Take me back.
That’s all I really want to say about this.
It’s actually very interesting – people have told me my entire life that I would “hate LA” because I’m “such a New Yorker”. Yet…75% of the people I met there were FROM New York, and a lot of my friends in New York are actually FROM California. I think LA has a vibe that chills you out, while NYC has a vibe that energizes you…or gives you a panic attack.
Most people are geared towards the former, which is why this place is so damn popular. And frankly, that’s why I never lived anywhere else. I love to travel, but I always come back here. I swear it’s not just for the pizza and bagels but I’ll admit that’s a BIG draw.
I grew up in Queens and Manhattan. Ever since I was 5 years old, I spent weekends with my Dad on 35th and Park Avenue. I can’t lie, it was really awesome to be able to experience a life like that as a kid. And my Dad is a prime example of someone who is from another country (Romania) and absolutely fell in love with New York City. My dad feeds off of the energy and took us to do everything he could think of: Empire State building, Ellis Island, Central Park (to climb rocks, obviously), Museum of Natural History, street fairs, parades…you name it in NYC, I’ve done it.
My point is…I think I’m a little jaded now. Very few things surprise me, and very few things feel “new and exciting”. I have friends who say to me “trust me, NYC is like no other place in the world”. And while I know that, I stop and say “yea but…there’s still other places in the world for a reason”.
Enter: Los Angeles. I have always wanted to go. I think it’s partially the weather and partially because I have a slight fascination with movies and Hollywood. There’s just something I really felt drawn to, always. I was legitimately sad coming home and that very rarely happens for me on a trip. Usually by day 4 or 5 of ANY trip I’m ready for NYC again. I’m trying hard not to tug too hard at that thread…
So anyway, now that I’m done rambling about my life…here’s where I stayed and here’s what I ate. That’s what you came here for, right? And if you haven’t used the HotelTonight app for travel…get on that. It’s literally my favorite hotel app it’s so, so easy and I found two GREAT hotels on there:
The Freehand – located in Downtown LA, this “hip” and minimalist hotel has a Native American vibe, with retro touches (which I love). It’s also home to one of the cutest rooftop bars, The Broken Shaker. There was a line down the block to get in on Friday night around 10 pm, but thankfully, guests don’t have to wait in pesky lines. Room service is from the Cafe Integral (inside the hotel), so it doesn’t arrive looking all beautiful on white china like normal hotel room service – it comes in takeout containers. So if you’re looking for a gram worthy shot, prob won’t happen here. Lord knows I tried though.
The Line – located in Koreatown, this hotel was so cool and unique. Way more modern, and full of natural light. My room had electric blinds because the bed was just outwardly facing a giant window (the entire size of the wall). Then there’s “The Commissary” on the 2nd floor, which is basically a gorgeous greenhouse right outside the pool where you can eat or have a drink. Oh, and definitely order room service here! The presentation is so fun, and my pancakes were fluffy and perfect.
Here we go on the food, in order of places visited, and this is just Friday night to Sunday night. Good times. Part II will follow soon…
Cal Mare – Michael Mina’s latest outpost brings “coastal Italian fare” like fresh seafood and great pasta (the beet pasta with goat cheese sauce…) in a lovely space right near the Beverly Hills Center. Get the Yellowfin tuna crudo, I promise you won’t regret that.
Jane Q – casual breakfast, dinner, and coffee spot inside the Everly hotel. Get the avocado toast, the BELT egg sandwich, and a cold brew to start your day.
Filifera – situated on top of the Hollywood Proper Residences is Filifera, a serene rooftop with a pool and gorgeous views of the city. You can even see the Hollywood sign! Get the Bloody Mary and the fried chicken sliders.
In N Out Burger – I mean, I just had to. Can’t make a trip to the West Coast without a visit to In N Out! Double Double, Animal Style. All day kid.
Animal – speaking of “Animal Style”, we kept that theme going with dinner at this classic LA spot. Pricey maybe, but it’s worth it if you’re a meat lover and somewhat adventurous with your palate. The chicken liver toast and the oxtail poutine was my favorite.
Bruxie – fried chicken and waffles come in many forms here, but one of them has to be a sandwich or you’re missing out. GREAT breading on these guys, and the waffles were not too thick and perfectly crunchy/chewy. Definitely a must for a hangover meal.
Lawry’s The Prime Rib – this is a classic according to my LA friends, and it’s definitely worth the trip, even for just the experience. Really old school place, where they bring over a massive warming station loaded with prime rib that they slice tableside and serve to you with mashed potatoes and gravy. Oh, and don’t sleep on the creamed corn.