It’s the Eastside version of the Bay City Deli in Santa Monica. It’s more of a mom and pop operation that’s a little more laid back, but its sandwiches go toe to toe with its Westside counterpart. I recommend the Spicy Combo Sub. The place feels a little more old-school and New York-y even though it’s in a totally suburban area. It’s no nonsense, just great sandwiches.
I started visiting this bookshop when it was still on Main Street. It’s been great to watch it grow into the literary and arts wonderland it has become over the past couple of years. It has old and rare books and an arts and crafts store upstairs. It even has small art galleries. The installations and decorations that adorn the hallways and browsing sections are amazing. It’s just a really cool bookstore and my favorite in the city. I also want to give a shout out to Alias Books in Atwater Village. It’s totally different than The Last Bookstore. Alias is a much smaller, hole-in-the wall spot. Those are my two favorites.
Nick’s Coffee Shop and Deli
L.A. has no shortage of diners, but this one has always stood out to me. The food is really good and has traditional bar seating and booths with celebrity photos hanging on the wall. A lot of this place’s charm comes from its location on Pico Boulevard. When I first moved to L.A., I lived on Pico and Crenshaw. I love the stretch where Nick’s is. It’s got this funky, older vibe to it. Sometimes when I am driving home from the Westside, I’ll take a detour down that part of the boulevard.
You enter through what is basically a garage door in this small warehouse space off San Fernando Road. The spirits selection is well-curated and expansive. This is the place to go if you are looking for a gift or something to add to your collection. I like to get a good bottle of scotch or whisky.
When I walk my dog through the neighborhood often times I stop here. They have books, toys, cards and all sorts of oddities and curiosities. The gallery, which is La Luz de Jesus, always has some great art exhibition going. I bought a John Puglisi painting from the gallery a few years ago. They also have treats for my dog which is really nice. That’s one of my favorite neighborhood spots.
There’s a company called Cinespia that does movie screenings at the cemetery. In the graveyard, essentially. The best time to go is in October when there’s a slight nip in the air and they are playing something little bit scary.
I love Mexican and Salvadorian food. The food at Gloria’s Cafe is prepared with an enormous amount of love and skill. When I’m on the Westside during lunch I make it a point to stop here. Carne adobada is what I usually get. It’s a pork dish. Gloria’s is a small place, but it’s becoming more well known because it has been around for so many years. It’s a pretty good find.
I love visiting this historic stadium. L.A. gets a bad rap as a sports city, but we love our baseball and we, as Dodgers fans, love this city. Vin Scully has been calling games for longer than the team has been in L.A. The view of the mountains under Vin Scully’s cotton candy sky, as he describes it when the sun sets, is breathtaking.
I’m not much of a chef, but I know my way around the grill. This is where I go for my meats. It’s super fresh with excellent quality. My most recent purchase was a dozen scallops. It’s a great spot to go get that kind of stuff.
A close friend of my mine from Italy introduced me to this place because he said it was the “real thing.” Their pizzas are really good with a lot of interesting options. You can grab it to-go or relax in the spacious dining area. I get the Capricciosa, which has prosciutto, mushrooms and artichokes.
It’s a Japanese-inspired whisky bar for the true connoisseur tucked away in the back of Seven Grand. The owners have collected the best whisky you will ever find and have created a cozy place where you can indulge. You have to be a bottle holder to get a table, but it’s a good place to get a whisky on a week night.
It’s a wonderful spot to find special additions for your home. It has interesting, handcrafted pieces of furniture you won’t find anywhere else. We purchased this beautiful wood dining table with brass legs and a tiny end table carved out from a stump of wood that I absolutely love. The things we’ve gotten from Lawson-Fenning are some of my favorites at our house.
L.A. is not known for its BBQ, but we have some accomplished reps, and Porky’s is the best. The brisket and ribs are so good. Like Alias books, I also want to give a shout-out to Horse Thief BBQ at the Grand Central Market. Such awesome BBQ. Those two were always the standouts for me.
Photograph courtesy: (1) Mario’s Deli and Market; (4) toplinewine.com; (5) Wacko; (6) wikipedia.org; (7) Gloria’s Cafe; (8) wikipedia.org; (11) Seven Grand Bars; (12) instagram/lawsonfenning; (13) Porky’s. All other photography courtesy facebook.com.