Sprawling and widespread, Los Angeles is more like a collection of villages than one cohesive metropolis. Each neighbourhood exudes a distinct atmosphere and character, and consequently a unique food culture.
Ethnic enclaves offer a spectacular taste of LA’s multiculturalism. Glendale's Central Avenue and Hollywood’s Little Armenia host a string of Armenian delis and bakeries. Hollywood is also home to the numerous Thai restaurants and markets of Thai Town.
Located in downtown, Chinatown is an obvious go-to for Chinese cuisines. Nearby, Little Tokyo functions as the cultural focal point for Los Angeles’ Japanese community; dotted with Japanese bakeries and restaurants.
West of Downtown, Koreatown is illuminated with hundreds Korean-scripted neon signs, many which denote authentic Korean barbecue joints. East of Downtown, Boyle Heights is the heart of the city’s Latino barrio, a go-to for cheap Mexican dishes and Mariachi entertainment.
Mexican cuisine is not just bound to Boyle Heights... Situated just over two hours’ drive from the Mexican border, LA is heavily influenced by Mexican culture, to the point that Mexican food is often proclaimed as the city’s official cuisine. Taquerías and cantinas dot the LA serving up authentic dishes alongside westernised variants.
Many of the city’s most acclaimed retail zones also double as dining hotspots. Beverly Hill’s Canon Drive is known as ‘Little Restaurant Row’, a hub of owner-operated, independent restaurants that attract the rich and famous. Venice Beach’s Abbot Kinney Boulevard caters to hungry shoppers with a distinct SoCal charm, boasting organic coffee houses, local restaurateurs and hip bars. Fairfax is home to the Original Farmers Market, a popular haunt for foodies, fostering ethnic grocers, specialty food stalls and restaurants right next door to The Grove.
Transcending neighbourhoods, gourmet food trucks have fast become a LA institution. Over 200 mobile food vendors roam the streets serving up everything from grilled cheese sandwiches to Soul Food and shaved ice. The trucks typically pull into parking lots or up on sidewalks to feed growing legions of fans who have tracked the truck’s whereabouts online.
No trip to LA is complete without visiting home-grown fast-food hero, In-N-Out Burger. Established in Baldwin Park more than 60 years ago, the burger joint serves a simple menu of three burgers, three milkshakes and fries, to top customer satisfaction.
Los Angeles has a diverse array of shopping areas to cater to its diverse population. Haute couture, vintage, ethnic, alternative, and chic – all tastes and budgets are covered in a number of exciting and bustling locales.
Downtown LA sprawls with distinct retail enclaves, namely the Jewelry District, Fashion District and Toy District. The Fashion District is a go-to for budget-conscious shoppers, covering 100 blocks with apparel, accessories and textile sellers and aspiring designers.
Beverly Hills is LA’s ultimate high-end shopping destination, home to the affluent ‘Golden Triangle’ area, which encompasses the world-famous, couture hub Rodeo Drive and the aptly-named Department Store Row.
West Hollywood’s Robertson Boulevard is one of the city’s most popular celebrity and paparazzi haunts, a tree-lined strip home to unique boutiques, local fashion heroes, and designer clothing and jewellery flagships.
Running from West Hollywood through to Hollywood, Melrose Avenue offers a varied but cutting-edge shopping scene. Its eastern end emulates the gritty nature of the Hollywood with a host of independent retailers and alternative clothing stores, while its western end features a variety of upscale boutiques and fashion houses.
Hollywood’s nucleus, Hollywood Boulevard caters to Walk of Fame crowds with souvenir shops galore, as well as the famous shopping mall and entertainment complex, Hollywood and Highland Centre.
Just south of West Hollywood, the Fairfax District is home to the LA’s most prominent shopping mall, The Grove – a large outdoor marketplace designed in the style of indigenous Los Angeles buildings and inhabited by popular US and international retailers.
On the coast, Venice Beach also offers great retail opportunities. Donned the "The Coolest Block in America", Abbot Kinney Boulevard is a hipster haven, lined with furniture stores, vintage clothing sellers, surf shops, and bookstores. The vibe changes to derelict-chic at the beach, as the boardwalk swells with T-shirt stores, sunglass stalls, fortune tellers and tattoo parlours.
Santa Monica provides a more sophisticated scene. Third Street Promenade and Main Street house clothing outlets, specialty shops and cafes. Santa Monica Place features high-end retailers and boutique stores in a mall setting. While Montana Avenue is home to many upscale fashion boutiques as well as sell high-end furniture, accessories and gifts stores.
LA’s most unique shopping experiences can be found in the hills of Topanga, known for its vintage and antique sellers, and in Pasadena, at the world-famous Rose Bowl Flea Market.