Since this is my last night as a Los Angeles resident (I guess that makes me an Angeleno, but I never liked the word), I thought I would share my favorite LA spots with you. Born and raised here, I have 27 years of knowledge on my side and like to think I’ve truly experienced Los Angeles.
1. Best Hiking - Runyan Canyon: I know it’s overly hyped and everyone tells you to go there, but for a hiker and dog walker I find this neighborhood hike the BEST. There are three different routes (easy (all concrete), medium (10 minutes of intense uphill) and hard (ridgetop) and it has the best people (and dog) watching around. This is a weekly go to of mine for an outdoor exercise.
2. Best Seafood – Son of A Gun: Last night my girlfriends and I went to Son of A Gun for my goodbye meal and I only wish I had gone here every week for a year before this. From the owners of Animal (they do crazy things with meat), this mainly fish restaurant serves some of the best food I’ve had. From lobster rolls to fried chicken sandwiches to oysters and linguini with clams, I didn’t taste a bad dish.
3. Best Produce Shopping - The Hollywood Farmers’ Market: For a foodie and cook, this is my favorite market ever. The variety of stalls and types of produce you can get is unmatched by anywhere I’ve ever been. We get our fresh fish from there every week as well as 90% of the produce we eat (the other 10 is normally offseason). This is one of the things I will miss most about not being in LA.
4. Best Workout - Dove’s Bodies: During the week, I worked out at Equinox in West Hollywood (a dream gym), but on Saturdays I stepped out of my usual schedule (spinning, sculpt, swim) and took this boot camp. My mom has been going to Dove’s for 20 years…and Dove has only gotten better with time. 75 minutes of cardio/weights/lunges/jumping rope/abs and everything in between. It leaves you breathless and sweaty. An AMAZING workout (and worth the schlep to the valley).
5. Best Brunch Spot – Luna Park and Cheebo – Luna Park has the more funky brunch choices and is located on La Brea and Wilshire, which is more south than I usually travel for brunch (who wants to drive 20 minutes when you are hungover and in need of some grease?), but we make the trek for the bloody marys and greasy brunch options. My favorite are the chilequiles (tortilla chips, eggs, cheese, chorizo). Another favorite brunch spot (and convienetly located 10 minutes from my house) is Cheebo. Healthier options, good atmosphere, great Arnold Palmers. My go to here is the fried egg sandwich (ciabatta, fried eggs, lettuce, tomato, a little aioli).
6. Best Sandwiches – Mendocino Farms and Larchmont Wine and Cheese (tie): Mendocino Farms quickly rose to the top of my all time favorite sandwich restaurants in the best year when it opened a location on Fairfax and 3rd Street. Their sandwiches are pretty much perfect- the sandwich combinations are right on (turkey, avocado, salsa), the staff there is superb and the location is ideal. Larchmont Wine and Cheese has a list of 6 sandwiches (think turkey, caprese, tuna, or salami) and they recommend you get them loaded (garlic aioli and olive oil and balsamic). They are classic sandwiches served on fresh out of the oven baguette and are truly mouth watering. The line can get a little long on weekends (only two sandwich makers), but it is well worth the wait.
7. Best Cupcakes – Sprinkles: You just can’t beat this cupcake. There is a reason the line is always out the door, they are that good. I recommend going online to pre-order or to see what flavor cupcakes are baking that day (the salted carmel is a favorite).
8. Best Shopping- The Grove: If you can’t tell, I’m a J. Crew girl through and through, so for me The Grove is a one-stop-shop. I head over to J. Crew to gather my essentials, get some basics at Gap and if I’m feeling like spending money head to Nordstrom’s. There’s a Sur La Table for my baking/cooking needs and a TopShop is opening in the next few months (think Forever21 but a little cooler and pricier) for my trendier needs. And if you spend over $250 in one day, you get free valet (let’s not discuss how many times this has happened to me…).
9. Best Outdoorsy Store – REI: This is much more Q’s expertise than mine (can you tell I’m not outdoorsy just because I used the word outdoorsy?), but REI is the best place for camping/fishing/hiking/skiing gear, basically all things Alaska. Before my first trip up to Alaska (and before I knew what to expect), I headed into REI and bought Sorels (big 10 pound waterproof boots that have been worn once), Merril hiking boots (to my fashionistas, just turn your eyes away), a fleece (lifesaver) and some socks that cause my feet to be a size larger than usual in shoes. But I wouldn’t have been able to find this stuff anywhere else (and I am reassured that when it is -40 I am going to want those socks and ugly shoes). Also when Q was deployed and needed some goods (foldable coffee filter/coffee mug/small pillow), this was my first stop. The customer service is superb also.
10. Best Restaurant (General) – Mercato di Vetro: I have to give it to them, although the customer service can be iffy (especially on a Friday or Saturday night), the food makes up for it. If I haven’t been here in a while, I miss the food. Mercato serves fresh, but comforting food. Think kale pizza, burrata with grapes and balsamic, mussels and fresh bread. The cocktails are good too (and make the wait on a Friday night a little more bearable).
So that’s all folks. Tomorrow I’m hopping on a plane up to Alaska to start the next chapter! I can’t wait to tell you all about the adventures this LA girl has in the last frontier!