I always change my mind about which day I prefer; Saturdays or Sundays. This weekend in particular, I didn’t mind because both ended up on my Top Ten List of Best Weekends in my life. Saturday started out overcast and a little chilly but that didn’t put a stop to our plan to visit Venice Beach and Santa Monica. We managed to find parking on the street and left our car there for the day. We walked along the fabulous beach homes that lined the shore, each one just a lovely as the last. We walked past Muscle Beach and saw just that-muscles. My father-in-law egged me on to go on in and do some pull ups, but I declined-for many reasons. Mainly, that I don’t have any. Ha! We walked and walked until we reached the pier and went out and looked out into the vast blue Pacific. We stood there and watched as an older man caught fish after fish and dropped them into his plastic bag, it moving and shaking until the fish quieted.
There weren’t yet many people at 9am on a Saturday and it was peaceful. Flocks of seagulls flew overhead and lined the pier. Surfers were out and the ocean was dotted with dozens of black dots all down the beach. The breeze was salty and sweet and I am sure I could have stayed there all day.
We had more of Venice Beach to see and if you have heard anything about this infamous location, it’s probably true. Medical Marijuana vendors began setting up early, dressed in fluorescent green and toting large signs advertising their wares. Rastafarian music blasted from the speakers and they shouted to us to come ‘try it out’. As we continued, more and more vendors lined the streets. There were vagabonds, people rollerblading, skateboarding, cycling, tourists, locals, musicians, performers and psychics (I even went to one!). It was a sight for the eyes and a little overwhelming! The sun had come out by then and I felt so fortunate to be at this sunny little corner of the world with my favorite people.
The walking didn’t end there and we made our way to the other end of the beach, the Santa Monica Pier. The Ferris Wheel and Rollercosters loomed in the distance and soon, we were accompanied by more people heading up the stairs to get the pier. Children were running around, happy carousal music played over loud speakers and the smell of cotton candy and popcorn filled the air. My husband and mother-in-law made a bee line for the Ferris Wheel, but me, afraid of heights had to pass. I walked around the pier and people-watched, my favorite hobby. I do recommend even a quick visit to this iconic little place.
Abbot Kinney Boulevard
We took an Uber to Abbot Kinney from Santa Monica Pier as we had walked enough for the moment and were in need of brunch. I made a reservation at SaltAir and I am so thankful I did. The food was phenomenal and the place was perfection. The walls were painted white brick, with minimal white decorations adorned to it. Lush green plants lined the entrance and popped against the starkness of the room. The light wooden tables looked beachy and welcoming and the place was flooded with natural light. The menus come tied to a piece of wood with string to complete the laid-back vibe. As a semi-vegetarian, I know I will love a place when I have more than one option to choose from. I went with the Lobster Omelette and if you are ever there, you should as well. It was a French style omelette cooked to perfection filled with generous portions of Lobster, creme fraîche, spinach and herbs.
The small potatoes that came with it were immaculately seasoned and roasted and carried flavor for days. I chose a Napa Valley White and have never been happier. Everyone had a wonderful brunch from my mother-in-laws Croque Madam to my father-in-laws Bacon & Eggs. Our service was excellent and we didn’t wont for anything. It was a perfect segue to an afternoon of shopping on Abbot Kinney.
No wonder everyone in L.A. looks fabulous. The shopping is pretty amazing and there is really something for everyone. From soft organic cotton hoodies at Alternative to Guild, an eclectic mix of California and European chic. I bought a scarf from Scotch & Soda, an old favorite specializing in Amsterdam Couture. The street buzzed with hip young adults and modern families as window-shoppers and big spenders alike rubbed elbows on one of L.A’s most fabulous shopping streets. One of my favorite discoveries was TOMS Flagship store. They didn’t just sell their shoes, but they had a coffee shop inside as well with shoes lining the walls and shelves. Out back, they had a cool little oasis with faux grass and Adirondack chairs. Such a neat idea and worth popping in to see for yourself.
Brunch was not enough and we needed a small helping of local ice cream. Salt & Straw called out to us and although the line was long it went quickly. We tried the Avocado & Strawberry (and felt very healthy about it) and the Lavendar & Honey. Both solid choices though it didn’t look like you could go wrong whatever you chose. We wandered around a bit more as the sun began to set and made our way back to Santa Monica Beach to watch the sky change from blue to orange and pink. The Palm Trees were in shadows against the backdrop and their silhouette created a perfect frame in front of the sea.
I was craving authentic Mexican food and after searching every inch of Yelp for the ‘best’ in L.A., I came across Gualeguetza. Specializing in Oaxaquena cuisine and specifically, Mole. Their site is more easily named, ILoveMole.com. Reservations cannot be recommended highly enough. I called them about five hours before we went to dinner, at 8:30 on a Saturday night. When we arrived, they were telling people they were to wait one hour and a half for dinner. We walked right in and got a table in the back. Passing the cooks making the tortillas and the live band, we made our way to a cozy spot next to the fountain. This isn’t your run of the mill place where you get chips and salsa to start, you get chips and mole with cotija cheese. Red Mole to be exact or Coloradito. It is sweet yet savory and extremely flavorful.
The menu is extensive and the first page is dedicated to all their mole specialties. We all went for the mole and while it was delicious but the entree of only chicken with mole was a bit overwhelming. I recommend the Enchildas de Coloradito or ordering the Chapulines a la Mexicana if you are feeling brave. If you don’t know, those would be sauteed grasshoppers! Served with jalapenos, onions, oaxan cheese and avocado. Remeber this tip though-they offer valet parking for $3 and it is so worth it! We ended up finding a spot on the street but we would have saved a lot of time if we had known about it! It’s a unique experience that unless you go to that region in Mexico, you can only get in Los Angeles!
If you are heading to L.A. leave a comment and share your experience when you get back! Also hashtag your L.A. photos #wanderfullifestyle so I can see what fab things you have been doing!