Don’t get me wrong, I’m #TexasForever and all, but I’d be lying to you if I said a part of me has always secretly wanted to be a California girl. Between the beach and the sunshine and the good vibes only, California is one of my favorite places in the world to travel! And since people are always asking Parker and me for travel recommendations, I figured I’d create an extensive Los Angeles Travel Guide. Let’s dive in to the best restaurants and bars in LA, shall we?
– Where to Drink –
Sur Restaurant & Lounge: Confession: I’ve watched The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and a few season of Vanderpump Rules, so experiencing SUR was just something the reality tv aficionado in me had to do. And ya’ll, I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but I was so disappointed. Luckily, we had only planned to have drinks/apps so I didn’t feel like I “wasted” a meal in LA. It took FOREVER for anyone to actually take our order. I literally just watched as the hostess and 2 other guys in suits played on their phones. Not to mention, the hostess was so unfriendly and unhelpful when we finally asked about a waiter. SUR clearly doesn’t prioritize customer service because you could tell everyone who walked in there was only concerned with meeting Jax or Scheana. (And if you don’t know the people I’m referencing, count your blessings…)
Polo Lounge at The Beverly Hills Hotel: This has been on my “LA Bucket List” for years as I’ve continually heard that it is one of the best restaurants and bars in LA. So after we spent some time perusing Rodeo Drive, we made a pit stop for drinks on Thursday afternoon. We sat out in the garden, eavesdropped on some producers discussing a new reality tv show, and soaked up all of the old Hollywood Glamour that The Beverly Hills Hotel has to offer. We said that next trip, we are going to splurge and stay here for at least a night!
– Where to Eat Lunch –
Gracias Madre: This is an extremely popular spot amongst LA locals. We arrived at 11:30 P.M. on a Wednesday and had no problem getting seated (but you may want to make reservations on the weekend). Everything on the menu is Vegan, which I conveniently “forgot” to mention to Parker 😉 But even he loved it! I would totally recommend the chips and guac to start, a couple of house margaritas, and the Bowl Uno. I am a super picky marg drinker because I don’t like “syrupy and sweet”, and these were strong and delicious! And Parker wanted me to emphasize that the salted rim is orange infused 😉
The Ivy: Honestly, I was expecting this to be a total tourist trap. Everyone goes to LA and has lunch at the Ivy. But now I see why everyone says you have to go to the Ivy- even the locals. It has the cutest decor, greet you with free champagne, and the menu is to die for. I ordered the lobster ravioli, and to say I still dream about it is an understatement. Parker didn’t want to be “that guy” who ordered the same thing, so he opted for the lobster tacos. His were delicious, but he definitely agreed that I out-ordered him. Let’s just say, it wasn’t a cheap meal by any means. But we both said it was hands down one of the best restaurants and bars in LA! I would go back every single time and would probably order the exact same thing.
Gjusta: If you’re spending any time in the Venice Beach area, this is a must-go lunch spot. (Helpful hint: You know you are eating at a good restaurant in LA when the name of the restaurant isn’t visible- people just “know” it.) Their spread of sandwiches, pizzas, and baked goods is to die for. And the whole restaurant and patio looks like it was designed by Joanna Gaines. Warning: It does get extremely busy so make sure to “take a number” immediately. Parker and I didn’t figure that out for a few minutes and ended up waiting longer than necessary… but it was worth it!
1 Pico at Shutters on the Beach: If you can’t afford to stay at Shutters but want the “Shutters” experience, just splurge on a fancy lunch. Parker and I literally got seated right next to a window that looked out onto the Santa Monica beach. We sipped cocktails and indulged on the Lobster BLT (which is to die for!). Parker had been craving lobster and researched every place in Santa Monica that served lobster. Luckily the best spot in town was right across the street from the hotel. The entire vibe of 1 Pico is exactly how I pictured that Santa Monica life. As you can see, Parker got a little too comfortable living in the lap of luxury…
– Where to Eat Dinner –
Note: I swear every restaurant’s dress code in LA is “Smart Casual”. Like WTF does that even mean? Parker and I literally spent 30 minutes on our first night Googling it and came up with NOTHING. Based on our experience, “Smart Casual” can literally be whatever you want it to be, as long as your outfit looks like it required some level of thought. To be safe, nice jeans, a cute blouse, and wedges totally works. For guys, I would say nice jeans and a button down.
Cecconi’s: Confession… This place was on my list because apparently its popular amongst the local celebrities. And I totally get why- the ambiance is dark and the vibe is sultry. The restaurant is definitely crowded, but in a way that’s romantic and oddly makes you feel like you are the only two people in the room. So basically if a celebrity was sitting next to you, you would never know! Of course, we ordered pasta because well, we love carbs. Parker ordered the kale tortellini, and I ordered the garganelli bolognese. We both basically ended up splitting each others. I couldn’t decide who out ordered who because they were both SO DIFFERENT. Parker did tell me that my wine tasted better than his – so definitely order the Cline Cabernet Sauvignon 😉
The Little Door: This is most unassuming of restaurants. We literally walked by it the first time because the restaurant’s name is not advertised anywhere. It’s one of those little hidden gems where you only go if you know you are looking for it. And we totally saw why it’s deemed the most “romantic restaurant in LA”. You feel like you are in the secret garden- lights in the trees, dark ambiance, candles on the table, and exquisite service. They even have a painter come in and do a live painting while the guests eat. Again, we gorged ourselves on pasta and Creme Brûlée (do you see a theme?).
Scopa Italian Roots: I was SO excited about this restaurant because I have heard such good reviews from tourists and locals alike- including our Italian Uber driver. I don’t know whether my expectations were too high, but I was underwhelmed. The food was fine (small portions so order some side dishes) and the service was just okay. Maybe that is what bothered me the most given that LA is a city full of career waiters and waitresses. And if you’ve followed my blog for any length of time you know that I’m a little bit of a wine snob… #noshame. While I was very grateful that they let me sample several different wines, I never found one that I liked. Womp womp. I’m not taking as strong of a stance against Scopa as I did SUR, but I probably wouldn’t go back.
Next week I will be posting the second installment featuring what to do and where to stay in Los Angeles. Until then, happy wanderlusting!