Two weeks after this, I was back in L.A. This time, I headed over with two new San Diego girlfriends, Jessica and Conni, to hit up a West Elm/Etsy event hosted by the hilarious, self-effacing and talented Emily Henderson, interior designer and star of HGTV’s Secrets From a Stylist. But what started as a visit to the event turned into a full-blown foodie girls weekend.
Now, I’m more a low-key, off-the-grid kind of traveler/diner, but every now and again, I like to splash out and try buzzed about places to see, well, what the buzz is about. This getaway was a splurge, but I took it as an opportunity to eat at some places on my Life List (a less gruesome way to say the Before I Die list), and once I got past the very L.A. crowds at these places, I could appreciate the great food and even better decor. (But I gotta say, every trendy restaurant in L.A. is obsessed with the same black stools. What gives?)
I ate. I window-shopped. I waited in line for scene-y brunch spots. And I took notes. Take a look at the 8 simple steps to a trendy, seen-to-be-seen kind of L.A. visit.
Step 1: Fancy brunch. We started the weekend not by checking into our hotel, but by settling into the beautiful interiors of Laurel Hardware, a former hardware store that’s been converted into an industrial-styled restaurant. I just about died over that wallpaper and light fixture. And then I died when I saw Rosie Perez in the restaurant because girl is awesome. And then I died over my fruit scone, which was more like a warm toasted biscuit topped with berries and clotted cream. It was delicious so long as you’re OK with dessert for breakfast. And why wouldn’t you be?
Step 2: Party. Bellies full (and blood sugar levels sky-high for me), we headed over to West Elm on Beverly to meet Emily and check out all the cool Etsy shops she hand-picked to be featured at the event. (I personally loved the letterpress stationery of Iron Curtain Press and delicate jewelry made by Upper Metal Class.) We were extra lucky because Jessica had assisted on Emily’s show so we had a chance to chat with the interior designer for much more than a hot second — and take a gazillion SmileBooth photos with her. We sipped our blood orange ginger fizz cocktails by Heirloom LA and danced to tunes by The Flashdance DJ. It doesn’t get more snazzy than that on a Saturday afternoon…until you see Adam Pally from Happy Endings walking along Beverly.
Step 3: Window shop. It’s all about visiting stores you can’t afford, so naturally we stepped into Design Within Reach, which we don’t have in San Diego. (Though, I do find it really odd that there’s a DWR in my suburban college town of Evanston, Illinois.) We ogled at light fixtures, we lounged in comfy chairs, we pretended we had disposable incomes to buy new furniture. But of course we didn’t. So off we went.
Step 4: Chateau Marmont. It’s synonymous with celebrity shenanigans and tragedy, but A-list gossip aside, the famous hotel has an outdoor patio bar that’s quite lovely for a drink on a warm night. (We also happened to see Sam Rockwell there.) We sipped our wine — Coke for me — and listened in on the many overly dramatic Hollywood conversations. I wanted to slap the girl next to us who was going on and on about some egregious career mistake Justin Timberlake made, but I was half-amused and wanted her to continue. You can see just how vexed she (the blond) is in the photo below.
Step 5: Boutique hotel. After rubbing elbows with all those celebrities (not), we finally checked into the Pali Hotel. It has a dark, moody, hipster vibe and even though I found it to be overpriced for what you get — a small room with no phone to call reception — I did like most of the decor, and the food options inside — the Hart and the Hunter and Handsome Coffee Roasters — are wonderful. (The brussels sprouts salad at H & the H is particularly good.)
Step 6: Flea market. You know me and flea markets, so of course I had to go to the Melrose Trading Post, which takes over the parking lot at Fairfax High School every Sunday from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. It’s heavy on clothes, but there’s a good deal of furniture, knick-knacks and art to be found as well. I liked this one because it’s a manageable size for people who aren’t as rabid about flea markets as I am but still has a lot of interesting pieces thanks to its big city location. During yesterday’s visit, I picked up a delicate necklace, finally found a picture frame that’ll fit a piece of awkward-size art I bought in India and also an empty frame that I’m planning to turn into a DIY bulletin board. (Market admission is $2.)
Step 7: Fancy brunch #2. When on a getaway, you must always brunch twice. It’s a rule, I think. We ventured to Toast, which is The Place to Be judging by the huge crowd waiting for tables. Thanks to the high turnover though, we were seated in a quick 20 minutes and of all the places on this list, Toast had the most reasonable prices for portion size. For $9 I got scrambled eggs, toast, veggie sausage and fruit. (And none of that only-honeydew business; there were berries, kiwis, grapes and pineapples.)
Step 8: Bakery pit-stop. We didn’t have much time to linger in Sycamore Kitchen, a very buzzy bakery located on La Brea, so we decided to swing by and pick up a treat for the ride home. The blueberry oat bar was my version of dessert for breakfast once again, and the chocolate hazelnut fudge cookie was really just a decadent brownie. I made a valiant effort to finish it last night once we got back, but it’s powerfully rich. This means leftovers for today. Woohoo!