Insider's Guide to Los Angeles

Posted by Nicole Campoy on April 17, 2013 at 4:30:36 PM EDT | Post a Comment
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Karen and Quinn Hatfield are the down-to-earth golden couple of the Los Angeles food scene. Their restaurant Hatfield's originally opened in a postage stamp-sized eatery. When it shuttered so they could move a bit further east and into a larger, more modern space, the city of Los Angeles mourned its loss and waited impatiently for the new dawn. Hatfield's was then awarded a Michelin star and was named one of Bon Appetit's10 Best Restaurants in America in 2010. The husband-and-wife-team now also owns The Sycamore Kitchen, a hip eatery/bakery on La Brea Blvd. Of course, as the golden couple, they are equally skilled in making and serving great food as they are in finding it. And in the coolest places, too.

So we consulted the Hatfield's on their favorites from Venice to Silverlake and beyond. Herewith they divulge hidden gems, tell us where to find coffee paired with great views, and help us shop for cool California souvenirs.

Need more insider information? We've got guides to Portland, Oregon, San Francisco, Nashville, and Chicago from some top-notch locals, with plenty more on the way.

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Best Coffee Shop: For coffee, it may not be the quickest, but Intelligentsia in Silver Lake is definitely our pick. We take our coffee very seriously. Besides having excellent coffee, Intelligentsia has a hip, neighborhood vibe—it's low-key, but actually one of the best spots in the country. Don't worry, the line moves fast. -Quinn

If I'm going out for coffee somewhere besides The Sycamore Kitchen, I go to Ed's Coffee Shop. It's a pleasant and unpretentious family-run business, which is hard to find in LA. -Karen

Best Breakfast: Cafe Stella is a quintessential LA spot in Silver Lake. They are just completing their expansion, so hopefully you'll soon have an easier time snagging a table. Great for brunch, with a very authentic Parisian vibe, and excellent merguez sausage and lemon ricotta pancakes. -Karen

Best Afternoon Snack: I have such a busy schedule that it's hard for me to get into too many full-service restaurants, so GTA (Gjelina Take Away) is the perfect stop for me. Incredible coffee, fresh sandwiches and pastries—just an overall great vibe on Abbot Kinney. -Karen

Best Wine Bar: For us, like any other great restaurant, the food at AOC Wine Bar is the main draw. We really love the food here and the wine list is spectacular, which really rounds out the whole experience.

Best Cocktail Bar: The Roger Room was one of the first in the "speakeasy" bar movement here in LA, and it still remains one of my favorites. It's truly a great LA insider spot. The space is pretty cozy and we can always come here and find a new cocktail to try, which is great because I'm not one to order the same thing repeatedly. -Karen

Best Hidden Gem: We love the Gai Lan with fried pork belly at Pailin Thai Cuisine. We have been eating here for years. Los Angeles has a huge Thai community and this is our favorite Thai restaurant.

Another great little spot is The Trails. It is one of the most beautiful places in LA to get a cup of coffee. It's tucked away in the foothills of Griffith Park, so if we are out on a hike, we always stop here. They also have some good wholesome pastries like scones, shortbreads, and biscuits.

Best Late-Night Bite: There's a taco truck called El Chato that's great for late-night snack. You'll find it parked on the corner of La Brea and Olympic, until about 1 am most nights, and 3 am on weekends. -Quinn

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Best Park: I think Griffith Park is one of the most underutilized places in the city. There are so many hiking trails, observatory, the carousel, The Greek Theater, and beautiful views. One of my first concerts was at there at The Greek—Paul Simon. -Karen

Best Shopping: I'm at American Rag all the time because it's right across the street from our new eatery, The Sycamore Kitchen, but I've been shopping here for as long as I can remember (going on 20 years). They have one of the best selections of denim in LA, cool shoes, and vintage clothes. It was the original store in what is now the La Brea Design District, so its influence has certainly made a mark.

As native to California as you can get, Heath Ceramics has been around since the 1940's. It just keeps getting better and better—from textiles to pottery, it's all amazing. This is my go-to anytime I need to buy a gift for somebody. Some of my favorites are the handmade tiles, and of course any of their ceramics. Or if you're looking for that perfect furnishing or fixture, Big Daddy's Antiques is the place. It's a treasure trove: you can happily get lost in there for an hour or so.

Best Museum: LACMA is an LA highlight for both locals and visiting families. There are always fun interactive exhibits and activities for the kids, and monthly family days with free admission. It's especially great for our family because it is convenient to where we live.

Before you go, what else should we know about the food scene in Los Angeles?

LA is such an expansive and complex food city, made up of so many different cultures; I can't stress enough to visitors how important it is to get out of your comfort zone and explore the various areas and cuisines. -Quinn

Photo credits: Intelligenstia courtesy of Flickr/sagriffin305; Griffith Park Observatory via Shutterstock; Karen and Quinn Hatfield portrait courtesy of Dylan + Jeni

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