Los Angeles

8 Mar



With similar standards to Portland’s Stumptown Coffee Roasters, Intelligentsia is setting the bar for quality coffee in the Los Angeles area. Coffee can be a bit on the spendy side, each cup is brewed to order, but it’s a great treat and both LA locations have a cool, hipster vibe. Barista’s work behind a large square shaped coffee counter (watching them at work, you’ll truly feel like your in some kind of coffee laboratory).  These hipsters are truly elevating the practice of espresso making into art and the banana wheat germ muffins make a great light breakfast.

3922 W. Sunset Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90029

1331 Abbot Kinney Blvd.
Venice, CA 90291

Cafe Stella Menu

Café Stella

This cute café is tucked away in a quant courtyard, right next to the Silverlake Intelligentsia. They also serve their coffee, so it’s a great option if you want a sit down breakfast instead of just a muffin. The French Bistro also serves lunch and dinner.

3932 Sunset Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90029

Huckleberry Cafe

This artisan bakery is extremely popular, and once you walk in the door, it’s not hard to see why. The bakery case is simply loaded with picture perfect rustic pastries like strawberry crostatas and valhrona chocolate dipped donuts.  Making a decision is almost impossible for me, so I usually leave with a to go box. Huckleberry also serves great salads, sandwiches and breakfast items, which you order at the counter, so it’s a great place if you want a delicious but fairly quick breakfast or lunch.

1014 Wilshire Blvd.
Santa Monica, CA 90404

Joan’s on Third

Another place I can never seem to make up my mind is Joan’s on Third. The gourmet market also serves delicious salads, sandwiches and breakfast items. They’re French style omelettes are some of the best I’ve ever had and I absolutely love the strawberry buttermilk muffin. Lunch is equally as good. The ready made salad case leaves me salivating every time.

8350 W. 3rd St.
Los Angeles, CA 90048

Inside Church and State

Church and State

One of the coolest things about this French restaurant, I think, is its unexpected downtown location. Getting there is a bit of an adventure, you do have to drive through some sketchy areas, but you’ll be pleasantly surprised when you turn onto Industrial. The urban street is home to really cool renovated lofts and feels a little like Portland’s Pearl District. With lights strung across the ceiling and an open kitchen, Church and State’s ambience manages to be modern yet warm and inviting. The food is delicious, the tart flambé is a must order. I also like that you can order petit portions of some of the entrees. There’s also a great British pub across the street.

1850 Industrial St.
Los Angeles, CA 90021


This restaurant on Venice’s uber hip Abbot Kinney really has it all- awesome outdoor seating, delicious seasonal cuisine and reasonable prices. When eating at the restaurant, you definitely feel like you’re in one of LA’s hippest spots but Gjelina manages to avoid the pretentiousness of many of the most sceney spots. The menu is great and includes wood fired oven pizza, small plates and entrees. I recommend reservations for dinner, although if you go late enough you may still be able to get in. It’s also a great spot for lunch.

1429 Abbot Kinney Blvd.
Venice, CA 90291

Pizzeria Mozza

I love wood fired oven pizza. In my eyes, the pizza served at this Hollywood hotspot is second only to Ken’s in Portland and the crust may even be a little bit better. A joint venture between Nancy Silverton (of LA’s famed LA Brea Bakery) and Celebrity Chef Mario Batali, Pizzeria Mozza really has perfected the art of the crust. It’s extremely crispy on the outside, but chewy and airy on the inside. The truffle cheese pizza is delicious as is all the other rustic Italian food. I also love the restaurant’s warm ambience complete with red walls and wood furniture. Pizzeria Mozza is a true start hangout. I saw Michael J. Fox and Shannon Doherty here on the same night (I know, quite the star sighting). If you want a table, reservations are an absolute must and they book up well in advance. Luckily the bar is reserved for walk-ins.

641 N. Highland Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90036

Cobras and Matadors

This little restaurant on Beverly serves delicious Spanish style tapas and best of all, it’s BYOB. They don’t serve liquor, but you can bring your own beer and wine and there’s no corkage fee. I love the steak with chimichurri and bacon wrapped dates.

7615 Beverly Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90036

El Carmen

This dark, Mexican style bar is known for its margaritas, but I also love the food. The menu is small, but they have all the Mexican staples I love, great guacamole, ceviche and tacos. It’s reasonably priced (even better during happy hour) and I like the dark intimate setting. It’s small. I recommend calling a head if you want a table.

8138 W. 3rd St.
Los Angeles, CA 90048

Kogi BBQ

A Kogi Taco Truck

We may have this taco truck to thank for the roving food cart trend we’re now seeing around the country. One of the first to post locations via Twitter, Kogi has a huge following and has spawned a ton of copycats, but few live up to the original. Kogi serves delicious Korean BBQ fused with Mexican. Dishes like short rib tacos and sweet chili chicken quesadillas pack a ton of favor. Luckily, there are now five trucks roaming around the streets of LA, so your odds of finding a location near you during the lunch hour are much better.


Loteria Grill

If you’re shopping at the Grove and get hungry, walk straight passed all the chain restaurants and head for this small outpost at the Grove Farmer’s Market. The LA institution is known for having some of the most authentic, yummy Mexican food around. The chicken mole tacos are delicious and I love all the different flavored agua frescas. It’s also cheap and fast, if it isn’t too busy.

6333 W. 3rd St.
Los Angeles, CA 90036


The “hidden bar” trend seems to be catching on all over the country. My fiancé and I seek these places out on our travels and Varnish in downtown LA is definitely our favorite. From the creators of Milk and Honey, Varnish truly feels like an old speakeasy. It’s located in the back of Cole’s French Dip (the door to the bar is marked by a picture of a martini glass). Walk in and you’ll a find dim lighting, couples sitting in cool wooden booths and the most expertly made prohibition era cocktails you’ll find anywhere. If you get lucky, there may even be someone playing old standards on the antique piano.

118 E. 6th St.
Los Angeles, CA 90014

The Little Door and Little Next Door

This whimsical French/Mediterranean restaurant is a perfect date spot. Outside Tables at Little Next Door sit under an ivy-covered patio. The Little Door is the more expensive part of the restaurant and has a romantic courtyard setting. Prices at The Little Door are expensive, but luckily the brasserie, the Little Next Door, is more reasonable and serves delicious French staples like steak frites.

8164 W. 3rd St.
Los Angeles, CA 90048


Also on Abbot Kinney, Lemonade is a brilliant concept as far as I’m concerned. The décor is sort of American diner meets modern café. A dozen or so ready made salads are offered daily and people can order however much and whatever combination they like. Wash it down with a glass of fresh squeezed cucumber lemonade and you’ll have the perfect light lunch. I’ve only been to the Venice location but there are others throughout the city.

1661 Abbot Kinney
Venice, CA 90291


Petit Ermitage

I’ve been dying to stay at this boutique hotel in West Hollywood, that’s being billed as the fashionable and more affordable alternative to the Chateau Marmont. The décor is bohemian yet elegant. There’s even a rooftop pool.

8822 Cynthia St.
W. Hollywood, CA 90069

Sunset Towers

This hotel is a bit more pricey, but if you can snag a good deal during a slow week you won’t be disappointed. Formerly the Argyle, the hotel was built in 1929 and is rich in Hollywood history (John Wayne, Howard Hughes, Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor and Frank Sinatra have all stayed here). The art deco building is newly remodeled and the West Hollywood location on Sunset can’t be beat.

8358 Sunset Blvd.
W. Hollywood CA 90069

Maison 140

This small hotel is not far from LA’s famed Rodeo Drive but is decidedly unpretentious. The hotel is reminiscent of a Parisian Inn with a bit more modernism throne in. I love the bold patterns and black, white and red color palette. The 43- room hotel also has a great little bar in the lobby called Bar Noir. The cocktails are top notch and black and white films like Philadelphia Story are projected on the wall.

140 Lasky Drive
Beverly Hills, CA 90212


This boutique hotel is a great find. Rooms start at just $89 night and are clean and modern. The hotel is located on a quiet street on the edge of Korea Town. It might seem like a strange location, but it’s actually great if you want to spend most of your time exploring LA’s hip new downtown hangouts or quirky Silver Lake.

457 Mariposa Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90020

Viceroy Santa Monica

The interior of this Santa Monica hotspot was designed by LA it decorator, Kelly Wearstler. It’s classic and sophisticated, yet thoroughly modern. The location is great if you want to spend your time in LA by the beach or browsing the cute shops on Abbot Kinney in Venice. The bar is also a scene Friday and Saturday nights.

1819 Ocean Ave.
Santa Monica, CA 90401


Shop on Abbot Kinney Blvd.

You could easily spend a day browsing the cute shops on this quaint street in Venice. I love the absence of chain stores. Every shop seems to offer something unique and many of the stores sell locally made goods. Here are some of my favorites:

Bountiful-Home goods store that stocks the most amazing array of cake stands anywhere.

1335 Abbot Kinney Blvd.
Venice, CA 90291

Steven Alan-Simple but stylish clothes for men and women.

1601 Abbot Kinney Blvd.
Venice, CA 90291

Elvino-Well thought out wine selection from around the globe, that isn’t too overwhelming.

1142 Abbot Kinney Blvd.
Venice, CA 90291

Nightcap Clothing-This hot bohemian clothing line’s flagship boutique is on Abbot Kinney. Think sexy lace dresses and comfy but stylish loungewear.

1225 Abbot Kinney Blvd.
Venice, CA 90291

Run or Walk to Griffith Observatory

When we’re in LA, Justin and I usually run up to Griffith Observatory. It’s short but steep and kicks my butt every time. If you’d like a more leisurely activity, just walk up. Built in the 1930’s, the observatory’s unique architecture is something to behold and the view on a clear day is stunning. I also love exploring the neighborhoods around the park, which have lovely tree lined streets and beautiful historic homes.

Located in Griffith Park above the Los Feliz neighborhood.

Get Lost at the Getty

The J. Paul Getty Museum houses European paintings, drawings and sculpture, but I think the modern white buildings and meticulously manicured grounds are also a work of art. Perched high atop a hill, the Getty has amazing views and is a stunning place to be at sunset. Admission to the museum is free, although parking costs $15. I recommend going after 5 pm Saturday for the Getty Center’s evening hours when parking is also free and the museum is open until 9pm.

1200 Getty Center Drive (Access is via the main gate on N. Sepulveda Blvd.)
Los Angeles, CA 90049

Dog and People Watch at Runyon Canyon

This is a great hike, not too far from the hip hotels on Sunset. One minute you could be having breakfast in West Hollywood and then the next, getting a dose of fairly fresh air hiking in the Hollywood Hills. On weekends it seems like everyone and their dog is here. I love seeing the different breeds and the steep trails make for a great workout.

2000 N. Fuller Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90046


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