Like a Local
Quirky, under-the-radar highlights only a local could recommend.
Sticky Rice at Grand Central Market
Grand Central Market’s 30,000-square-foot arcade boasts a food-stall emporium of some 30 amazing vendors, from sustainable seafood at The Oyster Gourmet to the amazing egg sandwiches at Eggslut. But locals know that if you’re looking for truly authentic pad thai, the only stall worth visiting is Sticky Rice. We’re not talking the syrupy sweet, goopy red Americanized style, but authentic pad thai with handmade tamarind paste, not-too-tender noodles, and succulently grilled chicken.
The Last Bookstore
The disarray is purposeful in this iconic downtown bookshop set in an old bank. A variety of books, including a well-kept selection of vintage books, are un-alphabetized and placed on bookshelves arranged every which way to encourage treasure hunting. Custom-built sculptures – like the labyrinth on the second floor – are made from overstocked or damaged copies and peppered throughout the space. See a short documentary about the unique shop here.
A massive whiskey selection – more than 500 types to choose from are divided into categories “Our Favorites,” “The Usual Suspects,” and “Bucket List”– headline the menu of this charming bar in Little Tokyo. Accessible through a long narrow brick walkway off First Street, the hidden location promises a quiet experience at either one of two bars, the mezzanine, or the alley patio.
Hollywood Forever Cemetery
If a visit to a cemetery sounds like an odd thing to do on vacation, just know that this isn’t your typical cemetery. Located off Santa Monica Boulevard in Hollywood, the lavishly landscaped graveyard boasts over-the-top tombstones, massive mausoleums, and the final resting places of celebs like Jayne Mansfield, Rudolph Valentino, and punk rockers Dee Dee and Johnny Ramone. Summer brings outdoor movie screenings and Shakespeare to the hollowed grounds that are anything but dead.
How to spend 36 hours in Los Angeles, with The Mayfair Hotel as your base camp.
7 p.m. | SPEAKEASY COCKTAILS
Located just a mile from The Mayfair Hotel, The Varnish is the place for meticulously constructed cocktails made with passion and precision by some of the city’s most lauded bartenders. Hidden inside a refurbished storage room in Los Angeles’s oldest public house, Cole’s, the moody speakeasy-style bar feels like a trip to the 1920s with cozy wooden booths and soft jazz playing in the background.
8 p.m. | FREE CONCERTS IN DOWNTOWN
Expect a free concert every Friday night in the summer starting in the California Plaza in downtown. For 30 years, the Grand Performances series has been bringing Angelinos together to enjoy world-class music in the outdoor setting that includes colored light synchronized water shows that play in the background. Pack a picnic – you’re even welcome to bring alcohol – and a blanket and spread out.
8 a.m. | DINER & DOUGHNUT HAVEN
Located in the heart of LA’s Skid Row, Nickel Diner is a cozy vintage-style diner that serves updated versions of old-school comfort fare. But what they’re particularly famous for are their doughnuts – five kinds that they have mastered, including a maple-bacon, strawberry crumb, Nutella, red velvet, and something aptly named the Irish Car Bomb (its filling is made from Guinness, Baily’s Irish Cream, and Jameson).
10 a.m. | VISIT THE BROAD MUSEUM
A newer museum having opened in 2015, this 120,000-square-foot building with distinctive space-age angled architecture features free admission and a big-ticket collection. More than 2,000 post-war works call this museum home, including a third-floor corner dedicated to Roy Lichtenstein and something called the Infinity Mirrored Room that you have to see to believe.
2 p.m. | INDIAN FUSION FOR LUNCH
Badmaash is a downtown Indian gastropub with high ceilings and marble-topped counters that serves fusion food, including traditional Indian street-cart food and bar snacks that cross Indian ingredients with American dishes (like fries with a dusting of marsala). We suggest the chili cheese naan or the seafood stew with Indian herbs and spices.
3 p.m. | STROLL THE FASHION DISTRICT
Spanning 90 blocks in downtown, the Fashion District stocks recent fashion trends straight from the catwalk, as well as wide selection of discounted designer clothes. Be sure to check out Santee Alley, a heavily populated shopping area between Maple and Santee streets, were roughly 150 stores and vendors sell the latest trends in clothing styles at bargain prices in a festive open-air bazaar-like atmosphere.
6 p.m. | DINNER AT BESTIA
Plan to make your reservation a month in advance to have dinner in this warehouse-chic space a stone’s through from Skid Row (even Hollywood celebrities have a hard time getting a table). Expect nose-to-tail Italian food, like beef heart tartare, bone marrow pasta, and chicken gizzards, as well as homey classics, like agnolotti, cavatelli, and all sorts of pizza.
8 p.m. | CHOOSE YOUR ENTERTAINMENT ADVENTURE
There’s always something going on at L.A. Live. This massive entertainment complex, across the street from the Staples Center in the South Park District, features a theater, The Grammy Museum, ice-skating, and a bowling alley. You’ll be guaranteed to find something to do.
8 a.m. | BRUNCH AT BOTTEGA LOUIE
This stark white-walled eatery is home to one the best brunches in LA, where the options include lobster hash, eggs benedict, and lemon-ricotta pancakes. On your way out, stop at their macaron counter, featuring an assortment of flavors (from birthday cake to bananas foster) that are made fresh daily in small batches.
10 a.m. | VISIT VENICE BOARDWALK
You can’t leave LA before seeing this famed sandy stretch and beachside promenade home to palm trees, tarot card readers, buskers (be sure to keep your eye out for the guy who walks on glass), and bodybuilders. The boardwalk has a bike path, restaurants, and plenty of T-shirt stops, while the beach itself is famous for “Muscle Beach,” where Arnold Schwarzenegger worked out and made Gold’s Gym famous in the 1980s.
When simply “seeing” a destination just won’t do.
Bike by Art | LA Cycle Tours
The Nieghba’hood Art Tour is a two-and-a-half-hour bike tour that travels 12 miles through downtown LA to off-the-beaten-path street art sites. Some of the work you can expect to see have been done by artists Shepard Fairey, Pixel Pancho, Risk, Kim West, and Cache Uno. You may also run into artists that are currently working on mural projects or production companies filming in the graffiti-filled streets.
Flight Lessons | Pacific Blue Air
These aren’t just tours but actual hands-on flight lessons with a certified-FAA flight instructor, where once in the air, you can take ahold of the controls to fly the state-of-the-art Revo Evolution aircraft. Lessons range from 30- to 90-minute increments and provide amazing views of Santa Monica Pier, Pacific Palisades, Venice Boardwalk, Dodger Stadium, Griffith Observatory, and even Catalina Island.
Hiking High Above Hollywood | Runyon Canyon Park
About 20 minutes northwest of downtown LA, the 160-acre Runyon Canyon perches on the eastern edge of the Santa Monica Mountains and features a handful of wide dirt fire roads that ascend to the park’s highest point (1,300 feet). For the quickest route, take the two-and-a-half-mile Runyon Canyon Trail, a loop with a 700-foot elevation gain and great views over Hollywood.
The best food artisans, farms, and local markets.
It’s no secret that kombucha, a probiotic fermented tea beverage, is good for your gut, but it’s often, well, just not that tasty. Better Booch has solved that problem with their small-batch, raw, and organic kombucha that comes in unique – and delicious – flavors, like apple, pear, ginger, and peach. Find their teas in markets all over LA, including District Market inside Grand Central Market.
Clark Street Bread
What begin in Zack Hall’s West Hollywood apartment has now grown into a full-scale organic bakery with a home in Grand Central Market and a soon-to-be 3,000-square-foot retail space in Echo Park Village. Featuring varieties, like whole wheat and country white boules and Danish ryes, Hall’s loaves are highly coveted throughout LA for their European technique, organic grains, and natural leaven.
Recently rated one of “10 Rising Star Food Artisans in LA” by Zagat, Los Angeles’ premier gluten-free and dairy-free bakery serves vegan treats and sugar-free sweets that taste better than the real thing. Operated out of Santa Monica by a former law-student turned baker, the bakery sells everything from cakes and tarts to brownies and cookies. We suggest the cardamom-citrus cake made with fresh farmers’ market fruit.
Mother Moo Creamery
This quaint Sierre Madre ice cream parlor accented with colorful floor tiles and striped awnings outside serves ice cream handmade with organic Strauss cream and milk by Karen Klemens, LA’s “master food preserver.” Her signature flavors include salty chocolate (three types of chocolate flecked with salt) and cinnamon, cornflakes, and raw honey.
- Like a LocalQuirky, below-the-radar highlights only a local could recommendRead More
- The WeekenderHow to spend 36 hours here, with the resort as your basecamp.Read More
A Benchmark Resort & Hotel
The Mayfair Hotel, 1256 West 7th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90017 P: 213.632.1200