EAT, STAY, DO - by neighborhood
Toscana - I love the vibe here of happy people - families celebrating, date nights, friends out. Great old-school Italian and almost a guarantee for a celeb sighting. Don't be put off by the office building exterior.
Tavern - The light-filled atrium is a wonderful place for breakfast or lunch.
Brentwood Country Mart - This is a throwback to 1950's L.A. with an old-timey chocolate shop (Edelweiss) and candy apple-red and white-trimmed exterior. Sugar Paper is the BEST stationery store and I love Sweet Rose Creamery for ice cream, Farmshop for breakfast, and Diesel for buying books. If you have kids, you'll fit right in with the stroller crowd.
Sugarfish - I crave the Trust Me Box for lunch, perfect sushi with their specialty warmed rice. Many locations throughout L.A.
Cafe Vida - Healthy neighborhood spot with great salads, sandwiches & juices.
Maison Giraud - Best chocolate croissants! Owned by a French chef.
Malibu Country Mart - If you're in Malibu, this is a similar stop to the Brentwood Country Mart. A fun place to window shop or see a movie.
Il Ristorante di Giorgio Baldi - One of my all-time favorite restaurants in the world. The ambiance is dreamy and it's just so L.A. The first time I went, Steven Spielberg, Oliver Stone, and Bradley Cooper were all there. Expensive.
Joan's on Third - The original is classic L.A. The Chinese chicken salad is addicting. Everything is amazing. I love the new one in Studio City and there is now one open in Santa Monica too.
Toast Bakery & Cafe - Very L.A. spot for brunch or lunch. Great food and the best red velvet cupcakes.
Angelini Osteria - This is such a perfect spot, where Rome meets California. The lasagna verde is the best lasagna you'll ever have. Reservations a must.
Canter's - Great classic deli open 24 hours a day near the Grove.
République - Once home to Charlie Chaplin's offices, this cathedral-like space now is anchored around long communal dining tables. Don't miss the bacon, gruyere & caramelized onion Alsatian tart, the scrambled eggs & sea urchin on a baguette, or the best-selling rotisserie chicken.
Beverly Hills/Century City
La Scala - ORIGINAL AND BEST CHOPPED SALAD! Beverly Hills classic open since 1956.
Culina at the Four Seasons Los Angeles is perfect for breakfast or lunch. They have the best salads, a fun juice menu, and a beautiful outdoor patio.
The Farm on Beverly Drive - Great for casual breakfast or lunch.
Urth Caffe - Another location of this classic L.A. all-organic coffee shop. The Spanish latte is so delicious and they have great food too.
Clementine - This bakery, located in the slightly odd enclave of Century City, is so cute and has the best banana cream pie, something that never really appealed to me until I tried it here. Great lunch food too.
Four Seasons Los Angeles on Doheny Drive - This is the absolute best location in L.A. if you're a visitor, central to the beach cities, Beverly Hills and West Hollywood, and Brentwood/Pacific Palisades. As with every Four Seasons, the staff is perfection. The higher floors have panoramic views. Culina is one of the best spots for breakfast or lunch on their shaded patio.
downtown los angeles
Bar Ama - Great guacamole and Mexican food, plus fried brussels sprouts
Bottega Louie - Beautiful, huge interior & delicious menu of pizzas, pasta, salads, seafood, soup, everything!
Langer's - Old-fashioned deli since 1947 & a pastrami sandwich that made me like pastrami sandwiches.
The Ivy at the Shore - Best grilled vegetable salad with shrimp & crab cakes.
FIG at the Fairmont Miramar - Great for lunch & addicting warm quinoa salad. The hotel is one of Santa Monica's best places to stay.
Huckleberry Cafe - Super popular for lunch - get the salted caramel cookie.
Caffe Luxxe - Love the location on Montana Ave for a coffee break.
Bay Cities Italian Deli - Open since 1925. Great sandwiches at the deli (order ahead to beat the crowds) and hundreds of imported Italian products.
Main Street, Santa Monica - One of SM's best stretches for shopping and wandering, away from the annoying crowds near the pier. I love Alchemie Spa, an affordable, organic spa that has great massages.
Montana Avenue - SM's other great street for strolling. I always try and go to Bellacures here to get my nails done.
Wax Santa Monica - If you need waxing of any kind, this great spot on Main Street has you covered.
Tongva Park, Santa Monica - Designed by the team behind NYC's High Line, this eco-conscious park is new on the scene and comes with observation decks with striking views of the Pacific Ocean.
Santa Monica Farmer's Market - One of the best markets I've ever been to - I always buy strawberries, bright red and sweet. Check site for locations/times.
Santa Monica Stairs (4th St & Adelaide Dr) - A killer, super popular work-out that is simple - a set of stairs with great views of the L.A. hills!
Shutters on the Beach - One of my favorite hotels in the world and the best place to settle in and watch the L.A. sunset over the Pacific Ocean.
A.O.C. - Great al fresco seating with a fireplace. Love the vegetables like English peas and asparagus.
Tower Bar - Because of the name, you might think this is a rooftop bar, but it's located on the lobby level of the Sunset Tower Hotel and it's my new favorite spot in L.A. Lighting is dim and sophisticated, there are views over the twinkling city lights, waiters wear crisp white jackets, there is live piano music, a wonderful fireplace and zero pretension (bartenders are funny and so nice!).
Dan Tana's - Old-school, red-sauce Italian since 1961.
The Sycamore Kitchen - Great for breakfast or lunch - outdoor seating and umbrellas.
Osteria Mozza - One of my all-time favorite restaurants anywhere in the world.
Pizzeria Mozza - The pizzas are just so good. Try to grab a seat at the bar early if you don't have a reservation.
Jitlada - An L.A. favorite for strip mall Thai food. Get the crying tiger beef & morning glory salad.
The London West Hollywood
Napa Valley Grille - Nice business lunch spot, and I've also picked up their amazing chopped kale salad with chicken to go many times.
venice/marina del rey
Shima - Super healthy sushi spot with delicious sugar-free desserts like chocolate mousse with sliced almonds.
Gjelina - I finally made it to perennial hot spot Gjelina and loved everything about it. Brussels sprouts, anchovy/burrata toasts, meatballs, pizzas.
Cafe Gratitude - Delicious "organic, plant-based" food, smoothies, and juices but they also have a great wine list!
Sushi Katsu-Ya - The original strip-mall sushi sensation. The best.
Sushi Dan - Huge, delicious sushi rolls & sashimi.
Good Neighbor - A great diner.
Joan's on Third - New location!! Still best Chinese chicken salad! This is my dream place.
Bikes & Hikes L.A. - I loved the 32-mile "L.A. In a Day" ride - it takes you through West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Bel-Air, Westwood, Santa Monica, Venice, Marina del Rey and more. Great guides and a really fun work-out!
Hikes - Temescal Canyon, Runyon Canyon, Fryman Canyon
Urban Adventures tours
Pasadena - Pasadena is one of those idyllic places that I dream of moving to one day. The Huntington Library and Gardens is one of my favorite places in all of L.A. You can also stalk the Father of the Bride House in Pasadena! The Langham (which used to be a Ritz-Carlton) is a beautiful hotel in the area.