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The Lowdown | Los Angeles

Why L.A. Is Having a Moment Words by Jessica Ritz

Where California, USA

Quick Quote $700 per day including hotel

Best Season Winter, spring

Thinking of Movies, art, food, design

Best Portrayed in The Big Lebowski, Eve's Hollywood by Eve Babitz, Devil in a Blue Dress by Walter Mosley, Ed Ruscha's art 

Beaches, glitz and Hollywood glamour have been considered Los Angeles's main attractions and cultural exports. No longer. Digging deeper always revealed a far more complex city than stereotypes allowed. And now it's impossible to miss the moment L.A. is having, from its robust, boundary-pushing restaurant scene to its status as an inspirational haven for artists. Just ask Chinese dissident creative force Ai Weiwei, who has exhibited no fewer than three stunning, large-scale installations around town recently. Or ride the Metro Expo line light rail train to Santa Monica to fully experience L.A.'s thrilling evolution. 

Where to Stay

Westside: Old world Cape Cod sophistication meets California laid back atmosphere at Shutters on the Beach, the finest example of Santa Monica's refined beachside hospitality. Venetian chandeliers and ornate Spanish tiles give the Casa del Mar its distinctive Mediterranean style, which was all the rage among the A-Listers of the Roaring Twenties. Further out on the coast, the Surfrider Malibu provides a major dose of minimalist bohemian chic style with prime beach access and a rooftop lounge. West Hollywood hotel newcomer the Kimpton La Peer fits perfectly into this particularly design-centric community. Downtown: In buzzy, reimagined downtown L.A. (AKA "DTLA"), the Sydell Group imported its sumptuous take on urban luxury at the NoMad Hotel, complete with top-tier dining options. Another 1920s historic building got a new lease on life with the recently revamped Hotel Figueroa, this time with clever art and design nods throughout that reference the property's origins as a YWCA venue founded in 1926 for intrepid female travelers.  

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Words by Jessica Ritz Los Angeles Editor

Jessica Ritz is a freelance journalist who has contributed to outlets including the Los Angeles Times, C Magazine, Sunset, Coastal Living, Garden & Gun, BonAppetit.com, AAA publications, Tablet and American Way. Her diverse reporting beats and passions include food, interior design, architecture, art and culture. She lives in Los Angeles with her family. 

Where to Eat

On the Westside, superb Singaporean-Vietnamese cuisine created by Chef Bryant Ng makes the Santa Monica restaurant, Cassia, a regular at the top of ‘best in the city’ lists. Sushi, in all its wonderful guises, is an L.A. staple, and it doesn’t get better than that created by chef Yoya Takahashi at Hamasaku, his West L.A. restaurant. In classic local fashion, don't let the strip mall location deter you. The food is seasonable, sustainable and sublime.

“Los Angeles is not a city that immediately or easily reveals itself to visitors. But an open mind, some research and a carefully planned itinerary will yield great results.“

It's hard to beat the location Malibu Farm snagged on the historic Malibu Pier, where Helene Henderson first attracted a fan base that now stretches from her Malibu Farm outposts in Miami and Lanai. Mid-City: Michael Cimarusti continues to work his seafood magic at the upscale Providence on Melrose, in addition to his more casual Connie & Ted's in West Hollywood, as well as at Eataly located in Century City. At the northern end of Chinatown in a former industrial space transformed with edgy art and design, star chef David Chang has expanded his Momofuku empire, putting a West Coast twist on his masterful and eclectic East Asian cooking at Majordomo. NoMad at the aforementioned hotel offers seriously swanky vibes with elegant service and chef Daniel Humm's signatures, such as that swoon-worthy roast chicken dish. Steve Samson's passion for the cuisine of his mother's native Emilia-Romagna region shines at Rossoblu in DTLA's Fashion District. Don't miss the minestranelsacco spiked with with Parmigiano-Reggiano dumplings. Husband and wife team Ori Menashe and Genevieve Gergis have wowed crowds with their nuanced take on modern Middle Eastern cooking since day one of opening the red hot Bavel in the Arts District. 

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What to Do

Do as the locals do and hop on a Bird scooter to zip along the Venice Boardwalk, taking in its sights and many characters. Then head over to Abbot Kinney for some of the finest shopping and eating contained on one street. Recreate your own "Lala Land" experience and wander the paths of Griffith Park, among the largest municipal parks in the country, before winding up at the landmark Griffith Observatory with its breathtaking views and singular architecture. If you must check Beverly Hills off your to-do list, be sure to seek out some quiet refuge and beauty at the Greystone Mansion and Park. Commune with the spirits of stars past — and maybe you'll spot some present — at the iconic Musso& Frank Grill, the oldest restaurant in Hollywood. You're hard pressed to find a better place to drink a stiff martini anywhere else in the world. Located northeast of downtown L.A., the city of Pasadena merits exploration in its own right, from the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens to the National Historic Landmark Gamble House designed by Charles and Henry Greene in 1908, and arguably the nation's finest example of Arts and Crafts style architecture. After all is said and done, however, a visit to SoCal isn't complete without heading westward at sunset to witness first hand the glowing orb slipping behind the horizon line along the Pacific Ocean.

What to See

At the Getty Center, the art itself is world-class—Monet, Rembrandt, Titian and Van Gogh are just some of its stars—but it competes with the building itself for wow factor. Richard Meier’s 110-acre, billion-dollar masterpiece sits high above the city, with views to match. The Marciano Art Foundation has turned a previously mysterious Scottish Rite temple building on Wilshire Boulevard into a mecca for contemporary art, with temporary installations showcasing the work of artists such as Ai Weiwei and Olafur Eliasson. The Broad is another example of a private collection becoming accessible to the general public, this time in an Instagram-bait structure designed by firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro. Internationally renown art dealer enterprise Hauser & Wirth is majorly shifting the idea of what a high-end gallery experience can be. Its massive complex located in what was formerly a flour mill facility in the burgeoning downtown Arts District boasts its own restaurant, Manuela, along with a chicken coup and garden, and a fantastic gift shop with wares that are the result of local creative collaborations.   

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