THE pandemic is winding down, and L.A. is opening up in a big and wonderful way. It’s perfect timing for our 34th annual Best of L.A. issue, where a horde of reporters hit the streets in search of the city’s finest fare. From late-night bars and hangover cures to surf shops and spas—from vintage jeans and bespoke shoes to surefire dating-app pics—we’ve brought you the most exquisite offerings from our newly blooming city.
And to create our Best of L.A. cover, we joined with photographer Corina Marie to recruit archetypal Angelenos—among them a yogi, a surfer, a socialite, a hasid, even the internet sensation Tom Cruise Deepfake—and asked them to gather at Tail o’ the Pup, the iconic WeHo hot dog stand, closed for a spell, but now cooking again too. Hilarity and hot dogs ensued. Edited by Trish Dietch
PLAY ◍ EAT ◍ SHOP ◍ HEALTH & BEAUTY ◍ KIDS ◍ PETS◍ REPAIRS & SERVICES
Best of L.A.: PLAY
Alternative Art Space
Two years ago, gallerist Jay Ezra Nayssan and his boyfriend moved into Shirley Temple’s old Santa Monica home, which they quickly converted into a gallery-slash-farmstead, Del Vaz Projects, complete with a garage studio space for visiting artists and a backyard garden where the couple tends to chickens, ducks, bees, and a greenhouse adorned with a mural by artist Patricia Iglesias Peco. There’s an apothecary, too, where gallerygoers can purchase honey and homemade preserved lemons, CBD salves, and soaps by painter Marisa Takal. By appointment, delvazprojects.com.
With picnic tables and a stunning view of downtown, Chinatown’s Highland park brewery is the perfect spot to wind down while sampling an unparalled variety of original golden lagers, pilsners, IPAs, ales, and stouts. Try exotic brews like the Lazy Susan—a sour wheat ale made with Masumoto peaches and nectarines—or the Banana Buzz Crunch, an imperial stout derived from hazelnuts, Trystero coffee, and banana puree. Sounds kooky, but adventurous brew dogs will lap it up. There’s also a menu of tasty food to help avoid a hangover.
1220 N. Spring St., Chinatown, hpb.la.
Hana Field—a part of the larger Tanaka Farms—offers a tranquil location for scratching that Green Acres itch. Growers are currently offering sunflowers and will have a pumpkin patch come fall. But this is a working farm, so don’t forget your boots, and if you’re looking to take some of these gorgeous flowers home, remember to bring your own cutting utensils.
427 Anton Blvd., Costa Mesa, tanakafarms.com.
Want to play board games with your friends without having to clean up your living room? Try geeky teas & games, located at the edge of the Magnolia Park shopping district in Burbank. Don’t have friends? Join one of the many tournaments or just come alone—the regulars are friendly, and the ambience is geek heaven. The board-game parlor has playing areas dedicated to Dungeons & Dragons and other fandoms. And if you want to take home a living, breathing souvenir, you can even adopt one of the Geekitties from the in-house cat rescue.
2220 W. Magnolia Blvd., Burbank, geekyteas.com.
When it comes to getting in touch with nature—in a highly curated sort of way—it’s hard to beat the huntington, which has 16 themed gardens across 130 acres, including a gorgeous Chinese Garden and a Desert Garden filled with surreal cacti. But there are some man-made wonders to behold here as well, like an actual Gutenberg Bible and artworks such as Thomas Gainsborough’s famous Blue Boy and Kehinde Wiley’s A Portrait of a Young Gentleman.
1151 Oxford Rd., San Marino, huntington.org.
You don’t have to venture into West Hollywood to find a great gay bar—further east on Santa Monica Boulevard near Silver Lake, there’s the Eagle L.A., a rocking, raunchy, Levi’s-and-leather spot that proves niche can also be nice. There’s cheap beer, nightly events (like Meat Rack Saturdays), and a bootblack to keep your shoes (and other leather goods) clean and shiny. Sadly, leather bars like this one are rapidly vanishing these days, so this Tom of Finland wonderland (packed with a diverse crowd dancing, playing pool, and generally having a good time) is a treasure worth plundering.
4219 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood, 323-669-9472.
Practically unchanged since its 1953 debut, with its gorgeous neon signage, old-fashioned orange-leather booths, and faux-stained-glass ceiling, Canter’s deli has been an after-hours hotspot since your grandparents were staying up all night. While the diner is open 24 hours, the Kibitz Room—famous for its yummy Bloody Marys—closes just shy of 2 a.m. Still, it’s long been a favorite of insomniacs and late-night revelers, including Axl Rose and his bandmates.
419 N. Fairfax Ave., Fairfax District, cantersdeli.com.
Yes, he’s best known for being half of the world’s most famous pothead duo, but Cheech Marin is also a world-class aficionado of Chicano art. And now his massive collection is finding a new home: the Riverside Art Museum has just turned the Riverside Public Library into a new space, appropriately named The Cheech, dedicated to the works Marin has accumulated over 40 years. Opening day in June brought in 20,000 visitors to what may be the only museum devoted entirely to Chicano art in the country.
3581 Mission Inn Ave., Riverside, riversideartmuseum.org.
LA Cita Bar is pure magic, not only because it has anchored Angels Flight for the past 60 years, but because every community in our city is represented here, reveling together to punk, hip-hop, and oldies, giving this club an extradinarily rocking Angeleno vibe. For a particularly happy happy hour, try Sunday Bloody Sundays, with Bloody Marys that will change the way you look at tomatoes, and a margarita that will change the way you look.
336 S. Hill Street, downtown lacitabar.com.
Still feeling jittery about returning to indoor movie theaters? Our solution is The Montalbán Theater’s Rooftop Movies, a seasonal outdoor movie screen that, every weekend from April to November, plays a mix of classic and contemporary pictures running the gamut from Clueless to The Godfather. Snack offerings come from the delicious Village Pizzeria, and, with two hours of games before the movie starts, we find it both safe and fun to sit back with 199 new friends, sip a glass of Ramos Sangria, put on the ultra comfortable headphones, and experience a cinematic treasure without once feeling weird about going maskless.
1615 Vine St., Hollywood, themontalban.com/rooftopmovies.
Place to Pop the Question
Stunning seaside cliffs, magnificent rock formations jutting from the sea, and pristine waters make El Matador state beach, 12 miles north of the Malibu Pier, the perfect spot to get down on one knee. Pro tip: the beach can draw a crowd on the weekend, so consider proposing during the week—no one expects to be betrothed on a Tuesday! A close second and third for popping the question are El Matador’s sister beaches, El Pescador and La Piedra, where there are big cliffs you can contemplate jumping off of if he or she has the nerve to say, “No.”
32350 Pacific Coast Hwy., Malibu, 818-880-0363.
Place to Take a Hike
Malibu Creek State Park is just 25 minutes from downtown but a world away in atmosphere. Take a short jaunt to Rock Pool, or a more ambitious stroll along the 6.6-mile Malibu Lake Trail. Better yet, practice your Charlton Heston impersonation in the exact spot where Planet of the Apes filmed that scene with a half-buried Statue of Liberty (“Damn you all to hell!”). But weekends can be crowded, so arrive early.
1925 Las Virgenes Rd., Calabasas, 805-488-1827, parks.ca.gov.
Place to Watch Cher Eat Sushi
While Angelenos have their fair share of random celebrity run-ins, there are a few locations that dramatically increase one’s chances of spotting a star in their natural habitat. Top of the list is the MALIBU COUNTRY MART. The tony shopping center is almost always buzzing with bold-faced names (it’s also one of the few spots left in L.A. that still attract paparazzi). “I loved covering the Malibu Country Mart for TMZ,” says onetime TMZ producer Joe Andaloro, “because I was guaranteed to see someone special every single day. Regulars include Tom Cruise, Keanu Reeves, and Janet Jackson to locals like Dick Van Dyke and Cindy Crawford.” Much like when you’re observing animals on safari, though, please don’t disturb celebs while they’re eating.
3835 Cross Creek Rd., Malibu.
Like Hollywood in the early ’90s, the Arts Colony in Pomona is now the red-hot center of the punk scene. For partying, there’s the haven, a dope little surf-goth club, and for browsing, there’s zoinks, a record store that time forgot, where you can score rare Depeche Mode vinyl, an Etta James button, and a Mötley Crüe sticker.
The Haven, 296 W. 2nd St., Pomona, thehavenpomona.com
Zoinks, 226 S. Main St., Pomona, zoinksrecords.com.
The Los Angeles Zoo is practically deserted on weekdays, parking is free, and, even if it wasn’t, it’s the perfect place for a picnic. Grab a sack, a sandwich, and a sense of wonder, and sit in the aviary to revel in the quiet punctuated by chirping birds. Or find some other animals to eat with. With 133 acres filled with 1,400 beasts, you’re sure to find the perfect picnic companion.
5333 Zoo Dr., Los Feliz, lazoo.org.
Spot for a Selfie
If it’s good enough for Star Trek and The Flintstones movie, it’s good enough for you. Sure, it’s a bit of a schlep—about 20 miles northeast of Santa Clarita. But shooting a selfie at the Vasquez Rocks Natural Area and Nature Center, with its giant rock formations, will give your Insta thread instant cred.
10700 W. Escondido Canyon Rd., Santa Clarita, 661-268-0840
Most virtual-reality gaming stations are pretty much the same: you sit in an uncomfortable chair, strap on a VR headset, and shoot ’em up. What makes Hypergate VR different, though, is that players don’t just sit on their heinies—they roam in a fully immersive world. You can all but smell the forest when you enter one of the company’s games—they develop their own avatars and 4D experiences—and nothing pumps the ticker quite like a fast-approaching horde of zombies. If it catches on in L.A., expect to see more of these places around the country; the Santa Monica site is a testing ground for expansion to other U.S. cities.
520 Santa Monica Blvd., Santa Monica, hypergatevr.com.
Zip Lines for Grown-Ups
There’s nothing that gets the adrenaline pumping quite like dangling by a slender cable hundreds of feet above a spiky, boulder-filled forest in the mountains. If that’s your thing, try Zipline at Pacific Crest, a company that organizes day-trip adventures at the Angeles National Forest on the edge of the Mojave. The all-day experience consists of six ziplines—one of which is 300 feet high and sends you zooming at 55 miles per hour—as well as two free-fall rappels and three relatively sane-sounding hikes.
6014 Park Dr., Wrightwood, 760-705-1003, ziplinespc.com.
The Comedy Store
8433 Sunset Blvd., thecomedystore.com.
“The Comedy Store is definitely the best comedy club in L.A., if not the world. It’s the only one I work at. It’s an authentic place. It’s the original comedy club. The rooms feel well-worn and magical. Everyone who works there is a professional. The vibe is great right now because the darkness is long gone, as are the bullies and thugs. My soul lives there.”
—MARC MARON, HOST WTF WITH MARC MARON
Zach Neil’s horror-inspired restaurant and bar, Beetle House is the perfect place to take a date . . . if you happen to be dating Tim Burton. Besides the main-stage show of magicians, drag queens, fire dancers, and sword swallowers, there are costumed characters like the Joker and Willy Wonka roaming about. Order the Beetle’s Juice—a divine mix of blackberries, tequila, and blackberry schnapps—or get the Lock, Shock, and Barrel margarita flight. If you’re staying for dinner, the Sweeney Beef, served with a straight razor, is a gruesome delight.
1714 N. Las Palmas Ave., Hollywood, beetlehousela.com.
Best of L.A.: EAT
Leave the cannoli, take the cornetti—especially one made by Marlo and Gianba Vinzoni at cinque terre west. These flaky tastebud ticklers—sort of Italian-style croissants—are fast becoming a staple for Westsiders. They come in chocolate, sugar, pesto with cherry tomatoes, plain, or pork belly with cheese. Of course, the rest of the menu, inspired by the small Mediterranean coastal villages of the Cinque Terre region, is also outstanding, but, honestly, these Sunday cornettis will make you skip church.
970 Monument St., Ste. 110, Pacific Palisades, cinqueterrewest.com.
Chili Cheese Fries Upgrade
Altadena’s family-owned fast-food joint, Everest, reigns supreme for one brain-breaking invention: Game Time, a marriage of pastrami and chili cheese fries or, as managing partner Louis Kades likes to say, “the best of everything.” The dish was invented so that many people could share food over a football or Lakers game. It comes in one of those takeout cartons that could double as a shoebox, and Kades isn’t lying: there’s nothing better.
2314 Lake Ave., Altadena, everestaltadena.com.
Cinnamon Bun with an L.A. Twist
Cinnamon buns can be great plain, sticky, or slathered with cream cheese frosting, but Doubting thomas chef-owner Naomi Peteu figured out a unique way to brighten up this ubiquitous pastry: She opted for California citrus—often Tahoe Gold tangerines from Friend’s Ranch in Ojai or sometimes tan-gelos—and buttery, pull-apart croissant dough coated with brown sugar and zest. Baking produces a soft core and crispy coat crusted with tangy caramel sauce and glazed with tangerine juice and crème fraîche.
2510 W. Temple St., Historic Filipinotown, doubtingthomas.la.
Not all egg rolls can actually roll. At Pho Ngoon in San Gabriel, Hanoi native Dustin Hoang serves a square northern Vietnamese version called nem cua bê, rice paper wrappers that contain ground crab, pork, egg, carrots, wood ear mushrooms, and glass noodles. The restaurant serves the blistered packets atop rice vermicelli with lettuce wraps, vegetables, herbs, and nuoc cham (seasoned fish sauce) for dipping. Ngon means “delicious” in Vietnamese, so when Pho Ngoon debuted in 2014, Hoang added an extra “O” to the name to emphasize the bold flavors.
741 E. Valley Blvd., San Gabriel, 626-872-2729.
Since the ’70s, Lucky boy’s breakfast burrito has saved those with early morning woes. Densely packed, it’s a tasty maelstrom of way too much scrambled eggs, American cheese, meat, and hash browns. You don’t have to be under the influence to enjoy—just know that it works better than Pedialyte. The secret? Says VP Christina Karagias, “Butter and 50 years of grease on the grill.”
640 S. Arroyo Pkwy., Pasadena, luckyboyburgers.com.
Hispanic Cold Brew
When the coffee bar Grey & Cash debuted in 2017, owner Alfonso Arellano created a James Brown latte featuring brown sugar, vanilla extract, and cinnamon. “Growing up in a Hispanic household, cinnamon in our coffee is a staple, and I wanted to sweeten it with brown sugar to deepen the flavor,” he says. To maximize refreshment, he kegged a version with potent cold-brew concentrate, oat milk, and nitrogen, which creates a cool, frothy, cascading concoction baristas dust with cinnamon.
425 S. Myrtle Ave., Monrovia, greyandcashmonrovia.com.
Kitschy Italian Deli
Bay Cities in Santa Monica is older, Mario’s in Glendale might make a better meatball, but we’re going with Claro’s for the overall sensazione at this third-generation family deli. The aroma of anise when you enter through the bakery, the stack of Italian newspapers, and the Kiss Me, I’m Italian kitsch on the shelves won us over. The stuffed cold-cut sandwiches are ginormous, and you can even pick up an 18-pound lasagna (or gluten-free, vegan kale-and-mushroom ravioli) to go. The original location (there are now six) opened in 1948, and mama Claro’s cookbooks on the shelves make you feel like part of the family.
1003 E. Valley Blvd., San Gabriel, claros.com.
Korean Dish Not in K-Town
K-Town has the highest concentration of Korean food in the U.S., but it doesn’t get all the hits. Jin cook works wonders with “authentic Korean soul food” in Glendale. This homey restaurant, with a dining room that resembles a Korean village, brings sparkle to dishes like spicy pork. Thinly sliced, marinated pork-neck meat arrives sizzling in a stone bowl. The meat gets crusty and caramelized and reaches hyperdrive when showered with supplemental shredded mozzarella, which magically melds with the spicy meat and enables cheese pulls galore.
310 N. Brand Blvd., Glendale, 818-637-7822.
Margarita and Mezcal
While the ingredients are essential—tequila, lemon, lime, naranja, triple sec, azucar, and hibiscus salt—it’s the blend that makes this potent potable go down so easy. Opened in 2012 as a pop-up speakeasy called Sip and offering live music and killer cocktails, this enterprise frequently changed locations until arriving at its current Echo Park home as Bar Flores. Yes, the margaritas are grand, but so are the mezcal and the micheladas.
1542 W. Sunset Blvd., Echo Park, barflores.com.
Chef and gardener Marta Teegen opened her “micro-grocery,” Cookbook, with partner Robert Stelzner in 2010, and although they sold it in 2020 to the team behind Jon & Vinny’s, the new owners have pledged to continue providing high-quality products while executing Teegen and Stelzner’s original vision. Think chewy morning buns, literally perfect peaches, and an impeccably curated selection of cheeses, meats, tapenades, pickles, and tinned fish. Freshly prepared and frozen foods intermingle with dry goods and international provisions, like Japan’s Kewpie mayo and Oaxacan mole starter. Arrive early for the best selection—and during peak hours, be prepared to wait to shop the 500-square-foot former art gallery space.
1549 Echo Park Ave., Echo Park, cookbookla.com.
With one foot in Bologna and the other in L.A., Rossoblu chef-owner Steve Samson is a man who knows his pasta. Irregularly cut maltagliati with octopus, red wine, arugula, and Calabrian chili is tasty enough to make a sister drop her rosary. But the tagliatelle tossed with ragù Bolognese and nutty Parmesan will make you a true convert. It’s no wonder this labor of love is the winner of Michelin’s Bib Gourmand Award.
1124 San Julian St., downtown, rossoblula.com.
At superfine, Rossoblu’s casual Fashion District spinoff, lead pizzaiolo Dresden Kaiser introduced panuozzo, a novel Italian sandwich that originated at Pizzeria Mascolo in Gragnano, near Naples. Here, house-made pizza dough is stretched until a pocket forms, soft at the bottom, crispy up top, and coated with sharp grated Grana Padano. This version stars capocollo, a pork salami that’s butchered, spice-cured, and wood-smoked in-house. Melted mozzarella, provolone, red onions, and bitter escarole round out the fillings. This sandwich is a savory tour de force.
1101 San Pedro St., downtown, superfinepizza.com
Place to Have a Cow
Chi Spacca, the best Northern Italian steak restaurant in the city, serves a bistecca alla Fiorentina so tender that it would make a vegan blush. In this meat-eater’s paradise, the cuisine comes courtesy of 2014 James Beard Award-winning chef Nancy Silverton, owner of Osteria Mozza, and Mozza2Go. And if red meat’s not your thing, try the chicken or octopus. But if it is, take some of the cured meats home—you’ll thank us.
6610 Melrose Ave., Hancock Park, chispacca.com.
It’s become easier to find a great smash burger in L.A., but Hangaburs takes the thin, crispy patties in an exciting new direction. Alicia Lopez and Cecilia Ledezma turned their pandemic pivot into a destination pop-up. A burger with ham and panela cheese that the couple enjoyed on a trip to see family in Nayarit informs their signature Tepic burger. Luscious ground Angus chuck patties with lacy edges host grilled ham, American cheese, grilled panela cheese, grilled onions, tomatoes, ketchup, and house-made spicy mustard crema on a soft, butter-toasted bun. @hangaburs.
Families line up to enjoy the campfire treat at the newly renovated midcentury roadside stand S’Moreology. Noelle Ramirez was burning the midnight oil to launch her homemade s’more shop last year. “We go through torches like crazy,” the former graphic designer says. “My wife was nonstop blowtorching.” The former Smorgasburg pop-up melts chocolate between handmade marshmallows and Ramirez’s graham crackers. Can’t decide between the Elvis or the PB&J? Try a flight of three smaller treats.
922 W. Covina Pkwy., West Covina, smoreology.com.
In a city of limitless options, guisados saves the indecisive eater. Snag its sampler, which boasts six mini tacos. Owner Armando De La Torre Jr. describes the O.G. combo as “a trip through Mexico,” one that showcases different regions of the country with its wonderful blend of authentic braises and other slow-cooked flavors: steak picado, bistek en salsa roja, tinga de pollo, mole poblano, chicharron in chile verde, and cochinita pibil. Sate your hunger, and say goodbye to choice anxiety.
2100 E. Cesar E. Chavez Ave., Boyle Heights, guisadosla.com.
When you come to a fork in the road on your way west, choose the way that leads to MĖlisse. With locally sourced ingredients, the seven-course tasting menu is a collaborative dialogue between diner and chef-owner Josiah Citrin as he walks you down a pathway to gourmet greatness, highlighting flavors from around the world. There’s a good reason Mélisse earned two Michelin stars in 2008, 2009 and 2021.
1104 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica, citrinandmelisse.com.
Vegan Ice Cream. Seriously
If you think vegan ice cream is less creamy or flavorful than dairy, you definitely have not been to awan, in a little kiosk off Santa Monica Boulevard. Owner Zen Ong, former pastry chef at E.P. & L.P., has created an Indonesian-style, gelato-like texture by using coconut cream and coconut water as a base, plus Balinese vanilla beans. Unique flavors like tortilla and lemongrass, and classic ones like vanilla and mint chip, are all comprised of rich Indonesian ingredients blended with California produce.
866 Huntley Dr., West Hollywood, enjoyawan.com.
Place to Eat
The Original Farmers Market
6333 W. 3rd St., Fairfax, farmersmarketla.com.
“When I first moved here from New York, I didn’t really get L.A. until I went to the Farmers Market on Third. I was charmed by its history, the layout, the people-watching. I’m still there once a week for a breakfast or lunch—sometimes dinner. It’s L.A.’s center for me.”
—PHIL ROSENTHAL, STAR OF SOMEBODY FEED PHIL AND I’LL HAVE WHAT PHIL’S HAVING
Best of L.A.: SHOP
You can find handprints of the stars at the Chinese Theatre, but if you want to see their bare footprints, you’ve got to pay a visit to Esquivel house, L.A.’s premier bespoke footwear establishment. Frequent customers Dwayne Johnson, LeBron James, and Janelle Monáe all have molds of their feet on file here, so that the shop’s craftsmen—who build every shoe by hand, toiling over table lathes like extras in a Dickens adaptation—can whip up a one-of-a-kind pair at any given moment. “We do degrees of customization for men and women,” says owner George Esquivel. “We personalize the shoes.”
820 S. Santa Fe Ave., downtown, esquivelshoes.com.
After hunkering down for the pandemic in New York, Addison Richley, a former archivist for Gagosian gallery, returned to L.A. last year to open this indie book boutique, hoping to bring some of that NYC vibe to the West Coast. des pair instantly became a local mainstay for art and film books as well as new releases. “I was pleasantly surprised to find that [NYC-type] community already existed here,” she says. “It was just a matter of fostering it.”
1543 Echo Park Ave., Echo Park, despairbooks.com.
Bridal Gowns (pictured above)
You only get married once (or, in this city, three or four times), so you might as well splurge on a wedding gown like no other. And the best place to buy a one-of-a-kind wedding-day garment is at Mark Zunino, the ultimate in high-end wedding couture. As the protégé to legendary designer Nolan Miller, Zunino once designed for Dynasty’s Joan Collins and then went on to build dresses for Beyoncé and J-Lo. For a price, he’ll make you look like a glamourpuss, too.
181 S. Robertson Blvd, Beverly Hills, markzunino.com.
Some of the Earth’s strangest flora—plants shaped like brains and hearts and mermaid tails—flourish at Susana Argueta’s 11:1 Succulent Nursery. But impossibly rare $1,500 specimens aren’t the only things growing here; there are also green, drought-resistant stems starting at a mere $1.35.
15237 Leffingwell Rd., Whittier, 562-946-3051.
Emergency Wine Delivery
This legendary, old-world wine shop, around since 1979, has saved Tinseltown assistants over and over again. Boss’s friend just had their TV show renewed? Call du vin to find the perfect bottle and send it over with a classy handwritten note, ASAP. Family-owned Du Vin has on-trend wines, gift-wrapping, and delivery services, and near-peerless wine-industry knowledge. As owner Peter Jarjour says, “It’s been working for so long—why mess with that?”
540 N. San Vicente Blvd., West Hollywood, du-vin.net.
You’ll know you’ve received a bouquet from Jean-pascal even before you see any flowers. Jean-Pascal Lemire, who opened his studio in 2017, concedes that his signature black, white, and taxicab yellow boxes and ribbons are a big part of the draw. But his arrangments—striking just the right balance between rustic and opulent, often nodding to organic garden foliage—are what keep his customers coming back again and again. Plus, his flowers can be ordered and delivered on the same day.
1318 E. 7th St., downtown, jeanpascallemire.com.
For the last three decades, Adam Blackman and David Cruz’s gallery-atelier-emporium of what they call “life enhancements”—furniture, lighting, art objects, plates, rugs—has attracted some of the most design-conscious Angelenos. Brad Pitt, Tom Ford, and David Geffen are among blackman cruz’s frequent customers. The shop carries an eclectic selection of décor that includes historical pieces, artist-designed furnishings, and found objects. The New York Times dubbed the proprietors’ unique aesthetic “macabre-chic.”
836 N. Highland Ave., Hollywood, blackmancruz.com.
Gladys Tamez has been topping fashionable heads—Lady Gaga, Cher, Lil Nas X—for more than a decade. She uses the best straw from Ecuador and the highest-quality felt and takes inspiration from her travels to Spain, Mexico, Paris, and Santa Fe. One of the biggest parts of her business is collaborating on custom hats with clients. “It’s all about you wearing the hat—the hat does not wear you.”
2347 E. 8th St., downtown, 310-694-0668, gladystamez.com.
With so many cannabis dispensaries popping up around L.A., weeding out the good from the bad can really harsh one’s buzz. But here’s one with a unique twist: green qween is a queer-owned, -operated, and -curated downtown space that prioritizes stocking QTBIPOC brands and gives a portion of proceeds to the DTLA Proud Community Center. Cofounder Andrés Rigal believes that “cannabis retail can be glamorous and celebratory.” (Note the giant disco ball illuminated 24 hours a day.) “Cannabis holds the potential to help people recognize the connection we all share with each other and the planet.”
1051 S. Broadway, downtown, linktr.ee/shopgreenqween.
Originally from Mexico, designer April black diamond travels the world selecting special silks and beads to create jaw-dropping luxury gowns that would make a Disney princess jealous. Customers can select from a rainbow of ready-made catalog designs starting at $700 or have something custom-made for $3,000 to $25,000.
1046 Santee St., downtown, aprilblackdiamond.com.
The world has expected the demise of record stores, but they just keep on kicking. Alex Rodriguez has built a collection of more than 50,000 records, which is part of why he was asked to curate the record tent at Coachella several years running, and why they made a doc about him. In July 2021, he opened up Record Safari. If whatever you’re looking for is not here, it will be eventually.
3222 Los Feliz Blvd., Atwater Village, @recordsafari_la.
After you’ve checked out the nostalgic neon signs and pinball machines at the valley relics museum, you’re obviously going to want a T-shirt. Luckily, there happens to be a museum gift shop on the premises, filled with scores of tees with some incredibly cool old logos, like Pup ‘n’ Taco and Love’s Wood Pit Barbecue. The museum acquired the abandoned trademarks for dozens of defunct brands and created a line of apparel showcasing the Valley’s vanished landmarks. Yes, that’s right, you can now rock out in your shirt from Licorice Pizza while watching Licorice Pizza.
7900 Balboa Blvd., Lake Balboa, valleyrelicsmuseum.org.
Scent Bar Hollywood, founded in 2004 by Franco Wright and Adam Eastwood, isn’t just the most eclectic fragrance boutique in L.A.—it also happens to be one of the best in the world, carrying everything from established scents like Byredo to artisanal brands like Portland’s Slumberhouse and Maison Rebatchi. Belly up to the “bar” stocked with glass wonders and the staff will spend hours helping you find your signature smell from categories like “incense,” “smoky,” and our favorite, “boozy.”
7405 Beverly Blvd., Fairfax District, luckyscent.com.
An outdoor event held every second Saturday of the month, The Pickwick vintage show showcases 65 different vendors at its new venue at Row DTLA. It’s a little pricey, but you get gem after gem instead of having to sift through junk to get to the jewels. There’s vintage from designers like Galliano, Versace, and Gucci.
777 S. Alameda St., downtown, pickwickvintage.com.
With California’s official state sport still growing in popularity, finding the right gear is key. That’s why everyone heads to Mollusk in Venice. Family-owned, the shop prides itself on being user-friendly. “We try to keep the store stocked with everything from someone’s first surfboard to someone’s 20th board,” Mollusk manager Beau DiFiore says. Most of Mollusk’s surf craft is sourced locally in small batches from artisan shapers, and the selection reflects the shop’s nostalgic aesthetic.
1600 Pacific Ave., Venice, mollusksurfshop.com.
Despite its location in landlocked Van Nuys, Bob sands fishing tackle has been reeling in customers since 1970, not because its gear is different from that at other tackle shops but because the staffers are all anglers intimately familiar with every body of water in L.A. County. From the Pacific Ocean to lakes like Castaic, there’s no question they can’t answer.
6743 Sepulveda Blvd., Van Nuys, 818-994-1822.
In 2013, Jason Husby lined the walls of an old school bus with beautiful wood panels and shelves to create his rolling vintage denim shop, Dig Rigg. The 37-year-old caters to a Westside clientele, who clamor to find out where to meet the bus in Venice so that they can browse and buy 501 Levi’s from the ’90s, Lees from the ’70s, and ’90s Wranglers. Best of all, Husby can size up anyone and figure out which jeans will fit best.
By appointment. 310-529 -4802.
Most wigs are sold as one-size-fits-all clumps in a plastic bag. But at Outfitters Wig, customers can come in with sketches of their fantasy hair, or just describe the wig of their wildest dreams, and gifted stylists will make it happen. Open since 1969, the shop has a loyal client base that includes performers, cosplayers, drag artists, and everyday wig-wearers. Whether you are looking for extreme hair like the various Drag Race contestants who are regulars or just want to feel like someone else for a bit, owners Bebe and John Sikora understand; they know how therapeutic wigs can be.
6626 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, outfitterswig.com.
8820 Washington Blvd., Culver City, theoptimistla.com.
“The Optimist is the men’s store where I pull the most for clients. The buyer has an amazing eye, and I discover a lot of new favorite indie brands there. I would buy almost every piece in there for my jobs or for my hubby. “
—ILARIA URBINATI, STYLIST TO RAMI MALEK, RYAN GOSLING, TYLER PERRY, BEN AFFLECK, DONALD GLOVER, MILO VENTIMIGLIA, AND MORE.
Actress turned headshot photographer Leah Huebner is so successful at creating the most captivating, right-swipe-worthy photos, her clients need spreadsheets to track their dates. While other photographers cram clients into their days, Huebner is known for taking only a few jobs a week, resulting in the best, most personalized photos (and a six-month waiting list). According to one actor, “I saw an overnight difference on my profile, which at this point in my life means more to me than acting jobs.” huebnerheadshots.com.
Best of L.A.: HEALTH & BEAUTY
Keratin Hair Treatment
Today’s keratin hair treatment is smarter than it was in the early aughts when it was known as the Brazilian blow dry. B2V Salon’s Adam Pardyjak has been doing the treatments daily since forever, and now he’s doing it several times a day since more and more Hollywood clients are asking to have it done for straighter, shinier, more manageable hair. “It strengthens your hair,” says Pardyjak, “makes it more lustrous, easier to grow it out.”
646 N. Doheny, West Hollywood, B2VSalon.com.
While waxing waned during the pandemic, lash lifts only got hotter. This lifting-and-curling treatment akin to a perm is one of the most requested at Silver Lake’s Stark Studio. Its secret to look-at-me lashes? Never overprocessing and using high-quality ingredients. “We pair our lash lifts with an ultranourishing keratin treatment to deeply condition,” manager Daniela Del Gaudio explains. For added oomph, try a color boost.
3335 W. Sunset Blvd., Silver Lake, hellostarkstudio.com.
Luxe Spa (pictured above)
Only at the Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills La Prairie spa can you get the Diamond Day—five-plus hours in paradise that include the Diamond Perfection body treatment and Signature La Prairie facial as well as a champagne lunch at the rooftop restaurant. The Swiss Bliss offers three hours of heaven, including scalp shiatsu and a caviar facial, just two of the many reasons La Prairie was rated five stars by Forbes Travel Guide. Arrive craving solace, depart a goddess.
9850 Wilshire Blvd., waldorfastoriabeverlyhills.com/spa-wellness.
Mani-Pedi (Without Leaving Home)
When your claws are ratty and you don’t feel like using them to grip a steering wheel, call Larry Vo, who’ll do your nails in your own backyard. During COVID, when Hollywood women did regular outdoor pedicure parties, Vo’s lightheartedness fit right in. He does a heavenly hour-long pedicure, and tired feet suddenly come back to life in his firm grasp. You can also visit him at his Culver City salon.
4909 Sycamore Dr., Culver City, 310-396-6869.
Place to Sober Up
L.A. has a thriving wellness community, as well as a lot of drunks and drug addicts, which explains why there are more than 300 in-person rehab facilities here. But if you want to get clean the old-fashioned, 12-step way, our favorite AA meeting resides not in a church basement but upstairs at The Rainbow Bar & Grill. Yes, the notorious Sunset Strip hellraiser joint offers one of the most inspiring and welcoming recovery meetings. Think about it: would you rather spend $80,000 for an opulent two-week stint at a rehab facility that offers “equine therapy”? Or would you be happier reciting the Serenity Prayer on the same sticky floor where Alice Cooper and Harry Nilsson became full-blown alcoholics?
9015 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood. alcoholicsanonymous.com/aa-meeting/rainbow-meeting.
As if Mara RoSzak’s client list wasn’t enough to let you know she’s the top of the Hollywood-hair heap—Emma Stone, Zoe Saldaña, Nicole Kidman, Natalie Portman, to name a few—you can witness that every cut and style she pulls out of her magician’s hat every day is varied, chic, subtle—perfect for each particular head-to-toe look. What does Roszak herself attribute her popularity to? “I’m a really good listener.”
Mare Salon, 152 N. Wetherly Dr., Beverly Hills, maresalon.com.
Frends Beauty Supply
5244 Laurel Canyon Blvd.,
North Hollywood, frendsbeauty.com
”My favorite supply shop in L.A. is Frends Beauty Supply at Laurel Canyon. Frends has impossible-to-find Anna Sui cosmetics and Kjaer Weis. I also love Nigel Beauty Emporium on Magnolia Boulevard. They carry Jurlique and Kevyn Aucoin.”
—KATHY JEUNG, MAKEUP ARTIST TO TIFFANY HADDISH, GWEN STEFANI, AND PINK
Jason Schneidman is one in-demand dude: “One day this week, I did ten haircuts in the Venice shop, went to The Late Late Show where I do James Corden every day, and did Bill Clinton.” What makes Schneidman so sought-after? “I love a transformation,” he says. “Men don’t have too many things they can pull off to look cool. Hair is our peacock feathers. I like a good hairstyle to bloom!”
The Men’s Groomer, 2518 Lincoln Blvd., Venice, themensgroomer.com.
Best of L.A.: KIDS
It’s got just about everything Disneyland has—Sleeping Beauty Castle, Splash Mountain, the Haunted Mansion—only much, much smaller. Architect David Sheegog, who grew up within walking distance from the real Magic Kingdom, spent the last 20 years re-creating the park in miniature in his own backyard. Castle Peak and Thunder Railroad is free, provided you’re able to snag a hard-to-get reservation. Only a handful of open houses are held in the spring and fall, so don’t dawdle. Anaheim Hills. cptrr.com.
Counterculture Comic Store
At Black star CollectIbles, super-heroes come in all shades. Owners Feon Cooper, left, and Kareem Burton created this gem of a comic book and toy store to promote representation and inclusion, so it’s no surprise that customers are greeted at the door by a larger-than-life Black Panther statue. There are shelves and shelves of unique offerings, everything from Harriet Tubman: Demon Slayer comics to Black Heroes Matter tees.
SouthBay Pavilion Mall, 20700 S. Avalon Blvd., Carson, blackstarcollectibles.com.
Place to Find a 1963 Mickey Mantle Card
Baseball-card collecting is making a comeback. So if your little one—or your sports-nut spouse—is looking to get back in the game, try Burbank Sportscards. Open since 1987, it has one of the largest catalogs around, with more than 43 million cards, from Kobe to Koufax, as well as unopened boxes starting at just $1. “We buy more cards than anyone in the business,” says owner Rob Veres, “so our inventory stays fresh.”
1610 W. Burbank Blvd., Burbank, burbankcards.com.
Spot to Get Splattered
The fields at warped paintball park near Castaic Lake stretch for 40 fun-filled acres, so there’s plenty of room for friendly firefights. This place tends to attract novice players, so you won’t be bothered by camo-clad adults taking the game too seriously. On the contrary, it’s designed to be kid-friendly; there’s child-size equipment, referees, and special programs for children ages seven and up.
34481 Ridge Route Rd., Castaic, warpedpaintballpark.com.
Tees for Tots, Tweens, Teens, and Queens
You know a kids’ store can rock a tee when petite A-list actresses drop in to buy some for themselves. At Sunset kids, every inch of Jonathan West’s 1,100-square-foot space is stacked with little T-shirts. They include everything from rocker tees to California-inspired tees to adult styles shrunk down. Look for brands like Kenzo, California Vintage, and Spiritual Gangster.
8671 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood, 310-659-4411.
Frank & Son Collectible Show, a Costco-size toy mall in City of Industry, has more than 200 dealers hawking new and used action figures, skateboards, and infinite varieties of Funko Pops. There’s even a tiny café. Yes, it’s obviously easier to buy toys online, but then how would you ever stumble across that Yoda-shaped backpack your kids never knew they wanted and now must have or their lives will be ruined forever? (For strictly vintage toys, try I & S Toys and Collectibles in Echo Park.)
17835 Gale Ave., City of Industry, frankandsonshow.net.
When the producers of Young Sheldon went looking for a toy-train expert to build a set for the show, they turned to Train shack owner Gary Keck. Keck, who’s been in the biz since 1985, sells new and used models, designs custom layouts (say, for under your Christmas tree), and offers repair services too.
1030 N. Hollywood Way, Burbank, trainshack.com.
6201 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, funko.com
“Funko is so nuts. You can make your own Funko dolls. Watching little kids and families being creative is so exciting. I felt the magic in there. They have a Harry Potter section, a Star Wars section, a Saturday-morning cartoon section with a giant Crunch Berries Beast. It’s like Six Flags. I was blown away.”
—DJ LANCE ROCK, STAR OF YO GABBA GABBA! AND KNOTT’S BERRY FARM’S LET’S PLAY! AND EVERYBODY DANCE!
Best of L.A.: PETS
Want to get so close to a hawk that you can feel its talons gripping your arm? Since 2002, California falconry has offered training and interactive educational experiences with big birds. Professional falconer Ken Miknuk says, “A hawk is like a dog with feathers; they are very gregarious pack animals.” Whether you want to learn how to work with your own creature or just a cool photo op, Miknuk’s five falcons and pair of hawks are fascinating for the whole family—especially kids, whom Miknuk believes “love to learn about the similarities between birds of prey and airplanes.”
47215 Blazing Star Lane, Palm Desert, cafalconry.com.
Cat House (pictured above)
At Crumbs & Whiskers cat and kitten café, you can help save cats from the streets and high-kill shelters while lapping up a purrfect cappuccino. Since opening in 2015, the café has helped spare thousands of felines by showcasing them in an interactive, Instagram-worthy setting. Wear comfy lounge gear, slip off your shoes, and wander the open, neon-lit space before plopping down on a poofy cushion—next to a new furry friend and his favorite toy. All the cats are adoptable through the Cat’s Meow. Reservations are recommended.
7924 Melrose Ave., Beverly Grove, crumbsandwhiskers.com.
What better way to let our beloved pets’ furry personalities shine than with custom couture? Yana Syrkin, the owner of fifi & romeo, has worked with luminaries like Oprah Winfrey, Elton John, and Prince Charles to produce some of the finest pet attire available. Despite COVID-19 closing her Fairfax District shop, Syrkin continues to collaborate with clients. From accessories to clothing, this is the place to pamper the ones that love you unconditionally. fifiandromeo.com.
Nobody is ever stuck in the doghouse at rosie’s dog beach. As the only off-leash canine beach in L.A., this 2.8-acre stretch of surf and sand welcomes dogs of all breeds and sizes. Plentiful parking and a skyline dotted with kitesurfers from the adjacent beach make this an idyllic day trip for you and your best friend. Come on a weekday morning or evening and have the beach to yourselves, or stop by on a weekend and let your buddy make friends.
5000 E. Ocean Blvd., Long Beach, longbeach.gov.
Two words about Paradise Ranch Pet Resort that your dog will learn to love: “water” and “park.” Created by Kristyn Goddard, this cage-free concept provides a safe environment for your pet to thrive in while you take off on your own adventure. Whether it’s just for the day or a weeklong stay, pools, fountains, and maybe even a boogie board await. Pet owners experiencing separation anxiety can watch their pooch from afar via one of the 26 webcams. Other services include transportation, grooming, and training. (For a pet vacation in town, try D Pet Hotels.)
10268 La Tuna Canyon Rd., Sun Valley, paradiseranch.net.
Whether you’re looking for treats for training your canine or simply want to buy her a custom cake, The Dog Bakery provides some of the best all-natural, handmade treats in L.A. From jerky and biscuits to a Mutter Butter Bar or a Barkin Brownie, goodies here will keep tails wagging all day. (If you’re a cat person, there are treats for felines too.) Find them in four locations—Belmont Shore, Venice, Pasadena, and at the Original Farmers Market. thedogbakery.com.
Wags & Walks
2236 Federal Ave., Sawtelle, wagsandwalks.org
“I adopted my dogs Charlie and Bowie from Wags & Walks, a great nonprofit here in L.A. It’s mostly puppies and moms. And I love Stand Up for Pits Foundation. The staff have dedicated their lives to rescuing and adopting out pit bulls, spreading awareness of how kind and gentle they truly are.”
—CHRISTINA MOSES, ANIMAL ADVOCATE AND ACTRESS ON A MILLION LITTLE THINGS
Best of L.A.: REPAIRS AND SERVICES
Ask costume designers, actors, sports stars, or Hollywood stylists—just about anybody who needs to look good for a living—and they’ll tell you that there are three things that determine if an outfit is flattering or not: fit, fit, and, of course, fit. That’s why so many of them turn to Shirley Lipscomb, a 30-year vet of tailoring clothing for both celebrities and civilians. Lipscomb has hemmed and sewn for the likes of Elon Musk, Liam Neeson, and Ryan Gosling, among other luminaries, making garments hang gorgeously on every sort of body type. She also designs and sews her own dresses and suits.
By appointment, 323-646-3529, [email protected]
Anybody who’s ever owned—and dropped—a high-end camera can tell you that repairs aren’t just costly; they also can take forever. That’s because most camera stores simply ship your equipment out to factory service centers, and the turnaround times can be generously described as glacial. But not Walter’s camera and Digital repairs. Since 1952, this tiny shop has been doing all its repairs in-house, offering the quickest service in town at sometimes half the cost of the bigger chains. Plus it has a Kodak-moment history: When its original owner, Sam Walters, retired, he passed the store down to his No. 1 technician, who, years later, gave it to his best worker. “Yes, we pretty much pass the shop from master to apprentice,” its current owner, Rodolfo Woessner, says. “Someday, I will pass it to whoever is best.”
811 W. Cesar E. Chavez Ave., Chinatown, 213-620-1550.
“We replace stones, we solder chains, do prong retipping, restringing, clasp repairs, and polish and refinish jewelry,” says Daniel Weiss, owner, with his wife, Sara, of Weiss jewelry. They also design and sell their own pieces. The business, which was started by Weiss’s parents, has been at the Original Farmers Market for 25 years, and takes every job personally. “I’m repairing pieces with a lot of meaning,” he says. “I try to understand the personalities of the owners, so we can actually maximize that.”
6333 W. 3rd St., Ste. 738, Fairfax District, weissjewelry-la.com.
Since 1991, Joe Levi at Stone Electronics has been L.A.’s most trusted repair person for vintage contraptions. He’ll fix just about anything—record players, radios, laser disc players, antiquated amplifiers, VCRs, and high-end receivers—but he’s particularly intrigued by pre-1960s electronics. The oldest item he’s ever restored was a 1931 tube radio, he says, but he’s always up for a challenge. Levi believes he’s outlasted his peers, who have all closed shop due to rising rents and cheaper new electronics, because of hard work and a personal touch. “People bring things with sentimental value. I appreciate that.”
7928 Beverly Blvd., Beverly Grove, stoneelectronics.com.
Shoes and Bags
His customer list reads like pages from the Hollywood trades: in June alone, clients included Doja Cat, Lizzo, Rihanna, Khloé Kardashian, and Avril Lavigne. For more than 60 years, Pasquale Fabrizio, owner of Pasquale shoe repair, has been keeping L.A.’s well-heeled residents, well, well-heeled, even in their oldest shoes. “Without passion, dedication, hard work, and commitment to quality, I can’t function,” he says of his cobbler creed. Pasquale and his staff dye, clean, and refurbish shoes, sneakers, boots, and bags.
5616 San Vicente Blvd., Mid- Wilshire. pasqualeshoerepair.com.
9527 Brighton Way, Beverly Hills, 424-204-1169
“It’s the most incredible craftsmanship, fabrics, and precise tailoring I have ever experienced.”—JEFF KLEIN, PROPRIETOR OF SUNSET TOWER AND SAN VICENTE BUNGALOWS
Contributors: Laurenz Busch, Susan Campos, Lenora Claire, Heidi Siegmund Cuda, A. J. Daulerio, Sean Fitz-Gerald, Sarah Fones, Star Foreman, Merle Ginsberg, Sandi Hemmerlein, Josh Lurie, Eric Mercado, Julius Miller, Chris Nichols, Jordan Riefe, Michael Slenske, Jeptha Storm, Benjamin Svetkey.
This story is featured in the August 2022 issue of Los Angeles
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