The West is a big, big place, and every week our staff is all over it, digging up the shops and restaurants, beaches and trails, performances and, well, phenomena that make the region so vibrant. Here’s the Best of the West this week

Mountain Games with BOW Icon
Courtesy of GoPro

A Swimsuit That’s Stylish and Surfable

I have a slight swimsuit obsession, somewhat odd considering I live most of the year in land-locked Colorado. There are plenty of cute suits out there, but few tick the boxes of being fashionable, flattering, and functional. So I was thrilled to discover Sweet Paradise Club on a recent trip to Hawaii. Maui-based founder Erica Segerberg Camp designs bikinis and one-pieces that seamlessly transition from beach BBQ to surf break. Her mix of bold colors and floral prints makes it easy to mix-and-match pieces so you can have the perfect suit for every occasion.  The Lars Surf Suit is my new favorite for kite surfing and longboarding in Maui and the Sven top and Oskar bottom combo is my new uniform for wakesurfing this summer in Colorado. —Jen Murphy, executive editor


Lars Surf Suit

Dumpling Craving: Sated!

Dumpling Time, on an off-the-beaten-path block of San Francisco’s SoMA district, is my new favorite eatery. Their staggering selection of various dumpling styles, from xiao long bao (a.k.a. soup dumplings, IMO one of the world’s culinary masterpieces) to gyoza, merits bringing a group so you can try a bunch of dishes—or simply requires repeat visits. A lot of them. On my inaugural dining experience, my party tried the outstanding spinach-skinned seafood gyoza (filled with succulent chunks of shrimp and scallops), the five-spice lamb dumplings (unexpectedly delicious), steamed char siu bao (one of my all-time faves), garlic green beans (because vegetables), and several orders of soup dumplings, including an extra order for dessert (#YOLO). I left the restaurant satisfied, happy, and already planning my next outing. Dumpling Time doesn’t take reservations, and a substantial line forms outside just before the 5 p.m. opening time; not to worry, the food comes out shockingly quickly. —Jessica Mordo, deputy digital editor

A Tasty Intro to Vegan Gourmet Cooking

Plant-based cooking school The Natural Gourmet has begun classes at the Institute of Culinary Education, not only in New York but in L.A. at the ICE that launched in Pasadena in 2018. I was a big fan of their Friday night dinners in New York, so I headed to Pasadena for one of their Health Supportive Culinary Arts classes in Middle Eastern vegan cooking. My class learned a delicate technique for rolling out pitas from scratch, as well as the art of creating dishes like mujadarahmuhammarah, grilled asparagus with roasted pearl onions and shiitakes, and a super fresh spin on tabbouleh made with quinoa—perfect for gluten-free folks. Lest you think healthy vegan cooking eschews sugar entirely, know that perfectly savory-sweet saffron rose pistachio cookies sweetened with maple crystals were the dessert du jour. The degree program is already live, and recreational classes launch soon. I’m waiting for a Korean vegetarian class! —Dakota Kim, staff writer

Echo in the Canyon

Some people like a crunchy Gibson guitar sound; some like a wailing Fender Stratocaster. Me, I can’t resist the sound of a bright, chimy Rickenbacker 12-string. I trace this back to my parents, who fed me a musical diet well balanced across the decades. The jingle-jangle SoCal tones of the Byrds and Joni Mitchell could often be heard in our house, and the Mamas and the Papas’ “California Dreamin’” got me through many a winter’s day (and maybe planted a seed for some West Coast dreams of my own). Turns out I’m not the only member of Generation X enthralled with the sound of Laurel Canyon in the mid-1960s. Jakob Dylan (son of that Dylan) has produced a documentary called Echo in the Canyon that pays homage to that time and place. It premiered in L.A. a few weeks ago, and finally gets a  wider release starting this coming weekend. Look for the late Tom Petty in what is thought to be his last on-camera interview ever. —Nicole Clausing, digital producer

Mountain Games

Courtesy of GoPro

Don’t miss the GoPro Mountain Games, a family- and dog-friendly outdoor event in Vail, Colorado, happening this weekend June 6–9. Watch athletes scale rock walls in record time, kayak through powerful rapids, freestyle on a slackline, race bikes through the mountain, and so much more. Sign up for an event or class to join in on the fun, or simply be inspired from the sidelines. The event also hosts free concerts, gear demos, and a food and beer garden. Dock Dogs is the not-to-be-missed event: Watch determined furry athletes jump as far as they can and land in a pool of water. Position yourself in the splash zone if it’s hot out! —Zoe Gutterman, associate digital producer

Retro Look, Futuristic Performance

Most extension cords deserve to be shoved behind a couch. But living rooms deserve better than Staples. That’s why I’m proudly displaying this two-outlet beauty from Conway Electric. The braided cord adds a touch of style to a utilitarian device, and the powder-coated finish will keep the cast metal clothed in color for years to come. What’s more, the USB-C outlets on either side of the plug ports are powered by smart chips for ultra-fast charges. —Matt Bean, editor in chief

Smart-Chip Extension Cord

The Coolest Little Restaurant in the Hollywood Hills

In L.A., a town known for its grand artifice, the restaurant Yamashiro is at the top of the heap. Literally. The old prom/wedding/first-important-date-night palace is perched in the Hollywood Hills and commands sweeping views of the city. It’s ostensibly Japanese. It’s kitschy but beautiful. And it’s big. But Kensho, its latest extension, is small. Like maybe 20 seats small. And it’s my new favorite spot in Hollywood. Run by the team behind the restaurant Triniti in Echo Park, Kensho is a wine bar and café by day and a restaurant by night. There’s a killer sake and natural wine program, tasty pan-Asian-Californian dishes like burrata toast dressed with yuzu vinaigrette and dashi-drenched eggplant, as well as an elegant prix-fixe Japanese breakfast. Housed in a little bungalow below the grand manse of Yamashiro, it’s a lovely spot to wile away an hour or so on the patio, sipping Pet Nat, and looking out over the treetops of the Hollywood Hills. —Hugh Garvey, food editor

Maestro of Modern Gardens

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Some people want their homes to stand out in the landscape. Others, like the homeowner of this Ojai retreat, aspire to just the opposite. This week, I am sharing a project that encapsulates the idea of “borrowed landscape,” which is how exterior designers describe shaping vistas from inside and out to blur the boundaries of where the property begins and ends. Based on Ojai’s longtime casual vibe and the homeowner’s desire to create a place that felt organic to its setting, the aesthetic practically suggested itself. But plant choices were a challenge. In summer, temperatures in this area regularly climb over 100 degrees which is to say that the climate is perfect for citrus and avocados, but stresses all sorts of other vegetation. We wanted to make the main house its own oasis at the property’s core. Surrounding it with boulders and plantings and encircling it with gravel pathways instead of formal steppingstones gave it true privacy, but also a certain casualness. We planted the gravel walkways with durable California natives and compatibles: olive and dwarf olive trees, agave, California bay, coppertone loquat, and others, a palette that can thrive in extreme heat and that I first used for the Tin House. The result is a property with a feeling of boundlessness. Because we carefully considered each element visible from every window, the views roll out, and roll out, and roll out to the mountains without stopping. See more of the garden and many others in my new book, The Art of Outdoor Living @rizzolibooks (link to buy in bio) All photos by @lisaromerein #theartofoutdoorliving #outdoorliving #shraderdesign #garden #gardendesign #Ojai #borrowedlandscape #citrus #olivetrees #agave #loquat

A post shared by Shrader Design (@scott_shrader) on

Scott Shrader is one of my favorite garden designers in the country. Whenever I think about a design, I inevitably compare the gardens, the photos, and the plant choices to those of Shrader. He has a special eye for selecting the perfect materials then pairing them with plants, antiques, and outdoor art so that the entire garden is at the same time fascinating and relaxing. His new book, The Art of Outdoor Living, showcases many of his best gardens and shares how he thinks about urban and suburban landscapes . —Thad Orr, garden editor


The Art of Outdoor Living

The Last Black Man in San Francisco

Although I don’t live in San Francisco, I’ve spent enough time there over the decades to watch it metamorphose in unpredictable ways, from a scrappily cosmopolitan outpost to the billionaire’s Bizarro World it is today. And that’s why I’m psyched to go see The Last Black Man in San Francisco, the new movie about an African-American skateboarder trying to reclaim the gorgeous Victorian home his grandfather built while also trying to figure out his own place in his native city. From the trailer, it looks to encapsulate—gorgeously—what San Francisco both is and was, with plenty of luscious architecture porn to boot. —Matt Gross, special projects director

Rose Festival Fleet Week, Portland 

Float into the weekend with the Rose Festival Fleet Week at Portland’s waterfront June 5–9 and celebrate all active and reserve military personnel and veterans. Every year since 1907, colossal ships and submarines of the US Navy, Coast Guard, and Royal Canadian Navy have journeyed up the Willamette to moor at the waterfront. This year, a Galley Wars competition will bring military chefs together to prove their culinary skills and tours of ships will be available. —Kelsey Maloney, editorial assistant

The Oat Milk Ice Cream That Converted My Skeptical Heart

Courtesy of Bi-Rite

I’m a fan of oat milk in lattes (so creamy! so frothy!) but I was quite skeptical about oat milk-based ice creams. I tried a few that confirmed this belief—too sweet and the texture was off—but Bi-Rite Creamery’s new oat milk flavors converted the cold-hearted skeptic in me. The Huckleberry Banana flavor uses Oregon huckleberry jam and organic bananas churned with oat milk before swirling in more bright, huckleberry jammy goodness, and the Cinnamon Maple Oat Crunch uses organic cinnamon, oat milk, and Mead dark maple syrup for a homemade oat crumble reminiscent of the crunchy cinnamon cereal we all devoured as kids. Turns out this alt-dairy-milk-of-choice can make pretty glorious ice cream if it’s done right. —Maya Wong, assistant editor

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