I Love You, Los Angeles

i love los angeles

 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).

xo joy

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.

i love los angeles

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.

i love los angeles

Everyone is on a juice diet.  Kale juice  from Pressed Juicery is good (and totally expensive), but ice cream from  Scoops is better (on the wallet at least).

i love los angeles

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.

i love los angeles

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.

i love los angeles

A good patio is so important.  I love this secret garden feeling spot called Axe.

i love los angeles

Sometimes a coffee shop turns into an office.   La Mill in Silverlake is the best spot for these sorts of afternoons.  I also love Paper and Plastik and Coffee Commissary.

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!


83 thoughts on “I Love You, Los Angeles

  1. I should know better than to check on your blog at quarter to one in the morning… reading about Philippes has made my tummy all hungry.
    I’ll definitely be using this as a guide next year when I visit! xx s

  2. My husband & I are Idaho transplants (been here 15 years now) and I never imagined how much I’d come to love this city. Yes, traffic can be a nightmare. Yes, we could have bought a mansion somewhere else in the country for what we paid for our tiny house (1425 sq. ft and we have 4 kids) on the Westside. Yes, the thought of a large earthquake scares the living day lights out of me. We wouldn’t change any of that though. We love LA with her history and diversity. Thanks for sharing some of your favorite spots in our lovely city. Oh, love, love, love Phillipe’s!

  3. I’ve live in LA my whole life (still here in on the westside) and I only have been to a couple of places you mentioned. Sigh. But I do appreciate the love thrown at the wonderful city. It’s big and messy, but it’s home.

  4. Great post Joy! I’ve never spent much time in LA and have all kinds of unsupported, probably completely made up assumptions about it. This makes me want to learn what LA is really all about.

  5. thank you for this post! i went to ucla, but i was so young (and without car), that i feel like i never really lived in los angeles. can’t wait to try out some of these places you raved about!

  6. This made me super homesick. I’m from LA living in Portland, and I just have to say that LA has my heart wholly and completely. I love that silly, weird place.

  7. I grew up outside of LA and moved to Boston 4 years ago to be with the love of my life (we’re still in love and about to walk down the aisle, phew), this post TOTALLY made me tear up. I miss Los Angeles so much. So so much. I may print this and read it in January, because clearly I’m narcissistic.

  8. I love LA, I just wish I could go visit more often. My fav place is Venice Beach, I just love the whole vibe of it.. Next time I’m definitely going to check the Venice Beach Wine Bar you recommended…sounds amazing!

  9. I love these travel posts. I’ve never been, but this makes me want to go at some point. And, because you’re wonderful, you’ve covered all the important bases. :)

  10. Oh this post makes me so ‘homesick’ for the month that I spent in LA this summer. We stayed just off Abbot Kinney and I have to completely agree with your recommendation of N’ice Cream…I’m still thinking about the salted caramel ice cream there and I think Gjelina is probably my favourite ever restaurant. I’ve never had food that I loved so much. We’re going back to LA next March for 10 days and I can’t wait to revisit all my old favourites and find some new ones thanks to this post!

  11. Fun post! I love San Diego because it’s more quaint and easier to get around than LA, but when I see posts like this, I am reminded that I need to trek up there more often. Love all the pics, links, details, thoughts and can’t wait to see Part 2 – thrift stores. THAT’s worth the drive :)

  12. After living in LA for almost 9 years, I moved to Austin just a few months ago. This post made me teary, I miss it so much!

    My favorites are:
    The Bagel Broker for bagels (yummmm)

    and in the same strip mall…
    Food Fair by Diego for the cheapest, best dinner with the friendliest staff. Only neighborhood people know Diegos, but he deserves a much wider fan base!

    Joans on Third for baked goods

    Scoops for ice cream (OH GOD I MISS SCOOPS)

    Mashti Malones for ice cream if Scoops is closed or if you want delicious Persian ice cream

    The Shortstop for nonstop fun dancing and cheapish drinks

    The Varnish for fancy cocktails and a speakeasy feel (and they’re in the back of Cole’s which I actually prefer to Philippes for French dips! Sorry, Joy!)

    The Hollywood Farmers’ Market on Sunday mornings for great produce, good prepared food and awesome people watching

    Oh, I could go on, but I’ll stop. Enjoy LA for me. I’ll be back soon, I hope!

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