So you made it to L.A. The City of Angels. Tinsel Town USA. The Glitter Goliath. You have a pocket full of cash and it’s time to experience some of that famous nightlife and delicious food. Los Angeles is well known for its scenes and some of the best food and drink in the civilized world. No matter who you are or what your credo, this city has something for you to dig and will let you look good digging it.
What would a trip to Los Angeles be without making a visit to a Wolfgang Puck restaurant? Famous for his long line of great eateries, this chef is a staple in the well-to-do upper echelons of fine dining. He’s cool too. Spago, CUT, Chinois, and Postrio are a few of the iconic name locations he has opened over the years and now WP has a new dining experience for the “select” crowd. WP24 is Wolfgang Puck’s latest restaurant, named for being located on the 24th floor of a downtown sky scraper. A creative location mixed with a creative chinese menu, you won’t be disappointed with any element of food or atmosphere.
A less formal experience takes us into the heart of West Hollywood or Weho, as it is referred to by the locals. Tucked in the heart of the entertainment district along Santa Monica Boulevard, The Abbey is a longstanding tradition for those who like to eat, drink and lounge in one of the coolest venues in town. Starting from a small coffee house and expanding over the years to become a sprawling 16,000 sq ft open air experience, The Abbey has a great menu, custom made exotic drinks, music and the most interesting cast of characters of any place I have been. Check it out ASAP.
Moving up the hill from Santa Monica Boulevard to the infamous Sunset Strip, you rockers will find your personal mecca. The Rainbow Bar and Grill is heaven on earth for those who live for all things rock and roll. A fantastic menu full of classic grub and elegant eats; large portions are served under a graveyard of famous musician portraits. The walls are a personal museum to legends alive and dead.
Look around at your fellow diners and you will see many famous faces, from actors, to rock stars, porn stars and the like. Johnny Depp stopped by my table one night to peer over the food on our plates—for no good reason at all. My father who was in town asked, “Who the hell is that dirt bag?” (Johnny was shooting Pirates of the Caribbean and was looking like Captain Jack with a beard and braids). This happens all the time at The Rainbow. I recommend the fried calamari and the filet mignon. You will not be disappointed. Stay long enough to rub elbows in the back patio bar. You will get an eye full.
If you are on the valley side of the hill in Studio City, make sure to stop by The Firefly. This is what I refer to as an Industry Tar Pit. This is the kind of place people go to look for people who can get them jobs in show biz. This is a great people watching experience, with good food and a great series of bars. When you first walk inside it looks like a library. Bookshelves and classy décor fill the space, just like some private club for members only. Then the room opens into a massive open-air dining room and back bar. Private cabana style booths can be reserved. Many wannabe aspiring Hollywood types take up positions so they can scan the faces of everyone who walks through the door. Get a drink and take in the scene before you eat. You’ll have stories for the grandkids.
Sticking with the theme of hip and endearing locations, I suggest looking into some of the famous hotels in the Los Angeles area. These are all-encompassing stops on a night out. They have fine dining, casual dining, hot bars and swimming pool lounges that are not to be missed.
The Standard has two locations in LA: one in Hollywood and the other Downtown. Both have great views, impeccable dining, drink and a groovy up-class clientele. I personally like the pool deck lounge for cocktails at the Hollywood location on Sunset Boulevard.
Let’s not forget The Chateau Marmont just up the street. This is the place where John Belushi died and where many other celebrities have taken up residence for extended stays. Once hailed as the best $500 a night writer’s retreat, it simply drips old Hollywood charm. The Bar Marmont has a timeless feel like nowhere else you have ever been. Slip on in and get low for a few hours.
Finally, the newest and hippest hotel on the scene is The W Hotel. With two locations in Los Angeles: West Hollywood and Westwood, these are a trendy variety of boutique hotels that have been all the rage. Flashy bars and restaurants adorn these happening places.
Take some time and see as many of these kickin’ places as you can. If you can, see them all. Los Angeles is not just a collection of people and places; it is a very deliberately constructed experience. Take it in, soak it up, and don’t let it go to your head. Out here we are all affected.