Bambi Recommends: Los Angeles Spring 2018

I was sad to hear that the Museum of Broken Relationships has become the Museum of Illusions. There’s some symbolism there but an Instagram-trap-of-a-museum is probably more appropriate for Hollywood Blvd anyway.

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Petersen Automotive Museum
I’m not a car pro but I can appreciate the history and beauty of automobiles as far as design and legacy go. The Petersen is a curated collection of cars but the visit is nothing without adding the extra ticket to the Vault. There, you will get an in-depth walkthrough of their private collection in the basement plus all the juicy stories that go with them. Keep an eye out for the glorious Bugatti that was gifted to the Shah by the USA. If you don’t want to fork over the extra cash though, there’s a Porsche exhibit currently on display on the entire ground floor that will be on until early 2019.

And although I really wanted pizza, the burrata at the museum’s restaurant, Drago, is quite pretty and delicious. If you sit on the bar, you can watch the chefs make all the dishes and see each pizza as it’s pulled out of the brick oven while the cheese bubbles.

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Crumbs & Whiskers
A cat cafe located on Melrose Avenue, Crumbs & Whiskers welcomes walk-ins or you can book a 70 min session ahead of time. I say book a spot and go park early. Window shop through the vintage shops and check out the graffiti that litter the street until your appointment. Don’t drink at Starbucks. You can get a latte when with the kitties. All the proceeds go to saving them from euthanasia. There’s another C&W in DC too.

Wasteland isn’t your standard teeny vintage venue but it has got some good finds if you have the patience to dig. There are 3 other locations as well.

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Pasadena Antique Mall
Speaking of digging, this shop across from the city’s convention center is a treasure trove of reclaimed goodies. Another place that requires a keen eye and patience to inspect each vitrine, you will at least be entertained in the quest even if you’re not looking for anything in particular.

You can also have lunch at Le Grande Orange Cafe, an eatery housed in the restored Santa Fe railway station. I love trains.

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LA Conservancy: Union Station Walking Tour
Speaking of trains, I checked in with the LA Conservancy again to see what walking tours were left to do and found the one dedicated to Union Station. The structure that’s a Spanish Mission revival with Art Deco elements, the Union Station combined 3 main railways into one in order to be the hub of Los Angeles transportation. Acoustic cement tiles line the walls and the ceiling so no sound escapes and light pours into the main ticketing area through fogged glass panels. It’s a wondrous mix of marble, tiles, and geometric symmetry and there are art pieces in the newer half that are dedicated to the diversity of LA.

The Fred Harvey restaurant housed there is under renovation and will be converted into a brewpub. Our docent used it as an example of how the LA Conservancy is successful in preserving landmarks: giving them a new contemporary purpose while keeping their original design rather than just being saved and costing the city money on “wasted” real estate by being left empty without actual use.

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Egyptian Theatre Tour
The theatre on Hollywood Blvd is one of Sid Grauman’s film babies. They occasionally give guided tours of the property so you can hear what the eccentric man had originally planned for the space versus what came to fruition like how it was supposed to be a Spanish style but he shifted to Egyptian just a few weeks before Tutmania gripped SoCal thanks to the discovery of King Tut’s tomb.

Before seeing a TCM film there, try to align it with a lecture by Kimberly Truhler. She’ll deep dive into a decade as part of her Style Essentials series so you can appreciate the connection between film and the fashion world. It will usually correlate with the film being shown that day. We got to see Top Hat, a Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers classic.

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Anaheim Packing House
Similar to Napa Valley’s Oxbow Public Market, this is a food court/market. It’s also in a restored citrus packing warehouse. There’s fatty, fried goodness or the more healthy Aleppo kitchen where you can get some legit tawook with rice, tabbouli, and hummus. Sometimes there’s live entertainment too.

ROADTRIP RECOMMENDATION
Daou Winery in Paso Robles

About a 3-hour drive from LA or SF, Paso Robles is the new up-and-coming wine region of California. Impressive cabernets are coming from the soils there but if you want Lebanese hospitality, food, and a full-bodied beauty, head to the Daou Vineyards tasting room. Having a seat out on the patio is enough to make you forget all about the drive.

Try the wagyu beef skewers with a glass of Mayote. Mom would say Eye of the Falcon but why pick one? If you can’t make it all the way out there, you can always stop by Wesley’s for a bottle of their Chardonnay. WINK WINK.

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Bambi Recommends: Los Angeles 2017

Disclaimer: This list does not mean to discredit any of the locations mentioned. On the contrary, if you have the time, do both. However, if you’re looking for the lesser known option, this line-up offers alternatives to the landmarks that get a lot of attention. I also focused more on activities since there are plenty of food recommendation lists online (links at the bottom).

Instead of the LACMA,
Museum of Broken Relationships
Started in Croatia, this museum collects tangible mementos that are attached to ephemeral memories of a relationship gone sour. Each item has a short blurb next to it explaining the story and the museum rotates new items in every few months. Not all relationships featured are the romantic kind but they’ve got their fair share of heartbreak.

They usually have an interactive part that visitors can add to as well, be it fill-in-the-blanks or an alter for moving on. I spent the most time at these.

Instead of the MoCA,
The Broad
One of the best museums I’ve been to as far as contemporary art goes. It’s much less WTF, more FTW. With Koons, Kruger, and Murakami pieces, it’s vibrant while still having a witty intellectual critique on society’s vices. Plus some of the stuff is just weird AF so you can have a lot of fun with your camera.

Entrance is FREE but you have to wait in line for a while especially now that Yayoi Kusama’s got a whole setup there. Tickets are sold out for that but you can go early and hope to snag a few same-day standby tickets if you’re lucky.

Instead of The Last Bookstore,
$5 or Less Bookstore
Don’t get me wrong, if you make a trip to DTLA, definitely head to The Last Bookstore and peruse the shelves of affordable books, get lost in the labyrinth, and stop by Liz Huston’s shop upstairs. But if you don’t feel like heading to the city, there is a chain of $5 or $10 or Less shops that also have substantial collections of second hand stuff for pennies.

The Last Bookstore is still worth a visit but it’s poorly ventilated and parking in downtown is a nightmare.

Instead of Netflixing your Saturday away,
UCLA’s The Hammer
Currently hosting an exhibit on Radical Women: Latin American Art as part of Pacific Standard Time until the end of December, The Hammer holds 20 exhibitions and 300 events every year. It’s also located in Westwood which has lots of shops, restaurants, and public parking that isn’t a total ripoff.

Entrance is also FREE and they’re open until 8pm during the week, closed on Mondays. Another option is the California African American Museum in Exposition Park. Entrance is also FREE but they’re only open until 5pm and closed on Mondays too.

 

Instead of walking the halls of the Getty Villa,
See the Venus Shrine outside the Getty Villa
It’s hidden at the end of the gardens beyond the pool to the left if your back is to the Villa. Here, visitors have tied love prayers to Venus in the traditional Roman fashion: addressing her, complementing her, and then scribbling down wishes for her to grant. You can spend hours flipping through them only to find that everyone wants the same thing in the end: a little love and a little happiness.

Getty Villa has FREE entrance, you just have to pay for parking which is $15 or $10 after 3pm.

Instead of the local Starbucks,
Stumptown Coffee Roasters
Starbucks is definitely the king of convenience since they’re everywhere but if you find yourself near the Arts District in DTLA, head to Stumptown for a real cup of coffee. And it’s right around the corner from Bestia. 

Instead of going straight to the bar,
Live Rude Girls at Second City
A lot of comedy legends emerged from this place but the 5-girl troupe that does Live Rude Girls every Friday have a knack for keeping it current, poking fun at today’s misogyny and political woes.

You can get tickets for $6 (50% off) on Goldstar. It’s not a very long show so head to Mama Shelter or Farida for drinks or food after.

Instead of Blue Star,
Primo’s Donuts
I read about how one foodie judges ice cream brands based on their vanilla flavor because it’s a fundamental flavor that will show you what a brand is really made of. I use the same logic when I judge a doughnut joint based on their glazed buttermilk. If you can’t get this basic staple right, you’re not on my radar. It also happens to be my favorite. I’m not a fan of the maple bacon cereal covered crap, just make me a classic old fashioned.

Primo’s is a family-run spot. I popped in with my little sister and met the owner who told us the whole spiel about how he took over from his dad. He then loaded a box of freebies so we could try all their greats. They also serve Stumptown coffee.

Fun fact: After first opening in 1956, they’re opening another branch in Venice soon.

Instead of Perch Rooftop,
Bacari PDR
This wine bar is out in Playa Del Rey across from Cantalini’s Salerno Beach Resto (which is a family-run Italian joint that’s on my food list). If it were closer, I’d be a regular here. It’s low-key, casual, and GOOD like a wine bar should be. Sit on the patio and enjoy the breeze around sunset. They have great wine, $14 sangria pitchers on Sundays, and yummy nibbles to share.

Instead of Hollywood Forever Cemetery, 
Rooftop Cinema Club
I never made it to the Hollywood Forever screenings but a woman I gave my extra drink token to told me that she preferred Rooftop because it’s “bougie in the best way possible”  because you get seats, blankets, and decent sound quality. It’s operational in LA, NYC, and London. Only downside is the headphones can get uncomfortable after a few hours – stick to shorter films.

Honorable mentions in this category are Street Food Cinema and Eat|See|Hear. I also watched two of my favorites (Edward Scissorhands and Goodfellas, respectively) at those so my opinion is a little swayed. Whatever you choose, make sure to bring a blanket because LA gets cold when the sunshine is gone.

Instead of Abbott Kinney Blvd,
Camarillo Premium Outlets
These are not near each other whatsoever but Camarillo will offer you much more for your money as far as luxury shopping goes. Abbott Kinney is hipster heaven but I get the gross feeling that I’m being ripped off by businesses that pushed out the real artists of Venice so if paying to dress like a hobo isn’t your thing, drive out to Camarillo and pop into the outlets there – they’ve got all the big names too.

Instead of Seeing LA from the 405 for 3 hours,
LA Conservancy Walking Tours
I can’t recommend this enough. I’m a huge fan of walking tours so these were my mission for the summer. I went on all three offered: Art Deco, Historic Downtown, and Broadway. The docents are extremely passionate about what they do and, after attending each one, you will look at DTLA as more than just the seedy place it can seem to be at times. The buildings have stories and details that you overlook when you’re walking through the atrium to get to Guisados. You learn things like the fact that Broadway was once home to 32 theaters or that Biddy Mason, who was born a slave and was one of the first African Americans to purchase land in the city, had a huge impact on the development of Los Angeles.

Instead of Chick-Fil-A,
Howlin’ Ray’s
ORDER THE FRIED PICKLES. The trick to experiencing this is showing up extremely early, waiting in line for 1.15hr, and eating at 11am. Or having your cousin wait early while you’re stuck on the freeway getting there only to arrive and have your anger dissipated with fried pickles and spicy Nashville fried chicken. No but really, get the fried pickles.

They’re open 11am-4pm and you will wait in line forever if you don’t get there at around 9am. It’s worth it. Make it a Bumble date and get to know each other in line. Worst case, you’re bored to death but, in the end, you still get fried chicken.

Instead of a Broadway show that’ll break the bank,
Rockwell Table & Stage
I saw an unofficial parody of Hocus Pocus at this spot in Los Feliz (pronounced “Fee-liz” because LA) and it was phenomenal. The talent is strong – you’ll recognize some Tony winners and supporting actors – and the jokes are stronger. It was a 90s throwback for a solid hour and a half and they’ll be doing one of Home Alone during the upcoming Christmas season. 

Check out the upcoming shows here. Book ahead because they sell out. You can also go down the street to Jon’s International and stock up on Almaza, labneh, and markouk bread because that’s how you perfect an evening.

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If you’re outdoorsy, hiking is big in LA and there are so many trails worthy of exploring. Instead of sticking to Runyon Canyon and hoping to see a celeb in Ivy Park, download the All Trails app and find something suited for you based on your level and location.

Temporary shows and exhibitions are aplenty in Los Angeles . Kerry Marshall’s Mastry at the MoCA is just an example of a fantastic show that came and went while I was here. There was also Barnsdall Friday Wine Nights which are only during the summer season but worth it. To stay on top of what’s currently going on while visiting, check out these references for LA activities:

Discover LA
Studio DIY
PF Candles
We Like LA
LA Conservancy
Infatuation LA
Thrillist LA
TimeOut’s Summer in LA list
LA Mag’s Best of LA or their lists
SoCal Pulse Weekend Lists