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My LA to Z: Nina Dobrev
The charming star of CW series “The Vampire Diaries” may not be a native Angeleno, but she’s certainly taken a bite out of L.A. Here she shares where to find bingo and drag queens, a great Zinfandel, and super-authentic salsa (dancing, that is)
|1||El Floradita Restaurant
It’s a divey, super-authentic salsa dancing place. It’s not fancy at all, but it’s dark, dirty, sweaty, and fun. It’s where you go after a big meal when you want to work it all off and get your feet hurting, if you’re into that. Dancing is a passion of mine, and I don’t love going to clubs, so El Floradita is my kind of fun.
|2|| Nine Zero One Salon
Riawna Capri is my hairstylist and one of my best friends. I started working with her before she went off and started her own salon. It’s beautiful, warm and welcoming, and the whole team that works there is smiling, friendly, and happy. You go to get your hair done, but it’s more like going to hang out with your friends. They do a great job and they’re so talented. Riawna also patented the Braid Bar, so you can go, get a braid or a blowout, and get your nails done. One stop shop.
|3||Moksha Yoga LA
Moksha yoga classes are Canadian, and I’m Canadian, so I started doing classes there when I was 16. I was really happy when they moved down to the states. I go to yoga to unwind and relax. No one can reach me; I can’t talk to anyone. It’s my “me time.” It’s also fully sustainable—the flooring, the walls in bathrooms—it’s all green, which is the Moksha practice. They do hot yoga there, too. It’s such an intense workout, so cleansing and rejuvenating. Inside is another place called Clover Juice, so right after your workout you can put good things in it. I’ve done their cleanses—well, I’ve never finished one, but I think I get an A for effort.
The bagels are incredible, the bread is so fresh—it’s so bad but so good. The coffees are amazing, and they’ve got almond milk, soy milk, and all the alternatives. I used to go there and sit and read scripts all day. It’s a really relaxed environment.
|5||Hal’s Bar & Grill
A little restaurant known for their turkey burger—at least I know them for their turkey burger. It’s delicious, really fresh and juicy. And they put some sort of arugula or special sauce on it. Seriously, it’s mouthwatering. Aside from that, Hal’s is also a good place to go with your friends have a drink.
I tried the whole vegan Venice-area thing for half a second, but it didn’t work for me. That said, I still enjoy eating healthy. The food at Café Gratitude is so fresh and clean. They have salads and imitation meat and coconut smoothies. You feel healthier just from standing in the room even if you don’t eat anything. The restaurant itself is beautiful, too. It feels kind of New York—clean, vibrant, and everyone is enjoying themselves.
Maybe ten people can fit in the place at once. It’s the kind of place you go to disappear and curl up in a corner with your friends or a date. And they have a great selection of fine wine. My dad is French, so wine has always been in my life and around me. I wouldn’t claim to be a connoisseur; I have a lot to discover, but I’m being introduced to a lot of incredible wines. For reds, my favorites are Rombauer Zinfandel and Stag’s Leap, or if we’re going white, the William Fevre Chablis.
I love to try—but ultimately fail at—surfing in Venice. I don’t even own a surf board. I mean, technically I have three Teen Choice Award surf boards, but you can’t surf on those! Every time I try to surf, I leave limping, but it’s always a fun experience. There are also volleyball courts at Venice beach. We do “Sunday Funday,” where we get a big group together and play volleyball all day. It’s one of my favorite sports.
There’s a rock face there that you can climb, or you can go sit on the beach and hang out. It’s more private and more secluded than going to Santa Monica or Venice. I met one of my best friends on the rock face there, right when I first arrived in L.A. She’s from Australia and we have done some traveling together since then. She’s the absolute best.
|10||The Izaka-ya by Katsu-ya
Everything is really good, which means it’s difficult to get in. The baked crab hand roll is my guilty pleasure-weakness-favorite-delicious-terrible-dangerously–dangerous thing. I’m obsessed with it, and I have one too many every time. The sake doesn’t hurt, either.
|11||The Magic Castle
I remember the first time I went, Neil Patrick Harris was there because he’s the President of the Board of Directors there. Men have to wear suits and nice shoes, women are in dresses and heels. It’s like going back in time in Hollywood, and you’re suspending disbelief when watching these magic tricks.
I can’t remember what night of the week, but they have a night where you go and play bingo. Everyone who works there is completely drag queened out. You play, drink, and hang out with friends. It’s a low key bar, but super wild and fun and exciting.
All photographs courtesy facebook.com.