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The Essential Los Angeles

Shoe designer Adriana Caras and friend ride through Santa Monica in a 1958 Corvette.

Photo: Lisa Eisner

Like an ageless starlet, Los Angeles beckons the world west. Tastemakers from New York, San Francisco, London, and Paris have been heeding the call, opening outposts all over the city. As always, L.A. absorbs these foreign influences and infuses them with showbiz sparkle, ever secure in its own plastic-fantasic identity.

Hotels (3)

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    London West Hollywood

    Plant-lined arches line the outside of this British-themed hotel, which is located just south of the Sunset Strip. The interior has gilded accents

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    The Standard, Downtown L.A.

    Hip digs, reasonable prices, and a too-cool night scene are the draws at this André Balazs outpost. The trendy, whimsical interiors here are fun an... More
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    The Peninsula Beverly Hills

    The Peninsula Beverly Hills features a 6,000-square-foot rooftop garden, complete with palm trees, wisteria, and jasmine, where guests can dine alf

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Restaurants (11)

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    Via Café

    Round red lanterns floating above the street guide visitors to the sidewalk patio of this Vietnamese café in Chinatown’s Central Plaza. A tradition

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    Akasha

    After working as Michael Jackson’s private chef, Akasha Richmond opened this namesake restaurant to showcase her signature farm-to-table cuisine. H

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    3 Square Café

    Located at the corner of Abbot Kinney and San Juan in the small beach community of Venice, 3 Square Café is the creation of veteran chef/restaurate

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    The Waffle

    At this retro diner-meets-coffee shop near the Hollywood Palladium, the menu (as the name suggests) focuses mainly on one item: waffles. Owner Scoo

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    S Bar

    S Bar and its restaurant companion, Katsuya, are leading the resuscitation of the sketchier stretches of Hollywood Boulevard. The Philippe Starck-d

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    Craft, Los Angeles

    Power lunchers adore this outpost of New York celebrity chef (and Top Chef host) Tom Colicchio, whose daily-changing menus are famous for their sea

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    Bar Lubitsch

    Bar Lubitsch is a covert-feeling bar decorated in shades of red and gold, and further outfitted with crystal chandeliers hanging from the ceiling.

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    Katsuya

    Brentwood’s most popular sushi destination happens to be the chain restaurant Katsuya by Starck. Master sushi chef Katsuya Uechi and design impresa

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    Wolfgang Puck at Hotel Bel-Air

    The iconic hotel recently reopened after a two-year hiatus—and the restaurant is already a star. The Mediterranean-inflected California cuisine, su

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    Orris

    Sake-thirsty patrons come to this West LA eatery for the European, Asian and Californian cuisines served tapas-style. More informal than his flagsh

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    Providence

    Wild seafood in its "purest and simplest form" is the guiding passion behind Executive Chef Michael Comarusti’s Providence, LA. Combining East coas

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Activities (17)

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    Bar at The Standard, L.A.

    Hip digs, reasonable prices, and a too-cool night scene are the draws at this André Balazs outpost. The trendy, whimsical interiors here are fun an... More
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    Realm

    Hand-painted bone china tea sets, bamboo cutting boards, and chrome fortune cookies entice shoppers at this high-end gift store in Chinatown’s Cent

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    Beard Papa, LA

    It’s difficult to miss Beard Papa's Sawtelle location with its bright lights and constant line of customers. This Japanese chain, which started as

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    Giant Robot, LA

    Giant Robot was first launched in the mid-90’s as a hand-published, pop culture magazine. A decade ago, its founders, two UCLA grads, decided to ex

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    Voda Spa

    Inside the dark-gray, hulking exterior of this 15,000-square-foot facility lies a European-inspired spa with modern luxuries and style. A water-wal

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    Seven Grand

    Despite its jukebox, vintage pool table, and plaid carpeting, Seven Grand is not a standard Irish watering hole—the mounted game head trophies actu

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    Library Bar

    Cocktails take equal billing with creative comfort food at this downtown gastropub. Once seated at the small bar, guests can sample menu items, suc

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    Des Kohan

    Launched spring 2005, trend forecaster Desiree Kohan brings handpicked, high fashion to her mid-city Los Angeles boutique near LACMA. Des Kohan off

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    Kiki De Montparnasse, LA

    For sophisticated unmentionables and bedroom play essentials, Kiki De Montparnasse is the place to go. Located on Melrose Avenue, this loft-like re

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    Foxtail

    Foxtail, a dining and dancing club, is the new after-hours spot in West Hollywood.

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    Limn

    Limn, a theatrical gallery of furniture by Zaha Hadid and paintings just in from Beijing, is a San Francisco import.

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    Stronghold

    Located in the Venice area and brimming with positive vibes, the Stronghold is an updated dry goods store that sells vintage clothing and limited-e

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    Grand Central Market

    On the ground floor of the Homer Laughlin Building at South Broadway, the Grand Central Market's 38 global merchants purvey various international w

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    The Penthouse at the Huntley Santa Monica Beach Hotel

    In a suburb comprising mostly low-level shops and two-story homes, this ultramodern 18th-floor hotel bar is an unexpected gem. Here, guests and loc

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    Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)

    One of America’s premier art museums, with an inventory of more than 100,000 works, LACMA is unsung compared with its crosstown rival, the Getty Ce

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