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.
8850 Washington Blvd., Culver City
With the long-awaited completion of the Expo Line, a train that connects Culver City to both Downtown and Santa Monica, the area is in the midst of a period of immense growth. Platform, an indoor/outdoor space devoted to shopping and eating, is right next to the train stop. But calling it a straight-up mall feels off. In place of the usual shop suspects, there’s a Monocle pop-up, a Janessa Leone boutique, a Tenoverten nail salon, and the only Westside outpost of Poketo. And while you won’t see a food court, what you will find are a dozen or so restaurants—both casual (Loqui tacos, Van Leeuwen ice cream, Boba Guys) and not (Margot). The pièce de résistance is Roberta’s, Brooklyn’s finest, where they know how to sling a pizza.
Palihotel Culver City
3927 Van Buren Pl., Culver City
It feels like every time we loop through Culver City, the cityscape has changed. Literally. New towers and rooftops and parking lots are quickly swallowing up desirable chunks of real estate surrounding Platform. We craned our necks, parked the car, and rushed into the lobby when we saw that one of these new structures was a Palihotel. Tucked behind the ArcLight, the Art Deco forty-nine-roomer is a stunner. Guest rooms are dressed up in cozy tartans, warm woods, and clean white subway tiles with the kind of contemporary art and photography you wish were shoppable. Restaurant Simonette echoes a swish French brasserie, and the bar and lounge areas are retro and so cool. The mid-century modern sofas demand a faceplant, or at least some postwork wine with a colleague, and the inner courtyard—shaded by a lone, towering tree—is one of the most serene in the city.
8810 Washington Blvd., Culver City
In NYC, Roberta’s pizza is the OG. In LA, it’s the new kid who became the prom queen. Roberta’s, and its roster of signature pastas and pizzas, originally came west as a pop-up at Platform. But like so many East Coast transplants dipping their toes in the Pacific, Roberta’s decided to stay. A good thing, considering locals have developed a mean Bee Sting habit. (A Bee Sting is when you make soppressata and mozzarella into a pizza and top it with chili and honey.) The cacio e pepe here nails the cacio to pepe ratio, and the kid’s pastas are so good, adults know to order a second for themselves.
10306 Venice Blvd., Culver City
It's named after a city in Israel, a city that co-owner Nancy Vrankovic says is eclectic and artsy and hip. Which is exactly what Jaffa is: a colorful and unique restaurant serving outstanding modern Israeli food. The sweet potato hummus is everything you want hummus to be—smooth, whipped, creamy, drizzled in olive oil, and served with fresh puffy house-made pita. The spiced chicken shawarma bowl boasts layers of salty and sweet and herby flavors—cumin, coriander, paprika, cayenne, cinnamon—that come from hours of roasting. And the charred eggplant, soft and buttery with perfectly blackened edges drenched in umami-rich tahini, is our spirit food dish. And there is too such a thing.
Aldea Home & Baby
3825 Main St., Culver City
It’s perfectly logical that after nurturing a thriving community of parents and kids in San Francisco’s Mission District, kid’s store Aldea founder Johanna Bialkin would set her sights on an equally family-oriented LA neighborhood: Culver City. That’s because community is just as big a part of the Aldea ethos as sustainability (most toys, clothes, and furniture reside on the eco-friendly spectrum), creativity (there are things here we’ve never seen anywhere else), and aesthetics (Oeuf, Monte, and Aelfie are just a few of the design-y brands on offer). There are weekly wine nights (for parents), story time (for kids), mommy-and-me yoga classes, live music, and more (for parents and kids). Walk through shelves upon shelves of giftables and Iittle nooks you’ll want to lift directly from the store and plop in your home as is—and the good news is that you totally can, by setting up an Aldea registry.
3599 Hayden Ave., Culver City
An eighteen-course meal spanning several hours inside of an architectural marvel to a score composed by This Will Destroy You may not be for everyone. While one person says it was the best meal of her life, the next might say they could hardly sit through the experience. Coming here is just as much about showmanship as it is about food. But one thing’s for sure: You’ve never had dinner like this before. Chef Jordan Kahn (formerly of Red Medicine, currently of Destroyer) took over architect Eric Owen Moss’s “Waffle” building in 2017 with the intention of opening a fine-dining restaurant that has a function for every floor. Enter on the ground floor; get on the elevator to the kitchen and look around; get back on to the twenty-two-seat dining room. (If you notice a particular scent, it’s likely the custom fragrance Kahn developed to round out the dining experience.) Once there, sit back in the greyscale banquettes and wait for the show to begin—each course is: dramatic. You won’t see the same custom-made plate twice and the food that sits on it is to be appreciated with…
10764 Washington Blvd., Culver City
This all-ladies clubhouse is welcoming (to women) and airy, perfect for healing, supporting, and learning from other women. If you’re imagining the stodgy members-only clubs of yore, don’t. WMN is deliberately unfussy. Founded by doula Paula Mallis, WMN Space offers everything from pre- and postnatal workshops, to meditation and movement classes, to full-moon circles. The roster of in-house specialists includes a vaginapractor (if you’re not familiar, it’s essentially a chiropractor for your vagina), healers, hypnotists, as well as talk and body therapists.
8830 Washington Blvd., Culver City
Loqui—which started as a pop up in San Francisco’s Tartine—has their first brick-and-mortar location in Platform, Culver City.
9552 Washington Blvd., Culver City
There’s been a lot of local buzz around the opening of this small lunch destination, and understandably so: It’s a concept from chef Josef Centeno, the same man behind goop favorites Bar Ama and Bäco Mercat. We can confidently report it doesn’t disappoint: you can’t go wrong with on of their bäcos or bäcorritos, which are homemade-flatbread-enclosed sandwiches filled with everything from shrimp with sriracha, buttermilk cabbage slaw, and mint to coffee rubbed-steak with red chile, almonds, and charred scallion. Their creative salads and vegetable offerings are a lighter option, but just as good. (They have a nice short list of beer and wine, too.) Photos: Wonho Frank Lee
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