LACMA outdoor installation  between buildings at LACMA

I think there is even more I want to shop and see in this part of LA than I want to eat–and that’s saying something. It says more about the great sights and stores than it does about the solid cuisine. It’s hard to compete with LACMA, the LA Museum of Art, with its sprawling exhibits (more Kelly than you can shake a stick at an installation with 1,100 moving Hot Wheels), gorgeous grounds and one of the best views of LA (the rooftop of building 7/BCAM).

wall of dire wolf skulls!

fishbowl lab  what! sabertooth ulna!

the tar pits

Or the La Brea Tar Pits and Page Museum to which you’ll want to pay homage if you care at all about ice age fossils–still being excavated today, and you can watch the preservation of bones from outside the “fishbowl lab”!–of hundreds of species, millions of bones, a wall of dire wolf skulls and the curiosity of only one human skeleton uncovered. Hmmm.

buttermilk strawberry and salted caramel  carmella ice cream menu

loteria grill tacos at the grove

Still, there is the Grove at the Farmer’s Market, similar to the St. Lawrence Market in Toronto in that the prepared food vendors are just as much of a draw as the produce vendors. Loteria Grill (Stall #322) is the place to go for tacos and the creamiest guacamole I had throughout my trip–and I had some every other day. The Hollywood Farmer’s Market is bigger and better. Must try’s: Carmela Ice Cream (the strawberry buttermilk, but taste them all, they encourage it), the coconut cakes, the avocados, raw milk (my first taste)…and then, and I have to go on about this, the dried fruit and orange juice.

sooo many mushrooms  coconut cakes at hollywood farmer's market

sundried beans  all kinds of herbs and greens

avocado varieties. varieties!  the best citrus

It’s no surprise that in LA, the markets have every kind of citrus fruit you never knew existed for the sampling, but I had orange juice at this market that has spoiled me for all other juice ever and still makes me sad to think about–to think I can’t have it right now (ever again??) and then, then I think about the dried fruit. Think you don’t care? Wondering why I’m writing about this mundane thing? I don’t blame you but you know nothing! Nothing until you’ve tried the dried fruit there. Raisins are just concentrated grapes, just as juicy, still pale green, barely withered but chewy and addictive. The apricots and figs are meals. It’s ridiculous, it makes me deeply envious and almost bitter. You get my point. I’ll move on.

umami's awesome earth burger

Ahem. I ate some meat. I know! It was weird, and I felt sick, but I wanted to try a bite of Umami burger. It was good, and here’s the thing though you won’t believe me, their Earth Burger is AS good (I’m going to say better, you will be disgusted with me). Yes, on the day I tried a real beef burger at a place renown for them, I had the best veggie burger of my life, and I’ll venture to say, in existence. I’ll tell you that it’s a mushroom and edamame patty but that is irrelevant since neither flavour is prominent or the point. It is amazing and now I’m even more bitter–when are they coming here (Toronto)? Never?? Probably. Quick…something happy…

haus interior

new stone age's nautical-themed goods

Ok, the awesome stores. It will make you envious (though not insanely jealous like I’m getting now) to walk through Haus Interior if you like fine, contemporary linens, tableware, decor accessories and lighting, but I think I wanted to move into New Stone Age. Imagine a store owned by a very tasteful good witch, and I mean that in the best way. The bar section of this decor store has a travelling champagne case with flutes, the jewellery I wanted was so delicate but made of rough metals and there was a timely, whimsical Easter display of all sorts of glass eggs and stuffed birds. We refueled at Joan’s on Third, where you can buy virtuous roasted globe artichokes and an extremely sinful Brussels sprouts gratin, thoughtfully edited cheeses and prepared sandwiches from the deli counter to enjoy on their patio.

fried zucchini flowers at mozza

I’ll use Brussels sprouts to segue into dinner at Pizzeria Mozza (could have used them to segue to any restaurant in LA, they seemed to be on every menu), which is another Bastianich/Batali production, though not their fanciest, and sadly, not their finest. I enjoyed my meal (and the crowd) at Eataly than at this, one of their actual restaurants, but the Brussels sprouts with roasted walnuts and avocado was a definite highlight.

village idiot gastropub fare

And it would be wrong to talk about eating in LA without mentioning their craft beer offering. Every gastropub has a long list of local brews that the servers will be proud to educate you on. We thoroughly enjoyed a few half pints (so conducive to sampling) with solid pub fare at Village Idiot.

the best fish tacos in ensenada  the outer seating area at best fish tacos in ensenada

the best fish taco and papa taco

Now that you know I strayed from my veg diet, I can tell you about the best fish tacos (as voted by fish-eating people, not just me) at, where else, the Best Fish Tacos in Ensenada. The breaded Basa fish taco is the specialty (there are only 3 tacos and 3 drinks–I love the tamarind drink) served baja-style and meant to be topped–to your liking at the condiment bar–with cabbage, avocado salsa, mango or about 10 other salsa, plus radish relish and fresh crema! You’ll want the Papa Taco (potato with salsa verde) too. It’s argued to be the best taco stand in a city littered with them.

inside bru

careful steeping at bru

Since we’re arguing, I’d argue that I had better coffee at Bru than you-know-where in LA and I also had delicious, carefully-poured tea (there is a right and wrong way) while I sat in their airy, cream-coloured café. The baristas are as calm and lovely as the space. Other than these two tasty pieces of heaven, I didn’t get to explore enough of Los Feliz but I did visit the Rebecca Minkoff store and Confederacy on whose turf it’s located for the biggest concentration of covetable bags, glasses and clothes my whole trip.

telescopes this way

LA from griffen observatory

And of course, I made time to head to the Griffith Observatory. Amazing panorams of LA, sure, but it’s all about looking up. I I climbed the stunning building’s exterior on huge, circling stairways, viewed Venus through a powerful telescope and watched the Earth turn.

the pendulum  explanation of pendulum

LACMA
5905 Wilshire Blvd.

La Brea Tar Pits and Page Museum
5801 Wilshire Blvd.

Grove at the Farmer’s Market
6333 West 3rd St.

Hollywood Farmer’s Market
Selina and Ivar St.

Umami Burger
1520 N. Cahuenga Blvd.

Haus Interior
8211 W. 3rd St.

New Stone Age
8407 W. 3rd St.

Joan’s on Third
8350 West 3rd St.

Pizzeria Mozza
641 N. Highland Ave.

Village Idiot
7383 Melrose Ave.

Best Fish Tacos in Ensenada
1650 Hillhurst Ave.

Bru
1866 N. Vermont Ave.

Rebecca Minkoff and Confederacy
4661 Hollywood Blvd.

Griffith Observatory
2800 E. Observatory Rd.