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My LA To Z: Claire Thomas
As founder of “The Kitchy Kitchen” and host of ABC’s “Food For Thought,” this deliciously talented native knows a thing or two about L.A.’s food scene. Here she gives us the short order on where to find “insane” carbonara, the perfect cup of coffee, and the best cherry tomatoes in town
Cook Books By Janet Jarvits
This place is a hidden gem: a bookstore that sells exclusively vintage cookbooks. It’s massive. You walk in and it’s just floor to ceiling. I’m a cookbook nerd—I collect vintage cookbooks so it’s one of my favorite places to explore. Plus the owner, Janet Jarvits, is amazing; She has lots of incredibly interesting stories. You have to visit if you love food history, especially West Coast food history.
Adamson House & Malibu Lagoon Museum
My #1 spot to take tourists. Everyone goes to the Getty Villa, but this place has such an interesting history, and if you love revival architecture, you will be in paradise. It was built in 1926, it gives you a window into people’s sensibilities in the 20s. For example, this massive house has rose gardens and is so close to the ocean, but the master bedroom—twin beds, of course—has only one tiny window! It blows my mind! It’s the antithesis of what I consider California personality. But how can you knock a place that has a gorgeous turquoise kitchen? So beautiful. My dream kitchen. There is a $5 tour, but if you’re a creeper like me, you can just go up to the windows.
Barnsdall Art Park
This place is nestled in Los Feliz and is great during the summertime. The Blade Runner house is in the hills, in the same group of houses made by Frank Lloyd Wright. There’s wine tasting for $25—pricey, but they are very generous. They used to do screenings there, too; I saw Sunset Boulevard, and I had my birthday party there one year.
Superba Snack Bar
Superba is probably my favorite place in the city right now. It’s very low key, very Venice. Jason Neroni is such a talented chef. He manages to take these amazing foods, flip them, and make them crazy. But it’s still accessible and familiar. Everyone is freaking out about his carbonara, and they should be. It’s insane. He had a watermelon salad that had fried chicken skin in it. So simple, but the combination was so unique.
Santa Monica Farmers’ Market
I’m there every day. I see all these fabulous L.A. chefs, and I’m not above following them around to see what they are buying. Best moment at the famers market: I heard [host of “Good Food” on KCRW] Evan Kleiman’s voice and turned around and there she was! I wondered if she was buying things for pie. There are so many wonderful farms around here: Best cherry tomatoes are at Maggie’s Farm. Lily’s Free Range Eggs come from happy chickens—I like to imagine them like cartoon chickens frolicking. Using natural eggs makes such a difference. Also, across from the eggs are the most fragrant roses—put them in a room and they are the equivalent of lighting a candle.
Le Labo Fragrances
I go here for all things fragrant—candles, perfume, detergent, whatever. They have super tasteful scents; I have yet to smell one that I don’t like. You can tell they are really thoughtful about it. What I love about them is that they do exclusive scents for their store locations, so New York and Los Angeles have different ones. I actually use one of their room sprays as perfume. It’s called Figue 15, and it smells like fresh figs—succulent and juicy.
Brentwood Country Mart
It’s been there since the 40s. When I was a kid, I used to go and eat chicken and the most addictive French fries. In the last 10 years, it’s had a revival and become the most amazing collection of boutiques: Union Made, Farm Shop, Jenny Kayne. But it maintained parts of its history: the same crazy parking situation, that bright pink public school soap in the bathrooms. It has everything and is just a great place to hang out.
I’ve been going there since they opened their first location on Montana. They serve Northern Italian style coffee, simple and perfect. They do a good job of hiring very nice people, which makes such a difference. It seems silly to mention, but it sets it apart from other places. They like coffee and they want to show you why they’re excited about it. They even have art nights promoting the work of their own staff.
Lily’s Café & Pastries
Tucked away in Point Dume is a little place called Lily’s, and they make my favorite breakfast burrito. On the way to the beach, call in your order or it will take 40 minutes. The line might be busy, but keep calling! There are probably surfers and locals waiting. The burrito is so simple but so fresh. Their Diablo sauce is quite spicy but very unique—get as much of it as you can. I always plan on saving my burrito and eating it on the beach, but…it never makes it.
Photograph (2) courtesy adamsonhouse.org. Photograph (9) courtesy yelp.com. All other photographs courtesy facebook.com