It was Ashley of Death Valley fame’s birthday, so I popped down to LA for 24-hours to play in downtown LA. One of the things I love about Los Angeles is that it changes at a million miles an hour. Despite living there for more than a decade, there is always something new, something old and something previously unseen to explore each time I go.
Because she is a gem of a human, Ashley drove to LAX as the crack of dawn to pick me up and we made a break for Dominique Ansel Bakery LA in the Grove. Brought to you by the pastry chef who blessed the world with the Cronut, the bakery was every bit as delightful as Instagram led us to believe. There wasn’t much of a line, so we ordered a bunch of pastries for us to split. My recommendations include; a cronut, signature DKA, and the pastry experiment of the week.
Tummies full, we made our way to The Broad. I am ashamed to admit that I never visited The Broad Museum the whole time I lived in LA. Now that I have been, I feel even worse about that. First and foremost, the Broad is free. Nothing in LA is $0, but this actually is. You can book tickets online, but if you miss out, don’t despair, just wait in the standby line, which moves at a decent clip despite the length. The museum hosts an impressive display of modern art that made us laugh, think and play (MJ and Bubbles sculpture!). It isn’t unwieldy in size, so two hours is plenty to see it and learn a thing or two.
Pro Tip: Downtown LA is more walkable than the rest of the city. The best thing you can do for yourself is to find a centrally located, all-day lot and stick it out. Moving your car is basically LA’s definition of hell and is worth avoiding at all costs. Literally, pay $10 more if you have too.
Because we love food and hadn’t eaten in three hours, Ashley directed us to a new favorite spot, The Little Easy Bar for a NoLa throwback lunch. The place is adorable and really leans into its namesake in the decor department. The front bar pulls on the vintage, gilded feel (think Beyonce in Formation), and the back restaurant lays on the Marti Gras kitsch and French Quarter veranda vibes. As for the food, if you read my post on New Orleans you know that the food there is almost impossible to replicate, particularly the beignets at Cafe du Monde. Ashley and I have had our NoLa loving hearts broken more times than we can count by bad beignets, but one sip on their Pimms Cup and a bite of shrimp and grits and we decided we could risk an order. We were not sorry!
Next, we wandered over to The Last Bookstore, aka everyone’s favorite Instagram spot. Here’s the thing, please do take a photo, but then do yourself a favor and head into the book stacks. They have a great selection of used books and a labyrinth set-up that lends itself to getting lost for hours (bibliophiles, you know exactly what kind of wonderfully lost I mean). The bookstore also has a fun little gallery space that is worth checking out if you are looking for locally crafted arts and souvenirs. Ashley and I love to pick up cheap romance novels or thrillers out of the discount section and read them over coffee somewhere in downtown. Since we were headed to a k-spa, we figured reading material was a must.
Books (OK, comic books) acquired, we made our way to Natura Spa. This is one of my favorite spas in LA. If you are looking for a big, glitzy k-spa, this one probably isn’t for you. If you are looking for quiet, clean and affordable, then check this one out. Natura is hidden in the basement of a strip mall, but don’t let it’s exterior fool you, the inside is pure bliss. We got our scrubbies and spent several hours just relaxing with our new, super smooth skin glowing like a million bucks.
Exhausted from pampering ourselves, it was time to eat again. I was lucky enough to take my bestie to possibly my favorite food spot in all of LA, Jitlada. The best worst kept secret in all of Los Angeles, Jitlada is the best Thai food in a 50-mile radius of the city. I am not even joking and I might be willing to fight you over this statement. ITS SO GOOD I AM USING ALL CAPS. The line at Jitlada don’t play, luckily we stayed at the spa so long we missed most of the dinner rush. (The food is worth the line, but if you can, hit up them up for a 2:30 lunch and save yourself the trouble).
Pro Tip: Jitlada makes amazing food that you cannot find anywhere else. Do yourself a favor and skip pad thai and other Thai basics. Theirs is just as good as anyone else’s, but if you try something you have never heard of off their menu, your life will change for the better.