3 Days* in LOS ANGELES
Most Tinseltown sights like Rodeo Drive or the Hollywood sign attract flocks of tourists but fail to capture LA’s unique charisma. Off the beaten path, you can glimpse a very different, diverse, intriguing City of Angels. Make sure to rent some wheels or drop some cash on Uber. LA’s public transpo system is a disaster and the city is a poster child for urban sprawl.
Day 1* in Los Angeles
Downtown LA (DTLA) has undergone a serious makeover in the last ten years. Some of the city’s coolest restaurants, galleries and bars have popped up. And the fixie-riding hipsters arrived, too.
One of DTLA’s architectural highlights is Frank Gehry’s Disney Concert Hall. Its concave and convex surfaces remind one of sails billowing in the wind (Gehry is an avid sailor) and it’s worth checking the schedule as the acoustics in the philharmonic concert hall are impressive.
A stone throw away, THE BROAD Museum recently opened its doors and houses prominent modern art pieces. Warhol, Koons, Hirst and many more are exhibited in this architectural gem.
Continue to the Grand Central Market for breakfast at the Egg Slut and if rummaging through retro clothing is your thing, don’t miss Shareen’s Vintage. In this warehouse you can dig through a huge selection of vintage pieces organized by decades. It’s women only, but wear nice undies since there are no dressing rooms.
Carry on to Wurstkueche for a sausagey lunch washed down with a beer from their extensive globe-spanning selection. I dare you to try the rattlesnake or alligator sausage and their fries are to die for. Koreatown isn’t too far and a visit at a Korean Spa is always good fun. After your rubdown, head over to Soo Won Galbi for traditional Korean BBQ, and Bob’s your uncle.
Alternatively you can head toward the hip neighborhoods of Echo Park, Silverlake and Los Feliz or visit the Griffith Park Observatory for a spectacular view of the city. Explore Mexico’s culinary footprint either at the hip Malo Restaurant in Los Feliz or tuck into some street food at the Oaxacan Quesadilla Cart. Cap your first Angelic day with a mint julep at the Whiskey Bar Seven Grand before hitting the sheets at the posh ACE Hotel.
Day 2* in Los Angeles
To contrast Day 1’s urban experience I recommend a day in Malibu to cleanse your airways. For a little wild west Ponderosa charm, start your day with breakfast at The Old Place. This former general store nails the atmosphere and grub (hello chicken pot pie) and also serves up a mean MANmosa.
Cruise down the windy N1 and stop for a retail recharge at the Malibu Country Mart, which hosts a collection of unique boutiques and fresh labels. A pound or two heavier and a few dollars lighter, you’ve earned yourself a little time in the sand.
Point Dume is a good beach for dolphin or whale spotting and it might remind you of the stretch of sand The Hoff and Pam Anderson sprinted down in their red swimwear and bouncing body parts. Alternatively dig your toes in at the rocky, romantic El Matador Beach.
Once your battery is recharged (or your SPF is wearing thin), continue north on the PCH until you hit County Line. A popular surf spot, you can pig out on some fried calamari from the biker café Neptune’s Net while keeping an eye out for Laird Hamilton slicing through a wave. For a more upscale selection of seafood, mosey back toward the city and indulge in the black cod or rock shrimp tempura at the beachfront Nobu Restaurant.
To cut down on drive time, consider overnighting on the West Side. Hotel Erwin is a good option - not much to look at from the outside, but the rooftop terrace and prime Venice Beach location make up for it.
Day 3* in Los Angeles
Take a page from the fit westside Angelinos and move your body a little on Day 3. Hop on a bike and pedal along the boardwalk from Venice to Santa Monica or take a Yoga class at Yoga Salt in Marina Del Rey. I recommend Tamal Dodge’s classes – they are rigorous, thought provoking and inspiring.
A good place to recharge is at Café Gratitude, a tasty vegan joint – even for a die-hard carnivore like me. Fair warning: this restaurant is very “L.A.” Its mission statement of “sacred commerce” can be a tad cringe-worthy but it makes up for it with absolutely delicious food. Gjelina’s little sister Gjusta on Abbott Kinney is a more grounded alternative if you don't mind a standing meal. And now for a dose of culture: Visit either the Bergamot Station, a gallery collective for local artists or the intimate Annenberg Space for Photography, one of my personal favorites. The photo exhibitions and multimedia montages showcase some of the biggest names in photography.
Sup in style next door at Hinoki & The Bird with one of the best Cod dishes you’ll ever try. (Yes… Cod again, I can’t help myself.) And finally, wrap up your LA trip with a few cocktails at Good Times at Davey Wayne’s. This retro 70s joint reminds one of Aunt Helga’s mildew-y living room – only better… The Palihotel on Melrose Ave is a good place to lay your weary head.
- KCRW 89.9 for news
- Kendrick Lamar (Compton native)
- Las Cafeteras to honor LA’s large Latin influences