I love the Grand Central Market and everything that it’s becoming right now. It’s open air, and being able to walk around and see all of the different spots is really fun. They’ve got this Thai place called Sticky Rice that is authentic and really delicious. I love some good spicy food! And the bakeries there are great. My girlfriend lives right near there, and if we throw dinner parties when I stay with her we pick up fun desserts and tiramisu from the little Italian spots.
Obviously the art is beautiful, but there’s this awesome grassy hillside right above the main waterfall area that has beautiful views of L.A. Sometimes I don’t even go see the art; I’ll just sit outside, get a snack, and read a book or people watch. It’s a nice way to clear your head a bit.
I love Zinque for wine and small plates. They also have these great non-traditional American breakfast dishes if you go in the morning. One of my girlfriends lives off of Abbot Kinney, so whenever I stay with her we’ll walk there and have a few glasses of vino. She has a sweet setup.
Bar 107 is where I go if I haven’t been to L.A. in a while and need a night out with the girls. It’s kind of a hole-in-the-wall with wacky art—there’s a weird dinosaur figurine and kitschy stuff everywhere, but it’s amazing for dancing and cheap beer. I mean, it’s a bar. In the backroom, they have awesome dance music on Saturday nights. It’s not techno headache music. And they have an actual film photobooth. It’s a really fun late-night spot if you have dinner downtown.
Every second Thursday of every month, different streets downtown shut down and galleries open up. My fiancé (The Fray’s Joe King) and his daughter and I went last time we were all in L.A. It’s fun for adults—you can drink cocktails, walk the streets, and listen to music—but they even open it up for the kids. There are free art stations, and [Joe’s kids] bought their first pieces of art there. It’s a really great thing to do in a part of the city that has been blossoming lately.
I was finally able to go and it’s so fun! There are kids running around, everyone’s picnicking—living in Atlanta has made me so appreciative of community. Any sense of community, really. When I was living in L.A. I was younger, and more of my community-based outings were about nightlife, so my day-time community event appreciation has just skyrocketed. Things like LACMA’s Jazz Night take away from the city’s industry vibe.
I was a fan of [Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo] when they opened Animal. I have their cookbook, and I love Son of a Gun. We end up going every time we’re in town. It’s comfy and nice, and you can go early. We went there feeling like we had to order at least one vegetable dish because we’re very heavy eaters. They had this amazing seasonal salad, and we literally went back a couple times on one trip just for that. I like that they keep the aesthetic really simple and beautiful, and I love the community table.
I am a professional couch crasher. My friend lives around the corner from the French Market, and it has become a tradition for us to go if I stay at her place. They have a beautiful selection of things like rosé, prosciutto, goat cheese, and truffle honey, and whoever is behind the meat and cheese section is really helpful with exploring new tastes and products. It’s my favorite place to build a picnic basket.
Photographs courtesy: (1) flickr.com/ Ed Bierman, (2) lezinque.com, (6) flickr.com/ Parker Knight, (7) instagram.com/jonandvinnydelivery. All other photographs courtesy courtesy facebook.com