the best of Los Angeles

It’s about time I devoted a post to the place I called home for most of my life. While I prefer life in Chicago over LA, it’s still a fun place to visit. There is lots to see and do.

Here are some of my favorite places to eat, shop + play. Enjoy.


My first rec is Toast on 3rd for obvious reasons. This place is usually packed and is definitely one of those “it” places {which I normally cannot stand} but it’s so good! Personal faves include the farmers {grilled veggie sandwich} and the grilled veggie salad.

X’ian is my favorite Chinese place. Personal faves include the crispy onion pancakes {even if you don’t like onions you’ll love them}, string beans, power zone rice + if you like meat, the crispy chicken is phenomenal. I do miss it a little bit. I had X’ian 3x the week before I moved to Chicago. It’s that good.

La Scala is home to my favorite chopped salad. It is so good. I also recommend ordering a side of marinara for the bread. Amazing! There are a few locations. The one in BH is nice, but I prefer the Brentwood location on San Vicente because it’s a little more low key. Also a really nice little area to walk around.

If you eat meat + do not mind going to a place that refuses to give you ketchup on your burger, give Father’s Office a try. It is always packed and people that don’t mind a limited menu usually love it. I am obviously not a fan, but everyone I know who has been there absolutely loves it.

Looking for a great deli? Nate ‘N Al has been around since 1945. It’s nothing fancy but the food is great and it’s sort of a landmark in LA.

If you love Mexican food, El Cholo is a must.

Urth Cafe has locations in Beverly Hills, West LA, Santa Monica + Downtown.

If you want a guaranteed celeb sighting and like the idea of dining opposite some paparazzi, stop by The Ivy on Robertson.

Please keep in mind that I am not much of a foodie so my list may not be that exciting to some.

things to do/see/buy

I may not be much of a foodie, but I love to shop. I don’t do too much of it, but I love it. Ron Herman, Planet Blue, and Robertson Blvd are some personal favorites. I suppose you should check out Rodeo, although it’s a tourist trap and I tend to avoid it at any cost. I love James Perse on Canon {in BH} and in Malibu.

Century City + The Grove
are my two favorite malls. The Grove is prettier {and is especially
cheery at Christmas time}. It is also attached to a Farmer’s Market. They both have great stores + Pinkberry.

If you’re feeling
fancy, Barneys, Saks + Neimans are all lined up in a row on Wilshire.

Speaking of Malibu, the Country Mart is a must see. Great food and shopping. If you’re in to celebs, chances are that you will see someone. I have seen quite a few people there. If you are coming through the city, take Sunset to PCH. It’s a beautiful drive. You will pass through the Palisades. Gorgeous homes. Wouldn’t hurt to drive up and down the streets over there a little bit. I’ve done it and have found that Amalfi Drive {right off sunset} is my favorite.

I also love the Brentwood Country Mart.

The Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica is a great place to walk around.  Great for shopping + people watching. Lots of random street performers.

I love Abbot Kinney in Venice.

I also recommend stopping by The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf for an ice blended mocha. You can thank me later.

Want a great {free} workout? Stop by the Santa Monica Stairs or go hiking in the hills somewhere. Lots of options in LA. If you want to pay for a great class, try indo-row with Josh Crosby. I used to take his class. Great workout.

If you’re feeling really touristy, take a drive on Sunset Blvd.

something sweet

Stop by Sweet Lady Jane for dessert. Rated the #1 patisserie in the world {according to National Geographic}. It is that good.

Pinkberry. Which is also in Chicago + a few other places. If you haven’t had it, you must go. The original + watermelon are my favorites. Hoping they bring back the pomegranate.

The Bigg Chill. Great fro yo. This place is usually packed + has been around forever. Love it.

Like cupcakes? Stop by Crumbs. 1000x better than Sprinkles.

Want some ice cream sandwiched in between two cookies? And even better…want to stand in line with dozens of college kids in the heart of Westwood? Head to Diddy Riese.

If you are visiting LA and have time to head to Santa Barbara {it’s 1.5 hrs away} I highly recommend a trip there. I used to live in SB + love it. Stop by the Summerland Beach Cafe on your way up. Great food + it’s surrounded by lots of great little antique shops. Grab lunch or dinner and drinks at Carlitos on State Street.

And I suppose this means I’ll need to do a best of Chicago. Maybe to
celebrate my 1 year anniversary which is less than two weeks away! How has a year gone by?

Have you been to LA? Chicago? What are your favorite places in either city? And what are your favorite places in YOUR town?

Leave a comment
  • I am going to bookmark this post! Thinking about taking a trip to LA soon to visit some family and would love to dine at some of your recs 🙂 YAY for LA!!! I bet the weather there is amazing right now.

  • I've been to like 10 countries, to Europe and Asia and all over the USA but never to California!! So crazy. It's definitely on my list of places to visit and I will have to keep your list in mind when I finally make it there.

  • Danielle…. Have been to neither and would so love to be able to experience both of these places with you so you canto help this tourist here out, lol!!!! 🙂 Please and thank you!!!

  • So many great places to go in LA! I've only been a few times – once when I was a kid and once as an adult but with kids. I've never gotten a chance to explore but I'd love to be able to!

  • I was in Chicago last month and I absolutely fell in love! We did all the touristy things {boat tour, millennium park, cubs game, etc.} but it was an awesome city.

    LOVED Gino's East! That was my first experience of deep dish pizza and I am addicted now. Except there is nowhere to get in Charlotte. Boo. And since there is no H&M here, I took advantage of that on Michigan Ave! 🙂

  • this is such a great list for those visiting LA! I am a a frequent visitor sometimes more than once a week to some of these locations!

  • Ahhh, lalaland…i agree {being an ex-so cal girl myself} la is so much more fun to visit! my bestie lives in silverlake so when i visit her i just let her be my guide to all of the best spots 🙂 i am going to send this post to her, too!

  • This is a great post! And I agree with so many things!!! Have you been to Cafe Habana at Malibu Country Mart? Amazing! I would add Suzie Cupcakes (like better than Crumbs!) I could live at Diddy Reise and I go to the stairs every other Friday! LOVE El Cholo…what about you like their burgers? Great job!
    Recipes Fashion Marriage

  • I'm totally taking note of this!! I just applied for some jobs out in LA so this would be great if I end up moving out there!!!!

  • Yes!! I love that you did this…and you have picked some amazing places. The chopped salad at La Scala is a definite fave for me. I still need to try X'ian per your rec from before!!

  • We visited in February and went to a lot of those places, it was a quick trip though, so we will have to visit again soon and to the others. My favorite restaurant there was Matsuhisa, amazing!

  • Thanks for giving a list of all the great hot spots!! I am dying to make another visit to Caliiii! I guess you are always in love with a place that you didn't grow remotely close to! I think California is just absolutely gorgeous and magical! Although, I'm sure it can get pretty crazy! Laguna seemed to be pretty laid back and serene. You've sold me on a fun-filled trip here, Danielle!!

  • This post would have been super useful when I traveled to Cali last summer! I agree with your best places to shop. I loved walking around 3rd street in Santa Monica and going to The Grove. Outdoor malls always have that blissful feel to them, making me want to never leave. We even stopped at the Farmer's market there and brought home a bunch of nuts and fruits.

  • I was going to email you today to inform you that I'm coming to Chicago in August and need recommendations of things to do/see/eat/buy!!! This is a great LA roundup! I go pretty regularly and will add BLD to the list of eats because they have the BEST ricotta blueberry pancakes. My mouth waters. Also, Mozza Pizzeria because the pizza is dabomb and I saw Dustin Hoffman and Marisa Tomei there in one night!

  • So glad you mentioned Crumbs. I love that store!!! 🙂 And I'm so excited to finally moving back to LA 🙂 Although I will miss easily accessible public transportation. 😉 Hahahahah! 😉


  • I love the LA post! I think I'm going to make Andre take me to Toast since we've never been. Everyone always says how good that place is. xo Kim