Los Angeles – Glamorous or Ghastly?

Hollywood, baby!

Hi everyone! Thank you for taking the time to read our blog and all future ones. We are very excited to be able to share our experiences with you. Some of you may already know us but for those who don’t – We are Tom and Zoe currently travelling around New Zealand and are thrilled that Jacquie has invited us to use Fab Food For You website as a platform to share our food and travel experiences with you! 

We feel it is only right we take you right back to the beginning – 8 days in Los Angeles! 

Our flight was an experience in itself. Before boarding our Virgin Atlantic flight we had the pleasure of meeting our pilot, Mark. Mark gave us an incredibly memorable flight; he treated us to Champagne, a tour around the flight deck and introduced us to the two his co-workers in the cockpit. 

Once landed in busy LAX, we grabbed an Uber to our Airbnb apartment in the city. From here the fun began… 

Let’s talk about some food! Although most of the time we cooked for ourselves, we had to treat ourselves a few times to see if the English perception of American food we had, would be found. We’ve given each location a star rating out of 5.

Mel’s Drive In

We had been recommended this restaurant. Associated with the film, American Graffiti we were sure we would be impressed. From the outside, it looked slightly uninviting but inside you were immersed into a 1950’s classic diner kitted out with everything you expect, from the booths with a juke box to the waitress’ in their appropriate uniform. Surrounded with black and white images of celebrity icons in the diner – Marilyn Monroe being one of them and groovy music, we couldn’t help but be transported back to this era. The menu itself was vast, every side dish and drink you could imagine. Our waitress impressed us with a super quick rendition of every potato fry on offer. Our food certainly lived up to expectation- I had a steak and cheese toasty and Zoe had a fried Chicken Burger, both accompanied with a mountain of curly fries.

I-HOP

Zoe is sure most of you would have heard of this one. However, I hadn’t and wish It remained that way… it was that bad. Although I did manage to finish it all! The restaurant chain is well known for their breakfasts, so we wanted to try it out! We both had a pile of pancakes and a fried breakfast alongside. The pancakes were fine themselves but certainly nothing special. The hash brown was the best part of it all. The coffee was unlimited, the waiters would serve more when our cup was finished, so this was a positive. The price was also excessive, far too expensive for what it was. So, we wouldn’t recommend this one. 

In N Out Burger

Now, I had heard of this one. It’s a well know fast food chain simply serving burger and fries. It was as busy outside as it was on the inside. Walking in was a sea of people. It reminded me of a cattle market – all it needed was a member of staff with a prodding stick. When we came to order we were slightly bemused by the menu, but we managed somehow to get our burgers. Although there was nothing ‘fast’ about the service. The burgers were pretty average, but the fries were exceptionally fresh. Also very good value for money – we would almost say cheap! 

Jody Maroni’s Sausage Kingdom

On one of our days we took a trip to Venice beach. We decided at lunchtime we needed a bite to eat. Walking along the promenade Maron’s stood out to us, being a family run business set it aside from the more recent additions, it seemed. We ordered our dogs… they were simply delicious. The most loaded hot dog I’ve ever eaten! The large fries we ordered were certainly enough for a family, of course we poked them down. 

Grand Central Market

Downtown LA was our destination this particular day. Walking up to the market the hustle and bustle was inviting, unlike the off-putting vibe to In N Out. The market was a permanent emporium in downtown, hosting mostly food vendors, it brings together many cuisines and cultures. Every kind of person could be found there; whether meeting a friend for breakfast, brunch, lunch or on your way to work, it was a meeting place of many foodies. Zoe went straight for Eggslut, specialising in egg dishes (something I avoid). Having looked it up online she was keen to try it out. She chose a bacon, egg and cheese brioche bun with a freshly squeezed orange juice. Prepare to queue but worth the wait. I, on the other hand, wondered aimlessly around the market ending up with an overpriced chicken burger from ‘Belcampo’ at 11am. Not my finest choice considering the array in front of me!

Sightseeing

Canals near Venice Beach

Spending eight days in the city meant we were able to see lots of the famous sights you imagine when thinking of Los Angeles. 

Of course, one being ‘The Hollywood Walk of Fame’. For us, this was the ghastly part of LA. We imagined, a glamorous pristine clean walkway of shiny brass stars. Which is true about a small part but not at all of what we were presented with for most of the walk… instead a drab boulevard full of sex shops, homeless people and drug users. Maybe this is why celebrities are often seen here?! 

Chinese TLC Theatre

Chinese TLC Theatre was a feature of the Hollywood Boulevard too, many celebrity footprints were set into the paving slabs including, the cast of Harry Potter and many more. 

Taking a tour around the Hollywood Hills, partly on Mulholland Drive, we were excited to see the homes of the rich and famous in Beverly Hills and the gated community ‘The Summit’. We also toured the famous ‘Rodeo Drive’ where the iconic Julia Roberts scene in Pretty Woman was filmed. Sunset Boulevard and ‘the strip’ was also part of the tour where many famous comedians and performers were first spotted. 

Venice Beach, Muscle Beach and Santa Monica Pier were also incredible sights to see, as well as The Historic Venice Canals District, where you could easily be mistaken in thinking you were in Italy. 

The Walt Disney Music Hall was an outstanding piece of architecture in Downtown LA, as well as the well known ‘Last Bookstore’, a huge store with grand marble pillars and cascades of literary work. 

Malibu Beach – Sage the Alpaca

We hired a car for a couple of days and drove the South Pacific Highway to Malibu. Malibu was a welcome relaxation day. Its sandy beach lined with cool beach front villas was a scenic haven. It was a slight shock to meet a rather eccentric couple with an Alpaca named, Sage. Sage seemed to be quite the local celeb. Not what we expected to see on Malibu beach. Meanwhile, something else we weren’t at all expecting to see that day, were a pod of Dolphins, bowing through the water.

Warner Bros. Studio tour was another a fantastic experience. We went on the sets of ‘The Big Bang Theory’, ‘Friends’ and into the studio of ‘Luther’. Stepping on the sets of many films we were amazed at how the sets were built and easily changed into different eras for different films. It’s astonishing that so many of the sets are used for so many different films, yet you’d struggle to realise when seeing them on screen. 

Our final day took us back up onto Mount Hollywood, to Griffith Observatory. From here we gained phenomenal panoramic views of the whole city and Pacific Ocean. A definite must do. A great view of the Hollywood Sign was also on show, although we found it is easily visible throughout the city, which surprised us. 

In Summary!

Summarising our visiting to LA, we would certainly recommend less than 8 days. A car would definitely be convenient as walking anywhere is a mission in itself. Zoe says she would go back as she feels there is a lot more to see. I, however, feel I have seen everything I wanted to and would not go back to LA itself, but it has opened my mind to the rest of America which I was never attracted to before. 

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