West Hollywood, being the culinary destination that it is, will require quite a few articles to complete. From Sunset Boulevard we go down the hill towards Santa Monica Boulevard and Melrose Avenue. These two cross-town thoroughfares are completely different.
Melrose brings to mind grunge, graffiti, dirt, street style. Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood means really only one thing to most Angelenos – gay. Home to LA’s most prominent ‘gayborhood,’ Santa Monica Boulevard is the center of it all.
Starting off with the latter, there are so many options to choose from that this is all you really need to know:
Flavor of India – Dolly Parton’s favorite tikka marsala.
Mercato di Vetro – aesthetically pleasing but a bit overrated.
Dan Tana’s – a classic must-see.
Hamburger Haven – late night burgers after sweating it out at The Abbey.
The Abbey – Where you go before Hamburger Haven. (Don’t forget – there’s actually food at this place. Not just dance, dance, dance.)
Cafe d’Etoile – feel oh so francais.
Millions of Milkshakes – no description needed.
Fiesta Cantina – two-for-one specials and some of the best nachos ever.
Tender Greens – healthy gay meeting spot.
Kitchen 24 – hundreds of options, open all the time.
Palihouse – delicious for a weekend brunch.
Cafe La Boheme – fantastic al fresco dining area.
Hugo’s – celeb-filled and health-conscious.
Basix – simple, great classics.
Marix – Tex-Mex sister of Basix, great margaritas.
Joey’s – salads.
Hamburger Mary’s – Drag Queen Bingo.
Traktir – Russian cuisine – never had it? Go here.
The Hudson – Boozy brunch.
A few blocks south of Santa Monica is Melrose Avenue. A dramatic change in character takes place somewhere between these blocks and the restaurants, shops, and people who frequent them change dramatically. Of the two roads, this one is more high-end and trendy (when it comes to both food and fashion.)
Starting at Melrose’s western terminus, at Doheny, starts a glorious slew of dining experiences:
Craig’s – paparazzi-flanked entrance leads into a classy and private affair.
Cecconi’s – one of the best patios in LA. Great Italian food. Great drinks. Good times.
Sur – technically on Robertson right up the block from Melrose. Lisa Vanderpump of Villa Blanca and Real Housewives fame serves delicious staples in chic surroundings.
Le Pain – stop in for lunch for a quick bite after Kitson.
Urth Caffe – Brave the infamous line for a delicious salad and coffee from this celebrity in its own rite.
After crossing over La Cienega Boulevard – on comes the best bit of Melrose. As the street veers to the left, you’ll notice that the amount of stores increase, as do the restaurants. This area, home to labels such as Marc Jacobs, Alexander McQueen, Vivienne Westwood, and Chloe has a restaurant scene to match.
Taste – great deals for weekday lunches. Amazing Waldorf Salad, chicken paillard, and cocktails.
Comme Ca – French in look and vibe – this place has amazing seafood, and a cheese guy (who looks like Stanley Tucci) who is above and beyond fantastic.
Ago – classic Italian. Classic old-Hollywood feeling dining area.
Lucques – the fanciest French fare this side of town.
Fig & Olive – celebrity darling since it first opened, go see and be seen with some great Mediterranean fusion.
Alfred – this newly-opened hipster coffee joint is just what Melrose Place needed.
Sweet Lady Jane – been in the area for decades. Get any of their treats or cakes. Any.
Ink Sack – little sibling take-out version of Ink. this place is always busy. Get two different sandwiches, the Mexican chocolate chip cookie, and a Mexican Coke.
Ink. – newest destination restaurant on the strip. Pricey but worth every cent for its innovation.
Red O – Mexican like you’ve never had it before.