We spent the last year exploring Los Angeles. Here’s where we like to eat, drink, and shop.

Malibu Surfrider Hotel Rooftop Bar
Thomas J. Story

If you’ve been waiting all day for a Sunday night, you may be planning an upcoming trip to Los Angeles. For the non-sports fans among us, that’s because the Super Bowl happens to be Feb. 13 at the newly built SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, a neighborhood in southwest L.A. County. And no, we do not yet know who will be playing for the 2022 title. (Go Rams?)

Luckily, many members of the Sunset team call L.A. home. With travel grinding to a halt over the last few years, we’ve gotten the chance to explore the nooks and crannies of nearby neighborhoods like never before. We got to know the hotelier behind Malibu’s Surfrider, one of the most quintessential Southern California retreats, and we got an exclusive tour of the greenhouse where Echo Park’s hottest cactus shop houses its xeric wonders.

We learned how to make the potato and seed chorizo tacos, and carne asada with guacachile that’s turning heads at superstar chef Enrique Olvera’s red-hot Arts District restaurant Damian. And we sat around a table with Katianna and John Hong of Yangban Society, the city’s most anticipated new eatery, to hear how they applied their training in fine dining to this old-school deli meets Asian mini-mart meets all-around hang zone.

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We sipped Marbella mezcal cocktails on the downtown patio of Hotel Figueroa alongside all the Lakers fans who pile in after a nearby game at Staples Center. We devoured the caprese served at a pasta bar that later earned a Michelin star. Here are some of our favorite spots to eat, stay, and play in Los Angeles. Enjoy!

Where to Stay

Silverlake Pool & Inn

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Head into L.A.’s eccentric Silver Lake neighborhood to relax among trendy, local shops. This hotel offers a stunning rooftop, accompanied by a beautiful bar that shines hues of emerald and gold that’ll leave you feeling like you’ve stumbled into a 1920s speakeasy. Your stay comes with an in-room Nespresso machine and a curated playlist, so you can jam out while you get your caffeine fix. Read more here! —Teaghan Skulszki

Surfrider Hotel

Surfrider Malibu Room

Thomas J. Story

The Surfrider sits snugly in the crease of the earth where the steep hills of Malibu lean toward the ocean, the tectonic hinge of the California dream. From the roof deck you get unparalleled intimate views of that intersection where, in just a few hundred meters, so much is compressed: Look up and there’s the steep cliff that becomes a sea of yellow mustard blossoms after rain in the spring. Look down and there’s the PCH, that artery of iconic road trips, with super-exotic sports cars and dilapidated surf vans. And just beyond, the postcard-perfect 100-year-old pier jutting out, the Channel Islands in the distance, and the world-famous surf break with longboarders still hot-dogging like they did back when the Gidget movies were filmed there. Read more here! —Hugh Garvey

Where to Eat

Damian

Damian Potato and Seed Chorizo Tacos Recipe

Thomas J. Story

At Damian in the Arts District, legendary chef Enrique Olvera—known for New York’s Cosme and Atla, and Pujol in Mexico City—is further evolving the definition of what Mexican food can be. Ingredients like uni are combined with market greens in an inventive take on Caesar salad. Yukon gold potatoes are delicately hand-mixed with freshly ground white masa to create a tamal that becomes a potato-studded vessel for salsas of every kind. The dishes come out of the kitchen into an indoor-outdoor dining space covered in the greenery typical of Mexico City: Abundant monsteras and plume split-leaf philodendrons hang overhead as custom cutlery is placed alongside handmade Oaxacan dishware. Read more here! —Magdalena O’Neal

Pasta|Bar

pasta bar interior sherman oaks california

Liam Brown

Pasta|Bar offers an Italian-inspired tasting-menu restaurant where you’ll be blown away by the ingenious use of flavors throughout all 11 courses (only two of which were pastas). Think: Caprese with cherry tomatoes marinated in the juices of still more tomatoes in a uniquely intimate setting (there’s only seating for eight). The Michelin-starred space was developed and opened during the pandemic—no small feat. Read more here! —Magdalena O’Neal

Yangban Society

Overhead Dinner Table

Thomas J. Story

Like many restaurant ideas, the concept for Yangban Society began as a late-night conversation between two chefs dreaming of what to do next. Katianna and John Hong had been working at fine-dining restaurants for years, most recently at the Michelin three-star The Restaurant at Meadowood in Napa Valley, and longed to create something more casual and fun. They wanted a menu inspired by Korean culture, but not labeled by the catch-all term “Korean American fusion.” Most of all, Katianna says, “We wanted it to be authentic to us.” Here impeccable ingredients and exacting technique star in grab-and-go-friendly meat and rice dishes, noodles, salads, smoked fish, and dips topped with trout roe and furikake. Read more here! —Hugh Garvey

Where to Drink

Alma’s

almas cider bar virgil village cider guide

Yoshihiro Makino

You can stop in to Alma’s in east Los Angeles to sip a wide variety of craft ciders, or grab a few different cans and set up a tasting at home. If you’re not a fan of sweet drinks, you may have written cider off all together after a sip of something labeled as such tasted more like a concentrated and carbonated apple juice. But there is so much more to it. Alma’s carries dozens of styles to try inside the thoughtfully designed Virgil Village bar. Read more here! —Magdalena O’Neal

Hotel Figueroa

Hotel Figueroa, Los Angeles Makeover

Courtesy of Hotel Figueroa

Smack dab in the middle of downtown, Hotel Figueroa offers myriad indoor and outdoor spaces to grab a drink after the game. It’s no stranger to late-night fans: Folks who head to the nearby Staples Center for Lakers games often stop by after the final buzzer. The historic establishment first opened in 1926 as a women-run hostel that offered a place to stay for solo female travelers, many of whom were unable to reserve a room without a man. There’s a stunning bar just beyond the lobby, or you can head down the art-filled hallway out to the back patio where poolside cabanas await. Read more here! —Kristin Scharkey

Soft Spirits

Jillian Barkley

Walking into the lavender-colored Los Angeles building that’s home to Soft Spirits, a shop flanked by row upon row of gleaming glass bottles with a fridge in the back that beckons with canned cocktails and beer, it’s difficult to imagine there’s not a drop of alcohol here. Not in the Wilderton botanical spirit made with cardamom and pine-smoked tea. Not in the Optimist blend of lavender, jasmine, and cinnamon leaf. Not in the Sovi sparkling rosé. The nonalcoholic outpost is the latest in a growing number of sober bars and shops that are gaining a foothold amid rising interest in zero-proof beverages—and brick-and-mortar spaces to consume them. Read more here! —Kristin Scharkey

Where to Shop

Cactus Store

Every cactus tells us a story. Cactus Store co-founder, Max Martin, takes us on a guided tour of some of the rare cacti in their private collection.

Thomas J. Story

In a world of Instagram plantfluencers, pandemic plant parenthood new­bies, trending Monstera, and famous florists, the Cactus Store in Echo Park stands out for its lovingly obsessive, time­-tested engagement with all things hardy and spiked. While most folks know founders Carlos Morera and Max Martin and crew from their little shop, we also got an exclusive look at their semi­secret, appointment-only HQ studio in Atwater. Housed in an old brick warehouse with an adjacent 2,000-square-foot greenhouse, their private collection of cacti lives and is tended by, as Martin calls him, “resident plant whisperer” Billy Ramirez. Read more here! —Hugh Garvey

Lost Books

Garden and Bookstore

Deanna Kizis

To enter Lost Books in Montrose, you must first walk through a tunnel made entirely of plants. Creeping Charlie and sea grape cascade down the walls, while lights twinkle like fireflies and a set of bookshelves peek through the greenery. It feels like being transported to a magical place, where something you lost will soon be found. It’s so mystical and charming that, let’s be honest, you need to take a selfie immediately. Read more here! —Deanna Kizis


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