Playful, Jack Kerouac-inspired eyewear brand Warby Parker has set down permanent roots in Los Angeles, in the lobby of the trendy yet classy Standard hotels—a perfect fit. In Hollywood, the store's aesthetic matches the hotel's midcentury-meets-Sunset Strip sensibility, and sleekly showcases the reasonably priced chic fare, along with a curated selection of reading material. Bonuses include a backgammon table for playing and a bright, specially commissioned mural painted by LA-based artist Geoff McFetridge. At the Downtown hotel, a bright blue turquoise display case catches your eye—you have to try on at least a pair.
If you don't live in Silver Lake, there are few places that warrant making the drive to Silver Lake—this is one of them. The flagship namesake store of the French-born, Los Angeles–dwelling designer features Clare Vivier's wide array of leather totes, duffels, clutches and pouches in a rainbow of hues and even offers monogramming. Other finds like scented candles, jewelry and seasonal accessories from other brands ensure you'll be making a good haul.
This husband-and-wife-owned shop/gallery in Downtown's Art District (named for her grandmother's mispronunciation of "pocket") strives to bring art into customers' everyday lives. Find all sorts of eclectic goods, from the artist-designed vinyl wallets to colorful socks and tees. Plus, the store occasionally hosts art shows and musical performances.
Get pampered at this boho-chic salon, located in the heart of Beverly Hills. Helmed by stylish owner Sarah Gibson Tuttle, Olive & June came about when she moved to LA and could not find a proper place for a mani/pedi—other than the many cheap spots that may not be the cleanliest and high-end luxury spas with nail service. Choose from more than 350 shades from the polish wall, including many local brands such as NCLA, Polish House, Jenna Hipp for RGB and NCLA wraps. Other polish brands include NARS, OPI, Essie, Kure Paris organic polishes, plus OPT and Shellac gels. Once the hardest part is over with (picking your color), take a seat in the minimalist space designed by the owners behind luxe Melrose Ave store Ten Over Six. Services range from The Dree (mani $18 and pedi $26) to the more pampering and organic The Margot and The Chrissy gels services (mani $35 and pedi $45). Affordable nails in a luxury atmosphere? We call that a steal.
If you're looking for a unique pair of vintage shades to set you apart from the Ray-Ban-wearing crowd, this is your place. Find old '60s prison frames (made of soft, comfy plastic to avoid any shiv repurposing) or fancy designer driving glasses from the '40s, all while sharing a nip of scotch with the shop's knowledgeable, friendly owner—and resident optician—Van. He can change lens colors, bend frames to better fit your face, dye frames to compliment your skin tone and prepare glasses for any prescription.
At this hybrid retail store, shop an eclectic selection of gifts and goods such as locally-made jewelry, ceramics, handbags, prints, woodwork, home objects, photographs, clothing, accessories quilts, perfumes, books, gifts (we love the under $20 section) and more. The store is curated to showcase works by local artists and designers, including exclusive workshops. such as candle dipping and leather bracelet making.
What was once a flower shop on the corner of Venice Boulevard has been transformed into a temple to all things dudely—namely, surf culture, badass bikes and strong espresso. Bring your buddies to marvel at Deus Ex Machina motorcycles handbuilt in-house, surfboards shaped at the Deus shop in Bali, and floor-to-ceiling art celebrating both of these noble pursuits. For those who can’t fit a custom bike into their carry-on, grab a double shot from LA’s Handsome Coffee Roasters (they brew in the shop) and instead shop the selection of Raen Optics shades, Baxter boots, Tsovet watches or the Deus clothing line, which spans tees, sweats, board shorts and more.
Peter Graham and Sophie Esteban bring their New York style—both are NYC expats who named their store after their former East Coast address—to Silver Lake with a bungalow storefront selling home goods, gourmet kitchen items and cafe eats from pastries to sandwiches. Browse through items like Laguiole and Oriole knives to Pendleton and Stanely mugs or laze on the outdoor patio with a cup of joe (unsurprisingly, the brew on offer is NY's Gimme! coffee).
Best place to hear John C. Reilly's band while drinking cheap beer and shopping for Americana oddities: Echo Country Outpost
To call the Outpost a music venue doesn't quite do it justice. This unique performance space, amazingly well-curated (if a little cramped) by owners Chris Hajek and Erica Fornet, hosts stellar music acts, for sure: Both local and traveling bands—often with a country, bluegrass or singer-songwriter kick—count it among their favorite places to play in LA (and SoCal, and the west, etc.). But the Outpost is also a flexible, indoor-outdoor space that's been everything from a gallery to a classroom to a backyard BBQ (complete with barrel bonfires, darts and pillow forts). The Outpost is a quirky, colorful place where art shows, flea markets and frog fries are regular occurrences, bringing together a community of Eastside folks who are creative, welcoming and yes, muscially-minded. If you're in the mood to square dance, see local art and shoot the shit with some country-lovin', curio-collecting new friends, check out their Facebook page to see what's coming up at the clubhouse.
Pappy & Harriet's Pioneertown Palace as it's known today—restaurant, inn, ghost town, live music venue, meeting place for desert locals and travelers—was established in 1982. The "town" it's located in, however, was built in 1946 as a living movie set, with a Western facade on the outside (saloon, jail, stables) and working business inside (ice cream parlor, bowling, motels). This way, the actors could actually live on set. Roy Rogers and Gene Autry were two of the original investors, and more than 50 films and television shows were shot there in the 1940s and 50s. Pappy & Harriet's continues the tradition of a yeehaw good time today (with a little leftover biker culture from the mid-80s, when the saloon was briefly "The Cantina," an outlaw biker burrito bar), with a bar full of games, tasty Tex-Mex and an indoor an outdoor stage that see some pretty big names. Bonnie Prince Billy, Rufus Wainwright, Fiest, Vampire Weekend, Har Mar Superstar, Purity Ring, Phosphorescent and more have graced the P&H stage, making it a bona fide venue that deserves as much attention as its sisters in the city. Plus, seeing a show here means driving through the desert, strolling through a ghost town, and potentially camping out in a Western movie set.
Solutions! electronics shops sells and repairs audio equipment, and has been for many years (so long that Elliott Smith used to be an employee here, before he hit it big and offed himself). The staff is sweet and knowledgeable, and the shop's outer wall has a perpetual mural dedicated to his memory, where fans can write lyrics, thoughts and notes to him. Fun fact: It's the actual wall (and the same painted image, though redone many times) that Smith stood in front of for the cover photo of his album, Figure 8. Unfortunately, the wall is also an attractive site for graffiti artists, so expect a clean slate every six months or so.
Best spot to peruse perverted wares without feeling like a creep (or getting creeped on): Pleasure Chest
Vibrators, dildos and all kinds of things both unmentionable and unimaginable are offered at this longstanding emporium of sauciness. The Pleasure Chest is one of the classiest sex shops in a city filled with, well, lots of smut. It's clean, welcoming and the staff there really knows its stuff—you can get the lowdown on lube without blushing, or even satisfy your curiosity about fleshlights and anal plugs sans judgement. In fact, the vibe is so safe and comfy here that you'll probably explore further than you intended—and leave one very satisfied customer. The Chest also offers classes (many free!), lectures and comedy, de-mystifying and de-stigmatizing our more carnal impulses.
LA's equivalent of the Cinemateque Francaise responds to Truffaut's inquiry—"Is the cinema more important than life?"—with a wholehearted "yes." Fairfax's historic Silent Movie Theater still screens early archives—and, yes, talkies from classics to more modern picks complete with Q&A's, live music and potlucks. You'll find everything here, from kitschy B-movies to punch-proud masterpieces—with fun concessions such as giant cupcakes and free coffee—plus lots of special guests and parties out back on the patio.
This historic, hidden gem single screen Vista Theater plays movies on actual film reels (not digital) and boasts giant Art Deco light fixtures, kitschy Egyptian-themed wall details and a lovely manager, Victor Martinez, who dresses up for every opening (think: Willy Wonka for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the Joker for The Dark Knight, etc.).
John Wyatt is the mastermind behind the Cinespia screenings, a rite of passage for Angelenos in the summertime and one of the best outdoor activities the city has to offer. A slideshow of vintage film posters and a mood-setting DJ combine to relax the picnicking crowd at this famous cemetery before the main event: A classic (both black & white and contemporary apply here) film projected on to a wall of one of the larger mausoleums. The carpe diem ambience enchants, though the fact that alcohol is permitted also helps.
Best place to make a new friend while simultaneously basket weaving and butter churning: Machine Project
How to categorize this space? Installations have included a magical woodland and a picturesque shipwreck; activities range from a group weeping-and-laughter ceremony to a clothing-optional film screening to a gourmet ham bar—and that’s all in a single event! Machine Project provides support for its artist collaborators to throw all manner of happenings (stay informed via its website). Events happen around twice a week, usually in the evenings.
Local Hollywood historian Philip Mershon’s entire tour of Hollywood takes place within a quarter-mile radius of Sunset Blvd and Gower St and makes no mention of the Walk of Fame or the Hollywood Sign. Yet by the end of the tour, you’ll have visited the origin of nearly all the major Hollywood studios and their immortal works of pop culture. While a number of the buildings on the tour are deteriorating, demolished or repurposed, Mershon manages to conjure up a vivid recreation of everything from the first picture studio to the ascendancy of the original Columbia and Warner Bros backlots with nothing but a few old photos and his voice. Put simply, the nostalgia can be overwhelming. Those looking to check off attractions on a checklist will inevitably walk away disappointed. But for everyone else, it’s possibly the only tour in Hollywood that offers a meaningful and engaging connection with the history of the entertainment industry and the Hollywood of yesterday.
What started as an opulent beachfront estate built by William Randolph Hearst for Hollywood star Marion Davies in the 1920s is now a modern, community beach club open to the public, thanks to Wallis Annenberg of the Annenberg Foundation, who provided $27.5 million for the transformation. Completed in 2009, the five-acre beach house accommodates a main house with a rec room for board games, ping pong and classes and events, a swimming pool, a splash pad, beach volleyball and tennis courts, soccer fields, canopies, a cafe and rentals for paddle boards. RECOMMENDED: Best beaches in LA
Have a signature dish you love to make? Whip up a few batches and bring them to an LA Food Swap. Participants can mingle, taste each other's offerings and then trade—pickles for zucchini bread, preserves for pies. The swaps are free, save for a small service fee, but signups are limited, so check the LA Food Swap website often for swaps scheduled across SoCal. It's a great way to try new foods and get to know your neighbors—sweet deal.
The newest boutique hotel from Avi Brosh, Palihotel sits on Melrose Avenue's prime retail shopping strip. The location may be unexpected and the space a bit small, but inside lays 32 impeccably-designed rooms, indoor and outdoor lounge areas including an alfresco courtyard and upstairs salon, and homey charm that makes you want to curl up with a book in every nook and cranny. With a Southern-inflected restaurant, the Hart & the Hunter, that serves from breakfast to dinner and a private room for Thai massage, you may never want to leave.
The address has changed and the dinner menu has gone (it's now snacks only), but the performers remain the same at LA's home for cultured, bankable singer-songwriters and brilliant comedians, relocated to a '40s theatre. The likes of Aimee Mann, John Doe, Jill Sobule and perennial hot-ticket artist-in-residence Jon Brion ply their trade in the 280-seat theater. But most nights, Largo rounds up a consistently stellar stable of comedy talent, from showcases hosted by Patton Oswalt, Nick Kroll and Sarah Silverman to the occasional transcendent set by the likes of Louis C.K. or Tig Notaro. RECOMMENDED: LA Comedy Calendar
Best hope for a rising dance scene in LA: LA Dance Project
Best art you're most likely to walk right past without noticing: Franklin D. Murphy Sculpture Garden
There's a rock star-level roster of art hanging out in plain sight on the UCLA campus in the Franklin D. Murphy Sculpture Garden. With works by Miro, Matisse, Rodin, Arp, Lachaise, Zuñiga, this 5-acre sculpture garden is a treasure trove of art—70 pieces in all—and it's one of the most impressive outdoor sculpture collections in the U.S. Group tours of the garden are available through the Hammer Museum, or take a self-guided one (there's a podcast about the garden available for free on iTunes).
Best excuse for a party disguised as an art gallery opening: Night Gallery
At first glance, the inside of this storefront resembles any other market in the area—but look closer and you’ll find a collection of funny “time travel” curiosities that one needs in order to visit the past and future. Oddities include Robot Toupees, Aeon Bottled Time (i.e. sand in a bottle), Barbarian Repellent, Primordial Soup In a Can, and a whole bunch of books. What’s going on? The market is a ruse: everything in it is indeed for sale, but the store is actually a front for 826LA, a nonprofit organization which tutors kids ages 6 to 18. Founded by author Dave Eggers, 826LA gives free creative writing classes to kids. All the books in the store? They’re written by those children. Many are professionally published in tandem with publishing houses around LA and some are actually sold on Amazon. The classroom is located through a door in the back of the shop, and only the kids who take classes even know it’s there. Shoppers can buy cool gifts, or volunteer to teach the kids. If you come up with an idea for a product to sell in the store, the employees will help you design it and the store will sell it. Which might spur others to drop some money and add to the financial support of this amazing nonprofit. How cool is that?
Located in the back of the Walt Disney Concert Hall complex, the prestigious CalArts-owned multipurpose space leads the way in compelling avant-garde performances in dance, music and theater—not to mention the exhibits mounted in the center's 3,000-square-foot gallery.
The Westside isn't exactly known as a taco destination, but Tacos Punta Cabrasis changing LA’s taco landscape. Chefs Josh Gil and Daniel Snukal—they also run the popular underground dining club Supper Liberation Front—recently opened this small, cozy space tucked away on Santa Monica Boulevard. The focus here is Baja-style seafood tacos ($3.50). The scallops, subtly sweet and battered in crispy tempura, are particularly good, and the fresh, chewy tortillas make it that much better. Specials like cardoons topped with a “63-degree quail egg” go fast, so come early… and come often.
Housed in Beverly Hills' Greystone Park, the Institute of Domestic Technology holds an array of extensive, hands-on classes from canning to home coffee roasting—in a popcorn maker, no less. Instructors are knowledgeable; classes are intimate and always supplemented with freshly-made snacks for refueling.
Mid-City's Larchmont Blvd is getting schooled in all things roasted and brewed at Go Get Em Tiger, the newest iteration of G&B. The growing coffee empire from varsity team Kyle Glanville and Charles Babinski—they met at their alma mater, Intelligentsia—sets up their third storefront along the ever-growing block in the space once occupied by the long-standing (and, inevitably, shuttered) Baskin-Robbins. Ice cream cases are replaced with a long, standing bar where coffee nerds and newbies can get their caffeine fix. (Those looking for a frozen treat, can request the milkshake mixed with Strauss vanilla ice cream and an eye-opening four shots of espresso.) The light-filled, minimalist space features grab-and-go bottles of housemade cold brew, pastries and retail items from brewing supplies to beans. There's an all-star line-up of coffee—expect four to six rotating varieties at a time—from San Francisco (Ritual), Vancouver (Forty Ninth Parallel) and PDX (Heart Roasters). Take a seat at one of the low-slung wooden stools or tabletops by the bar for toast and jam (courtesy Saving the Season) to go with that pour-over ($4.25). Our number one pick? Try a cappuccino made with almond milk ($5.75), the homemade variety gets into the DIY spirit.
Don’t try to walk into Bestia without a reservation. As the most talked about (and as a result, packed) restaurant at the moment, securing a table at least a week in advance is a good idea. And even then, you might have to wait for a table. The up side: The bar is a happening place to be not only for dinner but also for drinks with mixologist Julian Cox behind the seasonal libations. It seems like most everything that restaurateur Bill Chait touches turns to gold—places like Sotto, Picca and Short Order, and, now, Bestia, another white-hot hit. Ori Menashe, a longtime Angelini Osteria chef, is the brains behind Bestia’s thoughtful, ingredient-driven Italian menu that doesn’t shy too far away from California. Menashe’s house-cured salumi is superb, especially atop a puffy pizza with ricotta, charred Brussels sprout leaves and chili oil. Housemade spaghetti tangled together in a sea urchin tomato sauce was both creamy and balanced and a stew of braised pork sausage and veal ribs was comforting enough to evoke nonna's. Perhaps one of the Bestia’s best kept secrets is wine steward Maxwell Leer—he joins the restaurant by way of the Tasting Kitchen and the Bazaar—whose strength is selecting obscure wines from boutique producers around the world that you’ve likely never heard of. Don’t be surprised if he tries to pour you an orange wine or a dry Sherry with dinner. Go with it. To describe Bestia as a brick bunker isn’t intended to insult. The wide open restaurant, defined by walls
Buried in the heart of Downtown LA is this European-style food hall, which has been operating on the ground floor of the iconic Homer Laughlin Building since 1917. Some food vendors merit more praise than others, though Mexican- and South American-themed stalls offering treats like pupusas, carnitas tacos and aguas frescas remain some of the most popular.
Welcome to the new age of fast food dining: Chipotle expands from burritos to bowls, taking a trip to Southeast Asia, namely, Shophouse, the second location in the heart of the popular 3rd Street Promenade . Lunchtime crowds and budget diners can customize their own on-the-go meal. Create a base of brown or jasmine rice, rice noodles, Napa cabbage, then pile on meat—grilled chicken satay, grilled steak laab, pork and chicken meatballs or veg-friendly tofu— and veggies (broccoli, charred corn, eggplant & Thai basil, green beans). Finish with your choice of sauce, garnish (papaya slaw, pickles, herb salad) and crispy toppings (toasted rice, crispy garlic, crushed peanuts). You can expect the same virtuous eating (re: antibiotic and hormone-free meat, non-GMO tofu) and touches of the East with a wall plastered with Thai newspapers, racks of Sriracha bottles and the store's own maneki-neko aka lucky fortune cat. The flavors are bold and often spicy with ingredients—did someone say tamarind vinaigrette or coconut curry?—you won't find at your average food fast joint.
Angel City Brewing opens the doors to its brand new home in Downtown's Arts District. After closing up its Alpine Village storefront in 2010, the local brewery has rooted itself in an expansive, century-old John A. Roebling building, the former production site for suspension cables that made their way to the likes of the Brooklyn and Golden Gate bridges. The industrial space has a bare-bones, beer hall feel, with plenty of room to spread out among picnic tables beneath a renovated mezzanine. But the main focus is the well-lit bar with 12 coveted bar stools, clean copper taps and an Art Deco-inspired backdrop. The building's graffiti art is not to be overlooked: Above the entrance, a work of art from street artist JR's The Wrinkles of the City commissioned by MOCA and a Ronald Regan portrait by Shepard Fairey are on view. This is a city brewery to keep your eye on—just don’t let your beer trickle down in admiration. Vitals Good for: A beer-and-pretzel end to a lazy weekend stroll in DTLA. If you've never been behind the scenes at a brewery, sign up for a tour (check their website for times), where you’ll get to see and sniff malt, hops and aromatic components like dried orange peel. The Scene: Nearby beer-loving residents in their 20s and 30s unwind post-work during weeknights and on weekends take advantage of the free board games—Jenga, Checkers, Monopoly—as well as a dog-friendly policy, so don’t be alarmed if a little bark comes with your beer. Locals also stop by to ref
DTLA's newest culinary concept is a family affair with father-son team chef Pawan and Nakul Mahendro' mash up of old and new, traditional and modern, East and West at this Indian gastropub. A welcome change to Downtown and the growing intersection of 2nd and Main streets, traditional and updated Indian street foods and favorites are served in a design-forward space. White tiles and black chalkboard walls meet color block banquettes and a central art piece inspired by the colors, while vintage Bollywood posters and aluminum tumblers straight from the motherland add authentic flair. Sit at the bar, upstairs or along the sidewalk and take in the Bollywood movies projected on the wall as small plates arrive at the table. Start with street cart classics such as addictive 2-Bite Fish Fry ($9); crunchy papri chaat chips($7) served with masala-flavored potato and chickpeas, yogurt and tamarind and mint chutneys; or fried samosas—choose traditional potato and peas and not-so-traditonal short rib and pineapple. Beef eaters can fill up on the Badmaash Burger ($11) gussied up with mango jam and spiced mayo on a brioche bun and Holy Cow! Keema Pow ($10) of beef, pea, tomato stew served with mini brioche buns, while old schoolers can opt for butter chicken ($12), good ol' saag paneer ($11) and tandoori oven faves like naan ($3) and Badass Chicken Tikka ($12). Thirsty? New World wines by the glass and bottle and a limited, yet impressive, selection of CA-local beers by the bottle and can. T
AOC has maintained its seasonal consistency over the years, serving the denizens of Los Angeles for a decade. The neighborhood wine bar is back in the limelight with a charming relocated home on West Third Street and a successful reinvention from chef Suzanne Goin and business partner Caroline Styne. Now, there’s more reason to visit more than ever. With a gorgeous patio and tastefully simple dining room with natural hues accent Goin’s rustic cuisine, AOC is a restaurant fit for many occasions—date night in a cozy back booth or drinks with friends at the communal table or bar. AOC is still centered on Californian: seasonal salads, plenty of vegetables and dishes from the wood-burning oven including pizzette-like focaccia. Fans of the original AOC will be happy to see signature dishes such as curried cauliflower, arroz nero and bacon-wrapped dates. The expanded menu also includes larger plates to share from housemade sausages to half and whole roast chicken. While some dishes are better than others, Goin’s seasonal menu provides ample variety and generally succeeds. Styne curates an expanded list of organic, natural and biodynamic boutique wines from around the world. Offered by the glass and by the bottle, the comprehensive selection range from the esoteric—try the Hungarian Kiràlyudvar’s Furmint ($14)—to domestics on tap. And for the first time, the bar is licensed to mix and muddle about half a dozen $14 cocktails that make use of the season’s best. Vitals What to eat: St
Best green drink cure for the morning after: Juice Box
Everyone knows ice cream tastes best when its churned by bicycle. Make sure the rumors are true at Peddler's Creamery, now with a storefront in hip DTLA. Ice cream, vegan desserts and sorbet are house-made from local and organic ingredients.