My LA to Z: John Swihart

Known for his work on the soundtracks for “Napoleon Dynamite,” “Youth in Revolt” and “Employee of the Month,” the composer of CBS’ “How I Met Your Mother” tells us where to find great lobster, a perfect surfing spot, and a theatre that serves beer with its popcorn

Dan Tana’s

This may be the only place that has a red sauce that reminds me of Boston’s North End. The Lobster Tail Fra Diavalo is amazing, and this is one of the few places I can get it. Even the Caesar salad is different from any other. If you order spaghetti and meatballs you’ll be amazed, which is kind of the test of any good Italian restaurant in my opinion.

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Sundance Cinemas

I love the ArcLight, but this place has reserved seating and they sell beer at the same counter where they sell snacks. I can literally have a Guinness with my popcorn. This makes me very happy, and it’s also very unique to L.A.

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This may sound geeky, but for a guy who does what I do, this is an exceptional establishment that would not survive in a city with any less entertainment content. They have every connector or cable to handle any analog or digital need you may have. Before moving to L.A. I’d have to go to Radio Shack or try to order something online—needless to say, I’d be lost without them.

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Westlake Recording Studios, Studio D

This room was designed by Quincy Jones. The place makes magic every time—they just updated the board in there and added a lot of new retro hardware. It’s an amazing place to work; everything sounds better at Westlake Studio D.

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Lake Hollywood Reservoir Loop

We live in the Hills, so to teach my kids to ride a bike, we have to get in the car and drive to a good spot. This park is amazing: it has a huge loop for riding and just the right amount of sun and shade. It’s beautiful there, and we’ve been making some great memories.

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Bergamot Station

My wife Susan is a photographer. She introduced me to this place and I can’t get enough of it. There are so many great museums in this town, but at Bergamot you can get exposed to the art of up and coming artists as well as the established. We are so lucky to have access to places like this.

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Leo Carrillo State Park

This is a great longboarding spot and probably one of the prettiest places to surf in Malibu. I love the way the beach and the rocks meet. I’ve always had a good day when I surf at Leo Carillo.

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Mount Wilson Observatory

My dad is a physicist, so I got my share of science education growing up. I love this place because it has amazing views, and the exhibits are small enough that you don’t need all day to see everything. There’s a great tower camera that updates every five minutes, and sometimes I just check it during the day when I’m waiting for something to open on my computer. I’ve made a great screen saver out of a whole day of updates. It’s a magical sunset and sunrise.

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All photographs courtesy