This sprawling megalopolis is one of the most enigmatic places in America. At once a gaudy spectacle and a sublime patchwork of intimate neighborhoods, L.A. can be tamed-if you know where to look.
Image – Amanda Friedman
DAY TWO Wake up and wave goodbye to the surfers outside your window. Check out of Shutters and steer the Caddy east to Culver City and the Miracle Mile for a bit of culture, Los Angeles–style.
You pull up at Royal/T Café (1) just in time for brunch. This eatery manages to be all things to all people: an art gallery, a bookstore, a nightlife space, a teahouse and a French-Asian fusion breakfast and lunch spot where the servers dress in maid outfits in a nod to the cafés in Tokyo’s Akihabara district. After you’ve polished off your eggs and kobe beef patty, browse the store, where you can buy Mickey Kaus’ latest book or a toy designed by whimsical Japanese artist Yoshitomo Nara.
Next, defy the notion that nobody walks in L.A. and stroll proudly down Main Street and across Venice Boulevard to the Museum of Jurassic Technology (2). If David Lynch were to curate a museum, it would look like this one: a collection of oddities and dead-end research projects, such as a room full of letters to the Mount Wilson Observatory, an exhibit of ancient remedies, an adorable collection of paintings called “Dogs of the Soviet Space Programs,” and Hagop Sandaldjian’s series of microminiature sculptures, called “Eye of the Needle.”
Museum of Jurassic
Image – Amanda Friedman
Lest you think that California culture is all quirk, drive a few miles north to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (3), which was overhauled in 2008 and boasts an impressive collection, with works by quintessential California artist David Hockney and modernist masterpieces by Pablo Picasso and photographer Catherine Opie. There are seven buildings connected by outdoor gardens, so take your time perusing, and don’t miss the Renzo Piano–designed Lynda and Stewart Resnick Exhibition Pavilion opening this month.
If all that visual stimulation hasn’t worn you down, a quick shopping jaunt down Melrose Avenue will give the best of highbrow and lowbrow shopping in L.A. At the west end, there’s celeb favorite Fred Segal (4); at the east end, you’ll find vintage meccas such as Crossroads Trading Co. (5). In the middle? Paparazzi chasing down celebs. Pretend for a moment that it’s you they’re after, and then hop back into the Cadillac—it’s dinnertime.
Luckily, you’re close to one of the best new restaurants in town, Animal (6), part of the small-plate culinary revolution. The fare is a far cry from the sprouts and salads Angelenos are purported to live on; carnivores will revel in rabbit loin and pork belly sandwiches. The two chefs, Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo, are famous for their cookbook, Two Dudes, One Pan, and were nominated for a James Beard award last year. Fittingly, Animal doesn’t skimp on the meat when it comes to dessert, either: Their bacon chocolate crunch bar is to die for.
Having tasted the dark underbelly of SoCal’s health food culture, it’s time to check into the modish Palihouse Holloway (7) hotel in West Hollywood. In the lounge downstairs, a celebrity DJ is spinning records as the well- heeled fill the leather couches—among them Rose McGowan, Emile Hirsch and White House fashion favorite Jason Wu. After you sip a cocktail, it’s time to retire. Nodding off, you feel cooler than you have since high school.