Northern and Southern California are so notoriously different that it’s even spawned a humor book on the topic called The War Between the State. But Los Angeles can be a playground for those in San Francisco hoping for a quick escape from the City by the Bay. Here, some down south adventures tailored to your northern sensibilities.
Ride the Expo Line
Yes, the traffic sucks in L.A. and it’s getting worse by the microsecond. Everyone drives everywhere (something that’s rare in San Francisco), but the truth is that L.A.’s public transportation system is improving by leaps and bounds in certain regions. For one, there’s the recently opened Expo Line extension on the Metro, which runs between the 7th Street/Metro Station in downtown L.A. and downtown Santa Monica for a measly $1.75 each way.
On the DTLA end, you can graze on traditional and trendy bites at the Grand Central Market, a mingling of old and new school food vendors worthy of a San Franciscan’s appetite. Meanwhile, the Last Bookstore will make you long for the days when big independent booksellers thrived. If you’re brave, visit the new OUE Skyspace L.A. in the US Bank building and check out its sky-high observation deck or insane new glass Skyslide, perched 1,000 feet above the street. On the Westside, the Expo Line lets off steps from the beach and the Santa Monica Pier. From there, it’s a brisk walk to the shopping on Third Street Promenade. The best part: You’ll get to each destination in about 40 minutes on the Expo Line. Just try to beat that time in a car at rush hour.
See the Old Glamour of New Hollywood
Several new eateries and lounges in Hollywood have been done up in over-the-top old Hollywood glamour, even as the neighborhoods are still entrenched in modern day grit. Still, it’s fun to have a leisurely brunch or dinner in Columbia Square, once a meeting place for Golden Age execs and stars, as it seeks to find a new identity through the retro veneer—not unlike the attempts of emerging businesses in San Francisco’s Tenderloin. Whichever time of day you’re there, start with an opulent seafood tower at the new restaurant Paley and then head to neighboring cafe Rubies + Diamonds to try some futuristically trendy nitro-charged tea, which gives your beverage a Guinness-esque creamy head.
Eat at the Better Madre
We’ll say it: It’s pretty astonishing that West Hollywood’s Gracias Madre and the somewhat drab location in San Francisco’s Mission District come from the same group. The L.A. version of the plant-based Mexican restaurant is a fun place to relax and people-watch, and you’ll want to try one of the buzzy cocktail specials that beverage director Jason Eisner has created with a special ingredient: CBD oil, a non-psychoactive, pain-relieving extract from cannabis. You won’t get stoned, but you will have a giggle if you order a Stoney Negroni, Rolled Fashioned, or the Instagram-worthy Sour T-iesel, made with tequila blanco, lime juice, agave nectar, mint, salt, aqua faba (chickpea liquid), and CBD oil, garnished with a faux pot leaf constructed from matcha tea powder.
Tamara Palmer is a daily news writer, rapper confidante, DJ, and celebrity chef ghostwriter from San Francisco.