Best of L.A. 2020: All the Best Things to Eat, Shop for, and Do

Best of L.A. is back with a brand new batch of incredible restaurants, unexpected activities, and savvy shopping tips from our editors and writers
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Every year we scour the city in search of the superlative—from the most delicious dining and amazing outdoor experiences to the top shops for fashion and home decor—for our annual Best of L.A. issue. This year was different than most, but there’s still so much to love about Los Angeles. Yes, some winners may be affected by the pandemic, but let this celebration serve as a reminder that our new normal won’t be normal forever.

Without further ado, here’s the Best of L.A. …


PLAY

Day SkiingHidden BanksyZoom RaveSecret TrailVirtual YogaOutdoor StairsMuseum TourFreeway ExperienceUrban GardenDance ClassMovie RentalView of the ValleyNight HikeBirding Guide

HEALTH & BEAUTY

Longest-Lasting ManicureNontoxic CosmeticsCurly Hair SalonMeditation ClassSkin Care ProductsSelf-Defense Class ◍ Physical Therapist ◍ Permanent Eye Makeup ◍ Adult Toys ◍ Herbal Supplements ◍ Old-School Barber

EAT

OmakaseButter ChickenLasagnaTexas-Style BBQTom Yum SoupChar SiuBreakfast SandwichBurmese-Mexican FoodJewish DeliButcherBeach PicnicNashville Hot Chicken

HOME & GARDEN

Vintage BarwareMod DesignParty SuppliesThrift Store FurnitureOrganic NurseryCalifornia Pottery

FASHION

LoungewearOutlet MallSecondhand HandbagsGowns for the Whole Bridal PartyStress-Free Tuxedo RentalBucket HatsClothing RentalOutlet MallSummer Dresses and JumpsuitsMen’s BasicsEyewearCustom Sneakers

PETS

PsychicFishpondsGroomerCarriersWild Bird SuppliesPet HotelDog Parks

KIDS

Surf CampCooking ClassesParty TrickMuseumFamily HikeFarm to VisitToy Store

REPAIRS

DenimSneaker CleanerRe-DyerWood FurnitureLampsWatches ◍ Guitars


Best of L.A.: PLAY

best of los angeles
Best Movie Rental: Vidéothéque

Mark Wright


» Day Skiing

It’s not just that Mt. Waterman is the closest ski mountain to the city, nor that it offers the cheapest lift tickets ($60). No, the reason to hit this 150-acre, three-chair mountain is that it boasts 60 percent expert terrain that is at least as challenging as slopes at bigger, five-star resorts. And if you’re not an expert, there are rentals, classes, and easier slopes to start on. But until the place gets snowmaking equipment, it’s open only when weather permits. mtwaterman.org.

» Hidden Banksy

One of the street artist’s least visible L.A. creations resonates as truth in a time of grave deception. The Banksy now hidden behind a fence near 9th and Broadway depicts a young girl on a swing dangling from the vestige of the signage for a parking lot that has since been replaced by yet another sun-blocking building. West 9th Street and South Broadway, downtown.

» Zoom Rave

Zoom deserves credit for consistently hosting Club Quarantine, a queer virtual rave that draws costumed partiers every night from bedrooms around the planet. The people-watching is the big draw here: many participants sport wild desktop backgrounds and crazy, home-constructed looks. The teens even treat the club like a real night out, flirting and making hookup plans in private messages. Unsurprisingly, the party has become a celeb magnet—Lady Gaga made an unexpected appearance dressed in a spike-studded mask. @clubquarantine.

» Secret Trail

Most L.A. hiking trails are too sunny, dusty, and heavily trafficked. Devil’s Canyon Trail in the Santa Susana Mountains may be the most lush, shady, and underpopulated trail in Southern California. Attenuated by switchbacks, the five-mile loop is narrow and the terrain steep. Those who dig spectacular flora and fauna will be too caught up in the dainty wildflowers and gorgeous, burnt-out tree carcasses to notice the incline. Wildlife abounds, with acorn woodpeckers, gray squirrels, and myriad reptilian forms scurrying underfoot. On a Sunday afternoon in June, only four other hikers were encountered during a three-mile trek. fs.usda.gov.

best of los angeles
Best Virtual Yoga: Yo Eddie

Eddie Marashian

» Virtual Yoga

Yo Eddie yoga is the virtual place to be during the nesting months. A yoga instructor since 1995, Eddie Marashian saw the need for online classes in March and mobilized mindfully. His twice daily classes—yoga in the morning, guided meditation in the evening—are free, though donations are welcomed. ($1,325 was raised for the NAACP’s Legal Defense & Education Fund from a single Sunday class in June.) Just Zoom in, turn on, and say namaste. yoeddie.com.

» Outdoor Stairs

Everyone knows about the Santa Monica’s Fourth Street stairs, where stars drop poundage with each pound of the cement. But fewer know about the wood stairs up Adelaide Drive a few hundred yards east: 170 soft slats of perfection, surrounded by eucalyptus trees that smell really yummy on marine-layer mornings. The staircase deposits you onto Entrada Drive; if you’re feeling it, just keep going and you’ll end up at Will Rogers State Beach. Adelaide Drive and Fourth Street, Santa Monica.

» Museum Tour

Most virtual tours are poor substitutes for the real thing, but the Getty’s is a rare exception that adds depth and nuance to your understanding of the museum’s collection, allowing you to zoom in on individual brushstrokes with astonishing clarity. Get lost in Van Gogh’s Irises and Renoir’s La Promenade, or check out the scandalous art of 1880’s painter James Ensor. You can even use Google Street View to dawdle around the museum’s halls. getty.edu.

» Freeway Experience

Those who view freeways as industrial art love the 110 freeway transition to the 105 overpass and its vertigo-inducing views. Make your takeoff from the carpool lane of the 110 south as it approaches the 105. For one glorious moment, the concrete spaghetti hoists you to an astonishing view of the South Bay, the Hollywood Hills, Mid-City, and downtown. Although just a few seconds long, the experience is the closest thing to an E ticket L.A.’s notoriously uninspiring freeways have to offer. 110 freeway at 105 freeway, South L.A.

best of los angeles
Best Urban Garden: Blue Ribbon Garden

Tim Street-Porter

» Urban Garden

The third-floor aerie at the Walt Disney Concert Hall, known as the Blue Ribbon Garden, is a public space that’s so divine. Take a stroll and feel the Zen-ness of naked coral trees, Chinese rain balls, and Madagascar trees with heart-shaped leaves. Disney Hall architect Frank Gehry conceived the garden’s Lillian Disney Memorial Fountain as a tribute to the benefactor’s love of roses and Dutch earthenware; the blossom decorating the fountain is comprised of Royal Delft pottery that Gehry ordered from Holland and artfully smashed into thousands of shards. 111 S. Grand Ave., downtown.

» Dance Class

You’d be hard-pressed to find a virtual workout more exuberant than the free dance party on Ryan heffington’s Instagram account. The Grammy-winning choreographer known for his work with Sia and Arcade Fire, dances in multicolored short-shorts to New Wave, Italian disco, and trip hop, while shouting instructions like “Slap it!” and “Shake those girls!” Go ahead: turn your bedroom into Akbar. ryanheffington.com.

» Movie Rental

Vidéothéque is so French New Wave, you’ll feel immediately cooler just sauntering into the joint. The walls of the hipster South Pasadena rental and sales boutique are papered with posters of Truffaut’s The 400 Blows and all things Buster Keaton. The vibe is somewhere between Godard’s Paris in the ’60s and Chaplin’s Modern Times. (On his off hours, owner Mark Wright spins French pop as DJ Pierrot.) Cinephiles travel from miles around just to hang out at the counter, talking film noir while loading up on a week’s stash. 1020 Mission St., Ste. J, South Pasadena, vidtheque.com.

» View of the Valley

The view from the Charles & Lotte Melhorn Overlook on Mulholland Drive is the finale of Chinatown, without the sinister water-stealing backstory. Real estate agents refer to the Valley vista as the “poor man’s view,” but that doesn’t account for the overlook’s nighttime soundtrack of hooting owls or that it is the scene of a million first kisses. 13801 Mulholland Dr., Beverly Hills.

» Night Hike

Going in through the out door at Franklin Canyon Park at sunset is uniquely compelling because at dusk you can actually hear the moment when the day creatures go to sleep and the night creatures come out. You might encounter, as devotees have, scorpions, snakes, bats, bobcats, and a barn owl perched on the tip of a tree, framed by the moon, watching you as you watch the owl, acknowledging that we’re all in this together. 2600 Franklin Canyon Dr., Beverly Crest.

» Birding Guide

Whether it’s ogling shore birds on Malibu Lagoon
or spotting roadrunners at O’Melveny Park, Wild Wings runs L.A.’s essential birding trips. The outings are hosted by Scott Logan (pictured) a proud bird nerd who can name that call in seconds flat and has an uncanny, encyclopedic knowledge of the species that bless the city. Logan grew up in Hollywood and the San Fernando Valley and has been kicking over rocks since he was a kid to see what might slither out. As an urban naturalist, he’s also beloved for installing barn- owl boxes as an alternative to rodenticide. wildwingsla.com.


Best of L.A.: HEALTH & BEAUTY

Best Old-School Barber: The Lion Barbershop

Courtesy Fábio Jahgun Assisi

» Longest-Lasting Manicure

Gel polish can wreak havoc on your nails. Enter the dip mani-pedi, the latest advancement in fingernail adornment, which uses a layering process and pigmented powders. It’s safer for your nails, is chip resistant, and lasts longer. And the top spot in L.A. for this modern beauty marvel is Powder Beauty. The shop has all-organic products and an aesthetician on hand so you can book that much-needed facial. 452 S. La Brea Ave., Hancock Park, powderbeautyco.com.

» Nontoxic Cosmetics

Over the past decade, the Detox Market has garnered a devout following for its bright, airy stores and its online selection of curated organic, nontoxic products. After reading the extensive list of banned ingredients—which includes chemicals that cause reproductive harm, neurotoxicity, cell damage, and cancer—you might take a second look at your drugstore lipstick. 8380 Beverly Blvd., Beverly Grove, thedetoxmarket.com.

» Curly-Hair Salon

If you’re over getting outdated Brazilian treatments or scorching your mane with flat irons, head to Thairapy in South Pasadena. Co-owners Dusty Schlabach and Karmen Aghazarian went through extensive training to learn the proper products, coloring agents, and personalized cuts to showcase your natural curls. Bonus: they actually teach you how to maintain your bounce, free of charge. 815 Fairview Ave., Ste. 109, South Pasadena, ineedthairapy.com.

» Meditation Class

In today’s world of constant stimulation, learning how to clear your mind is hard work. The classes at InsightLA are tailored for anyone who’s looking to take the stress out of de-stressing. The nonprofit center aims to make mindfulness as inclusive and accessible as possible by offering affordable drop-in classes for LGBTQ groups and sessions for Spanish speakers. And all your oms are going to a good cause—InsightLA partners with other nonprofits across the city to bring meditation to marginalized communities. Last year the partnership made history by offering the first-ever residential meditation retreat for transgender people. 4300 Melrose Ave., East Hollywood, insightla.org.

» Skin-Care Products

Beauty gurus have been buzzing about the L.A.-based, Black-owned, and all-natural skin-care brand Beneath Your Mask, founded by Dana Jackson in 2016. Jackson wanted to repair the damage that a long and debilitating battle with lupus had done to her skin and hair, but many of the products on the market were packed with harsh chemicals. So she created her own. Beneath Your Mask stocks a select collection of luxurious vegan products for pampering your body’s largest organ, all micro-batched by hand in Southern California. We suggest starting with the ultra-popular Heal: Whipped Skin Soufflé. 8327 W. 3rd St., Beverly Grove, beneathyourmask.com.

» Self-Defense Class

IMPACT founder Lisa Gaeta has been training women, men, teens, and children in self-defense for 30 years. She offers a multifaceted approach to fighting back against sexual assault that includes setting boundaries, learning verbal strategies, and pistol basics. What’s more, all classes are led by female instructors who will make sure your experience is as comfortable and empowering as possible. Now, that’s what we call badass. 8535 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood, impactpersonalsafety.com.

» Physical Therapist

The work that Dr. Allen Letgolts does at his Brentwood clinic, Legolts Method, yields mind-blowing results for people who suffer from chronic pain. He and his team assess how your job, stress level, and posture have affected your body, and then set about treating those issues, from sciatica to neck pain to sore knees. Letgolts has gotten athletes back to the playing field and made working possible again for many of his other patients. 11740 San Vicente Blvd., Ste. 206, letgoltsmethod.com.

best of los angeles
Best Long-Lasting Manicure: Powder Beauty

Courtesy Powder Beauty/Bree McCool Enterprises

» Permanent Eye Makeup

Bylle Stasi of Stay Cosmetics offers the newest in permanent and semipermanent eyeliner enhancement, an innovative tattoo technique with better ink and a safer application. Stasi is also an expert in ombre brows and lamination—a process that makes brows look fuller. Prices start at $130 and include a six-week post-treatment perfecting service, if needed. 8755 Colgate Ave., Beverly Grove, staycosmetics.co.

» Adult Toys

Since 1980, the Pleasure Chest has been providing the uninhibited and curious with a bountiful assortment of sex toys. But what makes this spot really shine is its dedication to fostering a judgment-free, queer- and trans-inclusive, sex-positive atmosphere. Check out the free weekly workshops on topics ranging from BDSM 101 to intimate partner yoga. 7733 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood, thepleasurechest.com.

» Herbal Supplements

Steeped in the ancient practice of Chinese medicine, Tin Bo has been the go-to store for herbal remedies for decades. Its shelves are neatly stocked with both common and more hard-to-find ingredients, but if you’re not certain which supplements are right for you, consult the in-house herbalist for a recommendation. 841 N. Broadway, Chinatown, tinboinc.com.

» Old-School Barber

You won’t find graying gents in bow ties at the Lion Barbershop. Owner Fábio Jahgun Assis’s salon is the best place to go for dreadlocks, fades, cuts, and shaves. Some of his work can take as long as 14 hours, with prices starting at $12 and reaching into the hundreds of dollars. Regulars include players for the Clippers and Lakers and Ziggy Marley. 4325 Degnan Blvd., Leimert Park, booksy.com.


Best of L.A.: EAT

best barbecue
Best Texas-Style BBQ: Moo’s Craft Barbecue

Andrew Munoz

» Omakase

When you order the $180 “modern omakase” from Mark Okuda, a former Asanebo chef who took over and dramatically remade the Brothers Sushi in 2018, you get much more than nigiri. Beyond his expertise at cutting and seasoning pristine raw seafood like toro and live Santa Barbara spot prawns, Okuda excels at seasonal cooking. The seven-to-ten-course meal might start with sashimi and tofu before transitioning to creative hot dishes
like Hokkaido scallops with brussels sprouts and truffles, followed by soup, sushi, and dessert. If you’re not up for dining in, Okuda offers a similarly elegant takeout omakase for two for $250. 21418 Ventura Blvd., Woodland Hills, thebrotherssushi.com.

» Butter Chicken

The creamy curry is a way of life at Badmaash, which serves the preparation in both traditional entrée form ($16) and inside samosas ($4). The yogurt-marinated chicken and its accompanying tomato sauce pop with ginger, garlic, chiles, and spices, but the heat is not overwhelming. Chef Pawan Mahendro notes that he finishes the sauce with a knob of cold butter to give it a velvety texture and perfectly balanced flavor. Don’t forget to order rice or naan to sop up every last drop. 108 W. 2nd St., downtown, and 418 N. Fairfax Ave., Fairfax District, badmaashla.com.

» Lasagna

Uovo, a no-frills pasta specialist, serves up seven layers of perfection, easily besting the offerings at fancier Italian joints. Fresh, bright spinach noodles are flown in on commercial flights from Bologna, where they’re made with special red-yolk eggs not available in the U.S. Just as impressive is the dreamy sauce made from béchamel, 24-month-aged Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, pork, and New Zealand Wagyu beef. The last ingredient, rich but packed with omega-3s, is also what makes the patties at sister restaurant HiHo Cheeseburger something special. 1320 2nd St., Santa Monica, and 6245 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Grove, uovo.la.

» Texas-Style BBQ

Pitmaster Andrew Muñoz’s beautifully fatty 14-hour brisket ($28/pound) and eight-hour short ribs ($28/pound), cooked over white oak in offset smokers, are the closest thing to Central Texas barbecue that L.A. has ever encountered. Andrew and his wife, Michelle, did their first pop-up in their East L.A. backyard in 2017, and Moo’s Craft Barbecue has since become a sensation at brewery pop-ups and Smorgasburg and via takeout, which they regularly offer from Crafted Kitchen in the Arts District. The couple are also on the hunt for their own restaurant space. No matter where you get their ’cue, make sure you add some of Andrew’s jalapeño-cheddar beef sausages and Michelle’s verde pork sausages to your platter (both $20 for four). mooscraftbarbecue.com.

» Tom Yum Soup

Justin Pichetrungsi, the second-generation chef-owner of Anajak, deftly amped up his rendition of Thai hot-and-sour soup this past spring by offering it with a fish head as an upgrade to the usual chicken or shrimp. The heads, which might be Ora King salmon or hiramasa or branzino, are dry-aged to make them especially flavorful and tender; they add a rich umami kick to a soup already sparkling with fresh chiles and herbs. 14704 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks, anajakthai.com.

best hot chicken los angeles
Best Nashville Hot Chicken: Hotville Chicken

Matt Sayles

» Char Siu

When Leo and Lydia Lee opened RiceBox downtown in 2018, the tiny Cantonese barbecue spot proved that its modern takes on meaty standards were distinct from what you might find at favorite places in the San Gabriel Valley. Made with Duroc pork marinated in Leo’s spice blend for 24 hours—and without the usual red dye—the char siu is cooked in a 600-degree oven and repeatedly glazed with honey to produce a tender hunk of meat encased in a crispy, sweet shell. It’s a masterpiece three generations in the making, influenced by Lydia’s family’s recipes and refined by Leo’s training in traditional French cooking techniques. 541 S. Spring St., Ste. 131, downtown, ricebox.net. 

» Burmese-Mexican Food

It wasn’t the most obvious of mash-ups, even for executive chef Saw Naing, a native of Yangon, Myanmar, who has worked at Tallula’s since it opened in 2017. Earlier this year, inspired by some cooking he did with his mother when she visited Southern California, he started toying with ways in which he could combine the flavors of his heritage with Mexican fare. Now a menu flaunting dishes such as tandoori chicken fajitas ($35) and potato masala tacos ($15) makes you marvel that these delightful combinations never existed before—and how you ever lived without them. 118 Entrada Dr., Santa Monica, tallulasrestaurant.com.

» Breakfast Sandwich

At All Day Baby, Jonathan Whitener’s sunny new sister restaurant to the lauded Here’s Looking At You, the kitchen slings 1,200 of these morning glories in a typical week. The gargantuan sandwich owes much of its popularity to pastry director Thessa Diadem’s impossibly buttery and flaky biscuits, but the fluffy scrambled eggs, old-school Kraft white American cheese, sausage or thick slab of charred Nueske’s bacon, and housemade strawberry jam don’t hurt. It’s the best of both breakfast-food worlds—a savory/sweet stunner that’s equally satisfying when eaten at a table outside the restaurant or taken to go. 3200 W. Sunset Blvd., Silver Lake, alldaybabyla.com.

» Jewish Deli

Let’s face it: most delis have the exact same menu, but, since 1947, Langer’s Delicatessen has distinguished itself with the best pastrami in town, along with a perfectly anachronistic ambience. Steamed to perfection and hand-sliced, the thick strips of peppery, smoky beef almost melt on the tongue. When they’re enjoyed in the famous No. 19 sandwich (from $19.95) with coleslaw, Swiss cheese, and Russian dressing, it’s easy to understand why this is a deli worthy of two James Beard Awards. 704 S. Alvarado St., Westlake, langersdeli.com.

best omakase
Best Omakase: The Brothers Sushi

@MEETJAKOB

» Butcher

Tucked in the back of a mom-and-pop grocery, Alexander’s Prime Meats and Catering is a carnivore’s—and pescatarian’s—paradise. All of the beef is prime grade, and much of it is dry-aged on the premises for at least three weeks. The wonderfully varied seafood selections are brought in fresh six days a week, and the customer service is tops. “[Our staff has] 400 years combined meat-cutting experience,” says Mike Milazo, who owns the shop with his wife, Denise. In Howie’s Market, 6580 N. San Gabriel Blvd., San Gabriel, alexandersprimemeats.com.

» Beach Picnic

Poke’s popularity has made for a tidal wave of mediocre spots whose only ambition is to not make you ill. But the two-year-old Ali’i Fish Company swims against the tide.
The unassuming shack, about a mile from the shore, serves up gorgeous, shoyu-glossed cubes of line-cut ahi flown in fresh from Hawaii every morning. Grab a poke bowl ($13)—along with the housemade potato chips and smoked ahi dip ($8)—and pretend you’re headed to Honolulu, not Huntington Beach. 409 E. Grand Ave., El Segundo, aliifishco.com. 

» Nashville Hot Chicken 

Kim Prince, whose great-great uncle originated this style of fried chicken, opened a brick-and-mortar spot here last December, joining a slew of other L.A. places already putting their spin on Prince’s family’s creation. But Hotville stands out from the flock. Prince uses the tradi- tional techniques she learned growing up in Nashville, add- ing spice at every step and using a secret frying tech- nique to yield uniquely juicy, flavor-packed wings, breasts, and legs that taste like the genuine article—not fast food facsimiles. 4070 Marlton Ave., Baldwin Hills-Crenshaw, hotvillechicken.com.


Best of L.A.: HOME & GARDEN

best vintage furniture
Best Mod Design: Sunbeam Vintage

Courtesy Sunbeam Vintage

» Vintage Barware

Maison Midi carries the largest collection of European barware in town—including Moroccan tea tumblers. Yes, you can serve wine in modern glasses, but Maison Midi carries uniquely shaped stemware etched with details like ’50s-era polka dots and art deco starbursts. And the champagne glasses come in retro shades such as amber or cobalt blue to make every sip more festive. 148 S. La Brea Ave., Hancock Park, maison-midi.com.

» Mod Design

There’s a reason design guru Emily Henderson says Sunbeam Vintage is one of her favorite spots in L.A. Chock-full of stylish vintage, modern, and handmade decor, the showroom is a mid-century-modern lover’s dream. Owner Ebee Martinez has described the store’s aesthetic as “Mad Men meets ‘Oh, joy!’” Anyone with a hankering for funky and affordable finds is sure to appreciate its trove of hidden gems. Not convinced? A quick glance at the store’s gorgeous Instagram feed might do the trick. 106 S. Ave. 58, Highland Park, sunbeamvintage.com.

best part supplies
Best Party Supplies: Parlani Party Rentals

Agung Pandit

» Party Supplies

Garden party or wedding? Bar mitzvah or just a casual dinner followed by a little dancing? In the age of COVID-19, you can rent the whole shebang in almost no time. Parlani Party Rentals in Culver City can make your fete look like it came straight off a movie set by supplying flooring, tables, chairs, china, outdoor heaters, velvet ropes, and dramatic tents—even umbrellas and helium balloons for the requisite rejoicing. 3773 Motor Ave., Culver City, parlanipartyrentals.com.

» Thrift Store Furniture

It’s one of L.A.’s top interior designers’ best kept secrets. And if they can turn unwanted castaways into chic pieces (with a little paint or upholstery), then so can you. The Society of St. Vincent de Paul is a mecca for seekers of sofas, dining-room tables and chairs, bookshelves, bureaus, and bed frames. But the huge inventory of merch is so wonderfully eclectic that it’s fun to browse even when you don’t need a thing. 210 N. Ave. 21, Lincoln Heights, svdpla.org.

» Organic Nursery

Two Dog Nursery is dedicated to turning urban homes into garden oases one seedling at a time. With all products certified organic, it boasts a rotating selection of fruits, vegetables, herbs, and flowers. The EarthBox Kits are a perfect starter, setting newbies up with the essentials. Organic soil and other plant-powering mixtures round out the inventory. Plus they offer lessons and complimentary guides for those new to green-thumb living. 914 S. Cloverdale Ave., Mid-Wilshire, twodognursery.com.

» California Pottery

A hankering for earth-toned Roseville or colorful Bauer will lead you to the Los Angeles Pottery Show, scheduled for September 12 and 13. It is 10,000 square feet of collectibles. Nowhere else will you see a giant collection like this, the largest annual art pottery event on the West Coast. Such precious pieces, always climbing in price due to demand, are not things you’ll want to chance shipping. 1401 N. Verdugo Rd., Glendale; for tickets, go to eventbrite.com.


Best of L.A.: FASHION

best sneakers los angeles
Best Custom Sneakers: Demarco Footwear

Irvin Rivera

» Loungewear

Splendid is a staple in the Netflix-and-chill category. More affordable than its pricier competitors, this L.A.-based company prioritizes comfort and versatility. Its super-soft collection features pullovers, joggers, and outerwear pieces constructed with plush fabrics. And its tie-dye collection adds a hint of fun to any pajama drawer. The Grove, 189 The Grove Dr., Beverly Grove, splendid.com.

» Outlet Mall

You can score Levi’s jeans, Armani Exchange suits and dresses, and Coach totes (and more) for up to 70 percent off at the Citadel Outlets. Located just minutes from downtown, the center has established itself as the premier discount shopping destination. Be prepared for a full day of traipsing the sprawling 700,000-square-foot mall as you bargain hunt. If you get peckish, pop into one of the dozens of on-site restaurants. 100 Citadel Dr., Commerce, citadeloutlets.com.

» Secondhand Handbags

In 2018, the e-tail site Rebag opened as a brick-and-mortar store on Melrose Place, where the floor-to-ceiling windows were filled with rare bags from Hermès, Chanel, and Fendi. Prices can be high (a Hermès Birkin in gold leather is $5,500), but Rebag has choice collectibles by Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Chloe, and Valentino as well as good deals on large totes, “lady” handle bags, and those crazy-popular mini bags for evening—which will be fabulous when we all finally have someplace to go. Westfield Santa Anita, 400 S. Baldwin Ave., Arcadia, rebag.com.

» Gowns for the Whole Bridal Party

There are two kinds of wedding and bridesmaid dresses: couture designer gowns and frumpy ones that are, well, just that. LOHO Bride (the acronym stands for “league of her own”) is for the boho wife-to-be and her cool-girl posse. The shop’s wedding gowns, mostly flowy with less boning and fewer corsets than usual, are imported from Spain, France, Greece, Israel, and Australia, and feature details like Grecian pleats and knotted, open backs more in the style of Meghan Markle than Princess Di. 8282 Melrose Ave., West Hollywood, lohobride.com.

best bridal
Best Gowns for the Whole Bridal Party: LOHO Bride

Courtesy LOHO Bride

» Stress-Free Tuxedo Rental

Most dudes don’t own a tux because they have little occasion to wear one—until they do. When they’re suddenly invited to a black-tie affair, panic can set in. Fear not, gents, the Black Tux offers an at-home rental delivery service, where everything you need—from bow ties to shoes—is shipped to your door. The styles are modern cuts in a variety of colors and fabrics. Plus a team of professional stylists can help you find the perfect fit. Don’t have time for shipping? The Black Tux has showrooms in the Nordstrom stores at the Grove and the Americana at Brand. For more casual soirees, suits and ties are available. The Grove, 8401 Melrose Pl., Beverly Grove, and the Americana at Brand, 102 Caruso Ave., Glendale, theblacktux.com.

» Bucket Hats

The bucket hat for women (formerly known as the cloche) and men (popularized by Gilligan’s Island) came back into fashion a few seasons ago, thanks to Maria Grazia Chiuri at Dior, and it’s still going strong. If you want to get a jump on fall styles, you can find them in leather, velvet, felt, or knits; for summer-appropriate prints, try florals, rainbow colors, and solid pastels. Neiman Marcus Beverly Hills stocks a wide array of brands and price points—Kangol, Gucci, Dolce & Gabbana, Fendi, and Burberry for both guys and dolls. There’s even a selection in cheery prints for kids. 9700 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, neimanmarcus.com.

» Clothing Rental

When stylists, costumers, and production designers need top-level contemporary clothing, they start with the Ruby Fashion Library, which has 35,000 square feet of glam getups from all the upmarket brands, including heavenly high heels from the likes of Sergio Rossi and Jimmy Choo, and accessories and jewels galore. 7100 Case Ave., North Hollywood, the-ruby.com.

» Summer Dresses and Jumpsuits

Every item at this vintage-focused Venice boutique is made using recycled dead stock—unused fabric discarded by other fashion lines. And the company’s namesake founder, Christy Dawn, works alongside her small crew in the downtown L.A. factory. Plus the clothes are, quite simply, stunning. Move over, Reformation—there’s a new ethical-fashion boss in town. 1930 Lincoln Blvd., Venice, christydawn.com.

» Men’s Basics

Fellas, meet your new go-to clothing store: Buck Mason. Known for its collection of crisp button-downs, soft T-shirts, twill chinos, jeans, and sweats, it carries all the wardrobe essentials you need to take the guesswork out of getting dressed. The neutral color palette makes incorporating pieces into your current wardrobe effortless. 1638 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice; 3532 Sunset Blvd., Silver Lake; 107 N. Larchmont Blvd., Larchmont; Westfield, 10250 Santa Monica Blvd., Suite 1760, Century City; buckmason.com.

» Eyewear

Giant. Frameless. Triangular. Aviator-style. Eyewear comes in all shapes and sizes, riding the roller coaster of trends. But the chic acetate or metal frames from Garrett Leight (son of Oliver Peoples’s founder Larry Leight) are for the classicist: they’re timeless, flattering, subtle, intellectual-looking, light with a retro touch—like Willem Dafoe in Mississippi Burning or something John Lennon might have worn. Whether they’re untinted glasses or sunnies, these specs are more flattering than faddish, bringing a softness to the face. And in case you find them too refined, you can get frames in bright colors (red, pink, violet) with lenses to match. 165 S. La Brea Ave., Fairfax District, garrettleight.com.

» Custom Sneakers

Sneakers are always being reinvented in the fashion industry, but a sleek custom pair from Demarco Footwear is your best bet if you want to make a statement. Co-owner and cobbler Marco Acosta works with customers to create one-of-a-kind shoes that won’t break the bank. Jordans, Yeezys, Vans—they’re all on the table, in any pattern or material imaginable. Based solely online, this father-and-son operation will bring your wildest sneaker dreams to life. demarcofootwear.com.


Best of L.A.: PETS

Best Groomer: Blue Pooch

Courtesy Blue Pooch

» Psychic

Pet psychics claim to connect with furry loved ones in the afterlife. Michael R. Burke, a certified dog trainer, is schooled in Six Sensory Training. Not only can he assist in locating and communicating with lost pets—alive or passed—but Burke can also teach animals new behaviors and intuit their health issues. Call him “the dog chanter.” michaelrburke.com.

» Fishponds

If you’re thinking of sprucing up your outdoor area with a tranquil fish pond, a visit to Sunland Water Gardens is well worth the trip. For decades the Nagasawa family has been providing aquatic plants like water lilies, lotuses, and papyri, as well as catfish, koi, and tilapia, to create your perfect sanctuary. Lights, fountains, and other waterworks are also available. 9948 Sunland Blvd., Sunland, sunlandwatergardens.com.

» Groomer

The folks at Blue Pooch provide a service they call “Japanese-style grooming,” which includes breed-specific, detailed, sculpted cuts. After a thorough bath, your dog’s or cat’s fur is towel-dried, straightened (if needed), and fluffed. The staff also offers de-matting, dental and ear cleaning, facials, day care, and “pet-icures.” 11737 W. Pico Blvd., Sawtelle, bluepooch.com.

» Carriers

For those who take their pets everywhere, having the right carrier makes all the difference. Petsmart is the veritable Saks Fifth Avenue of chic and utilitarian tote bags, backpacks, slings, car-seat carriers, and airline-approved carriers. They also sell a travel birdcage. 330 S. La Cienega Blvd., Beverly Hills, petsmart.com.

» Wild Bird Supplies

If you love winged creatures but don’t fancy the idea of keeping them confined, Wild Birds Unlimited has everything you need—from seed and nectar cylinders to birdbaths—for attracting fine feathered friends. The company even hosts a podcast called Nature Centered to educate and enlighten. 12433 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica, santamonica.wbu.com.

» Pet Hotel

More like an Airbnb than a kennel, the Houndstooth Hotel offers a concierge experience in a 1,300-square-foot house with plush beds, daily brushing, lots of play time, and no less than four walks per day. The hotel also serves healthy canine meals like sweet potatoes, chicken and rice, and other nutritious treats. And there’s no minimum or maximum length of stay. 1140 N. Formosa Ave., West Hollywood, thehoundstoothhotel.com.

best dog parks
Best Dog Parks: Rosie’s Dog Beach

Justin Rudd

» Dog Parks

If your fur baby is drawn to water, Rosie’s Dog Beach is the spot. Though it’s not technically a dog park, the four-acre stretch of Long Beach coastline provides plenty of room for dogs to stretch, fetch, roll around, and swim. longbeach.gov

 The grass is always greener at Playa Vista’s Blu Creek Dog Park. The realistic- looking Astroturf meanders around concrete paths, while a tiny stream provides clean drinking water for your pooch, or a chance to take a cool dip. playavista.com

Sure, the Silver Lake Dog Park has a 1930s dust-bowl vibe with its lack of grass or shade, but when it comes to people- watching, it’s a bona fide meat market. Hipsters flock to this spot to exercise their dogs and their pickup lines. laparks.org


Best of L.A.: KIDS

best kids parties
Best Party Trick: Bubblemania and Company

Courtesy Bubblemania and Company

» Surf Camp

While there’s no shortage of surf schools that’ll teach your kid to hang ten, Aqua Surf stands out for its unique community partnerships and three-to-one student to instructor ratio. Its summer camps for children and teens ages five to 17 cover more than just wave-riding skills. Instructors focus on role modeling and mentorship, as well as eco-responsibility, self-confidence, leadership, and communication skills. The most enthusiastic ones return year after year to teach the unique methodology. Aqua Surf also offers a highly customizable schedule, allowing you to sign up by the half day, day, or week. A standard full-day week is $539, or bundle multiple weeks to save. The school’s partners include a range of organizations to make surfing more equitable, including the Braille Institute, the Surfrider Foundation, and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Because camp costs can be a barrier to entry, Aqua Surf provides full scholarships to three students per week. 2801 Ocean Park Blvd., Ste. 335, Santa Monica, aquasurf.com.

» Cooking Classes

BLVD Kitchen welcomes cooks of all kinds, but the kiddie division is where it really shines. The culinary academy offers a huge variety of summer camps and classes for children ages six to 17, or grown-ups and youngsters can cook together during the Family Friday sessions. Whether the menu is pizza or monkey-bread muffins, each class gives kids a hands-on learning experience with a professional chef, such as the Food Network’s Cutthroat Kitchen–winner Chef Ameera. In-kitchen classes are $65 to $75, depending on age, and Zoom lessons are only 20 bucks a pop. 13545 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks, theblvdkitchen.com.

» Party Trick

What do Angelina Jolie, Sylvester Stallone, and Jack Black all have in common? Bubbles, apparently. For over 30 years, Bubblemania and Company has been delighting both A-listers and regular folks with sudsy fun. Expert “bubbleologists” put on lively, interactive indoor shows that make birthday parties and other special occasions really pop. Children get a stealth science lesson while watching a dazzling display of bubbles of every kind—rainbow bubbles, square bubbles, triangle bubbles, bubbles within bubbles, and more. The grand finale (spoiler alert!) even gives kids the chance to stand inside a giant bubble. And while some bubbles will be burst, the hourlong shows won’t break the bank: they cost a reasonable $200 to $250, depending on the size of your party. bubblemaniaandco.com.

» Museum

While most children’s museums are cloying and loud (the dues you pay for procreation), Kidspace, nestled in the same canyon as the Rose Bowl, is astonishingly pleasant for adults and children alike. The outdoor Arroyo Adventure is an homage in miniature to Pasadena’s Arroyo Seco, and includes a tended mud kitchen and a clay station. The Robert & Mary Galvin Physics Forest, also alfresco, is hands-on educational wonderment, the perfect cure for all those months spent quarantined indoors, attached to a tiny screen. 480 N. Arroyo Blvd., Pasadena, kidspacemuseum.org.

best surf camp los angeles
Best Surf Camp: Aqua Surf

Courtesy Aqua Surf

» Family Hike

Tucked in the hills above Point Mugu, Rancho Sierra Vista/Satwiwa offers an opportunity to commune with nature and learn about the Chumash people, who lived in the area for hundreds of years and considered the site sacred. It’s easy to see why, with its pastures abutting the jagged, handsome Boney Mountain. Now rebounding from the 2013 Springs fire, the area offers gentle (and more ambitious) trails through meadows of grasses and wildflowers. The journey begins at a re-created traditional Chumash home and the accompanying Satwiwa Native American Indian Culture Center, which regularly hosts Native American workshops and art shows. Newbury Park, nps.gov.

» Farm to Visit

Whether you’re looking to pick stone fruits in the summer, grab a pumpkin and a pony ride in the fall, or pick up a tree and commune with Santa in the winter, it’s hard to beat Underwood Family Farms. The 54-acre, 25-year-old flagship location in Moorpark packs a lot of attractions, from bountiful orchards, to elaborately housed goats prancing across elevated walkways, to baby animals kids can bottle-feed, to miniature tractors that toddlers can actually drive themselves (not as terrifying as it sounds), to wagon rides and much more. The fall harvest festival is an especially lively time for a visit, but there are good times to be had all year round. 3370 Sunset Valley Rd., Moorpark, underwoodfamilyfarms.com.

» Toy Store

On a quiet side street in a stable built in 1910, Merci Milo is an easy-to-miss oasis. The thoughtfully organized shop is packed with ethically made wooden figurines, beautifully illustrated books, soft stuffed giraffes, and eco-friendly children’s clothing. From traditional Holztiger horses from Germany, a rosy-cheeked Moulin Roty rag doll from France, or buoyant Kitpas bath crayons from Japan, you’ll find them here. For nearly four years, shop owners Caroline and Jason Rodrigues have traveled the world in search of unique, hard-to-find toys. These are items you can’t just order on Amazon, though if you prefer to shop online, Merci Milo has a great website. 6017 Echo St., Highland Park, shopmercimilo.com.


Best of L.A.: REPAIRS

best lamps los angeles
Best Lamps: George’s Lighting

Courtesy George's Lighting

» Denim

Denim Revival can remake custom jeans just for you—same with jackets and skirts. Or it can update your ripped ones—or put some new holes in just the right places. 7934 W. 3rd St., Fairfax District, 323-852-0171, denimrevival.us.  

» Sneaker Cleaner

Whether they’re your old Adidas shell tops or your brand-new Nike Air Force Max basketball shoes, no one wants to rock grungy kicks on the court or street. As a remedy, Sneaker Lab will restore your favorite footwear. The downtown shop can refresh stinky or smudged sneaks and stained laces with its state-of-the-art enzyme technology. Plus it works with the nonprofit Gold Youth Development Agency, based in South Africa, to help struggling youth. 721 S. Los Angeles St., downtown, sneakerlab.com.

» Re-Dyer

Catering to some of the world’s leading fashion designers and local garment companies, South Golden Dye House promises to “reknew” garments by re-dyeing faded pieces, which customers can mail in or drop off. Fabrics the shop can dye include cotton, polyester, nylon, and elastics. It also dyes trim such as twill tape, ribbons, and zippers, and, of course, garments like T-shirts, sweaters, jeans, shorts, pants, and jackets—even bathing
suits and trench coats. 4238 Union Pacific Ave., East Los Angeles, goldendyehouse.com.

» Wood Furniture
From antique dressers to new dining sets, Alex Amaya (aka “the Furniture Doctor”), owner of Amayamark, does it all. Primarily offering house calls for in-home repairs, Amaya ensures high-quality service at a fair price. Pickup and delivery are also available for smaller items. Amaya is honest when he diagnoses how extensive a repair might need to be, and he’s able to restore, repair, and polish pieces to tip-top condition in a quick turnaround time. 4169 W. 6th St., amayamark.com.

» Lamps

While George is the namesake of this local shop, ask for Carlos Castillo at the counter to handle your lamp-repair needs. He and his team at George’s Lighting plus take care of rewiring in a cinch and patiently walk customers through solutions for more complicated lighting problems. They fix antique and modern lamps alike, while offering friendly service and decent rates. A robust catalog of chandeliers, sconces, bulbs, and other lighting fixtures provides another incentive to patronize this storefront. 5034 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, georgelighting.com.

» Watches

Raffi Jewelers is a watch lover’s secret source for the best watch repair in town. Raffi Tokatlian can fix a Timex and a Rolex. Moguls and celebrities both send their precious bling to his West Hollywood shop, but he’s just as careful with the timepieces of mere mortals who come in for cleanings, refurbishments, or overhauls. 8490 Santa Monica Blvd., Ste. 3, West Hollywood, raffijewelers.com.

» Guitars

Thanks to a staff with over 15 years of combined experience under their belts, Nomadic Guitar repairs and lessons is a one-stop shop for all things guitar. These folks are able to quickly analyze faults in an instrument, form a clear repair plan, and offer a reasonable quote and timeline to complete the job. Owner Steve Sherak is praised widely for keeping his promise to regularly update his clients on the status of their instruments. 2575 N. San Fernando Rd., Glendale, nomadicguitar.com.

CONTRIBUTORS

Steven Blum, Heidi Siegmund Cuda, Hailey Eber, Merle Ginsberg, Sarah Horne Grose, Maureen Harrington, Kennedy Hill, Linda Immediato, Brad Japhe, Jason Kessler, Schuyler Mitchell, Olivia Novato, Heather Platt, Jordan Riefe, Alex Scordelis, Jean Trinh, and Andy Wang


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