I grew up in Berlin where we experienced the environment by walking, and the Fairfax Farmers Market provides that. Monsieur Marcel is a restaurant connected to a deli store, and it’s my favorite hangout at the Farmers Market because of its cheese and wine selection. They have one cheese called Barely Buzzed that’s made with coffee. The restaurant itself has an L-shaped open bar where you can have a meal and take in the surroundings. It’s a great way to meet friends.
Norton Simon Museum
This is where I go to recharge my creative batteries and where I always take friends from out of town who perceive L.A. to be cultureless. They have the best collection of 20th century art. My dad would take me to see modern art in Berlin, so this is me reliving that experience here.
The Red Lion Tavern
This place is more German than Germany! Every time I feel homesick I go there. It’s got lots of nooks and crannies, and sitting on the patio feels like you are enjoying a drink during summertime in Berlin. The waitresses wear dirndl outfits, and there’s an accordion player most nights. You can try a German drinking game where everyone drinks from same giant boot-shaped glass: whoever is drinking when the beer bubbles into the toe has to buy the next round.
Meltdown Comics and Collectibles
I used to draw as a kid, which evolved into being a comic book artist in high school. I can’t drive by Meltdown without getting new reading material. The staff is very knowledgeable about the most obscure publications. I recently bought Craig Thompson’s Blankets. It’s a coming-of-age story dealing with religion, first love, and the trials and tribulations of puberty. There’s also a noir series called Criminal by Ed Brubaker with art by Sean Phillips. Those are my latest discoveries.
Hotel Café is an intimate venue to discover new musical talent. They have consistently great taste in music—my fiancée Tiff Randol performs there regularly. The great thing is that they take their strongest artists and send them on tour; there’s a combination of them, almost like a bunch of great friends making music on a big stages.
Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook
My first job in the movie industry was working as an artist on Stuart Little 2. One of the characters was a falcon, and I had to do research to be able to draw it properly. I drove from Sony Studios to Baldwin Overlook to meet a falcon handler—imagine holding a falcon on top of a giant hill overlooking all of L.A. There are these steps to get up that giant hill that my friends and I call “Gladiator Steps.” It’s unexpected exercise—you’ll be completely winded at the top, but your reward is a stunning view. You can see everything, from Santa Monica to downtown.
The Huntington Library Botanical Gardens
A train magnate built this place in the 1800s, and at some point it was made public. There are gardens of all different kinds that are so tranquil and beautiful: a Zen garden, a collection of cacti, huge, rolling meadows, a pond with turtles. To top it off, they have a little art gallery in Huntington Library, in a Greek-inspired building housing the art of one of favorite artists, John Singer Sargent. There’s one piece, a portrait of Pauline Astor, that makes you forget you’re in a big city.
Beverly Hills Brownie Co
A friend brought a box of these brownies to a party of mine, and they were literally gone in 60 seconds. They are the most delicious brownies I’ve ever had. The texture is soft and airy as well as creamy. It’s almost like three different textures combined. And when you open the box, it looks like a palette of watercolors. They come in cloverleaf shapes that are very artfully done. The red velvet ones are probably my favorite—since my first taste, I’ve followed my friend’s example and brought them everywhere.
HD Buttercup Furniture
It’s basically a warehouse of assorted and arranged furniture from different designers embedded in the Helms Bakery building. I happen to love mid-century furniture—I got a console and set of shelves there that were evocative of mid-century antiques. Designers and suppliers have their own areas that you can go into and discover, but the amazing thing is, everything is beautiful and exquisite.
When I started dating my fiancée, I was looking for cool places that would win her over, which is how I happened upon Perch. It’s a French-inspired rooftop bistro with incredible views of the city. The feel is very Bohemian, lots of beautiful tile work and antique furniture. They also have outdoor fireplaces and live music. It’s definitely about the ambiance. It’s like you’re sitting on top of downtown L.A.
All photographs courtesy facebook.com