Pounding the pavement in Culver City has gotten much more fun. The Sony Studios neighborhood was already breaking out as a dining hot spot when H.D. Buttercup opened last year inside the landmark Art Deco Helms Bakery building. Part furniture bazaar, part high-end design store, H.D. Buttercup's 140,000 square feet house the kinds of eclectic treasures you used to need an interior designer to track down. After an afternoon of browsing, check out the thriving gallery scene along La Cienega and Washington Boulevards, or grab a bite at one of the new restaurants or wine bars a short walk away.
Culver City is just east of I-405 and south of I-10, bordered by Venice, La Cienega, and Jefferson Boulevards. Parking for H.D. Buttercup and many surrounding restaurants is free, and there's also plenty of street parking ― a welcome benefit in busy L.A.
H.D. Buttercup. Don't miss the custom media cabinets and coffee tables at Against the Grain. Jiti has luxurious silk bed linens, many from India. Cast-iron candleholders and vases at H.D. Designs complement faux olive trees and magnolia-leaf wreaths. Twenty Gauge has vintage steel desks and file cabinets restored to their original glory. 3225 Helms Ave.; www.hdbuttercup.com or 310/558-8900.
The Jazz Bakery. One of L.A.'s best spots for live jazz. 3233 Helms Ave.; www.jazzbakery.com or 310/271-9039.
Museum of Design Art and Architecture Gallery. A 2,000-square-foot design gallery housed in a block-long modernist complex. Tue-Sat; free; 8609 Washington Blvd.; www.modaagallery.com or 310/558-0902.
Wilson. A wine bar with innovative small plates like terrific potato-and-fig tortelli. $$$; 8631 Washington Blvd.; 310/287-2093.
BottleRock. A sophisticated new tasting room with more than 500 wines, plus tasty charcuterie and gourmet cheeses. $$; 3847 Main St.; 310/836-9463.
Beacon. If you have time for only one meal, make it here. In a refurbished former laundry, veteran chef Kazuto Matsusaka shows off hits like miso-marinated black cod. $$; 3280 Helms Ave.; 310/838-7500.
One block from Sony Studios, the Culver Hotel (46 rooms from $109; 9400 Culver Blvd.; www.culverhotel.com or 888/328-5837) was the favorite spot for Old Hollywood stars like Greta Garbo, Clark Gable, and the cast of The Wizard of Oz. The elegant mahogany-paneled lobby doubles as a cocktail bar named Duke's Hideaway (after onetime owner John Wayne), and rooms reflect the 1924 building's heritage, with French antiques and plenty of movie memorabilia.