I love this big crazy city. I’ve lived here for quite a long time and there are a handful of important things to understand about Los Angeles: don’t use the 405 unless someone is paying you for your time and gas mileage, know your dry cleaner by name, shop at an awesome wine shop, and know thy taco truck. I get a lot of requests for Los Angeles recommendation from readers who find themselves visiting this city. Here’s a hearty beginning: where to eat, where to sit, where you might want to pray, and some dang spicy Thai food (among other things).
The Best Little Crowded Place to Get Wine is Venice Beach Wine Bar. It’s small and cozy and has an almost communal seating feel. It’s a neighborhood bar that fills up every night… and even though it’s packed, it’s the kind of place that feels like you can always find a seat. They also sell wine by the bottle… and maybe you’ll see Zach Galifianakis there.
For Church on Sunday Morning I love Ecclesia Hollywood. The community of people who make up this church is warm, welcoming, talented, and creative. This church makes this biiiiiig city, feel like a small, connected, Godly place.
Sit in the lobby at Shutters, Santa Monica. They’ll bring you water and free potato chips and you can sit in the beach-sun without getting sand in your shoes. There’s a cocktail bar downstairs and loads of beach to walk on should you feel sand-and-sunny. Also in the neighborhood is The Viceroy. This hotel is for the cool kids and totally worth a visit.
You won’t be orange. It’s organic. It’s spray tan. I’ve done it because I’m pale and I wear sunscreen and sometimes I just don’t want to be as pale as the day is long. Don’t you judge me.
For old-school Los Angeles eats, I adore Phillipe’s French Dip Sandwiches. I’ve gone to Phillipe’s (literally) all of my life. My parents met working right across the street from this sandwich shop. My grandfather loved two things: baseball and Phillipe’s. So yea, this LA eatery is in my blood. I order a double-dipped roast beef sandwich, potato salad, coconut cream pie, lemonade, and coffee. I’m not shy.
Thai Food is serious business. Night + Market on Sunset Blvd is really the only way to go. Night+Market is Thai street food. Yes, there’s Pad Thai… but there are also awesome dishes like Cat Fish Tamales and Fried Pig Tail. It’s bold and seriously spicy food. The wine list is also STELLAR. The restaurant is located right at the end of the Sunset Strip… it’s sort of an adventure.
There are two places to eat sausage and pie and they happen to be neighbors. Wurstkuche sells house-made fancy German hot dogs. I tend to top mine with a questionably large amount of sauerkraut. Their fries are bonkers thick and don’t even get me started on the dipping sauces. Right across the street is The Pie Hole. These people care about pie. Their Key Lime Meringue Pie is perfect with a cup of coffee and a cute date.
Good food and good taste can be found at Sqirl Jam. Jessica makes some of the most delicious jams I’ve ever tasted and has recently expanded her jam kitchen to include breakfast treats, savory bites, and uh-mazing coffee. Jessica is also beyond kind and hilarious. Stop in. Say hello!
Really great pizza can be found at Mozza. They serve the sort of yeasty, bubbly, thin crust pizza with super fancy toppings that you could never replicate at home. Because the pizza is so bonkers good, reservations are important… BUT there’s a secret: sitting at the bar is the place to be. Hop in early or stop by late night to nab a seat at the bar for pizza and wine.
Of course, I’ve got all of my very favorite bakeries scoped out. As a professional chocolate croissant eater, this is all just part of the deal: Huckleberry is the best bakery in Santa Monica. Go for the chocolate croissants and the doughnuts. They really are the best in the city. Proof Bakery knows great GREAT bread. Clementine is a sweet spot for a homemade treat. They also have a meatloaf sandwich that I would like to make my best friend. Lastly, the dessert bar at The Bazaar in the SLS Hotel is BONKERS. You really do have to see it to believe it.
Los Angeles has some nice places to linger. I love Elysian Park for city views, people and dog watching. This is also a spot for a morning run and real-life stair climbing. Pick up a few bites of fancy food at Cookbook before hitting the hills.
Venice Beach is also a pretty awesome/crazy place to linger. The boardwalk is full of weirdos and henna tattoos. Abbot Kinney is full of super cute (though totally expensive) shops and restaurants.
My favorite spot on the boardwalk is N’ice Cream. My favorite spots on Abbot Kinney are Gjelina and The Tasting Room. These are the sorts of really posh places where you’re liable to run into Luke Wilson or some such handsome actor.
A good patio is so important. I love this secret garden feeling spot called Axe.
Oysters are a luxury. L&E Oyster is top-notch (and it’s just across the street from La Mill… so it’s the perfect after-office dinner treat).
A good wine shop is everything. It’s hard for me to find a wine shop that can meet my wine needs. Mostly I want to be able to walk into a wine shop and describe wine by comparing it to cozy sweaters, barn yard animals, and lipstick colors. I know so little about tannins, acidity, and viscosity… I just know I like good wine that pairs well with kettle corn. Domaine LA is the answer. It’s unpretentious, affordable, and they have some really amazing wine.
Part two of I Love You, Los Angeles will be all about prop shopping, thrift stores, and lipstick. Stay tuned!