Welcome to my huge Guide to Los Angeles! This guide will be ever-growing, so be sure to check back to see if anything new has been added! If you have something that you think should be on this guide, please feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or comment below! Enjoy!
♥ Mercado Multiple Locations ( Santa Monica, Weho, & Hollywood )
Highlights: THIS IS ONE OF MY FAVORITES. I lived right by the Weho location, and I enjoyed many a dinner, brunch, and cocktail hour here! Not only is the decor cool as shit, but the vibes are relaxed & the food is perfect. Happy Hour is a great budget-friendly option with lots of food/drink options.
Brunch Favorites: The Guayaba Mimosa, the Chips & Guac and Choriqueso and the Huevos Rancheros are freakin’ great.
Cocktail Favorites: FAVORITE Spicy Cucumber Margs EVER!
Dinner Picks: Mercado has the best Fish Tacos in Los Angeles… to me at least ( & my picky as hell Mother agrees! ). Start with Chips & Guac and some Choriqueso and snag one of those amazing Spicy Margs.
The Churchill 8384 West 3rd Street
Highlights: Brunch & Saturday Nightlife. On Wine Tuesdays, you get half off bottles of wine, and they have a daily Happy Hour from 3-7pm! Overall, they have really good prices!
Brunch Favorites: If you’re feeling healthy, get the Acai & Granola and one of their Clover juices. If you’re going all-out, get the Southern Fried Chicken N’ Bacon Studded Waffle (with lemon & herbs and HOT SAUCE butter) or the Breakfast Sandwich (the Tomato Jam is DIE).
Dinner Favorite: The Spaghetti & Meatballs!
Joan’s On Third 8350 West 3rd Street
Highlights: OMG, Joan’s is SUCH a staple (for me, anyways). This is the perfect little lunch spot, as it has something for everyone and never disappoints. Grab something to-go from the marketplace or enjoy your meal outside (because CA weather + Joan’s can’t be beat), and end your JOT experience with a latte & something sweet from the bakery!
Lunch Favorites: Oven Roasted Turkey Breast Sandwich (on wheat… for health(ier) peeps) or the Short Rib Sandwich (the best). PS: sandwiches come with their Signature sweet & crunchy pickles that are un.real.
Bakery/Cafe Favorites: Almond Latte & Mini Lemon Bundt Cake.
Toast Bakery Cafe 8221 West 3rd Street
Highlights: The menu at Toast is big, they have something for everyone, & the service is absolutely amazing! The food is classic & consistently good. People tell me its a celebrity-fav (my little brother wants to eat every meal here when my family is in town because he says its Ariana Grande’s fav… and he loves her), but I have yet to spot anyone notable… maybe one day!
Favorites: I always order the Breakfast Combo with Scrambled Eggs, Fruit, Turkey Sausage & Multi-Grain Pancakes (really.. always).
♥ Toca Madera 8450 W 3rd Street
Highlights: The decor in this restaurant are actually jaw-dropping. It’s one of the most popular & trendy spots in West Hollywood at the moment, and IT SHOULD BE. The food, the drinks, the vibes. A-freakin’-PLUS. There are also vegan options here for all you vegan peeps! Make a reservation if it’s a weekend ( & be sure to check it out for Brunch )!
Dinner Favorites: To start, the Guac is made table side, so yes plz. For drank, La Guapa or the Toca Margarita. For the main event, I like the Cilantro Grilled Chicken Tacos. For dessert, the Churro Iced Cream Sandwich or the Dulce De Leche Fondue are both absolutely incredible.
The Farmer’s Market 6333 W 3rd Street
Highlights: The Farmer’s Market is a mecca of restaurants, shops, & of course, fresh produce. I lived right across the street from this Farmer’s Market for a bit, and I walked over daily to indulge in food, drank & good vibes. There are SO many different types of cuisine in one spot, so everyone can get something that they want. Also, it’s attached to The Grove, a great place to see/shop in.
Favorites: Almond Lattes from Shortcake, Herbal Lemonade from The Coffee Corner, Pancakes from Dupar’s (the world’s BEST pancakes… MUST be eaten with the melted butter), fondue & wine from Mr. Marcel’s, a Savory Crepe from The French Crepe Company, and the Agua Frescas & Shrimp Salad from ¡Loteria! Grill.
♥ The Ivy Locations on Robertson & in Santa Monica
Highlights: OMG, The Ivy is SUCH a CLASSIC. It just screams Los Angeles to me, and you have to make a stop for lunch while you’re in town ( I did a full post on this restaurant about a year ago here ). I’m partial to the location on Robertson, but I’m not opposed to the Santa Monica location if need be ( especially for Brunch before heading down to the Bungalow ). It’s a nice place to sit & people watch ( and maybe spot a few celebs too ) and sip a stellar cocktail amongst the perfect decor. My vote: opt for an outdoor table at the Robertson location.
Brunch/Lunch Faves: Get the Chips & Guac to start, the Ivy Gimlet, a Bellini, or their crazy Bloody Mary to sip, and snag something off of their specials menu for you meal…. it’s always loaded with fresh stuff ( I really like the Sea Bass w/ Butter, Lemon & Garlic woah ). For Dessert, the RED VELVET CAKE is to-die-for, and they give you a little box of the best cookies ever to go. If you’re a seasoned dessert pro, opt for the dessert sampler plate… it’s heaven.
Urth Caffe Multiple Locations
Highlights: Urth is a quick-y little lunch spot with locations on Melrose and in Santa Monica. It’s simple & healthy and it’s such a cute place to meet for coffee or a casual lunch. Grab a table outside & kick back.
Breakfast/Lunch Favorites: For breakfast/brunch, I like the Egg Sandwich and the fruit plate ( it’s a MONSTER fruit plate.. my fav! ). For lunch, the Oven Roasted Turkey Breast Sammie is delish. Their iced coffee is yum & their tea selection is extensive.
Bakery: The Flourless Chocolate Cake is LIFE. Also, Urth has a large selection of Vegan desserts, if that’s your thing.
Cecconis 8764 Melrose Avenue
Highlights: Cecconis NEVER dissapoints. Ever. It’s a swanky little West Hollywood dinner spot, and the bar is a nice place to hang on a Friday or Saturday night. They have a special 4-7pm happy hour menu that comes with good drinks & gourmet bites from $4-$7… I mean…. & there’s free valet during the day!
Brunch/Lunch Faves: The Ricotta Hotcakes ( with Blueberries ) & the granola are my favorites for breakfast and the pizza is yum-o.
Dinner Faves: If you go to Cecconis for the 4-7 menu ( aka dinner ), YOU MUST GET THE TRUFFLE BURGER. It is amazing, and it’s only $7. Personally, I like a huge spread for dinner, so my friends & I order the burger, meatballs, avocado & chickpea dip w/ crudites, the buffalo mozzarella pizzette, a side of fries, & some sauvignon blanc to sip. Unreal food for unreal prices… this place is a MUST!
Kreation Organic Multiple Locations
Highlights: Kreation is a great place for a quick & healthy lunch or a snack. The whole place is decked-out in greenery & organic-looking decor and it’s open-air to enjoy the BEAUTIFUL California weather. There are a gazillion different juices, smoothies and wellness elixirs to try, and the menu has something for everyone ( AKA: my family could eat there and they live off of Taco Bell & Chick-Fil-A alone / are scared of organic, vegan, or healthy-at-all places… seriously ). Also, BFAST all day!
Favorites: I always make my own juice/smoothie, the hummus plate is really good, and I usually get the Huevos Cancun or the Shiraz Frittata. The water also has liquid chlorophyll in it ( at some locations ) which is SO interesting/good for you.
Malibu Farm 23000 Pacific Coast Highway
Highlights: Malibu Farm is located at the very end of the Malibu Pier, and it is SUCH a sweet spot for weekend brunch. There’s a bit of a line of the weekends, but it goes pretty quickly, and is worth the measly 10-minute wait. As per usual in LA, the food is fresh, organic and local. Such a shock, I know.
Brunch Faves: The White Wine Thyme Nectarine Sangria and the Red Wine Strawberry Basil Sangria are baller-status for starters. If you want something healthy, I opt for the Yogurt/Granola/Berries. If you’re not to concerned about the calories, the Fried Egg Sandwich is sooooo delish.
Lunch/Dinner: One of my guy friends swears Malibu Farm has one of the best burgers he’s ever had… and he’s an intense, burger eating fiend so ya know it’s real.
Nobu Malibu 22706 Pacific Coast Highway
Highlights: Sushi. Ocean Views. Pretty People. Nobu Malibu is, admittedly, a little pricey, but it’s just kind of a thing you have to do. Eating here is an event in itself. Sit in the swanky, lounge-like tables on the deck and take in the scenery…. because it’s Malibu and you’re at freakin’ Nobu. Where’s Drake at? (PS: this will be in the category concerning cocktails as well).
Food Favorites: I love the leetle mini tacos. I prefer the lobster, shrimp, and chicken tacos.
Venice Ale House 2 Rose Ave
Highlights: The VAH is right on the boardwalk in Venice, and it’s always happenin’. You can sit outside and watch the spectacle that is the Venice Boardwalk, or grab a quick spot at the bar. They don’t use hard liquor in their drinks, but they use a Japanese alcoholic beverage that brings out the flavor of the cocktails more ( but they put more of this in the drink… so you’ll still be feeling’ nice) and I’m not complaining at all. I talked about this restaurant in a previous post here.
Drink Favorites: The Basil Sunset or their version of a Moscow Mule. Or whatever the bartender suggests.
Brunch Favorites: The Acai Dream bowl or the Yogurt & Berries ( actually so good ).
Lunch/Dinner Favorites: The Wild Alaskan Salmon Sandwich or the Pacific Cod Tacos are the best thing evs.
♥ Gjelina 1429 Abbot Kinney Blvd
Highlights: OMG. This is, by far, one of my favorite restaurants to go to ( & I’m not alone ). Definitely make a reservation, and keep your eyes open for some really cool peeps ( aka: Beyonce & Jay-Z are said to hang here ). It’s a cozy restaurant in a great location with amazing food. Get ready to feast.
Dinner Favorites: Start with a glass of wine, the meat & cheese boards, and the a glass of vino. As far as pizza goes, the Blanco and the Gruyere, Caramelized Onion, Fromage Blanc, & Arugula pizzas are my favorites. For small plates, get the Mushroom Toast for sure, and for Veggies, get the Broccolini ( SO GOOD ). I like eating tapas style here, so I’ve never gotten a Large Plate. For Dessert, you HAVE to get the Butterscotch Pot de Creme. Just trust me. It’s so incredible.
Cafés ( Coffee & Juice )
Blue Bottle Coffee Multiple Locations
Highlights: I fell in love with Blue Bottle Coffee in San Francisco, where it all started. Blue Bottle has a few locations in LA ( namely in Venice & Downtown ) and I’m always looking for a reason to grab coffee here.
Coffee Faves: The NEW ORLEANS ICED COFFEE is life changing. Trust me.
Stumptown Coffee Roasters Multiple Locations
Highlights: I used to walk over to Stumptown’s Downtown location when I interned at For Love & Lemons for a midday latte… it was like a two minute walk from the offices. Stumptown is hilarious to me because, when you walk in, your instantly hit with hip hop tunes ( at least most of the time ) and people hanging around like a lounge. The coffeeshop soundtrack doesn’t exactly exist here. It’s great.
Coffee Favorites: This place honestly has one of the best Almond Milk Lattes I’ve ever had. Ever.
Intelligentsia Coffee Multiple Locations
Highlights: Intelligentsia’s Venice location is my favorite, and it’s such a great place to sit, work on the computer, and relax for a few hours. It’s another really trendy coffee shop, so it’s all cute & pretty on the inside. Plus… hot guys. *insert sly face emoji here*
Coffee Faves: Whatever is seasonal!
♥ Bungalow 101 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica
Highlights: OMG. I spent most Saturday/Sundays at Bungalow in Santa Monica BECAUSE I LOVE IT. The decor & vibe is PERFECT at this little spot right across the street from the beach, and the people are usually painfully beautiful. I like the Bungalow during the day on the weekends, because it gets really packed at night and the line can be ridiculously long. This is a MUST go if you’re in LA ( it’s almost annoyingly ‘trendy’… but it’s definitely worth seeing! ).
Drinks: Sangria or Sea Breeze Punch
Skybar at the Mondrian Hotel 8440 Sunset Blvd
Highlights: The Skybar at the Mondrian is always a pretty happenin’ spot for drinks at night or a day party. There’s a pool & a few bar areas, so people hang out during the day on the weekends and tan/get their cocktail fix. There are a ton of events hosted at Skybar as well!
♥ Ysabel 945 N. Fairfax
Highlights: Ysabel is definitely one of my faves. It’s a super-swanky spot in West Hollywood, the drinks are good, and the vibes are pretty chill for a West Hollywood lounge. You can get dinner at Ysabel too ( & it’s REALLY good ) but I usually went for a couple drinks with friends.
Drinks: Charlie ( I think this is what it’s called… it’s like a cucumber cocktail and I could drink like 273947 of them )
Nobu Malibu 22706 Pacific Coast Highway
Highlights: Like I said when I mentioned Nobu in the ‘Restaurants’ category, the views here are SO beautiful. The last time I was at a Nobu (before Malibu) was in Monte Carlo, Monaco, and let me tell ya, this location’s vibe is just as good. It’s a little ‘scene-y,’ but it’s certainly something to check out once. If you can score a table on the deck for sunset, you’re golden. I definitely recommend Nobu for the daytime and early evening over the late-night dining scene.
Dranks: The Spicy Acai Martini is my favorite. The Cucumber & Pineapple Martinis are also ballin (but ask them to add a little jalapeno for extra spice). Also, snag a glass of Rosé if you’re a wine gal (the one from the South of France had me reminiscing on my Nice days).
HYDE Sunset 8117 Sunset Blvd
Highlights: Hyde is a really popular lounge with a really swanky setting & a pretty young crowd. It’s always a good time, especially if you can spring for a table with your friends, and it’s the best on weekend nights. If you’re looking for a more clubby atmosphere ( without being too clubby ), then you should definitely go to Hyde.
Health & Beauty
FaceHaus 8377 West 3rd Street
Highlights: I did a really informative interview with one of the estheticians at FaceHaus because I’m SO obssessed with this place! Every time I leave, I feel refreshed & relaxed. Its a trendy, quick little facial place (& they sell Eminence! Favorite). Not bad on price either. This is definitely a tourist-friendly place to stop and freshen up before or after a long day in LA (or before an event!).
Fav Facials: I really like the Haus Special (simple, straightforward) and I always add a $10 ‘blast’ to my bill. The Cool Blast is my favorite… its so… coool. They also have a $10 pimple-popping service (the Main Squeeze) for ‘unwanted visitors.’ No more f-ing up & messing with your own pimples, ladies.
Skin Laundry Multiple Locations
Highlights: Skin Laundry is a cute little skincare shop/spa with multiple locations in Los Angeles. They sell a full line of skincare products at Skin Laundry, my favorite being their Hydrating Sheet Masks ( you can also buy online! ). I was really happy with the facial I got here.
Facial Fav: Skin Laundry’s Laser & Light facial is physician-grade, and super quick. Before you start, you FaceTime with a physician to go over your skin issues & she approves you for the treatment. Then, the facial takes about 10-15 minutes, and its a series of lasers/lights and cooling products. This deep-cleansing style vaporizes dirt & bacteria, tightens and brightens skin, improves complexion, and ( when done in series ) evens skin tone, reduced sun damage and stops wrinkles in their tracks.
LA Laser Center 10884 Santa Monica Blvd
Highlights: LA Laser Center provides for a multitude of services from Botox, to facials, to laser hair removal and preventative care. They have 7 locations in southern California, but the one closest to me is the Westwood location.
Facial Fav: So far, I’ve only gotten the Hydrafacial, and I was SO intrigued by this process AND happy with the results! Living in LA has really left my skin feeling ultra-dry, so this facial was extremely nourishing for my skin.
Pampered Hands 7215 Melrose Ave
Highlights: Okay, I admit, I fucking HATE getting my nails done. I guess I just don’t like someone holding down my hands and feet and sitting there doing nothing… it really drives me absolutely crazy ( like legit makes me nauseated ). I’m also SO annoyed with most nail places because no one can seem to do it right… anyone with me? I mean, how frustrating. Pampered hands is SUPER quick & I have NEVER left wanting to punch the manicurist in the face….. this is huge for me. Also, it’s not very expensive. God I love ya, Pampered Hands.
Nail Stuff: I got acrylic fills & a pedicure every time. It cost me like $55 total and I was in and out in less than an hour.
Activities / Things To Do
Hornblower Cruise Marina Del Rey
Highlights: I really like the brunch cruise and the sunset cocktail cruise that Hornblower has. They last about 2 hours and are a great way to relax, meet people, and eat/drink on the water. Make sure you get there at least 10 minutes early because they wait for no one! Also, bring a light jacket because it can get a little chilly. Before you buy tickets via their website, check if Goldstar has any sales going on… they’ll usually sell tickets for these cruises for almost half off.
Highlights: If you want to spend some time hangin’ out in a more relaxed, quaint setting, you may want to drive out to Orange County for a weekend. Right now, my favorite spot is Laguna Beach, because I love the town & how quiet it is. You can see all of my Laguna faves in my recap on my weekend spent there. It’s definitely worth the trip!
Runyon Canyon Hike 2000 N. Fuller Ave
Highlights: This hike is a little ‘typical’ & my not be a local’s go-to, but I always liked it. People bring their dogs ( seriously… everyone has a freakin’ dog ) and hike around Runyon for a bit at all times of day. You can start at the bottom or at the top ( I recommend ), and there are a ton of different trails to take. I usually started at the top, ran down the large trail and hiked back up the steep side… it’s much harder than it sounds. Also, you’ll have a good view of downtown and the Hollywood sign from the top. I like this hike much better than the one that starts at the Griffith Observatory ( too many people ), but you can decide for yourself! I recommend going around 4-5 pm or early morning when there’s places to park.
Eat See Hear Multiple Locations
Highlights: Eat See Hear is an outdoor movie event with tons of different locations in and around Los Angeles. Sometimes GoldStar or Gilt City will have tickets for even cheaper than the official website, too. There are food trucks there, so grab a bite to eat for dinner & enjoy an awesome movie like The Breakfast Club or The Karate Kid.
Seasonal & Events
Coachella Out in the Desert
Highlights: The Coachella Music festival is obviously one of the biggest music events of the year, and it goes on for two weekends in the Spring. I recommend getting tickets way in advance, and finding a place to stay ASAP. A lot of people stay in Palm Springs or somewhere else in Palm Desert, where there are a number of hotels or Air Bnbs to rent out. Weekend 1 is a good weekend to go if you’re planning on going to parties ( which are a HUGE part of the festival… if you can get invited ) and spot many a celebrity. If that’s not your thing, weekend 2 was a lot more laid back this year. It’s really hot out there, so dress the part!
Los Angeles Dodgers Game 1000 Elysian Park Ave
Highlights: I’m a huge fan of baseball games ( my family is really intense about this sport in particular… we go to a game in most places that we visit ) so I LOVED hanging out at Dodger Stadium in the evenings. I recommend going a little early to avoid the insane traffic and grabbing a beer & a dodger dog ( or 3 ) to watch the game. Okay… I didn’t really watch that much but we still had a great time.
Twilight Concerts 200 Santa Monica Pier
Highlights: For about a month in the summer, the Santa Monica Pier hosts free concerts every Thursday evening. You can go up on the pier, eat, and grab a drink in the 21+ area, OR ( my favorite thing to do is ) get a group of friends, a blanket, some snacks and wine & find a spot to sit on the beach.
Helpful Resources & Links
⋅ Love & Loathing Los Angeles: One of my favorite local blogs. My girl, Caroline, helped me a lot when I first moved to LA!
⋅ LAist: a site dedicated to all things LA
⋅ Goldstar: Great deals on local events & such
⋅ Gilt City: Great deals on events, hotels, spa days, restaurants & more.