L. A.’s CONFIDENTIAL

As you head west a whiff of the ocean breeze reminds you that Los Angeles is not all movie sets and fake tans. Our native Texan style guru Natalie Bond name-drops and people-watches as she recommends where to go and what to do in the City of Angels.

Los Angele is a thrill a minute from the time you disembark from LAX or hopefully, your PJ in Santa Monica. With so many exciting things to experience, spend your first afternoon at Abbot Kinney – which is the essence of Venice, California – all on one darling street.

VENICIAN FORMULA

Cuisine-wise, Gjelina is hands-down the most highly sought-after reservation in the vicinity. It is for good reason, since they have a fantastic patio where many a bottle of rosé has accompanied some of the best compilations of mozzarella, tomatoes and prosciutto in town. If you love coffee, even a little, then Intelligentsia is an absolute must. This artsy, hipster spot is a destination in and of itself, where coffee growers are as celebrated as the brew, and all are welcome.

If you want a solid burger and a beer, head around the corner to Larry’s, the little brother of the James Beard Award-nominated Waterloo & City, just a stone’s throw from the Venice Beach boardwalk. The spot was named after iconic Southern California artist Larry Bell, recognized as a pioneer of the California minimalism movement and features a permanent art exhibit from Bell himself.

You can’t go wrong wherever your curiosities take you on Abbot Kinney – but if you’re crunched for time, which, in this editorial sense, we are, there are a couple of highlights: Guild, one of the most fashion-forward shops on the West Coast, features creations from Rick Owens, Giorgio Brato, Isaac Sellam and Jean Francois-Mimilla. Marianne Kooimans and Steve Wood, owners of kokoVenice, make and design everything in their store – from the shoes to ever-so-perfect cardigans. Mona Moore carries the best in shoes and handbags from brands like Ann Demeulemeester, Balenciaga, Marsèll, as well as some killer vintage accessories. You’ll have to stop by A+R; the clever specialty shop has just the thing for that person for whom you can never figure out just what to give. Owners British ex-pat Andy Griffith, a former film editor and self-avowed design junkie, and Rose Apodaca, journalist and author, personally seek out the best in global design and display their creative findings for others to muse, fondle, or surely to their desire to buy.

BEVERLY HILLS:  SWIMMING POOLS AND MOVIE STARS

Still hungry? Since LA is home to some of the most exciting culinary destinations on the planet, you will have some serious decisions to make.  Wolfgang Puck’s flagship restaurant, Spago, celebrated its 30th anniversary by undergoing a restaurant remodel. The Michelin-starred restaurant closed for several months to revamp the menu, cocktail program and interior design, complete with a retractable patio roof.

Make reservations in advance to dine at The Tower Bar at the Sunset Tower, which feels like a private dinner club with its candlelit tables, surrounded by old and new Hollywood. Maître d’ Dimitri Dimitrov is a legend in his own time, directing the cast of characters who frequent the fine establishment, from Jennifer Aniston to Nancy Reagan, Tom Ford to Mick Jagger.

Mr. C, the restaurant in Cipriani’s lavish new Beverly Hills hotel, opened just last year. The long-anticipated West Coast version of the New York icon certainly doesn’t disappoint while the menu sizzles with hearty Italian, as do the waiters, and the rosewood-paneled bar offers prime people-watching.

Any good Texan-turned-Angeleno will steer you in the right direction for a good steak. Mastro’s is a classic steakhouse in the middle of Beverly Hills. The service is excellent and consider the Mastro’s Seafood Tower, an excellent appetizer, yet save room for their signature warm butter cake.

It’s morning in LA, but it really doesn’t matter what day of the week it is in this city, since most of the people who live here do not know what 9-to-5 really means. Brunch is a pretty wonderful thing in Los Angeles, given the ideal weather for almost year-round al fresco dining. The restaurant at the Sunset Marquis, aptly named, Restaurant, is perched in the middle of lush gardens; koi pond and all. The venue’s ingredients for the French fusion are all market-fresh. Another prime brunch location is La Conversation, whose award-winning pastries are served on the house to every seated table. No matter what kind of night you may have had, their broiled sliced grapefruit with brown sugar, filet mignon quesadilla, or any of their Café Society omelets will put your morning in check. Another absolute gem for alfresco brunching is Porta Via. Located in the heart of the Beverly Hills shopping district, Porta Via offers simple preparations via seasonal produce amongst open-air and patio seating. If poolside dining is more your thing, visit the legendary Circa 55 at The Beverly Hilton, which is the flagship Hilton hotel. There’s always someone to spot, and the food is helmed by an award-winning culinary staff that is under the direction of Chef Suki Sugiura (the man in the kitchen for the Golden Globes, Clive Davis’ pre-Grammy party, and the Oscar nominations luncheon, to name a few of the annual events that take place there.)

WHO’S ON THIRD

After eating, summon your Uber driver to take you over to the West 3rd Street district, a street that welcomes both the aimless wanderer and targeted shopper all the same. I usually head straight for Noodle Stories, which, in my opinion, is the best fashion boutique in the city where that coveted fashion-forward, yet effortlessly chic look can be created here. They have exclusives on some of the best names in fashion: Sofie d’Hoore, Hache, Brochu Walker, Comme des Garçons, Laura Urbinati, AntiPast, Martin Margiela – the list goes on. One can get carried away.

Keep walking 3rd because there are some neat stores with unique personalities in this district. From OK Store, a quirky meets hipster gift shop, to Beckley, a boutique boasting a wide array of women’s wear, and for the perfume aficionados, Le Labo.

Food is no small ordeal in the 3rd Street District and Joan’s on Third is the place to see and be seen – whether it’s at the deli counter or on the patio; the Little Next Door Brasserie is one of the chicest French brunch spots in town (its big brother is one of the most romantic restaurants in LA, The Little Door); and dinner reservations are close to impossible at the Izaka-Ya by Katsuya.

STAY, ALREADY

Beauty sleep is important while in LA, so it’s a good thing there are so many options to lay your head.

Downtown you’ll find Luxe City Center Hotel, the boutique hotel in downtown Los Angeles, located across the street from the Staples Center and overlooks LA Live.

In Beverly Hills there’s really nothing quite like The Peninsula Beverly Hills, which has the best rooftop pool in Los Angeles. The Club Bar, right off the lobby, is known for their collection of vintage scotch and menu of classic cocktails.

Santa Monica is for those who prefer a classic seaside escape. Shutters on the Beach is a stunning luxury property located grains of sand away from the ocean and they have tapped Claire Vivier to design a signature tote, and James Perse, Essie and Vosges Haut-Chocolat will all help celebrate the iconic property’s 20th birthday.

Hotel Bel-Air recently went under the knife, as most grand dames in this town do, but this Spanish Colonial-style hotel took two years to reinvent itself. While the redesign honors its storied past (the signature pink stucco façade has remained untouched since the ‘40’s) the Hotel Bel-Air reemerged with a contemporary look, a new La Prairie spa, and a David Rockwell-designed restaurant and lounge overseen by Wolfgang Puck himself.

SHOPPER’S PARADISE

“In my opinion, L.A.’s top capsule of cool is a little place called TenOverSix. Shop owners Kristen Lee and Brady Cunningham have curated the perfect assortment of edgy, must-have pieces that never cease to inspire me to step outside of my sartorial comfort zone. Lucky news for Dallas readers: the gals just opened a boutique and coffee shop inside the Joule Hotel!

Natalie Alcala, L.A. Editor, Racked.com

“My absolute favorite place for jewelry in LA is Roseark. The owners, Kathy and Rick Rose, who also design their own lines, have the most impeccable taste. I walk in and literally want everything. My Kathy Rose for Roseark arrowhead ring is one of my favorite possessions. I just feel more powerful and chic when I put it on.

Sari Tuschman, Editor in Chief, Foam magazine

“Whenever I need a formal dress, something unique for a baby shower or am just in the mood for some vintage Ferragamo sandals, I head to Playclothes Vintage in Burbank (3100 W Magnolia Blvd, Burbank). The large but filled-to-the-brim shop is 20 minutes from downtown L.A., and has a killer, largely label-less selection of mostly ’50s-early ’90s cocktail dresses, gowns, sweaters, shoes, jewelry. A men’s room has great androgynous leather goods, messenger bags and hats. Prices are always fair, which is likely a reason why Mad Men costume designer Janie Bryant is a frequent shopper.”

Erin Weinger, Style Editor, The Hollywood Reporter

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