Los Angeles: Readings and Recommendations
After years of wrongly dismissing Los Angeles as a temple of narcissism with a tragic lack of public transportation, I’ve recently been romanced by the place in a big way. Newer highlights like the Broad Museum, the Arts District, and even a subway system have given the city some deeper, sharper edges, remaking it as a mecca not only of the entertainment industry, but for the arts, design, fashion, and increasingly, literature. All this while maintaining its rambling ways: LA could perhaps be best described not as a city but a sprawling collection of distinct neighborhoods, each one best taken in on its own terms. I’m lucky to team up with Ruby S. Nichols, an LA local and proprietor of Almanac of Style, a site showcasing designers and makers in different locales that I’ve long admired, in presenting this Los Angeles guide. -ss
Words by Ruby S. Nichols and Sarah Stodola. Photos by Sarah Stodola.
PRIMO PASSO COFFEE CO. | For true LA people-watching, plus some fantastic coffee, this bright corner spot can’t be beat. 702 Montana Ave. | Santa Monica. Read More.
SPOKE BICYCLE CAFE | In an increasingly on-the-radar neighborhood hugging the Los Angeles River, with bike rentals for the bike path just outside the door. 3050 N. Coolidge Ave | Frogtown.
THE CONSERVATORY FOR COFFEE, TEA & COCOA | Throwback to a time when coffee represented a moment of indulgence–and a catalyst for conversation. In other words, there’s no wifi. 10117 Washington Blvd | Culver City.
GO GET EM TIGER | A neighborhood hangout vibe with an exciting menu that boasts items like the almond macadamia latte and mung bean scallion pancake. 230 N Larchmont Blvd | Los Feliz.
THE SPRINGS | A Soaring, airy space where your mind can really go places as you nibble on wraps, salads and the like. 608 Mateo Street | Arts District.
TIATO | A lot of big business happens on the beautiful patio. The large selection of Asian fusion dishes means you get your boba tea amd Vietnamese iced coffee in one place. 2700 Colorado Ave #190, Santa Monica.
Art and Museums:
HAUSER WIRTH & SCHIMMEL | Housed in a 19th century flour mill, a must-stop on a stroll around the galleries of the Arts District. 901 East Third Street | Arts District.
THE BROAD MUSEUM | A major gallery showcasing blockbuster artists—all the big contemporary names are represented here, and the building itself is bonkers. 221 S Grand Avenue | Downtown. Read More.
BERGAMOT STATION | A former trolley line station has been transformed into a sprawling complex of impressive art galleries and studios. 2525 Michigan Avenue | Santa Monica.
MAMA SHELTER | Big personality and reasonable prices in an area that’s in the early stages of a hotel boom. The foosball table in the lobby is Instagram famous. 6500 Selma Avenue | Hollywood. | Read Flung’s full review.
THE LONDON | This place remains a long-time favorite for that rare accomplishment, poshness sans attitude. 1020 N San Vicente Blvd | West Hollywood.
THE LINE | A scene on weekends, but it’s earned its trendy rep for a reason. Stay for brunch at the gorgeous Commissary. 3515 Wilshire Blvd | Koreatown.
HOTEL ERWIN | The High Lounge rooftop view alone is worth a stay, and the beachfront location just can’t be beat. 1697 Pacific Ave, Venice.
THE LAST BOOKSTORE | New and used books mixed together in 10,000 square feet that was once a former bank, with the columns and old high-security vault to prove it. 453 S. Spring St.| Downtown LA.
ALCHEMY WORKS | The shiny vintage car parked front and center is for sale, along with the jewelry, artwork and other goods that have this minimalist drooling. 826 East 3rd Street | Arts District
LACAUSA | Made-in-LA line of clothing that celebrates clean, long lines. In other words, an entire shop full of destined wardrobe stables. 4015 Sunset Blvd | Silver Lake
HAMMER AND SPEAR | Everything in here is Ron Swanson-approved handsome. If you’re into rad man stuff and looking for home goods, welcome to heaven. 255 S Santa Fe Ave | Arts District.
FLOWERBOY PROJECT | Café/boutique hybrids are a thing all over LA right now. This one sells home goods and varieties of flowers that you don’t see every day. 824 Lincoln Blvd. | Venice.
TORTOISE | A stunning little Japanese gift shop with pristine kitchenware and baby kimonos. 1208 Abbot Kinney Blvd | Venice
MOHAWK GENERAL STORE | A fashion institution with always just the right mix of local, international, small and large brands, curated to perfection. 4011 Sunset Blvd | Silver Lake
SONOMAMA | The former owners of Reform School have opened a new, higher end venture with some Japanese flair and a focus on craft. 5711 N Figueroa St | Highland Park
CHARIOTS ON FIRE | Come for the spare and beautiful design, stay for the owner’s irresistible English Bulldog, LuLu. 1342 ½ Abbot Kinney Blvd | Venice
MIANSAI | The West Coast flagship up this streamlined, hipster-nautical jewelry line also serves kombucha on tap. 1116 Abbot Kinney Blvd. | Venice
THE VILLAGE | You can’t really go wrong at this popular spot among the hustle and bustle of Ventura Boulevard. Slashed prices and small plates allow you to try everything on the menu. 12345 Ventura Blvd | Studio City
THE MORRISON | Get your Old Fashioned fix here. A neighborhood go-to for quality cocktails in a dapper setting. 3179 Los Feliz Blvd | Atwater Village
ESCALA | Try the pork belly tamales at this Korean/Colombian fusion spot. Night owls, don’t miss out on Nappy Hour from 11pm-1am. 3451 W 6th Street | Koreatown
PERCH |Perched it is, on the 16th and top floor of a building overlooking Pershing Square. Reservations are mandatory later on, but during happy hour walk-ins can enjoy the view, and cocktails at a discount. 448 Hill Street | Downtown.
FAITH & FLOWER | I can honest-to-God say I had one of the best cocktails of my life here. The English Milk Punch will change your life. 705 W 9th Street | Downtown Los Angeles
MANUELA | This unique eatery housed inside the Hauser & Wirth art complex does not disappoint, and neither does their cocktail selection. 907 E 3rd Street | Arts District
THE BUNGALOW | Plenty of beachy nooks to get lost in, nice cocktails to sip in them, and quite a scene some nights. 101 Wilshire Blvd | Inside the Fairmont Hotel | Santa Monica.
Favorite Los Angeles Novels
SQIRL | Quite possibly the world’s best sandwich is served in this friendly spot on an unassuming stretch of a neighborhood that these days is generally anything but. 720 N Virgil Avenue #4 | Silver Lake
THE DAILY DOSE | There’s a secret garden quality to this winding, ivy-covered alley spot that highlights local ingredients at the end of the Arts District that still feels distinctly gritty. 1820 Industrial Street, #260 | Arts District.
MY TWO CENTS | Southern dishes with an artisanal twist–think gumbo with quinoa. So packed with flavor, you won’t even notice it’s kinda healthy. 5583 W Pico Blvd | Mid-City
MALIBU FARM PIER CAFÉ | The food, surprisingly, is as good as the location, at the end of a century-old pier just off a famous surf beach. 23000 Pacific Coast Highway | Malibu
TAR & ROSES | A crackling scene, yes, but you won’t even notice once all those delectable small plates arrive on your table. Great for vegetarians and carnivores alike. 602 Santa Monica Blvd. | Santa Monica.
GRACIAS MADRE | Meatless Mexican food tastes better than it sounds at this hot people-watching spot. The plant-based menu made me a convert (for a meal, at least). 8905 Melrose Ave | West Hollywood
THE TASTING KITCHEN | This would be my last meal. Start with standouts like the gnocco fritto with prosciutto and burrata; cap it off with a concoction from the renowned cocktail menu. 1633 Abbot Kinney Blvd | Venice
CASSIA | A harmonious blend of unexpected cuisines–French-Asian and seafood. Trust me, it works. 1314 7th Street | Santa Monica