Los Angeles or L.A. is the most populated city in California and most populated county in the U.S. (explains the traffic!) Located in the Southern part of the state, L.A. lies on the Pacific Coast and is surrounded by hills and mountains to the East, North and South, creating a mediterranean climate. The city is sprawling, divided into over 80 districts and neighborhoods including Downtown, Hollywood, The East Side, San Fernando Valley and Santa Monica. As the entertainment capital of the United States, L.A.’s Hollywood is home to three of the six major film studios- Paramount Pictures, Universal Pictures and 20th Century Fox. It’s often called the ‘Creative Capital of the World’- one in six residents in L.A. work in a creative field. Attractions abound: Griffith Observatory, the Getty Center, The Chinese Theatre, the Hollywood sign, Los Angeles Philharmonic, LACMA, Dodger Stadium, and UCLA. Read travel tips from local, Matt, below!
WHY YOU SHOULD TRUST HIM: (From Matt) Because I’m too busy to go to the grocery store and found the best restaurants in the city the hard way. And because friends and family visit often and I MUST show them a good time otherwise they won’t think I’m cool.
THE BEST 36 HOURS IN L.A. ACCORDING TO MATT
Assuming you’ve done the super touristy things in L.A. already, skip them on this trip.
Day 1: Upon arrival, drop your bags and head to Escondite for the best happy hour beers on the planet. Then, uber to the Ace Hotel and go straight to the rooftop bar before the line forms so you can enjoy the sunset and beautiful views of the city. Drink Modelo from a can because now that you’re at The Ace you must blend with the hipsters. If you’re feeling super weird, you can even go swimming in the rooftop’s swimming pool, but I’ll warn you now, everyone will judge you unless they know you’re a guest at the hotel.
Afterwards, proceed to one of the best dinner spots in the city, The Stocking Frame. Family style. Everything from pork belly tacos to sea scallops to wood-oven nachos. Plus, a solid cocktail list, good wine list, beautiful interior, and a wildly friendly staff. Bounce out of that beezy and head to Villains Tavern in a quiet part of the Arts District for whiskey drinks and live music. More often than not, it’s bluegrass and it’s amazing. By this time, everyone has danced and had too much whiskey, which means its time to Uber it to LA Cafe, the one and only restaurant that’s open 24 hours a day. If you call this spot and are placed on hold, the voice that talks to you literally says, “Doesn’t matter when you call, could be two in the afternoon, or FOOOOUR TWENNTY in the morning (in a stoner voice); we’re always open.” It’s hilarious. Lobster grilled cheese is on point. Always get the lobster grilled cheese. Then sit outside and laugh with other drunk strangers. Now it’s time for bed.
Day 2: Wake up and go straight to Blacktop Coffee for a cappuccino (best in town, hands down). Grab a juice next door at Juice Served Here. Then drive over to Nick’s Cafe for some greasy food to cure you from all that whiskey you consumed last night. Afterwards, I would take a nap. A long nap. But if you’re feeling good, take off for Santa Monica to get your blood flowing. I would recommend the Santa Monica Stairs for a workout in the sun, plus great people watching. From there, hit the beach and take another nap. Once you’ve refueled, walk over to the Venice Ale House for a drink, followed by fish tacos at James Beach. Stay in Venice and bar hop, or if home base is downtown, and then proceed to Bar Amá, where you’ll snack on made-to-order guacamole… the best you’ve ever tasted. For dinner, order the short ribs and some shared plates. For a nightcap, head to Spring Street or Tony’s Saloon, a dive with great pool and ping pong tables.
Day 3: Go back to Blacktop Coffee for a cappuccino and avocado toast, topped with a poached egg. If you’re there around 10am, stop into Alchemy Works, a cool boutique, gallery and event space next door. Just down the street is another shop called Apolis, with lots of handmade wares available for purchase from around the world. Before heading out, have an amazing sushi lunch at KazuNori. This place has very limited seating, so be prepared to wait in line. Once you’re at the bar, fill out your order form and watch as the chefs prepare your hand rolled sushi, served fresh to you as it’s made. Order a hot green tea to sip on in between rolls. Leave L.A. full and happy.
Other Great Brunch Spots to Consider:
- Bottega Louie
- Daily Dose
- The Griddle Cafe (Get the French Toast. Get all the French Toast)
- Salt’s Cure (Same area as The Griddle Cafe, but much cooler)
And Some Other Restaurants To Consider:
- Animal (Beverly Grove)
- Madeo (West Hollywood)
- Sol y Luna (Classic Mexican in Tarzana)
- Angelini Osteria (West Hollywood)
- Son of a Gun (Beverly Hills)
LOS ANGELES QUICK FIVE
1. Favorite Street to Wander/Stroll in L.A.?
The most popular street is Abbot Kinney in Venice. Grab a coffee at hipster heaven- Intelligentsia Coffee– and stop into Scandinavian decor shop Huset, fine jewelry store Todd Reed, and paper/gift shop Firefly. For dinner, try The Tasting Kitchen or Gjelina, or if you can’t get a reservation at those spots, try Cerveteca on Rose Ave.
2. Best Coffee Shop or Bakery?
Blacktop for coffee; Bread Lounge for pastries and artisan bread, which is located on the outskirts of the Arts District
3. Best Burger?
4. Essential L.A. Tip?
Do NOT try to do downtown, Hollywood and the West Side (Santa Monica/Venice) in one weekend. Choose one area to call ‘home base’, and if you must, then take a day trip to one of the other neighborhoods. If you can stick to one area of the city, you’ll be less stressed and will discover much more. If not, you’ll spend half the weekend in the car.