WEST HOLLYWOOD

So West Hollywood (or “WeHo” as it is most often called) is officially its own city, one proud of its history and socially-minded, progressive residents (it was the first city to create a same-gender domestic partnership registration in 1985 and the City Council voted to make WeHo the first official pro-choice city in 1993).

But for our own purposes, it is also one of LA’s most well-known and popular neighborhoods, including iconic avenues like Sunset Boulevard, Melrose Avenue, and Robertson Boulevard. It’s home to drag-queen bingo at Hamburger Mary’s, the infamous LGBT bar The Abbey, the Troubadour, the Viper Room and Whisky A Go Go. If you’ve ever seen a gossip magazine’s photographs of celebrities boutique-shopping or night-clubbing in Los Angeles, it’s more than likely in West Hollywood.

Sandwiched between Hollywood and Beverly Hills, West Hollywood can be a congested concrete nightmare at times. And if you’re not a 23 year-old pop star hanging out at the Sunset Tower, or a passenger on a double-decker sightseeing tour bus, is West Hollywood really for you? We certainly think so. We spent our day looking at vibrant art, browsing books, sipping margaritas, and drooling over lobster rolls. Welcome to the other side of glossy, glittery WeHo.

Stop 1: Jones Coffee Roasters

What would a day be if we didn’t start with coffee?!

It was a perfect, 75-degrees-and-sunny day in Los Angeles, so we opted for iced drinks at Jones Coffee Roasters: a soy iced coffee and iced almond latte. The baristas put a lot of work into their lattes, which are recommended over the regular drip. The space is small and modern, with orange metal chairs and concrete floors, and an attached seating area and patio. With so many people working on laptops, it was a little too quiet for our taste…so continued on to our next stop, coffee in hand.

(625 N San Vicente Boulevard, West Hollywood)

Stop 2: West Hollywood Library

Easily one of the most beautiful libraries in Los Angeles, the West Hollywood Library also offers gorgeous views of the city from the multitude of large windows throughout the building. As we walked in, we had the very WeHo experience of walking by actors loudly running lines outside, and there were clusters of families hanging out in the adjacent park. The library boasts free wi-fi, lots of community classes and events, and study rooms. The best idea would be to take your iced coffee and your stack of books to a bench in the West Hollywood Park.

Insider’s tip: the library has 3 hours of free parking!

(625 N San Vicente Boulevard, West Hollywood)

Stop 3: MOCA Pacific Design Center

Since the Pacific Design Center is closed on the weekends, we walked across to the West Hollywood branch of the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA). This satellite site is small (but free!), and the exhibit we saw was fantastic. “Cameron: Songs for the Witch Women” included works from Marjorie Cameron, a poet, mystic, performer and artist. The large room upstairs displayed her sketches, paintings and photographs from her eclectic collections. A really delightful way to spend an hour.

(8687 Melrose Avenue, West Hollywood)

Stop 4: Gracias Madre

It was well after 2pm, and not only were we hungry, but it felt time for a weekend cocktail. Gracias Madre’s margaritas have recently been voted some of the best by LA Weekly readers, and this “plant-based Mexican restaurant” has a beautiful outdoor area (that only gets a slight edge over the gorgeous interior: brick walls with colorful paintings of the Virgin Mary, bowls of citrus sitting atop a stunning black & white tiled bar).

Everything about this restaurant screams California, from the decor to the host with a glob-sized crystal pendant around his neck. We kept finding ourselves exclaiming, “I want my house to look like this!” We had the purista margarita (their house drink, add $1 to make it spicy – yum!) We dined on Flautas de Camote (filled with sweet potatoes and topped with guacamole and cashew nacho cheese) and Madre’s Chopped Salad (summer squash, chickpeas, avocado). Deeeeelicious!

(8905 Melrose Avenue, West Hollywood)

Stop 5: Millions of Milkshakes

After the gleam of Robertson Boulevard, we decided to search out a little more grit and ventured up to Santa Monica Boulevard. The sun was still beating down, and Millions of Milkshakes called our names (hey, we just ate an all-organic vegetarian meal!)

Millions of Milkshakes is the self-proclaimed “most famous milkshake bar in the world” and you’re assaulted by TMZ footage of Miley Cyrus drinking a MoM shake as soon as you step through the door. We ordered the “Celebrity Shake” (duh) with Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and cookie dough. They also have boba and juices, but why would you ever order those at a milkshake bar?

(8910 Santa Monica Boulevard, West Hollywood)

Stop 6: Block Party WeHo

There’s quite a few salacious shops along Santa Monica Boulevard, but Block Party WeHo pulled us in with their sign outside the store: “The Gayest Store on Earth.” We made fast friends with a gentleman shopping for a shirt to wear to The Abbey, tried on boas and sparkly masks, and giggled over the slogans on their t-shirts. WeHo in all its glory!

(8853 Santa Monica Boulevard, West Hollywood)

Stop 7: Barney's Beanery

This joint is an LA institution, a place where frat brothers from across the city come together to eat chicken wings and cheer on their college football teams. It may not be a typical MBLAD stop, but it was Husky Saturday and we try not to miss a University of Washington football game (as proud alumnae!)

Although Barney’s is now a chain, the WeHo location is the original – opening in 1920 and enjoying a long legacy or LA lore (Quentin Tarantino supposedly wrote many of his films from a booth in Barney’s). Clark Cable, Jean Harlow and Bette Davis all hung out here in the 30s and 40s, too. The most famous menu item is their chili, but one reason we like the place is that the menu is EXTENSIVE (it even features a “Bitty Bean” section with smaller portions). And breakfast is served all day!

We ordered beers, requested our game on a nearby television, and watched some colorful characters play pool. If our Huskies hadn’t lost, it might have been the perfect Saturday afternoon.

(8447 Santa Monica Boulevard, West Hollywood)

Stop 8: Connie and Ted's

Inspired by a New England oyster bar, the “wicked good chowda'” and lobster roll are both a must at this darling seafood restaurant. You’d be surprised to find seafood this good outside of Maine, but it’s dang delicious. The dining room is adorably nautical without being kitschy. We ordered some excellent cocktails (the “Born in East LA” with tequila, lime and tamarind was a favorite!) and squeezed into a corner in the bustling bar. Will definitely be back for a sit-down dinner.

(8171 Santa Monica Boulevard, West Hollywood)

The Details:

West Hollywood is a very walkable neighborhood (voted one of the most easily walkable by Walk Score!) so we spent the whole day in foot. There’s also a FREE mini-bus that travels through WeHo.

A map of our day looks like this:

Recommended Posts