NFT Los Angeles West Hollywood

West Hollywood

Essentials
Fun fact: While it is, in many ways, the heart of Los Angeles -- featuring some of the area's most ubiquitous locations, from the Sunset Strip to Chateau Marmont -- West Hollywood is technically its own city. It's also the center of all things gay in Los Angeles. Don't miss the spectacular costumes (and ogling masses) of the Halloween parade.

Sundries
WeHo boasts some of the most cohesive and walkable mini-neighborhoods in town (e.g., Third Street west of Fairfax, the demographically amorphous area of Melrose between Doherty and La Brea, or Fairfax north of Beverly). You can generally avoid the Grove--one of those big, cookie-cutter shopping complexes--unless you're there for the foods of the Farmers Market. Don't miss the weekend movie + party events at the Silent Movie TheatreSee more.

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Entertainment
It sounds like a terrible marketing cliché, but this area really does have something for everyone (unless you hate fun). You can grab your pooch for a hike in Runyon Canyon, check out the great author events at Book Soup, or scope out music at the notorious venues of the Sunset Strip (and keep an eye out for the West Hollywood Jesus wandering the streets). Looking for food or drink? Brunch is at BLD, burgers with a delightful drawing are courtesy of Irv's, and Comme Ca's penicillin is a cocktail worthy of poems.

Lean in to catch the latest hushed gossip and receive pitches at Lucques. Meanwhile over on Fairfax, Animal has rock stars in the kitchen and the dining room, while a few doors down historic Canter's Deli rocks the cheesecake and the self-published Guns 'N Roses memoirs. It's not true that Orson Welles ate 18 hot dogs in one sitting at Pink's but we dare you to match the feat.




         


This Neighborhood Featured in...
A Burrito in the Haystack: Authentic Mexican Food in LA

By adam c. marshall
A.C. Marshall knows a good tamale when he eats one. Follow him as he wanders the multi-ethnic streets seeking memories of his mother's Mexican cooking.

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Finding Lucha Libre in SoCal

By Jeremiah Hahn
Wrestling. It's not just for white people anymore. Luchadores do it too. What's a luchadore? Only Jeremiah Hahn  can really say. Read on, and don't look back.

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Presidents of LA

By Jess Winfield
So many American President-named streets, so little time. What breed of establishments dot the streets that epitonize the characters of our great national leaders? Find out while you still can.

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The New Yorker's Guide to Los Angeles

By Rin-rin Yu
What's a native New Yorker without his bagel and a shmear, long, dejected strolls, Trotskyitic Van Dyke, rumpled copy of the New York Times and incoherent ramblings? He may come to the City of Angels and become a supple, lissome blonde but the old, Eastern gloominess remains. Thankfully, Rin-rin Yu has located some pizza and bagel shops.

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Yoga Happy LA

By Lori Kozlowski
Yoga: All it takes is a blanket/mat/springboard. But the feeling it engenders will last a lifetime. Yoga: Do you know where your chakras are?

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A Guide to Seeing the Stars (Off the Beaten Path)

By Ellen Flaherty
Los Angeles: Where celebrities come to live. You may meet them in a by-street, you may see them in the square but when a crime's discovered, celebrities aren't there. Know what I'm saying? Cue Ellen Flaherty as she fills you in on the hiding secrets and tactical escape methods of the famous and the frightened.

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Literary Los Angeles

By Christine Ziemba
L.A.'s independent bookstores are as idiosyncratic as its inhabitants. Its highs as high, its lows as low. The life of an Angeleno-bound textual object is no day at the beach.

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On Our Radar:

Posted By:  Beth Deitchman
Photo:  Beth Deitchman

Kitson
Robertson Blvd. is home to many shops that target the chosen few, and a few chains that target the many, but truly only Kitson carries something for everyone. High end Marc Jacobs tote? They've got it. Lower priced coin purse decorated with celebrity mug shots? They've got that, too. The Kitson buyers have a wonderfully irreverent sense of humor, but like all good satirists, they make sure they know their source material before they start having fun with it. This is Kitson's strength: they're a cheat sheet for what's trending now -- or what will be trending three months from now. They don't carry entire designer collections, but they hone in on the breakout pieces you'll see at the mall in six months. Their gifts and books tend to work on multiple levels: Sure, the retro Pop Phone handset looks like a novelty as you plug it into your iPhone 4, but then you learn that the handset's design actually eliminates 99% of the radiation emitted by your cell phone. Fabulous, fun and functional! Just like Kitson.



Posted By:  Emerson Dameron
Photo:  Emerson Dameron

The 12 Step Store
Cold beer pours into a frosty pint glass. A sweaty group of dancing friends hoist their bottles, enjoying their big night out, the day's care forgotten. America's commercial environment is no friend of the recovering alcoholic. As someone who's actively dialed back his boozing over time, I know that, when you're pushing through a bad day without the stuff, the carefree promotional initiatives for cocktail culture can turn menacing. WeHo's 12-Step Store serves two purposes: It raises scratch for local recovery programs and it shifts the cultural balance a tad, rendering the AA lifestyle (often perceived, rightly or wrongly, as cultish, humorless and doctrinaire) into a brightly colored world of clever slogans, wacky baubles, Bill Wilson bobbleheads, and enjoyably cheesy fun. Even if you've never hailed the wagon, it's worth a pop-in for its one-of-a-kindness alone.



Posted By:  Noah Albert
Photo:  Noah Albert

MAK Center
The Schindler house on King's Road is famous for its sliding screens, concrete slab walls and its new layout of domestic space.  Built in 1922, the house was conceived as a dwelling for two families with a shared "utility room." Four rooms within the private dwelling areas were meant to be assigned specifically to an occupant. Schindler shared the house with a variety of people (first the Chace family, later occupants included Richard Neutra, Edward Weston and John Cage) before his divorced wife Pauline (an original occupant) returned to take up residence in the Chace section in the late 1930's.  Inside the house you are immediately aware of the Yosemite inspiration for this odd home. It really feels like a wilderness camp, with fireplaces everywhere and concrete and wood surfaces to boot. The MAK Center has an office in the original garage--this branch of the Austrian Museum of Applies Arts/Contemporary Art holds openings in the house and keeps it open to the public. Evidently you can't go up into the eccentric open-air sleeping berths on the roof but you can stand on your tippy-toes and try to get a good look.



Posted By:  Kevan Peterson
Photo:  Kevan Peterson

Saddle Ranch
Ever get the urge to ride a Bull on a Friday night? No, I don't mean that as a metaphor for sex or drugs. At Saddle Ranch Chop House you have the option of riding a mechanical bull. Most people won't take up the challenge upon arrival, but after a few drinks at the bar, everyone's a cowboy. The servers work hard to get the customers up on the beast, as the crowd grows happier, the drinks flow steadier and the food becomes hardier when someone's a'riding. Especially if that someone is female. Okay, so maybe the bull is a metaphor for sex. The portions here are nothing to laugh at. Each plate could feed a small country and the prices are reasonable enough you should have some change left over for the cab ride home, seeing as how you'll probably be too drunk to drive. Down side, if you hate valet parking as much as I do, too bad. You'll be left with very few other options for ditching your car, as it's located in the heart of the Sunset strip.



Posted By:  Kevan Peterson
Photo:  Gillian Wee

Mystery Pier Books
This bookstore is appropriately named as it takes the mental brain power of solving a mystery just to find it. Los Angeles, with its sprawling streets, does not lend itself easily to alleyways, but somehow this bookstore managed to find what may be the only true alleyway in all of LA. After you walk down the dark mysterious path, you must turn and walk another small path in order to reach something very out of place. A cottage in the middle of LA? Is somebody filming? Enter the bookstore and you will find many rare and out-of-print books. Most people coming to the physical bookstore are probably just there to browse the impressive collection of first editions and autographed novels. However, business seems to be booming from phone and internet orders, as evidenced by the constant ringing and overworked owner. How's that for detective work?



Posted By:  Kevan Peterson
Photo:  Gillian Wee

Hamburger Mary's
Located in the fabulous and predominantly gay neighborhood of West Hollywood, Hamburger Mary's is Los Angeles' worst kept secret.  Apparently, everyone knows about this place, as it is rarely empty.  This meat house caters to Angelinos of all walks of life.  A popular destination for anyone craving a hearty meal and willing to make the trek over to West Hollywood.  The TV screens in this joint flash more videos of people dancing than an all night marathon of Soul Train.  An insider's secret; the hamburgers are not the only thing good on the menu.  Surprisingly, the Orange Chicken (no, I am not joking, they do serve this) is surprisingly good.



Posted By:  Kevan Peterson
Photo:  Gillian Wee

Meltdown Comics & Collectibles
This store will make you want to be a geek. You'll be begging to be accepted by the recently appointed "in-crowd" of Hollywood. After all, what makes for a more marketable film than a comic book? And this store has it all. From mainstream to independent comics, action figures to stuffed animals, you could easily spend an hour browsing, even if you've never read a comic in your life. Who knows, you may inadvertently find Hollywood's next great screenplay in the making. Prices range from cheap to ultra-expensive, with the rack comics typically going to the beginning collectors and the boxed items for the serious collectors. Check out the table at the front, which typically has some promotional and or free items.



Posted By:  Kevan Peterson
Photo:  Gillian Wee

Pink's Famous Hot Dogs
Only an LA would a hotdog stand with valet parking exist. Is there ever a time when Pink’s doesn’t have a line? I’ve heard stories of celebrities pulling up in limos to grab a dog. The line at this meat eatery stretches half a block at lunchtime with waits of up to an hour. In the early morning hours, before most people are ravenous enough with hunger to stuff a meat log down their throats, there are moments where one may wait only ten or fifteen minutes per dog. Are the dogs worth the wait? Not really, if you base your decision solely off taste. The best thing about eating at Pink’s is that afterwards you can tell people you’ve been there. However, isn’t that the best thing about LA in general?



Posted By:  Kevan Peterson
Photo:  Gillian Wee

Jet Rag
Jet Rag is one large vintage store. So large in fact and with such huge amounts of inventory moving through it that every Sunday they hold a giant "Garage Sale" type of, um, sale. Their parking lot, which isn't very large when housing cars, feels huge when filled with clothes. But what keeps the crowds coming back week after week, hovering over piles of worn clothes, hunching over and digging through mounds of fabric in hopes of striking gold? The fact that everything in the parking lot on Sundays is $1. If you can't make it on Sunday, the wider selection in the store is still worth a browse and hey, it's decently priced.




Posted By:  Emerson Dameron
Photo:  Emerson Dameron

Hustler Hollywood
Porn is all about ersatz. If you're on an open-minded date, Hustler Hollywood is prime for a naughty little frolic. You and your buddy can buy some dirty candy hearts, snap a discreet cellphone pic of the lady in a glittery nightie, snicker at the ingredients for the coffee drinks, and brag about it later. But for the long-haulers, it's got hours and days and years of no-bullshit jerkoff fodder. Drop a thousand bucks here, gentlemen, and you'll never approach a woman again. That gets you hi-def porn, a decade's supply of pocket pussies, and any porn mags your scote desires. Take yourself off the market--it's about time, and there's no better place than this Borders of sex. But, let's be fair. Hustler, as a brand, is unique in the porn world. While it offers self-conscious pervs an easy social retreat, it also confronts the powers in power. Hustler's politics skew left of Noam Chomsky's, and without its incendiary social commentary, ANSWER Me! might have be an unasked question. Dig through the paperbacks, and you'll find some gold.




Posted By:  Kevan Peterson
Photo:  Gillian Wee

Shelly Cafe
You don't go to this grease pit for the service. Food is slapped on platters, ketchup and mustard bottles are tossed about like abandoned lovers and when asked to have your order changed the waitress utilizes some four-letter words like an Olympic champion and then fails to change your order. However, despite these obvious flaws the price and the greasy grubbiness of the food here make for a tempting quick lunch. A sign inside says it's world famous and can be seen in the movie Million Dollar Baby, where it was cast as, (surprise, surprise) a greasy diner with unhappy waiters.



Posted By:  adam c. marshall
Photo:  adam c. marshall

Venokado
My local shop around the corner is all grown up. In what used to be home to domestic beer, candy, and questionably dated food items, Venakado is a total 180. After being bought and renovated, this new wine and gift shop is a far cry from the poorly pirated movies I remember playing behind the counter of the old place. The attractive and warmly lit storefront offers an impressive selection of wine, gift baskets and other fine items that one wouldn't expect to purchase on Fountain. An alternative to the 7-Elevens and liquor stores that populate this area, Venakado is run by women with some serious restaurant street cred who don't seem to be afraid to say "Boo!" to the economy. And I have to say I respect that. Let's just hope a better product and a better service can stay afloat. The whole Pygmalion (Devil Wears Prada for the young of heart) transformation is reason enough to check it out. But Venokado is standing out as the spreading of snobbery from Santa Monica and Sunset inwards towards Fountain. As long as it doesn't raise property values and my rent, that's A-OK with me.



Posted By:  adam c. marshall
Photo:  adam c. marshall

The Hollywood Wedding Chapel
Honestly, I have no idea if this place just got a splashier sign, or if they've been on Santa Monica Blvd. for as long as the crazy guy at Fairfax has called me Junior and told me I've lost weight. But, regardless, the Hollywood Chapel sticks out now as the most spectacular epitome of drunken mistakes. Right among the bars that pepper Santa Monica Blvd., the Chapel is an odd little piece of matrimonial convenience. They've got three officiants, wedding packages that rival the value meal menu at McDonalds, and they cater to both weddings and receptions. So go ahead, party like a rock star. Then pull a Spears--and you don't even have to go to Vegas. This is a one-stop marriage-making spot. They also offer beach weddings, and discount packages if you bring your own wedding license. But, perhaps most interesting, they offer discount holiday packages. Apparently Halloween offers a "special time to celebrate your love," and they're available for you and yours to ring in the New Year with their team. And here I had no idea.



Posted By:  Emerson Dameron
Photo:  Emerson Dameron

Abbot's Habit Hollywood
Circa press time, comedians are ubiquitous in Los Angeles, like ants at a picnic or maggots at an unannounced suicide. And, like not enough other spots, Abbot's Habit gives comedians what they most need: a place to suck. And suck they often do. But if you can't enjoy watching a comic bomb, I doubt you can really dig Shakespeare. Monday night's "Fifty Cent Open Mike," displaying the richness of LA's current comedy boom, features a few seasoned comedians working out new material, among the hard-bitten amateurs. Each participating comic antes up two quarters to the staff, to compensate them for tolerating a couple of hours of larval standup. Thus does the Hollywood branch of the two-strong coffee-and-sammich chain distinguish itself, retaining the signature Margarita sandwich, locally brewed Chai, and neighborly attitude of its Venice progenitor. If you don't like balsamic vinegar, it's time to leave the state.



Posted By:  Kevan Peterson
Photo:  Gillian Wee

Samuel French Bookstore
There are certain places that are products of their environment. Samuel French Bookstore is one of these places. Only in Hollywood could a bookstore dedicated solely to the art and craft of film and theatre survive... no, thrive! This bookstore is the wet dream of every wannabe actor, director, or film producer who's ever gamboled through the fabled city in search of fame and fortune. The selection is untouchable when looking for any books that may help you further your career path in the "eat or be eaten" mentality of Hollywood. Come to browse and you will find yourself fighting not to buy everything in sight (assuming you're part of the 80% of Hollywood that wasn't born here and could care less about film and theatre). On one of the occasions I visited this oasis of film knowledge I saw an actor getting scene recommendations from the staff as well as a slew of titles not available at any run of the mill B&N or Borders. If you want to be in showbiz, kid, here's where you get started.



Posted By:  Alison Kim
Photo:  Alison Kim

Moun of Tunis
If a hookah bar and Medieval Times had a one night stand, this place would probably be the resultant offspring. The food is far from orgasmic, but it's just good enough for the restaurant's gimmicky atmosphere to carry the rest of the experience through. There are couches, belly dancers, and pillows galore--everything you need to live out your degenerate Middle Eastern fantasies, sans the perverted polygamy. Just remember to smuggle in some cutlery. Sticking your fingers into a piping hot chicken is just no fun.



Posted By:  Susan Milam
Photo:  Susan Milam

Phil's Deli & Grill
Sigh. Pinkberry and Chipotle have arrived. Kokomo Cafe has departed. But you can still get a good cheap Sunday morning breakfast and sit on a stool at Phil's Grill & Deli. Stop by Farm Fresh Produce on your way in from the main parking lot and buy a $2.00 bottle of fresh squeezed orange juice. Divide the "Two for Breakfast" and your meat eating friend can have two pieces of pig either in strips or patties and your civilized, non-meat eating self can have two pancakes or two pieces of French toast (that come with two eggs, but make sure your friend doesn't order them over easy. Nasty). They don't serve coffee but Coffee Corner will be just behind you. Get away for under $15 for two. Don't forget to have your parking validated or get there really early and parking is free.



Posted By:  Alison Kim
Photo:  Alison Kim

popKiller
Popkiller's mission statement is displayed right in its name. This store aims to destroy the mainstream, one vintage rock shirt at a time. But unlike the pre-faded reproductions stocked by stores listed on the NYSE, these clothes actually have some age. Of course, there are plenty of other places to shop for relics from a stranger's youth, so popKiller also stocks a whole lot of Japanese impulse buys. There are lushly embroidered bomber jackets, wacky wallets, and a massive selection of uniquely screen-printed shirts. Guns, samurai, and polka-dot panties sure beat the hell out of lightning bolts and soulless smiling cupcakes. It may not be the biggest vintage store in LA, but it definitely knows its niche.



Posted By:  adam c. marshall
Photo:  adam c. marshall

The Cook's Library
There's nothing better than stumbling in on a hidden gem. A little serendipity, and a whole lot of specificity--and, bam, you have The Cook's Library. This little nook of a bookstore is like a fistful of MSG back in the day. Yowza. It reminds me of the teeny book stores that seemed to pepper cities before Borders killed the radio star. If you're looking for something in particular, they probably have it. But go to browse. This is a time-to-smell-the-flowers bookstore. It's cookbook after cookbook packed onto shelves. Get lured by the cover art, chat up the friendly staff, and be ready to be amazed at how much time you can lose in a space that can't be more than 200 square feet. It's the measure of a good bookstore when you have to consciously leave your credit cards at home before entering. For anybody that loves food and the addictive guidebooks and schematics that feed the food snobs in all of us, this is your tree of knowledge. Whether you're looking to expand your pastry palette, perfect that mole, or finally throw that Asian-themed dinner party--grab the damn apple. And remember to the leave the credit card behind.



Posted By:  Brian La Belle
Photo:  Brian La Belle

Beverly Center
You know what's tough to find in LA? I know what you're thinking, that's not what I was talking about but it's true, they're all fake. I mean it's tough to find a good mall here. Take the Beverly Center for example--it looks like a mall, has a bunch of stores, but it's hardly the traditional mall we've all come to know and love. The Beverly Center is anchored by Macy's and includes a mix of moderate to high end stores. Throughout three levels of shopping you can find everything from shoes for yourself to a $300 dog collar for your pooch. The layout of the mall is disjointed but it's the parking garage that will provide you with fits. Multiple levels of tiny little spots, terrible lanes to navigate and an exiting process people can't seem to understand. The Beverly Center has a small food court with a great view from the balcony, but it's the airport type bar in the middle of the mall that always catches me off guard. And don't forget, it's Beverly Hills/Hollywood so be ready to catch some 'interesting' outfits amongst your fellow shoppers.




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