suite spaces: our client’s 1928 town home gets a close up on architectural digest

One of my favorite quotes about interior design is by Nate Berkus when he said, “Your home should tell the story of who you are, and be a collection of what you love brought together under one roof.”  And it never ceases to amaze me how a little style and panache can completely transform an empty apartment into the most opulent space.  So it came as no surprise when Casey Smith’s home, whom we had leased a gorgeous two story town home to, was featured in Architectural Digest.

The 1928 classic Spanish-style building sits in the heart of West Hollywood’s Historic Courtyard Thematic District.  A cluster of buildings built in the 1920s, the architecture “responds to the region’s mild climate by extending interior spaces into the outdoors and integrates the desire for individual housing and a yard with the practical need for higher density development,” according to the West Hollywood Historic Preservation Committee.

A small building of just seven town home-style units, this apartment was a stunner all on its own with its original hardwood floors, ornate fireplace, and large, picturesque windows.  Each apartment even features a unique stained glass pane located in the center of the living room and master bedroom windows that depict different scenes like a medieval sailing vessel in this particular unit.

Because this type of architecture is so coveted in West Hollywood, the second we put it on the market, we had a ton of requests to come see it and ended up with multiple applicants for just the one unit.  We were even excited to show it to one of our favorite celebrity fashion bloggers who mentioned casually that she would’ve used the second bedroom as a closet, as one does.

When we first showed Casey the town home, he immediately described how he would furnish the space and shared some before and after photos of Arizona homes that he himself had restored and decorated.  They were obviously impeccable seeing as though he cofounded Studio Cavaco with legendary stylist and former Allure creative director, Paul Cavaco.

After he moved in, when Casey invited us over to share a glass of champagne in his new WeHo abode and see for ourselves how he had styled the apartment, we were all too happy to oblige.  We were stunned to see how he had transformed the space from bare blank canvas to high society style worthy of a photo shoot and feature in well respected Architectural Digest.

We love how Casey’s home reflects his warm personality and eclectic, worldly style.  We knew he’d make the space his own and are so happy that he shared it with us.  To see more of this beautiful town home and hear how Casey describes his style, head on over to Architectural Digest here.

What was your favorite part of this home tour?  Let us know in the comments below.

Images:
Building Exterior: Kansas Sebastian I   Vacant Apartment: The Suite Life  I   Furnished: Daniel Kukla for Architectural Digest


norah: brunch at this approachable weho hot spot

Norah_Interior

Still looking all incognito with no signage, Norah will pull you in with her enigmatic front doors if the smell of that skillet cornbread with rosemary honey butter wafting down Santa Monica Boulevard doesn’t get you first.

Once home to O-Bar (we still miss those blueberry mancakes shots) and then Don’t Tell Mama (nothing to write home about there, sorry mom), Norah has quietly taken over the trendy nightlife scene with all that they have.  Quite literally.  Everything we have experienced at this establishment, from the decor to the drinks, to the service to the food, has been something to tell our mama about.  (Even seeing hunky Keith Urban meet friends at one of the long chef’s tables.)

Norah_Front Entry Doors

First off, let us take a quick moment to just marvel at Norah’s front entry.  Those doors.  Those exquisite, dazzling wood doors.  As we waited patiently for them to open for brunch, we admired their design and craftsmanship.  We knew that they held back some amazingly delectable dishes for dinner, but what brunch secrets were locked inside?  We were the first ones in on a Saturday morning to find out.

In the fresh morning light, the atmosphere and decor was upbeat and stylish.  Accents of black, white, and tan are mixed with textures like marble counter tops and leather chairs at the bar.  A herringbone pattern wood floor leads you to large abstract black and white artwork and carved wooden figurines on the walls that lend an African vibe, but then you look around and see metal bar stools, glass walls, and bunches of filament lightbulbs that almost scream industrial.  The textures and patterns all mix so well together.  Kind of like their drinks.

While the beer selection leaves much to be desired for us (it’s all canned and lacks variety), the mixed cocktails are more show stopping and more in line with their diverse food offerings.  One thing that consistently stands out though is Norah’s level of service.  For a place as trendy as this, every host or hostess has been warm and inviting.  Those sly smirks and side-eye about how long their wait is from other restaurants has instead been replaced with a kind suggestion of checking out their two-sided bar while you wait.  Once seated, the servers and bartenders are all smiles and suggestions in their patterned button-downs and dark jeans.  Ask for Danny or Sean behind the bar for a well mixed cocktail and attentive service or ask for John, the restaurant manager, to share ravings of your favorite dish with him.

the spread

  • Morning spritzer with aperol, vermouth bianco, peach, lemon, sparkling wine – $12
  • Cast iron cornbread with rosemary honey butter – $8
  • Cinnamon roll monkey bread with salted caramel – $8
  • Squash & burrata with walnut puree, crispy quinoa, date caramel – $15
  • Breakfast martini no.2 with gin, sticky wine, apricot, lemon, coriander, egg white – $12

top nosh

While the carbs we ordered washed down well with our drinks, the squash and burrata had us at hello.  The presentation was on fleek point but the showstopper of the dish was the crunchy texture of the crispy quinoa mixed with the soft burrata.  The squash made us feel like we were getting some healthy vegetables in at brunch (we’re definitely telling our mama about that) while the walnut puree and date caramel felt like we were cheating on dessert.

may we suggest

  • Since Norah is super hot right now, we would suggest reserving a table for dinner early.
  • Better yet, go for brunch since it wasn’t crowded and some of the menu offerings are the same at both brunch and dinner (we’re talking about you, cornbread).
  • Sit at the bar for a more casual vibe and friendly banter from the bartenders.  I asked to modify one of their mezcal drinks with tequila instead and Luigi whipped up a whole different cocktail worth craving that’s not on their menu.  Grazie!
  • Suggest Norah to impress both your foodie friends and your trendy ones.
  • Order a bunch of their smaller, shareable dishes to get a feel for their style.

the specifics

Norah
8279 Santa Monica Boulevard, West Hollywood 90069
323.450.4211
www.norahrestaurant.com

Brunch: Saturday & Sunday 11am to 3pm
Dinner: Daily 6pm to Midnight

Also be sure to check out our posts on Crossroads on Melrose and Animal on Fairfax for even more great #SuiteSpots to check out.

All food and drink and front door photos: The Suite Life
Interior photos: the infatuation, colony, la eater

 


the woodlawn suite: in memory of former resident, holly woodlawn

Andy Warhol transvestite Superstar Holly Woodlawn, acclaimed for her performance in 'Trash', photographed in 1970. (Photo by Jack Mitchell/Getty Images)

Photo by Jack Mitchell/Getty Images

We can only imagine the stories these walls could tell.  Transgender icon, Holly Woodlawn, who passed away just last week at the age of 69, called our apartment building in West Hollywood home for more than 10 years.

Born Haroldo Santiago Franceschi Rodriguez Danhakl in Puetro Rico, Holly grew up in Miami and rose to fame in Andy Warhol’s 1970 movie Trash.  She was later immortalized in the opening lines of Lou Reed’s song, “Walk on the Wild Side”.

Living in our building in West Hollywood, Holly was a colorful and lovable character.  She’d often call down to us from her upstairs window when we were out tending to the landscaping and ask if we’d go pick her up a bottle of chardonnay and a pack of cigarettes from the store. On the 4th of July, we’d hear her giggling and tossing firecrackers from her balcony and she could always be counted on for the occasional photo shoot in her apartment.

Above all, our favorite memory of Holly was watching her flirtatious kindness during Gay Pride. As she was being pushed down the center driveway in her wheelchair, she asked to stop and picked a handful of flowers from the courtyard so that she could pass them out to all the cute boys on the street.

Holly not only made a lasting impression on pop culture, the transgender community, and West Hollywood, but also on us, our residents, and our small apartment building.  Our floor plans have all been named after actresses of 1950’s Old Hollywood, as a nod to the era in which our building was built.  To honor Holly’s memory, we’d like to dedicate her previous home, Suite 4, in her honor.  It will now be known as The Woodlawn Suite and we hope that its residents, current and future, will continue to make fabulous and colorful memories within its walls.


dineLA restaurant week: the 10 spots not to miss

One of the best ways to experience all that LA has to offer in regards to dining is dineL.A.’s highly anticipated Restaurant Week.  Kicking off this week and continuing through next weekend, dineL.A. showcases over 350(!) restaurants throughout this gorgeous city that offer up a special prix-fixe menu for lunch and/or dinner at amazing prices.  With lunches ranging from $15-$25 and dinners ranging from $30-$50, now is the perfect time to try a new restaurant, hit up a fave, or finally taste something from the kitchen of that high-end place that you’ve been dying to try.

Since we dine out a lot, we thought we’d share a few of our favorites.  Here are our top picks for places to dine that we’ve tried and tested and highly recommend:

connie & ted's lobster roll

1.  Connie & Ted’s – fresh seafood & cocktails

Lunch $25   I   Dinner $40

We are lucky enough to live within walking distance to this salty gem.  Make a res during dineL.A. and be sure to choose their lobster roll from their dineL.A. menu served hot with drawn butter and choose the scoop of their homemade ice cream.  If peanut butter or butter pecan is an option, do it!  Trust us.

Cuisine: Seafood, American
Neighborhood: West Hollywood
8171 Santa Monica Blvd, West Hollywood 90046

Connie & Ted’s: Menu & Reservations

AOC_Farmers_Lunch

2.  A.O.C. – cheese & charcuterie

Lunch $25 (Monday-Friday only)

We had lunch here last weekend and decided to make it one of our go-to dining out staples.  With a cheese and charcuterie plate offered on their dineL.A. lunch menu, that’s reason enough for us to go again.  And again.

Cuisine: Californian
Neighborhood: Beverly
8700 West 3rd Street, Los Angeles 90048

A.O.C.: Menu & Reservations

jicama wrapped guacamole

3.  The Bazaar by Jose Andrés – the showstopper

Dinner $50

This is our #1 pick for our favorite restaurant in LA!  The dining experience is fun and playful with tapas-style small plates being served like their bite-size “Philly Cheesesteak” made with decadent Wagyu beef or their innovative jicama wrapped guacamole which inspired our immediate need for a mandolin in our kitchen.  (True story.)

Cuisine: Spanish
Neighborhood: Beverly
465 South La Cienega Blvd, Los Angeles 90048 (located inside the SLS Hotel)

The Bazaar: Menu & Reservations

fig and olive

4.  Fig & Olive Melrose Place – fresh mediterranean

Lunch $25   I  Dinner $50

The food here is super fresh, imaginative and was a hit with our entire family (that’s hard to do!). The space is warm and beautifully decorated.  Grab a seat on the enclosed patio if you can and be sure to enjoy all of their different olive oils with each dish.

Cuisine: Mediterranean
Neighborhood: Beverly
8490 Melrose Place, Los Angeles 90069

Fig & Olive: Menu & Reservations

gracias madre

5.  Gracias Madre – vegan mexican 

Lunch $20   I  Dinner $30

Ok, so maybe “vegan” and “Mexican” don’t sound like they go together.  We mean, can it really have authentic Mexican flavors without meat and cheese? Gracias Madre is up to the challenge and killing it with every delicious plant-based bite.  Try one of their “snow cone” cocktails and order the empañadas.

Cuisine: Mexican, Vegan
Neighborhood: West Hollywood
8905 Melrose Avenue, West Hollywood 90069

Gracias Madre: Menu & Reservations

Jar West Hollywood pot roast

6.  Jar – modern retro cuisine

Dinner $50

The decor is fashionably retro while the food was more than modernly mouthwatering.  Order their famous pot roast or savor the salmon for your main course.  You really can’t go wrong with anything on the updated traditional menu.

Cuisine: American
Neighborhood: Beverly
8225 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles 90048

Jar: Menu & Reservations

mud hen tavern chicken waffle croquettes

7.  Mud Hen Tavern – a foodie’s playground

Lunch $25   I  Dinner $30

We went just last week and are still craving that ahhhhhmazing sauce from their chicken, bacon and waffle croquettes.  When you’re looking over your shoulder to make sure no other patrons catch you sopping up the sauce with a spoon, there’s no shame in this menu’s game.

Cuisine: American (new)
Neighborhood: Hollywood
742 North Highland, Los Angeles 90038

Mud Hen Tavern: Menu & Reservations

red o

8.  Red O by Rick Bayless – modern mexican

Dinner $50

We’ve got a soft spot for Mexican food and then when you tell us that this place serves a mean spicy jalapeño margarita, we’re jumping in flan first!

Cuisine: Mexican
Neighborhood: Fairfax
8155 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles 90046

Red O: Menu & Reservations

rocksugar

9.  Rocksugar Pan Asian Kitchen – banana custard cake

Lunch $15   I   Dinner $30

This is basically our excuse to say that we need to go shopping or see a movie at the Century City mall (even though we don’t actually do either and just really need that banana custard cake). Each plate we’ve ever tried is filled with tons of flavor, is always consistent, and the decor is gorgeous.  Order the crispy samosas or the Indian stuffed flatbread and end your meal with the caramelized banana custard cake.  Every.  Single.  Time.

Cuisine: Asian Fusion
Neighborhood: Century City
10250 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles 90067

RockSugar Pan Asian Cuisine: Menu & Reservations

the village idiot melrose

10.  The Village Idiot – a great lively little bar

Lunch $15   I   Dinner $30

Belly up to this fun and inviting bar and restaurant that’ll remind you of that trip to London you took after college.  The atmosphere is welcoming and the food is hearty.  Try their roasted apple and arugula salad and the braised pork pie with a sweet ending of warm sticky coffee cake.  And don’t forget the pint of beer, mate.

Cuisine: American (new)
Neighborhood: Fairfax
7383 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles 90046

The Village Idiot: Menu & Reservations

For the full list of restaurants participating in dineL.A.’s Restaurant Week, click here.  

For more of our favorite restaurants to try in LA, visit our “dine” section and check out our thoughts on places like Animal and Eveleigh.

 

photos: food republic, aaron cookboy meets girl meets food, fig and olive, the suite life, jar, mud hen tavern, locale magazine, la restaurants, la weekly


the huxley on la brea

We know that apartment hunting in LA can feel just like being a contestant in the The Hunger Games so we want to help make sure that the odds are ever in your favor.  In this article, we do the legwork for you and tour an apartment community.  If we would consider moving in to the building ourselves, we recommend it to our readers – SuiteHearts like you.

The Huxley_Pool & DeckThe Huxley - building exteriorThe Huxley - 1 Bedroom Kitchen

the huxley on la brea

Located on the bustling corner of La Brea and Fountain on the very edge of West Hollywood,  The Huxley boasts studio, 1 and 2 bedroom apartments and some really swank amenities.

We got the full tour of the newly built building that’s just a short walk from the West Hollywood Gateway with stores like Target, Starbucks, Best Buy and a whole host of other shops and restaurants.  (See which lunch spot made our list of favorites here.)  This makes The Huxley prime real estate since there’s so many great places to walk to.  Heck, even Ralph’s is directly across the street to make your shopping trips super easy.  There’s no need to ever have to borrow a cup of sugar from your neighbor when groceries are this close.  (Unless, of course, this is just your excuse to flirt with your hot neighbor, we totally get it.)  And if you’re feeling a bit adventurous after partying at the pool,  you can hop on over to Kat Von D’s High Voltage Tattoo on the other side of La Brea.  Sweet!  Now let’s take a tour…

amenities: the pool

There’s one luxurious outdoor pool at this 187-unit community that’s lined with lounge chairs and a long wooden deck with benches on one side and an outdoor fireplace on the other.  At the far end, there’s a handful of enclosed private cabanas with seating, a TV, and a pretty cool lighting fixture made out of black sunglasses.

amenities: the clubhouse

The first thing you’ll notice as you step into the posh clubhouse is the large saltwater fish tank filled with fun creatures like lion fish.  This clubhouse has it all and is a huge open space to lounge in.  There’s a fully equipped kitchen to your right which is perfect if you reserve the clubhouse for a private function (that’ll run you $25/hour).  There’s a ton of different seating areas including comfy couches and chairs and a more formal space like the large dining table at the front or go casual with the bar stool area.

Bonus: There’s no deposit required to rent the clubhouse.

amenities: rooftop bbq, screening room, conference room, & fitness center

We couldn’t believe there were more amenities to see before hitting the models, but were super impressed that The Huxley boasts a fitness center, a screening room (reserve it now for the big game!), and rooftop BBQ area overlooking sweeping views of the Hollywood hills.  As a resident, you can also enjoy free outdoor movie nights where management will bring in catering and arrange for a fun movie to be projected onto the wall.  Umm, count us in for the next one!

Bonus: There’s also a private meeting room to get some work done or reserve for a meeting.

The Huxley - 1 Bedroom Kitchen

the apartments

Choose from a studio, 1 or 2 bedroom apartment with hardwood floors, in-home W/D, central A/C, walk-in closets, and gourmet kitchens with Caesar Stone counter tops and stainless steel appliances.  No matter where in the building your apartment is located, you’ll enjoy a great view either overlooking the pool, the zen garden, or the Hollywood hills.  The Huxley is pet friendly too welcoming both cats and dogs and also offers controlled-access (with fancy key fobs), and parking.  If you’re looking for a place with modern amenities and all the bells and whistles, The Huxley is your new home.

apartment amenities

  • Bright units
  • Natural flow to the floor plans
  • Gourmet kitchen with Caesar Stone counters
  • Stainless steel appliances
  • Floor-to-ceiling windows
  • Walk-in closet
  • Patio/balcony
  • Washer/dryer in unit

community amenities

  • Controlled access/gated
  • Parking
  • Elevator
  • Heated pool
  • Business center
  • Clubhouse with sofas and flatscreen TVs
  • Fitness center
  • Rooftop deck with BBQs
  • High-speed WiFi in all common areas
  • Pet friendly – dogs & cats welcome
  • Outdoor dog run with clean-up station
  • On-site management
  • On-site maintenance
  • Near public transit

rental rates: $2250-$3525

suite spots score

 

The Huxley   I   1234 North La Brea, West Hollywood, CA 90048   I   323.461.9346
(Tell them The Suite Life sent you!)

contact the huxley for more info


updated: the price of a 1 bedroom in LA

photo courtesy of houzz

photo courtesy of houzz

LA can be an expensive place to live, but surprisingly it’s only ranked the fifth priciest rental market in the US behind D.C., Boston, New York, & San Francisco respectively.  With that said though, rents are on the rise in Los Angeles and it’s a competitive market out there with only around 3% availability.  (If you find a great deal, snatch it up as soon as you can with these tips.)

When we were apartment hunting seven years ago, we quickly found out the hard way that we had Restoration Hardware taste on an Ikea budget when it came to our expectations of finding a decent apartment in LA.  We realized that after seeing what felt like a hundred different apartments, that all we could afford was Downtown or Koreatown and what we really wanted was to be in Beverly Hills!  (True story.)

So where do you find those sweet deals?  The folks over at LAist and Zumper, have pulled together a map showcasing the average price of a 1-bedroom apartment around the sprawling neighborhoods of LA.  (Thanks, guys!)

And what did they find?  Rents out there can be expensive: even though it offers rent control, Santa Monica takes the top spot at $2,800.  They also found some up-and-coming neighborhoods that offer great deals like Culver City for $1,430.  Here’s an overview and our picks for sweet deals in great neighborhoods:

priciest pads

Santa Monica $2,800
Marina del Rey $2,600
Bel Air/Beverly Crest $2,500
Venice $2,450
Downtown $2,390

affordable abodes

Florence-Graham $875
Central Alameda $900
South Central LA $900
CANNDU $950
Park Mesa Heights $950

suite spots (our picks)

Culver City $1,430
Mar Vista $1,610
Greater Griffith Park $1,610
Silver Lake $1,700
West Hollywood $1,950

Be sure to check out our tips for finding an apartment in LA and ways to score the perfect place once you find it.

Which LA neighborhood are you thinking about moving to?  Let us know in the comments below.


guide to la

guide to la

One of the best things about living in LA is all of the amazing places to discover.  No matter which corner of LA’s sprawling landscape that you find yourself on, there’s always something fun to do or a great cafe to grab a bite to eat.  Having lived in Los Angeles for over six years now, when our friends are visiting from overseas (G’day, mates!) or from the midwest, heck even our hometown of The OC, they always want to know where they should stay, eat, and go and we have plenty of fun suggestions to go around.  Here are some of our favorite places to check out while exploring the City of Angels.

eat_lunch

  1. Lemonade: This is quickly becoming our favorite lunch spot with all of the amazing options to choose from.  With 12 locations throughout LA from Venice to Brentwood to West Hollywood, this cafeteria-style lunch spot serves up some seriously delish fare, amazing lemonade combinations (we’re talking about you, watermelon rosemary), and some sweet desserts (that pistachio macaron – swoon!). Whether you’re vegan, vegetarian, a foodie, or a hungry guy in search of a hearty meal, Lemonade has got you covered with marketplace selections like cauliflower with golden raisins, almonds, and curry to white truffle mac and cheese to sandwiches and braised beef brisket.
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  2. Mendocino Farms: This sandwich market is an easy place to grab a quick bite. Must trys include their Steak BLT with carved steak, applewood bacon, romaine lettuce, roasted tomatoes, herb aioli, and red wine onions on toasted rustic white bread. Add blue cheese crumbles to make this perfect sandwich even more perfect.
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  3. Alcove: Tucked away in Los Feliz in two historic bungalows surrounded by a beautiful garden patio, this cute little cafe serves tasty american classics like sandwiches, grilled paninis, burgers, salads, soups, and wraps.  If you go for drinks, ask for our old friend Eugene behind the bar and say hello.  Grab a spot outside in the garden and keep your eyes open for celebrities.  Adam Levine was even cuter in person!  (True story.)
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  4. ink.sack: Located next door to Top Chef winner Michael Voltaggio’s famed restaurant ink. on Melrose, ink.sack is the lunch-sized portion for foodies in the know.  Their menu is simple, offering just creative sandwiches and homemade snacks.  Try the “Jose Andres” with ham, tomato, chorizo, and manchego cheese with a side of pineapple marinated in chili and lemon.
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  5. In-N-Out: You can’t go wrong with a California classic.  Burgers, fries, and shakes. That’s it. Their menu’s pretty simple, unless of course, you know about their “secret menu”.  Go on, act like a local and get your double double protein style wrapped in lettuce with a side of smothered animal style fries.

do

  1. The Getty: This hilltop museum offers some amazing views of the city and free admission – just pay for parking.  Wander throughout the different wings taking in the Monets and the sculptures and then soak up the sun outside on the lawn with a bite to eat.  Walk off lunch in the garden and take a pic with the amazing skyline behind you.
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  2. La Brea Tar Pits: It’s crazy to think that millions of years ago, woolly mammoths and saber tooth tigers were wandering around what is now Wilshire Boulevard. Scientists are still excavating the tar pits and the specimens they have on display are staggering.  Check out the wall of wolf skulls – you won’t believe how many there are!
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  3. Griffith Observatory: High up in the Hollywood hills, you’ll find the famed observatory and one of the best views of LA.  This is a fun spot for dates or tourists alike since admission is free.  Opened in 1935, check out the sweeping views from downtown to the Pacific while you take in the Old Hollywood architecture and star gazing.
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  4. Cinespia: What could be cooler than watching a movie outdoors in the middle of a cemetery where the stars of Old Hollywood are buried?  In the summer months this becomes one of LA’s hottest spots.  Bring a blanket to enjoy a picnic with the sounds of a DJ spinning today’s top tunes and when the sun sets, the movie begins. Even though you’re in a cemetery, not all movies screened are scary, this month includes There’s Something About Mary, Pretty in Pink, and The Matrix.
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  5. The Farmers Market: LA has some of the freshest produce around and the best way to taste it is to visit one of the many farmers markets around the city.  From the original one on the corner of 3rd and Fairfax next to The Grove to Santa Monica, explore all of the wonderful treats California has to offer.

see

  1. Santa Monica Pier: There is so much to do and see down at the pier from the restaurants to the performers.  Take in the salty sea air and grab a cocktail at Bubba Gump’s before taking a ride on the Ferris wheel.  Once you’ve walked to the end of the pier, you can explore some more at Santa Monica’s Third Street Promenade or by taking a walk on the beach.  Don’t forget to catch the free summer concert series too!
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  2. The Ellen Degeneres Show: What better way to see celebs than by grabbing tickets to a taping of Ellen?  Filmed in Burbank on the Warner Bros. lot, this will no doubt be a fun way to spend some time in LA or get to know your way around a bit.  Be sure to bring your dancing shoes.
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  3. Rodeo Drive: Even if your wallet can’t afford that new Gucci bag, you can still have a great time window shopping up and down this famed street in Beverly Hills.  Packed with tons of shops and cute cafes, you can also branch out to the neighboring streets for more affordable fare.
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  4. Sprinkles Cupcake ATM: Yes, you read that right.  Sprinkles Cupcakes has a 24-hour ATM machine to make sure your sweet tooth is always satisfied.  If the line is out the door at the actual bakery next door or it’s after hours, sneak in a cupcake at the ATM.  If there’s no wait, go inside and use the secret “whisper word” found on Sprinkles’ social media pages for a free cupcake.  Shh…
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  5. Hollywood Sign: Quintessentially LA, this is probably the most famous landmark and something to see close-up.  While you can’t actually drive by or walk up to the sign, there are a few places where you can get a good view and a great photo. Check out Canyon Lake Drive, the Griffith Observatory, or Mulholland Drive.

be seen

  1. Laurel Hardware: This hip hot spot is great for brunch, dinner, cocktails, or to bump into someone attractive.  Catering to one of LA’s cutest crowds, Laurel Hardware kept the original name of the home improvement store that once occupied this space.  There’s a front area with open kitchen or head on back to the bar area with communal tables.  For beautiful scenery with dinner, opt to dine in their outdoor patio garden underneath olive trees.  The menu changes almost daily, but if they’re on the menu, trust us, order the brussel sprouts.
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  2. The Abbey: Looking for a fun scene to mingle with martinis?  The Abbey on Robertson is your go-to place for great people watching whilst cocktail in hand. This super high-energy bar has been dubbed “The Best Gay Bar in The World” and with the lively atmosphere and packed patio, it’s easy to see why.
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  3. The Hudson: Go for the jalapeño mac and cheese, stay for the happy hour prices. A must order is their brioche grilled cheese with short rib and tomato soup and “The Huddy” cocktail made with gin, lime, cucumber, and basil.  This place can get lively on game nights, so definitely bring some friends with you and keep your eyes open for good looking people all around.
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  4. Eveleigh: Hidden away in plain sight on The Sunset Strip, this Australian-inspired farm-to-table spot has amazing food, awesome service, incredible drinks, and fabulous views.  Check out our write-up here.  Grab a seat at the bar in the center of the restaurant underneath hanging cow skulls or strike up a conversation with that mysteriously hot guy lingering at the second bar way in the back.
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  5. Sur: Even before The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and Vanderpump Rules hit the air, Sur was serving up a cute crowd alongside creative cocktails.  Hit this place before or after dinner and you might just catch a glimpse of one of the cast serving dinner or drinks behind the bar.  Just don’t go home with Jax, we beg you.

spot

  1. Chateau Marmont: If you want to rub shoulders with Hollywood’s elite, grab a table outside in the garden and enjoy planning your next day of exploration with a drink in hand.  This is the place where many a celeb has lived (we’re looking at you, Lohan) and even more have visited.  We ran into Ellen Pompeo while we were there and Katy Perry was spotted the next day.
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  2. The Ivy: After a long day of shopping, curl up at this quaint little haunt on Robertson and just wait.  If a celeb isn’t sitting right next to you, they may just be walking in or carrying a Kitson bag across the street.  Paparazzi are lurking behind every tree and if a celeb wants to get photographed, this is the place they’re sure to show up.
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  3. Runyon Canyon: Sweat out all those libations with a short and easy hike up the hill at Runyon Canyon.  A haven for celebrities and their pooches, this hike will take about 40 minutes round trip and is a great way to get outdoors and take in the amazing view of LA at the top.
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  4. Sunset Marquis: Hidden unassumingly at the end of a one-way street off The Sunset Strip, this hotel has a beautiful garden and bar to people and celeb watch. We sat next to Simon Fuller during a meeting and the hotel has a long history of rock ‘n’ roll royalty getting rowdy.
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  5. Sunset Tower: This is one of Jennifer Aniston’s favorite spots and one of ours as well.  Take in the amazing view of the LA skyline at Tower Bar while sipping drinks and nibbling on appetizers.  The hotel evokes a feeling of Old Hollywood glamour and it’s fun to check out where Hollywood’s elite rub elbows after The Oscars.  Just don’t go home with John Mayer, we beg you.

primp

  1. Drybar: With 11 locations throughout LA and at only $40 a pop, there’s no reason for your hair to look anything but fabulous.  This blow dry bar serves up snazzy ‘dos with sassy names like “The Manhattan” which will make your hair smooth and sleek, “The Cosmo” for a head of cascading curls, and “The Straight Up” for their signature blow out with lots of body and just a little bit of curl.  They do one thing and they do it well.  As their tagline says, “No cuts. No color. Just blowouts.” Blow on in and get your hair done before hitting the town.
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  2. Blushington: With your hair looking sweet, hit up Blushington for a double scoop of make-up perfection with their professional make-up application at affordable prices.  For only $45, you can walk out looking like a starlet with red lips and a fierce cat eye.
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  3. Olive & June: The cherry on top of this already rockin’ beauty sundae is Olive & June in Beverly Hills for a fab mani/pedi.  Created out of necessity for a great manicure without being sketchy or pricey, you won’t find a wall of massage chairs here.  Instead, you’ll be pampered in a pretty setting with soaking bowls and personalized service.  Now, that’s just wonderful.
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  4. Meridian Day Spa: Where can you go for a really good massage or facial without having to go to a pricey spa?  We couldn’t believe our wallets when we stumbled across this place tucked away around the corner of Santa Monica Boulevard.  At $56 for an hour massage, we could definitely see ourselves making this a monthly habit.
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  5. The Art of Shaving: To pamper your guy, you must check out this place located in Century City’s Westfield shopping center.  Guys can get a close shave by their expert barbers that wield a straight razor like a ninja sword across an inflated balloon filled with baby kittens.  Our maintenance manager felt like a king after cashing in his gift card for a 45-minute “Royal Shave” that included a hot towel and after shave mask.  Perhaps a perfect treat for say, the end of Movember?

shop

  1. Third Street Promenade: One of the best places to go in LA, you can easily spend the majority of your day here perusing the shops, exploring the cafes, watching the people, and playing in the sand.  This outdoor destination has a ton of well-known stores like CB2, Sephora, and Abercrombie & Fitch.
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  2. The Grove: This outdoor mall is home to great shops and restaurants.  Stop by The Whisper Lounge to rest your feet after a day of shopping at places like Anthropologie, Crate & Barrel, Barneys’ New York, Michael Kors, & Banana Republic.  Be sure to wander through the Original Farmers Market while you’re there too.
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  3. Abbot Kinney: Venture out to artsy Venice for great shopping and people watching on this cute boulevard by the sea.  Stumble into any of the shops offering clothing and accessories, books and gifts, beauty products, or art.
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  4. Melrose: Gritty and trendy.  Fashionable and hip.  This very famous street offers very unique shops and very unique people.  Here you’ll find one-of-a-kind vintage stores alongside boutique retailers.
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  5. Robertson: Peruse this high-end mecca for luxury retailers like Chanel, Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger, Dolce & Gabbana, Tory Burch, and Nanette Lepore. Keep your eyes peeled for celebs and paparazzi and be sure to check out Alice + Olivia and Kitson while you’re there.

view

  1. Perch: Perched high above the downtown skyline, this indoor/outdoor rooftop restaurant and bar is the perfect place to take in the city lights up close.  Cozy up to the outdoor fire pits and drink in the amazing view.  There’s even a roof above the roof – look out for the balcony up above.
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  2. Gladstones: For the best view of Malibu during the day or just as the sun is setting, check out this casual eatery where PCH and Sunset Boulevard meet.  With some of the freshest seafood around, be sure to try their mango fish tacos or their clambake with lobster, crab, clams, shrimp, andouille sausage, corn, and potatoes.  And be sure to take the leftovers with you – they’ll wrap them in foil in the shape of a mermaid or pelican.
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  3. Sunset Ranch Horseback Riding: Make reservations to explore the hills above the Hollywood sign by horseback.  Offering day, lunch and sunset rides, this is a surefire way to see Los Angeles in all her glory with a breathtaking backdrop and view.  There’s even a BBQ tour option that ends back at the ranch for some good grub and festive music after a 2-hour trail ride.  Yee-haw!
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  4. Petit Ermitage:  We had driven by this unassuming boutique hotel countless times, dismissing it as just another apartment building tucked away on a corner of a tiny intersection of side streets.  So when we were asked to meet on the rooftop for a business meeting, you can imagine our surprise.  This magical little gem felt like we had stumbled upon a secret door in the middle of the city that led to a rooftop terrace, pool, and sweeping views.
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  5. Sixty Beverly Hills:  Formerly known as The Thompson Beverly Hills, this rooftop bar, pool, and terrace offer incredible 360 degree views of swanky Bev Hills.  Grab a drink and a small bite and relax as you watch the sun set before heading out to dinner.

eat_dinner

  1. The Bazaar by Jose Andres: Listen, Imma let you finish, but this is one of our favorite restaurants of all time.  You see, we like the production and creativity that comes with dining at places that serve up molecular gastronomy artwork and pass it off as food.  Order the spicy “Jalé Berry” martini that mixes muddled black berries with jalapeños or the “Magic Mojito” that is presented to you table side as it’s poured from a chilled mini cocktail shaker over a glass filled with cotton candy that disappears as it melts into the drink.  When we say that everything on the menu is good, believe it!  Order the stuffed piquillo peppers filled with goat cheese, the sweet potato chips with yogurt dipping sauce flavored with tamarind and star anise, and the “Not Your Everyday Caprese” which comes with a fun surprise as you bite into the little skewers.  Ok, maybe we won’t let you finish… pass that jicama wrapped guacamole!
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  2. Red Medicine:  Speaking of eating art, run to Red Medicine for an adventure in culinary brush strokes of genius.  We wisely opted to go with the tasting menu and were served course after course of edible poetry.  The first course came presented in a fish bowl and you had to break through a frozen layer of pea puree with your spoon to get into the briny tang of orange fish row nestled at the bottom.  We’re not even sure what else was in there, all we know is that we were fighting for the last bite.
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  3. Hinoki & the Bird: When you’re bumping into Bobby Flay the first week this restaurant opens, you know you’re in for an amazing meal.  And when the owner and chef stop by your table to say hello (umm, swoon, David Myers) and then sends over every dessert on the menu, you will happily oblige trying every dish and not taking home any leftovers. The kitchen is helmed by Top Chef alum Kuniko Yagi who offers up sharable dishes like their signature lobster roll with green curry and thai basil, namesake hinoki scented black cod with maitake and shishito, and their stunning summer pepper toast with coconut miso jam and goat cheese.  Go. Now.
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  4. Osteria Mozza: Chef Mario Batali serves up some seriously delish Italian dishes at this eatery on the corner of Melrose and Highland.  Christina Aguilera likes to eat here and we recommend ordering the burrata with bacon, marinated escarolee, and carmelized shallots alongside the tagliatelle with oxtail ragu or the grilled quail wrapped in pancetta.  Bellissimo!
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  5. Jinpachi:  We are slightly obsessed with sushi.  Ok, majorly.  So when we tried this tiny little blink-and-you’ll-miss-it hidden gem, it has quickly risen to the top spot on our favorite sushi restaurants.  Everyone you know says that they know about “the best sushi place ever” and that “you have to try it”.  We are totally ok if you don’t take our word for it though.  We actually don’t want you try this place.  Stay away, far away.  Because if you go, then you’ll be taking up one of the handful of coveted seats in this already small space.  Don’t order the salmon sashimi with jalapeño and cilantro or the halibut carpaccio with yuzu. Don’t even think about the black cod with miso or the green tea creme brulee.  Ok, but do try the spicy tuna on crispy rice if all else fails as this is the BEST one we have EVER ordered. Watch the door as we’ve run into many many a celeb here: Anne Hathaway orders avocado on crispy rice, Bette Midler sits in the corner, and Kristen Bell, Jonah Hill, Shiri Appleby, Lauren Bush Lauren, and Ronan Farrow all like to sit upstairs. If you do decide to try this place, ask the owner behind the bar, Taka, for his recommendations and definitely take his word for it.

stay

  1. The Viceroy: Located in Santa Monica, this hip and stylish hotel will blow your mind with their decor, their bar, their pool, their location, and their views.
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  2. The Roosevelt:  Stay in the heart of Hollywood off the famous Walk of Fame at this Old Hollywood haunt.  Opened in 1927 and home to the first Academy Awards in 1929, The Roosevelt offers an air of elegance and glamour of a bygone era mixed with the lively and rowdy good looking crowd at the pool and Beacher’s Madhouse nightclub downstairs.  If you feel a hand tap you on the shoulder one night while walking back to your room, don’t worry, that’s just the ghost of Marilyn Monroe that’s said to haunt these halls.
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  3. Palihouse:  Offering locations in West Hollywood and Santa Monica, Palihouse is a unique boutique-style hotel/residence.  It feels like a hotel and it looks like a hotel, but people actually live there?  Lucky.  With a great bar and restaurant downstairs, they’re pulling a Lindsay Lohan a la her Chateau Marmont era.  There’s also Palihotel on Melrose if that’s more your style.
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  4. The London: Swanky and hip, this luxurious hotel offers suites off The Sunset Strip where celebs love to celebrate their baby showers on the rooftop garden. Stay here to be close to everything, but far from ordinary.
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  5. Shutters on The Beach:  Stay on the sand in Santa Monica in this iconic hotel boasting amazing views of the Pacific.  Think of this place as if you were in the movie Dirty Dancing staying in a luxurious resort, only you were on the beach building sand castles instead of dancing with Johnny Castle.  And go on, grab a seat at their restaurant in the corner.  You’ll have the time of your life.

live

  1. West Hollywood:  A lot of the places we mentioned above are in or near WeHo and this vibrant city is home to famous icons and streets like Melrose, Robertson, Sunset Blvd, The Grove, The Beverly Center, and The Sunset Strip.  This small and friendly city has some of the most gorgeous Old Hollywood-era apartment buildings, rent control (hello!), and a welcoming community vibe.  Hey, any place that has a tram that runs along the main drag of Santa Monica Boulevard on the weekends to make sure you make it to the bars and back alive sounds like a good time to us.
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  2. Los Feliz: This affluent neighborhood sits hillside between Hollywood and Silverlake and is home to Griffth Park and Observatory.  Offering a very laid back vibe with its hipster residents and cool cafes, Los Feliz is a haven for expensive historic homes and celebrity inhabitants like Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, and Demi Lovato.  Rents here are more affordable than most of the neighborhoods further west, so look for those great deals.
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  3. Santa Monica: Nothing really beats living next to the ocean.  Considered part of “The Westside”, SaMo sits west of the 405 freeway and is home to upscale beachy residents, beautiful large homes, great hiking trails, and rent control.  While rents here are still pricey, think of all the money you’ll save by walking everywhere and not having to run your A/C in the summer and instead just letting the sea breeze cool off your apartment.  Sweet!
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  4. Silver Lake: Named “LA’s Best Neighborhood” by CNN Money in 2012, Silver Lake is a hipster haven for LA’s cool crowd that likes to talk about the script their writing and the latest art gallery opening over a cup of Intelligentsia coffee. Packed with shops and cafes, walking in this “eastside” neighborhood is as easy as finding an affordable abode with chill neighbors.
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  5. Brentwood: This upscale enclave is home to UCLA’s beautiful campus and a super cute downtown area full of fun restaurants and shopping.  Rents here may be pricey, but that’s because this is such a beautiful and quiet place to call home.

If you liked this, share it.  If you’ve got a favorite place you’d like us to check out for a future installment of our Guide to LA, let us know in the comments below.

photos: frugal travel guynewport beach independent, chasing aphrodite, alik griffineater la, models & moguls, drybar, downtown santa monica, the food stalker, boy meets girl meets food, bag trends, koning eizenberg


beach nation: get your feet sandy at this cafe in the middle of weho

beach nation sand and deck chairs

There’s nothing better than living (or working) within walking distance to amazing restaurants, so naturally when we saw the sign go up for Beach Nation directly across from one of the buildings we manage, we were eager to check it out.

Located on the boisterous corner of Santa Monica Boulevard and Sweetzer Avenue in West Hollywood (which locals lovingly refer to as WeHo), Beach Nation finds itself in good company sharing the intersection with Hamburger Mary’s (and their famous karaoke and drag queen bingo), Joey’s Cafe (good luck getting a table for brunch on the weekends), and West Hollywood’s City Hall (robo garage coming soon).

For years, the Beach Nation site was home to abandoned remnants of an auto repair shop, an asphalt parking lot, a chain link fence, and Irv’s Burgers next door.  Now, it has been re-imagined into a Thomas Schoos designed beach-themed cafe that “literally brings the beach to the city via actual sand,” according to Zagat.

The open air cafe is mostly that, open air, save for a small building where the ordering takes place.  You’ll be greeted by delectable offerings inside a refrigerated display case in front of a large menu on the wall as well as pastries tempting you on your way to the counter to order.  Be sure to check out the coffee menu behind the registers or grab a cold soda from the open case and a bag of chips below.

Since this is a beach-themed coffee shop, we were a little confused at the execution of the theme and the type of food served – it seemed like a bit of a disconnect.  We still aren’t quite sure that the sands of Malibu and Coppertone go hand-in-hand with a steaming latte and hot sandwich, but we’re game for giving it another go since sitting in the sand in the middle of the city is a lot more convenient than sitting in traffic to the westside.

the spread

  • Turkey panini with turkey breast, smoked gouda, baby swiss, green apple, mizuna, cranberry apple chutney – $8.95
  • Salami and ham panini with genoa salami, capicola ham, provolone, olive tapenade, hot/sweet cherry peppers, honey mustard – $8.95
  • Iced latte – $4.65
  • Rose lemonade soda

top nosh

Our simple lunch was filling and delicious and we were actually quite surprised how good the food was considering it’s made off site and then grilled in the cafe.  We swapped bites and both favored the turkey panini over the salami and ham offering.  The snap of the crunchy apple and lighter flavors seemed to go better with the sand and warm weather versus a meat-heavy grilled sandwich.  While the salami panini was indeed very good, we would opt for something that had a bit more green to it next time.

The coffee was rich and flavorful and not at all bitter and we’ll definitely be stopping by this cafe again to grab an espresso or salad very soon.

may we suggest

  • Give this place a try for lighter and more “artisinal” bites than the burgers, fries, and omelettes being served next door and across the street.
  • Disconnect your pre-conceived ideas of what a beach-themed cafe might actually serve on their menu.  If you were thinking fire-pit roasted hot dogs on the end of a wire hanger, nachos, s’mores, and mai tais, you will sadly be disappointed.
  • Bring your best friend!  Being an outdoor cafe, sharing a meal outside in LA’s sunny weather is perfect for brunch with girlfriends or lunch by the sand with Bella your well-dressed labradoodle bestie.  Beach Nation is dog friendly and Bella will definitely enjoy the doggy equivalent of “people watching” with all of the well-groomed tail walking by.  Just be sure to keep her off the sand as digging and squatting is definitely not suitable sand etiquette.

the specifics

Beach Nation
8289 Santa Monica Boulevard at Sweetzer Avenue, West Hollywood 90046
323.654.0020
www.beachnation.com

Monday – Thursday 8am-10pm
Friday 8am – midnight
Saturday 9am – midnight
Sunday 9am – 10pm

Have a great place to recommend for brunch, lunch, mimosas, or cocktails?  Let us know your top picks for restaurants in LA for a chance to be spotlighted in a future post.

photos: the suite life & beach nation


an easy way to figure out where you want to live in LA

One of the most daunting things about moving to LA is trying to figure out which neighborhood you want to live in and where exactly everything is located.  I had this same problem when I moved to LA six years ago.  I knew about the big “buzz” words/places like Melrose, the stars on the sidewalk on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Rodeo Drive, The Sunset Strip, Robertson Blvd., Hollywood & Vine, Downtown, but I had no idea where exactly they were located in relation to each other.  And more importantly, if I wanted to (or could afford to) live in these areas.

You know what I’m talking about.  You watch The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills hang out in Malibu, see Stassi and Scheana get their nails done on Melrose before heading to work at Sur, Kim Kardashian was just spotted by TMZ shopping at The Grove.  But where exactly are these places when you hop off the plane at LAX with a dream and a cardigan? Allow me to let you in on a fun little way to go apartment hunting…

Hollywood bus tour

When my family from Minnesota came out to visit a while back, they wanted to do all that touristy stuff that now as an Angeleno, I cringed at the thought of doing.  But they talked me into joining them on one of those “Hollywood Bus Tours” and I was amazed at how much of the city I saw.  It is a great way to get acquainted with the city, see a lot of it, and see where these big icons are located.

While you’re on the tour, take notice of how close/far things are from each other and what the neighborhoods are like that you’re driving through.  Look at the streets the bus is taking you down and see if there’s any place that you’d like to explore further – then grab lunch there after to get more acquainted with the neighborhood.  We’re sure you’ll be off to a great start in your apartment search after taking a quick tour of LA.

Also be sure to check out our posts on how to find an apartment in LA and what a 1 bedroom will cost you.  Happy hunting!

photo: city sightseeing


eveleigh: australian farm-to-table on sunset blvd

Eveleigh Deck

Hidden among the hustle and bustle of the bright lights, clubs, and towering hotels of the famed Sunset Strip lies a hidden gem tucked away behind a beautiful garden of greenery. Eveleigh (pronounced Ever-lee) is a breath of fresh air along the smoggy Strip that serves rustic farm-to-table plates of palatable poetry to the hipsters of LA.

Named after an inner-city suburb of Sydney, Australia known for its award-winning artisan markets, Eveleigh has Aussie chef, Jordan Toft, heading up the kitchen.  (I’ve got a soft spot for all things Aussie.)  As you step inside, you escape the hardscape of the city and are greeted by the warm feeling of a charming cottage-like structure that feels nothing like the world outside.  Wooden floors, dim lighting, large lemon trees stretched towards the ceiling, and cow skulls hung above the bar in the center of the restaurant make you feel like you’ve stumbled into an upscale and modern cowboy saloon decorated by Restoration Hardware.

The food is just as amazing as the decor and the only thing that beats that is the outstanding service.  Our server instantly greeted us and told us the intriguing tale of their handcrafted cocktails by their master mixologists that come armed with a passion for mixing up their own house-made infused syrups and infusions.  While the cocktail menu was a bit too heavy on the whiskey and bourbon for my tastes, I fell pleasantly in love with their “Beach Babe” made with tequila and found a few other options to try with gin and rum.

the spread

  • Hamachi crudo with kumquat, aged bacon, house-grown basil, cayenne – $18
  • Picked local stone crab with white pepper, sea salt lemon – $22
  • Roasted heirloom pumpkin with maple bay, local almonds, flax seeds, brown butter vinaigrette – $12
  • Wagyu beef cheek with cheesy white polenta, cipollini onion, mustard greens – $28
  • Warm doughnuts with spiced sugar, house-made jam, whipped cream – $12

top nosh

We made sure not to over-order while still getting to try a good selection of their sharable plates and saving room for dessert too.  The Wagyu beef cheek with white polenta takes the honor for Top Nosh.  It was melt-in-your-mouth tender, savory, hearty and a filling bookend after two fish dishes and one veggie option.  The portion size was great for two when paired with other plates or can be hearty enough for one.

may we suggest

  • Go.  This is one of our favorite restaurants in LA with a menu that changes daily and that focuses on a “market-driven” menu.  This means that Executive Chef, Jordan Toft, visits local farmer’s markets, checks out what’s available, and then crafts his menu from there.  A brilliant and beautiful way to cook.
  • If you don’t have the time (or funds) for dinner, grab a drink and a quick bite to eat on the outdoor patio out front.  You’ll be surrounded by lush walls of greenery, a fountain, wooden deck, and great people watching.
  • Make a reservation with a friend or date that loves to try new dishes and sharable plates.
  • Be sure to check out the second bar at the very back of the restaurant.  Not only is it a great place to meet a few new people, it also has one of the best views on the Sunset Strip of the lights of LA.

the specifics

Eveleigh
8752 West Sunset Boulevard, West Hollywood 90069
424.239.1630
www.theeveleigh.com

Brunch:  Saturday & Sunday 10am-3pm
Lunch:    Friday 11:30am-2:30pm
Dinner:   Sunday – Wednesday 5pm-10pm; Thursday – Saturday 5pm-11pm
Late Night Menu: Sunday – Wednesday 10pm-11pm; Thursday – Saturday 11pm-12:30am

Also be sure to check out our posts on Crossroads on Melrose and Animal on Fairfax for even more great places to eat in LA.

All food and drink photos: The Suite Life.  Other photos: film west hollywood, eveleigh, stylehaus