Yall know from my previous posts that I LOVE LA. Everything from the perfect weather, palm trees, beaches and mountain views, to amazing food and laid back people to match the vibe. So when I got word that I had to go to Los Angeles for two video shoots for work, I was super excited! A whole 5 days in LA, not bad. Considering I used to be out to LA 4-5x a year and I haven't been in the last year or so, I felt long overdue.
I spent my time zipping across to what felt like every area in LA - from Echo Park to North Hollywood, West Hollywood to Pasadena, Downtown to Inglewood. If you check out my go-to spots with your trip to LA, I garauntee that you will leave feeling like you've gotten a good feel of what staying in LA feels like, not just visiting.
One of the first things I noticed is that the downtown area has basically gotten revamped. Where the streets used to be lined with the infamous skid row (rows and rows of homeless who basically camp out and created a street neighborhood for themselves) was now been displaced and there are a ton of new stores, restaurants, bars and businesses. Whereas when I first visited LA 7 years ago, downtown wasn't the place you would ever think about going, now it's sort of a new hub for nightlife and lofty warehouse-turned-apartments.
Also nearby the budding downtown are is Little Tokyo - an area full of Japanese-inspired culture, from the graffiti art to restaurants, shops and more. If you're into the "cool kid" vibe -aka- love to take photos up against an art wall, you need to be sure to wander around this area. I stopped in Artform Studio - a vintage record store/salon - and there were plenty of cool vibes. Right across the street we stopped in at Umami Burger - a west coast specialty burger shop that everyone I was rolling with vouched for, and sort of gasped that I had not tried before. It was all kinds of foodie deliciousness, not gonna lie. I would highly recommend it. There are a few Umami Burgers around the LA area and I believe other west coast cities like Vegas. I had the "manly burger," one of maybe 15 different options. Everyone seemed very pleased with their selections and especially the truffle fries.
Of course I made a pitstop to my favorite LA restaurant to date, Bossa Nova, a Brazilian spot that has a few locations around the LA area. Basically everything at Bossa Nova tastes fantastic. I usually go for the Manuela's Special, a spicy, creamy pasta dish with chicken, shrimp and prosciutto. This time, I tried their Philly sandwich with sweet plantains - I guess I've been feeling beefy on this trip? Anyway, as per their usual, it was excellent.
Generally, people participate in so much outdoor activity in LA, whether it be for the vanity of staying fit, for social purposes, or simply the fact that there is so much open space, I don't care. It's awesome. In LA, hiking is huge, and if you're up to it, definitely try Runyon Canyon. There's an easy trail and a difficult trail, but either way, when you get to the top you will feel like a champion and have possibly the best view of the city of Los Angeles and the famous Hollywood sign. Lots of celebrities get their workout on at Runyon too so don't be surprised if you run into your favorite actor or actress looking super lowkey. After all, many of their homes and nearby in the hills that you will also see on the hike.
All I've got to say about this is, always, must have Roscoe's Chicken & Waffles - my favorite location being the one in Pasadena. Even though it's a bit out of the way, the wait is always shorter, the food is always better and the staff and crowd is always the most pleasant.
Then sometimes you need the mom & pop shops to give you the best fix ever. I just holla'd at GroupOn for this one and mannnn was it worth the trip! Brother's BBQ in Inglewood. It was takeout only. RIP to this meal.
The Griddle Cafe is one of the most lifechanging breakfast foodie experiences ever. The menu is full of things like red velvet pancakes, apple french toast, and so much more sweet-meets-savory decadence. The food is SOOOO good. I know I keep saying that, but LA food is seriously LIKE THAT. Keep in mind that most of the food that you order at this restaurant can seriously feed 3 people - and this is coming from someone with a voracious appetite. Photo'd below is Buttermilk griddle panackes with butterscotch chips, caramel drizzle, streusel cream and powdered sugar topped with whipped sweet cream and pumpking filling. Serious man vs. food moment. DIVINE!
If you are a partier, definitely check out the Hollywood Club Crawl when you're in town. You get access to 4 different bars and clubs for only $25. Each club you go to is bigger and sicker than the last. For our crawl we had a group of 30, we went to Federal, Bar 86, Eden and by the time we ended up at Blvd 3, we were down to maybe 5 people haha. So many memories, so many stories. EPIC times. Word to note, if you are anywhere near a Mission Liquor store, everything is SUPER inexpsensive there, I mean like 30-40% cheaper than you would find at your typical liquor store. I don't know how they do it but I don't care. It's greatness.
If you're not in the turn-up mood, there's also a crew called Plei LA (pronounced Play) that throws social events like game nights and painting parties throughout LA. The game night that I went to was really a lot of fun and put me on to things like life-size jenga which is a damn good time!
There's lots of different areas to shop in Los Angeles. From the Beverly Center and Rodeo Drive which are very upscale, to Burbank mall, the shops around Melrose Place which spans far and wide and includes everything from vintage boutiques with designer sunglasses and bags to dope sneaker shops, The 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica which includes a strip of mid-level spots right by the beach and mini-amusement park, Little Tokyo has random, funky spots all around. This trip we did a little bit of shopping at The Grove, which is one of my favorite areas to shop when I'm in LA. Also cool for a little date night stroll since it is has a little bit of a charming touch to it at night.
Might as well go out with a bang for brunch right? Check out Bea Bea's for slamming traditional American breakfast in the Burbank area. #frenchtoastonfleek
Other LA recommendations:
The Laugh Factory - Comedy shows, especially on Chocolate Sundays
Topanga Canyon - another great hiking option. There are several
Burger Love - LA has some amazing burgers. Not just classy ones either, get down & dirty with In-N-Out burger, Fatburger, Jack In The Box, or my favorite - Carl's Jr.
Social Scene - In addition to the Hollywood Club Crawl, look up The Do Over and Plei LA for more chill social scenes like game nights and loungey atmosphere
Downtown Art Walk - in the newly trendy downtown area, every once in a while, the city organizes some really dope LA artists for exhibits that are partially in the street and particially in buildings. I've seen many celebs browse through the crowd incognito. A lot of people go while under the influence of... something, for added fun while people watching. Check to see when the next art walk is.
More Restaurants - Haaa! As if the above weren't enough. Also feel free to check out Yogurtland for AMAZING frozen yogurt, Crustacean (garlic noodles and cracked crab is ridiculous), Big Wangs for 50 cent wing specials, Luna's for $3 quesadillas and $3 margaritas, Mayflower and Gangchow for chinese food in China Town, El Torito or El Cholos for Mexican, Cabo Cantina in Santa Monica for festive vibes Mexican drinks and appetizers, Salt Creek Grill, Harold and Bellstons... so much. LA is known for Mexican and Asian food, so just keep that in mind... loads of amazing Korean BBQ spots, Japanese, Ramen, Thai and Chinese everywhere. Get your google on!