Los Angeles is this beautiful laid back, trendy city where you can usually only get around by car. But never fear, I stayed in DTLA and everything was only a walk or Uber away, and boy was I glad to discover Uber was popular in LA after my first night. You can also use another ride sharing app Lyft.
Cabs are sparse and hard to track down, so when you land grab yourself an American sim card if you don’t have one already and Uber everywhere! But where should you go? Let me help you explore some of LA’s hotspots as recommended by a number of locals and experienced by me.
Stay in Downtown LA, this growing epicentre has a mix of trendy bars, cafes and juice bars mixed with naff cafes, Starbucks galore and restaurants and establishments who have been in business for almost 100 years.
With a que even on a Monday morning at 10am, The Original Pantry is a local favourite and once you have that first bite you know exactly why. We qued for 35min to eat the best American breakfast I will ever have. The fluffy pancakes soaked up the syrup and tastes like fluffy liquid gold. The house made bread for the toast was equally as tantalising and delicious to devour. Open 24 hours, with an all day breakfast this place is perfect for a hangover cure, late night feed or just to eat any time of the day.
When in America it is easy to eat a lot of fried foods, and sometimes you just need some fresh fruit. I didn’t see as many juice bars as I was expecting however, Qwench Juice Bar, which is close to The Original Pantry and is walking distance from Ace Hotel DTLA where I stayed. They make a tasty juice or two that are super healthy and really filling. They also have a number of healthy snacks including this almond coated chicken I had which is to die for.
Strolling through DTLA we stumbled across LA Café after searching for a breakfast spot we saw one night, and what a treat we stumbled into. Just a simple cafe done right. We had the most delicious thirst quenching orange juice with a bowl of muesli, yoghurt and berries, a fruit salad bowl and a bagel with pesto and egg. LA Cafe also have 24hour delivery so if you don’t feel like going to them, they will come to you!
For your dinner adventures you can not go past these venues. After doing some research and getting local advice I don’t think we could have had a better experience.
The Grand Central Markets. Where do I begin? It can only be described as an emporium where there are 38 food vendors to choose from with a mix of Italian, Mexican, American, Deli-Style and Asain to choose from. Add to this two bars, coffee vendors and live music of an evening and you have yourself an entertaining evening with so much to choose from. Take your meals away or sit and enjoy the atmosphere, this local gem is a treat and I frequented this more than once during my stay in LA.
A recommendation from a local one night when we had forgotten to have dinner, as bar hopping was much more exciting! 1130pm we found Daikokuya the best ramen in LA. This recommendation was from our new friends but is also the top on Yelp’s list as well. We join the wait list and by 12am were seated and on our way to this delight. It did not disappoint, but as usual to American standards we could not finish our food no matter how hard we tried! A must see for a late night dinner.
Now I am an avid fan of Italian cuisine, I am not Italian but I should be. So I have eaten a lot of pasta in my life and gnocchi to be specific, as it is one of my favourites. Terroni on Spring St DTLA had the BEST gnocchi I have ever had in my life. A roma tomato based sauce served with a gigantuous dollop of ricotta, this creamy rich and delicious sauce was matched perfectly with the softest gnocchi pillows you ever did eat. With a wine list to match the incredible menu this venue must be on your list to enjoy.
With a number of gastro pubs popping up in LA The Black Sheep was high on our list. It can be a little tricky to find as it is slightly sunken from ground level, but this pub is worth a visit. With Game of Thrones beers and burgers it is what you can expect from a trendy pub. The food is incredible. I had a chicken sausage with sliced apple, mayo, onions and bell peppers on a baguette. These ingredients worked so well together, and shows you how they are playing with food ideas. Definitely get down for some burgers, beers and maybe a little sport on the TV too.
Well I can tell you DTLA has a number of bars particularly lining Spring St and this is where we did spend many of our nights, after a bartender recommended it to us. Spring St is filled with bars and corner pubs waiting to entertain you. From the dining experiences of Terroni’s, trendy wine bars and beer pong and sports bars Spring St has it all. We couldn’t get through them all, but we sure did try with a bar crawl of sorts stopping at a new bar for each round and snack. Get down to Spring St in DTLA and let the night take you away.
When cruising Venice Beach we came across the Venice Ale House. These guys have a beautiful view over the boardwalk and offer a menu of local, organic and sustainable food with over 30 craft beers on tap as well as beautiful California wines. We had to wait to get a table, so instead decided to refresh ourselves at the bar. A thriving venue even on a Monday afternoon, if you love craft beer you need to get down to this venue on your visit.
Other awesome bars we visited include The Resident in the Arts District a trendy and delightful food truck style venue that is set outdoors, Las Perlas a pumping tequila bar opposite The Black Sheep in DTLA and Coles, a Landmark saloon known for their French dip sandwiches & classic cocktails, with a hidden speakeasy out back. Coles is also just next to The Black Sheep in DTLA.
Apart from the usual tourist attractions which can draw you to LA, The Last Book Store is the most incredible bookstore I have ever seen and any passionate reader will enjoy this stop. Recommended by a local and located just off my favourite bar strip, Spring St, The Last Book Store is a two storey building with just about every book you could ask for. We lined up at 930pm to get into the bookstore which closes at 11pm due to a Harry Potter quiz earlier in the evening and needed the entire hour and a half to explore every nook and cranny available. With dedicated sections to each genre including sci-fi, travel, history, comics and kids, records and vintage books, creative spaces upstairs to purchase local art and lounges for you to read your potential purchases on, this bookstore is a beautiful concept and well worth a visit.
Santa Monica with a bike ride to Venice Beach is a must do for every LA visit. Enjoy the beautiful sights of the Santa Monica Pier before hiring a bike and cycling down to the beautiful Venice Beach. A hub of creatives, gypsys and skateboarding locals Venice Beach with beautiful palm trees lining the coast is simply must explore destination. You can also pick yourself some local art, grab a tattoo or dine in a cafe along the along the boardwalk and watch the world go by.
I hope this helps you explore the best LA has to offer. Don’t forget your tourist spots such as Hollywood with the Walk of Fame, Chinese Theatre and the Hollywood sign, Rodeo Drive, Disneyland and Universal Studios.
Enjoy LA and everything it has to offer wanderers