Whether you’re a resident or just a visitor, I love reminding people that if you don’t find yourself a big fan of LA, there’s a good chance that you prrroooobablyyyy just don’t know what to do. This city is understandably overwhelming, but I am of the mindset that its charm and accessibility mostly outweigh its stereotypes and undeniable crappy qualities. (There’s a reason this site is called ‘Love & Loathing’ LA and not ‘Love and Loving’.) Under that layer of lustrous haze (not to be confused with smog. It’s not a thing anymore) is a beautifully diverse city home to an unbelievable array of people, landscapes, and cultures that truly give LA its substance.
A few months ago I was asked if I had an easy guide for first-time visitors to LA. And while I have several niche guides that could be of use, I did not have anything written that was so specific. I have been consistently writing about Los Angeles and sharing my insights for 6+ years. But turns out trying to condense a 503 square mile city into a digestible guide of “absolute musts” is just as intimidating as the city itself! But if we didn’t try, we’d never know. So here’s what I think is crucial for you to know, whether you’re a local or visiting. It’s all relative as far as I’m concerned. There’s always something worth learning about LA. So let’s get started with the basics!
THE FIRST TIMER’S GUIDE TO LOS ANGELES
THINGS TO NOTE.
- As mentioned, Los Angeles – the city – is 503 square miles. In other words, it’s probably even bigger than you’d imagined it to be. Which means it’s in your best interest to plan accordingly based on your target “must-see” list!
- On that note, LA can be seriously overwhelming. Start with specific things you’d like to experience and build from there based on what’s close. The likelihood of you becoming a master in one trip is slim to none, and remember that that’s ok.
- Los Angeles is broken up into several neighborhoods and each have their own unique attributes, quirks, and lovable personalities.
- LA is not exactly the easiest city to get around – surprise. We are a city of drivers. So it’s highly recommended that you have access to a car. Either one you rent or use via rideshare apps. There are walkable areas (beach cities for example), but do your research!
- You’re in luck with the weather, there’s about a 70% chance you’ll be visiting while the sun is shining.
- the best times to visit are between March – May, and again from September – November. (I joke that this is when Angelenos start THEIR summer vacation.)
This city is non-stop.
- There’s always something going on, but if for some reason you’re feeling bored, step outside the box and do something local: go to a concert, a sports game, a farmers market, a local park, go on a hike, hit the beach! Whatever your budget is there are plenty of ways to have a great time in LA.
- As with any metropolitan city, there are worthwhile touristy things and then there are not. For example, I don’t think Hollywood Blvd is worth experiencing. But if you want to at least say you saw it, see it by car. Trust me you’ll get the gist.
- LA is a fantastic melting pot of every type of culture you can imagine. And that is reflected directly in our dining scene. EAT!
- You don’t have to spend a fortune to enjoy incredible food here in LA. In fact, our city’s beloved authority on the matter, the late Jonathan Gold, would recommend you don’t.
- People in LA are nice. They really are. Are they Minnesota nice? Not exactly, but for a big city, I rank Angelenos pretty high. Be polite, be nice. And most of the locals will treat you with the same level of respect.
- There are 1 million ways to do LA right. The mentioned places below are simply personal and fan favorites. Think of this list as the starting place for what truly makes LA an amazing place to visit. Then go forth and make it your own. And seriously I hope that you do!
THE MUST SEE’S
– Westside –
Once named “America’s Coolest Street”, Abbot Kinney pretty much still lives up to that title. Venice Beach is arguably LA’s most obsessed about neighborhood. It’s gritty yet glam all at once and covered in sunshine and sand to boot. Abbot Kinney is a street home to some of LA’s best boutiques, best restaurants. And its locale offers a stunning backdrop and idealistic “California” vibe. This is a place just as much for tourists as it is for locals. So if you want to experience LA in the wild, this is a good place to get a lot done in one place.
Not what I’d consider to be our “best” museum but definitely LA’s prettiest from the inside out! That goes for both the Getty Center and the Getty Villa in Malibu. You can (and should) hit both museums on the same day, and the icing on the cake? Admission to both is FREE. Reserve your tickets ahead of time though to secure your entry.
The Beach, duh.
There’s so many to choose from… and really, it’s hard to go wrong! I have always loved going to Manhattan Beach and Marina Del Rey for parking and proximity to other activities. But the beaches in Malibu – like El Matador and Paradise Cove – are the truly “dreamy” spots.
– In Between –
LACMA is LA’s pride and joy when it comes to serious museum art and artifacts. It’s actually the largest art museum in the Western United States, so if it’s a big deal, it’s at LACMA. Once you’re done perusing the galleries, be sure to snap a photo in front of Urban Light – one of LA’s most beloved installations and favorite photo opportunities amongst many. Myself included.
– Downtown / Eastside –
If there’s one place I take every single person visiting, it’s Grand Central Market in Downtown LA (DTLA for short). GCM has been open since 1917 and has been renovated and revamped over the past few years, adding amazing new vendors here and there, but this place is a huge part of LA’s history. Not only is it an absolutely beautiful building and market, but it’s also home to some of LA’s best restaurants. A few of my favorites being Eggslut, Horse Thief BBQ, Sari Sari Store, and Wexler’s Deli. If you’re a foodie, GCM is non-negotiable.
Another very hip and relatively walkable area in LA is in the Arts District in DTLA. Many of my personal favorite places in LA call the Arts District home – everything from galleries, coffee shops, restaurants, bars, breweries, local shops, etc is right here in the Arts District. The Arts District as a whole expands a bit further than you’d think, so if you wanted to go to an area where you could walk a bit to get the most out of the experience I would head to the E. 3rd at Traction area. There you’ll find favorites like Wurstkuche, Salt & Straw, Arts District Brewing Company, Manuela, and a ton more.
What a little slice of adorable. Echo Park Lake, while it might seem odd or mildly sketchy, is just a cute little “lake” in the middle of a bustling neighborhood with a park surrounding. Angelenos love to come here to have picnics, order some ice cream from the ice cream truck, go for walks, or of course, take a cruise around the lake in those signature swan pedal boats.
For a more in-depth look: “A List of Things You Can Totally Get Away With At Echo Park Lake”
The Dodgers are only in the offseason for about 4-5 months, so there’s an excellent chance there will be a game going on at home on any given day. And should you be so lucky that there is, in fact, a game happening during your stay – go. At the very least to see this beautiful retro stadium, and to have a Dodger Dog (make it a Brooklyn Dog) and a cold beer from Golden Road. LA doesn’t preserve much history, but Dodger Stadium really is one of LA’s most historic and beautiful gems.
Visiting the Huntington Library & Gardens was one of the first “touristy” activities I ever did in LA and it definitely aided in giving this city some serious appeal. With its sprawling 120-acre landscape and well-kept theme gardens, how could it not? There are libraries and art galleries as well, but you definitely come here for the fresh air and beautiful scenery. And might I suggest, that before or after your visit to the gardens that you take part in the best Afternoon Tea service in all of LA at the Langham Hotel in Pasadena. If this is your sort of thing, this is my favorite place in LA to do it.
The Broad in DTLA is arguably LA’s “coolest” of museums. From its epic exterior, collection of incredible modern art and installations, to the soul fact that it is FREE admission, The Broad is still one of the most fun places in LA to spend a few hours. If you’re in need of a light bite and a great cocktail afterward, Otium next door is a whole other unique experience worth exploring. It’s on the pricier end but worth it in every way.
CLICHE BUT OK
– Westside –
As someone who has actually been on the famous Ferris Wheel, the Santa Monica Pier really isn’t all that bad. Peak season might be awful (packed I mean), but offseason, at the right time of night (golden hour might I recommend) it’s actually pretty fun. Make what you will of it but don’t leave without a funnel cake – it’s the best one I’ve ever had.
Side note: The Albright, located at the start of the pier, has some amazing seafood should you be in the mood.
LA is no stranger to the concept of an outdoor shopping mall, and by far the largest outdoor area to shop in is at the 3rd Street Promenade in Downtown Santa Monica. It’s in a great location near the beach, they have every store imaginable, and as previously mentioned – it’s outside!
The Venice Canals are cool and fun to take pictures of, but really that’s about it. They’re worth seeing if you’re walking around the area and want to pretend for a moment like you have $10 million dollars to purchase one of the homes here… but other than that, it’s not a completely mandatory activity, just fun to say you did.
– In Between –
Did you even workout in LA if you didn’t “do Runyon”? Runyon is silly, but relatively effective if you, 1. want a quick workout outdoors, 2. want to see a lot of very attractive people with dogs, 3. you might need an Instagram pic, or 4. you need a passable excuse for ordering another scoop of ice cream. Everyone in LA has “done Runyon” at least once, and some even do it often! Keep in mind that parking is terrible, take your chances on getting lucky or take an Uber to your workout.
Would it be a proper trip to LA without some shopping? If LA has one “mall” that is 100% worth visiting, it’s The Grove. It’s outdoors, it’s cute, it’s got a trolly, they blast Frank Sinatra 24/7, and all in all, it’s very “LA”. And besides their great selection of stores and department stores, The Grove also has a movie theater, great restaurants (like Laduree and Dominique Ansel), and is adjacent to one of my favorite places to visit and dine: The Original Farmers Market. Similar to Grand Central Market, in theory, The Original Farmers Market has been around for ages and offers a variety of cuisines from several different food stalls. If you’re hungry after shopping, pick something in the Farmers Market.
Rodeo is not for everyone, in fact, it’s probably not really for most people. BUT if you have serious money to blow – or you wish to pretend like you do – Rodeo can be fun! You’re likely well aware of what to expect around Rodeo, it is after all one of the most famous streets in the world. It’s the epitome of luxury and is home to just about every single major high-end designer you can think of. If there were a place where LA and some of its more entertaining stereotypes all came together… you’d see it in this area. It’s fun. Go with it.
– Eastside –
Arguably my favorite “touristy” thing to do in LA to this day is to visit the Griffith Park Observatory – there’s so much to see and do here! Not only does Griffith offer some of the most beautiful views of the LA basin, but there are tons of trails to hike through, and it’s home to a functioning planetarium. I love coming up here to hike because once I’m done I head down the hill to one of my favorite local spots called Little Dom’s and order anything my heart desires for a job well done.
Universal Studios is part theme park, part film studio and can easily keep you occupied and entertained for hours. It’s no Disneyland but, close enough, and if you’ve never done a studio tour this would be a great place to do one!
AS THE ANGELENOS WOULD DO.
– In Between –
A small street in West Hollywood with big fashionable attitude, Melrose Place is home to a number of higher-end designer boutiques, cult-favorite Glossier, regular pop-ups and events, cafes, and most importantly – one of the most “Instagrammable” places in town, Alfred Coffee (the original) and Alfred Tea. This is an epic spot to people watch, especially if you’re into fashion!
– Eastside –
If you happen to be in town on the second Sunday of the month, without a doubt the thing to do that morning would be to check out our beloved Rose Bowl Flea Market in Pasadena. The Rose Bowl Flea is widely regarded as one of the best in the US – if not the world. Not only because of its sheer size, but also because of the incredible collections that come through. Everything from vintage furniture, clothes, artworks, jewelry, housewares – you name it, the best of the best will be at the Rose Bowl Flea. Personally, I love to hunt for vintage denim – vintage Levi’s starting as low as $15? Yes please!
ROW DTLA is one of the city’s latest large developments in the Arts District and is redefining what a dining and retail district looks like in 2019. It is home to some of the best new restaurants in LA (Pikunico, The Manufactory, Rappahannock, Hayato – and more soon to come), incredible local retailers (dRA, OAK NYC, Poketo, and so many more), and a collective of offices for creatives. ROW is very uniquely “LA”, and a must-see if you’re in the Downtown LA area. Note: if you happen to be in the area on a Sunday, be sure to check out one of the best weekly foodie events in town – Smorgasburg LA – that’s held here at ROW.
For my vintage-loving flea market fans, another beloved market by many Angelenos is Melrose Trading Post which is held at Fairfax High School every Sunday rain or shine. Everyone that could be considered “hip” in LA is at this market, and for good reason. They have everything you’d need to become just that. I have found some of my favorite vintage t-shirts at this market. The prices tend to be a bit higher but you definitely don’t have to dig as hard as you would at the bigger markets.
Highland Park Bowl is a recently refurbished bowling alley that dates back to 1927! It’s an absolutely breathtaking space that dubs as part bowling alley, part restaurant, and part stunning bar. It is an amazing place to hang out with a couple of friends, and you’re in a great neighborhood to walk around and bar/restaurant hop a bit if you should so choose.
For more than half of the year there are outdoor screenings happening all over town. I have been to several myself and can’t say I’ve ever not enjoyed it. In fact, it’s arguably one of my favorite activities to do in LA. The most popular outdoor screenings are at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery and are hosted by Cinespia, but Street Food Cinema, Eat See Hear, Rooftop Cinema Club, Melrose Rooftop Theatre, etc, have you covered as well.
No summer in LA is complete without a concert or a screening at the famed Hollywood Bowl! The season for the Bowl is relatively long so your chances of catching an epic show under the stars are actually relatively high, and whether it be one of your favorite bands, a movie screening with live music, or the LA Philharmonic, get a picnic together and head to Hollywood for a guaranteed memorable night.
You’ve surely heard about Silver Lake, AKA LA’s “coolest” Eastside neighborhood, but if you need a place to start with while exploring the area, start with “Sunset Junction“. Sunset Junction is an informal name for a particular area within the Silver Lake Neighborhood that has a high concentration of some of the city’s best coffee shops, restaurants, local shops, and bars. You can finally tell everyone that you’ve had Intelligentsia coffee.
– Westside –
Quite possibly one of my personal top favorite restaurants in LA, Gjelina has been an Abbot Kinney staple for over 10 years and is showing no signs of slowing down. Gjelina was at the helm of introducing California cuisine to LA. Not only offers incredible local and seasonally inspired dishes but also a stunning space in which to enjoy them. Patio included.
Nobu Malibu: where all of your wildest sushi and California beach fantasies converge. Complete with a side of celebrity sightings. As fantastic and stunning as Nobu truly is, be aware of the fact that their outdoor seating is not guaranteed (but it’s definitely what you want). So plan to attempt at either an off-hour or visit for cocktails – or, as I do, hope for the best. It’s an unbelievable experience no doubt. Just be prepared for anything.
Now, if you were to ask any Angeleno what their favorite sushi spot was, a good portion of them might say Sugarfish. Snd it’s definitely at least high on the list of favorites. There are actually several Sugarfish locations around Los Angeles (I believe 11 to be exact) and the consistency at which every single one operates is unbelievable. The quality of the fish, and the organization and ease of the menu, and the price point for what you get is unparalleled. Get the “Trust Me”, trust me.
– In Between –
As of this year, 2019, Musso & Frank has been in business and a Hollywood “must” for 100 years! The amount of incredible and rich history this place holds is unlike any other dining establishment in the entire city. Musso & Frank has done and seen it all, and even 100 years later it’s still one of the city’s best classic steakhouses, and without a doubt, they make some of the best (if not THE best) cocktails in LA.
Wolfgang Puck plays a fundamental role in LA’s culinary history and evolution, and Spago is one of his flagship restaurants here – and his best in my opinion. Located in Beverly Hills, Spago has been serving some of the best meals the city has to offer since 1982. It’s big, it’s fancy, it’s pretty, and if you’re in the market for an all-around fantastic experience – especially for something celebratory – Spago is the spot.
For the most incredible French food in LA, you head to Petit Trois. Helmed by one of the city’s most prominent chefs, Ludo Lefebvre, Petit Trois is a deliciously indulgent French bistro/brasserie known for unforgettable and critically acclaimed dishes like the burger, the omelette, duck confit, steak frites, and so many more. There is a small location in West Hollywood, as well as much larger space in Sherman Oaks (they’ve dubbed this located Petit Trois Le Valley).
Mozza Plex in Hancock Park is made up of a few of some of the best and most iconic restaurants in Los Angeles. Those restaurants include Chi Spacca (meat-centric, absolutely mind-blowing), Osteria Mozza (the head honcho here, fine dining), and Pizzeria Mozza (you guessed it, the more casual pizzeria). Osteria Mozza is what put chef Nancy Silverton on the map, but for the day to day delicious, Pizzeria Mozza is my favorite. Plus, pizza. The pizzas are fun and California inspired, but the other stand out dishes are on the dessert menu, so be sure to save room.
Korean BBQ is a huge part of LA’s dining culture, and one of the city’s absolute best is Parks BBQ. It is equally as popular amongst well versed KBBQ lovers as it is to the newbies, either way you grill it, you’re going to appreciate Parks. (For those of you unfamiliar with the art of KBBQ, let’s just say it’s a special experience. Tables come equipt with grills, you more or less cook your own meals, and it’s a fun and energetic dining experience. Great for groups, but just as fun for couples too.)
Ambiance holds quite a bit of weight for LA diners, and when a restaurant not only nails cuisine but environment too, they’ve got the makings for success in this ever-changing and insatiable city. Republique is one of the first restaurants that comes to mind who has successfully combined it all. Dining here is not only a culinary experience from breakfast to dinner, but the space alone is a whole other worthwhile experience. It’s almost movie-set like, it’s a total show stopper, and these days it’s an absolute must.
Another restaurant at the forefront of giving California Cuisine clout is A.O.C. Open since 2002, esteemed chef Suzanne Goin and acclaimed restauranter Caroline Styne have made AOC THE destination in the city for fantastic wines paired with market-driven dishes. The cozy ambiance, great patio, and buzzy atmosphere make it so even almost 20 years later AOC is one of LA’s busiest and most popular restaurants. (Get the Spanish fried chicken!)
Minimal in appearance and yet maximum in interesting meat-centric offerings, Animal has been an ultimate dining destination for over 10 years. Animal I will suggest to most, but I reserve extra encouragement for my legitimate foodies as the experience at Animal really is unlike any other. At Animal it’s all about the food, and even though there’s a good chance you haven’t experienced a good portion of the ingredients in most of the dishes, you are guaranteed to leave impressed with what just happened.
Red booths, red and white checked table cloths, finely dressed waitstaff, classic Italian dishes. Dan Tana’s is LA’s most quintessential, “OG”, old school Italian restaurants, period. This local landmark has been an integral part of West Hollywood’s history since 1967. Not much has changed in their 50+ years of service and we’d all like to keep it that way.
– Eastside –
Another LA mainstay that is consistently busy and buzzed-about is Bestia. Located in DTLA and known for their pizzas, pasta, and basically their entire menu. Bestia is many locals’ absolute favorite restaurants in town. It’s trendy but not played out, it’s family-run. And for as long as they’ve been open the level of quality and care executed is the same as it was when they first opened. Not many restaurants can say that. And it’s what keeps us all coming back for more.
– Westside –
For the best Italian deli sandwich in town – but also maybe in existence – you’ve got to pay a visit to Bay Cities Deli in Santa Monica. Bay Cities has been been in business as an Italian grocery shop, deli, and bakery since 1925, and is STILL making some of the best sandwiches in town. Go with the cult favorite, the “Godmother” (Genoa salami, mortadella coppacola, ham, prosciutto, provolone) and you’ll never forget it.
No fuss, no major frills, just a longstanding seafood spot on by the beach in Malibu serving up fresh catches, burgers, cold beer, and old school casual beach vibes. Malibu has a casual chill side, and one of the best places to experience it all is locally loved and LA landmark Neptune’s Net.
– In Between –
We take a lot of care and pride in our local Jewish deli’s, and Canter’s is one of the city’s finest. Open since 1931, Canter’s is still serving some of the best traditional Jewish deli dishes in town. Everything about Canter’s holds up – from the classic American diner interior, the 24 hours of service, the prices, the friendly staff, to the quality of the food – it’s all absolutely worth experiencing. Several times over.
There’s always a worthy excuse to #treatyoself, and if you’re in LA, Salt & Straw should be the reason. While Salt & Straw is technically a concept that originated in Oregon, it has truly become one of LA’s premier ice cream shop (and my personal favorite). There are a few locations around town (Venice, West Hollywood, Larchmont, and DTLA) so fortunately, they’re easy to find – which that wafting smell of waffle cones helps with as well. Salt & Straw is known for their “classic flavors” as well as their monthly more inventive flavors that come with themes. I ALWAYS go with the special flavors – they’re wild but when you taste them they make so much sense.
If there’s one cuisine that I think LA can wholeheartedly own it would be the blending of Korean and Mexican cuisines, and no one does it better than the king of the creation himself, Roy Choi of Kogi BBQ. LA is very proud to have Roy Choi represent us as a city with serious culinary chops, but the best thing about Roy’s restaurants and concepts is that they’re inclusive, casual, and meant to be fun and accessible. Kogi BBQ started as a food truck several years ago and plays a huge roll in LA’s renown food truck culture. Today you can enjoy Kogi from the truck, at their Taqueria, or inside Culver City bar, Alibi Room (must be 21+). Order the short rib tacos, the hot wings, and the kimchi quesadilla – I guarantee you’ve never had anything so interesting and so delicious.
The Apple Pan has been whipping up some of the city’s best burgers and pies since 1947! Dining at this classic “LA diner” is like stepping back in time to the 40s, and from the countertop seating to the familiar flavors, The Apple Pan is just one giant serving of comfort and nostalgia. To this day The Apple Pan will have a line out the door of customers waiting to get their hands on their famous Hickory Burger, or a slice of their famous apple pie – a la mode of course. If you’re a burger connoisseur, The Apple Pan is a must.
– Eastside –
Sqirl might not look like a whole heckuva lot from the outside (or inside for that matter). But judging alone by the massive morning line there’s more to this little cafe than meets the eye. Sqirl is known for its casual breakfast & lunch fare and its incredible locally-made seasonal jams. They make a ricotta and jam toast that comes on a piece of insanely thick toasted bread that truly will change your life. Chef Jessica Koslow has become a bit of a household name around town, so if she has her hands in a project – automatic stamp of approval.
“Home of the Original French Dip”, Philippe’s has been an iconic LA institution since 1908! They are still churning out absolutely perfect French Dips to this day, and the city is eternally grateful. Philippe’s is a great casual spot to go for lunch, it’s a great place to hang out at before a Dodger game, and it’s the spot in town to go for a hot sandwich. They’re the original! Need we say more!
Guisados was the first place in LA where I fully understood what it meant to have “tacos in LA”. We are a taco culture. New York and Chicago have pizza, Austin has BBQ, Nashville has Hot Chicken, LA has tacos – and we are proud of it. Guisados is a wonderful representative of this culture and a great place to sample several types of homemade tacos in one sitting (they’re all pretty small which I love because I always want to try it all.) There are a few locations around town (WeHo, DTLA, Boyle Heights, Beverly Hills) so you can’t miss it.
Langer’s Deli is legendary. And after having their world-famous “#19” (pastrami, swiss cheese, coleslaw, Russian style dressing) you will understand. Founded in 1947, Langer’s is still bustling within historic MacArthur Park and is considered a huge part of LA’s cultural heritage.
Howlin’ Rays might be just a little counter-only outpost in a Chinatown strip mall from the outside, but the fact of the matter is this place turns out some of the best fried chicken in the city, and some of most highly regarded Nashville Hot Chicken outside of Nashville. There is never not a massive line for Howlin’ Rays, the shortest I’ve ever heard of any of my friends waiting was 30-40 minutes – it’s usually much longer. But no one cares when the chicken is that good!
– Westside –
Gjusta is Gjelina’s slightly more carefree casual little sister. Some might argue she’s even cooler. I would agree that the food is undeniably delicious – as would most of the residents of Los Angeles – but with insane popularity comes insane crowds. At the end of the day, is it worth it to wait for a Gjusta sandwich? Yes. Just prepare yourself, or as I always recommend – go early.
Looking for the best pasta in LA? That just so happens to be situated along LA’s coolest street? Felix, located on Abbot Kinney, is responsible for some of the freshest and most incredible housemade pasta I have personally ever had. Ever. Chef Evan Funke is a pasta god, and Felix is his gift to the city. Reservations are actually still pretty hard to get these days so plan way ahead for this one! God speed. But it’ll be worth it.
Cassia and Ester’s are not exactly related, but their proximity makes them a two-fer-one. Ester’s Wine Bar is one of the prettiest wine bars on the westside and Cassia is a fantastic French-Asian restaurant with an equally beautiful dining space. I can personally never visit one without the other, they’re both just so great – and both have patios! Have a glass of wine at Ester’s, maybe a side of lavender almonds, then head next door to Cassia and enjoy some unforgettable dishes like their Beef Rendang, the Kon Loh Mee, and one of their “breads and spreads”.
The Rose Cafe has been a Venice Beach neighborhood hangout since the ’70s, but as of a few years ago it got a pretty major update and upgrade – chef Jason Neroni included. It’s not only in a great and ideal location on uber-hip and bustling Rose Ave, but Rose has truly further solidified themselves as a local landmark. I love that at any given point in the day you can have whatever you like. Casual coffee service, lunch on the patio, a beautiful and cozy dinner – they do it all and they do it all well.
Visiting Manhattan Beach is like taking a mini-vacation, no matter the circumstance. Fishing With Dynamite is a little corner nook of a restaurant with probably 10-15 tables total, but this hip and nautical local spot offers the best seafood dishes – cold and hot – in the city. Always get the fresh fish, always get whatever seasonal special they’re offering, and always order the key lime pie at the end. Damn near perfect meal right there!
Malibu Farm, located on the ever picturesque Malibu Pier, is just one of those locations in LA that screams “CALIFORNIA”. It’s got that dreamy local, it’s right on the ocean, they nailed that coastal decor, and the menu is exactly what you’d want to enjoy on a day near the beach. It’s a crowd-pleaser and a bit touristy for sure, but there’s not a day that goes by when Malibu Farm doesn’t sound like a great idea, even to me.
– In Between –
By now it’s obvious that LA is comprised of many cultures, something we are quite proud of. Night + Market is home to some of the city’s best Thai food – complete with a fun and funky disposition. It’s vibrant, constantly bustling, always a blast, and most importantly – incredibly delicious. There are a few Night + Market locations around Los Angeles (because we love it so much!!!). So if you can’t make it to the Weho location, be sure to keep in mind that there’s Night Market Song in Silverlake and Night + Market Sahm in Venice as well.
It’s been said that the best pizza in LA hails from Jon + Vinny’s off Fairfax. The reality is though, Jon + Vinny’s is “the best” at a lot of things. Personally I love that they’re open every day at 8 am to serve breakfast. I love that the quality of their American inspired Italian fare hasn’t slipped, ever, I love that Jon & Vinny’s perfectly encapsulates and emulates the Los Angeles attitude and food culture. And I love that literally EVERYONE loves Jon & Vinnys too. You just can’t go wrong here! And if you can’t make it to the original Fairfax location, don’t forget there’s now a Brentwood location on the westside as well!
Equipped with an incredible patio, great plant-based Mexican food, beautiful clientele and an unbeatable happy hour, Gracias Madre held in pretty high regard around town. Located in the shi-shi (that means fancy) part of Melrose. Gracias Madre attracts a certain type of person. But the fact of the matter is if you like a damn fine margarita and some pretty spectacular chips and guac. With a side of sunshine and people watching of course – Gracias Madre is great.
– Eastside –
Bavel was my favorite restaurant opening of 2018, and to this day might be the most interesting and special meal I’ve had in LA to date. The team behind beloved Bestia is behind Middle Eastern inspired Bavel as well. Which just means they can literally do no wrong. Of course the design and decor are on point, of course the wines and cocktails are out of this world. And of course the menu is borderline life-changing. OF COURSE! This is one of those places that I guarantee everyone will love. Even if the menu seems different or intimidating, I promise it’ll be worth it.
If I’m in the mood for tacos, badass cocktails, some outdoor seating, and stunning scenery, without a doubt I’d head to Salazar in Frogtown. Salazar has this hip/colorful, Austin Texas vibe going on. And with the restaurant being located 100% outdoors it attracts… well, everyone. You’re really coming to Salazar for the seating situation, but God bless the fact that they can actually craft a pretty incredible cocktail. And pump out some of the best fancy tacos in the city. They even make the tortillas fresh on site! Salazar is definitely built to impress. So if you’re hoping for a “wow” factor, here you have it.
Have you ever walked into a restaurant or bar and immediately felt like it must have been made just for you? That’s how I feel about Everson Royce Bar in DTLA – and I’d imagine I’m not alone in that. I have been to ERB more times than any other restaurant in LA. So it’s safe to say it’s somewhere at the top of my “all-time favorites” list. Between the fact that they make the best burger in LA, they make some of the best cocktails in LA. They have one of the best patios in LA, and it’s just as great solo as it is for a large party. No matter who you are or what you’re into, trust me you love ERB.
West Hollywood, chic meets a little rock n roll, Old Hollywood Glam, celeb hangout
Officially the coolest spot on Hollywood Blvd, Old Hollywood glam, great pool, top-notch restaurants and bars
One of LA’s most treasured iconic hotels, upscale, home to some of my favorite restaurants
Affordable, central location in. Hollywood, EPIC rooftop bar/restaurant
Super hip spot, great DTLA location, great rooftop bar
Chic, one of our “newer” hotels that is located in a historic building Downtown. Classy dining, gorgeous rooftop with a pool
Freehand – fun. Young, vibrant, chic, and home to yet another amazing rooftop bar in DTLA – The Broken Shaker.
Another one of LA’s newcomers, located on the Westside in Santa Monica, approachable, trendy, and absolutely stunning.
Brand new as of Fall 2019, home to two of the best new restaurants in LA. A “chic boutique”, English inspired, epic rooftop and vintage-inspired rooms.
Pali Society has a few properties in LA – West Hollywood, Westwood, Santa Monica, Culver City, Melrose, Silver Lake. And all are great spots. Usually more affordable than some of the other boutique hotels, and still just as fun.
FUN DAY TRIPS
THE OTHER IMPORTANT STUFF
OTHER SOLID CHEAT SHEETS