No longer the plain sister to the Golden Triangle's glamour queen, the neighborhood south of Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills has blossomed as a retail and dining center.
With its children's stores and smattering of American colonial-style architecture, South Beverly Drive has retained a neighborhood atmosphere that is more approachable than what you find along Rodeo Drive. Still, snippets of overheard conversation ― a reference to Nicole's return from Australia or to a photo shoot of Charlize's dogs ― reveal that Baja Beverly Hills is going uptown.
Andrew Weiss Gallery.
What: With an extensive collection of 20th-century masters from Calder to Picasso, it's one of Beverly Hills' top galleries. WHEN: 11-5 Tue-Sat, by appointment Sun-Mon. WHERE: 179 S. Beverly Dr.; www.andrewweiss.com or 310/246-9333.
What: An appealing kids' store, with high-end clothing and lots of vintage furnishing and toy replicas. WHEN: 10-6 Mon-Sat. WHERE: 238 S. Beverly Dr.; 310/285-0873.
What: A clubby day spa for guys, plus a shop filled with grooming supplies, books, and gift items. WHEN: Day spa 8-7 Mon-Sat, 8-5 Sun; shop 10-7 Mon-Sat, 10-5 Sun. WHERE: 230 S. Beverly Dr.; 310/888-2898.
Blue on Blue.
What: Poolside tables at the Avalon Hotel's restaurant and bar have helped make it popular with entertainment insiders. Good people-watching, but don't overlook the New American cuisine and extensive drinks menu. WHEN: Breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily. HOW MUCH: $$$$. WHERE: 9400 W. Olympic Blvd.; 310/277-5221.
What: Onetime Chinois and Spago chef Mako Tanaka fuses Mediterranean, Japanese, and other Asian elements to create an exquisitely flavored series of small plates. Just when you think you're done, you're bound to order a final dish as an encore. WHEN: Lunch Wed-Fri, dinner Mon-Sat. HOW MUCH: $$$. WHERE: 225 S. Beverly Dr.; 310/288-8338.
What: Located in a cottage-style building with an outdoor porch, this is a spin-off of the popular Melrose Avenue spot. Always crowded but ideal for quick bites, thanks to its huge selection of teas, organic coffees, fresh baked goods, and light entrées, including vegan items. WHEN: Breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily. HOW MUCH: $. WHERE: 267 S. Beverly Dr.; 310/205-9311.
Info: From I-405, exit at Wilshire Blvd.; go east, then turn right on S. Beverly Dr. For more info: www.beverlyhillsbehere.com or 800/345-2210