Destinations / GO: SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA
TRUE CONFESSION: I didn’t become an L. A. fan until I discovered its neigh- borhoods. Before
that, every visit made me feel overwhelmed, with the nagging sense I
was skating across a glossy veneer,
the real city hidden underneath.
That all changed when I began
to base each stay in an area of
the city I wanted to know better,
choosing as my headquarters a
personality-rich hotel that promised a window into the local scene.
On my last trip, that was the
Kimpton La Peer, located in West
Holly wood’s Design District, just
blocks from the landmark rain-
bow crosswalk on Santa Monica
Boulevard. Not only does the La
Peer have a stunning pool and
a roof deck ideally placed for
sunset watching, it’s supremely
dog-friendly, which meant I could
join my WeHo neighbors in chat-
ting about our breed mixes as we
strolled the shady side streets.
But there’s an even greater
secret to the successful L. A. getaway: brunch. And not just any
brunch, the right brunch, preferably in a low-key neighborhood
hangout with plenty of outdoor
seating (read: dog-friendly) where
you can eavesdrop while the party
at the next table discusses their
upcoming comedy showcase. In
WeHo, that’s Blu Jam Cafe on
Melrose, the original location
of what’s grown to be a group of
six breakfast spots around town.
Take a sidewalk table for a front-
row seat to the WeHo parade.
My favorite brunch hangout
of all, though, has to be Sqirl,
and not just because it’s in über-cool Silver Lake. The menu here
tilts well toward groovy, with a
plethora of vegan, vegetarian and
gluten-free options, but dishes
like the skillet-baked Fritt-Omlette with fresh herbs and
ricotta brioche toast are what
keep me coming back.
Afterwards I stroll over to the
Silver Lake Saturday farmers market to admire the beeswax candles
and goat’s milk soap and seek out
my favorite organic chai. Silver
Lake also has a Tuesday afternoon
market, while the Friday market
in nearby Echo Park is the place
to go to wind down your workweek with a fresh kombucha and a
couple of empanadas.
Another neighborhood favorite
is Echo Park Lake itself, where
the city turns out to stroll on
sunny afternoons, mothers pushing strollers and couples pedaling
swan boats through the spray of a
It was big news last November
when Silver Lake got its first
upscale boutique hotel, the Silver
Lake Pool & Inn, and that’s
Hyperlocal is the best way to do Los Angeles.
By Melanie Haiken