LAX Theme Building restaurant gets top honors

Encounter Restaurant
, housed in Los Angeles iconic Theme Building was named a top spot on the list of best airport restaurants by recently. placed the airport restaurant on its list of top ten favorite list calling it, “… a 1960s Star Trek set gone Technicolor, serving ‘art-food’ (American classics in oddball visual arrangements) that’s simultaneously hip and kid-friendly.” when asked by USAToday.

But Frommer’s is just the latest in a string of high rankings for Encounter. placed Encounter on its list of Ten Best Airport Restaurants in the World. Esquire, whose list includes One Flew South at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson airport and Piquillo at JFK added “With its Star Trek-meets-Austin Powers decor (not to mention menu) and a lighting design by former Disney Imagineers, this recently refurbished restaurant has to be seen to be believed.”

Food and Wine has also given Encounter the nod, including it on its “Ultimate Airport Dining Survival Guide: Best Airport Restaurants noting “It’s home to this space-age restaurant, known for 360-degree views, stylings stolen from The Jetsons and California-style dishes like organic salads and mushroom ravioli with grilled asparagus”

The 50-year-old landmark LAX Theme Building, recently finished a three-year, $12.3-million renovation, which included a unique seismic retrofit involving the installation of a rooftop Tuned Mass Damper (TMD) containing 600 tons of steel (equivalent to the weight of two Boeing 747s), which was the first time in the U.S. that a TMD was installed at the top of a building.

The restaurant was created and is operated by a joint-venture partnership between Delaware North Companies Travel Hospitality Services, Inc. and Connie Bass, a Los Angeles entrepreneur and operator of the Ultimate Symphony Event Planners, a full-service event planning and gourmet catering service, and Cookies By Connie #1. As Director of Outside Sales and Marketing for the Encounter Restaurant she is responsible for local marketing efforts, community outreach and media relations. As a side dish, the Los Angeles native positions the restaurant as an entity for airport travelers, as well as for the diverse communities surrounding the airport.

Encounter’s hours are: Lunch from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., 7 days a week. Dinner: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday 4:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. and Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, 4:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. The observation deck is open to the public on Saturday and Sunday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. It is located at 209 World Way at LAX. For more information and reservations, call 310-215-5151.

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One for the Road: Lonely Planet Encounters

I’ve got a friend visiting New York this week for the very first time, and in advance of her visit, I road-tested a few guides to see which might work best to use during her short stay. For the rest of this week, I’ll feature the NYC versions of several guidebook series. Consider this part-two of my previous I Love NY mini-book reviews.

First up is New York Encounter, the Big Apple edition of Lonely Planet’s new series of pocket guides that were launched in May. Geared for “urban adventurers seeking unique experiences” the books are for travelers who want to “rapidly immerse themselves in a city.” They were created in collaboration with travelers who seek info from locals in the know. Some short Q&A’s throughout the book showcase the diversity of personality and place that characterizes these guides: there are interviews with the guys behind the High Line, a pedicab driver originally from the Ukraine, a Brooklyn bodega owner and a curatorial assistant at MoMA.

The focus is on experience. There are limited accommodation suggestions, since the emphasis is on what you can do, and in a city like NYC, sleeping doesn’t really count for much. Organized by neighborhood, each section has maps that show places to eat, shop, drink, see and play. There’s a free pull-out map in the rear too, for when you don’t mind looking like a tourist as you plunge deeper into your encounter with the city.