Travel

California

Establishment neighborhood
Osea Skin Studio
1732 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice
It feels like a Venice Beach bungalow inside this Venice Beach bungalow: intimate, calm, airy, and cozy. And the treatments are on another level. They’re experts at gua sha (a sculpting, lifting, toning therapy in which an aesthetician smooths a stone tool over the face to stimulate tissue and ease tension); it feels cooling, relaxing, fantastic. You can always customize your facial, but there’s no improving upon the Deep Sea Age Defying treatment, an ultrapampering mash-up of LED light therapy, lymphatic drainage massage, and cranial therapy to support circulation and promote skin (and overall) balance. Whatever your skin needs, they have it here, and the glow you saunter out with is stunning.
The Gallery Hair Salon and Creative Studio
5770 Melrose Ave.,
It’s uncanny: Stress dissolves the minute you walk into this hair salon/art gallery/photo studio. You can always spot cofounder Joe Espinoza, across the room—he’s the majestically tall hairstylist and colorist with the cool hair (last time we visited it was a sophisticated navy blue). Some of Espinoza’s clients come to him for wild color, but he’s also a master of more conventional styles. There’s a bit of wellness woven in, too. You can choose to listen to meditation sounds while you get your hair or makeup done (there’s an in-house makeup artist)—they also sell essential oils, smelling salts, and the goop pink salt scalp scrub. Pieces from local artists cover the walls, energizing the entire space. “We dreamed of this place being a spot for local artists to show their work,” explains cofounder Drew DeMartinez. “Instead of just doing highlights and beach waves, we wanted to bring an element of art into hair, to make the salon experience less transactional and feel like more of a collective.” Images courtesy of Jenae Lien.
Rolling Greens
1005 Mateo St., Arts District
Rolling Greens in the Arts District (there are also locations on Beverly and Jefferson) is a city within a city, but greener. Two acres of flowers, plants, and home décor ideas hug the Los Angeles River—and we can’t get enough of this place. The former scrap-metal yard is the perfect one-stop shop to kit out your house and yard with Cali-appropriate plants, pottery, and gorgeously rustic pieces. There’s a cute café on-site because mulling over rosebushes and landscaping conundrums with Rolling Greens’ designers is more fun with a cappuccino to sip. We also keep the cavernous entertainment space at the back of our minds for friends hunting for a beautiful wedding venue or event space.
Folded Hills Tasting Room
1294 Coast Village Rd., Montecito
A local friend let us in on this cute tasting room in Montecito’s Lower Village, a short walk from the Miramar. We like to drop in for a glass after lunch. The family-run Folded Hills winery grows its vines—organically—in the Santa Ynez Valley. Staffers are just as charming as they are knowledgeable, and after tasting a flight or two, signing up for the Folded Hills wine club (expect two six-bottle shipments annually) seems like an entirely reasonable idea.
Bettina
1014 Coast Village Rd., Montecito
Saturday nights are ripe for pizza and a beer, so Montecitans tend to agree. Bettina’s white subway tile and olive-green shiplap interior hums with chatter and a low-key raucousness that half convinces you you’re in a hipster pizzeria in Brooklyn. (The owners are New York transplants, and the vibe follows.) Call us purists, but we’re partial to their simple margherita pie. Blistered edges, sweet-sour tomato sauce, flecks of basil, and a drizzle of grassy olive oil is even tastier with a green salad and robust glass of Brunello. In our book, a restaurant is only as good as the sides and snacks (or, in this case, spuntini) on the menu. No meal at Bettina is complete without an order of the cacio e pepe arancini to get the Saturday night going.
Merci
1028 Coast Village Rd., Montecito
Before she opened Merci in the lovely Montecito Country Mart, chef and owner Elizabeth Colling cut her teeth at the Ritz Escoffier School in Paris. She followed that with stints at Spago and Bastide. And now, every Saturday, dozens of locals line up to indulge in Colling’s resolutely French brown-butter-soaked waffles Suzette. The café itself is a blush-colored cocoon of wicker seating, marble tables, and the welcoming scent of fresh bread hot out of the oven. Roll up early, commandeer a table, and slowly work your way through the patisserie case alongside what feels like half the town. Our standing order: Merci’s Cali spin on breakfast brioche (they add nut butter) and runny eggs. Even the toast tastes better here—served with a French smear of herby cheese instead of plain old butter.
Chiqui Social
8530 Washington Blvd., Culver City
A social club for kids is a cute idea—but a social club for kids growing up bilingual (and their families) is brilliant—and much-needed in Los Angeles. Founder Lizet Alvarez wanted to create a community to support Spanish learning and a dual-language lifestyle for her own chiquitos, and her creativity and inclusivity shines in Chiqui’s roster of programs. There are immersion programs for little ones and workshops, camps, and after-school programs for elementary-school students. There are also opportunities for the whole family to hang—Chiqui Social even has a BYOB, taco-fueled Hora Feliz for families on Friday evenings. Alvarez has also carved out space for a little shop, which she stocks with educational toys, Spanish-language books, and imports like Oaxacan stuffed animals and woven Honduran baskets. Irrespective of which language came first for your family, it’s a supportive and authentic community—and a really freaking cute place to hang out.
Tartine
1226 9th Ave., Inner Sunset
Going to San Francisco and not getting a buttery, cinnamon-scented morning bun at Tartine is like going to Venice and not seeing a canal. The lines at the original flagship are legendary, but thankfully a new SF location has just opened in the Inner Sunset neighborhood. Liz Prueitt and Chad Robertson’s bread is iconic—and yes, we realize we just called bread iconic, but we stand by it. (The secret sauce is in the heritage grains and fermentation…we think.) And so breakfast of smoked salmon, pickled onions, and cream cheese smeared on a slice of crisp toast is only logical. Fill a paper bag with Tartine’s outrageously chewy chocolate cookies, flaky croissants, and light-as-air muffins for later. You won’t be sorry.
Black Bird Bookstore
4033 Judah St., Outer Sunset
Outer Sunset is many things: a beachy neighborhood in San Francisco, home to many excellent surf shops (looking at you, Mollusk and Woodshop), and the place to come for Black Bird. The independent bookstore, curated by local owner (and voracious reader) Kathryn Grantham, is equal parts community hangout and retailer. Black Bird is unlike so many bookstores—and we love that about it. In lieu of traditional spine-out shelving, for example, books are displayed with the covers facing forward—like artwork. Because under Grantham’s pioneering eye, there are no bad choices. Each title is selected to propel new voices forward and to commemorate the fascinating history of San Francisco. Make it a first stop in the city—and bring nothing but time.
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