A Visit to LA
As mentioned before, my bestest pal Sadie recently came for a visit. We galavanted all over town, and I tried to show her at least a little of what LA has to offer. I decided to use this week (and maybe some subsequent posts, who knows?) to make a quickie guide to some of my favorite LA haunts, as well as a few places you should just visit if you're coming here for the first time.
First, We Eat
Eating is basically what any good friendship is built on. Think about it, when you're looking to spend time with your buds, you go to brunch or lunch or drinks or something. In fact, I asked Sadie to give me a little quote about her trip, and she sent me this: "People in New York love to hate on LA, but Sarah proved all the haters wrong with one word: Fries." See, I'm in a big burgers and fries phase lately, so we dined on quite a few orders of fries. Should/will I do a post on my favorite LA fries? PROBABLY. EVENTUALLY.
- Frida is my favorite restaurant in the LA area. It's definitely in my top 5 favorite restaurants of all time, and might even be number 1. IT'S THAT GOOD. The enchiladas tapatillas will CHANGE YOUR LIFE. Seriously. I don't care who you are or what you've eaten, these will be the best enchiladas you ever have. I take every person that I know there and they unanimously agree: Frida is the greatest. My favorite dishes are the aforementioned enchiladas, and the fajitas de camaron, which I eat on an almost weekly basis. Even the salsa is euphorically delicious at Frida. I've only ever been to the Beverly Hills location, but there are others, including a branch called Frida Tacos with a slightly lower price point. Frida Beverly Hills : 236 South Beverly Drive, Beverly Hills, CA 90212
- The Counter is my current favorite place for my favorite meal: Burgers and fries. The Counter is a different kind of burger joint, where you get a clipboard upon being seated and can then make your own burger. This is how I discovered the black olives on a burger are HEAVEN. They also have Tillamook cheese, which, as we've established previously, is the best (some might say the ONLY) brand of cheddar you should let into your life. You can also get a burger of The Counter's own creation if you want. There are monthly burger and shake specials, and they even make alcoholic milkshakes. And the fries! OH, THE FRIES. There are many varieties, from plain to chili to cheddar to my favorite, parmesan. I don't usually eat dairy, but when I'm at The Counter I cheat and get a Tillamook cheeseburger and parmesan fries. Actually, I get the 50/50 with parmesan fries and onion strings. SO DELISH. (Note: For me, the onion strings are thin enough that the breading doesn't trigger my gluten intolerance. I also always share a half order, so I'm not eating that much. But be wary if you're super sensitive!) Oh! And they have a great gluten free bun, which I coat in mayonaise, because gluten free breads are dryer than anything. The Counter has many locations around LA, and nationally as well. Check their website!
- You may not realize it from how I just wrote about eating burgers and fries, but I have quite a few food allergies and intolerances that make it difficult for me to eat a lot of "regular" food. Basically all desserts are out, since I'm allergic to cane sugar. Enter Babycakes, my sweet salvation (literally). To read more about Babycakes I'll direct you to this post, but let me just say that having a Babycakes in LA is maybe one of my favorite things about living here. I used to dream of the next time I could visit Sadie in New York and drag her to Babycakes, or I'd try to make some shoddy semblance of a dessert from the Babycakes cookbook. But now I just head over to Larchmont and buy entire crumb cakes, no big.Babycakes Bakery : 236 North Larchmont Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90004
Then, We Do Everything Else
There are so many touristy things to do in LA, and I wanted to be sure to show Sadie a few of them, but also show her some cool stuff that are more locals-only. I think we struck a nice balance.
- Hollywood and Highland is an essential stop for anyone looking to get a touristy LA experience. It's where the Oscars are held, and when they built the theater for the Oscars they basically built a Hollywood themed mall around it. You can walk around and browse the shops, and at the end of your walk through the mall you end up with a view of the Hollywood sign. Note: If your goal is to see the Hollywood sign, there are MUCH better places to do it than Hollywood/Highland. But, if you want to see the stars on the Walk of Fame and the handprints in front of the Chinese Theater, then this is the place for you. You can also get your picture taken with a super bootleg Spiderman or Captain Jack Sparrow or whoever. The street performers on Hollywood Blvd are so odd and depressing they even got their own documentary, which is worth a watch. This is also the best place to go for corny Hollywood/LA souvenirs, like the Oscar I got for my dog that says, "Best Hero." Hollywood and Highland : Shockingly, at the corner of Hollywood and Highland
- LA's hottest club is The Bungalow. Cue us saying that EVERY time we talked about our trip to The Bungalow. But to be fair, it's not just a reference to the greatest SNL skit of the past decade - it's also true. The Bungalow is a club founded by Heidi Montag's former fake boss, Brent Bolthouse. It's a super chill spot to have a drink, and a great "club" for people who aren't clubbers (like myself). Sure, you can have a drink or seven and pick up some of LA's finest clubgoers, but The Bungalow is themed like your family's laid back beach house. There are fireplaces and worn leather couches and ping pong tables. And the patio looks out onto the freakin' OCEAN. You can watch the sun set over the OCEAN. That's reason enough to go. I was lucky enough to know someone who had access to a table, so I could be a non-clubbing hermit and sit back and sip my margarita without having any contact with strangers. I might not be the best person to review **LA's Hottest Club**, but I had a good time, and some good margaritas. The Bungalow Santa Monica : 101 Wilshire Boulevard Santa Monica, CA 90401
- While Sadie was here Joss Whedon's Much Ado About Nothing opened at a few select theaters in a few select cities. I was sure one of these theaters would be The Landmark, and I was right. The Landmark is one of the best theaters in LA, because it shows both big blockbusters and small indies. They have Q&A's with directors and cast members, you can drink alcohol in some of the theaters, and they have a theater called the "screening lounge" that seats maybe 30-40 people and you sit on cushy couches. We saw Much Ado... in one of these screening lounges, and it was pretty awesome. If you have the time to catch a movie while you're visiting LA, I'd highly recommend the Landmark experience. The Landmark : 10850 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90064
- Since I've lived in LA, I've wanted to take Hero to the beach. There are two dog-friendly beaches that are about equidistant from me, one in Malibu and one in Long Beach. The one in Long Beach is off-leash, and the Malibu beach is leash-only, but the way I see it, why go to Long Beach when you can go to Malibu? The drive up the PCH is beautiful, and you can get some delicious seafood at Neptune's Net while you're there. Sadie and I packed up Hero and took the drive to Leo Carrillo State Beach, where a small stretch of beach allows dogs. Hero wasn't the biggest fan of the beach, but he did get all sandy and ran around like a madman. There was no one monitoring the beach, so you could probably get away with letting your dog off the leash, but I'm a rule follower with a dog that likes to run, so I kept him on lockdown. One note: The dog-friendly section of beach has NO signs on the PCH, and I had no idea where to park. We had to walk quite a ways to get down to the dog friendly area, and even after finding it, I have no idea how to get to the parking lot that is right in front of the dog beach. Oy. Anyway, it was worth the hunt, as Hero finally got to run away from the waves and try to hide in the sand like a big weenie. Leo Carrillo State Beach (Dog friendly up coast (west) of lifeguard tower 3): Take the PCH till you see a sign. Neptune's Net is just a little up the road from there.
There are so many things I wanted to do with Sadie while she was here that we didn't get to. But that just means she'll have to come back for another visit! I have a whole list of other great LA activities, but this is a good start, and it just means she'll have to come back for more.