Hiking in the Hollywood hills, ambling down Venice Beach, dinner at Chateau Marmont... you may think you know the City of Angels, but scratching the surface – or asking a particularly in-the-know local – throws up more under-the-radar gems than you ever thought possible. So if you didn’t already have enough reasons to be head over heels for the west coast, here are a couple more. Keep them between us, though…
DISCO DINING CLUB
While we would hazard a guess that a good 95 per cent of Los Angelenos are card-carrying vegans, there are still a few places in existence that believe non-plant-based choices remain the way forward. Disco Dining Club, with its motto of ‘Consume Everything,’ is one such bastion, believing in decadence, dreams and dressing up. And dinner, obviously. A bimonthly, pop-up supper club that’s different every time, the themes have thus far ranged from ‘Fabergé’ to ‘More Human Than Human,’ with a bespoke menu, open bar, all-vinyl DJ set, art installations, performances and bottomless oysters. It’s invite-only, but no snobbery here; they welcome neophytes and longtime diners alike. As open-minded as they are creative, their intent is to “bring the warehouse scene out of the underground and into the dining room.” Sounds good to us.
Yes, this place is every bit as cool as its name suggests. A collaboration between three old friends – see what they did there? – The Friend set up shop in the hipster-filled locale of Silverlake with the goal of being an artist’s hub that offered an all-organic menu – this is LA, remember – in a kitsch, 1950s-tinged environment. Think pastel-pink walls and pinball machines topped off with the occasional disco ball. Additional cool vibes come in the form of artwork by Futura, Olivier Zahm and André Saraiva – who also happens to be one of the owners. The other two are Jared Meisler, a veteran restaurateur, and Mickey Madden, aka Maroon 5’s bassist.
CLOAK & DAGGER
Hands up who is very much excited by the idea of a clandestine, members-only, dark little underground club frequented by the coolest of the cool? This place really is all those things; there’s barely any info about it online – even how to become one of the chosen few with an X-stamped membership card remains somewhat of a mystery. All we know is, all-black everything is a non-negotiable part of the dress code; models, actors and musicians all regularly stream in and; for the most part, the door remains locked. Sounds pretty rock ’n’ roll to us, although rumour has it that Diplo played a guest set once. Goth-meets-EDM? Either way, we’re in. Or we hope to be in. Read: let us in!
New York is often thought of as the US’s fashion hub, but we’ve fallen hard for the special brand of laid-back SoCal cool coming from west coast labels over the past few years. Here in the UAE, that easy-breezy aesthetic and feelgood DNA is something we really identify with. Shopping when you’re in town, then, is just as much a priority as, say, brunch at The Ivy, or getting an Insta-shot in front of Paul Smith’s epic pink mural on Melrose. Enter PERI.A, your go-to for all things fun, standout and Instagrammable – think S*uce, just on Robertson Boulevard instead of The Dubai Mall.
Show up on a Super Soul Monday. Pay a paltry five bucks (Dhs18) to get in. Amble down an industrial staircase and into a dark-as-you-like, Prohibition-style drinking hole full of a lot of people wearing hats indoors. Be astounded as the back room opens to reveal JJ & The Spectacular – a funk-covers band comprising of world-class musicians just all casually on a break between tours. For example, if you’re lucky, you might find Kanye West’s drummer keeping the beat, or Beyoncé’s saxophonist jamming along with JJ – real name, Jason Joseph. The whole place is so small and tighly packed that it would be easy to miss a celeb or two hiding in the wings. Unless, of course, they stumble onto the stage to join in the fun. Last time we were there, Macy Gray came out of nowhere, sang Creep by Radiohead, then made her way back into the crowd. Only in LA…
Yes, that really is a swimming pool full of sprinkles
THE MUSEUM OF ICE CREAM
No, your eyes do not deceive you. There really is a bona fide museum of ice cream in the darkest depths of LA – just past Downtown, to be specific – and it could well beat Disneyland to being the happiest place on Earth. A swimming pool full of sprinkles that you can thrash about in, a banana-filled room complete with swings, giant, rainbow popsicle installations and a strawberry-coloured retro hotline where the instructions are: “Pick up handle. Press silver receiver on left. Wait for instructions. Scream for ice cream.” Come on – you’re never too old, are you?
We have it on good authority that The Tomorrow Show is the one to get your glad rags on for at this experimental, multidisciplinary arts hub that curates performances of all shapes and sizes at the Steve Allen Theater. By that we mean drama, music, horror, comedy and, er, theological explorations come together in a party of the unexpected – all with a slightly uneasy, Lynchian undertone. The Tomorrow Show is on every Saturday night at 11.59pm and boasts lols, videos, music and madness, calling itself a “bizarre variety show” and is hosted by Ron Lynch. No relation to David. We can’t say we’re not intrigued…
Monday seems to be the new Friday in Cali, with the Riviera 31 bar at the Sofitel playing host to a weekly musical knees-up called Jazz Eclectic Nights. But this ain’t any old jazz night, oh no. Big-name celebs rock up every week to surprise the great and good of Beverly Hills – and you’ll have no idea who it’s going to be until they start singing. Previous troubadours include Stevie Wonder and Alicia Keys. Casual.
THE BEVERLY HILLS HOTEL’S FOUNTAIN COFFEE ROOM
The Polo Lounge and The Cabana Café might be the two most famous spots in The Pink Palace to eat and drink while watching the beautiful people, but our fave is the lesser-known, palm-print coffee room hidden downstairs. An authentic feel, wrought-iron chairs bolted to the ground around a curving bar and the spirit of former regulars Marilyn and Frank Sinatra lurking around adds plenty of atmosphere to one of the best breakfasts in town.
We’ve already established we all scream for ice cream. Little Damage’s giant charcoal waffle cones are by far the most Instagrammable, though.
Photos: Shutterstock, Instagram and supplied