My home away from home, Los Angeles, was good to me for many years. I still enjoy returning to my old stomping grounds several times a year to visit my favorite spots and discover new gems. LA is always full of pleasant surprises, and ones that you just shouldn’t keep to yourself! Here are my recommendations for places to eat, shop, and explore in and around the City of Angels.
There’s no shortage of excellent eats in LA, and foodies from all across the country will happily fork out for flights to Los Angeles just to dig their forks into them! One of my favorite spots to eat any time of day is Farmshop in Santa Monica. Located in the delightful Brentwood Country Mart, Farmshop is a restaurant, bakery, and market that focuses on locally sourced, innovative cooking (I regularly dream about their avocado hummus…yum!). A relative newcomer to the LA dining scene, Café Birdie serves up artfully prepared dishes (pork cheek ragu, anyone?) and cocktails (the “Forget Me Not” is truly unforgettable) in a chic setting. Of course, I can’t leave out the place that fed me all through grad school – El Pollo Inka in Gardena. From killer pisco sours to mouth-watering lomo saltado, this is the place to go for affordable Peruvian comfort food. If you’re in the mood for Ethiopian food, head to Messob on Fairfax. You can also swing into one of the nearby Ethiopian markets to pick up some snacks for later.
I’ve found some of the best vintage pieces in my closet and décor items in my home while living in and visiting LA. The iconic Rose Bowl Flea Market is a great place to score vintage clothes and housewares at great prices. Avalon Vintage in Highland Park is packed with great vintage clothes, shoes, records and more. Tortoise General Store on Abbott Kinney (Venice’s main drag) is a beautifully curated Japanese housewares store and art gallery where I’ve purchased everything from vintage kokeshi dolls to stunning indigo textiles. Nickey Kehoe has a gorgeous home goods shop in East LA that boasts a superb selection of vintage and designer textiles, art, and other accouterments from around the world.
I’ve always described LA as a series of neighborhoods (vs. a sprawling city). One of my favorites is Chinatown. Founded as a commercial center for Asian businesses in the 1930s, it’s changed quite a bit since then to become home to cutting-edge art galleries and concept restaurants, even though the original architecture and large temple still stand. Another great place to take a stroll is Melrose Avenue (and surrounding area). Here you’ll find an assortment of indie shops, galleries, and eateries catering to LA’s artsy crowd. If you’re in the mood to visit a museum or see a show, don’t forget about the fantastic venues on the UCLA campus in Westwood. Royce Hall hosts world-class performers from all over the world, and the campus museums like the Fowler and Hammer have an ever-changing array of art exhibits and events from around the world.
Do you love LA? What little-known spots would you add to this list? Let us know in the comments section.