LA must-see suggestions
May 6, 2005 7:28 AM   Subscribe

I'm going to be in Los Angeles for E3 in two weeks with a bunch of friends. What do we need to see? What restaurants do we need to visit? We'll have the whole afternoon available for sight-seeing the day before the expo, where should we go? We're spending a boatload on the plane trip and the hotel, so thrift is a virtue. We're all pretty adventurous, so a junky-looking restaurant with transcendent food would be totally fine. We'll be primarily downtown for the show and near LAX for the hotel, so things in those areas are preferred.
posted by Plutor to Travel & Transportation around Los Angeles, CA (15 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Just for the experience, make sure you take a night and hit the Sunset Strip. It's expensive, and "trendy", but is one of the most surreal experiences you can subject yourself too.

I've never seen so many people so completely dropped from reality in my life. To its credit, some of the trendy places are very aesthetic and have a good atmosphere. The Standard, for example, is a nice quiet respectable place, there are weird little couches and chairs everywhere, the people are friendly, and there is a scantily-dressed woman girl enclosed in Plexiglass in the rear of the bar. A real one. A moving one.

So. frickin. weird. But stimulating for a night.
posted by symphonik at 9:31 AM on May 6, 2005

Best answer: If you can change your hotel not to be staying near LAX, that would be a start. The drive from LAX to Downtown isn't the worst around, but it is pretty bad since you have to make your way to the 10.

It's a pretty broad question to ask what you have to see in a few days, obviously.

Some good (free) people watching places: Rodeo Drive, Melrose, Venice Beach, Montana Ave in Santa Monica, the sanitized outdoor malls of the Grove in Hollywood and the 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica.

For eating, consider hitting one of the Ethiopian places in Little Ethiopia on Fairfax south of Wilshire. Downtown, one of my favorite places for sushi is Hamakawa on Central on the border of Little Tokyo and Skid Row.

China Town off of Hill Street is a growing trendy art place, with Chung King road (which is actually a walk street) being a good place to start.

Avoid Hollywood and Highland, it's busy, packed and not that interesting.

For breakfast try Hugo's in West Hollywood on Santa Monica, the food is outstanding and if you like tea they have a multi-page menu of just teas.

For the easiest view of the city, go to Runyon Canyon and hike at least to the first overlook, and I suggest going all the way to the peak. On a clear day you can see down to San Pedro, with a panorama of Downtown, the Hollywood Sign, the Griffith Observatory, Century City skyscrapers, the ocean and more. First runner up for the best view is the very top of the parking structure at The Grove.

If you do go to the Grove, eat at the Farmer's Market at one of the food stands. I suggest Loteria Grill and order the peanut sauce or mole tacos, with plantains and guac. There is a newish Brazilian place there too which is always packed and is a little more expensive.

Just driving up PCH is nice too. Take the 10 all the way west until it tranisitions to Coast Highway. Drive a ways, past Duke's and park near the Malibu pier. Walk north, under the fence that says "No Trespassing" (which only applies to the high tide mark) and stroll in front of the beachfront houses, see how the celebs live.

Everything here should be google-able, you can drop me a note too, it's good to have a game plan, you can have fun no matter what your budget is.
posted by jonah at 10:16 AM on May 6, 2005 [2 favorites]

A similar question was asked on Tuesday. You might find interesting suggestions in that thread....
posted by mr_roboto at 10:25 AM on May 6, 2005

Best answer: Might as well throw in Roscoe's Chicken & Waffles just off Sunset on Gower. Open 24/7, and a great place to spot the occasional celeb. Try the Scoe's Special...and yes, fried chicken smothered in gravy with two delicious waffles. Sounds weird, but great!
posted by DandyRandy at 10:41 AM on May 6, 2005

There's an E3 MeFi meetup you can catch if you're interested.
posted by DaShiv at 10:45 AM on May 6, 2005

Response by poster: Re: Changing hotel, it's not really possible at this point. We got a really amazing deal at the Westin through the online discount travel company where I work, so we're willing to suffer through traffic for a couple days. That and I think it's non-cancellable.

We're planning on going to the E3 meetup, especially since one of the friends is boo_radley, and another couple are five-dollar-lurkers.

Thanks for the ideas so far. I'd heard of Roscoe's, but forgot about it. Thinking about Hamakawa and little Ethiopia make me hungry. The tea-lover in the group is going to try to get us to go to Hugo's if he ever sees this thread.

Where should we go all afternoon Tuesday? I thought about La Brea Tar Pits, but I was expecting free or very cheap. I don't want to pay $7 to look at bones in black goo.
posted by Plutor at 11:24 AM on May 6, 2005

Well I would recommend the Getty Museum as a must see. . . .unique to LA. . .it's above Brentwood, in West LA. . .It is free and with public trans, which is somewhat daunting but doable, it would make a fine cheap afternoon with great views, although this time a year the weather is goopy.

also, for something that exists nowhere else, I would still (on preview) suggest the La Brea Tarpits. It's worth the money, IMO.

If you are not a veggie, Tommy's Burgers on Beverly and Alvarado is also an uniquely LA experience.
posted by Danf at 11:40 AM on May 6, 2005

If you like garlic, go to Zankou Chicken (one branch on Sunset in Hollywood) and get extra sauce with your order.
posted by brujita at 11:45 AM on May 6, 2005

Tar pits were free to walk around the last time i was there...I'll second the Getty ($5 to park)...Gilbert's El Indio is my favorite mexican food (cheap too!)...if italian is your thing, i recommend Pomodoro it's tiny, authentic, and the service is phenomenal.

For pure shock value, try "the Alley" downtown, free market madness, bootlegs, knockoff designer clothes, etc...
posted by schyler523 at 12:11 PM on May 6, 2005

Oooh...forgot the Apple Pan if you're not a veggie, some consider them to have the best burger in Los Angeles.
posted by schyler523 at 12:16 PM on May 6, 2005

Best answer: Since you will be downtown for the show, you may want to do the Westside on Tuesday afternoon, here's a rough itenerary, although I'm not sure how much time you have. I'm assuming you have a car, and if you don't just get one, it's not worth trying to coordinate public transport.

From LAX, go to the Getty, just take the 405 north up to Sunset and follow the signs, parking is $5, admission is free. The draw to the Getty isn't so much the exhibits, but the architecture, gardens and views. You should be able to take most of it in in an hour and a half.

Take the 405 south, get off on Santa Monica west and turn left on Sawtelle (first light), you will see a great movie theater on the left. Drive down a couple blocks and you will be in the Japanese area of West LA. For cheap eats, hit Asahi Ramen and walk around a little, check out Giant Robot Store, and their gallery across the street called GR2. If you like sushi and Japanese curry, there are a couple options for that too. I wouldn't suggest Asahi because it's on Sawtelle, but Ramenya around the corner on Olympic is better IMO.

After eating, go west on Olympic to Centinela, turn left and get on the 10 West. Get off on 4th street, heading North and park in one of the public structures. If you get there before 6:00pm, you get two hours parking free, otherwise it's a flat $3. The Third St Promenade is a closed walk street with street performers, shopping, eating, etc. Consider treating yourself to Angelato, a gelato place that gives you up to five free samples. The posrtions look small, but it's so rich you will be full enough.

After you have had your fill of commercialism, drive west to Ocean and make a right. Go to California st and turn left down the California inclice to get to PCH. Drive at least to Sunset where Gladstone's is. Park on PCH south of the restaurant for free. You can watch the sun set from the beach near Gladstones or drive further north and stop there.

After the sun goes down, head to Main Steet in Santa Monica on the other side of the 10. There are various bars, pubs, restaraunts and funky shops, it's the opposite of the Promenade. If you like pizza and beer, stop at Wildflour Pizza and eat on the picnic tables in the back.

If you're heading back to LAX, you can also stop in Manhattan Beach, or even go the frat-hang-out route and go to Pier ave in Redondo, to get a flavor of the suburban beach culture in LA. Manhattan Beach has The Kettle which is open 24 hours.

Anything in bold should be google-able, if not, let me know and I'll give you more info. Too much work to go get links for all that stuff.
posted by jonah at 1:04 PM on May 6, 2005 [4 favorites]

jonah, you're a god. Seriously; I live in West L.A., and I completely second your recommendations - good call.
posted by jonson at 9:46 PM on May 6, 2005

Pink's Hot Dogs is loved by many tourists and is great for people watchings. I would also suggest Third Street Promenade and The Santa Monica Pier. I like to walk down Melrose, there are some nice trendy shops.
posted by 6:1 at 11:14 PM on May 6, 2005

El Tepeyac Cafe for a Mexican food dining experience. The quintessential East LA eatery: cheap, good, and lots of it. Good for lunch.
posted by Taken Outtacontext at 5:36 AM on May 7, 2005

Response by poster: Here's the list that I'm bringing with me:

* Ethiopian: Somewhere in Little Ethiopia on Fairfax south of Wilshire.
* Sushi: Hamakawa - 209 S Central St (at 2nd st) in Downtown.
* Breakfast: Hugo's – 8401 SM Blvd (at N Kings Rd) in West Hollywood (+teas)
* Farmer's Market food stands (i.e. Loteria Grill) – roughly 3rd St and Fairfax
* Bad for you:
  * Roscoe's Chicken & Waffles – 1514 N. Gower St (at Sunset Blvd, 24 hours)
  * Zankou Chicken – 5065 Sunset Blvd (at N Mariposa Ave) in Hollywood
  * Apple Pan – 10801 W Pico Blvd (at Glendon Ave) – best burger in LA
* Mexican:
  * Gilbert's El Indio – 2526 Pico Blvd (at 25th St) in SM – cheap
  * El Tepeyac Cafe – 812 N Evergreen Ave (at Winter St)
  * Siete Mares on Sunset at Descanso in/near Echo Park – cheap
* Italian:
  * Pomodoro – 1393 Westwood Blvd (at Wilkins Ave)
  * Angelato, great gelato on 3rd St Promenade in SM
* Japanese: Asahi Ramen – 2027 Sawtelle Blvd (at LaGrange Ave, “In Japanese area of West LA”)
* Pizza and beer: Wildflour Pizza – 2807 Main St SM (at Hill St)
* The Kettle (upscale diner) on Manhattan Beach – 24 hours
* Pink's Hot Dogs – 711 N La Brea Ave (at Melrose Ave)
* Cuban: Versailles – 1415 S La Cienega Blvd (at W Pico Blvd) – cheap
* JJ Chill smoothies – 83 Windward Ave (at Pacific Ave) in Venice
* Chinese: Mao's Kitchen for some of the best Chinese food in town - BYOB

* Runyon Canyon – Parking at Mulholland Dr at Runyon Canyon Rd or at the end of Fuller Ave – a few trails, about 3 miles total.
* Take the 10 all the way west until it transitions to Coast Highway. Drive past Duke's and park near the Malibu pier. Walk north, under the fence that says "No Trespassing" (which only applies to the high tide mark) and stroll in front of the beach-front houses, see how the celebs live.

* Getty Museum 1200 Getty Center Drive, in West LA. Take the 405 north up to Sunset and follow the signs, parking is $5, admission is free. Estimate: 90 minutes
* La Brea Tarpits (free sans-museum?)
* The Museum of Jurassic Technology - 9341 Venice Boulevard, Culver City

* People watching: Rodeo Drive, Melrose, Venice Beach, Montana Ave in SM, the sanitized outdoor malls of the Grove in Hollywood
* 3rd Street Promenade in SM – 2 hrs free parking before 6pm, otherwise $3.
* China Town off of Hill St - Chung King road is a good place to start.
* Giant Robot Store, and GR2 gallery across the street - Japanese area of West LA
* "The Alley" downtown, free market madness, bootlegs, knockoff designer clothes
* Main Street in SM: bars, pubs, restaraunts and funky shops
* Avoid Hollywood and Highland, it's busy, packed and not that interesting.
* Suburban beach culture: Manhattan Beach or Pier ave in Redondo
* Watts Towers
* Amoeba Records - 6400 Sunset Blvd, Hollywood – one of the greatest record stores on the planet
posted by Plutor at 10:46 AM on May 16, 2005 [2 favorites]

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