No wonder people don't like L.A. For a start, it’s massive. To the point of being impossible to comprehend. It sprawls to the north, south and east, forming a vast network of neighborhoods, suburbs and even counties in it’s inexorable wake, each connected by a confusing web of roads and freeways. It goes for 469 square miles. And that’s another thing...miles, for goodness sake. There’s no metric system here so knowing how far, how hot , how fast or how heavy anything is requires fluency in a completely archaic measuring system. Plus it can be difficult to orientate yourself- this is a fairly low-rise place, with few handy landmarks against which to gauge bearings. It can be a challenging metropolis to get around; in this city, the automobile is king and you can more or less forget walking (public transport is pretty rudimentary). If you think you don't like L.A., you’re in great company; even John Lennon proclaimed it “just a big parking lot where you buy a hamburger for the trip to San Francisco.” Hmmm. Harsh.
We were in Tinsel Town recently and, against all odds, we utterly adored the place. We fell for its charms for all kinds of reasons, many of them totally unexpected. And some, completely fatuous! Now we can’t wait to go back. Here are 18 reasons we love Los Angeles; there are plenty more where these came from, but these will do for a start. This place isn’t a stop-over, folks, it’s a destination.
HOLLYWOOD...with its edgy, grungy, youthful street vibe, fantastic architecture, star-spangled sidewalks and great dining options, there’s plenty to love here. Check out the famous Amoeba Records Store building near Sunset and Vine.
Amoeba Records, 6400 Sunset Blvd 90028 www.amoeba.com
THE PEOPLE..maybe they all just want a big, fat tip. Maybe they’re afraid of being sued. Perhaps they only like us for our accents. Whatever. Angelenos, and Americans generally, are terribly polite and friendly. We could all learn a thing or two.
DITA...a luxe, wanna-have L.A. brand of eyewear that’s wrapped around the most discerning of local heads. See Brady at their Melrose Ave store to get sorted, optically speaking.
Dita Legends, 7625 Melrose Ave 90041 www.ditalegends.com
MELROSE TRADING POST...a weekly flea market of epic proportions, crammed with vintage clothing, hand-screened tees, collectable posters, bric- a-brac and bits of old Americana.
Melrose Trading Post, Fairfax High School, 7850 Melrose Ave, www.melrosetradingpost.org
TRADER VICS...nothing quite says California dreamin’ like sitting in this iconic bar, sipping their famed Mai Tai and watching beautiful people frolic (and sugar daddies misbehave) around the Beverly Hilton swimming pool.
Beverly Hilton, 9876 Wilshire Blvd 90210 www.tradervics.com
ASTOUNDINGLY GOOD MEXICAN FOOD...Tacos! Everywhere there are wonderful tacos....we adored the fish ones at The Best Fish Tacos in Ensenada, Silver Lake. Guelaguetza’s authentic, take-no-prisoners Oaxacan fare like, totally blew our minds. Totally. And the warm service and incredible toppings at the legendary Guisados bought us to our taco-scoffing knees.
The Best Fish Tacos in Ensenada, 1650 N Hillhurst Ave, Silver Lake www.bestfishtacoinensenada.com
Guelaguetza, 3014 W Olympic Blvd 90006 www.ilovemole.com
Guisados, 2100 E Cesar Chavez Ave, Boyle Heights 90033 www.guisados.co
INCREDIBLE ARCHITECTURE...L.A. is a veritable trove of modernist, post modernist, art deco, pueblo, googie, deconstructivist, Spanish mission, colonial revival, Hollywood regency,... and way more besides. It surely has one of the best architectural profiles of any city on earth so design geeks, just get there.
UBER X CARS...forget taxis. Uber (you download their app and summon one via wifi or broadband) is way cheaper. They have better cars, much nicer drivers and they take you door to door.
INSANELY GOOD WEATHER...329 days of sunshine EVERY YEAR. Enough said.
SANTA MONICA FARMERS MARKETS... the mother of all farmers markets, where even chefs buy their produce. Everything is grown on farms near L.A. Visit on Wednesday for the biggest display, otherwise it’s held on Saturday as well.
Santa Monica Farmers Market, Arizona Ave @ 2nd Street, Santa Monica 90401 www.smgov.net
MAPLE-GLAZED BACON DOUGHNUTS...most likely a heart attack waiting to happen, these gobs of ring-shaped, fried deliciousness are plastered in maple-flavoured icing then thickly encrusted with gorgeously crisp and fatty chips of bacon. Try one at the wonderfully quirky Nickel Diner in Downtown L.A..
Nickel Diner, 524 S. Main St 90013 www.nickeldiner.com
ROY CHOI...we were besotted even before dining at Chois’ newish place POT, in the groovy Line Hotel. Anyone who can fashion tofu, spam, canned corned beef hash, Korean rice cakes, chilli paste, fish cakes and seafood-beef broth into a sensational dish called Boot Knocker, is quite simply our kinda guy.
POT, Line Hotel, 3515 Wilshire Blvd 90010 www.eatatpot.com
CALIFORNIAN CRAFT BEER...California produces more craft (a.k.a boutique) beer than any other American state. We’re talking powerful, flavoursome, hoppy concoctions and there's no where better to imbibe than Mohawk Bend in Echo Park, housed in an old Vaudeville theatre. This beloved local has 72 Californian craft beers on tap. Yes, that’s seventy two....
Mohawk Bend, 2141 Sunset Blvd, Echo Park 90026 www.mohawk.la
PALM TREES...look up and you’ll see a sky punctuated with row after row of L.A’s iconic foliage. It’s not just in the movies.
TEHRANGELES...L.A. has the worlds’ largest ex-pat population of Persians...who knew? So that means edible exotica like polo, kuku, ash, smoked-infused kebabs and saffron-infused ice cream. And, if you dare, Iranian night clubs. Find all this warm, Farsi-speaking hospitality in Westwood. Do try Attari Sandwich Shops’ tongue sandwich!
Attari Sandwich Shop, 1388 Westwood Blvd, Westwood 90024 www.atarisandwiches.info
STREET ART...for some of the most stupendous examples head to the burgeoning Arts District, in the fast-revitalizing Downtown area. While there grab a hotdog and beer at groovy hipster hangout, Wurstkuche.
Wurstkuche, 800 E 3rd St, Downtown LA 90013 www.wurstkuche.com
DOGS IN SHOPS... Alsatians in bookshops, pugs in shave shops, Dalmatians at the scent stand and terriers on knees in restaurants...we saw it all. Angelenos love their pooches and, apparently, their laws do too.
VENICE BEACH...with its charming residential streets and historic canal area, fabulous boardwalk crawling with characters, souvenir sellers, body builders and beauteous types plus the mega-street that is Abbott Kinney (where incredible retail and restaurants are crammed along one long, walkable, strip), there’s much to love about Venice.