The Art of Making Pizza at Naples in Downtown Disney

naples collage

The kids making dinner with me is both fun and tiring. They both love making pizza. We started when Big B was just three years old. Now, both kids enjoy rolling the dough, spreading the sauce, and adding toppings. We got a special treat last Saturday when Chefs Umberto and Melissa from Naples taught us the art of making pizza.

We attended a media event hosted by GigaSavvy at Naples Ristorante e Pizzeria, one of the many Downtown Disney restaurants. The location could not have been more perfect for a pizza party. Upon arriving at Naples, we headed up the tile-lined stairwell to the second floor. We went beyond the restaurant through to the outside patio. I loved the outdoor patio, with the string lights, the wall fountain, floor to ceiling doors, and blue and yellow banners hanging over the party area.

naples ristorante outside patio

We were greeted and given aprons to put on. It immediately put us in the mood to make some serious pizza. After we settled into our seats, the kids headed straight for the beverage station where an assortment of Italian soda flavors were offered. The kids had a tough choice, but eventually picked strawberry and chocolate. I had a taste of the chocolate flavor and it was oh so yummy.

Italian soda station

We’ve had many pizza nights at home, but having a professional chef show us tricks and give us tips were pretty special. Before we got our hands dirty, Executive Chef Umberto Rubelli and his assistant, Chef Melissa, talked to us about what makes pizza at Naples Ristorante e Pizzeria stand out. Basically, they use very simple ingredients. The sauce is made with tomatoes and salt. That’s it. No spices, no herbs. The flour for the dough is imported from Italy. The chefs stressed that by making pizza with good quality simple ingredients, each ingredient shines which results in a mouth-watering pizza.

tossing pizza dough

One by one, each family took turns getting a personal tutorial in pizza making 101. Chef Melissa taught us how to press the dough the right way.

Chef Melissa showing how to press dough

After we each had our dough ready, she poured sauce on the dough and we selected our toppings. This was Little B’s pizza. All he wanted was mozzarella cheese. You can’t get any simpler than that. I opted for a modified margarita pizza and added a little prosciutto for protein and red onions for a little more flavor. Big B topped his pizza with two types of cheese, one pepperoni, and a little bit of prosciutto.

cheese pizza before

After all of our pizzas were ready, the chef put our pizzas in the oven. Naples has two ovens: one upstairs and another downstairs. Pizzas made during pizza making parties are cooked in the upstairs oven. The oven gets up to 800 degrees. It takes a minute and a half to two minutes to cook a pizza at 700 degrees. The oven uses hardwood, white oak ordered from Mexico, to give a little more flavor. Less than 10 minutes later, our creations were ready to be eaten. Below is my pizza. I couldn’t believe that I created that. It looked so gourmet! And, without bragging, it tasted like it too. Honestly, when the chefs said that simple ingredients is all you need, they weren’t kidding. It was delicious.

modified margarita pizza after

The pizza making party at Naples at Downtown Disney is a fun way to celebrate events. For $27 per person (plus tax and service charge), you get the intimate setting, the good food, great service, hands-on experience, and instructions by a professional chef. Plus, you get this view of Downtown Disney from the patio.

view from Naples Ristorante outdoor patio

Pizza Making Party at Naples

  • Chef-guided pizza making experience
  • Good for groups up to 30 people
  • Menu includes choice of salad, pizza, and beverage
  • Can customize to add beverage station, desserts, and appetizers for additional fee

In addition to the pizza we created, we feasted on bread and salad. After we boxed our leftover pizzas, they served desserts. We each got a piece of tiramisu, cannoli, and slice of chocolate cake. Thank goodness everything was portioned well. I actually had to half the cannoli with hubby since I was stuffed.

chocolate cake

Our experience at Naples was fantastic. I actually want to come back to try the Tour of Italy buffet. Hopefully, sooner rather than later.

Visit the Naples Ristorante e Pizzeria website to learn more about hosting private events. You can connect with Naples on Facebook and Twitter.

Disclosure: I was compensated for this post. All opinions expressed are my own.

Valentine’s Date Night at Maro Wood Grill

Here was a conversation I had with Hubby regarding Valentine’s Day:

Me: February 14 is Valentine’s Day.
Hubby: Uh huh.
Me: Do you want to go out to dinner? (After 15 years together, there’s no need for me to beat around the bush.)
Hubby: Where?
Me: This place in Laguna Beach that serves locally sourced and sustainably grown food.
Hubby: Will I have something to eat?
Me: Yeah! They have really good steaks and award-winning desserts.
Hubby: Sure. (Goes back to playing Hayday on his phone.)

I quickly made arrangements for childcare for Valentine’s Sunday after that conversation. I headed to the Maro Grill website, and after a few clicks of the mouse, I had plans for Valentine’s Day. I was introduced to Maro Grill during a media event hosted by GigaSavvy. It was awesome.

The pictures do not do the dishes justice. Maro Wood Grill has a great ambiance, quite romantic really, but it wasn’t conducive to taking foodie pictures at night. The whole time I was at the event, I kept thinking of how much I wanted to come back here with my husband.

maro wood grill string beans
Wood Grilled Green Beans

Maro Wood Grill is an intimate restaurant. You can sit inside or out and it will be just perfect. The restaurant sits along Pacific Coast Highway in Orange County. The staff were attentive; they refilled our sangria carafe and water glasses throughout the night. The sangria, oh it was the perfect combination of wine and fruity goodness.

maro wood grill mushroom ceviche
Mushroom Ceviche & Grilled Sourdough

I could go on and on about how each dish from the Argentine-inspired menu tasted delicious; how everything was mouth-watering. They were. However, it wasn’t just the presentation and flavor that impressed me about the restaurant, it was the philosophy of the owners and chef that made it stand out to me and want to share it with my husband.

maro wood grill grilled fennel fig salad
Grilled Fennel & Fig Salad

I loved that Chef Debra Sims focuses on organic and locally sourced ingredients. I loved that she cares enough about what she puts in the food that she knows the farms where the meat comes from. I loved her focus on seasonal ingredients, picked at their peak, to bring the best flavors to the dishes.

maro wood grill ricotta noquis grilled tomatoes
Ricotta Noquis & Grilled Tomatoes

All the meat dishes we had, from the lamb to the short rib to the steak were grass fed. Although rare, more restaurants are popping up in Orange County that focuses on the farm to table philosophy. It’s quite an exciting time to become a sustainable foodie in the OC.

maro wood grill short rib and flat iron with chimichurri
Short Rib with Roasted Vegetables and Flat Iron & Chimichurri

Chef Sims won the Golden Foodie Award for dessert for three years. Yeah, their desserts are that good. Without a doubt, we will order the award-winning banana bread pudding.

Find out more about Maro Wood Grill and connect on Facebook and Instagram.

What are your plans for Valentine’s Day this year?

Disclosure: I was compensated for this post. All opinions expressed are my own.

A Taste of Eggslut in Historic Downtown LA

eggslut sign

In my post about taking the kids on a walking tour of Downtown LA, I mentioned stopping by Eggslut for breakfast. I promised a full feature, so here it is.

Eggslut is located inside of Grand Central Market. The stall/kitchen is front and center facing Broadway Street. It’s hard to miss not so much because of it’s central location, but because of the long line of customers eagerly awaiting to order. The line literally wrapped around the stall. The line was never ending; there was no break. Even after we returned to Grand Central Market a few hours later for lunch, the line was still wrapped around the stall.

Hubby and I each had a Fairfax sandwich. It was one of the featured sandwiches on Food Porn, and it did not disappoint. The scrambled eggs were so fluffy, they almost melted in my mouth. The Sriracha mayo added just enough heat for my tastebud. The brioche bread was soft, sweet, and warm. Every bite was delectable.

eggslut fairfax
Fairfax

We also ordered The Slut, another customer favorite. It’s a coddled egg on top of a potato purée. I know it doesn’t sound much, but it was delicious. Originally, I bought this for hubby and me to try, but after the kids had a taste, Big B wouldn’t let go of the spoon. If the line wasn’t long, I would have bought another one for each of the kids. Let’s just say that if you decide to order it, make sure that everyone has their own.

eggslut the slut
The Slut

I thought that out of all the sandwiches, the Bacon, Egg & Cheese would appeal to the kids the most. They certainly liked it enough. However, not as much as I did. As my cousin said, the ketchup perfects this sandwich. I could not agree more.

eggslut fairfax
Bacon, Egg & Cheese

I loved how the egg yolk dripped on the bacon after each bite. It’s a little messy, but well worth the napkins. The sweetness and tartness of the ketchup went well with the savory bacon. It was mouth-watering.

egglsut bacon egg cheese sandwich
Bacon, Egg & Cheese (cut in half)

I plan on going to back to DTLA soon to visit The Broad. I would love to stop by Egglsut again. Hopefully, the kids cooperate since the line will be super long.

Egglsut is located at Downtown Los Angeles, 317 S. Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90013.

Have you been to Egglsut before? What’s your favorite menu item?

Chemical-free e-cloth Deep Clean Mop

ecloth deep clean mop

A while back, my steam mop broke. I headed straight to Google to find reviews for other steam mops and eco-friendly floor cleaners. I came upon e-cloth and was intrigued. According to the website, all I needed to clean my floor was the mop and water. It can’t get any more eco-friendly than that.

I received the e-cloth Deep Clean Mop to try and it has made mopping so quick and effortless. The Deep Clean Mop is as easy to use as it is to put together. Simply attach the handle to the mop head and wait for them to click together. The handle telescopes out with a simple twist.

ecloth mop assembly

The reusable microfiber cloth attaches to the mop head with very strong velcro. The cloth has never separated from the mop head during use, even with strongly applied pressure. Prior to my green lifestyle, I’ve used quick mop systems very similar to the Deep Clean Mop. I attach the cleanser soaked sheet to the mop head and dispose once used. In retrospect, I can’t imagine how many of those sheets I threw away, not to mention just what kind of chemicals were used.

ecloth mop head

The picture below is a before and after picture. The top picture is of the clean microfiber cloth, never before used. The middle picture is what it looked like after I used it on my kitchen floor. You can see just how dirty my floor was. The bottom picture is what the cloth looked like after I hand washed it in water. The dirt came out easily. Today, my cloth isn’t as clean as it was when it was brand new, even after being washed in the washing machine. It definitely looks like it’s been used.

ecloth mop head microfiber

There are many features about this mop that I have to highlight. The mop head is so thin that it can glide underneath the washer and dryer. It’s also narrow enough to reach spaces that other sponge mops and steam mops I’ve owned can’t get to and clean. My floor dries after using this mop; I don’t even have to wait five minutes to walk on a recently cleaned surface. I love that it cleans with just water.

ecloth mop on dirty floor

Does it really work? Yes, the Deep Clean Mop really works. As you can see, the Deep Clean Mop handles surface messes and soils very well. My grout was still left grungy, but I wasn’t expecting a miracle. For quick perfunctory jobs, the e-cloth Deep Clean Mop is my go-to mop. Hubby surprised me with a new steam mop and I actually haven’t used it since I got this.

There are a few things I would like to note. In my experience, the microfiber cloth does not release food stuck to the floor. For those cases, I’ve just used my fingernails to unstick small pieces of sticky stuff from the floor and then continued to mop. Since the mop is so lightweight, I feel like I have to apply pressure to get some soils out. After a few passes, the marks are gone. I usually do two rounds of cleaning per section; I clean, rinse the microfiber cloth, and clean again. The floor looks clean after one round, but it is even cleaner after the second. Even with two rounds, the whole process takes less than 10 minutes.

The e-cloth Deep Clean Mop is something that I truly would recommend to those who hate to mop. It’s not my favorite chore, but it has to get done. This mop is so easy to use, it makes mopping more tolerable. If you do decide to buy it, I suggest getting a second microfiber cloth. The cloth is very durable and I can see it lasting a long time. However, just imagine this scenario: you just finished mopping and tossed the cloth in the laundry. You then hear someone call your name because there was a spill in the kitchen. Yeah, the second cloth will come in handy.

Visit e-cloth to learn more about other products available and how the e-cloth works. You can connect with e-cloth on Facebook and Twitter.

Disclosure: I was compensated for this post. All opinions expressed are my own.

DIY Star Wars Party

star wars diy party

After watching Star Wars: The Force Awakens, I decided to finally write about Big B’s Star Wars party. We usually do a theme for each of the boys’ birthday parties, and without hesitation, Big B wanted to celebrate with The Force for his 6th birthday. As I was at the tail end of finalizing my dissertation, I didn’t have the time and effort to plan a big shindig. So, I opted for an intimate DIY Star Wars dinner instead. We invited six neighborhood kids, Big B’s friends, over for dinner.

I went online to do my research and was quickly overwhelmed. There was a plethora of ideas online: from over the top elaborate celebrations to lower key gatherings. I opted for the latter given my circumstance and resources. Big B’s party was mostly DIY, thanks to hubby’s help. This truly helped keep cost lower.

Invitation

Since I had a very tight budget, I created my own invitations. Party Ideas by a Pro has a lot of ideas for party invitations as well as other party elements. I decided to print my invitation on plain printer paper which we already had plenty of. I found a Jedi Council symbol and printed it for the seal. I used my Silhouette to cut the symbol in circular form. You certainly don’t need a cutting machine to do this, plain scissors will do.

jedi academy invitation

I made my invitations plain because our colored printer was broken, so black and white it was. I wanted to make it a little more embellished but time and resources were not on my side. (The image on the left is what I sent out and the image on the right is what I wish I could have sent. See the difference?) Thankfully, you can find free Star Wars font online. This was key to not just the invitation, but to the decorations as well.

star wars party diy invitation

Decorations

I bought a couple of black plastic table covers at the dollar store and used one to cover a wall. Cloth would have been best since you can iron out the creases for better aesthetics and it’s reusable. However cloth would have been too expensive for the amount of coverage I needed. I stuck stars to the cover to make it look more space-like.

Tatooine and its two moons were made from round paper lanterns. You can find paper lanterns at many brick and mortar party and discount stores. These are also available online, but a lot of them are actually more expensive unless you buy in bulk. The biggest lantern was originally white. I painted it with brown watercolor to make it a little more dessert planet looking.

I used the Star Wars font and my Silhouette machine to cut the lettering on yellow construction paper. Again, you don’t need a machine to cut the letters out, but it does shave off a lot of time.

may the force be with you sign

I bought white and black balloons for Stormtrooper and Darth Vader masks. I created the mask elements on my Silhouette. Feel free to download the mask details (Stormtrooper 1, Stormtrooper 2, Darth Vader) for personal use. Instead of having floating balloons, and paying for helium, I bought balloon cups and sticks. Since buying 100 sets, I have used them for all of my parties and still have some left in my garage. Kids don’t really care if balloons float or not, they just want one to take home. The one advantage of using balloon cups and sticks over helium inflated balloons is there’s no risk of the balloons floating away (and potentially ending up in the ocean). To add details to the mask elements, I used a silver gel marker which are available at Michael’s or other art stores.

The birthday banner was a gift from my sister for Big B’s 1st birthday party. Although it’s not theme-related, we have used it every year for his celebrations. It’s more of a sentimental move than anything; Big B posing in front of his birthday banner through the years. If given the time, I would have loved to make a banner with Star Wars fabric.

stormtrooper balloons

Table setting

The table was covered with the other black plastic table cover I bought. I saw that many hosts added confetti or stars on their table for added pizzaz, but I was too lazy and didn’t want to clean confetti after the party (they get everywhere!). I wish I had thought about using Star Wars fabric as a table runner. That would have been cute and added another layer to the overall look of the table.

The table setting was actually the only party element where I splurged. I bought eco-friendly square plates and compostable cups which are more expensive than their non-green counterparts. It’s sometimes challenging to plan a themed party that’s eco-friendly, but at the very least, the table setting can be green because there are so many different kinds (like the ones I reviewed here and here) and can be purchased pretty much anywhere.

There were three different colored napkin lightsabers. For these, I went to the dollar store. I cut black construction paper for the napkin rings. Again, I used the silver gel marker to add details to the lightsaber handle. I also bought light up ice cubes. The ice cubes were supposed to be just a back up in case my Yoda Soda didn’t work. We ended up using them anyway and the kids loved them.

lightsaber napkins

Food and Beverage

My absolute favorite site for Star Wars party food ideas is justJENN recipes. Oh man, her ideas are awesome! I just drool browsing through her site. For Big B’s party, I created my menu from the Star Wars Cook Book by Robin Davis. We served Boba Fett-uccini, Obi-Wan Kebabs, and Yoda Soda. I topped the pasta with minced broccoli and sautéed red peppers to make Boba Fett’s helmet. This was not detailed in the cookbook, I just thought it would look nice and people would get what the dish was before I even said its name.

boba fettuccini

Hubby grilled Obi-Wan Kebabs that were made with chicken, zucchini, corn, and pineapple. There are many ways to make the Kebabs, some hosts make them with all fruit. For some reason, we decided to skip the potatoes and use pineapple instead. No one was the wiser and it tasted good.

obi wan kababs

The Yoda face grape platter is a pretty popular Star Wars food item that you will encounter online. I asked my sister to make it because I had a million things to do and the guests were arriving soon. The eyes and mouth were made with banana and blueberry.

yoda grapes

For dinner “rolls”, I used Millennium Falcon and Tie Fighter sandwich cutters. Hubby found the sandwich cutters two years prior from one of those deal-a-day sites and they came with a vintage tin lunchbox. It’s actually kind of hard to find these today, and I tried. I totally forgot what recipe I used for the rolls. These may just be homemade pizza dough that I sprinkled garlic salt on top of. After they came out of the oven, I wished I would have brushed the top with egg to add some color. Those starships are looking mighty pale.

millenium falcon bread

The Yoda Soda was a bit of a bust. I could not find lime sherbet or sorbet for this recipe. My brother-in-law just bought whatever sherbet flavor he could find that was white in color. This is where the light up ice cubes came in. We switched all the light up ice cubes green before adding the beverage. It turned out pretty cool.

light up ice cube

For dessert, I found these amazing paleo chocolate cupcake and vegan frosting recipes online. They cupcakes were a hit. I was super busy at the party that I forgot to take pictures. I’m sure you’ll be able to find a ton of birthday cake/cupcake ideas online.

(Sort of) Party favor

I don’t really do goodie bags. I think the one time I sent party guests home with (edible) goodies was for Big B’s 4th birthday party. For this party, the six guests went home with their very own lightsabers. This was hubby’s big moment to shine. He created all the lightsabers using pool noodles, duct tape, and electric tape. I found pool noodles at the dollar store. I think they were either $1 each or two for $1. He found many tutorials online that outline how to make pool noodle lightsabers. It took him one night. The guests also took home a stormtrooper balloon.

As for entertainment, well, I didn’t have any planned. As soon as the kids saw the lightsabers, they each grabbed one and started swinging them around. I just let them at it in the living room.

tattooine lantern

There you have it. A (budget-friendly) DIY Star Wars party. I’m actually planning a second Star Wars party. Little B decided that he wants a Star Wars cake for his birthday this year.

Celebrate Hot Tea Month with Numi® Organic Tea

numi organic Turmeric Tea Variety Bundle

The month of January celebrates many things: the beginning of a new year, health awareness campaigns, federal holidays, and the occasional food spotlights like tempura, apricot, bittersweet chocolate among many others. It also highlights National Hot Tea Month. You’re probably thinking, who comes up with all these celebrations, right? I don’t know myself, but as a tea drinker, creating awareness on the different types of teas and benefits of drinking tea is a good thing. Numi® Organic Tea sent me the Turmeric Tea Variety Bundle to try.

Health benefits of drinking tea1

  • Lowers the risk for chronic diseases like heart disease and stroke
  • Polyphenols may protect against some types of cancers and strengthens bones
  • Catechins in green, oolong, and white teas may promote weight loss
  • Improves mood, concentration, and performance

Turmeric was a health buzzword last year, and continues to be so for good reason. Most people probably know turmeric as a food colorant in Asian cooking; it gives food, like curry, its yellow coloring. Additionally, turmeric has also been used as an anti-inflammatory for people with digestive and liver problems, as well as skin diseases and wounds.2

Health benefits of turmeric2

  • Help fight infections
  • Help fight some cancers
  • Reduce inflammation
  • Treat digestive problems

Another use of turmeric is in tea form. The Turmeric Tea Variety Bundle includes the following flavors: Three Roots, Golden Tonic, Fields of Gold, and Amber Sun. To be honest, I am a tea consumer and am far from a tea connoisseur. So although I can taste the differences between the four flavors of turmeric teas, I can not, by any means, distinguish all their nuisances. My favorite is Fields of Gold and it’s probably because I do love chamomile tea.

numi organic tea steep directions

Golden Tunic was quite distinct from the rest. Perhaps it’s the combination of citrus ingredients that give it that slightly tart taste.

numi organic turmeric tea fields of gold

Three Roots is the sweetest of all the flavors. In my opinion, you don’t need to add sweetener to it at all. I expected it to be really strong and bold because it’s made from ginger and licorice, surprisingly, it wasn’t. I’m not a fan of licorice, but this was a nice subtle hint of the flavor. It also wasn’t spicy despite containing ginger.

numi organic tea three roots

Amber sun has a similar taste to Three Roots. You still get that predominantly turmeric flavor hitting your tastebud upon the first sip, without the lingering sweetness after.

Numi® Organic Tea

  • Certified organic
  • Verified non-GMO
  • Fair Trade

numi organic tea fair trade

I’ll probably drink more tea than usual because after all, it is National Hot Tea Month. Celebrate by savoring this hot elixir yourself or gift it to loved ones.

tea cup

Visit Numi® Organic Tea to learn more about different tea types and flavors offered. You can connect with Numi® Organic Tea on Facebook and Twitter.

How do you plan on celebrating National Hot Tea Month? What is your favorite tea?

References
1Harvard Health Publications
2University of Maryland Medical Center

Disclosure: I was compensated for this post. All opinions expressed are my own. Information in this post is intended for informational purposes. The information is not intended nor suited to be a replacement or substitute for professional medical treatment or for professional medical advice.

Touring Downtown Los Angeles with Kids

walking tour of dtla

On New Year’s Eve, we took the kids on a self-guided walking tour of Downtown Los Angeles. We had relatives from out of town and we decided to meet up in LA for some family fun time. It had been years since I walked around LA. Personally, I never walked around DTLA, as locals refer to it, I went to specific spots, like museums, and didn’t stray from my course. It’s definitely changed since I was a lot younger.

Our first stop was breakfast. We went to Grand Central Market. Hubby and I saw a new television show, Food Porn, and the first segment was on a restaurant that had enormous social media power, Eggslut. As we waited in line, and you would be lucky if you waited less than 30 minutes to order your food, we got the kids a hot chocolate from Valerie. Big B was cold and the hot chocolate was such a welcome warm treat. It was delicious.

grand central market

valerie confectioners neon sign

From Eggslut, we ordered the Fairfax, The Slut, and a bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich. (Restaurant feature coming soon.) Oh. My. Goodness. Everything we tasted was heaven. The wait was worth it. I would seriously consider leaving Orange County early enough in the morning just to have breakfast at Eggslut. It was that good.

eggslut the slut

After breakfast, we stopped by Angels Flight®. We were hoping to ride the funicular railway. Unfortunately, due to regulatory issues, the railway is closed temporarily. According to the website, the funicular dates back to 1901. The short railway ferried passengers between two streets to avoid walking up a steep hill. Hopefully, the railway will open soon. Though short, the ride is quite an LA experience.

angels flight funicular railway

Our next stop was the Bradbury Building. Although DTLA is replete with buildings with a range of architecture, the interior of the Bradbury Building is quite unique. It’s the oldest commercial building left in the heart of the city. Businesses are still run in the building, however, visitors are not allowed to go beyond a certain point.

outside architecture bradbury building

Upon walking inside, I felt like I went back in time. Natural lighting showcased the intricate cast iron staircase and elevators. The kids couldn’t believe that people used to ride in open cage elevators back in the day. And yes, the two elevators still work.

bradbury building cast iron elevator

bradbury building stairs

Along the way, pedestrians can take the time to gaze and appreciate street art. I had to explain to Big B the difference between graffiti and street art. I’m not sure he quite understood the difference, but the mural below is definitely in the class of art.

los angeles street art

We then headed to Grand Park. Nestled among several civic buildings, the Grand Park is a stretch of several lawns and a water feature where the community gather throughout the year for leisure and events. While the kids played at the play area, some of the grown ups headed towards the Arthur J. Will Memorial Fountain. The fountain is a memorial for the former LA County chief administrative officer. I was glad that the kids stayed behind because if they saw this water feature, they would have started to run around in it. It’s a very popular place for kids during the summer to play in.

Arthur J Will Memorial Fountain

My sister insisted that we stop by The Last Bookstore. I love books, but I never would have stopped at a bookstore while touring DTLA unless I wanted to buy a book. This bookstore blew me away. It was beyond cool. It’s more than just a bookstore, it’s also an art gallery and marketplace (second floor). Apparently, events are held there. I could understand why. It’s got an intimate artsy vibe to it.

the last bookstore

There are several book structures all over the store. One of my favorites was the book tunnel. If you visit the store’s Instagram account, you will see it as one of the most photographed structures. I’m sure you can understand why.

the last book store book tunnel

These two sculptures were in a corner on the second floor of the Labyrinth, right before the entrance to the gallery. They were just there, standing pretty, waiting for admirers to stop by. We did eventually buy books before leaving. My sister loves to spoil her nephews and bought them a Star Wars book and trading cards. I take no issue with enabling my family to spoil my children, especially if it’s Star Wars related.

the last bookstore art

After the bookstore, we headed for the Central Library. I had not been to the Central Library in almost 15 years. It’s still as glorious as I remember it. We went to the children’s section to visit with hubby’s friend who works there.

dtla street level

Do you remember these? The card catalogs? The library catalog is online today, of course, but these lined one wall in the atrium near the entrance to the children’s section. Hubby actually took Big B to the library years ago for a PBS event. He met Steve Songs! We will be back to this library soon. There is so much to explore that we didn’t get a chance to see during this tour.

central library

Before heading back home, we went back to Grand Central Market for a late lunch. As per my sister’s recommendation, we got pupusas at Sarita’s. They were delicious. The first time I had Salvadorean pupusa was in San Diego; it quickly became my standard. The pupusas at Sarita’s came very close to my favorite ones. Of course, I had to have fried plantains too.

saritas pupusa

saritas fried plantains

This tour was as enjoyable for the kids as it was for me. Everywhere we went was kid-friendly and piqued the kids’ interest. Although we didn’t plan our tour beforehand, stopping at the play area in Grand Park in the middle of the tour helped revitalize them a bit. Also, buying them a little “souvenir” at the bookstore was a good idea. I think going during the holidays was perfect since the streets weren’t so busy; at least not as busy as I’ve seen the streets of LA to be.

If you plan on visiting DTLA, here are a couple of suggestions:

  • Unless you know for sure you will only spend less than two hours in one place, skip the meter and get day parking. You just never know how long you will stay exploring.
  • Stop at Grand Central Market. Although there are so many noteworthy eateries all over Downtown Los Angeles, there you will find a concentration of different cuisines in just one place.
  • Wear comfortable shoes. There are hills, though not quite as ubiquitous as in San Francisco, but some are a good incline.
  • Bring a stroller for little ones. I clocked over 10,000 steps on my FitBit on this tour. I can only imagine how easily little feet would tire after walking so much.

Have you ever walked around DTLA? What are some of your favorite spots to visit?