Los Angeles

Rachel Wolfson's Day Off in the San Fernando Valley Tells Her Origin Story

Comedian and 'Jackass Forever' star Rachel Wolfson shows us the spots that built her, from her first-ever comedy club to what once was her grandparents' house.


The San Fernando Valley is a piece of Rachel Wolfson’s heart. Sure, it reminds her of her family, but it’s also the place where she found herself.

“People give the valley a hard rap,” the Jackass  Forever comedian said in a recent interview with Thrillist. “But when I think of California, I just think of the valley.” While the valley has always been a special place to her, the more she grew up, the more certain places and landmarks became even more meaningful. It’s like a family time capsule.

But there’s two sides to these cherished memories. While Wolfson’s valley is, on one hand, a dainty, comforting place filled with childhood moments, it is also the neighborhood that transformed her into the daredevil comedian she is now.

One day, she just decided to give it a go at Flappers Comedy Club, and the rest is history. “I just really struggled to find my place in this world and making people laugh always came easy to me,” she said. “And then something inside of me screamed, ‘Get on stage!'”

Everything in Wolfson’s life led up to what she’s doing now. This included starring in Jackass Forever, where she shows the fearless, yet very comedic side of her personality, and where she lets a scorpion “botox” her face. “I think it’s no secret that women can experience pain [and] that we find pain funny,” she said. “I think that for them to not include a woman would be ignoring an entire demographic of fans and also just, women like to do dumb shit too!”

In our series “Ride With Me,” Wolfson walks us down memory lane, and leads us to the San Fernando Valley places that molded her character. By showing us her grandma’s old house, the first stage she ever performed on, and her go-to dispensaries, Wolfson welcomes us into both her childhood and adulthood in the valley, and gives us some great tips on how to best experience it along the way.

Get ready to hop on stage-we’re going to the San Fernando Valley!

Places to Eat & Drink

Ma’s Italian Kitchen
Ma’s is a food staple to Wolfson, and it’s definitely one of her favorite restaurants.

She discovered it during the pandemic, and now can’t get enough of their food. “You can’t go wrong with anything,” she said. But if you are really looking for some recommendations, Wolfson will tell you to try their meatballs, which come with ricotta toast. She also often gets the pickled peppers, the chopped salad, the ravioli, the spaghetti and meatballs dish, and of course a big plate of fettuccine alfredo. And if you ordered too much, you can always pack it up and bring it home.

Art’s Deli
This Jewish deli is the perfect cure for hangovers, but one can go there to get anything and everything.

Wolfson even has a signature sandwich she gets all the time. When you order, just ask for turkey, cheddar, lettuce, red onion, crispy lettuce, crispy red onion, and “special mustard” on lightly toasted rye-and don’t forget a side of sauerkraut. The unofficial sandwich name, you ask? The Wolfson, of course.

Things to Do

Wolfson’s Grandparents’ House & the Park Nearby
Wolfson’s grandparents don’t live in this house anymore, but she took us here anyway. To her, it means a lot-even if now some strangers live there.

Wolfson fondly remembers the house’s floors, which were “like, so eighties,” as well as the living room’s two Lay-Z-Boys. One was for her grandpa, and the other was for her grandma. The house might look different now, but its old features are still etched in Wolfson’s memory.

The park was a ritual in Wolfson’s childhood. Her grandpa would always take her there for walks, and eventually it became part of the routine.

It’s probably where her daring spirit started to develop. “I would climb the trees,” she said. She came back to the park in the last couple of years, but this time, no tree climbing. It wasn’t her choice, though. “If there was a tree to climb, I definitely would!” she said.

Flappers Comedy Club
If you come to Flappers for the comedy, you stay for the fish. “Their salmon is fire!” said Wolfson.

Flappers Comedy Club is the first stage Wolfson ever had the courage to walk up on. They have fun open mic nights, and it’s a good place to go when you’re new to the comedy world. And don’t worry about getting roasted: “They’re very friendly towards new comics for sure,” said Wolfson.

The Higher Path
If you’re looking for something to take the edge off, The Higher Path dispensary is the place to be. You might even get a laugh or two out of it. “They actually employ a lot of comics who during the pandemic got side jobs in the cannabis industry,” explained Wolfson.

If you’re unsure what to get, feel free to walk up to one of the “budtenders” and ask them for guidance. “It’s not about profit for them,” said Wolfson. “It’s about how they can educate people.”

After shopping at The Higher Path, Wolfson’s advice is to go up in the Hills taking one of the hill drives, and then stop at one of the scenic points. Once there, feel free to light it up and enjoy the view, although make sure to avoid driving under the influence.Want more Thrillist? Follow us on Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, TikTok, and Snapchat.

Serena Tara is a Staff Writer on the News team at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

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 café 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


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.


Get coffee at Café on 27
Ready your camera for a coffee date at this AM eatery and café, 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 café’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


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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