Last updated: 01:00 PM ET, Fri June 12 2015

Opinion Home | The Main Course

  • Gabe Zaldivar | June 12, 2015 1:00 PM ET

    Los Angeles' Magical Respite Remains Its Heavenly Hollywood Bowl

    Los Angeles' Magical Respite Remains Its Heavenly Hollywood Bowl

    Image via Gabe Zaldivar

    Los Angeles’ normally hot, sprawling and congested microcosm instantly becomes a romantic and intimate place to have a meal when you sit down, pop a bottle of wine and listen to live music at the famed Hollywood Bowl.

    It’s a picnic like no other.

    And if that sounds sappy and a bit hyperbolic then I apologize. It’s just that the bowl seems like a special haven notched out of strangely idyllic hills, created as a respite for me and only me—even if I share it with thousands of others in the know throughout the summer months.

    For a few hours on a given night the congestion of traffic and normal daily stress melts away thanks to something so stupidly simple you will rack your brain wondering why you don’t just take a sandwich outside and listen to music for lunch.

    You could bring in your water bottle and sandwich and tap your little tootsies as you hum along to Buddy Guy, Sharon Jones or any number of performers who have entertained here.

    Or you could take down your fifth plastic cup of wine, wipe the tzatziki from your face and belt out that familiar tune in tandem to Tony Bennett because the crowd hasn’t yet heard your glorious rendition.

    It’s all up to you here.

    Sometimes it’s not about what you eat but where you are when you are stuffing your greedy face.

    Ambiance makes the meal, which is why a hot dog can taste so different with a ballgame in front of you and charred barbecue is forgiven when you are carousing with friends at home.

    It’s also what makes this sacred summer home so enjoyable: What you eat here is entirely up to you, except for when there is a lease event and you have to sneak wine into the Bowl—although I would never condone or endorse such an act.

    For someone like myself coming from the Westside, Bay Cities holds a special place in my gut: 

    Besides owning the best sandwiches in the city, the meal holds up well during transport and the carbohydrates sop up all those nasty bits in wine that make you wish you were never born the next morning.

    And, the location has charcuterie, cheese and other items for the bus ride over, which I failed to mention before.

    Now visiting the Hollywood Bowl is a "choose your own adventure" book for adults, which you can navigate by driving and leaving your car in stacked parking.

    Or, if you are wise, you can opt to bus in, which is advisable to visitors staying in hotels if you are near one of the many lots around the Los Angeles area. 

    Currently there are 14 lots around town that will take you there and bring you back for the concert for a fee, which greatly diminishes the stress of driving in traffic.

    Plus there is something about munching on a bus that makes room for the main course later.

    Now Bay Cities might be my old faithful, but there are plenty of places in this grand metropolis of gluttony to enjoy. I once took a whole pie from LaRocco’s Pizza in Culver City into the Hollywood Bowl.

    The choices of those picnicking around the bowl are countless. A cursory glance around will highlight homemade plates scarfed down from plastic, plates bursting with barbecue and take-out containers brimming with Mediterranean fare.

    On most nights you can pack away the wine bottle and bring it in with the leftovers, which brings us to the best part.

    After the intermission, when you are set to savor the final throes of a great night, you can pour yourself one more glass and rifle through the food bag for munchies that go oh so well with live music.

    Here, under the few stars you can actually see in this electric city, you are alone with your thoughts, your food and your drink. It just so happens there are hundreds of others in your vicinity in the exact same place.


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Gabe Zaldivar The Main Course

Gabe Zaldivar Born on the rough streets of suburban West Covina, I learned a great many things, some of which has proved useful: knowing the tell-tale sounds of an ice cream truck and crafting a world-class burrito come to mind. You have seen my work on Bleacher Report and possibly my mug on CNN. Perhaps, if you are into archaic modes of entertainment, you have also heard me on the radio. Pop culture is my beat. If it has to do with the intersection of travel, entertainment and pop culture, I'm your guy.
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