Fifteen years ago my family and I decided to move to the US. Half of my family wanted Los Angeles, while the other half saw us in Miami. In the end we went to Florida, but LA remained part of our lives. From visiting grandparents, going to Bar and Bat Mitzvah’s, and even attending UCLA for a summer.
Seeing as I hadn’t gone in a while, I took advantage of my free time and booked a flight to Cali. In the past I didn’t get to choose what to visit or where to eat. But this time I would be calling all the shots. It would be a whole different experience–just my grandmother and me re-exploring the City of Angels.
The week was incredibly filled with art, food and adventures (sorry, I had to). Here’s simple and fun guide to follow next time you head over to the west coast.
First things first. It’s shopping time! Well, window shopping for me. Here are a couple of the best places to get top-of-the-line stuff:
- Rodeo/Canon Dr. you will find from Prada and LV to Club Monaco and Sephora. While the street is defiantly expensive–it’s great to just walk around and enjoy the pretty clothes.
- Sunrise Blvd. has some pretty unique boutiques along with incredible runway clothes.
- Century City Plaza is great for getting what you need. It’s definitely an upscale mall with a fancy food court, but it’s still just your typical American mall with a movie theater.
Now on to the food scene. Wow, where do I even begin? I wasn’t able to hit all the places on my list–but here is a good bunch of them divided by their location.
Alfred Coffee: This great (and super Instagramable) cafe has two locations. One in Melrose Place and another in a small alley on Melrose Ave. Their famous slogan (“But first, coffee”) is plastered all around their restaurant and products. While they’re known for their coffee, I gotta say their pastries are pretty good as well. They also sell cold press juice–typical LA.
Compartes Chocolates (Inside Alfred): These chocolates, which are conveniently located inside Alfred in Melrose Place, are almost too good to be true. Besides their wild and delicious flavors like “donuts and coffee,” they also feature different artists on their chocolate boxes.
The Assembly: This clean and modern cafe serves more than just regular coffee. In fact, every Friday they sell some pretty noteworthy donuts.
Il Pastaio: If you’re shopping around Rodeo or Canon Dr, I highly suggest you stop here for a perfectly filling Italian lunch. Everything from their pasta and bread is truly delicious. The beet risotto with goat cheese (pictured below) is a dream come true.
Sprinkles: This cupcake/ice cream shop has become increasingly famous due to their “Cupcake ATM’s” around LA and NY. They offer whole cupcakes as an ice cream topping. Now that is revolutionary. I got the peanut butter ice cream with a red velvet cupcake on top. Delicious.
Urth Cafe: In the mood for an organic and super healthy meal? Urth is the perfect place. While they have pretty great salads, they also serve unbelievable individual pizzas like the cream cheese and lox pictured below.
Frida: It’s not very hard to come by a good Mexican restaurant in LA. But I gotta give it to Frida for being pretty authentic.
Sugarfina: This place sells some pretty expensive candy, but for a good reason. It’s the type of candy you give as a “thanks for letting me stay with you” gift. The packaging resembles that of Tiffany’s and the store is just as pretty.
Brick and Mortar: This restaurant is like as a high-end college bar. The place itself is pretty hip and there is always a wait for brunch (due to their bottomless mimosas). They have anything from beet salad to chicken and waffles.
Poke Poke: Poke, a Hawaiian raw fish salad, has become increasingly popular around the US. And like most trends, California always has the upper hand. This cute little hole in the wall (literally) serves some pretty delicious and fresh poke over a bed rice or pineapple chunks. It’s a perfect lunch for a beach day.
Grand Central Market: This market has been open for a preeeetty long time (I’m talking since the Russian Revolution) but it’s definitely kept up-to-speed with DTLA. Many famous chefs have opened up shop at this hectic little market. It’s like having 15 different restaurants all in one. Which is a perfect way to please everyone. Here’s a list of some of my favorites.
- The Oyster Gourmet
- Press Brothers Juicery
- Berlin Currywurst
- Mcconnell’s Fine Ice Cream
- Wexler’s Deli
*Here’s the part of my list I didn’t get to try. Let me know how they are if you happen to go!
- Joan’s On Third: A perfect mixture between a market, a cafe and a restaurant. Also great place to get some cold pressed juice.
- Nobu: As my friend called it, “The Kardashian Restaurant.” Also known for their extremely expensive but amazing sushi.
- Ice Cream Lab: They serve made-to-order liquid nitrogen ice cream. How cool is that?!
In Between BH and Downtown
- Commissary at the Line Hotel: Super cool “greenhouse” restaurant.
- Republique: A breakfast must. The french toast look unbelievable.
- Blacktop Coffee: A great cafe with a perfect mixture of modern and rustic designs.
- Coffee Colab: A wooden inspired cafe with solid lattes and donuts.
- Cafe Gratitude: Super modern with fresh and filling salads.
- Bottega Louie: Wonderful place for brunch and french macaroons.
- Besita: A semi-creepy and industrial outer shell with incredible food inside.
- Menotti’s: A coffee shop with awesome sandwiches.
- Sweetfin Poke: Big bowls of yummy tuna poke.
- Gjusta Bakery: Artisanal bakery. Perfect for a quick snack or a wonderful bread for your home.
In Between Venice and Century City
- n/naka: Award winning and one of the top 50 best restaurants in the world, aka this place is a must. They accept reservations 3 months in advance, so start reserving your asap. It’s a modern and unique twist on Japanese cuisine.
I’m all about the art. If a city has an art museum–you know I’ll be there.
LACMA: This wonderful museum in Miracle Mile is one of the largest in the west. It has an extensive collection of contemporary/modern art, American/Latin art, Asian art, photography, film and much, much more. They also have Ray’s and Stark Bar, a wonderful restaurant right outside the museum. Make sure to visit the Clock exhibit by Christian Marclay, it’s open until September 7th.
Getty Center: I imagine heaven to be exactly like the Getty. Modern and beautiful architecture, unique gardens and a perfect view of LA. The collection is also pretty spectacular–especially the Impressionist/Post-Impressionist art.
The Bates Motel: Okay so this isn’t an art museum in the slightest, but it is definitely art. Vincent Lamouroux, a French installation artist, has transformed this historic, but run-down motel into an incredible sight. Photo-shoots are always happening in an around this all-white “Ghost Motel.”
Venice Beach: Heading over to the ocean side will surely give you a day full of fun. The Ocean Front Walk is full of artists, street performers, fortune-tellers and weed vendors. There’s also the beach and the beautiful canals, which truly resemble Venice, Italy.
- Abbot Kinney Blvd is the best little street in Venice. It has everything from the famous SF cafe Blue Bottle, to a Vinyl shop and a million other incredibly cute stores and restaurants.
Downtown LA: DTLA didn’t have the best reputation, but it is now super hip. Students and young professionals have gathered in Downtown and brought out great restaurants, museums and unique stores.
- The Last Bookstore: This bookstore has everything from a book-stack tunnel to color coded shelfs.
- Arts District: Old warehouses transformed into bars and galleries with awesome graffiti.
- Staples Center: A staple of LA (get it?) It’s multi-purpose sports arena directly next to L.A. Live and the Grammy Museum (currently with a Taylor Swift exhibit).
Museum of Tolerance: There are two sections in this museum. The historic part, which focuses on the Holocaust, is extremely moving and educational. While the other section focuses on current prejudice and racial issues.
Other activities on my to-do list (that I didn’t get to go to):
- Lake Shrine Meditation Gardens
- Derby Doll Factory
- Griffith Night Hikes
- Electric Dusk Drive-In
- Watts Towers
Typical Tourist Attractions
Now, I really didn’t do much of these this time around. But hey, if it’s your first time in LA I would absolutely check them out.
- Chinese Theater
- Hollywood Sign
- Celebrity House Tours
- Santa Monica Pier
- Sunset Strip
- Griffith Observatory