What a year 2017 was! So much of a year that I have yet another list of honorable mentions ahead of my Dianderthal Top 10 of 2017. Here are a few more things that delighted Dianderthal this year.

Lionel Richie in Concert (with Very Special Guest Mariah Carey)

The idea to attend this concert belonged to my spouse. But with the announced venue being the Hollywood Bowl, I was game. But Lionel Richie? It seemed weird. Not that my 13 year-old self I wasn’t a fan of All Night Long or Dancing on the Ceiling, but MJ and Prince and New Edition were more my people (with a slow shift to LL Cool J and NWA and Too $hort as the 80s progressed).

But I’d forgotten about one little Lionel nugget – his days as a Commodore. Specifically, as the lead of the Commodores. Not that they were a group I listened to much back in the day (more my parents’ speed), but the Commodores brought that real deep soul. And this is exactly what Lionel brought to the Bowl. The brotha was bad ass about it too. He Truly solidified his fandom in this little Long Beach chick.

Lionel Richie concert Lionel Richie concert

Mighty Kitchen

Sad as I was to learn Spin! Pizza in Los Alamitos had closed (but not completely devastated since a location in Huntington Beach is just a quick freeway drive away), I decided to give the new concept that took its place a try. Mighty Kitchen is a nifty little spot with something for everyone, including my favorite burger find of the year: the turkey banh mi slider.

Disneyland Half Marathon

My first Disney race started out on the warm side, a balmy 83° at 5:08 am when I arrived at the starting line. But what it lacked in cool comfort, the race more than made up for with that intangible Disney Magic. This is a must for a those looking for a fun race. Favorite moment: running through Angels’ Stadium amid cheers from race fans and spotting myself on the big screen.

Brunch

Brunch is kind of a social cliché. But clichés become so for a reason. And as much as I hate to be basic, I’m willing and ready when it comes to loving brunch. And what better place to brunch it up than NYC. Actually, the LBC is pretty brunch-tacular (yah, I said it), and usually without a long wait; but a New York brunch is sort of a cliché on tope of a cliché. And with my love of brunch in the big city, I’m a super basic brunch-eating bitch.

the bacon maple doughnutsBrunch at Sweet ChickBrunch at NY's Clinton St. Baking

PinkU

I loved my experience at Minneapolis’ PinkU because 1) as the first customer of the day, I earned a short and sweet breakdown of the restaurant’s history from the owner (he did the semi-same thing for the pair of ladies who arrived 20 minutes after I did so I only a little bit special), 2) the visit doubled as a mini escape from a full day stuck in a convention center watching volleyball, 3) I Lyfted there but took a scenic walk back to the tournament venue, 4) the food killed!, and 5) I had two of their champagne cocktails. Two.

Mandoline Truck

I’ve mostly been turned off of gourmet food trucks due to the high prices customers typically pay for items that rarely meet expectations. So perhaps my bar was already low when I ordered a chicken banh mi from the Mandoline truck outside of the Aquarium of the Pacific’s Dive Night, my dining choices for the evening between food truck fare, the aquarium cafeteria, or the couple-few Tic Tacs in my purse. But raise that bar 100 feet and that sandwich would still deliver. For the time being, with Mandoline, I’m a little bit less of a food truck pessimist going into the new year.

Banh mi from the Mandoline truck Mandoline Truck

Subscription Boxes

The year started with a food subscription – I stuck with Blue Apron for more than a few months but eventually gave up after letting several meal ingredients rot to waste when I didn’t have time to cook them. Then my focus shifted to beauty, with boxes arriving on the regular from Ipsy, Birch Box, and FabFitFun. Although I don’t use all of the products I receive (I give away those items that aren’t Black girl focused – I’m talking hair products if you needed help). The novelty of it all is kind of wearing off, as much as I enjoy receiving packages in the post. I’m keeping Fab for the many unique surprises that arrive each quarter, Birch because of the sweetly designed boxes (good for supporting the habits of borderline hoarders like me), and Ipsy for the nifty pouches in which the items are shipped (good for supporting the habits of borderline bag whores like me).

Avalon

I haven’t written about our Catalina trip because one annoying episode there left a bad taste on it, but I greatly enjoyed our family weekend getaway there in September. The food wasn’t stellar but satisfyingly solid. I zip-lined for the first time and fell in love with it. And got stung by a bee. That shit hurt like heck, but I finally have context for such a milestone. That wasn’t the unfortunate event, however. At the end of a wonderfully long day of lounging at the Descanso Beach Club via their chair rentals, a staff there treated us rather rudely, almost negating the high from the great service we’d received until then. Probably won’t return because of it. A shame.

Catalina Island panorama Catalina Island zipline Catalina Island - Diane and girls awaiting zipline Catalina Island - cabana foodFamily shot at Catalina Island

Museum of Ice Cream

This was a hot ticket in 2017. Happy to have caught it.

Museum of Ice Cream Swing at Museum of Ice Cream

New Bixby Spots

I’m thrilled to have so many new (and new to me) places that are walking (or a cheap Lyft) distance from home. There are lots of options in my ‘hood as of the close of 2017: new owners at Weiland’s; an expanded EJ Malloy’s; quality baked goods and coffee at The Merchant. Wondrous pizza and craft beer choices at Dutch’s Brewhouse; schnitzel and more beer at Rasselbock; and more beer and more pizza and more at Steelcraft. Plus, Cheese Addiction just opened on Atlantic (I’m already feenin’) and more craft beer is on the way (joining those mentioned and fav-o-mine Stateside Crafts) with Ambitious Ales. I’m also excited about the new Blue Ring Coffee storefront newly opened in North Long Beach. Hope we’ll support these spots so that they’ll stick around a good long time.

Rasselbock Rasselbock The Merchant LB - Exterior The Merchant LB - Interior Papa Pork fries at steel craft - Pig PenPig Pen Delicacy Burger at SteelcraftRamen at Steelcraft Candy shop at steel craftSteelCraft - Fresh Shaveburger and beer from Steelcraft