Whether you were born and raised in LA, transplanted here, or just visit periodically, you've likely had an excellent meal in a strip mall, traveled by car to the far reaches of the city to meet a friend for a drink in a bizarre, old bar, and devoted entire days or evenings to driving through the hills, window-shopping for homes and taking in views of the city. LA is a very particular place, and as you spend more time in the city, you'll likely uncover a number of places to go to that are distinctive, often strange, and wonderful.
Continue on to discover some of our favorite, lesser-known places: speciality stores, dive and cocktail bars, historic movie theaters, sushi restaurants, and so on—from Pasadena to The Valley.
E A T
Little Flower in Pasadena has amazing sandwiches-- especially the Green Turkey
Casa Vega in The Valley has amazing Mexican food and positively deadly margaritas, all set in a crazy adobe curved structure. The servers are dressed to impress in authentic fiesta gowns.
Erewhon has a few locations across LA: On Beverly and Fairfax, in Venice, and in Calabasas. The readymade sushi is excellent, the salad bar is the best in LA, and the organic skincare and supplement aisles are legendary.
Trattoria Bella Roma is great for authentic, simple Italian food
Nick's in Manhattan Beach has a well-thought and delicious menu and a great cheese plate!
Fratelli Cafe on Melrose is a family owned vegan-and-carnivore-friendly cafe where everything is delicious, everyone is attractive, and the environment is fun
Honda-Ya has Japanese bar food—Yakiniku, Izakaya, sashimi, and pitchers of beer. It's a great place to come with a bigger group and they serve past midnight
Guelaguetza has great Oaxacan food and is perfect for large groups
S E E
Full Haus is a gallery operated by two artists and friends of Spinelli Kilcollin, named Becca Lieb & David Muenzer. The gallery is in their Silver Lake one bedroom home and Studio. They produce strong shows by emerging LA artists. Viewings are by appointment only.
Vista Theatre, which opened in 1923, is a historic single-screen movie theater in Los Feliz
The Hollyhock House is a gorgeous landmark by Frank Lloyd Wright. It is, according to Lloyd, a meditation on the "freedom to make one’s own form." Read about the history of the Hollyhock House here on our journal!
Moonlight Rollerway in Glendale has an organ built into the rollerskating rink, with an organist who plays live every Tuesday night. The rink draws a diverse crowd, many of whom appear to be regulars--drawn together by their enthusiasm for the activity.
The Flower Mart, followed by a trip to Moskatels, which is a great store for all of your craft needs
Old Zoo at Griffith Park has slightly eerie hidden caves and spots to discover on a hike
Mill Creek Equestrian Center is a quiet, hidden oasis hidden in Topanga Canyon
Beyond Baroque in Venice is a great venue for small arts and literary events. It's sort of a hub of Southern California writing and will never be boring
The Greystone Mansion was built by Doheny's for the oil heir son. He was mysteriously found dead along with his house servant—maybe a lover's tussle? You can stroll the grounds and stand on the hilltop that overlooks LA and imagine what life would have been like in LA in the '20s.
Record Surplus has an excellent selection of quality vinyl, and the staff is always friendly.
Gloss Nail Spa is not relaxing and parking is nearly impossible, but if you need a great manicure then ask for Helen
S H O P
Wacko's Soap Plant is a weird and wonderful store located between Hollywood and Los Feliz that supplies strange, random gift options
Skylight Books in Los Feliz is an independent bookstore with a great selection of texts on art
Whimsic Alley is an Anglophile fan shop on Wilshire blvd where Potter Heads, Whovians, and Thronies alike can get both authorized merchandise and non-licensed homemade artifacts
D R I N K
Republique on La Brea has great plates to share, an amazing bar, and an interesting, beautiful interior
Bar 9 in Culver City is maybe the best coffee shop in LA
Abigaile in Manhattan Beach has an amazing dirty martini. The upstairs has a nightclub and rooftop seating which is always fun to run-up to after a drink!
Barnacles in Hermosa Beach is a complete dive and is nice for a game of pool after the beach
Dia Del Campo in Hermosa Beach has an amazing happy hour, with fresh, spicy margaritas and $1 Oysters on Tuesdays!