Clear across the country, Los Angeles could be Miami’s twin. And L.A., like the Magic City, is having a moment. Both cities share strong Latin roots, sweat-inducing traffic and a competitive duality between their daytime and nighttime pursuits. Like us, Angelenos have it all — and it just keeps getting better. Los Angeles’ culture is beginning to steal some of Hollywood’s spotlight, and forgotten pockets are filling in with new businesses to create neighborhoods overnight. Here are some of your best bets for where to stay, eat and shop in the City of Angels:
Where to stay in Los Angeles
Miami Beach has Nobu Hotel at Eden Roc, and Malibu has the Nobu Ryokan (noburyokanmalibu.com). Squeezed between the Pacific Coast Highway and Carbon Beach (nicknamed Billionaire’s Beach for its moguls-in-residence), the 16-room, teak-slatted compound draws its inspiration from Japan’s traditional roadside inns.
Guests are greeted in a Nakashima-furnished lobby and led to their room for Japanese tea ceremony with rice crackers baked by Nobu Matsuhisa. For more of the master’s fare, walk next door to his restaurant. Tutorials loaded onto iPads demonstrate the Japanese bathing ritual and how to tie a yukata (robe). The absence of desks says it all. Why work with an ocean to gaze at and a Japanese garden upon which to reflect?
If you can pull yourself away from the Pacific, try the new Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills (waldorfastoriabeverlyhills.com). Catering to a Rodeo Drive clientele, the brand commissioned Pierre-Yves Rochon (Grand-Hotel du Cap-Ferrat on the French Riviera, Shangri-La Hotel in Paris) to design 170 rooms and suites with a salute to Hollywood’s Golden Age.
Sun at the rooftop pool, steps from one of three onsite Jean-Georges Vongerichten restaurants, or watch the world go by from each room’s spacious balcony. Its La Prairie Spa is unique to the city, while complimentary personal concierges and a house Rolls-Royce fall under necessities around here.
Where to eat around L.A.
Melting-pot demographics and gentrification galore, not to mention having America’s breadbasket in its backyard, have whipped L.A. into a culinary mecca on par with New York — or even better, depending on whom you ask.
When in Santa Monica, you can’t go wrong with anything by Rustic Canyon Family of Restaurants. Tallula’s (tallulasrestaurant.com), its latest eatery with a first-generation Mexican chef, replaces the Tex-Mex institution that preceded it with a produce-packed menu.
The chef blends toasted sunflower seeds, charred tomatoes and chipotle into sikil p’ak, a Yucatán dip typically made with pumpkin seeds. Scoop it up with crudités culled from whatever’s in season at the beach town’s famous farmers market. Leave the piña colada back home, and embrace the equally frothy avocado-lada.
Chef-owner Steve Samson swears he can hear the trill of crickets at Rossoblu (rossoblula.com), his charcuterie and wood-fired followup to Sotto. Besides the countryside calmness at night, he was sold on City Market South, a 10-acre adaptive reuse development in downtown’s fashion district, when he heard there’d be bocce ball courts.
Michael Sullivan, Blackberry Farm’s butcher and charcutier, showed Samson the ropes, including tallow (beef fat) as airy as Marshmallow Fluff. A dollop of the sage-seasoned paste comes on salumi boards. Fruit woods fuel a 9-foot hearth, where butterflied Santa Barbara prawns prepped like baked clams cook in seconds.
Miami restaurateurs are feeling the itch to go west. The new Freehand Los Angeles (freehandhotels.com/los-angeles) opened with two bars by Gabe Orta and Elad Zvi, including the Broker Shaker. On deck: Yardbird from John Kunkel and Fi’lia by Michael Schwartz.
Top L.A. shops
Miami has designer stores in spades, so focus your shopping spree on local exclusives. Heidi Merrick (heidimerrick.com), daughter of legendary surfboard shaper Al Merrick, captures the quintessential California girl in her namesake lifestyle collection. She makes Beatle-esque velvet suits, sweatshirts emblazoned with her “SRF LA” campaign and a new men’s line in her downtown atelier to sell at her nearby boutique. Sold in sets of five, her brother Britt’s surfboards double as art installations.
From the first waft of palo santo at his set of RTH shops (rthshop.com), René Holguin transports patrons like Erykah Badu to his meticulously crafted world. The fashion, home and fragrance designer learned from Ralph Lauren before launching his own aesthetic where Old West and indigenous cultures, from his native El Paso, Texas, to Peru, play out in bandana bags and campfire-scented soap.
Though a Canadian import, The Detox Market (thedetoxmarket.com) couldn’t get more Goop with its eco-only beauty products (Moon Juice, W3ll People). Head to its new, beach-chic location in Santa Monica, where Gwyneth Paltrow also runs her empire.
Things to see in Los Angeles
Like Miami, Los Angeles has its share of private art collections that welcome the public. Maurice and Paul Marciano, the brothers behind Guess?, built a bona fide temple for their collection of 1,500 works, approximately 100 of which are presented in the inaugural group show, “Unpacking: The Marciano Foundation,” through December 24.
After winding your way through the funhouse that is “Jim Shaw: The Wig Museum,” the artist’s first comprehensive solo show in his hometown, through September 17, seek another freaky exhibit — remnants of the building’s former self, a Scottish Rite Masonic Temple.
Fans of mega art events should circle “LA/LA: A Celebration Beyond Borders” from September 15 through January 2018. Organized by Pacific Standard Time, exhibits at 70 regional art institutions address the dialogue between L.A. and Latin America.