Eeeeeekkkk!!!!!! LA. LA LA LAND. CITY OF ANGELS. OF LIGHTS. OF STARS. LOS ANGELES! Mamma, we made it! Not in like a J.Law, Julia Roberts type of way, just a my-car-took-us-from-point-a-to-point-b type, of course. But I am SO excited! This city was the at the top of my list, so of course she had to have a whole week to herself.
I wanted to stay until they closed, but the boys were ready to roll out after a few hours (psh, men, am I right?!). But we had to go see if Electric Pussycat was groovy baby yeahhh! This Austin Powers themed nightclub around the corner caught my attention. I’ll be the first to admit I love any good kitschy themed bar and have dragged Max to an ungodly number of tiki bars over the years. This one wins on decorating and especially the drinks (Mrs. Kensington, The Cyrogenic Freezer, and Man of Mystery) but was a bit more nightclub-y than anyone was feeling at that moment. The DJ booth is part of a car protruding over the first floor with a purple-lit dance floor behind it. I was able to get a few dances in and we swung around their large bubble chairs taking pictures for ages before peacing out.
We made two trips to the Griffith Observatory, which should be the absolute minimum. I think this might be the most peaceful place in LA. We went one night after dinner on a whim to see what all the fuss was about. It’s no Badlands starry night sky, but there’s something about being up there alone watching all the city lights twinkle that’s just as centering.
Another day I wanted to do some short hikes so we went early to check it out. We walked around the terrace and took in the city view. What I had read online was true, charter buses showed up like clockwork at 10 to let out a sea of interested tourists to take 37,591 photos of the Hollywood sign way off in the distance. We took that as our cue to leave and hiked back around to our car. If I ever get back I’d love to devote a day to hiking out to the Hollywood sign!
We didn’t spend too much time in the heart of downtown, but Grand Central Market is a necessity. Here you can find 35+ food stands, spice stands, a cheese stand and a candy stand. As far as you can see there are the little neon signs flanking the walls calling out to you, pick me! pick me! We went specifically for cheese (what’s new) and I found the best berry smoothie at Press Brothers to fuel our downtown crawl.
I also got to see my all my stationary dreams come to life at Poketo, a couple blocks away. I may have gone around the entire store twice, touching everything, smelling all the candles, and writing with all the pens. Maybe the girl at the counter thought that was weird or maybe there are geeks like me in there everyday. Serious restraint was needed but I did snag the best planner. Okay, you caught me, and cute gold geometric paper clips! But now I’m using them religiously to plan fabulous posts like this that you love, so I guess it’s really a win win, right?
LA’s place as the premier city on our agenda can largely be credited to French Chef Ludo Lefebvre. We’re obsessed with Mind of a Chef on Netflix and the episodes he is featured in are our favorites! Trois Familia is his French-Mexican disco creation from heaven. The required order is the potato taco. It’s loaded with cheese, creme fraiche, shredded carrots and is always on the menu. It was so good we ordered one, and then another one. Everything else we got were part of the daily specials, but we finished with their classic churro french toast.
I am also a huge fan of Lee From America’s blog and devoured her LA guide before visiting. One of her food recommendations that stood out to us was Botanica. I couldn’t find one thing I’d change about this restaurant; it just checks all the boxes! The decor and atmosphere could not have been more perfect. They’ve cultivated a casual and peaceful mood here offering a little market up front and a coffee bar for those on the go. I love that we were able to sit outside on their patio to enjoy the sunny day (do you think people here ever get tired of those??). The ghee toast topped with their maple-orange tahini spread and cinnamon, pecans, and local fruit won our hearts forever.
Silverlake was probably my favorite area to spend the day just wandering around. There’s a vintage shop every other door, cheese markets, and if you’re feeling real hip, all the matcha bars you could ever want.
We stayed at an airbnb a couple blocks off Melrose, which made it easy to walk to so many places. On college football Saturday we were just a few blocks away from the local Bama bar. They were serving up Yellowhammers everywhere and were even stocked with Dreamland BBQ sauce. Like so many other games we’ve watched in random bars around the country this season we met some kind folks from the same area as me! Of course, the Tide crushed this game, so we all had a wonderful night.
I actually planned that we had to be in town on a Sunday so that we could visit the Melrose Trading Post. I’ve wanted to peruse this weekly market for years. In this maze of vendors you can find just about anything – custom clothing, art pieces, handmade jewelry, vintage cameras, and local candles (Lit Candle Supply is so fun). So that you can stay all day, there’s also an area with food stands where you can relax on the lawn and enjoy live music.
Now, back to the good stuff – food! Petit Trois is the second and final gem from Ludo we got to try. Why can’t we eat everything?! Next time, LudoBird. We walked to this French bistro at the back of a tiny strip center. To say it’s cozy inside is the understatement of the year. There are two skinny bars back to back, one facing the kitchen and one facing a mirrored wall. A review I read of the place beforehand just started with “But that food, though.” And truly that is what keeps people coming back to sweat with their neighbors again and again.
From the impeccable service, to the wine and cocktails, to the bread and BUTTER, we’d already had a top-notch experience before the first entree came out. I want to take a moment to acknowledge the butter again (we’re now addicted). I didn’t really know butter this nice existed before the first bite of this salty-nutty-goodness. It’s pricey, but if you can find Beurre de Baratte, it’s worth the splurge. We shared their nightly special, the potato soup, which wraps you in comfort and warmth. Max got the trout almondine, but I got the infamous Big Mec. Easily the most decadent burger I’ve ever enjoyed, this meaty, cheesy experience in a brioche bun gets its’ fame from the sauce – foie gras-infused red wine bordelaise. It will be everywhere and quite messy by the time you’re done, but you best sop up every bit because it’ll haunt your dreams for awhile.
Petit Trois is in line for our favorite restaurant of the trip, but far and away wins the best burger (sorry Mark’s). What I appreciate most about this restaurant is the exceptional level of service. You must order everything at once. You can’t order your appetizers and then later order dinner, which I actually love. This makes me a little nervous sometimes, because I get afraid it will all come at once, but these are professionals. When executed perfectly this system takes some pressure off the customer, and their timing was nothing short of impeccable. It’s this largely underutilized and certainly underappreciated skill that brings their French-bistro flair to life.
Another unique spot, Badmaash, we had to visit twice to try everything we wanted. I’ll tell you the three magic words that drew us in – Chicken. Tikka. Poutine. YEAH. This creative Indian spot from two brothers and their Dad is breaking all the rules. This isn’t your traditional low-key Indian spot with a buffet and basic dishes. Instead you’ll find a bright hip modern space that brings the crowd. Don’t be fooled by the loud rap music and dim lights, they don’t sacrifice any flavor to be cool. We also tried their butter chicken samosas, chili cheese naan, bad ass chicken tikka, and their popular (off-menu) fried butter chicken sandwich.
Crazy Story Time
Alright, possibly the weirdest night and best story of the entire trip went down at the Melrose Rooftop Theater. One thing I’ve really missed about our roadtrip lifestyle is being festive. Watching everyone decorate for the holidays and coming up with costumes has bummed me out a little. I found this theater doing a spooky movie series leading up to Halloween and immediately snagged tickets. I picked out Interview with a Vampire (one of my faves!) since Max has somehow escaped seeing it. For our last night in LA we headed down the street to see the movie – or so we thought.
When we arrived they had a list, so I gave the girl my full name. After looking over the list, she asked for my first name again. I said oh! I must’ve put it under Moe, and she instantly found us. We were off with our wristbands! The rooftop is half a theater and half a bar/restaurant. It was so crowded so we hurried in to get our headphones and stop by the bar. Immediately, it felt a little off. Literally all the men were wearing suits and the women were pretty dressed up. We just thought oh, maybe it’s an LA thing. People really do seem to dress like they’re going to the most important event of their life on the daily here. There was also a YouTube photo back drop off to the side with several lights and photographers snapping away. I thought, maybe they’re sponsoring this event!
The real giveaway should have been that when we got up to the bar to get our drinks, they were free. FREE. In my defense, they do have a sponsorship with Grey Goose and the tickets are not cheap. So when the bartender told me drinks were included with the event I still thought it could be believable. We went and took our bean bag chairs, noticing Logan Paul and the dad from Even Stevens along the way. We are feeling really out of place at this point, especially after the guy in front of us performed a bizarre monologue for his friends.
After a short speech from a director I’d never heard of and about 15 minutes into the YouTube original, The Thinning, I decided to go ask the popcorn guy if the Halloween movie happened to be coming up next. Confused, he grabbed a manager who apologized profusely. Apparently, they tried to contact everyone and I must’ve fallen through the cracks. He kindly got us a table in the bar and a few more drinks where we laughed about how weird this whole night had been. And that’s how we crashed a movie premier, got a few free drinks, and Max once again got to escape seeing a vampire movie!
Los Angeles, thanks for not letting down my ridiculous expectations. I’m pretty sure living in LA would make me fat and miserable from all.the.traffic, but ohmygoodness it was such a fun week! I can’t wait to vacation here one day and soak up the sun again!
Next Up: Joshua Tree & Salvation Mountain