It’s no surprise that my favorite area to hang out in LA is SANTA MONICA and VENICE - what locals call the “West Side.” Due to horrendous LA traffic (it really is as bad as everyone says it is and maybe worse during peak hours), one should definitely live where they hang out most. I love the West Side because you’re close to the beach, but still within reach of hot spots like West Hollywood and Downtown. I love the quintessential Cali lifestyle of riding my bike year round with palm trees galore and that ocean breeze in my hair. Being in Santa Monica gives me the lifestyle I love on the daily, yet I can visit friends and other neighborhoods easily when my social calendar calls for it. Here's a list of my favorite places...
Favorite Coffee Shop
I am a self proclaimed coffee snob where brewing my one and only cup of coffee in the morning has turned into a science project every time (thanks to my boyfriend). I am meticulous and accurate with all the details in making my morning coffee (i.e. weight, time, and temperature). Call it a little obsessive if you will, but for me, there’s almost nothing better than that first sip of the perfect cup. On the weekends, however, I like to bike ride to Intelligentsia as this is one of the uber hipster coffee spots in LA that pioneered pour-over coffee (where they brew a single cup of coffee for you by an order by order basis). This place buzzes with amazing people watching (think creative types working on their next screenplay) and the occasional celebrity sighting too. The ambiance is electric with ample natural light and the industrial decor.
Bag I Take With Me: The Marquess Tote
Usually when heading to a coffee shop I carry my laptop, charger, papers, notebook, wallet, phone - basically my whole life; so I need a bag big enough to hold it all while still being lightweight. The Marquess tote is simply perfect for that, plus I can zip it up to keep everything secure.
The food at Gjelina is outstanding to put it simply. Their fresh modern Mediterranean dishes strike an unbeatable balance between tasting luxurious and feeling genuinely nourishing, as the recipes feature mostly vegetables (although not a vegetarian restaurant whatsoever). The presentation is rustic and carelessly beautiful— but the restaurant is often discussed more in terms of its stylish clientele or its extreme no-substitutions policy than it is the high quality of its cooking. This is mainly due to the popularity of my favorite street in LA - Abbott Kinney Blvd - which has become a hot spot all on its own. If you don't mind waiting, get a table on their gorgeous patio.
Bag I Take With Me: Made In LA Oversized Clutch
When out on the town, I like to take the oversized clutch in black embossed stud as it’s clean and chic, and goes with everything. It’s big enough to hold all my essentials and then some, all while looking effortlessly stylish. Plus, if there’s a celebrity spotting, I’d feel confident she’d love the bag too. A bag that’s Made In LA is perfect for LA.
Favorite Shopping Destination
Choosing this area to shop might come as a surprise to you as it’s not the ultra cool Abbot Kinney or independent haven Main St, however, it’s the easiest street to get some much needed wardrobe refreshment when you’re in a pinch. I start on Wilshire (and 3rd St) and walk south, all the way down to Broadway. My go-to spot is always Nasty Gal. We’ve all read their Queen Bee Sophie Amoruso’s "Girl Boss", yes? (If not, it’s an easy, feel good, take over the world, kind of read) Well, their flagship store is a must see. It’s beautiful and modern, with a touch of goth-like edge. I can usually find something here if I need a spicy outfit to impress the cool kids of LA at an event. If you’re following me on instagram (@jen_yau + @onefatedknight) you’ll see I’ve picked up a couple items from Adidas recently. I’m loving the simple and contemporary Adidas branding and design on their super comfy yet stylish Adilette gel slides. The materials and pattern on their new Alphabounce trainers won me over as well. Another store I love is All Saints. They have to die for fashion statements that you can wear everyday and feel like you’re walking off the runway. This isn’t haute couture per sé; more like avante garde ready-to-wear fashion. The price tag is more affordable when they have seasonal sales, so best time to pop in is at the beginning of summer or after Christmas.
Bag I Take With Me: The Bishop Woven Bucket Bag
This perfect everyday bag is just that - perfect for every day. It’s big enough to take on a shopping excursion with me in case I indulge (I almost always say “no” to shopping bags if I can) and carry items I had to have, but it’s also small enough where if loaded to the brim it’s not giving me back and shoulder pain (the struggle is real). Also, let’s not forget the cute factor of this woven number. I love flaunting the OFK wax seal emblem as it’s one of the only bags to still sport the knight on horse logo, and goes with my casual Westcoast style on the daily. Plus, all the pockets inside and out make my life so much easier (if I could add up all the time I’ve spent rummaging through my purse back in the day…).
4) Riding bikes from Santa Monica Pier to Venice Boardwalk
Probably my most favorite thing about living in LA is the weather. I LOVE that I can ride my bike year round and the coldest it’ll ever get will mean I need to rock my leather jacket (which I never mind). If you’re coming down to visit, renting a bike is super easy. There are a ton of places you can rent from by the hour, half day, or full day, and since there’s so many of them you won’t need to shop around for prices as they’re pretty much the same. I usually start on the Santa Monica side on Ocean Ave and head down to the bike path on the beach boardwalk near the Santa Monica Pier. The outdoor fitness area right beside the pier is always great to check out as there are some really talented people doing interesting things on the bars/rings/slack line/etc. I tried walking on the slack line (that tight rope thing you’ve seen in parks) and it was incredibly hard - way harder than it seems! Along the way, approaching Venice Beach, you’ll see masses of people crowding around certain street performers and boardwalk vendors. One of my favorite things to do on this bike ride is to stop and be amazed by the skateboarders at the Venice Beach Skatepark. It has got to be one of the most beautiful skateparks in the world with the smooth surfaces and movements against the palm trees, beach, and ocean. Seriously picturesque, especially at sunset.
Bag I Take With Me: The Archbishop Woven Cross Body
It’s no wonder the Archbishop is a style editor’s favorite bag. With its tassels and woven body, this unique shape is a head-turner. I love its size as it deceivingly fits a lot of stuff (if you have one you’ll know what I mean), yet is super lightweight. The thinner cross body strap allows me to take pics, ride my bike, and eat ice cream… hands-free. And this is one of the best bags to take from day to night since you can dress it up or down.
Favorite Rooftop Bar
LA wouldn’t be LA if not for all the amazing rooftop bars and restaurants you can visit year round. Why this one is at the top of my list is because of the views. A great spot regardless, but when you come for a refreshing cocktail after being out in the sun all day and you take that first sip of your favorite drink overlooking the Pacific Ocean amongst the palm trees and the beach?! Wow is all I can say. It can sometimes get a bit chilly with the ocean breeze, especially when the sun goes down, but they provide blankets and snuggies for everyone to enjoy. I would recommend getting there an hour before sunset to nab yourself a booth and take in the views of the beautiful surroundings, the amazing people watching and trend spotting of today’s tastemakers, and of course, the cocktails.
Bag I Take With Me: The Queen Woven Carry All
The most luxurious bag out of the OFK collection is the Queen. I always feel confident and unstoppable with this bag on my shoulder. For me, it exudes strength and female power (cheesy, I know), but it’s true! When I’m out doing boss lady things, I love having this bag by my side as it fits my whole life in it (laptop included), all while looking classy and put together, regardless of what I’m wearing. The Queen is perfect for any outing, but especially a rooftop bar as you’ll probably get lots of compliments on it… and if they think you’re a local, well that will just be the cherry on the top.
If I missed some of your favorites, let me know in the comments and I'll include them in an upcoming post... Jen xo