And, with its borderline “reviving” qualities similar to that of a Bloody Mary (or Bloody Maria) it is understandable why the Michelada has become the approachable “it drink” of the moment in L.A. What’s not clear, however, is who makes it the best yet after a summer tasting them, we think we know who comes close: El Rio Bravo.

Just a little past the renovation of Culver City, on an almost shockingly clean strip of Washington Boulevard, mashed in between old bungalows and auto shops sits this family-run Mexican restaurant. Tidy, its decor is straightforward with orchids brightening up its many windows. On any given night there’s a charming and outgoing gentlemen who plays on a keyboard and sings from a small, self-fashioned platform in the front. Within mere seconds of sitting, hand-cut tortilla chips are delivered to your table and the salsa made fresh throughout the day and is well worth any wait. There’s an endearing mix of patrons: multi-generational families and young kids spending their allowance whether it’s plates of chips or larger portions, everyone gets their monies worth. It is because of El Rio Bravo we understand the enduring simplicity of the Michelada; specifically their Michelada.

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Here’s what to expect as you get ready to indulge:

Ponder choices of Mexican beer, then place your order. The woman behind the small but orderly bar at the front makes each one by hand, one ingredient at a time. She briefly disappears, reappearing with a cup that’s practically the size of her. Like a glassblower over a flame, she delicately turns it around and around as the lip of the cup kisses the salt, pepper, and chili mixture. She pours a small portion of beer into the glass before disappearing into the back (behind closed doors that we surely don’t ever want to see, for it would rob us of romantic visions of how clam juice and other ingredients come together). The Michelada, siena in hue — mixing in the rest of the beer — she brings it to you.

It is the type of flavor and texture that wills you to believe that even if you haven’t been to San Luis Potosi, you somehow understand the drinks’ origin story. Indubitably, your lips burn. Your ears might temporarily plug. The salt and golden tonic mix with the heat of the pepper as they trace a scalding path down your esophagus. Your cheeks flush. Trepidatious and excited at the same time, you lose your head a little. It’s a lustful feeling. It’s as if you’ve traveled across the arid and dusty range of the Sierra Madre Oriental, came down off the mountains, and witnessed the old cathedrals of San Luis Potosi.

Maybe it’s in this familiar, visceral feeling that’s what food, drink and community are for; a community of our ancestral timelines, a combination and as much of a whisper of a memory as they are an inherent understanding of ancient value. Or maybe it’s simply El Rio Bravo’s Michelada is just that transporting.

NOTE: Make sure you ask or specify how you want your Michelada served. Not everyone has clam juice or even Clamato. Some places opt for the Bloody Mary mix. Others even incorporate fruit. In any event,  El Rio Bravo is located at 5853 W Washington Blvd, Culver City, CA 90232. It’s family and budget friendly: $2 beer + taco nights on Tuesdays and kid-friendly menu options.

And because L.A. is definitely not lacking in this delightful drink and because we partook in gulping this tasty adult beverage over the last couple months, here are a couple of Micheladas worth having in this delightful city of ours:

Diablo: 3129 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90026; Guelaguetza: 3014 W Olympic Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90006; The Hungry Cat: 1535 Vine St, Los Angeles, CA 90028; Lares Restaurant: 2909 Pico Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90405; La Cita: 336 S Hill St, Los Angeles, CA 90013

A WARM WELCOME: THE ITALIANS ARE COMING

Welcome.  Right this way.  Please silence your smart phone.  (And forget everything you thought you knew about focaccia.)

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Bucato translates directly to “laundry”: a reference to the customary way handcrafted pasta dries on the line. Nodding to the time spent under Alessandra Spisni at La Vecchia Scuola Bolognese in Italy, studying the traditional ways to properly handle pasta fatto a mano (by hand), Chef Evan Funke has thought of everything, and it is immediately apparent even before the first appetizer has had a moment to cool.

Having recently opened their doors this past summer, Bucato is fetching new buzz to the already famed Helms Bakery District in Culver City. They nonchalantly advertise the sort of authentic Italian food celebrated in New York, but notoriously omitted from the Los Angeles foodie scene.  Without the usual overwhelming onslaught of flavors (so common as to give LA its bad reputation for Italian cuisine), Bucato offers deep, rich fare without a pinch of pretention. It is nothing short of refreshing to find friendly, accessible food that still allows for the feeling of fine dining.

READ THE FULL FEATURE ON BUCATO HERE.

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text MEAGAN JUDKINS

PREVIEW: BRANDED ARTS X BOYS & GIRLS CLUBS OF SANTA MONICA BENEFIT

For the last three years, Santa Monica-based Branded Arts made it their mission to transform Culver City and other parts of Los Angeles into something of a city-wide gallery through curating and producing public mural projects. The large-scale art exhibitions, featuring prolific and rising artists both LA-based and internationally, have given life to the city’s local properties by branding developments, youth centers, recreation centers and schools with inspirational messages and positive imagery throughout the community.


But the contributions don’t stop there. Branded Arts is hosting another arts and music-driven event to benefit the Boys & Girl Clubs of Santa Monica featuring works from over 50 different artists and a special DJ set from Nickelodeon transfer slash Wildin’ Out host, Nick Cannon.

The artist line-up is no joke either; just to do a real quick run-down, the likes of Pixel Pancho, Cryptik, Saber, Steven Daily, NDSLA, Olivia Faze, Surge, Tracy Tubera, Craft, Angelina Christina, Adam Ward, Ross Morrison, and Mad Steez are just a few of the 50+ artists who will be participating.

nwalkerThe Morning After – Santa Monica | Nick Walker

The first 75 folks to come into the event will receive an event exclusive Nick Walker print release entitled The Morning After – Santa Monica. To close off the night, a silent auction will be held for basketballs customized by a few of the featured artists, including Kenny Scharf, Meggs, Chor Boogie, Aaron De La Cruz, 0ne0f0ne, Duncan Lemmon and a few other choice artists.

These prints and many more will be available at the event.

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Holiday Mural 2011 | Dabs Myla

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RADIANT CHILD | David Flores

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Peace Rabbit | Surge

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“I Survived the Big Bad Wolf” | Miss Van & Dan Quintana

For more information, head on over to Branded Arts.

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THE SCOOP: 10 BEER WEEK EVENTS TO ATTEND IN LA

At long last, our favorite week of the year has arrived: LA Beer Week! As if we needed another excuse to enjoy a crisp brew post-workplace-meltdown, the region’s most esteemed breweries are all set to show off their best in key events all over Los Angeles.  The folks at LABW always do a fantastic job in promoting local breweries and expanding LA’s growing beer culture, and we at LA CANVAS couldn’t be more than happy to participate. Whether you favor a deep ale, a smokey porter or a tangy sour beer, we’ve got you covered in finding the best events to celebrate LA’s Beer Week. Cheers!

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Smog City Third Nipple Tripel | Photo Cred: Smog City Brewing

Stone Brewing Co. Tap Takeover

Where: Public School 612 |  612 S. Flower Street #220, Los Angeles CA 90017
When: Tuesday, September 24, 4pm – 12am
Price: Free
What: San Diego Stone Brewing Company is invading Public School 612 for LA Beer Week and this time, they’re bringing in eight taps and special food pairings for us to celebrate with. Just to name a few of their speciality blends, Stone is set to feature their Sublimely Self Righteous Ale, Smoked Porter, their special 17th Anniversary Gotterdammerung IPA and The Winking Lizard Blend, in addition to their signature Stone IPA.

Beachwood BBQ and Brewing Tap Takeover

Where: Tony’s Darts Away | 1710 West Magnolia Boulevard, Burbank, CA 91506
When: Tuesday, September 24, 6pm – 11pm
Price: Individual beers $6.50, flights from $10-12
What: Beachwood BBQ and Brewing’s Julian Shrago pays a visit to the city of angels for Beer Week and we couldn’t be more excited. He’ll be showcasing and discussing some of his newest creations, with names like Udder Love, Knucklehead Red, the Hops of Brixton, Mocha Machine, and featuring a special Beachwood BBQ and Drake’s collaboration IPA,  we’re sure that these certainly aren’t brews you want to miss.

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Smog City beer flight | Photo Cred: Memo Eats

Smog City Tap Takeover and Tacos Borrachos

When: Wednesday, September 25, 3pm – 12am
Where: Cinco | 7241 West Manchester Street, Los Angeles, CA 90045
Price: $20 per taster flight, $10 for 2 loaded tacos
What: It seems the trend for Beer Week is curating not only unique beers, but crazy names to associate them by. Smog City Brewery is no different with some of the most interesting names in this year’s Beer Week. Names like High 5, Amarilla Gorilla, Saber-Toothed Squirrel, Coffee Porter, Lil Bo Pils and and even a Barrel-Aged Olde English (OE), Smog City might take the cake in the kooky name department. Smog City will also be offering a special Lil Bo Pils-battered shrimp tacos in addition their regular menu.

Lucky Baldwin’s Annual Pub Crawl

Where: Lucky Baldwin’s Pub | 17 South Raymond Avenue, Pasadena, CA 91105
When: Thursday, September 26, 6:30pm – 12am
Price: $45
What Is It: The best part about this pub crawl? You don’t even have to crawl! Deeming the Lucky Baldwin pub crawl as the Luck Baldwin Pub Party Bus would be more appropriate, because for $45, the pub crawl bus takes you to all three of Lucky Baldwin’s pubs to try a craft brew from the likes of Craftsman, Eagle Rock Brewery, Stone and a few other surprise breweries. On top of that, not only do you go home with a belly full of delicious beer, but Lucky Baldwin also sends you home with a t-shirt and commemorative pint to help you remember the night.

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City Tavern | Photo Cred: LA Taste Terminal 

LA Brewers Unplugged

Where: City Tavern | 9739 Culver Boulevard, Culver City, CA 90232
When: Thursday, September 26, 6pm – 12am
Price: TBD
What: LA’s best and brightest breweries are all going to be under one roof on this special night at City Tavern. Roll through to find yourself rubbing elbows with the likes of beer geniuses from Ohana, Angel City, The Dudes, Ladyface, Phantom Carriage, Pipe Dream, El Segundo, Monkish, Taps, Hangar 24, Golden Road and more.

Figueroa Mountain Brewing’s Ludwigpalooza

Where: Story Tavern Burbank | 150 South San Fernando Boulevard, Burbank, CA 91502
When: Friday, September, 27, 6:30pm – 10:30pm
Price: Free entry
What: The fine folks at Figueroa Mountain Brewing want to pay tribute to King Ludwig of Bavaria (creator of the very first Oktoberfest), by serving up some of the tastiest Bavarian-style beers and staples. Brews like the German Hefeweizen, Sisquoc Bock, Hurricane Deck IPA, Hoppy Poppy IPA and Big Cone Stout are just a few of the selected. Expect a few dozen more to commemorate the founding father of our favorite month.

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Eagle Rock brews Revolution, Solidarity, and Manifesto  | Photo Cred: LA Times

Not Your Average Oktoberfest

Where: Eagle Rock Brewery | 3056 Roswell Street, Los Angeles, CA 90065
When: Friday, September 27,  6pm – 10pm
Price: TBD
What: The guys from Hot Knives have stepped up their Oktoberfest game and bring to LA it’s very carnival. Yes, you read right — an Oktoberfest carnival. Several booths will be placed around the brewery that include — but are not limited to — a photo booth, a specialty beer booth, readings of beer paraphernalia, a hot dog truck and the main event, an arm-wrestling invitational where brewers will face off against each other in this strong-arm contest.

Rarest of the Rare

Where: Smog City Taproom | 1901 Del Amo Boulevard Suite B, Torrance, CA 90501
When: Saturday, September 28, 12pm – 8pm
Price: Priced per glass
What: Porter and Laurie are going down to the depths of the cellar and are releasing some of their rarest sour barrel-aged Smog City beers. Featuring some of their aged bourbons — 15-month aged Bourbon Red, Bourbon Imperial Porter, Bourbon Collaborative Evil, for example — and some other speciality beers including Farmhouse Funk and Quercus Circus, this isn’t an event you want to miss out. The earlier you show up the better — not only because its a first come, first serve event, but so you can drink more too.

Game of Thrones “Take the Black” Stout LA Release Party

Where: Blue Palms Brew House and the Fonda Theatre Rooftop | 6124 Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90028
When: Sunday, September 29, 1pm – 5pm
Price: $15 presale, $20 at the door
What: We all know medieval knights enjoyed their brews, so why can’t we? For LA Beer Week, Brewery Ommegang is premiering their second beer installment of their HBO Game of Thrones collaboration with a menu inspired by the TV show. Other brews including the first beer of the series, the Iron Throne, will be served alongside specialty brews from Duvel, Chouffe, Liefmans and Maredsous.

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Boneyard Bistro | Photo Cred: Viva La Foodies

Boneyard’s Beer and Whiskey Brunch

Where: Boneyard Bistro | 13539 Ventura Boulevard, Sherman Oaks, CA91423
When: Sunday, September 29, 1pm – 3pm
Price: $60
What: The folks at Boneyard Bistro have the right idea in mind when they wanted to close out Beer Week with a bang, so they teamed up with Firestone Walker, Ballast Point and Deschutes Breweries to bring you a six-course beer brunch — but that’s not the best part of it. To bring out the extra bang in this close out, not only do you get a monstrous meal and two beers from each brewery (six total), each course will be accompanied by a whiskey to make a nautical three-way pairing. Talk about ending on a good note!