Los Angeles

6 Spectacular Street Murals to Visit for Kobe Bryant Day

Spend your 8/24 thinking about the legendary Lakers player at these gorgeous murals all over town, and get something to eat too.

Photo courtesy of KobeMural
Photo courtesy of KobeMural
Photo courtesy of KobeMural

Regardless of whether you rooted for him on the basketball court, it’s hard not to love what Kobe Bryant represents to the city of Los Angeles. His indomitable attitude, endless work ethic, and eternal quest for greatness resonated with so many Angelenos, inspiring them to keep pushing. People often associate the Lakers with glitz and glamour, courtside celebrities, and the Forum Club, and there’s good reason for that. But most Laker fans sit in the arena’s Upper Bowl or at home in front of their TVs, or listen to the radio broadcast as they work. LA is an underrated blue collar sports city, and Kobe was the perfect face for the dreamers, strivers, and nose-to-the-grindstone types who are trying to make things happen here.

His untimely death in January 2020 was an unqualified tragedy, a disaster that now feels like a harbinger of a hellish year to come. But at least there is art-gorgeous remembrances, eulogies, and best of all, street art. Taken together, the Kobe Murals-often featuring his 13-year-old daughter Gianna Bryant, who was killed in the same helicopter accident-are an unbelievable collection, diverse and unique and creative and dominant, a fitting tribute to the man himself.

LA native and Kobe Bryant superfan Anya Lloyd has been to dozens of the murals, in town and all around the world-she makes a point of visiting any she can find on her travels. “When Kobe passed, I found going to murals as a way to connect with other people who felt as deeply as I did for a man they didn’t know personally,” she says. In the aftermath of the accident in 2020, Lloyd felt that “seeing others expressing their sadness by leaving flowers, notes, and cards, hugging their loved ones and grieving at the murals, helped me feel like I wasn’t alone.”

And now, two and a half years on, the murals are still gathering spots for fans and like-minded pilgrims but with a more joyful feeling. As Lloyd puts it, “Now seeing the murals is a wonderful reminder of what he means to the people of Los Angeles. Even though he’s no longer with us, we won’t let his legacy fade.”

With the help of the amazing guide at Kobemural.com, we’ve selected six of our local favorite murals to visit on August 24, which has been commemorated as Kobe Bryant Day (or Black Mamba Day) by LA and Orange County, with the date selected to honour both jersey numbers that Kobe wore during his basketball career. We’ve also selected some nearby food spots in each neighbourhood to pair with your street art tour.

APU GOMES/Contributor/Getty Images
APU GOMES/Contributor/Getty Images
APU GOMES/Contributor/Getty Images

Mural by Jonas Never

Eat at: Fixins
Downtown
Jonas Never’s iconic Kobe mural actually went up on Lebanon Street near the arena in 2015, and it was done without the building owner’s knowledge or consent. But Kobe’s stature is so great, and the mural’s depiction of Wally Skalij’s intense photo was so instantly iconic, that it could never have been taken down. After Kobe’s death it became one of the most popular places for mourners to gather, and now the mural is covered with messages written by fans and admirers from around the world. If you need a wind-down after taking it all in, you have plenty of options in the immediate downtown area-but your best bet for a mentally and emotionally fortifying meal is probably at Fixins, the energetic soul food experts at LA Live, just steps from the stadium where Bryant hoisted so many trophies.

Mario Tama/Staff/Getty Images
Mario Tama/Staff/Getty Images
Mario Tama/Staff/Getty Images

Shoe Palace Melrose Mural by JC Ro

Eat at: Ta-Eem Grill
Melrose
Sneaker stores are a key cog at the cultural intersection of basketball, street art, and hip hop (let’s not forget Kobe was a rapper too, sort of). So it is perfectly fitting that one of the best and most popular Kobe murals is on the side of Shoe Palace’s gleaming Melrose location. This one is one of Llyod’s favourites, too. In the early days there were post-it notes and pens left out at the base of the mural, and mourners were encouraged to write notes and messages to Kobe, and about what he meant to them-the wall filled up fast. Lloyd says it was particularly therapeutic to be able to write something, and to read what other people had written. Just down the street, Ta-Eem serves up massive plates of Mediterranean street food, including some of the best shawarma around, killer zhug, and incredibly fluffy fresh-baked pita. Lunch at Ta-Eem is also rather therapeutic.

Photo courtesy of Kobemural
Photo courtesy of Kobemural
Photo courtesy of Kobemural

JS Liquor & Market Mural by Manny Sayes

Eat at: Dulan’s
Westmont
One of the most touching pieces of Kobe’s legacy is his relationship with his daughters, including middle daughter Gianna, who died with him in the helicopter crash. Kobe’s support for her on and off the basketball court was legendary, and the dramatic mural on the South-facing wall of JS Liquor & Market on Century Blvd and Vermont in South LA depicts that in gorgeous, artistic fashion. On a stark black wall, Gianna sits on Kobe’s shoulders under a gold sun that looks almost like a halo, or a beacon beckoning them skyward. It is a powerful piece, and it should only be paired with a life-affirming meal-luckily, Adolf Dulan’s legendary soul food restaurant Dulan’s is less than a mile west on Century.

Mario Tama/Staff/Getty Images
Mario Tama/Staff/Getty Images
Mario Tama/Staff/Getty Images

Nelson’s Liquor by Isaac Pelayo

Eat at: La Autentica Birrieria
Burbank
There is a tendency to pack as much detail as possible into these murals, to best encapsulate all of the many things that Kobe achieved, and that he meant to the city. Isaac Pelayo took the opposite approach with his mural on the side of Nelson’s Liquor in Burbank. The image is stark and thoughtful, a white wall with Kobe’s back turned to the viewer. He pumps his fist as he walks away from us, celebrating some monumental accomplishment and heading on towards the next. Spend a few minutes in quiet contemplation over some of the Arana family’s slow-cooked birria at La Autentica Birrieria, a truck that parks at the Victory Vineland Community centre nearby. They use a longstanding recipe they brought with them from Michoacan, which works well with both goat or beef birria, especially on their handmade tortillas.

Photo courtesy of KobeMural
Photo courtesy of KobeMural
Photo courtesy of KobeMural

United Auto Center Mural by Danny Mateo

Eat at: RibTown BBQ
Jefferson Park
Many Kobe murals merge LA iconography with Lakers style, but few do it as well as Danny Mateo’s mural on the Western Ave side of United Auto Center in Jefferson Park. On one side Kobe carries Gianna, and on the other Kobe stares into the distance wearing his Laker gold jersey, but it is the background that grabs the eye-an LA sunset dripping in purple-to-gold gradient behind the downtown skyline and a row of palm trees. In big, bold Lakers font it says “Legends never die.” Just a few blocks down Jefferson is where pitmaster Lonnie Edwards of RibTown BBQ sets up his smokers and dishes out some of the very best BBQ in town-you may even be able to smell that oak smoke while you’re admiring the mural.

Photo courtesy of KobeMural
Photo courtesy of KobeMural
Photo courtesy of KobeMural

Burger City Grill Mural by Mike Trujillo

Eat at: Hisaya Kyoto Chestnuts
Torrance
In one outstanding sequence, artist Mike Trujillo has captured the arc of Kobe’s career from beginning to end. The mural at Burger City Grill in Old Town Torrance depicts a single dunk but through the stages of the dunk Kobe morphs from his Lower Merion High School self, through his early Laker years wearing number eight, into Team USA Olympics Kobe, and then lands in his final form, a titan drenched in gold. It also includes a classic LA sunset over city landmarks like downtown, the Hollywood sign, Staples Center, and the Santa Monica Pier, and incorporates his five championship trophies and one Academy Award. Grab a bite at Burger City Grill, and then maybe head over to Hisaya for some chestnut ice cream for dessert. Or at this point you may need to drown your sorrows in a beer or three-luckily, Monkish Brewing is nearby.

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Ben Mesirow is an Echo Park native who writes TV, fiction, food, and sports. At one time or another, his writing has appeared in The LA Times, Litro, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, Los Angeles Magazine, and scratched into dozens of desks at Walter Reed Middle School.

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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