After seeing the movie La La Land this year, I realized this was one city that had never been on my radar to visit - even though it's so close to Vancouver! I knew it was the perfect destination for my birthday weekend trip: a short flight, countless restaurants, the Pacific Coast Highway and, I read somewhere, that Denzel Washington said, 'In Los Angeles, everyone is a star.' So naturally, I recruited the girls for the trip with promises of warm temperatures, epic dance parties and stardom.
If you've read any of my other trip posts, you'll notice they're weighted heavily with food reviews - LA was no different. After booking a centrally located Air BnB - equipped with enough bathrooms to handle 6 girls - the restaurant planning was on. Much like any major city, LA is filled with so many pocket neighbourhoods, so we tried to map our days out according to area, and tried to fit in a bit of culture and/or exercise in between the eating, drinking and dancing. We quickly came to the realization that we'd need multiple trips to hit all the spots we wanted to, but we did eat at some unforgettable restaurants; our choices were validated by celebrity sightings, ocean views and instagram worthy food plating.
Straight from the plane we found ourselves at Bru's Wiffle, and with us dying from hunger after the 7am flight this spot was perfect to feed all palettes. We started with recommendations from our waiter for the Spanish Lattes and avocado fries; followed by a mix of guac toast, a savoury waffle and a shredded potato pancake (with more cheese than pancake).
Brunch was followed by trip to the pier at sunset. After spending the summer chasing every sunset I could, this one didn't disappoint. Standing on the bustling pier with silhouettes of people on the beach and palm trees, this view was all I needed to remind me why I love the extended summer that is September. The pier itself was as expected: tourist photo ops by the ferris wheel, Bubba Gump's shoes and multiple street performers including a Hansen cover band and a man serenading us to Eric Clapton's "Wonderful Tonight" - I may have been moved to tears.
We kept coming back to this hood! Passing by the Beverly Hills sign almost daily, we took a few wrong turns and ended up driving down the epic Pretty Woman scene on Wilshire Boulevard (I wasn't mad about it). I couldn't really figure out this part of town: it was a mix of office buildings, high end clothing and lighting stores, rooftop dining, vegan cafes and countless tattoo parlours.
We ate our way through this hood at:
Verlaine: Tucked behind an ivy lined exterior, this indoor/outdoor space had the perfect ambiance of checkered floors and stringed lights (a theme we picked up throughout the city). Here we enjoyed the most delicious fish taco, perfectly paired with the Verlaine fig leaf olive juice martini. Also, when the waiter says the tacos are good to share, he actually means it's $9 for one small taco and it's not ideal to share. It's ok because if was the best taco I've eaten and then Joe Jonas and the rest of DNCE showed up and I immediately knew we weren't cool enough to dine here.
The Nice Guy: Sure, Kendall Jenner eats here, but what brought us in was the burger and the chance of seeing Kendall Jenner. Ok, not really but the food was delicious. No chance of instagramming here though - no photos allowed and the light is so dim you could only see those you were dining with. What wasn't photographed was my favourite cocktail, the Bobby Soxer: Whiskey and Cayenne Pepper? Delicious. Also, there is a drink named after Drake so you know this place is cool. Other notable mentions was the Fig & Caramelized Onion Pizza, Truffled Fries and the pasta dish that was way too good to share. There's also a 'Hush Hush Room' which is not what you may think but better - a FREE photo booth so you can take 16 photos and still not manage to get everyone in the frame or looking in the the right direction.
Catch: Hands down the most beautiful brunch spot I've been to in a long time. Again, we loved the indoor/outdoor set up, lined with incredible greenery and flowers when you walked made us opt for a photo op (obviously). We dined on the patio and enjoyed views of the hollywood hills, Iced Almond Lattes, avocado toast, poke bowls and sushi. The brunch menu did not disappoint and I'd love to come back for lunch, dinner and drinks in addition to hosting my non-existent future wedding in this space.
Rosaline: This Peruvian tapas spot was the place to be on a Saturday night! The menu is intended to share and each dish was full of so many flavours - highlights were: the paella, beet salad and filet mignon.
Eggslut: On the corner of the VENICE street sign, we hit Eggslut for a hangover brunch - the place or name didn't disappoint. We took our food to go and ate it on the grass with beach views - best way to start a Saturday! Known for their sandwiches being served on a brioche bun it was so light and buttery and the turkey sausage was delicious. And while I am not a fan of mayo, the siracha mayo may be my girlfirends' new favourite condiment. Also, the arugula salad - so simple but fantastic - and good for the liver.
My man Neil Young has gone on record saying the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH to its friends) is his all time favourite drive from LA to San Fran, so I was beyond excited to have the opportunity to cruise this winding road with ocean views for days. So many pocket beaches to pull you to the side of the road - granted there were some National Park stops - we opted for the free route and pulled off on the shoulder to dip our toes in our own private beach. There's something about the ocean that can instantly bring out the 5 year old kid in anyone and all of a sudden you're chasing waves, giggling hysterically and seeing if you can see Truman's sailboat. Or maybe that's just me...
Ollo: Farm to Table Dining at it's finest. This restuarant is tucked into a strip mall but not to worry - GPS will take you on a beautiful detour through some incredible homes if you miss it - the space is literally bursting with trees and it's open and airy. Keeping the balance of healthy and indulgent we opted for a delicious tumeric latte to start followed by the best Huevos Rancheros (direct quote from my friend, Jayme: "sharing wasn't an option"). The eggs were fresh and the service was speedy; because there were too many options we clearly needed to add on the peanut butter coconut waffle to share for dessert - another decision we weren't mad about.
Nobu: I mean, if you have the opportunity to go to Nobu you need to go. Seriously. And if you're a fan of sushi this place is a game changer and you many never eat the California Roll form the grocery market again. We were lucky enough to be able to sit outside while avoiding an LA traffic jam for a happy hour. With the waiter's recommendations, our highlights were the tuna tacos, spicy tuna rolls and the yellow tail sashimi. Oh and then Adam Sandler walked by and my Happy Gilmore fan girl came out. Ok, maybe my Big Daddy and Mr. Deeds fan girl - same same but different.
Pacific Palasades: Originally inspired to hike the Hollywood sign and then realizing that it was 4 hours round trip we nixed it on our tight weekend agenda. From the recommendation from a Seniors' Home we ended up on a hike/walk in the Pacific Palisades. I use the work hike loosely because I was in heels and managed to do it just fine. At the "top" we were reminded that while LA has many beautiful qualities, its hikes provide somewhat of a smoggy view. Regardless - we were happy to get our steps in to counter balance at least one glass of prosecco.
Boulevard3: What's a birthday trip without a trip to the club?! This spot was recommended by Google and a good option for some dancing - as if Google knows all the places to be for some 90's R&B. Some may not know this about me but I'm very awkward with attention - so be warned that having a table at a club that knows it's your birthday will mean you'll be presented with a boa at the door, confetti thrown in your honour and hot waitresses blowing whistles while they bring you drinks. After a few strong pops I embraced the scene and had a great time dancing to some old school tunes.
LACMA: Our dose of culture! (We needed to fit it in somewhere). This museum offered a a good mix of modern and contemporary art. Also, they had some pretty cool light posts outside (see photo documentation below).
So you can see we managed to jam a great deal of eating (and sight seeing) into the long weekend and I'll definitely be back. So much more to see! Let me know any places I need to visit in the comments.
Until next time, California...
"If I forget to tell you later, I had a really good time tonight."
- Vivian Ward, Pretty Woman.