Best New Westside Hang
With its 1930s Italian gangster vibe and a penchant for the East Coast, the classy Scarboni Lobster & Steak House is attracting a colorful clientele to its Santa Monica locale. Famed nightlife impresario Steve Scarduzio, a successful film producer whose club lineage dates to the '80s, opened Scarboni with partner Tommy Saboni, and it's just what the Westside needed — a classy hang where everybody knows your name. Scarboni, 312 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica, (310) 393-2288.
Best Dance Club
Precious few dance clubs greet you like family, offer you a table without bottle service and give you multiple options for your aural palate. This Inglewood nightclub caters to an older black clientele, but it's not about color — it's about hip-hop, jazz, funk, R&B and fine local talent. DJ Groovy Lou seamlessly blends old-school West Coast hip-hop with modern-day all-stars for a booty-shaking blend that makes it nearly impossible to leave he dance floor until you've collapsed in a sweaty pile. Even then, you still want more. Dynasty Lounge, 206 S. Locust St., Inglewood, (310) 673-5441.
Best New Lounge
The Tower Bar
This spot at the Sunset Tower Hotel earns props not just because it's the most likely place to catch Sean Penn kicking back on a weeknight (although admittedly that makes it kinda hot). It's the fact that with little fanfare and even less advertising, the new hotel at the old Argyle has quietly enhanced the Sunset Strip with its low-key demeanor and classy design. Photos of Truman Capote, who lived at the hotel in the '40s, hang on the walls of the piano bar to remind of us a more civilized time. In addition, the Tower Bar is in Bugsy Siegel's old apartment. The Tower Bar at the Sunset Tower Hotel, 8358 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood, (323) 654-7100.
Honorable Mention Safari Sam's
Like the little engine that could, Safari Sam's is chugging away in a world of marketing tie-ins, cross-promotions and corporate mergers. The new, independent-minded nightclub club born from the ashes of Orange County's punk rock explosion opened with the klieg lights on its financial woes. But each week it continues to build, with great music and an easygoing vibe. Safari Sam's, 5214 W. Sunset Blvd., Hollywood, (323) 666-7267.
Scene King and Queen
Corey Parks and Duane Peters
It's a love connection made in punk-rock heaven. Known among friends as the punk Sonny and Cher, the husband-and-wife team of Duane Peters and Corey Parks is a musical dream team. Peters, one of the first pro skateboarders who then went on to front numerous punk bands, met his match in Parks. The sister of former NBA player Cherokee Parks, Parks is one tall drink of water. She plays bass with a passionate fury in such bands as Charley Horse and Die Hunns, her band with hubby Peters. Now that they made the move from Long Beach to Los Feliz, we'll be seeing more of them.