…I packed into a ’93 Infiniti and moved from a beautiful Russian Hill apartment overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco into The Oakwood corporate housing—which featured a mirrored murphy bed and was teeming with child talent rehearsing songs from Annie in the common walkways—to take a job as a style editor at the Los Angeles Times Magazine. Things were different then. For starters, there was a Los Angeles Times Magazine. And like many of us raised in the Bay Area, I had preconceived notions about L.A., almost all of which, I’m happy to say, were wrong. I never imagined I’d still be here a decade later, nor that after 10 years I couldn’t imagine myself living anywhere else (despite occasional fantasies of a swank pad in Belgravia or a modest casa on Lake Como; a girl can dream). Here is a short list of reasons why you’ll have to drag me kicking and screaming from the City of Angels:
1. Langer’s. The #19 sandwich and a celery soda. Enough said.
2. The Beverly Hills Hotel. If you need a reason to fall in love with The Pink Palace all over again, rent one of my all-time favorite movies, California Suite. It is every bit as relevant 31 years later, from driving to the Valley for the best sushi to capturing LA at its elegant if absurd best. If you need another reason, rent either Designing Woman with Gregory Peck and Lauren Bacall or Robert Evans’ The Kid Stays in the Picture for awesome scenes at the city’s best hotel pool. I used to go there on Monday nights for a drink and to listen to my former neighbor play piano in the Polo Lounge. More recently, it’s where I got my husband’s wedding band in the little Asprey shop tucked downstairs.
3. Lonnie Bishop / Neiman Marcus Shoe Salon, Beverly Hills. Lonnie has a preternatural ability to catalog one’s entire shoe collection, and never suggests a shoe resembling anything you already own.
4. Loteria. The best Mexican restaurant in LA prides itself on not offering a combo plate. Sidle up to the taco bar on a Friday night at the Farmer’s Market location and try any of number of tempting tacos and sauces , or head into the newer Hollywood location where you can order a first-rate margarita and my very favorite spicy Tacos de Camaron with avocado and crema. Amazing. The Chicarron de Queso (griddle-toasted cheese) is pretty epic, too.
5. The neighborhood farmers markets. Pretty much every neighborhood has a weekly, year-round farmer’s market that reflects the distinct personality of the neighborhood. You can’t beat the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market, and when I’m training with my running group on Saturday mornings out at the beach, I always stop by after before hitting Santa Monica Seafood. But most weekends, you’ll find us at our neighborhood Larchmont Farmer’s Market (where a gent plays reggae for the kids) unless we need something a little harder to find, in which case Hollywood Farmer’s Market is the bomb.
6. The Original Farmer’s Market. The Farmer’s Market has stood at Third and Fairfax for 75 years. It is also where my father, that rare breed of native born-and-bred Angeleno, went as a kid. In addition to the tacos at Loteria, I am crazy about the buttery hamburger buns at Thee’s Bakery and the alpha and omega of hamburger meat, Nancy’s Blend at Huntington Meats.
7. Rodeo Drive Chandeliers. During December, a million dollars worth of chandeliers light up Rodeo Drive. Pure magic.
8. Chris Burden’s “Urban Lights.” I think there is little more beautiful than the dramatic installation of 200 vintage Southern California street lamps in front of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Day or night, they’re spectacular. I make a point of driving home via Wilshire at night just to see them.
9. Yang Chow. I don’t pretend that this is the best Chinese food in LA, but it is my favorite. Every year we get tickets to several Lakers games with our friends Booth and Adam, and before each game we all meet at Yang Chow for Slippery Shrimp and Green Beans with Minced Pork. We try to sit in William’s station. He is a huge Laker’s fan, and is often wearing a team tie. In fact, guess where we’re going tonight? Let’s go, Lakers!
10. The Hollywood Bowl. My father took his dates to the Hollywood Bowl in the 60s and really, is there anywhere more romantic? Grab a picnic and a bottle of wine, and head for the ‘Bowl. Fireworks may ensue.
But of course the very best thing about LA, and the most unexpected part of living here, are the incredible friends and colleagues and colleagues who are friends whom I’ve come to know over the past ten years. So here’s to you, you know who you are! And thank you for making LA a place I am proud to call home.
Honorable mention: Mikawaya mochi and Daikoku Ramen in Little Tokyo, omakase at Sushi Ike, Surfas, The Cheese Store of Beverly Hills, hiking or hitting golf balls in Griffith Park, the steamed red curry with seafood at Yai Thai, Book Soup, Harry Winston, reserved seating at Arclight Cinema, sandwiches from John’s Garden and eating them across the PCH under an umbrella at Malibu Lagoon Beach, the view from the gardens at The Getty, Disney Hall, OK Store on Third, running with the LA Leggers at the beach before dawn on Saturday mornings, Dodger dogs, the clam pizza at Mozza, the Triumvirate (Barneys, Saks, Neimans on Wilshire), KPCC, and margaritas after work across the street with my neighbors Alyssa and Martha are RIGHT up there.
Addendum: Cannot believe I forgot to initially include: the Lakers, of course! I’ll be the one in the Pau Gasol Sunday whites jersey at tonight’s game…let’s go, Lakers!