Hollywood’s early royalty held court along this two-block stretch of American colonial-meets-Georgian grandeur, built in 1924 by Francis S. Montgomery on what had once been farmland. Glamour soon replaced any vestiges of hayseeds as film stars flocked to the salon of cosmetics pioneer Elizabeth Arden and the studio of celebrity photographer George Hurrell. Today the many cafés at the colorfully landscaped West Hollywood spot—shaded by generous umbrellas and the street’s glossy magnolia trees—offer people watching on a scale unchanged from the days when Garbo, Dietrich, and Lombard reigned.
Nancy Reagan prefers Jessica Nail Clinic nearby (she has a standing appointment), but this recent arrival already has a following. Instead of the usual faux-leather vibrating thrones, low-slung Louis XIV-style chairs accompany copper soaking tubs. Effervescent technicians kibitz with customers while using mostly eco-friendly products, so there’s no chemical odor. » 8590 W. Sunset Blvd., 310-854-0511.
2 Calypso St. Barth
Once a go-to spot for breezy basics (linen caftans, silk wrap dresses), the chain now carries clothing more appropriate for the boardroom than the beach. Though you’ll find its signature tunics here, there are plenty of other items from the company’s line and those of Velvet, Josh Podoll, and Saint James. Web promotions make the high prices more palatable. » 8635 W. Sunset Blvd., 310-652.
3 BLT Steak
Laurent Tourondel is no longer at the helm of this outpost of the BLT restaurant empire, but the French-American cuisine remains true to his vision (the steaks are as fat as ever). If you’re not eager to fork over $40 or more for an entrée, the happy hour menu—offered between five and seven—features dishes like mac and cheese and sliders that’ll fill you up for $5 apiece. » 8720 W. Sunset Blvd., 310-360-1950
4 Mel's Drive-In
The diner opened in 1997, but the Formica counters and jukeboxes at this 24-hour spot put it squarely in the Eisenhower era. A newly expanded menu includes dishes like goat cheese-topped turkey sliders that go beyond greasy spoon classics. » 8585 W. Sunset Blvd., 310-854-7201
5 H. Lorenzo
An early fan of Helmut Lang and Comme des Garçons, owner Lorenzo Hadar has been championing an innovative mix of high-end luxury wear from designers you’ve heard of—and many you haven’t—since 1984. The prices in his two shops (one for men, one for women) are steep, but just browsing provides a thrill. » 8660 W. Sunset Blvd., 310-659-1432; 8648
W. Sunset Blvd., 310-652-7039
6 Buttercake Bakery
In a neighborhood not known for understatement, the desserts at this sun-drenched bakery are a delicious change of pace. The cakes, cookies, and cupcakes—all made on the premises—have the home-baked goodness found at a bake sale. » 8616 W. Sun-set Blvd., 310-855-0770
7 Ole Henriksen Face/Body Spa
You’ll find the skin care guru’s products all over the world, but this is his only day spa. Facials remain top-notch, but with so many devotees, the business has outgrown its digs. » 8622 W. Sunset Blvd., Ste. A, 310- 854-7700.
8 Le Petit Four
With its sidewalk seating and gaggle of Europeans, the restaurant conjures a café on the Champs-Élysées, and there’s a see-and-be-seen quality to match. Don’t overlook the menu; a wide selection of salads, pastas, seafood, and omelettes are not your usual tourist fare. » 8654 W. Sunset Blvd., 310-652-3863.
9 Tobi Tobin Home
The aesthetic at the year-old interiors emporium is part French Gothic, part flea market. Artfully worn stone statuettes shoulder up against mint-condition midcentury furniture as do decorative objects with a masculine edge (we’re partial to the 1920s pommel horse). If you’re not quite ready to commit to a new settee, pick up a candle from the in-house line or
a piece of handmade chocolate from the vintage glass case. » 8601 W. Sunset Blvd., 310-289-0951.
Photographs by Lisa Romerein
Map by Michael Newhouse