The Insider’s Guide to Los Angeles

Let’s be clear: In-N-Out Burger will always be a must in a city guide like this one but we wanted to dig a little deeper. With Los Angeles being such an expansive city it has hidden gems around every corner. So, it’s important to go straight to the experts: the boutiques and designers. We got them to spill on their favorite places to eat, drink and people watch. Get ready to book a trip to LA.

WHERE TO EAT
GjustaFront

Sister restaurant to the renowned Gjelina on Abbott Kinney, Gjusta (above) is first on the list. “It’s unfussy, casual and ridiculously good,” says Valerie Quant of LOQ. “Great for smoked fish, fresh baked sourdough and fresh ginger lemonade.” giu giu‘s Giuliana Raggiani agrees, “It’s just perfect.”

LCD boutique owner Geraldine Chung also loves Gjusta, “incredible vegetables and their specials are fire. Be prepared for mayhem on the weekends!”

Gjusta, 320 Sunset Ave., Venice

“I’m a kitschy kind of person and love experience, so I’m going for Colombo’s Steakhouse in Eagle Rock,” says Paige Smith, one part of the duo behind VereVerto. “There’s live jazz every single night, the food is solid Italian, and the vibe is retro-classic, old Italian with red leather booths and old paintings.”

Colombo’s Italian Steakhouse, 1833 Colorado Boulevard, Eagle Rock

Her partner in crime, Consuela Chozas is a sushi fan. “Hama Sushi in little Tokyo. This place never disappoints.”

Hama Sushi, 347 E 2nd Street, Los Angeles

For pizza, Jessica Taft Langdon of The Palatines says, “Bestia. Because their pizza is the bestia.” Elora Joshi, co-founder of womenswear line Stil., also says Bestia is a no-brainer for dinner. “Order the roasted bone marrow and the casarecce. You’ll need to snag a reservation pretty far in advance but my secret is that they usually have tables available for walk ins as soon as they open for the night.” Noted. 

Bestia, 2121 7th Place, Los Angeles

Amara-Kitchen
Photo by @amarakitchen

Ty McBride, designer behind LA-based shoe collective Intentionally Blank, says his “current hot spots are Grand Central Market when with friends from out of town, Amara Kitchen (above) for an off the beaten path breakfast, and Cliff’s Edge when on a Tinder date. The venue is better than the food, but if it seals the deal so what!!!” 

Grand Central Market, 317 S Broadway, Los Angeles

Amara Kitchen519 N Avenue 64, Los Angeles

Cliff’s Edge, 3626 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles

“I can’t decide so I’m going to name two of my favorites,” admits Alexandra Michelle, founder of Objects Without Meaning. “Dinette in Echo Park has the best coffee and avocado toast. You can find me there most Sundays. There’s also Speranza in Silver Lake. Everything on the menu is outstanding and the ambiance is perfect — they have cute little tables hidden behind trees so it’s nice and intimate.”

Dinette, 1608 Sunset Boulevard, Echo Park

Speranza, 2547 Hyperion Avenue, Los Angeles

Designer Beatrice Valenzuela heads to Officine Brera. “This delicious northern Italian restaurant is a perfect place for a romantic date. They have a saffron risotto that is so good and one of the best wine lists in town. I love the minimal decor and the open space. You know you are nearby when you smell their wood fired oven from a couple blocks away.”

Officine Brera, 1331 E 6th St

When I’m super busy with production deadlines I tend to eat like crap, so during those weeks I go out of my way to make it to Amara Kitchen where I can get a guaranteed healthy and delicious meal,” says Krista Fox, designer of Town Clothes. “They have the best breakfasts and lunches in town served in a lovely and simple atmosphere and you can easily order to go if you’re on the run. I highly recommend ordering their gluten free Oat Blueberry Muffin, I never knew I loved muffins till I tried theirs.”

Amara Kitchen, 519 N Avenue 64

Kitchen-Mouse
Photo by @kitchenmousela

We also had our Fashion Editor-At-Large and LA stylist Sissy Sainte-Marie reveal her go-to spots. “Sorry, I can’t choose just one. The places that cater to healthy eaters – Honey Hi and Kitchen Mouse (above)…. the indoor/outdoor gems – Zinc, Winsome, Momed in Atwater, Topanga Table…. and the old classics like Musso & Franks.”

Honey Hi, 1620 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles

Kitchen Mouse, 5904 N Figueroa St, Los Angeles

Zinc Cafe & Market, 580 Mateo St, Los Angeles

Momed, 3245 Casitas Ave, Los Angeles

Topanga Table, 1861 N Topanga Canyon Blvd, Topanga

Musso & Franks, 6667 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles

“I’d say Botanica Restaurant & Market,” says Andria Crescioni, designer of accessories line Crescioni. “Their food is so fresh and beautiful, it’s exactly what I want to be eating! They have a great wine list too, and I love that you can buy items to take home in the market in the front of the restaurant.”

Botanica Restaurant & Market, 1620 Silver Lake Blvd

And lastly, Elf in Echo Park is a crowd favorite.

“I deeply love eating at Elf in Echo Park, as well as their falafel place counterpart in Atwater, Dune. Mediterranean and Middle Eastern flavors call out most to me these days,” explains Cecilia Bordarampe of Are Studio. “It also serves a great loose leaf chai that reminds me of the way my mother makes it,” adds Pari Desai. And it’s a fave for Shaina Mote too. “They always have the most exotic playlist and lovely atmosphere. Their dishes are unique and interesting.”

Elf, 2135 Sunset Boulevard, Echo Park

 

WHERE TO DRINK

DinexDesign
Photo by @dinexdesign

“Bar Stella,” says Consuela of the east side favorite (above). “I love the terrace in the summertime, drinking their margarita. The bar is so well done and always has a cool scene.” Valerie agrees. “Bar Stella for an intimate vibes and the Norteño.” And Jessica has her own reasons, “Because I can walk there, and they serve Bison Grass Vodka.”

Jessica has also been recently obsessed with Bar Bandini in Echo Park. “As a fan of old-world natural and orange wines, I love this low-lit romantic spot. The bartenders always have great recommendations for weird wines, which are my favorite!”

Cafe Stella, 3932 Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles

Bar Bandini, 2150 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles

1642 is an intimate beer and wine bar in Echo Park that has great live music and is the perfect spot for a date,” reveals Jemma Swatek, designer of Lykke Wullf. “If you go for the music get there early as it fills up quickly! Also, there are free tamales on Thursday nights… what more could you ask for?”

1642, 1642 W Temple St

“This is like choosing a favorite song!” Paige laments. “I’ll give a neighborhood—Arts District. Plenty of gorgeous outdoor seating, and tons of happy hours. Try Pour Haus for affordable, delicious wine, Tony’s for a perfect dive, and Bestia if you’re feeling classy.

Pour Haus, 1820 Industrial St, Los Angeles

Tony’s Saloon, 2017 E 7th St, Los Angeles

Learn more about the up and coming Arts District here.

Gracias-Madre
Photo by @e.spotted

Elora swears by Gracias Madre (above), “they have best mezcal and tequila cocktails and the patio is really nice on warmer nights.” She also loves “the rooftop at the Ace Hotel (below). They have a drink called the Amazing Frozen Drink and it’s essentially an alcoholic slurpee but way better.” Ty agrees, “I love a drink on top of the Ace Hotel. But let’s face it, I am not some classy lady.” He adds in: “My drinking spots are The Eagle LA or the Smog Cutter. I like it dark, dirty and loud.”

Gracias Madre, 8905 Melrose Ave, West Hollywood

Ace Hotel, 929 S Broadway, Los Angeles

Eagle LA, 4219 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles

Smog Cutter, 864 N Virgil Ave, Los Angeles

“Sunset Towers – for old school glamour, Tenants of the Trees for fun weekday dranks and dance parties,” says Geraldine. 

Sunset Tower, 8358 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles

Tenants of the Trees, 2808 Hyperion Ave, Los Angeles

Florence Gan, owner of Vamp, has a solid list: Mignon in downtown LA, The Semi-Tropic in Echo Park and Sonny’s Hideaway in Highland Park.

Mignon, 128 E 6th St

The Semi-Tropic, 1412 Glendale Blvd

Sonny’s Hideaway, 5137 York Blvd

Ace-Hotel-LA
Photo by @acedtla

“I’m very into iced tea,” says Cecilia. “My favorite is an iced earl grey found at Kitchen Mouse. Also, the HMS Bounty in Korea Town is great. I have a soft spot for nautically-themed spaces with character.” Pari agrees with her last pick. “It’s a bar founded in the ’40s with a special interior that’s unbelievably managed to stay exactly the same.”

HMS Bounty, 3357 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles

“Mignon for wine and good friends,” says Giuliana. And it’s the go-to spot after work in DTLA for Shaina. “Super quaint and cute with a great wine and cheese selection.”

Mignon, 128 E. 6th Street, Los Angeles

“Covell in Los Feliz,” adds Alexandra. “It’s a great wine bar that is super low key. There’s no wine list. The bartenders give you suggestions based on your preferences and they’re always spot on!”

Covell, 4628 Hollywood Boulevard, Los Feliz

For coffee, Kathryn Bentley, owner and designer of Dream Collective, loves Civil Coffee in Highland park. “If I’m going to pay over $5 for a coffee, I want homemade almond milk and a fair trade coffee bean. They also happen to have great pastries and a good breakfast selection.”

Civil Coffee, 5629 N Figueroa St

Jackie Sun, owner of LA boutique Fuggiamo, heads to Giorgi Porgi for her coffee fix. “It’s a bit hidden in DTLA, and once you walk through the living moss tunnel, it feels like you’re in Milan or Tokyo. Instead of ordering from a menu, you simply answer a few questions from the staff, and they make a delicious drink for you. The experience and setting encourage interaction in a way that’s so thoughtful and unique.”

Giorgi Porgi, 137 E 3rd St

Sissy reveals LA’s best secret spot: “Pfff! My house where the Moscow Mules aren’t $18.” But, “otherwise, the build-your-own Bloody Mary bar at Clifton’s Cafeteria is a hoot.”

Clifton’s Cafeteria, 648 S Broadway, Los Angeles

 

WHERE TO PEOPLE WATCH

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Photo by Arcade Original

“Tenants of the Trees,” says Valerie of the Silver Lake cocktail bar (above). “A guilty pleasure for watching people’s dance moves.”

Tentants of the Trees, 2808 Hyperion Avenue, Los Angeles

“Chateau Marmont,” says Consuela. “It’s just so quintessential entertainment industry hot spot. A cliché but the scene there is just fabulous.”

Chateau Marmont, 8221 Sunset Blvd, West Hollywood

And then it’s all about the neighborhoods. “Almost everywhere is good people watching, but I’ll choose the Venice boardwalk,” says Paige. “The most strange and entertaining!” Giuliana recommends Muscle Beach while you’re there.

Stacy Anderson, the designer behind KENT Woman, has a people-watching day planned out that also includes the Venice boardwalk. “Start at the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market that happens every Saturday morning, it’s one of my favorites around town for the freshest seasonal fruits, veg and flowers. Then head on over to Venice Beach Boardwalk and skate park–there’s no shortage of characters, sights and sounds!”

Venice Boardwalk, 1800 Ocean Front Walk, Venice

Jackie heads to the Venice skate park. “The skaters are mesmerizing to watch, plus the view is hard to beat with the concrete park right on the beach. It feels quintessentially LA.”

“Everywhere, really,” says Cecilia. “It’s fascinating to observe people in moments of unawareness.” Jessica agrees. “This city is filled with characters. Really, any neighborhood is great for people watching. Most people are putting on a show, so if you just settle into the background, and become a bit invisible, you can see amazing things.”

“I love going to the Melrose Place Farmer’s Market for people watching plus there’s a guy who sells wild mushrooms and they are the best mushrooms I’ve ever had,” says Elora. She also adds “the beaches in Malibu if it’s a hot day. You can pack a picnic and relax with a book or be entertained by beach goers, surfers and the occasional dolphin.”

Melrose Place Farmer’s Market, 8400 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles

los-angeles-people-watching
Photo by Arcade Original

“I love to people watch at art openings or museums,” says Shaina. “Downtown is a total melting pot and is always interesting.”

Geraldine goes to “Craig’s in West Hollywood – the food is kind of ridiculous but the scene is undeniable: Hollywood moguls and music business heavy hitters every night.”

Craig’s, 8826 Melrose Ave, West Hollywood

“We like to go to The Prince in K Town,” reveals the Lacausa team. “You can cozy up in a big red booth for drinks and snacks and the crowd there will be different every time you go.”

The Prince, 3198 W 7th St

Misa Miyagawa, designer of Botanica Workshop loves to head to, “Echo Park Lake on a sunny weekend afternoon.”

The annual LA Art Book Fair,” is Sissy’s favorite spot, which also ends up being a total stylish scene with such the eclectic group of people.

LA Art Book Fair, 152 N Central Ave, Los Angeles

The team at Alchemy Works heads to the Rose Bowl Flea Market. “It’s once a month and has an eclectic mix of locals and visitors. We always find a few treasures for ourself or the store!”

“I’m the worst when it comes to people watching,” admits Alexandra. “I have no idea! Working in fashion, I’m surrounded by interesting people — I tend to watch stylists, designers, musicians and artists.”

Luckily, there’s plenty to be found on the streets of Los Angeles.

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