Your day starts at Cognoscenti Coffee—try to nab a metered parking spot in front—where coffee snobs congregate to chat about the precise grind grade and optimal temperature needed to brew the best cup of joe. Small but surprisingly spacious feeling, Cognoscenti's ceiling-to-floor storefront window lets in lots of natural light, even though there are only two heavily jockeyed-for tables and a few brightly colored plastic chairs outside for seating. Cognoscenti prides itself on acquiring a global assortment of beans from small coffee bean buyers, so grab a pound to try at home. Even if you don't fancy nattering on with earnest baristas about which area of Guatemala grows the best beans, grab a flakey almond croissant or chewy chocolate chip cookie from Proof Bakery.
Head for tasty and affordable eats on Washington Boulevard for some of LA's best Oaxacan cuisine at local favorite EK Valley. Look for the potted cacti and neon orange façade with a few shaded sidewalk tables out front. There are all of six indoor tables, festooned with colorful tablecloths. Either way, the amiable owner Epy Garcia and his wife will greet you with smiles, rightly proud of their spicy, fork-tender beef barbacoa platter or the creamy, nutty and densely spiced house mole slathered over chicken ($12). If grab-and-go is more your style, pick up lunch at Let's Be Frank, open Wednesday through Sunday afternoons. Housed in a cheery red trailer, this hotdog stand satisfies the appetites of Culver City residents and gourmet dog aficionados alike with grass-fed beef, heritage pork, and turkey sausages from pasture-raised animals at $5 a pop.
For your afternoon pick-me-up, head to Coolhaus for a custom ice cream cookie sandwich ($5), a cup of Handsome Coffee Roasters coffee, and servers who dance to Britney Spears during lulls. If you prefer old-world artistry in your sweets, walk farther down Washington Boulevard to Bulgarini Gelateria & Café outpost, which allows grateful Westsiders a convenient alternative to Bulgarini's original location in Altadena. A proud gelato fanatic, owner Leo Bulgarini carries Bronte pistachios by hand from Italy to create his pistachio flavor. Try the result if there is a batch available. Other favorites include the seasonal fruit sorbetti and the goat-milk or mascarpone-based gelati.
Head to Bar & Garden, where hipsters select from an eclectic assortment of wines, ales, liqueurs, mixology equipment and... stag ferns. The sleek but intimate store, outfitted in dark wood and racks and racks of hard-to-find brews, is especially self-conscious, but, hey, so is hipster mixology. If you're looking for barrel-aged gin or Norwegian aquavit, you're plumb in luck. The store's choice specialties also include shrub fruit vinegars: sharp, tangy infusions of fruit, vinegar and sugar inspired by Colonial fruit-preservation methods. We favor the peach or spicy ginger shrub vinegars for yourself or as a gift. Be sure to check out the inventive cocktail-of-the-day on the blackboard. And if you haven't tried Father's Office yet, spring for one of Sang Yoon's bacon compote-topped drool-worthy burgers. Pair "The Office" burger ($13) with one of the craft brews from the extensive draft and bottle menu. Outfitted in leather upholstery and polished wood, this hot spot's gastro grub and curated ale selection has won the heart of every studio worker from Sony from the looks of the lack of free seats both at lunch and right after work.
After a pre-dinner cocktail, make a beeline for the chef-owner Sang Yoon's other popular restaurant Lukshon back at Helm's Bakery. The contrasting modern Asian decor perfectly suits the finely nuanced Asian-fusion dishes. The steamed cod entree may sound bland, but every bite will set your tastebuds on an eloquent spice journey. Other gloriously conceived dishes include crab fried rice, clams with pork belly and whatever complimentary dessert the pastry chef has concocted. Hope you remembered to call Bucato earlier during your big day out. Evan Funke's restaurant doesn't take advance reservations—only day-of reservations by telephone are allowed. In what can only be called quintessential Californian architecture, Bucato is spacious and airy with a playful silhouette of the state made from knives and a huge display of wooden pasta rollers dangling from the ceiling. In true California style, most of the tables are outside for alfresco dining. Though Angelenos will never quit their love affair with contemporary Italian cuisine, Bucato is probably one of the only places where you'll exclaim as much about the hand-rolled pasta as the saucing, which include mouthwatering lamb and duck ragús and broccoli to write sonnets about. Don't miss the tender morsels of Dungeness crab ($9) served on a crostino with a lighter-than-air slice of lardo gleaming on top.