A Day in LA...and Other Adventures with a Pink Wall
Los Angeles. The land of the rich and famous. The land of palm trees and sunshine. The land of matcha lattes and power bowls. The land of my dreams.
A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to take a 48-hour trip down to LA with my best friend to soak up some much-needed Vitamin D and try a few of the gorgeous, plant-based restaurants I have been eyeing via my favorite LA bloggers' Insta stories and posts. And boy did we hit the ground running...starting with an arrival time at LAX of 7AM.
A Day in LA
Given that we were getting into town at the beginning of peak traffic time, we began our adventure in Venice, a neighborhood closer to the airport and my absolute favorite area in the city. So FYI: I am one of those crazy people who researches the heck out of restaurants, shops, and must-see sights before I arrive to a new place...so I have a PLAN when I get there. And I love reading menus and reviews to maximize my dining experiences. It's the inner foodie in me, what can I say?
Our first stop was Rose Cafe just off Abbott Kinney Blvd in Venice, a street full of trendy restaurants and cute shops that actually reminds me of Portland. That might also be due to the fact that Portland classics such as Salt & Straw and Bluestar Donuts have opened up locations along this street. Rose Cafe specializes in Southern California cuisine - how perfect! - and serves everything from delicious pastries to hearty dinner fare, all in a beautiful, open air setting. It honestly felt like we were eating in the backyard of friend with amazing home decor taste.
My best friend, Megan, and I were STARVING after being up since 4:30 in the morning with zero food in our bellies. And as per usual, we were craving alllll of the carbs. After our waiter told us that Rose Cafe makes all of their breads in-house, we decided to share the Lower East Side Breakfast (dill-cured salmon, herbed farmer's cheese, arugula, and tomato on a housemade everything bagel) and the Avocado Toast (including a fried DUCK egg, lemon, pickled fresno chillies, and pistachios) plus a side of seasonal fruit for good measure.
Needless to say we were some happy gals...
After breakfast we headed over to our hotel in West Hollywood to drop off our bags and continue exploring. We stayed at the Mondrian Los Angeles, and it was a DREAM. While doing my obnoxious amount of research pre-trip, I came across a pretty good deal for the hotel and immediately hopped on it. The hotel had a minimalist, clean aesthetic which I am just love! Our room had an open view of the Hollywood Hills, overlooking Sunset Boulevard and all of its infamous history. But the best part of the whole place was easily the pool and Sky Bar...with the dreamiest views of the city.
Before this trip was even on my calendar, I knew I had to check out Honey Hi in the Echo Park neighborhood of LA VERY soon. I can hardly scroll through 10 photos on Instagram without this adorable new cafe popping up, so you can imagine how excited I was to finally get in there! Rather than label themselves as vegan, vegetarian, paleo, gluten-free, etc. etc., Honey Hi's founders wanted to create a restaurant concept that incorporated all of the best components of these various diets to create a menu packed with nourishing, colorful, and TASTY meals.
We decided on the Chayawanaprash Banana Toast with grass-fed ghee, mint ribbons, dehydrated raspberry, and bee pollen (talk about a mouthful...literally and figuratively), as well as "That One Bowl" which consisted of sprouted herbed quinoa topped with a turmeric poached egg and nearly every vegetable known to man.
AND we shared one of their famous grain-free chocolate cookies made with cassava flour, because they were staring us down the second we walked in the door and we couldn't say no.
After lunch, the inner-Portland in us was craving some greenery and trees so we walked the few blocks down to Echo Park Lake. And HOLY MOLY. With a stunning array of blooming flowers and wide open views of downtown LA, this park was quite the urban oasis. If I lived in LA, I'd like to think I would visit this park as much as possible for picnics, paddle boat rides, or nice evening stroll. Just breathtaking.
When in LA, you must shop. Or at least window-shop if you are a twenty-something young professional fresh out of grad school. So off to glitzy Melrose Avenue we went following our walk in the park. And while yes, admiring Fred Segel's ivy-colored storefront was nice and all, the real highlight of the jaunt was...a pink wall. But not just any average pink wall. THE Paul Smith pink wall right outside of the store itself. As we were walking by this striking pink wall, we noticed tons of people snapping photos by the wall wearing elaborate outfits and doing elaborate poses. And what kind of millenials would we be if we did not join in on the fun?
So the photo shoot commenced...
Followed up by Ryan Gosling lattes at Carrera Cafe across the street because obviously
After all of this excitement, we wandered back to the hotel for a much-need nap after getting up far too early that day. As with everything in our hotel, my bed felt like a dreamy cloud, and I debated staying in it forever...
But rest assured I did leave the bed, as dinner at one of my favorite restaurants in LA was waiting.
If you like delicious Mexican food, this is the place for you. If you like margaritas, this is the place for you. If you like innovative, plant-based fare, this is the place for you. And if you also happen to be vegan, literally DO NOT eat anywhere else but this magical restaurant.
I absolutely adore their wide variety of veggie-packed dishes and endless list of creative cocktails. Not to mention, the ambience is so cozy with an outdoor patio filled with fireplaces, blankets, and comfy couches for seating. For drinks, I had the Spicy Purista margarita with orange bitters and a sweet orange salt rim. Megan was feeling adventurous and tried the Boozy Popsicle aka a pineapple jalapeno popsicle dipped in a glass of tequila. Interesting. Very interesting indeed.
We then shared the Crab Cakes for an appetizer. For dinner, I ordered the Grilled Tofu with coconut rice, eggplant, and red peppers, and Megan had the Black Bean Burger. Both were incredibly delicious, and I wanted the meal to never end.
Despite the nap earlier, we were feeling pretty tired from the travel and all of the sightseeing we packed in that day. So we took a nice, long stroll down Sunset Boulevard back to the hotel, taking in the perfect evening temperatures of a perfect Southern California evening.
We ended the night with an overpriced tequila soda at Sky Bar, our hotel's pool bar. But the sweeping views and the stars and the company and the cool brush of the water as we dipped our toes into the pool made for the BEST end to an even better LA day.