As a St. Louis native turned New Yorker, I’m lucky to have spent a fair amount of time in Los Angeles. The food is great, the weather is better, and there’s an endless supply of energy that’s both carefree and inspiring.
Whether I’m traveling for work or for pleasure, every visit I manage to make new discoveries. Here are my top picks for exploring the city of angels:
Photo by jonandvinnydelivery
It’s tough to beat the energy and great food at Jon and Vinny’s. Their Italian fare is extremely popular, which makes it impossible to get in without a reservation. If you’re lucky to get a seat, splurge on the six-hour bolognese - it’s totally worth it.
Son of a Gun is run by the same owner of Jon and Vinny’s, but specializes in seafood. Their cocktail menu is incredible and the fried chicken sandwich is insanely good.
For the perfect sushi, go to Sugarfish. These guys are experts in their craft. They take the art of making exceedingly good sushi very seriously. The highlight for me is their “Trust Me” menu - a take on the omakase tradition where the chef selects every item for you. It’s the ideal way to try the best of what they make.
My brunch spot is The Sycamore Kitchen, where I can always find healthy but super satisfying dishes. They do great salads and sandwiches at lunchtime, too.
The variety at Joan’s on Third makes it a classic stop for lunch. Plus, everything on the menu arrives looking as good as it tastes. If you like to Instagram your meals, this is the place to go.
I love the atmosphere at Gjusta - the staff are warm and friendly, and the sandwiches are amazing. They also have large communal tables in the back which are great if you’re having a working lunch.
Photo by Equinox
Since I’m a big Equinox fan, I like to make the most of my membership when I travel. Their LA classes are top-notch and they have a ton of locations in the area.
That being said, one of the biggest advantages of going to LA (especially in the winter) is the outdoor space. I love walking and running at Runyon Canyon. The trail is peaceful and the views at the top are epic.
Photo by Alfred
For a more strictly west coast experience, I like Alfred. The coffee is strong and the scene is wonderfully LA.
Moon Juice is fun option if you’re looking for a more holistic alternative to your morning ritual. The staff is very helpful and will guide you through the menu to explain the health benefits of everything they offer. They also let you to taste before you buy, so you know exactly what you’re getting into.
Photo by mocalosangeles
I also like to wander Abbott Kinney in Venice for inspiration. There’s a dependably vibrant scene full of exciting stores, businesses, and restaurants.
The drop-in studio at Unplug Meditation is a great space for taking a break from your routine to recharge your mind and body. The environment is clean, modern and completely non-judgemental.
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The Tower Bar at the Sunset Tower Hotel drips with classic Hollywood charm. Both the food and drinks are well prepared, and the sprawling views and great service make this one of my go-to spots.
When I want several options in one place, I’ll take myself to the Waldorf. They have an impressive restaurant, a rooftop bar with amazing views, and a cozy lounge for evening gatherings.
The Strand Bar in Manhattan Beach is the ultimate sunset destination. Grab a drink with an order of fresh oysters and watch the sun sink to the other side of the Pacific Ocean. It’s pretty magnificent every time.
Photo by americanragcie
LA is known for its premiere shopping scene. There are a few stops I try to make during each visit, including American Rag for its unique and California-esque merchandise.
The new Fred Segal on Sunset in West Hollywood is a really fun and innovative retail experience. The large space showcases different shops-within-a-shop, each with their own brand-specific look and feel.
I love browsing the gorgeous Japanese pieces at Tortoise General Store on Abbot Kinney, and it’s usually impossible for me to leave without picking up a few things.
Another favorite is Gareth Leight, the glasses and sunglasses enterprise started by the son of the founder of Oliver Peoples. The materials they use are extremely high-quality and the shapes are unbelievably flattering. Definitely not your run of the mill sunglasses.
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