Nowhere is the saying “location, location, location” more true than in Los Angeles. While many other cities around the world offer the ability to walk from one neighborhood to the next in a mere matter of blocks, denizens of LA have to drive from one area to another, oftentimes facing the hardships of traffic and limited music selection. Face it: in this spread out city of ours, a person living in Silver Lake couldn’t date a person living in Venice. They would never see each other and in fact it would be easier if one of them lived in New York or some far flung place – they’d likely see each other more often that way. Making our way from one part of town to the next had best be worth our while. So, in an effort to encourage crossing over border lines into a whole new neck of the woods, here is a list of LA’s haute 5 neighborhoods – the places in LA that won’t make you wonder why you suffered Wilshire Blvd on a Friday at 5pm.
Beverly Blvd / Melrose Ave / West 3rd Street
Start on Melrose Ave heading east from Doheny – you’ll see interior design shops, Cecconi’s, the Pacific Design Center, then Comme Ca, Lucques, Kiki de Montparnasse, and on the horizon The Village Idiot. As you travel eastward, the street becomes progressively alternative. Starting with chic, high-end shops like John Varvatos, you swiftly move into tattoo parlor territory all with a distinct eccentricity and Angeleno-cool. Take the same trip on Beverly Blvd and you’ll find Armani Casa at Roberston, Dominick’s soon after. Close your eyes until you’re east of The Grove and you’ve got Terroni, BLD, and adorable boutique Ten Over Six. Then there’s W 3rd Street – Melrose and Beverly’s younger cousin. Between La Cienega and Fairfax, W 3rd is the place to be with haute establishments like Ortolan, the brand new sports bar Goal, and shops like OK and Satine. Pop into the Farmers Market at the Grove for a little Loteria Grill and you’ll know you made your way to the right part of town.
What was once an area where walking around by yourself was ill-advised, Downtown LA is undoubtedly going through a renaissance. With the Staples Center, Disney Hall, and MOCA, the area has always had a certain appeal, but now that restaurateurs and shop owners making their way downtown – so are we. It can be hard to pinpoint a set of streets to stick to, especially with Wurtskuche, The Gorbals, and Church and State in their off-the-grid locales. Generally speaking, it’s most fun to pop into Drago Centro, The Edison, Mendocino Farms, or Bottega Louie, which are all within a stones throw. With the brand new supper club-slash-bar-slash-restaurant First & Hope set to debut next week across the street from Disney Hall, there’s all the more reason to drive toward the big buildings.
If a person in LA says to you, “let’s go to Malibu” and they aren’t wearing a wet suit and flip flops, they are definitely referring to Cross Creek Road – the part of Malibu where surfing meets shopping. Malibu locals tolerate city-dwellers only so much and really only within the confines of Cross Creek where they mix and mingle with sophistication. With shops ranging from Madison and James Perse to Ralph Lauren, the Malibu Country Mart at Cross Creek has everything a fashion-savvy man or woman could want. Add a very see-and-be-scene Coffee Bean, a seriously good taco stand called Howdy’s, the sushi bar at Nobu, and the tzatziki from Taverna Tony’s and you will need to try hard to find a reason to leave – don’t say the locals. Just off the PCH, turn right on Cross Creek and you’re smelling the salt air while blowing your savings. Turn to your left and hit the ever lovely Carbon Beach. It’s a win-win situation.
How does one begin to define one of Los Angeles’ most iconic neighborhoods? Do we start with the Beverly Hills Hotel with its pink walls and palm trees? Do we marvel at the new kids on the block like the Montage Hotel and its neighbor, Thomas Keller’s Bouchon? How long before we applaud the king of Canon Drive, Wolfgang Puck and his restaurant Spago? The veritable home of haute in Los Angeles, Beverly Hills plays host to Rodeo Drive and its tenants like Christian Dior, Hermes, and Cartier. To the west we have Roxbury and Bedford Drives, lovingly nicknamed “couch canyon” for their high number of therapist offices. The shops and restaurants significantly increase as you move one block east to Camden Drive with the Gagosian Galley at the top of the street, Mr Chows a few blocks down and The Sports Club LA rounding it out. Then there’s Rodeo Drive, followed by Beverly Drive, home to The Farm and Nate ‘N Als. Canon Drive is where you’ll find yourself if you fancy Mastro’s Steakhouse or perhaps a plate of pasta from Il Pastaio. It may be small and early-to-bed, but don’t underestimate the staying power of Beverly Hills.
If svelt yogis and young couples are what you’re after, Montana Avenue in Santa Monica is your destination. One of West LA’s most charming streets, Montana is a haven of shopping, eating, and well being. Starting from the ocean, you’ve got Caffe Luxxe, Babalu, Father’s Office, Blue Plate and R+D Kitchen. The plethora of shops that line the street include lingerie boutiques like Only Hearts and Footsie, the Blue Jeans Bar, kids shop Janie and Jack, Williams Sonoma, and lotions-and-potions outposts like Keihl’s and Jurlique. There are spas and salons, yoga studios, and spinning classes. The chic-and-fit set that frequents Monata Ave can also be found hanging out at their satellite location: the Brentwood Country Mart. An icon of the Brentwood-meets-Santa Monica neighborhood, the Country Mart boasts Calypso Home, Turpan, and the time-tested Reddi-Chick. Hands down the best chicken west of the 405.