Tuesday, March 02, 2010

While in Los Angeles

In honor of a friend's arrival in Los Angeles, I have undertaken to list of a few of my favorite L.A. places.

This list is by no means exhaustive or definitive but it can be a nice start for new arrivals. I've skipped those places that, while excellent, are also so well-known as not to bear repeating (places like LACMA, MOCA, and the Getty) except where I wanted to point out specific events hosted at those institutions. I've also largely skipped writing reviews ("excellent coffee," "delicious pizza," and all that). Two years as a food critic was long enough. Suffice it to say: these are all great places, just go try them and see.

I am also compiling a separate list of things to do in Los Angeles with babies and young children – coming soon.

Glow. An annual summer arts festival. For twenty four hours, the pier and surrounding beaches are given over to art installations and performance pieces.
Santa Monica Pier,

Literati Café. Coffee and free wireless, a nice place to work.
12081 Wilshire Boulevard,

Musha. Japanese fusion.
424 Wilshire Boulevard,

Snug Harbor. Brunch, excellent biscuits. Another good brunch place, Bread and Porridge, is next door.
2323 Wilshire Boulevard and 2315 Wilshire Boulevard

Warszawa. Polish food.
1414 Lincoln Boulevard,

Getty Villa. Regular staged readings and full performances of classical Greek plays in the summer.
17985 Pacific Coast Highway,

Guelaguetza. Oaxacan food.
3014 West Olympic Boulevard, www.guelaguetzarestaurante.com.

Mr. Cecil's. Barbecue ribs with assorted sides and cakes.
12244 West Pico Boulevard,

The Actor's Gang. Affordable, innovative theater specializing in classics. (Also, the Summer Family Theater Program is great for kids – see my other list.)
9070 Venice Boulevard,

Art Walk. There's a large concentration of art galleries along Washington and La Cienega streets in Culver City. Once a year (usually in May or June) they do an Art Walk, a free open house for all the area galleries and museums. (Dozens of other L.A. neighborhoods also have art walks throughout the year.)

Bottle Rock. Wine bar. (A second location is in downtown L.A.)
3847 Main Street,

Center for Land Use Interpretation. Small, quirky museum.
9331 Venice Boulevard,

Father's Office. In the old Helm's Bakery building. One of the best burgers in L.A. Across the street is Let's Be Frank, hot dogs– they also have a mobile truck.
3229 Helms Avenue,
www.fathersoffice.com and www.letsbefrankdogs.com.

La Dijonaise. Café. Also in the old Helm's Bakery building. French café food, excellent lemon bars. 8703 Washington Boulevard,

Museum of Jurassic Technology. The best place in L.A. Don't read about it, just go there. It's best to go when it's very uncrowded, maybe a weekday afternoon. (They also have shows, concerts, and films; pick up an event schedule.)
9341 Venice Boulevard,

Canter's. 24-hour deli. Lousy food and ill-tempered service, but still an L.A. institution.
419 North Fairfax Avenue,

New Beverly Cinema. Excellent revival theater with $7 double features every night.
7165 W. Beverly Boulevard,

Pacific Design Center. Art and design events on the third Thursday of every month. Also see the website for their lecture series.
8687 Melrose Avenue,

Silent Theater. Eclectic, eccentric movie theater with nightly programming including the Five-Minute Game (wherein the audience is shown the first five minutes of 15 different obscure movies and then votes on the one they want to see in its entirety). Also runs original silent pictures with organ accompaniment. Down the street from Canter's.
611 North Fairfax Avenue,

Campanile. Try their Thursday night grilled cheese specials or their Wednesday night soup kitchen.
624 South La Brea Avenue,

Csardas. Excellent Hungarian food – heavy but perfect for our few cold days a year.
5820 Melrose Avenue.

Lou. Wine bar and restaurant, try the "pig candy."
724 Vine Street,

Village Pizzeria. Started by transplanted Brooklynites, maybe the closest thing to real New York-style pizza in L.A. A good newsstand is across the street.
131 N Larchmont Boulevard,

Bourgeois Pig. Comfortable coffee place next door to a good newsstand.
5931 Franklin Avenue.

The Hollywood Farmer's Market. Every neighborhood has their own farmer's market, but one of the best is in Hollywood on Sunday mornings.
1600 Ivar Avenue,

Hollywood Forever Cemetery. Classic movie screenings in the cemetery all summer long. Bring a picnic and folding chairs and be sure to arrive early.
6000 Santa Monica Boulevard,

Palms Thai. Los Angeles has the nation's best Thai food and Palms a good representative of it.
5900 Hollywood Boulevard.

Sacred Fools. Independent theater, featuring the comedy series Magnum Opus on Friday nights – staged readings of some of the city's worst screenplays. In a district filled with other small theaters. (See also the North Hollywood theater district.)
660 North Heliotrope Drive,

Upright Citizens Brigade Theater. Improv comedy with free shows on Sunday evening. Next door is the Bourgeouis Pig.
5919 Franklin Avenue,

Yai. More great Thai.
5757 Hollywood Boulevard.

Arclight. First-run, independent, and classic movies, film festivals.
Several locations, the nicest at 6360 W. Sunset Boulevard,

The Brewery. Artists' residence in the converted Pabst Blue Ribbon brewery. With a theater, galleries, cooking classes, and a bar and restaurant. They also host open-house art walks twice a year.
600 Moulton Avenue,

The Edison. Maybe the most beautiful bar in L.A. 35 cent cocktails and burlesque shows on Thursdays, grilled cheese and tomato soup on Fridays.
108 W. 2nd Street #101,

Grand Central Market. Fresh chiles, spices, tamales, pupusas, Central and South American foods, and much more.
317 South Broadway.

Grand Performances. Free summer concert, film, and performance series. Bring wine and a picnic – there's also a nice grocery store onsite. (With some child-specific shows, see other list.)
California Plaza, 300-350 S. Grand Avenue,

Langer's. Widely considered by critics to be the best pastrami in the country.
704 South Alvarado Street,

Mama's Hot Tamales. Tamales with recipes from Mexico, Guatemala, Columbia, Honduras, El Salvador, and Peru.
2124 West 7th Street.

Mindshare. The third Thursday of every month, a party featuring art installations and guest lectures by local academics, artists, and various experts. Held in various locations downtown.

Museum of Natural History, First Fridays. The first Friday of every month local university professors give scientific lectures and lead tours followed by cocktails and live music.
900 Exposition Boulevard,

The Redwood Room. Kitschy but charming pirate-themed bar.
316 W. 2nd Street,

Seven Grand. A menu of 271 whiskeys and whiskey-based cocktails.
515 West 7th Street,

The Velaslavasay Panorama. A magical little gallery featuring a 360-degree panorama painting. Frequent live performances and events.
1122 W 24th Street,

The Alcove. Comfortable, relaxing lunch and brunch spot.
1929 Hillhurst Avenue,

Fred 62. Diner with excellent French toast.
1850 N. Vermont Avenue,

Home. Another diner with a wonderfully comfortable outdoor patio. Half-off specials on rainy days.
1760 Hillhurst Avenue,

Psychobabble. Coffee place and local watering hole.
1866 N Vermont Avenue,

Skylight Books. Independent book store, frequent readings.
1818 N Vermont Avenue,

Steve Allen Theater. Live theater, film, lectures, and much more. Drive-in horror movies during the month or two before Halloween.
4773 Hollywood Boulevard,

Forage. Creative, healthy food.
3823 W Sunset Boulevard, www.foragela.com.

The Thirsty Crow. Cozy little "bourbon bar" - order the Black Manhattan.
2939 W Sunset Boulevard, www.thirstycrowbar.com.

826 Los Angeles (The Echo Park Time Travel Mart). Los Angeles installment of 826 Valencia's non-profit. Offers readings, classes, and volunteer opportunities for writers.
1714 W Sunset Boulevard,

Intelligentsia. Coffee.
3922 W Sunset Boulevard.

Machine Project. One of L.A.'s best arts and science venues. Weird, wonderful performance art and classes.
1200 N Alvarado St.,

Sew L.A. Fabric store and sewing classes for all levels.
1637-1/2 Silver Lake Boulevard, 2nd floor,

Taco Zone. One of the best taco trucks in L.A. parks at night next to the Vons at 1342 North Alvarado Street, near Sunset. Ask for the suadero.

A large and growing live theater district.

EAT. Brunch; try the huevos del sur.
11108 Magnolia Boulevard,

Pitfire Pizza. Pizza, wine by the glass, and an outdoor eating area with a fire pit. (A few other locations throughout the city.)
5211 Lankershim Boulevard,

Thrift Stores. There is a great run of thrift and antique stores down Magnolia Avenue roughly between Burbank Boulevard and Verdugo Avenue. Many sell old studio props and costumes. Particularly good for Halloween. Also a good place for vintage and reproduction clothing and furniture.

Urban Eats. Stop in while shopping.
3501 W. Magnolia Boulevard,

Casa Bianca. Classic family red-sauce Italian.
1650 Colorado Boulevard,

The Coffee Table. Free wireless, a nice place to work.
1958 Colorado Boulevard,

Oinksters. Barbecue specializing in pulled pork sandwiches.
2005 Colorado Boulevard,

Senor Fish No.2. Mexican seafood; try the scallop tacos. (A second location is downtown.)
4803 Eagle Rock Boulevard,

Swork. Coffee, free wireless, a great place to work. (Also features a kids' play area, see other list.) 2160 Colorado Boulevard,

Follow Kogi, The Grilled Cheese Truck, Coolhaus, Sweets Truck, Buttermilk, and other Twittering mobile food trucks. See
LAist for a complete list.

Some good sites to keep up with what's happening in L.A. (and there are a few more specifically tailored to those with young children):

Culture Monster at L.A. Times
Eater L.A.
Jonathan Gold at L.A. Weekly
Art Slant L.A.
L.A. Observed

And now I realize I forgot about tiki bars, not to mention all the food in the San Gabriel Valley - well, more soon...

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