A lot of people might describe Hollywood as “scary.” Yep, it’s often recognized by outsiders by its iconic name and that indisputable sign splayed in the hills, internationally known for the glamour and glitz of the movie industry. But in reality, Hollywood is a bit grimy, and you’re more likely to spot an out-of-work actor hustling as a Marvel comic book character than you are a true-blue Movie Star.

In truth, neighborhoods like Beverly Hills or Bel Air are a whole lot more glamorous, and where most movie stars or entertainment heavyweights call home. Hollywood showcases a darker side to the city – and so it was the perfect neighborhood for our Halloween edition, a place where you can dress in costume almost any day of the year and not raise any eyebrows.

The story goes that the original name for the neighborhood was “Figwood,” after the numerous fig trees that dot the area. D.W. Griffith was the first person to make a motion picture in Hollywood in 1910, even though at the time, Hollywood banned movie theaters.

Home to many iconic buildings, like Capitol Records, the Kodak Theater (home to the Academy Awards), the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and Grauman’s Chinese Theatre – but don’t worry, we didn’t visit any of them during our day.

Stop 1: Javista Coffee

This place is fairly simple and straight-forward, and that’s NOT a bad thing. You’re going to come here for some fabulous coffee and scrumptious sandwiches – this is not Starbucks, and you won’t be getting a slightly burnt latte and a pre-packaged, soggy sammie. Think perfectly pulled shots, one of the only places around with hemp milk (it’s SO good in espresso drinks), and fresh bread and pastries.

(6707 Sunset Boulevard, Hollywood)

Stop 2: Historic Jim Henson Lot

Was that Kermit the Frog tipping his hat to you along La Brea Avenue?! Sure was!

The historic studio, founded by Charlie Chaplin in 1917, has been owned by a mélange of folks since then: Chaplin, CBS, and finally the Henson family. It was where Michael Jackson and every other 80s star recorded “ We Are the World” for USA for Africa. The Jim Henson Company has been headquartered there since 2000, and is now the home to the Muppets. A fun little slice of Hollywood history.

(1416 N La Brea Avenue, Los Angeles)

Stop 3: Taco Love

The burrito debate is never-ending in California: who makes the best one? San Francisco? San Diego? Los Angeles?

For those of you who didn’t even know there was a difference between Mexican food in various California cities, head over to Taco Love. This shop boasts the best “San Diego-style” Mexican food, and include the Cali burrito: a burrito stuffed with french fries. The colorful spot was bumping with 90s rap when we were there, and after ordering a plate full of tacos (carnitas, grilled fish, grilled shrimp, carne asada), I felt like we were hanging in Ensenada. Big plus that you can order sangria, wine, beer, AND Micheladas.

(7980 Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles)

Stop 4: Museum of Death

For two girls who can barely make it through a preview of a horror flick, the Museum of Death may seem like an unlikely choice. But it’s Halloween! And we wanted to do spooky things!

The museum was founded by a couple inspired by the lack of “death education” in our American culture, and dedicated their work to expanding knowledge about death. The museum has the world’s largest collection of artwork by serial killers (yup), and includes pieces of LA history like morgue photos from the Black Dahlia murder and photos from the Charles Manson crime scenes. We wandered through the various rooms of the museum, all dedicated to various themes of death: car accidents, funeral rituals, serial killers. It was equal parts horrifying and interesting, and although certainly not for the faint of heart (LOTS of graphic photographs and descriptions of murders), we would certainly recommend.

(6031 Hollywood Boulevard, Hollywood)

Stop 5: Mashti Malone's Ice Cream

So whadda you do after an hour of death and horror? Ice cream, of course! After leaving the Museum of Death a little lightheaded, we headed over to Mashti Malone’s for some good ol’ Persian ice cream.

The exotic ice cream shop used to be called “Mugsy Malone” – when Mashti, who grew up in northern Iran, purchased the shop in 1980, he couldn’t afford to change the whole sign and so just added “Mashti.” A true LA story, where cultures collide!

We ordered the herbal snow sorbet and pomegranate sorbet, both refreshing and delicious. We also sampled the Turkish Coffee Ice Cream and Ginger Rosewater Sorbet, two other favorites. They still play Irish jigs in the shop, and all the ice cream is made on-site. You can purchase pints of ice cream (including lavender and rosewater), and Persian pastries.

Insider’s Tip: Mashti Malone’s ice cream is now served at select Whole Foods Markets.

(1525 N La Brea Avenue, Los Angeles)

Stop 6: Halloween Movie at The El Capitan Theatre

Now THIS is what people picture when they think of old Hollywood: a glittering, grand old theatre with ornate ceilings and velvet curtains. The theatre palace first opened in 1926, back during a time when Angelenos were just beginning to imagine a “theatre district” in Hollywood. Clark Gable performed there, and the theatre was also where the film Citizen Kane had its world premiere.

Nowadays, El Capitan showcases all the best Disney movies, as well as holiday favorites. We were in luck, because the movie theatre was offering one of our Halloween favorites – Hocus Pocus! (This week’s holiday showing is The Nightmare Before Christmas). Our seats were comfy, our $5 Coca-Cola was refreshingly cold, and the 90s jokes were just as funny as we remembered. Viva El Capitan!

(6838 Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles)

Stop 7: Al Wazir Chicken

If you think Zankou Chicken is THE spot in Los Angeles for rotisserie chicken and garlic sauce, think again. Al Wazir has been doing it better than anyone else for over 25 years, a small and very casual restaurant nearly hidden in a Hollywood strip mall.

The falafel and shawarma are both a MUST, and we were also big fans of the baba ghannouj and the arayes (ground beef in pita). The pita is light and fluffy, and the hummus offers the perfect blend of lemon and garlic. All-around groans of happiness from our table, and serious excitement about the plate of left-overs. See you soon, Al Wazir.

(6051 Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles)

The Details:

The easiest way to reach Hollywood has to be via the Red Line, hopping off at the Hollywood/Vine or Hollywood/Highland subway station. The rest of the neighborhood is accessible by bus or foot.

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