Now that I’m having a love affair with Los Angeles, here are some highlights from our recent visit.
My love of California has been steady since I first visited this state in 1990, eight years before I moved here from New Jersey. My love of Los Angeles has been more recent, but it’s been steadfast for the last 15 years. Several years ago, David and I decided to get to know the city more to see what all the fuss is about. And though I cannot say I have any desire to live there, we’re thrilled we have the opportunity — between his work and mine — to go down every few months.
This recent visit was particularly special because we were celebrating several joyous occasions: our 15-year wedding anniversary as well as the wedding of a dear friend of mine who married the love of her life. Here are some highlights from our trip with recommendations for your next visit.
*We always stay at the Huntley hotel in Santa Monica. Nothing beats the view or the proximity to the beach and the shops, but it’s also at the edge of all the hustle and bustle, and the residential neighborhood is my favorite place to run. The rooftop restaurant/bar at the Huntley is one of the city’s most popular, so it can get pretty crowded, but we put together an impromptu Happy Hour there on a Friday night and had no problem finding seats and getting served. (And the service is always stellar.) I often spend hours up in the restaurant writing away and trying not to get distracted by the view of the Pacific Ocean. Although it’s not the most vegan-friendly of restaurants, there’s always something to eat, whether it’s a salad or the veganized pizza.
*For our anniversary dinner, David surprised me with reservations at Crossroads, which we still hadn’t ever been to. It was fantastic — the ambiance (warm and romantic), the service (attentive without hovering), the drink menu (extensive), and the food (best kale caesar and best brownie I’ve ever had!). We can’t wait to go back.
*Other places we ate in Santa Monica: Tender Greens, a chain I went to because of outdoor seating, free wifi, and vegan options, though I wouldn’t go back again. The food was mediocre at best, and the smell of steak and other dead flesh — even while sitting outside — was unbearable. Flower Child was definitely a much better lunch option over Tender Greens. I wouldn’t necessarily sit there to work, but the food was really good, and there was lots of variety; friendly staff, and bright open space. We also ate at Erven Restaurant, which has taken over the old Real Food Daily space. Lots of interesting flavors in the food, a great wine list, and lovely service. We’d probably go again, but I worry that there’s nothing that stands out enough about it to be a major draw.
*Once downtown after celebrating our friends’ wedding, we signed up for a walking tour, one of the best ways to get to know a city. I highly recommend Downtown LA Walking Tours — lots of different tours to choose from, and the host knows his stuff and loves what he does.
*We walked around on our own a bit as well and just fell in love with the architecture downtown. Some highlights for me were a) seeing Union Station, where many of my favorite Film Noir films have scenes AND where the pivotal scene in The Way We Were (one of my favorite movies) was filmed. I had no idea until I stood at the restaurant that the iconic argument scene was filmed there. b) the public library was beautiful c) the courtyard at the Disney concert hall was just beautiful and d) I knew right away that there was a link between the architecture at The Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels (in L.A.) and The Cathedral of Christ the Light (in my city of Oakland), and I was right. (I think the latter is more stunning, however.) Oh, and it was lovely to see where Gregory Peck and his wife are interred.
*After several hours of walking, we headed straight to Au Lac (right across from the Disney concert hall) and enjoyed a delicious lunch. We’d been there before, but we really looked forward to going again, and we weren’t disappointed.
From there, we headed straight back to our hotel to pack up our things and hop in an Uber to the airport. We’re back in our beloved city of Oakland, but we’re already planning our next visit to the city of angels.