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LA County Won’t Institute Mask Mandate Due to Declining Hospitalizations

Plus, swank steak boards in Santa Barbara, the Golden Girls Kitchen opens in Beverly Hills, and more

A customer in black glasses and a mask looks into a pastry case.
Masks are still not required inside establishments like restaurants, bars, bakeries, and markets in LA.
Wonho Frank Lee

Due to a decrease in the number of new COVID cases and hospitalizations this week, Los Angeles County won’t be issuing an indoor masking mandate — an initiative that would have gone into effect today, had the numbers continued to increase. For now, it means no masks are required inside establishments like bars, restaurants, shops, and more.

For weeks, as case numbers from highly contagious omicron variants continued to spike, officials had warned that an indoor masking mandate might take effect. At a press conference yesterday, county health director Barbara Ferrer noted, “It will be a welcome relief if this current surge has peaked.”

Without even being formally issued, the masking mandate had sparked controversy, with cities like Beverly Hills and Pasadena issuing statements that they wouldn’t be abiding by any new county-wide indoor masking requirements. Masks remain required in Los Angeles County in indoor public transit areas (taxis, rideshares, and airports), as well as in establishments like healthcare settings, nursing homes, jails, shelters, and within businesses and venues that require them.

A swank new Santa Barbara steakhouse

San Diego-based chef Brad Wise and Trust Restaurant Group have opened a new location of the vintage Vegas-inspired, open-flame steakhouse Rare Society at 214 State Street in Santa Barbara. Wise is showcasing Santa Maria-style grilling on a menu that offers dry-aged ribeyes, wagyu, Santa Maria-style tri-tip, as well as classics such as oysters Rockefeller, snow crab claws, Caesar salad, and seafood towers.

Wise is also serving his signature meat boards: the executive board and the associate feature a family-style selection of rotating chef-selected cuts (such as a variety of the restaurant’s 30-to-40-day dry-aged steaks) and housemade sauces presented on a custom-designed Lazy Susan.

A wooden serving platter topped with grilled steak and sauces at a Santa Barbara steakhouse.
The associate meat board at Rare Society.
Matt Furman

Tea cocktails after dark in Chinatown

This week, Mandarin Plaza tea lounge Steep launched a more permanent version of its nighttime tea cocktail program Steep After Dark, which owners Lydia Lin and Samuel Wang started running as a pop-up in 2020. Bar bites include an umami snack platter with sakura shrimp, silverfish, squid, and air-dried shiitake mushrooms. Cocktails developed by Huy Pham include the River Delta (oolong rum, lime, mango liquor, and cream of coconut) and Far Eastside (Jumi vodka, cucumber, sesame oil, sugar, and lime). Steep After Dark runs Tuesday through Saturday from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Beautiful bowls in Venice

NYC-based sustainable vegan, superfood-based bowl and smoothie restaurant Loco Coco has opened its first Los Angeles location at 1202 Abbot Kinney in Venice. Loco Coco’s acai bowls, smoothies, and superfood-enhanced soft serve options are filled with raw, vegan ingredients such as pitaya, acai, jackfruit, aloe, maca, spirulina, and locally sourced fresh fruit.

The inside of a smoothie restaurant, marked by pink walls, a wooden counter, and fresh fruit.
Loco Coco’s bright interior.
Jakob Layman

Thank you for being a friend

Fans of Dorothy, Blanche, Rose, and Sophia needn’t wait another moment for a nostalgic slice of cheesecake: The Golden Girls Kitchen opens on July 30 (National Golden Girls Day) at 369 N. Bedford Drive in Beverly Hills. Purchasing a $49 reservation ticket guarantees a 90-minute reservation at the fast-casual homage to the classic television show, as well as one main course and a slice of cheesecake (a collab with East Side Cheesecakes). Menu options developed by Royce Burke of Dino’s Famous Chicken include Sophia’s lasagna al forno (available with meat or vegan) and a Miami-style Cuban sandwich with fries.