What’s New in Los Angeles
By Sheila Yasmin Marikar
Photos: The New York Times
Sun, sand, sightings of celebrities in their natural hábitats. Tourists have long descended on Los Angeles for some combination of the above. And if you’re keen on that cocktail, rest assured, it remains on offer — wrest your way into a coastal hot spot like Nobu Malibu or Giorgio Baldi and you can indulge with abandon.
But Los Angeles has more to offer than the obvious. New restaurants and bars have cemented the city’s status as a culinary capital of the world. Stages, outdoors and in, are booked with acts, big and rising. Museums, including the long-delayed $484 million homage to Hollywood, the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, are courting crowds. Travelers are coming in droves.
“Los Angeles’s comeback story is well underway,” said Adam Burke, the president and CEO of the city’s tourism board. By late 2022, more than 46 million people had visited the city, close to 2019’s record high of 50.7 million tourists. “We’re optimistic that we’ll see full recovery in Los Angeles.”
Restaurants and bars
If Los Angeles wasn’t the nation’s preeminent city for sushi before, it is now. Sushi Tama, Morihiro, and Kinkan are some of the high-end slingers, with chef-curated tasting menus that debuted during the pandemic and won fans over with takeout boxes of fish that shimmer like jewels. Now, you can book seats at their respective sushi bars, but plan in advance; seats at Kinkan’s counter, where dine-in meals range from $125 to $250 per person, can be particularly hard to come by.
The Black Lives Matter movement brought renewed attention to Los Angeles’s Black-owned businesses, especially restaurants. Critics are raving over Berbere, an Ethiopian-inspired vegan restaurant that opened in Santa Monica in 2021 (most dishes are under $20), and you’d be hard pressed to find a more beautiful latte than the one served at Bloom & Plume, a coffee shop and cafe that celebrity florist Maurice Harris opened next to his east side flower shop just before the pandemic (espresso drinks start at $3.50). Several websites offer guides to the best Black-owned restaurants in the city; Thrillist’s is particularly robust.
Low-carb cliches be damned, pizza is having a moment. Pie after pie flies out of the open kitchen of Mother Wolf, Hollywood’s buzziest new restaurant — fans include Rihanna and Michelle Obama — which occupies a gilded art deco landmark, the Citizen-News building. (Overheard at the bar: “If you squint, it’s almost like you’re in New York.”) Downtown, De La Nonna serves grandma-style pies ($16 and up) and crisp Negronis. In Echo Park, on the city’s east side, Grá makes an argument for pizza as health food, with its organic sourdough base, “seasonal ferments” (kimchi and pickled cucumber salads), and natural wine, which, incidentally, has inspired many new bars.
Museums and live events
Many of the city’s museums, including the Broad, the Getty, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, which opened in September and features six floors of movie-industry memorabilia, require advance reservations. It’s best to check their websites before visiting.
There is no shortage of events uniting aficionados of various stripes. The Hollywood Bowl and the Greek Theatre, Los Angeles’s prime outdoor performance venues, are back with a full slate of concerts. Just south of Los Angeles, jazz enthusiasts will come together for the Newport Beach Jazz Festival in June. And rockers rejoice: in August, Pasadena’s This Ain’t No Picnic brings together dozens of rock bands, including The Strokes and LCD Soundsystem. In the same complex as SoFi Stadium, the new YouTube Theater features a robust lineup of Latinx artists this summer and fall, including India Yuridia, Eduardo Nunez, and Paquita la del Barrio.
For decades, Los Angeles’ Pride Festival & Parade has been one of the largest LGBTQ Pride events in the world, and it’ll be back in full force the weekend of June 11. Old attractions have been updated: the Warner Bros. Studio Tour has reopened with a state-of-the-art welcome center, and Universal Studios Hollywood has added a “Secret Life of Pets” ride.
Los Angeles added 2,100 new hotel rooms in 2021, and there’s a home away from home for every type of traveler. Downtown, the Kelly Wearstler-designed Proper Hotel (1100 South Broadway, rooms from $349) has become a destination for locals and out-of-towners alike with its art-deco-meets-modern-day-globe-trotter aesthetic. Pendry West Hollywood (8430 Sunset Blvd., rooms from $525) brings a dose of maximalism to the Sunset Strip, with sumptuous rooms designed by Martin Brudnizki, a rooftop restaurant helmed by Wolfgang Puck, and a happening pool scene.
The Maybourne Beverly Hills (225 North Canon Dr., rooms from $1,095) is bringing a bit of Britain far west of the pond; its high tearoom, helmed by its sister hotel Claridges, will debut later this year. For YOLO adherents with money to burn, the Beverly Hills Hotel (9641 Sunset Blvd., rooms from $735), which turns 110 this year, is offering its signature McCarthy Salad for $1,912 — besides lettuce, it comes with gold flakes, lobster, caviar, a bottle of Dom Pérignon, and the inflated sense of superiority that comes with ordering a salad that costs more than the average monthly home mortgage.