Pumped Up In Los Angeles

Last year, my dear friend Amber, of Manny the Frenchie fame, and I were attempting to plan her bachelorette party.  No matter what we thought of, there was a conflict either for our schedules, or for the destination.  Eventually, we decided to follow our mutual love for trashy reality shows to Los Angeles, California.  We planned a tour of all of the Lisa Vanderpump restaurants and based all of our travel plans around it.  Honestly, I was so excited.  I am a shameless lover of all Bravo shows and this was a dream trip of mine. 

Lisa Vanderpump, Pump, West Hollywood

We (myself, Amber and Dani, another bridesmaid) were going for a long weekend at the beginning of March and we would meet one of the other bridesmaids, Brenda (who already lives in Los Angeles) at the hotel.  We stayed at the Loew’s Hollywood Hotel, which was right off of Hollywood Boulevard, of course. Due to that notorious LA traffic, it took us 45 minutes to get there from the airport.

The lovely front desk staff made up for the long drive by upgrading us to a suite that had a view of the Hollywood Sign because we were celebrating. We had Amber wait for us in the bar and order some snacks while we ran up to the room and decorated for the Bachelorette. We put up signs and blew up balloons and threw confetti everywhere and then ran back down to join Amber. The snacks were extra delicious because we were all very hungry. We had truffle fries, shrimp flatbread and toasted butternut squash ravioli, which was much better than most lobby bar food.

We had reservations at SUR (Sexy Unique Restaurant) for dinner, so we took our time getting ready in the room, then met our fourth friend, Brenda, at the restaurant. I was SO EXCITED! Reality TV is (almost) my only vice and this was where the obsession started. The hostess sat us at a back corner table, which wasn’t ideal but did make for good people watching.

SUR, Los Angeles, California, Vanderpump

The table was gorgeously set, but I can’t say much for the quality of the food. We got the famous goat cheese balls and I had the salmon as my entree and everything was just kind of meh. It was pretty clear that they’re resting on the fame from the show, but that’s why were were there, so we couldn’t really complain. The dessert (flan and sorbet) was the best part of the overpriced meal, but at least we can check that off our bucket lists!

SUR Restaurant, Los Angeles, Vanderpump

After dinner, we continued our Vanderpump tour by walking around the corner to TomTom, the newest addition to their restaurant group (at the time). We only waited in line for about ten minutes before being seated towards the front of the bar. I ordered the Alchemy Rose, which consisted of gin, lemon, ginger, hibiscus and aquafabba (absolutely delightful) and we got an order of fried olives for the table. This trip was over a year ago and I am still craving those olives.

TomTom Bar, Cocktails, Los Angeles

We were innocently enjoying our cocktails when a group of gentleman sat at the table next to us. They started chatting with us, and we learned that one of them was the head chef for all of the Vanderpump restaurants. It was fate! We told him all about our plans to visit the full line-up. In return, he gave us little yellow flowers called buzz buttons to try. He wouldn’t tell us much about them, only that we had to try it. We each popped one in our mouths and instantly got a tingly, numbing sensation on our tongues. Understandably, we thought he drugged us and started reacting as such, but he explained that it was simply the effect that the particular flower had.

We didn’t have too much time to be mad about it, because soon after, TOM SANDOVAL himself walked in the door. Amber and Dani ran off to get a picture, and Brenda and I stayed at the table to continue chatting with the chef. He gave me his card and told me to let him know when we made our way to Villa Blanca on our last day in Los Angeles.

Tom Sandoval, TomTom, Los Angeles

When we asked for our bill, the very handsome waiter told us that our first round of drinks was taken care of by our new chef friend. That must have been his way of apologizing for the buzz buttons! When we got back to the hotel, we all fell asleep pretty quickly, which was a good thing, as we had crammed as much as possible into the next day – our only full day in Los Angeles.

We started at Sky Space, which is a very tall building topped with a clear slide attached to the outside. It was pouring when we got there, and the ticket attendant informed us that the slide was closed and visibility at the top was virtually 0%. So our choices were either to leave or buy our tickets at half price and enjoy it anyways. We chose the latter.

Sky Space, Los Angeles

The first couple of floors that you have to wander through to get to the top were full of interactive games. There was virtual paparazzi, graffiti walls, karaoke and plenty of information about the area. Once we finally made it to the top, we were greeted with a view of a solid wall of fog through the floor to ceiling windows.

Sky Space, Los Angeles

We did everything there was to do besides the slide (which I would absolutely make the trip back for, given the chance) and then made our way back down to the ground floor. We decided to run to In & Out Burger (a delicious first for me!) for lunch before jumping on the TMZ Bus Tour. We had fun on the tour and enjoyed the break from the rain, but unfortunately didn’t see any celebrities. It was a nice way to see the city though!

TMZ Bus Tour, Los Angeles

After the tour, we headed back to the hotel to get extra fancy for our night out on the town. Amber got in touch with a friend who could maybe get us into the Magic Castle, which had a very strict dress code. That was to be the cherry on top of our fun LA evening. We took a cab over to Pump (our third Vanderpump Restaurant) for dinner. This one had a completely different vibe from SUR; it felt like more of a nice lounge than a reality TV stage. Though, like SUR, all of the servers were very attractive and dressed in identical trendy outfits.

We were seated out in the garden, which was absolutely gorgeous, with flowers, string lights, chandeliers and candles hanging above us. We ordered ahi tuna tartare and rock shrimp tempura to start, and they were both really tasty and miles above the starters from the previous night. For my main course, I had pan-seared sole with wasabi mashed cauliflower (!!!) and haricot verts. Yummm. It was one of the best meals I’ve ever had on vacation.

Pump, Los Angeles

We went down the street to The Abbey next, for dancing and Frosé‎. It was so much fun! We didn’t spend more than an hour there, but it was the perfect place for us to pick up the energy after dinner.

We went to TomTom again after that, purely to try some of their other creative cocktails. We were sat pretty quickly again and each tried a new drink- I got the Clockwork Pink, which was a spicy mezcal mix. We were seated in the perfect spot, between the back rooms and the front, to spot celebrities. Here, we had more sightings than on the TMZ tour! We saw Darren Criss, and multiple Vanderpump stars: Billie Lee, Ariana, Tom Sandoval again, and we saw Peter earlier that night.

TomTom, Los Angeles

After we finished our cocktails, it was finally Magic Castle time. It was 1am, so we were afraid we wouldn’t be able to get in, but we got an Uber there anyways. We asked for our friend of a friend connection at the door, and he let us know that we missed all the shows for the night but we could still come in for a drink. Luckily, one of the magicians came up to us while we were wandering around and showed us a few card tricks. It was cool just to be in the building and see where the magic (heh heh) happens.

Magic Castle, Los Angeles

The next morning, we fought our hangovers to attend the private yoga session we optimistically booked the day before. We were able to do it out on the pool deck before it started raining again. It was actually really nice to get some physical activity in and sweat out some of the alcohol. Our instructor, Shawn, ended the class with a quote that I really loved: “And still, after all this time, the sun has never said to the earth ‘you owe me’. Look what happens with love like that. It lights up the sky.”

After yoga, we all showered and got ready to go to Villa Blanca, the last stop on our Vanderpump Tour, for brunch. It was the most elegant of the four restaurants, with beautiful, fresh flowers and bench seating with gorgeous throw pillows. We started with grapefruit mimosas, which were extra refreshing.

Villa Blanca, Los Angeles

Our lovely new chef friend sent out some complimentary appetizers: a stack of beets, avocado and radishes and beef tartare. I was still feeling the hangover, so I ordered a prosciutto and fresh mozzarella sandwich. It tasted like the best sandwich I’ve ever had, a real culinary treat. Everyone was silent as we ate, mostly because we were all so grateful for a delicious meal after a fun night out.

Villa Blanca, Los Angeles

Villa Blanca is technically in Beverly Hills, and we had some time before we had to head to the airport, so we walked down Rodeo Drive after brunch. It was a beautiful day, finally, which made me sad to be leaving California, but it was time to head home. We had an amazing trip, full of delicious food and cocktails, shameless reality TV love, and a solid bachelorette party vibe.

Rodeo Drive, Beverly Hills, California

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