When traveling to Los Angeles, many immediate points of interests are obvious: perhaps a stroll past Mann’s Chinese Theatre, a visit to the Santa Monica pier, or a drive to find the best view of the often smog covered Hollywood sign. For those who prefer hidden gems to what’s typical, the Fairfax District is hiding in plain view.
Bordered by West Hollywood and Beverly Hills and stretching down to the Miracle Mile on Wilshire, the Fairfax District (also known by the inauspicious pseudonym Mid City West) may not necessarily invoke the glamour or glitz of its more famous neighbors, but intrepid tourists will find here numerous points of interests for any palette. Historically a Jewish district, Fairfax Boulevard is still home to a number of its original Jewish restaurants and businesses. More recently arrivals target hip twenty- and thirty-somethings, as well as young families, making Fairfax Boulevard one of the few places in LA where corned beef sandwiches and urban boutiques share a zip code.
Probably the most famous and popular business in the area is Canter’s Deli and Restaurant. The deli has been serving hot onion bagels with lox since 1948 and is the perfect place to start your day. The massive and cavernous restaurant is open 24 hours a day, every day of the year. This, of course, does not include Jewish High holidays such as Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.
If pastrami sandwiches or matzo ball soup are not exactly what tickles your fancy, there is an even larger array of food choices only a stones throw away at the Farmers Market. Established in 1934 by a group of farmers, The Los Angeles Farmers Market is one of the more lively locations in Los Angeles. With over 100 vendors offering goods and services in the market, there has to be one that could satisfy even the pickiest of eaters. The more popular amongst the numerous food stalls is Pampas Grill. The Brazilian stall almost always has a line of people milling around the stall awaiting their turn to order thinly sliced sirloin caps or garlic roasted chicken amongst other choices with the buffet styles sides of plantains or rice and beans.
Next, take the trolley or walk to The Grove located behind the market. This ‘Disneyland for adults’ is lined with a faux boulevard that leads to the shops like Crate and Barrel, the Apple Store, a musical fountain and little garden. The Grove offers Angelinos a place to shop, be seen and an opportunity to walk in this mostly car-centric city. This is also where one might see a number of familiar television faces, not famous enough to have paparazzi chasing after them but familiar enough to make one ask, “Who is that person and why do I know his/her face?”
Looking to add a little counterculture to your day? Then head over to Family; a small bookstore offering a variety of obscure and unusual selection of books, music and DVD’s. Here, one might find S.A. Harkham’s Poor Sailor or Ishiro Honda’s Matango: Attack of the Mushroom People. The bookstore also hosts events for those who are looking for independent and sometimes experimental music.
Fancy a French Moroccan dinner? Chameau offers a sleek menu ranging from Merguez sausages to lamb kefta and sides of vegetables and couscous. The restaurant atmosphere is modern with a punch of colors and Moroccan inspired patterns.
Next, head across the street for a drink at The Dime. Where else can you sip on strong cocktails while listening to the Pixies? One of the few LA bars that do not have a cover charge, The Dime is small, but rumor has it a number of annoying celebrity catfights have gone down here.
With a full stomach and a couple of drinks, it is now time to take a relaxing stroll back to your hotel room at the quirky Farmer’s Daughter. Looking through the gingham-curtained windows of your room, you think about where else you should go. Then you realize your day involved no more than 10 of Los Angeles’ thousands of blocks. There is so much left to explore.
What and Where:
Canter’s Deli and Restaurant (419 North Fairfax Ave; 323-651 2030)
The Los Angeles Farmers Market (6333 West 3rd St; 323-933 9211)
Farmer’s Daughter (115 South Fairfax Ave; 800-334 1658)
Family (436 North Fairfax Ave; 323-782 9221)
Chameau Restaurant (339 North Fairfax Ave; 323-951 0039)
The Dime (442 North Fairfax Ave; 323-651 4421)