Monday, August 18, 2008

Livin' it Up in LA, Part II - Boutique-ing Around

Our second and third days in LA were spent mostly tripping around between shopping districts. I'd forgotten (if I ever knew) how much time it can take to get across this city, what with the traffic and and the stoplights - and I think we might have planned our attack a bit better, but at least we got to see some new things.

On the second day, we had three things on the itinerary - lunch at The Milk Bar - a place I'd heard about on Chowhound, the Trina Turk Boutique (which is - or at least was - having a fabulous sale) and Silver Lake - and area of town that I've heard and read about in some of my favorite design magazines and blogs.
Turkey Bacon Club @ Milk Shop
Lunch at Milk was a success - though for some reason I was surprised that it was a quick service place and not a sit down restaurant. I envisioned something like a modern version of Farrells, with some decent food and kick ass ice cream sundaes and specialities. Not quite - it was more of a fancy deli/ice cream shop, but what we sampled was more than adequate. Given that it's owned by former members of the Patina group, it's not too surprising that it's a little better than average. We split a panini sandwich with chicken, bacon, a special dressing, lettuce and tomato that came with a lovely little green salad - the better to leave room for our milkshakes.
Banana Dulce de Leche Peanut Butter Malt Shake @ Milk Shop
I went whole hog with Banana Dulce de Leche ice cream, caramel, malt balls, and peanuts - WOW, is all I can say about that - and Susan stuck with the plain Banana Dulce de Leche Shake. She polished that off and went for some of mine - they were that good.

We'd parked a few blocks away on Beverly, and stumbled across some great little boutiques right there in the neighborhood. We especially liked Gibson and Ige - both filled with furniture, objets d'art and ephemera in wondefully artful settings. They reminded me of boutiques in Paris - as did the other jewel-box like stores we encountered. We also popped into Modernica, which stocks original and repro modern furniture for mid-century aficionados. LA also seems to be full of the kind of restaurant I adore the most - cafes that are casual in atmosphere, but serious about food. I was quite impressed.
IGE Boutique on Beverly
At IGE we picked up a little guidebook that had some listings for places in Silver Lake and Venice Beach, two places we planned to visit. Needless to say, we didn't make it to all of them - but we did hit a few. Our second stop was Third Street, just up Beverly and left on Fairfax at the CBS Studios - where we hit the Trina Turk sale. My husband reads this blog, so that's all I'm going to say about that. ;-)

Third Street is full of fabulous boutiques, mostly selling women's clothing and accessories - but it's also home to one of my favorite food destinations - Joan's on Third. It's expanded to double it's original size since our last visit, which was fun to see. It's more or less the Dean and Deluca of LA, with a little more refined taste, and without the produce section. We actually made our way back here at the end of the day and picked up a baguette, some heirloom tomatoes, a wad of fresh burrata cheese, and a bottle of Gruner Veltliner - which we consumed for dinner in our hotel room while watching the Olympics instead of our reservation at Bar Marmont. I just couldn't imagine driving all the way back across the City to eat a dinner I wasn't even hungry for after that milkshake power lunch.
Silver Lake in LA
After Third Street, we moseyed over to Silver Lake. This was somewhat complicated by the fact that we didn't know where we were going (though we did accidentally stumble across the adorable little district of Larchmont) but we made it eventually. We came down Sunset to Silver Lake Boulevard, and stopped at the bottom of the hill at the intersection of Effie - where we spotted Yolk and LAMILL coffee.
Yolk in Silver Lake
Yolk is a jewelbox of a shop, full of the most adorable kitchen and kiddie items imaginable. LA MILL is just a trip. It's like something straight out of a big city street in Paris or New York, but dropped right in the middle of a residential neighborhood in LA. They call themselves a "coffee boutique" and they make coffee using all sorts of exotic methods - Clover vacuum siphon brewed, cold water extracted, and of course your standard espresso. They use a special milk formulated for coffee by the Straus Organic Creamery, and the water is purified in house by their Cirqua customized system. The atmosphere inside is Versaille meets 50's Department Store tearoom, with murals, white upholstery and gilt. The espresso was pretty darn good - syrupy and sweet - and their food menu looked quite intriguing. They do a grilled "PB&C" - Peanut Butter, Banana, and Vahlrona chocolate - grilled on brioche and served with cold vanilla milk - that sounded like the perfect afternoon snack. We headed back to the W a short time later for a dip in the pool and a couple of cocktails - and the aforementioned tomato/burrata/baguette supper - along with Michael Phelps' eighth gold medal.
Surfa's in Culver City
The next morning, we'd planned to go to the Santa Monica Farmer's Market, but I read that the Wednesday market is actually the serious food market, and Sunday is more of a scene - so we didn't make a special effort to get up early for it. Consequently we didn't make it out of the hotel until 10:30 - so we decided to skip Santa Monica entirely and go straight to Surfa's in Culver City. There I picked up some Himalayan Red Rice, Chinese Forbidden Black Rice, Dal, Beluga Lentils, chocolate pastilles, and a few other items. We thought about burgers at Fathers' Office - right near by - but we still wanted to hit Venice Beach, and F.O. didn't open until noon - so we headed down Venice to Abbot Kinney instead. (I'm a big fan of the show Californication, and have been wanting to visit for a while.)
Entrance to Jin Patisserie
I'd wanted to go to Jin Patisserie to get some desserts, so we wound up having lunch there. Sadly, the sandwiches we had were disappointing - plain, dry and uninteresting. Won't be making that mistake again - but the jewel-like tiny macarons and sesame peanut butter cookies were phenomenal. Clearly it's a place to go for dessert rather than a meal. We did a little walking around near there before heading home, and ran across another fantastic boutique called Tortoise. They stock Japanese housewares, including ceramics, glassware, textiles, office supplies and books. The unique selection makes for some interesting browsing, and it's a great place to pick up a gift for someone. (James received a build-your own bonsai tree puzzle.)

We had a great time, and found even more places we're already planning to go on a future trip. If you're planning a trip of your own - either to LA or another major U.S. City - I'd suggest picking up a copy of the local Eat Shop guidebook. It features a carefully curated list of local and unique small businesses - just the kind of places you'd hope to find on your own if you had the time, or some super stylish friends to guide you! Check them out at

7290 Beverly Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90046
ice cream cafe and deli - the ice cream sandwiches with macaron cookies looked really good. We loved the coffee toffee and banana dulce de leche ice cream. The sandwiches are worthwhile too.

7352 Beverly Blvd.
objets d'art, furniture and ephemera

7382 Beverly Blvd.
jewelry, clothing, novelty items and objets d'art

7366 Beverly Blvd
modern furniture

Trina Turk
8008 W. 3rd Street
women's clothing and accessories

1626 Silver Lake Blvd.
housewares, children's clothes, books and toys

1636 Silver Lake Blvd.
amazing gourmet coffee cafe

Joan's on Third
8350 W 3rd St
Los Angeles, CA 90048

Surfas Restaurant Supply
8824 National Blvd
Culver City, CA 90232
(310) 559-4770

Jin Patisserie
1202 Abbot Kinney Blvd
Venice, CA 90291
(310) 399-8801
recommend the desserts - especially the macarons, but skip the savories.

1208 Abbott Kinney Blvd.
open wed-sun 12-6
Japanese housewares and accessories

Daisy Arts
1312 Abbott Kinney Blvd.
girly housewares, jewelry and accessories


  1. Sounds like a great journey through LA, and glad you happened by Larchmont, if even by chance. Next time, be sure to get sandwiches at Larchmont Wine & Cheese. They're truly excellent (though it is purely a deli counter so don't expect a proper restaurant). Yum! Other food outlets on Larchmont...not so great.

  2. Looks like fun! Yolk looks amazing. I'll have to bring this list with me next time I'm in LA.

  3. This is a great list -- thanks for putting it together!

  4. Ah, a treasure trove of recommendations! I can't wait to try. Thanks.

  5. There are few things I miss about LA but Joan's on Third is one of them. I LOVE THAT PLACE! why don't we have little neighborhood gourmet take-out places here. why? oh how i mis joan's on third.

  6. Jill - I will definitely take your advice on that. I love little gourmet delis - sounds like a great place for a picnic. When we drove through there it reminded me of Rockridge - I love our little rancho out here, but I'm still jealous of people who live in walkable neighborhoods!

    180360 - you would love these places. If you see that guidebook, pick up a copy - it's got some really great suggestions for places you might never otherwise find.

    Jora - my pleasure! I hope we can go together someday!

    Tracey - Thanks, Hope you enjoy!

    Krista - because you and Jora and I haven't opened one yet! Seriously, that is my DREAM. I definitely think we could use more options like that in SD.

  7. Thanks for mentioning my wife's store YOLK, and glad you liked it! Though, the website link is wrong, it's actually

    Again, really appreciate the mention.

  8. thanks for pointing that out wanderingwaterman - I just fixed it. funny thing is, I discovered it was wrong earlier, and thought I had already fixed it - but somehow it didn't take - sometimes that happens when I re-edit a post repeatedly. We loved the store!