After interviewing four former Brooklynites about their move to L.A., we asked them each to share five favorite spots in their new city for food, drink, and exploring. Use their picks the next time you visit. (Who knows, they may tempt you to relocate, too.)
Heather D. Orozco’s Picks:
1. Santa Anita Canyon: If you live on the Eastside you’re about 20 minutes from another world in Santa Anita Canyon. Inside the canyon you’re surrounded with oaks and willows, the ground is green and mossy, and the landscape is peppered with super cool tiny little turn-of-the-century cabins. You can take the short version and end it at a waterfall and loop back, or spend the day branching off into an assortment of mountains and valleys, depending on the level of difficulty wanted. Not only does it not feel anything like L.A., it feels like you’ve been transported into some kind of secret magical medieval elf village.
2. Santa Anita Horse Races: Another gem in Santa Anita. Located at the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains this is widely considered one of the prettiest racetracks in the world. For about $30 per person you can have lunch and a few drinks at their outdoor restaurant on the finish line while placing bets on horses. Great for kids, families, a date, or just friends hanging out day-drinking; this is one of my all-time favorite things to do on a weekend afternoon.
3. Belle’s Bagels: These guys make the best bagels in L.A. and I’m willing to fight anyone who wants to challenge me on it. Perfectly dense and chewy with toppings on both sides. Open wacky hours/days but totally worth waking up early and planning ahead of time to get some of this magic.
4. Tiki Ti: Teeny-tiny vintage tiki bar with a great vibe. Opens at 4pm and usually fills up with old-timers in Hawaiian shirts by 4:01.
5. Palm Springs: I know this isn’t in L.A. but it should have an honorable mention as the most amazing escape from L.A. only 1.5 hours away. The heavenly mid-century architecture, palm trees, pools, and gorgeous mountain backdrop will have even the most wound-up personality types feeling chilled out in a matter of minutes.
Erica Reitman’s Picks:
1. Astro Family Restaurant: This is an old-school, 24-hour diner with pretty fab food, where you can almost always get a booth. Diners aren’t such a big thing out in L.A. like they were in New York, so maybe there is a bit of nostalgia with this one. Greg and I come here a LOT.
2. Cao Cao Mexicatessen: Yep, it’s true: L.A. has waaaaaay better Mexican food than we do in NYC. This is a fave local spot with traditional Mexican food, but it also has a bit of a gourmet spin.
3. Jugos Azteca: This is a local hole in the wall Mexican joint that has the most amazing fresh juices and agua frescas. The food is also bonkers good. You can get a mind-blowingly delicious fresh juice there that would be $15 anywhere else, and there it’s $5 bucks.
4. Rose Bowl Flea: The flea markets out here are soooo good. There is one every Sunday in various spots across L.A., but the Rose Bowl is the biggest. It’s the second Sunday of every month, and I almost never miss it.
5. Hike at Runyon Canyon: This is a bit of a steep walk, but most of it is actually not *that* bad. I don’t exercise much, so this is coming from someone who is mostly out of shape. But when you get to the top you are treated to the most stunning, spectacular view of Los Angeles you could imagine. You also may see a celeb along the way, as well as LOADS of cute pups.
Adam Rotsteins’ Picks:
1. Little Joy, Echo Park: Not as crowded as the other Echo Park Sunset Blvd hot spots like Short Stop and Saturday Night Funky Soul, but a bunch of areas to hang inside with diverse vibes.
2. The Wisdom Tree, Burbank Peak: Short, intense hike that is over in like 25 minutes. There is a clear goal in sight, and it’s a dope tree stranded on top of a mountain.
3. Guisados, Echo Park: Good cheap tacos that come in a flight with like six different kinds of meat so you don’t have to make any decisions.
4. Porto’s, Burbank: Cuban bakery that seems pretty authentic (what the hell do I know) and also has guava strudels that I’m enthusiastic about.
5. Canter’s, Fairfax: This kinda reminds me of NYC type Jewish delis (that my mom will remind me are NOT kosher). It’s open all night and the corned beef just soaks up alcohol so well.
Eli Edelson’s Picks:
1. Hollywood Forever Cemetery (for Cinespia events): A huge, old, creepy and beautiful cemetery tucked away on Santa Monica Blvd–you can’t get more classic Hollywood than this. It is the best place I’ve ever been for an outdoor movie.
2. Pizzanista, Arts District: A pizza corner store run by professional skateboarders. The pizza is amazing, they blast punk rock all day, and the Arts District people watching is on point.
3. Abandoned Griffith Park Zoo: Hidden behind some fields in Griffith Park (not far from the current zoo), this is a crazy unique spot. Old cages and exhibits have been left to the test of time, covered in vegetation and graffiti. Makes for a great atmospheric walkabout.
4. Landmark Theater at the Westside Pavilion: My favorite movie theater in Los Angeles. Booze, popcorn, a great spectrum of choices–they always have both the blockbusters and the best of current international films.
5. Cafe Dulce, Little Tokyo: In the heart of the outdoor Little Tokyo plaza, this is just an awesome donut shop. Vanilla bacon, crushed Oreo, many many more odd flavors that I’m sure they’ve since created… makes for a great break spot amidst exploring the area and shopping for tchotchkes.