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Small Town Adventures: Calabasas

Drivability: 28.5 miles from downtown Parking: A few cheap lots north of Calabasas Road

Photograph by Lisa Romerein
 

Just a block long and fronted by no more than a dozen whitewashed and gray-shingled storefronts, Old Town Calabasas evinces a style best described as “Wild West Adorable.” Located at the southwestern edge of the San Fernando Valley and named for calabaza—“pumpkin” in Spanish—the town used to be a day’s wagon ride from downtown L.A. When weekday traffic is heavy on the 101, it can still take about as long. All the more reason for a weekend visit. Have some lobster enchiladas or crab cake Benedict at Fins Creekside for brunch. While Calabasas residential architecture leans toward big box, Old Town nurtures mostly small establishments. There’s a fabulous I Love Lucy-meets-Laura Ingalls Wilder aesthetic at the kitchen store Little Blue, with its array of tea towels and picnic baskets (see sidebar). Should you want to turn your baby’s room into the kind of nursery Lady Astor must have slept in, stop in at the Little Red Barn, where you’ll find mahogany cradles, wee crystal chandeliers, and custom bedding. For a quick lunch the clear choice is the delectable Ellen’s Special sandwich at Blue Table: fig jam, goat cheese, aioli, ham, and turkey on ciabatta. In the afternoon poke your head into the Leonis Adobe, which dates from 1844 and is one of the two or three oldest surviving adobes in Los Angeles. On the exquisitely tended grounds you’ll get acquainted with the current residents who have the run of the place—Percheron workhorses, sheep, goats, and turkeys. Nudge off the main drag at Calabasas Saddlery for a pair of English riding boots, and tour Calabasas’s first subdivision, Park Moderne, which sprang up 83 years ago as a retreat for artists and writers. If you must, Dash Boutique, the shared fashion enterprise of the Kardashian sisters, is located in a minimall across the street from the huge Commons at Calabasas shopping center. (Members of the reality clan live nearby.) End your sojourn on a more authentic note at the Sagebrush Cantina. Order a combination plate, party down to a live country band, and drink blended margaritas with hirsute bikers and well-scrubbed studio accountants—but don’t have so many rounds that you can’t tell the difference between them.


Where to Go

 
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  • » Fins Creekside: 
    23504 Calabasas Rd. 
  • » Little Blue:
    4774 Park Granada 
  • » Little Red Barn:
    23504 Calabasas Rd. 
  • » Blue Table: 
    4774 Park Granada 
  • » Leonis Adobe:
    23537 Calabasas Rd.
     
  • »Calabasas Saddlery:
    23998 Craftsman Rd.
     
  • »  Dash Boutique:
    4774 Park Granada
     
  • » Sagebrush Cantina:
    23527 Calabasas Rd.
     

Angela Uys Marcione: Why I Love it Here

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The Community
Calabasas has a small town feel. A lot of people have lived here for a long time. The community is all about getting involved with their children’s schools and local events, and that’s refreshing.

The Inspiration
There’s a real sense of creativity, which was surprising for me, coming from Echo Park. A local artist has her artwork in my store. One of the girls who works for me has her friends, who went to Calabasas High School, play music here on weekends.

The Foodies
I offer cooking classes for kids and adults. People here appreciate good eating and good cooking. And that’s great, because my cooking classes focus on healthy, organic eating.

The Farmers’ Market
It’s on Saturday. A lot of the vendors are top-notch. The mushroom guy is friends with all the chefs in the city.

The Location
I like that we’re sort of in this valley, but right on the other side is the beach and right on the other side is the city.