The Insider’s Guide to LA

Sure, LA is a cool place — we all know that. Hollywood glitz and glam, luxury living in Beverly Hills, fine dining in Santa Monica… but scratch beneath the surface and there’s an exciting city to be found. Here’s Skurt’s insider’s guide to LA.



Philippe’s French Dip Sandwich has become the stuff of legend, tempting hungry foodies with a delicious french roll and meat, dipped in a delicious gravy that elevates this simple dish from pretty good to out-of-this-world tasty tasty tasty. Philippe Mathieu, the founder, mistakenly dropped his french bread into a pan of cooking juice and voila, a star was born. Phillipe’s lays claim to the original French Dip- take your pick from the beef, pork, pastrami, turkey, lamb and ham versions — all of them are great.

Mel’s Drive-In

Mel’s Drive-In serves up those American comfort food classics that we do so well. Sure, we all like to eat healthily, but who can resist Mel’s Chicken Pot Pie or Southern Fried Chicken? Certainly not us…Their extensive menu also features a variety of breakfast dishes and fountain delights, such as creamy malts, milkshakes and sundaes.


Sprinkles is the ultimate destination for those that love a sweet thing or two. Even the most discerning cupcake connoisseur will be blown away by their vast range of finger-licking cupcakes. They rotate the flavors on a weekly basis, with seemingly endless combinations for you to pick from — watch out for the Chocolate Marshmallow, Cuban Coffee and Triple Cinnamon cupcakes. Sprinkles have also come up with the genius concept that is the cupcake ATM — so you can buy cupcakes 24/7, even when the bakery is closed. Perfection.


Showcasing Oaxacan cuisine, Guelaguetza has been putting delicious family recipes on hungry diners’ tables since 1994. Their generous menu offers a large variety of beautifully authentic Oaxacan dishes, including moles and tlayudas or the taco de Barbacoa de Chivo; tender goat wrapped in a homemade corn tortilla.

Dr. Hogly Wogly’s Tyler Texas BBQ

Whilst the name might be pretty peculiar, there’s nothing strange about the food being served at this BBQ joint. Running since 1969, they’ve become old hands at smoking meat to perfection in their authentic brick pit oven. They boast a great selection of wood smoked meats and BBQ classics; brisket, ribs, chicken, hot links and BBQ sandwiches. For authentic BBQ, done simply yet skillfully, Hogly Wogly’s is ideal for anyone looking for food without the frills.

Cafes and Bars

Toast Bakery Cafe

Toast Bakery Cafe is an ideal chill out spot, to sip a cup of delicious coffee, nibble at some treats and take in the small town vibe that this cafe exudes. You’ll be spoilt for choice with their large range of sweet and savoury breakfast dishes, burgers, wraps, sandwiches and salads. Drinks wise, you’re spoilt for choice — slurp down a Dirty Chai Latte, Pineapple Mint Lemonade Frappe or a Watermelon Frappe, as well as a varied selection of teas and coffees to quench your thirst.

Blackwood Coffee Bar

Quirky, tasty and utterly fabulous. If we were going to choose three words to describe Blackwood Coffee Bar, those would be the ones we’d choose. This independent cafe really injects a sense of creativity into what they do — combining cocktail mixology skills with the finesse of a barista. Take The Blackwood for example, a double shot of espresso over ice, finished with a hint of orange and served in a martini glass… could your morning coffee get any better?

Game Haus Cafe

Ah, the good old days when we all used to huddle around a board game, spending time with friends and family, falling out with friends and family while creating significant rifts that were forgiven but never quite forgotten. Still, we love heading to the Game Haus Cafe — it is perfect for a relaxed afternoon with a few mates. Choose from the (huge) selection of board games, eat some great food, have a few drinks and remember what life was like before your smartphone.

Davey Wayne’s

Don’t you secretly wish you had been born in the 70s? The bell-bottoms, the hair, the psychedelic colors (we’re still waiting for the day when purple and orange are once again totally legitimate allies when coming up with interiors color schemes). Well, Davey Wayne’s might not transport you back in time but it does a pretty good job at making you think that it has. Sip on one of their quirky cocktails, like the Cisco Kid — jalapeno infused reposado tequila, fresh raspberries, agave syrup, lemon juice and just a dash of absinthe. If you feel like enjoying a cocktail in a bar that doesn’t take itself too seriously, then Davey Wayne’s is the place for you.

Music Venues

Fonda Theatre

This venue is a great place to see some of the biggest up and coming names on the pop and urban music scene. The Fonda Theatre showcases the freshest sounds in a variety of genres, featuring artists such as, Desiigner, The Internet and Skepta.

The Smell

The Smell has been promoting the artistic community with a DIY attitude since 1998. They are a non-profit organisation and are run by volunteers who are dedicated to maintaining a creative space for musicians. This venue is not just about showcasing great music, but upholds a sense of artistic integrity and community through music.

Off the Beaten Track

The Lost Sunken City

OK, it’s not technically in Los Angeles but the Sunken City in San Pedro is just too good to pass up. The city was abandoned after a series of landslides in 1929, leaving behind a post-apocalyptic landscape of fragmented homes, graffiti and abandoned streetcar tracks.

Venice Canals

The Venice Canals emanate European charm and elegance and provide a perfect space for a tranquil stroll. With the soothing ripples of the water, subtle aromas of lavender and rosemary, plush gardens and adorable ducks to feed, this is an ideal location to take the family for a relaxing afternoon out.

Echo Park

Echo Park is a trendy neighbourhood, situated between Silver Lake and Downtown LA. Trendsetters flock to this hip location for the bars, restaurants, galleries and live music scene. Definitely the place to go to see and be seen.

Wacko/Soap Plant

Originally starting out as a family run soap shop, Wacko has transformed into a haven of eccentricity, boasting a plethora of goods. This unique shop sells anything from books, to clothes to taxidermy to candy. Sure, it’s weird but all of the best things in LA are..

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Words by Julianna Barnaby