P and I finally made it on a little weekend trip to Los Angeles (LA) in July. To be honest LA has never been on the top of my travel list. I think I always assumed if I traveled to the West coast I would go to San Francisco, Seattle, or Portland. However with LA only a few hours away, we can’t pass up the opportunity. Since it is a shortish drive we decided to only focus on a few areas/activities this trip and then plan a few other future trips.
As I already revealed, we somewhat planned our trip around trying out Animal. Which was a good experience, so yay!! Of course that was not our only eating stop 🙂
Our first stop was Ink Sack, which is one of Chef Michael Voltaggio’s spots (Top Chef). Now this is just a tiny little sandwich shop, more take out than dine-in. The thing that really shocked me is their pricing, all their sandwiches are $5 or $6 and they are GOOD. I was not disappointed with this choice. Also they had housemade pork rinds!! I was not disappointed with those either. If you follow me on IG you saw my little quip about it being funny the very first thing I try in LA is a pork rind. I had the cold fried chicken and P had their take on banh mi. Now that we had a little something solid to eat it was onto beer.
First brewery stop was Golden Road. There was no way that we could pass up checking out Golden Road, as part of our first trip to LA. We have loved most of the beers we have tried from them so we made a beeline straight to the source. I have to say, I did not love their pub space. It was too restaurant focused for my taste. They also didn’t have that many beers that were not widely distributed anyway so I was a bit disappointed overall. They certainly have good beers and some neat aspects to their space. I’m glad we got to go.
With the first brewery checked-off, it was time to ditch the car and focus on places that were a bit closer by. We decided to stay in Koreatown at Hotel Normandie. It’s a cute little historical hotel. Would I recommend it? Umm…maybe. It was cute and clean, I actually liked Koreatown. LA is not a walkable city, it’s not one of those places where you can fly in and go all weekend without a car…but I’ll talk more about that later and more on the hotel at the end. Now that we said goodbye to the car, we are off to the Art District.
Here are a few scenes from the Art District…We basically walked around and then had a few drinks and a few bites here and there.
Wurstküche for a couple of beers and a taste of fries. I always have to try out the curry ketchup option, not bad, but not the best I’ve had stateside. Of course they are all compared to the fries we had in Antwerp.
Then a stop at Angel City Brewery, such a cool space!!! I loved the feel of the space and the people were friendly. The beers were only ok, not something I would seek out. I would certainly recommend going though. Though do not drink the water…it was terrible, like really terrible!!
What is a vacation without pie? So we popped on into Pie Hole. Umm…it was ok. Overall I found it too sweet, from drinks to pie, and the crust was not that great either. Cute place though, but I’m sure there is better pie to be had in LA.
We finished our night of course back in our hood, Koreatown. What would be the point of staying in Koreatown and not eating at a Korean place, that is a no brainer. So we yelped our hearts out and narrowed it down to two places and went with the one that had less of a wait, Ham Ji Park BBQ 🙂 It was certainly an experience. The food was great, once we figured out what was going on and the service was attentive. Seriously the hottest bowl of soup I have ever seen! And I didn’t know what any of the little dishes were but it was all good.
Breakfast Saturday took us to the Salt’s Cure, which got high reviews. Lucky for us LA is a late rising kind of town so we beat the wait easily. The interior is small and I liked being able to sit at the bar and watch the action. The food was good, but not that creative or rave worthy in my option. Also I’m pretty sure an actor came in and sat on the other side of P, but I could not place him. He was definitely someone.
Then we went to the La Brea Tar Pits, which I have always wanted to see for some reason. I don’t know, it always sound so cool and it were close by, so why not. Well, color me disappointed. It was not exciting at all and there is very little to see. I was not that impressed, and we walked around, but didn’t think it was worth paying to go through the museum part. Oh well.
After that disappointment, we went straight to another tourist trap/disappointment. I figured again, since we were in the general area we would try to see the Hollywood Walk of Fame. HUGE mistake. It was crazy, SO many people, so dirty, so loud, I HATED it. Some woman was screaming and peeing on the middle of the sidewalk, which only prompted me to walk faster to get the hell out of there.
We drove around a bit more and headed over to the Silver Lake area to regroup and see what it was all about. I wished I had brought my tennis shoes and we had tried to do the Hollywood Sign hike or explore the Griffith park, but alas I had not planned on it this trip. In Silver Lake we stopped in and had a little coffee break at Lamill Coffee. After coffee we figured lunch was in order, and we walked up to the Knuckle and Claw, mainly because it was in the area and we could walk there. Meh. It was fine, but not great. I think there are more interesting lunch places to find. To be honest we were just one that side of town, and I didn’t feel like getting back into the car yet. It was nice to have a place to walk to 🙂
We had looked to see what other breweries were close by and knocked another one off the list, Eaglerock Brewery. Beers were ok, and space was not that inviting. I don’t know, just wasn’t feeling it. We decided to head back to the hotel, nap and get ready to go towards the area of town Animal is located.
We had a few pre-dinner drinks at the Melrose Umbrella Company, and it was perfect. Loved the drinks, the space, and the bartenders. Great experience! It put us in the right mood to enjoy our dinner at Animal.
Again, wanting to make the most of Koreatown, we stopped by to try out California Donuts before heading to brunch. Yes, I said we stopped for donuts before going to eat somewhere else, totally normal. I wasn’t overly impressed with it, a basic donut…certainly no Nomads 🙂
We drove around a little more and then headed to Faith and Flower. This was one of the best brunches I’ve had in a while and certainly the second best meal of our LA trip. They serve “sharable” dishes, so we started off with the oxtail agnolotti, deviled eggs, and malt waffle. After these dishes we weren’t quite full, so we went crazy and ordered eggs benedict pizza and I’m glad we did. Of course we kind of dug into the pizza before I remembered pictures..oops. The pizza was SO good and the sauce on the pasta was AMAZING, like I wanted to lick the plate. This place was tasty. A nice way to finish off our trip and head back to SD.
We did take a tiny detour, for one more brewery on the way back. Stopping at Noble Brewing in Anaheim, which was not too far off the highway. We have had a lot of Noble beers and knew they were worth the stop. I was happy to see that they had a lot of varieties available you don’t see on the shelf.
Now my review on the Hotel Normandie: My complaint is the noise. We stayed on the 5th floor out of 6, but it was one the alley side of the building which also included an outdoor area for their bar. It was crazy loud until after 3 am, that is a no go for us. They did move us to the 6th floor street side the second night (after complaint), but I would only consider staying here again if I was guaranteed a room on the street side. Honestly, if they invested in better windows the noisy would be less of an issue. Also, if you are there for a weekend, we found street parking fairly easily, so you can save the $20 a night valet fee.
I have to say LA did not win me over. I felt like it was dirty, sprawling and all the rumors about horrible traffic, 100% true. It just did not have the same big city feel I get visiting NYC or Chicago. We will certainly go back to check out the beach area, the Hollywood Sign, and Catalina Islands, but I would not rank LA high on my travel list. I like to walk to experience a city and LA just doesn’t have it. It’s just not my style, though I know some people love it.