Lesley Bracker

Flying Pig in Los Angeles

Gourmet food trucks are all the rage right now in Los Angeles.  Many of the trucks are operated by the city’s top chefs, and some are making unknown chefs famous. They’re a great way to get delicious, inexpensive food without paying the high prices that some of these chefs charge in their restaurants. Plus, getting breakfast, lunch, or dinner (or a snack) from a truck is always a fun, unique experience and everything is served with great love and a smile.

You can get anything from a cupcake to a kogi taco, from a grilled cheese to chinese dumplings.  And these aren’t the ubiquitous taco trucks of yore that you would see at construction sites all over Los Angeles — these trucks are brightly painted, diverse, and always fun. While many people are following these trucks on Twitter, there are a few websites (see below) that enable you to find the trucks when you’re in L.A.  There are also a few sure-thing spots where the trucks park at lunchtime and also at night (near nightlife epicenters).

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Los Angeles Farmers Market

A historic gem in the center of Los Angeles, Farmers Market continues to be a popular tourist spot. But it’s a locals’ favorite, too. Few of the top tourist attractions in Los Angeles are also frequented by locals, but you can’t keep the locals away from this inherent part of the Angeleno life.

What began in 1934 as a traditional farmers market, where farmers from all over California came to sell produce from the back of their vehicles, has become a market filled with stalls carrying produce, cooked food, and treats of all kinds. The open-air market remains in its original spot from 80 years ago at the corner of Third and Fairfax. CBS Studio looms in the background, and the recently-built Grove shopping mall is right next door. But the real reason to visit is to see old Los Angeles, mostly unchanged by time (a rare treat).

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The Venice in California has canals, too!

Did you know that Venice — the one in California — has canals?  Venice, California, was originally modeled after Venice, Italy.  Some of the canals are still there, in a beautiful upscale neighborhood, where no cars are allowed.  Visiting these canals when visiting famous Venice Beach is a must-see.

Venice Beach is notorious for the sideshow performers, tarot card readers, muscle men lifting weights, roller skaters (still there!), and various other characters.  However, tucked away just behind Abbot Kinney Boulevard (a great shopping street), are the original canals, as envisioned by Abbot Kinney himself in 1905.  There were originally 16 miles of canals dug, and although only a portion remains, the history is legendary.

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Enjoy a free movie screening with Hollywood's long-departed rich and famous at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery.

Enjoy free summer movie screenings with Hollywood's long-departed rich and famous at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Los Angeles.

On weekend evenings at dusk every summer, thousands of people join together to watch movies with dead people — literally — as part of the Hollywood Forever Cemetery movie series. Bring a picnic, a blanket and pillow, and sit amongst the famous people entombed there, while you watch classic movies under the nighttime stars.

Top Los Angeles DJs kick off and end the evening by spinning great music, while people dance atop graves.  Sound a bit morbid?  It’s not, it’s a great night out, and you’ll be hanging out with locals from every neighborhood of  this enormous city, as it pulls people in from hither and yon — Cinespia (the host of these screenings) is famous.

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CBS Studios in Los Angeles

There are lots of fun things to do for free when visiting Los Angeles. You could explore Griffith Park, for example, or visit the colorful the Santa Monica Pier. But if you’re a fan of the small screen, you may excited to know that tickets to TV tapings are free, and you might even say that a visit to L.A. isn’t complete without attending at least one taping.

Many of the sitcoms that film in Los Angeles only tape from July to April, but many talk shows and game shows tape year-round (with a break during August). There are many ways to get tickets to tapings of your favorite shows. One of them is to simply visit popular tourist attractions (like the Hollywood Walk of Fame and Grauman’s Chinese Theater and wait to be approached by someone who is handing out tickets (usually for a taping later that  same day). And don’t worry, you will be approached.

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Pool at The Standard DowntownThere are a lot of places to party outdoors in a city where the weather is nice year-round. But the very best — and the trendiest — spots have more to offer than booze and sunshine: A happening pool or a view of the beach is a must. Below, check out the list of L.A.’s top top poolside and beachside parties.

The Standard, Downtown helped start the hotel pool party trend, and its rooftop pool scene is still one of the city’s best: Trendy locals and visitors alike swim, drink, and tan while top D.J’s spin. Things get shaking at about 2 p.m., but you should still get there early if you want to get in. Once inside, you’ll find the hip and beautiful dressed to kill in their best bikinis and shorts, fancy cocktails a-plenty, and stunning views.

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Rodeo Drive, seen here, is a haven for L.A. shopping -- but so are the city's resale shops

Everyone knows that Los Angeles is a haven for shopping.  From designer boutiques like Chanel and Louis Vuitton, to top department stores like Barney’s and Neiman Marcus, to famous streets like Rodeo Drive and Melrose Avenue that are devoted only to shopping – this city offers the best of the best.

But what not everyone knows is that L.A. also has the best resale shopping in the country. Think about it: celebrities who can’t be seen in anything twice, TV shows with entire warehouses filled with of-the-moment wardrobes, and stylish young celebutantes who always buy the latest trends. So what do they do when a new fashion season kicks off? They donate their wardrobes to local resale shops, where their trash becomes your treasure.

We’ll share two of our faves after the jump.

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Sweetbreads Picatta with artichokes at Osteria Mozza

Created by celebrity chefs Nancy Silverton, Mario Batali, and Joseph Bastianich, Mozza is the biggest hit restaurant Los Angeles has seen in recent years. Located close to most Hollywood hotels, on famous Melrose Avenue, it makes for a meal you will never forget.

Nancy Silverton can be seen on site at the Pizzeria Mozza (pronounced MAHT-SO), manning the unique mozzarella bar. All the antipasti is based on Italian fresh cheeses.  Silverton serves what’s available, whether mozzarella or burrata, and always presents dishes in a unique fashion — on a bed of stewed leeks, for example. Pizzas are topped with such items as Ipswich clams, fried egg, and white anchovy, but even the traditional Margarita Pizza is amazing. Note that you can also order from the regular menu at the L-shaped bar (a great place to chat with fellow foodies).

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Angels Flight, the "shortest railway in the world"

Angels Flight was built in 1901, and is called the “Shortest railway in the world”.   Just a short distance from its original location, Angels Flight is at 351 South Hill Street.  Parts of Downtown Los Angeles are very steep, and Angel’s Flight was built to transport people from one fashionable area to another, without  having to climb the steep hill. At the time, downtown was the center of the city, as the city hadn’t built out toward the beach yet, and Beverly Hills was mostly orange groves. Read More »

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The Blvd at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel

Some of Los Angeles best bars are in hotels, and many of the best hotels are in Beverly Hills, many of which are the center of LA nightlife.

The SLS Beverly Hills is one of the newest hotels in Los Angeles, located at the border of Beverly Hills. Its Bar Centro is where to go to see and be seen, but given its design by Philip Starke, there’s eye candy beyond just the pretty people. You can dine on eclectic and extremely modern tapas by famed chef Jose Andres, or just try one of their signature drinks, from the New Way martini or the Magic Mojito (strained over cotton candy). Read More »

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