Surprise! You've been plopped down into Los Angeles for a weekend trip. This is your first time in the City of Angels. You don't know anyone here -- nor do you have anything in the way of an itinerary.
Fear not, as this piece will provide you with a play-by-play as to what you should go see, and what you should avoid.
Day 2: Brunch Time
Angelenos love to brunch. Meeting up with friends on the weekend has simply become a way of life for many living in the city. There are plenty of artisan eateries offering much in the way of variety (not to mention bottomless mimosas). The perpetual sunny weather truly caters towards eating outside. One can immerse themselves in the fine art of LA brunching virtually year-round.
We will give you three choices to quench your proverbial brunch thirst. The trio of restaurants also head towards the direction you'll want to explore. The first one is Franklin & Company. Teetering on the edge of East Hollywood/Los Feliz, this neighborhood spot is fantastic. There's a wide variety of options one can order -- though the author recommends either the braised short rib hash or the chicken fried chicken (with an unbelievable hash brown cake). In the mood for a meal-drink combo? Grab The Bloody Royale. You'll be getting a Bloody Mary with all sorts of goodies on top.
Since you're headed to DTLA, why not grab some food in the area? Eggslut is a highly popular place. Situated in the popular Grand Central Market, you'll be in the middle of the action with any of these tasty egg sandwiches. The Grand Central Market is also one of Los Angeles' oldest gems. The vendors offer cuisine from all over the world here.
You can't go wrong with either place. However, we recommend a quick jaunt over from your base in West Hollywood to Hollywood proper -- where you'll feast at the nondescript Eat This Cafe. It's easy to drive past the restaurant without giving it a second thought. It's tucked in somewhat of a shabby, industrial area. The building itself is rather dilapidated -- sharing its residence with a local theater. However, you'll see black and white awnings outside with the name of the spot.
You'll want to get here early, as they don't take reservations. From a food standpoint, one can't go wrong with anything on the menu. The truffle cheese and egg panini with balsamic glaze and caramelized onions is simply ridiculous. The same can be said for the grand marnier french toast, the breakfast burger, or the buttermilk pancakes.
We'll now transition to Hollywood -- the land everyone's dreamed about visiting since they were children. If you're expecting to see a glitzy and glamorous place, you'll be sadly disappointed.
A Brief Stop In Hollywood
I don't want to burst your bubble, but here's a fact: Hollywood simply isn't all that it's cracked up to be. Natives of the city will know this unequivocally. It's an old, dirty, cluttered place chock-full of weirdos. The homeless population in Hollywood has also gotten incredibly severe, to the point that you'll see sidewalks covered in tarps and make-shift dwellings.
There's really no need to spend an inordinate amount of time here. One can be in Hollywood for approximately 30 minutes to see the true representation. Of course, you'll want to see the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Feel free to snap a picture next to the star of your favorite actor or athlete. Be warned that you'll probably be approached by individuals dressed up as superheros, former icons, or fictional characters wanting to grab a quick handout (you won't believe how many Michael Jackson impersonators reside on Hollywood Boulevard).
Grauman's Chinese Theatre offers you yet another spot for a selfie. It's truly one of the neater aspects of this area in general. After 30 minutes of sauntering down the street, it's time to head back to your car. You're now headed for DTLA.
Those living on the west side or towards the beach are often hesitant to venture towards Downtown. Distance is often used as an excuse -- as is the relative safety of being in the area. This narrative is changing, however -- as the city's put forth plenty of money towards 'cleaning-up' (aka gentrifying) the area. As it's the oldest part of the city, a richness still exists today in DTLA. This region also beautifully showcases the wonderful diversity found in Los Angeles. Little enclaves will offer you exceptional glimpses into cultures from Asia, Mexico, and Central America (among others).
There are some fantastic museums here in the heart of the city. The Broad in particular is one which garners plenty of popularity. Based upon the exhibits made available, you'll want to reserve tickets online ahead of time. It's well worth it -- as this is one of the best contemporary art museums in the World. If you can't get tickets here, don't worry; close by is the famed Olvera Street district.
Olvera Street is regarded as the oldest street in Los Angeles. Its earliest roots date back to 1781, and some of the buildings were crafted in the early 1800's. It's a colorful road of kiosks, counters, and booths. One can get some absolutely fantastic Mexican food here. It's an always-bustling area -- and one in which anyone should truly experience. Adjacent to Olvera Street is Chinatown. There are plenty of hole-in-the-wall-type places with authentic Chinese food. In fact, many consider the Chinese food here to be the best in the country. Go exploring down the ornate streets. You'll stumble across some really interesting things.
Los Angeles also holds the distinction as the city holding the origins of the French Dip sandwich. Phlippe's (also in Chinatown) is a staple within the city. Having first opened in 1908, the original owner accidentally dropped a sandwich roll into the pan drippings (jus) from the oven. At that moment, the iconic sandwich was born. To this day, you'll see lines out the door for the treat. The coolest aspect is that you'll also see people from literally all walks of life enjoying the sandwich next to one another. It's an authentic restaurant with its 'old school' vibe. More than anything, the clientele typifies the diversity within the city.
Assuming you've taken care of lunch, there's a definite need to walk off the calories you've just consumed. Little Tokyo provides you an opportunity to snag some affordable knickknacks for friends -- whilst also getting a touch of Japanese culture. There are multiple shopping malls chock-full of fascinating items. The energy surrounding this part of the city is truly palpable. On a Sunday afternoon, you'll see tons of people enjoying the atmosphere here. As you continue on your walk, head towards the Arts District. Los Angeles plays host to a considerable amount of muralists. The Arts District in particular houses a fantastic collection of aesthetically-pleasing works. One can putter around the surrounding streets in sheer wonderment for hours.
Once you're parched, the Arts District offers two gigantic breweries (Angel City Brewery, Arts District Brewing Company) for your libational needs. The two are separated by a block. As such, you can hit both of them with plenty of time to spare. These industrial-looking buildings are jam-packed with arcade games and plenty of seating. One can spend a few hours here basking in the energy of the crowd.
After a fun-filled day of exploring the Downtown portion of Los Angeles, you'll likely be wanting to head back towards West Hollywood. As you cruise down Wilshire Boulevard, a haunting aroma will begin to ensnare your senses. Utterly perplexed, you pull over to solidify your bearings. At that point you realize you're in Koreatown. There's then only one thing left to do: Go get Korean BBQ.
The Korean community is a significant player in the fabric of Los Angeles. Koreatown in general has recently seen a renaissance of sorts -- as recent college graduates are moving to the area in droves. Much like the Japanese and Chinese food here, the Korean cuisine is among the best anywhere. Korean BBQ has been a rite of passage for anyone living in the city. Kang Ho-dong Baekjeong, Genwa, and Moodaepo II in particular are fantastic options for your last dinner in Los Angeles.
You've done it! Navigating the entirety in Los Angeles is nearly impossible. Though you've managed to see a huge chunk of the city, there's so much more to see -- as Echo Park, Silver Lake, Manhattan Beach, and other spots do warrant a look.
A return trip should certainly be in order down the line.
*Though we've talked extensively about food throughout the piece, making at least one trip to In-N-Out is an absolute must.
Image Sources: TheCrimsonRibbon/Getty Images, All other photos courtesy of Jason Fray