Who says no one walks in LA? True—having a car is an absolute in a city spanning almost 500-square miles, but nestled among the historic mansions of residential Hancock Park is Larchmont Boulevard, a block of Main Street America where residents still walk to the post office and families stroll into the neighborhood bookstore for story time and the neighborhood bagel shop for "the usual." Your LA city guide to the city's most charming block, here are Larchmont's best places to shop and eat. Don't worry—you'll be home by dinnertime.
Park your car at one of the metered spaces along the tree-lined street or pull into the parking garage at 218 Larchmont Blvd, between Rite-Aid and Crumbs. Sundays, you can park for free and cross the street to the Larchmont Farmers Market held weekly from 10am to 2pm. Browse the season’s produce from local farmers or make a beeline for the food stalls for just-steamed, handmade tamales—go meat-free with cheese paired with mild chile or sweet corn, both doused in addictive, fresh tomatillo salsa ($3 each) from Me Gusta Tamales. Or try the rotisserie chicken ($15 for whole), served with roasted potatoes, from Grill Masters—it’s as good as any marché on the Left Bank.
If pre-shopping sustenance is what you seek, Sam’s Bagels’ chewy rounds are as good as they come outside of NYC and what locals call on most mornings. Come early, as popular flavors like sun-dried tomato and everything (.99 each) are gone by mid-day. If wheat’s got you gut bustin’ or sweet’s more your thing, Babycakes’ gluten-free, vegan, baked donuts will have you feeling virtuous. The pink candy-striped ladies behind the counter can also prepare a Stumptown brew on a block riddled with franchise coffee.
Now that you've gotten your morning fuel, charge on in to Library where you can snag the latest from Rag & Bone and Helmut Lang. Outfit your closet with vintage jewelry, Garry Leight sunglasses, J brand jeans and not-to-miss sale items in the expanded, light-filled back room. With your clothes and accessories covered, haul it over to Picket Fences to stock up on Hanky Panky, Cosabella, and Spanx essentials.
For everything beauty, Larchmont Beauty Center has got it from Sally Hansen to Kérastase. The rows of Essie polish, bottles of Dermologica and tubes Stila will have your head spinning. Good thing they have something to hold your hair back, too.
Because Larchmont wouldn’t be Larchmont without Chevalier's Books, pay homage to one of L.A.’s last standing independent bookstores. A neighborhood institution since 1940, the two-roomed store has been a tradition for generations of families who pick up the latest fiction and children’s classics—there’s an entire storefront dedicated to titles for toddlers to teens. Peruse the well-stocked cookbook section or stop in for weekend story time (Sat, Sat 10:30-11am).
Stop for a leisurely lunch at Larchmont Village Wine, Spirits & Cheese where those in the know line up for Italian deli-style sandwiches. Order one of the seven sandwiches—homemade tuna paired with cheese and tomato sells out quickly—prepared with quality cured meats, olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Stock up on gourmet foods, wine and hard-to find European candy and old-fashioned sodas—this is one of the last and rare places to get Dublin Original Dr. Pepper. Bypass the wait by placing an order over the phone. And watch out for store hours: closed Sundays and sandwiches served only from 11am to 5pm.
Another lunchtime option is the neighborhood staple Larchmont Deli, an unchanged and unassuming deli serving some of the city’s best sammies, a piled-high bang for your buck. With nary a wait, place your take-out order and then peruse the glossy covers at Above the Fold, where there’s a nice selection of international art and fashion titles and comic books.
Vegetarians, vegans, macrobiotics and raw foodists rejoice! Head a few blocks north to Café Gratitude where the rice bowls will convince even the most carnivorous eater that “I am Fortified.” People watching and celeb sightings abound in this homey space complete with an outdoor patio and juice-and smoothie bar. Pop in when most restaurants are closed—open daily from 8am to 10pm—and finish with raw vegan key lime pie and strawberry cheesecake that’s as good as the real deal.
Ease the guilt of your spending spree by picking up something to gift. Landis Gifts & Stationery is a fixture on the block since it was opened in 1930 by Bob Landis. It’s now owned by longtime resident Edie Frère, who still helps shoppers find the perfect personalized. For more gifting ideas, Village Heights packs its tiny shop with trinkets and hostess gifts from whimsical to luxe.
For the kids (and the budding fashionista), head to Flicka for jelly sandals, charm bracelets, tutus and Petit Bateau staples. Though dedicated to girl's clothing—flicka means "girl" in Swedish—there are toys and threads for newborns and boys.
Stop in the West Coast outpost of Malin + Goetz, where minimalist bottles of cleansers, conditioners and candles line the sleek, design-forward space. Ask the helpful staff to recommend goods fo your S.O.—the products are unisex—or snag some samples for yourself.
If sentimentality is more your thing, pick up "I'm sorry (I dropped some serious dough)" flowers from Larchmont Village Florist. The tiny shop’s bouquets are always tastefully done and last for weeks, enough time to be in good graces until the next shopping spree.
The New York invasion
New Yorkers may stick their noses up at the Left Coast, but many are making the move West and discovering the charm of LA’s Larchmont. Two expats explain why:
Erin McKenna, Owner, Babycakes
“Having spent ten years in New York City, I really have a hard time with all the driving in LA. I adore Larchmont, I think mostly, because it is the most walkable neighborhood in LA. I especially love that people in the neighborhood are so supportive and proud of Larchmont. It's a really special place.”
Andrew Goetz, Owner, Malin + Goetz
“There’s a joie de vivre, authenticity and mom-and-pop feel that I love about Larchmont. It feels like Main Street U.S.A.”