3 steps to tolerating this terrible place I love:

If there’s one thing you should know, it’s that LA is not likable. It doesn’t try to be, and we Angelenos don’t actually expect you to like it here. It’s a city that’s easy (in fact, fun) to hate. Difficult to love. I personally love to hate LA, and kinda hate how much I love it. It’s a city that is so unique, that is set up in a way that makes so little sense, that it’s quite understandable why people are underwhelmed when they come visit, in the same way that it is quite understandable why people want move here.  
If you don’t like LA, just give it some time. It took me 10 years to learn to like LA. It wasn’t until a year or two into college that I started to understand it and in turn, start to love it. But I hope to show you how to at least appreciate LA.
First, you have to shift your frame of thinking. Don’t think of LA as a city. Think of LA as a clusterf*ck of mismatched neighborhoods, woven together in a patchwork fabric that together accumulates enough population to be considered a city. Then, explore each of these patches. Take time to understand the nuances, to see the uniquely LA mix of Hollywood culture, ethnic enclaves, and sometimes buried roots in Hispanic history. The best way to discover and enjoy LA is at the street level, moving from neighborhood to neighborhood, investing some time to appreciate each the subcultures and everything that blends in between.
Not all of LA is for everyone. And believe me, those of us who have the (mis)fortune of living here all have extremely strong opinions about different parts of LA. But there is an LA for everyone, if you’re willing to go find it. If it’s not here, just move a couple blocks over and try again.
For a city that has a reputation of being “shallow” and full of beautiful people, it’s ironic that you have to look beneath the surface to truly see its beauty. 
LA is objectively…not a pretty place. Sure the weather is beautiful and the beaches are iconic. And sure, the palm tree lined streets can be photogenic AF against the clear blue sky. But this ain’t Paris; LA was not built with beauty in mind. The architecture is a mess. Everything mismatched and patched together much like the city itself. It’s at the same time claustrophobic and spacious. There isn’t a through-line, there’s no underlying story that helps make sense of it all. 
It becomes painfully obvious that we lack an icon when you realize that the only “recognizable” landmark is the Hollywood sign. Literally giant letters perched on a balding mountain. Our downtown “skyline” is unremarkable. Palm trees aren’t ownable for the brand. Neither is the beach. When all the cities around the world light up their landmarks in colors, we literally light up the giant glow sticks of LAX. 
Over the years, I’ve learned to accept the fact that LA isn’t beautiful. At least, not in the traditional sense. But it’s there. You just gotta be creative. Because when the sun hits at just the right angle and you crop it just so, I think you’ll find yourself falling in love with this city too. 
Even as someone who actually loves LA, I don’t think it’s a great vacation destination. Our lifestyle isn’t exactly tourist-friendly. Normal in LA means navigating around the entertainment industry (ie: don’t bother driving through Hollywood Blvd on a weekday night), budgeting an hour to get anywhere in this physically monstrous and very decentralized city (lol @ all the people who visit and stay downtown, thinking it’s the city center. Jokes on you! But actually jokes on us, because we live in a city that makes no sense!), and oh yeah, dealing with the hell that breaks loose if it rains (seriously, we weren’t built for more than a sprinkle so please just cancel everything). 
When it comes to tourism, we lack on the “tier 1” must-do attractions, but then go all in on the places that you usually save for a second or third visit, or you know, if you live here. I wouldn’t even know where to start to build an itinerary for a 3 day first time visit to LA. 
You see, LA is a much better place to live than it is to visit. There’s very little to appreciate if you’re only here for a few days. But it’s the everyday moments, the random encounters that can only happen in LA that make it worthwhile. It’s a place that is better for coffee shop meetings than it is for sightseeing. We’re known more for weekday brunches and taco trucks than we are for reputable art institutions. When you think about it, we actually specialize in making LA feel like someplace else that carries a little more culture and personality. 
The things we love are things that are way too quotidian for visitors to appreciate (though our idea of quotidian is very different from other places).  LA is a place where work blends with play, but one doesn’t really have meaning without the other. Where we all share some kind of giant inside joke by virtue of being here. Where we welcome all, but hate everyone (read: overheard LA). Where places are designed low hanging fruit to bait social influencer, and yet the best gems are hidden in nondescript strip malls.
So if you wan’t to like LA, try living here, even if it’s just for a couple days. As long as you grumble about traffic and the weather, no one will ever know! 

a city of neighborhoods

a few of my favorite places

LA Guide | Tuk Tuk Thai
January 18, 2024
LA Guide | Memorylook
January 8, 2024
My Favorite Pastries in LA: Sugarbloom Bakery
December 16, 2023
LA Guide | Juliet
November 23, 2023
LA Guide | LACMA
November 4, 2023
LA Guide | Marouch
October 26, 2023
LA Guide | Cha Cha Chá
October 16, 2023
LA Guide | Mirate
October 2, 2023
LA Guide | Croft Alley
August 21, 2023
LA Guide | Rutt’s Hawaiian Cafe
August 3, 2023
LA Guide | eggslut
July 24, 2023
LA Guide | Wanderlust Creamery
July 10, 2023
LA Guide | Fat and Flour
June 26, 2023
LA Guide | Saffy’s
June 12, 2023
LA Guide | Pijja Palace
May 29, 2023
Afuri Ramen + Dumplings
May 15, 2023
LA Guide | Kuya Lord
May 1, 2023
LA Guide | wine + eggs
April 27, 2023
LA Guide | Jon & Vinny’s
April 13, 2023
LA Guide | Ace Hotel
March 30, 2023
LA Guide | the good liver
February 6, 2023
LA Guide | Lulu
January 23, 2023
LA Guide | yangban society
December 29, 2022
Portland Guide | Salt & Straw
October 24, 2022
Coffee Guide | Stumptown
October 10, 2022
LA Guide | Forage
October 6, 2022
LA Guide | Redbird
September 26, 2022
LA Guide | Breakfast by Salt’s Cure
September 22, 2022
LA Guide | Super Domestic
September 12, 2022
LA Guide | Copenhagen Pastry
September 5, 2022
LA Guide | hanchic
July 25, 2022
LA Guide | Donut Friend
May 16, 2022
LA Guide | Mayura
May 12, 2022
LA Guide | Caffe Luxxe
May 9, 2022
LA Guide | Courage Bagels
April 28, 2022
LA Guide | Sticky Rice
April 14, 2022
LA Guide | Honey Hi
April 11, 2022
LA Guide | Urth Caffe
March 28, 2022
LA Guide | The Factory Kitchen
March 17, 2022
LA Guide | Cognoscenti Coffee
February 21, 2022
LA Guide | Square One
February 14, 2022
LA Guide | Tea Master Matcha Cafe and Green Tea Shop
January 17, 2022
LA Guide | Pasta Sisters
January 10, 2022
LA Guide | Steep
December 27, 2021
LA Guide | Bread Lounge
December 23, 2021
LA Guide | dayglow coffee
December 9, 2021
LA Guide | bavel
December 6, 2021
LA Guide | ahgoo’s kitchen
November 18, 2021
Japan Guide | Menya Hanabi
November 15, 2021
LA Guide | Lasita
November 11, 2021
LA Guide | Saffron & Rose
November 8, 2021
LA Guide | pikunico
November 4, 2021
LA Guide | gjusta
November 1, 2021
LA Guide | destroyer
October 28, 2021
LA Guide | chifa
October 25, 2021
SF Guide | Boba Guys
October 4, 2021
CHI Guide | all the goats
August 5, 2021
LA Guide | The Boy and the Bear Coffee
July 8, 2021
LA Guide | Sachi LA
July 3, 2021
Eat | Meet Fresh 鮮芋仙
June 24, 2021
LA Guide | Highlight Coffee
June 3, 2021
LA Guide | Milk Jar Cookies
April 22, 2021
LA Guide | Larchmont Bungalow
April 19, 2021
LA Guide | Lamill Coffee
April 12, 2021
LA Guide | Book Soup
April 10, 2021
LA Guide | Hennessey + Ingalls
April 5, 2021
LA Guide | Coffee for Sasquatch
April 1, 2021
LA Guide | Botanica
March 29, 2021
LA Guide | California Donuts
March 25, 2021
LA Guide | DK’s Donuts
March 22, 2021
LA Guide | P.F. Candle Co
March 13, 2021
LA Guide | Mee & Greet
March 11, 2021
LA Guide | Uplifters Kitchen
March 1, 2021
LA Guide | Hammer Museum
February 22, 2021
LA Guide | The Broad
February 15, 2021
LA Guide | Jitlada
February 4, 2021
LA Guide | Andante Coffee Roasters
February 1, 2021
LA Guide | Night+Market
January 25, 2021
LA Guide | All Day Baby
January 21, 2021
Coffee | Verve
January 7, 2021
Eat + Shop | Eataly
December 24, 2020
LA Guide | Espresso Profeta
December 17, 2020
shop | topdrawer
December 14, 2020
Coffee | Blue Bottle
December 10, 2020
LA Guide | proof bakery
December 7, 2020
LA Guide | The Last Bookstore
December 3, 2020
LA Guide | Sharp Specialty Coffee
November 23, 2020
LA Guide | Roo Coffee
November 12, 2020
SF Guide | Sightglass Coffee
November 9, 2020
LA Guide | Porridge + Puffs
November 5, 2020
LA Guide | Pine and Crane
November 2, 2020
Coffee | Philz
October 29, 2020
LA Guide | HomeState
October 22, 2020
LA Guide | Laveta
October 15, 2020
Eat | Din Tai Fung 鼎泰豐
October 5, 2020
LA Guide | the assembly
September 28, 2020
Drink | Pressed Juicery
September 14, 2020
LA Guide | Coffee Commissary
September 7, 2020
Stay | Freehand Hotel
September 5, 2020
LA Guide | Bowery Bungalow
August 20, 2020

itineraries & guides



stories & muses