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Hidden Food & Drink
Confections, cocktails, and cafés that are worth the hunt
The Malibu Café at Calamigos Ranch
Weave along Mulholland to the Calamigos Ranch turnoff. Go past the grapevines and the Biggest Loser Resort. That’s when you’ll see it: a slim opening to a wood walkway that leads to an almost impossibly bucolic restaurant. Chandeliers hang from the trees, and cabanas stand sentry on the meadowlike lawn that surrounds a picturesque pond. The menu ranges from sweet corn-lobster ravioli to burgers, but a meal isn’t complete here without strolling the grounds. » 327 S. Latigo Canyon Rd., Malibu, 818-540-2400.
Chronicle Wine Cellar
It’s Sideways meets Hoarders at the Chronicle, a wineshop that has been stuffed into a storage space behind (and belonging to the guy who owns) Pasadena’s Pie ’N Burger. Signage—along with streetside visibility—is nonexistent. Gus Martin, who manages the place, has an encyclopedic knowledge and focuses on deals ($17 is the average for a very nice bottle), and while the stock is heavy on pinot noirs, there are good French whites from the Languedoc region for as cheap as $8. » 919 E. California Blvd., Pasadena, 626-577-2549.
Cocktail Crafting at The Greystone
In the belly of the 1928 Greystone Mansion, you and a dozen others file into a small room just off the bowling alley that was featured in There Will Be Blood. Then the retracting wood-paneled wall is given the heave-ho to reveal drink master Aaron Stepka of L.A.’s 1933 Group at the original speakeasy wet bar. The Institute of Domestic Technology’s two-hour “Cocktail Crafting” class is nothing but fun, and the $95 fee offers a peek at other parts of the home that belonged to Edward Doheny’s son. » Various venues.
For decades Disneyland’s Tiki Juice Bar has had a local lock on Dole Whip, the beloved pineapple-flavored soft-serve. Recently, however, the nondescript yogurt shop Whipp’d LA began dispensing swirls of the same frozen tropical treat from a dingy minimall on Santa Monica Boulevard. You might even spot a singing parrot or two—this is West Hollywood, after all. » 7901 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood, 323-300-4722.
Longevity has hardly propelled the Japanese confectioner into the glare of L.A.’s culinary radar, even though it’s been selling its soft, chewy mochi (rice cakes) and manju (bean cakes) for 109 years. Only internment during World War II interrupted the Kito family’s operation of the Little Tokyo storefront, where a glass case presents you with delicate creations that range from pink to yellow to glistening brown. As time collapses, you’ll ask yourself what took you so long to come here. » 315 E. 1st St., Little Tokyo, 213-625-8595.
Though the address is on Hollywood Boulevard, you have to enter through an alley between Las Palmas and Cherokee. Inside is a watering hole that balances throwback charm with an ambience that’s relaxed and modern. When the spot was called Musso & Frank’s Back Room in the 1930s and ’40s, it was the haunt of such literary boozehounds as Raymond Chandler, William Faulkner, and F. Scott Fitzgerald. Sip one of the carefully constructed libations and maybe inspiration will strike you, too. » 6685 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, 323-491-4148.
Amid a sprawl of industrial buildings across from Los Angeles State Historic Park stands an old-fashioned diner that’s a favorite of LAPD officers. They sit by its wood-paneled walls and at the wraparound counter for the same reasons we do—the steaming house-baked muffins, the buttermilk biscuits with thick white gravy, the corned beef hash that sports a sear only a griddle that’s seen 64 years of seasoning can provide. » 1300 N. Spring St., Chinatown, 323-222-1450.
As if Golden Road Brewing weren’t already off the beaten track, cofounder Tony Yanow has opened an exclusive club within the craft beer behemoth. Where the brewpub is all barn doors and corrugated metal, Chloe’s—accessed through a door marked private to the left of the main bar—evokes a classic British tavern with plaid carpeting, a fireplace, and antiquey furnishings. Free membership grants you access for meetings and special events, though there’s the occasional public fete as well. » 5410 W. San Fernando Rd., Atwater Village, 213-373-4677.
Back in 1885, before it became part of Deukmejian Wilderness Park, Dunsmore Canyon was lined with grapevines belonging to winemakers George Le Mesnager and Pierre Durancette. The Stonebarn Vineyard Conservancy has replanted 71 vines outside the stone storage house that George’s son, Louis, built in 1905. Join the conservancy for $40 and you can get a bottle of Glendale’s finest varietal. » 3429 Markridge Rd., Glendale, 818-249-2414.
Westside Sharpening & Cutlery Center
Once you spot the small sign with the knife on it, you know Laurence Segal’s shop is nearby. Working at the end of a corridor surrounded by piles of stainless steel, he’ll return your santoku blades to their Sur la Table glory. Better still, he’ll create custom cutlery, tracing your hands and discussing the virtues of Hawaiian koa and California buckeye wood. “If the handle doesn’t fit your hand, it doesn’t matter how good the blade is,” he says. » 1207 4th St., Ste. 50, Santa Monica, 310-395-3075.