Be My Guest: Los Angeles
"L.A. is fascinating. There's a feeling of unlimited
possibility and an endless supply of hope.
And you can't underestimate the power
of sunshine." —Cindy Guidry
Cindy Guidry, an L.A. resident for 18 years, is adapting her book, The Last Single Woman in America, into a pilot for HBO.
People don't walk much in L.A., but as long as I have legs and they work, I'm going to use 'em. West Third Street is less trendy than Robertson Boulevard, but it still has tons of shops. My friends and I will pop into Little Next Door for breakfast or lunch (8142 W. Third St., 323/951-1010, thelittledoor.com), or into Tasca, a cozy wine bar, if it's dinnertime. The arancini with truffle sauce is a must-have (8108 W. Third St., 323/951-9890, tascawinebar.com). Melrose Avenue, west of Fairfax, has bigger names than Third—like Marc Jacobs, Theory, and Antik Denim. And at the end of the rainbow: my favorite restaurant, Lucques. The owner and chef, Suzanne Goin, has forever changed the way I feel about brussels sprouts (8474 Melrose Ave., 323/655-6277, lucques.com).
Bargainsla.com has a comprehensive list of all things bargain-related—and because of it, I'm now obsessed with Archipelago Botanicals' annual sale. Last year, I got $1,000 worth of candles for $100! (Speaking of useful websites, julib.com and dailycandy.com are great for scouting out sales and other happenings around town.)
The Farmer's Daughter Hotel is a converted motel next to the old Farmers Market. It's inexpensive, but I also recommend it because it's within walking distance of my apartment (115 S. Fairfax Ave., 323/937-3930, farmersdaughterhotel.com).
One of the best things about this city is that outdoor activities are possible most of the year. If I've got a tennis-playing friend visiting, we're hitting the La Cienega Tennis Center. The courts are $6 to $10 an hour and lighted (325 S. La Cienega Blvd., 310/550-4767). If not, we're going hiking. Runyon Canyon is an easy hike with potential for star spotting. You can hop off the trail and stroll along Outpost Drive, through a fairly celeb-heavy neighborhood. I once almost ran over a jogging Ben Stiller.
For a great massage, I go to Pho-Siam Thai Spa in Echo Park, where a Thai woman walks on your back. It's totally relaxing, and an hour is only $40 (1525 Pizarro St., 213/484-8484, phosiam.com). You don't get all oily, so afterward you can head straight to Sgt. Recruiter. It's what a bar should be, as far as I'm concerned (4655 Hollywood Blvd., 323/669-3922).
You can often catch a band for free at Amoeba Music. But I would've been wise to bring binoculars during my recent attempt to see Flight of the Conchords (6400 Sunset Blvd., 323/245-6400, amoeba.com). Other music venues worth checking out are The Hotel Café (1623½ N. Cahuenga, hotelcafe.com) and The Orpheum Theatre (842 S. Broadway, 877/677-4386, laorpheum.com).
For me, the Santa Monica Pier remains somewhat magical. And I always enjoy Big Dean's Oceanfront Cafe, a boisterous bar on the boardwalk (1615 Ocean Front Walk, 310/393-2666, bigdeansoceanfrontcafe.com). Venice Beach's vibe is more sophisticated. Stroll by the canals and then venture over to Abbot Kinney, a street that's like one big get-together.
Every visitor to L.A. expects to see someone famous. You're almost guaranteed to spot a celeb while having a drink in the courtyard of the Chateau Marmont. But watch out! The hotel adds an 18 percent gratuity to the check (8221 W. Sunset Blvd., 323/656-1010, chateaumarmont.com). And you can often catch one at the bar at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills (300 S. Doheny Dr., 310/273-2222, fourseasons.com). I like to go there the night after the Oscars, when non-winners are consoling themselves. At either spot, walk in like you own it. In L.A., princes dress like paupers, and vice versa, so it's all about the attitude.
Cindy's collection of essays, The Last Single Woman in America, is available at bookstores everywhere.