Los Angeles

7 Actually Fun Things to Do in LA This Weekend

Things are finally looking up in the City of Angels...

Photo courtesy of Piccalilli
Photo courtesy of Piccalilli
Photo courtesy of Piccalilli

It’s a confusing time to be in LA: though our city was recently dubbed the epicenter of the COVID pandemic, part of us can’t help but feel slightly hopeful and excited with the return of outdoor dining this Friday (after two months without it). We broke down the state’s latest guidance for anyone else who’s having trouble navigating the fluctuating restrictions. Frankly, it seems caution is best even as we see signs of hope-so spend the weekend safely participating in any one of these awesome events:

Support restaurants open for outdoor dining

Ongoing
Various locations
While many of our favorite restaurants are hedging on when they’ll reopen their patios for outdoor dining, several have managed to get up and running ahead of the weekend. In Culver City, Piccalilli will be serving up adventurous fare that draws from Southeast American and Asian influences on their lush patio from 4-10pm on Saturday and 4-9pm on Sunday. In Santa Monica, Breadblok’s French Provencal-style gluten-free bakery will welcome guests for coffee, tea, and baked goods on their well-spaced outdoor parklet, open Monday through Sunday from 7am to 5pm. And if you’re missing brunch vibes, head to Calabra at Santa Monica’s Proper Hotel to take advantage of their all-day deal. Make sure to call ahead or make reservations on OpenTable to ensure a socially distanced spot.
Cost: Varies
 

Get one last bite of your late-night faves at the Cafe 101 popup

Thursday, January 28-Sunday, February 7
Los Feliz
Surely by now you’ve heard the sad news that legendary afterhours hang Cafe 101 is the latest COVID restaurant casualty, but here’s a small bit of good news: Little Dom’s is hosting a pop-up for the cafe for the next two weekends, with dishes changing every few days. Dishes include a catfish sandwich, fried chicken dinner, waffle brownie sundae, and more, and orders can be placed on DoorDash or Caviar.
Cost: Varies

Finally “attend” the Sundance Film Festival 

Thursday, January 28-Wednesday, February 3
Your house
One of the unexpected benefits of the pandemic is the democratization of generally exclusive events, and this year’s first-ever virtual version of the Sundance Film Fest is a great example. Usually an industry-only event, this year’s fest is available to the public with individual movies starting at the very reasonable price of $15, and the “Explorers Pass,” which offers on-demand access to New Frontier, Shorts, and Indie Series programs, for $25. Check the website for the full schedule. 
Cost: $15 single-film ticket; $25 for the Explorers Pass.
 

See a slew of headliners at Comedy Madness

Saturday, January 30
Hollywood
This outdoor stand-up show promises ultra-strict COVID protocol (eight feet between parties, masks required, etc) and a duplicate of the stage and comedy club environment you’ve been pining for over the last year. On the lineup are a ton of heavy hitters, including Iliza Shlesinger, Doug Benson, and Adam Corolla. 
Cost: $35-$200

Hit up one of Grand Central Market’s exciting new openings

Ongoing
DTLA
Gotta give props to anyone opening new spots to eat right now, and Grand Central Market has two: The Juice, a female-and-BIPOC-owned raw and organic beverage bar (with very LAish options like the orange/beet/turmeric/ginger #16) and Shiku-the new concept from the team behind Baroo, with dishes like LA Galbi (grilled soy-marinated short rib served with white rice and three daily banchan) and Korean fried chicken.
Cost: Varies
 

Pay your respects to the GOAT

Ongoing
All over the city
This week marked a year since the tragic helicopter accident that took nine lives, including LA Lakers champion Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna. Pay your respects by putting together your own scavenger hunt of the many murals dedicated to them that are scattered around the city.
Cost: Free
 

Support women-owned restaurants during RE:Her’s virtual food fest

Thursday, January 28-Saturday, January 30
Your house
It’s only fitting that a 10-day celebration of women restaurateurs in LA kicked off on the anniversary of the historic Women’s March. RE:Her, a nonprofit committed to advancing women in LA’s restaurant industry, is hosting a virtual food fest where restaurateurs are collaborating on unique takeout dishes and menus, hosting virtual conversations, cooking demos, and more. Among the lineup are chefs and owners from All Day Baby, Gasolina Cafe, Hotville Chicken, Rossoblu, and Superfine Pizza, but you can get familiar with the more than 100 “restaurathers” on the festival website.
Cost: VariesSign up here for our daily LA email and be the first to get all the food/drink/fun Los Angeles has to offer.

Jeff Miller wants you to support your favorite restaurants and be safe at the same time. Show him your takeout at @jeffmillerla on Insta.

Los Angeles

How to Spend a Weekend in Topanga Canyon

Nature and the arts collide in this beloved canyon community.

Hanan Isachar/Corbis Documentary/Getty Images
Hanan Isachar/Corbis Documentary/Getty Images
Hanan Isachar/Corbis Documentary/Getty Images

Situated in the Santa Monica Mountains and known for its vibrant creative community, Topanga is one of Los Angeles’s most prized destinations for art and outdoor enthusiasts alike. And while LA boasts its own sprawling landscape of fun to tap into, you’d be remiss to miss a chance to explore this tucked-away collection of state parks, and cafes, and restaurants-especially when it all rests just 20 minutes away from the city. From a quaint caf√© with dazzling canyon views to a world-renowned, open-air theatre, here are the best ways to pass some time in Topanga now.

Photo courtesy of Inn of the Seventh Ray
Photo courtesy of Inn of the Seventh Ray
Photo courtesy of Inn of the Seventh Ray

Friday

Book dinner at Inn of the Seventh Ray
Owner Lucille Yaney opened this iconic restaurant in 1975 after spotting the property on a drive through the canyon with her late husband Ralph, and it’s safe to say she had a good eye. The land perfectly fits into Yaney’s vision of a romantic, alfresco dining space with tables tucked into cozy nooks and gazebos, all beneath canapes and fairy lights. Today, Yaney co-owns the venue with executive chef consultant Brad Miller. Together, they continue to fulfil the restaurant’s original mission to serve pure, natural foods reflective of the season’s best. That approach appears in dishes like 8-Hour Black Vinegar Braised Short Rib with creamy rosemary polenta, duck bacon Brussels sprouts, and caramelized onion and fig jam; Roasted Mushroom Toast with oyster mushrooms and sherry tarragon cream; and Beets & Whipped Black Pepper Creme Fraiche. Consider the carbs here. Pastas and sauces are made in-house and from scratch, as is the bread (available regular or gluten-free), an order of which you won’t want to miss. Check out the wine list, too, which offers a robust organic and biodynamic selection that has helped the restaurant garner some impressive accolades in recent years.

Check into Topanga Canyon Inn
In addition to plenty of excellent Airbnbs available to rent in the Canyon, there’s Topanga Canyon Inn, a charming bed and breakfast comprised of two Mediterranean-style buildings-Casa Blanca and Casa Rosa-both built by the owners. Guests can enjoy bespoke design details in each room, along with gorgeous mountain views from their own private balcony. Come morning, join other travellers for breakfast, served daily at Casa Rosa.

Saturday

Get coffee at Café on 27
Ready your camera for a coffee date at this AM eatery and caf√©, where ample (and busy) outdoor seating offers some of the Canyon’s best views. A full breakfast and lunch menu is available (complete with hearty orders like eggs Benedicts, soups, and club sandwiches), but for lighter morning fare, spring for a pastry and any of their specialty drinks, such as the turmeric latte or Moroccan mocha.

Bradley Allen Murrell/Shutterstock
Bradley Allen Murrell/Shutterstock
Bradley Allen Murrell/Shutterstock

Hike Topanga State Park
Spanning 11,000 acres and 36 miles of trails, Topanga State Park is the largest state park within the Santa Monica Mountains and one of the world’s largest parks within city limits. Visitors can access the grounds via more than 60 entrances. Once on the trails, enjoy sweeping vistas while exploring the region’s range of plants, habitats, and wildlife, including several resident bird species.

Grab lunch at Topanga Living Café
Guided by their Topanga upbringing and need for a community gathering spot with great eats, sibling team Agustina Ferguson and Bayu Suryawan opened this daytime eatery in 2016. Ever since, locals and visitors have found refuge in the caf√©’s warm, airy space and nourishing, hyper-fresh fare-all California-inspired with global influences. Check it out in plates like the Island Style, a breakfast salad with Balinese corn fritters, a poached egg, and house-made chilli jam, or the tacos (Baja Fish or Baja Shrimp, Carne Asada, or Kabocha Squash), made-to-order and served on handmade tortillas. If you’re seeking something shareable, try the Farmers Market Crudite, a seemingly humble order whose bright beet hummus reminds us that eating your vegetables is, indeed, very cool. And take a drink to-go. The team here takes great pride in their coffee (organic espresso, courtesy of their iconic pink La Marzocco machine) and a lineup of made-to-order smoothies, juices, and teas. Shop your way through town
Visitors can stroll through the town centre’s most popular shops for various fun finds, including Moona Star, Pebbles, and Topanga Homegrown. Be sure to stock up on specialty, local snacks at Canyon Gourmet and satiate your sweet tooth while you’re at it. The organic soft-serve there is a must. Pro tip: Top it with any of their artisanal syrups for a winning combo, namely, the vanilla with cardamom.

Photo courtesy of Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum
Photo courtesy of Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum
Photo courtesy of Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum

Catch a show at The Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum
This beloved open-air theatre has hosted productions for decades and is recognized worldwide for its Shakespeare interpretations. In addition to its annual summer season, which includes works like Macbeth and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the venue hosts concerts, rehearsals, and classes throughout the year for budding actors and playwrights of all ages.

Snag a slice at Endless Colour
This family-run pizza joint specializes in from-scratch pies with clever topping combinations (think purple potatoes, fontina, and truffle oil in the Purple Molly Potato or spinach, leeks, and goat cheese in the Super Greens). Bring some friends, order a pie or two, and check out the drinks list, which includes offbeat options like orange wines and hard kombucha.

Photo courtesy of The Canyon Bakery
Photo courtesy of The Canyon Bakery
Photo courtesy of The Canyon Bakery

Sunday

Check out The Canyon Bakery’s “Sunday Funday”
Situated on the grounds of the aforementioned Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum, this bakery specializes in naturally leavened breads, pastries, cakes, and cookies using locally sourced, whole grain flours. There’s a takeout window on Sundays, from 9:30 am until the bakery sells out. A strong following lines up for favourites, such as whole grain croissants and gluten-free pizza, so be sure to arrive early to get your fill.

Try tacos to-go at La Chingona
On your way out of town, grab some tacos at La Chingona, where a team puts forth fresh, organic, gluten- and dairy-free tacos. Orders range to include options like grass-fed beef (carne asada), shrimp (wild-caught), and soy chorizo and can be fashioned into plates beyond tacos, too (think tostadas, salads, and bowls). Open only on Tuesdays, Fridays, and Sundays; this taco stand sees good demand. Plan accordingly, pending your travels, especially to savour an order or two of the churros.

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Nicole Schnitzler is a contributor for Thrillist.

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