Hidden Gems in the Westside of Los Angeles: Part 1

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Malese Jow and Austin Charles at The Mint | Photo courtesy of Justin Higuchi, Flickr

The Mid-City area of LA’s Westside is a treasure trove of art, culture, shopping and dining. The wide range of the area's multicultural residents is exemplary of what Los Angeles is all about - there are pockets and enclaves of each that contribute to the city's beautiful patchwork quilt. And while there's no shortage of museums to see, shops to browse, or restaurants to dine at, you may want to get to know a lesser-known dimension of this side of town. Whether you're a visitor or a resident, there's something new to be learned about this area at the center of Los Angeles.

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Photo courtesy of The Cinefamily, Facebook

The Cinefamily

The history of the Silent Movie Theatre on Fairfax, which dates back to 1942, would be just that - history - if it weren't for The Cinefamily, an organization that has restored the theatre to its present, post-silent-movie condition, complete with Art Deco furnishings and an average of 14 events per week. While members can attend any of them for free, it'll run non-members just $12 to partake in a screening - with some being attended by the director, himself. You'll love the camaraderie of many of the events, with film lovers brought together to enjoy all different genres across many eras in a decidedly social setting.

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Craft Contemporary

Seeking to debunk traditional perceptions of craft and folk art, the Craft & Folk Art Museum is a sight for the senses. Now over 40 years old, the museum showcases a diverse and rotating body of work of both established and emerging artists, making it accessible for adults and children alike to learn about art through gallery exhibitions but also interactive workshops and other educational programs. Be sure to check the calendar for current installations and upcoming workshops so you can make the most of your visit.

The Ebell of Los Angeles

The Ebell of Los Angeles

The Ebell of Los Angeles is a women's club, housed in a clubhouse with a 1,200-seat theatre on Wilshire Boulevard since 1927, though the club itself has existed since 1894. The building is named after Adrian Ebell, a pioneer in women's education, with the intent of furthering women in the study of all branches of literature, art and science as well as the advancement of women in every branch of culture. Amelia Earhart made her last public appearance here before her flight around the world, and Judy Garland was discovered here while performing as Baby Frances Gumm. Today, the beautiful Broadway-style theatre hosts a diverse calendar of music and musical performances, so be sure to check the schedule for a show that strikes your fancy.


This cozy taqueria on 3rd Street has one of the best tequila selections in all of Los Angeles. They also serve up freshly fried and completely addictive chips, salsa and guacamole in this charmingly red-hued, campy, narrow space often used in movie shoots. Pop in on their happy hour, Mondays through Fridays between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. for half-priced, strong Margaritas, which you might want to couple with a combination plate to share with your friends. Looking to sample tequilas? Try their tequila flights that comes in three tiers.

Jr. Suite

Short Stories Hotel

It's easy to miss the charming Farmer's Daughter Hotel, nestled in the heart of Fairfax with its adjoining restaurant, Tart. The hotel has been there since before the nearby Grove shopping center was constructed and many of the shops now on 3rd Street had appeared. Settle in to one of the 66 well-appointed rooms of this farm-themed boutique hotel before heading down to dinner at Tart, where you'll enjoy Southern-influenced fare. You might just come back for brunch the next day, which they serve every day until 4 p.m. on their endearing patio. After all, it's hard to resist bottomless mimosas, no matter what day of the week.

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Burger at The Golden State | Photo by Esther Tseng

Golden State

Located in the heart of Fairfax Village, The Golden State is a no-nonsense burger and craft beer joint dedicated to the quality of their product. There's something for everyone on a streamlined menu that includes Lets Be Frank hot dogs, sandwiches, fresh salads and a wide selection of draft beers and bottles from California and elsewhere. With beef and cheese sourced locally from Harris Ranch and Fiscalini Farms, you'll be tasting the best of what LA has to offer with each bite.

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Photo courtesy of Haifa

Haifa Restaurant

For reliably delicious Mediterranean cuisine in the Pico-Robertson corridor, look no further than Haifa. Also a popular delivery spot in the area, Haifa offers reasonably priced dishes such as hummus, tabouli salad, falafel, shawarma, shish kebab, baba ganush, stuffed chicken and more.

Malese Jow and Austin Charles at The Mint | Photo courtesy of Justin Higuchi, Flickr
Malese Jow and Austin Charles at The Mint | Photo courtesy of Justin Higuchi, Flickr

The Mint

Established in 1937, The Mint is an often overlooked music venue located on Pico Boulevard. You'll find a diverse calendar of live musical acts at The Mint, where you'll enjoy a chill, dining theatre-like vibe, which is only fitting because there's food - and of course, a full bar with some beers on draft - available along with your show. The kitchen is open until midnight for your late night grub needs.

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Anne Frank exhibit | Photo courtesy of Museum of Tolerance, Facebook

Museum of Tolerance

Opened in 1993, the Museum of Tolerance is a revolutionary collection of interactive exhibits across different media, intended to confront how we think and act towards others, challenging our most closely held assumptions, and inspiring us to assume responsibility for change. A recipient of the Global Peace and Tolerance Award from the Friends of the United Nations, the museum is dedicated to educating the public about the Holocaust both in its historical and present contexts and examining all forms of prejudice and discrimination in our contemporary world. Peruse the different exhibits, such as Simon Wisenthal's office in the Holocaust section, Anne (separate admission fee required, reservation recommended), the Tolerancenter and Finding Our Families, Finding Ourselves for maximum visitation benefit.

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Top Round Roast Beef | Photo by Esther Tseng

Top Round Roast Beef

This little orange and aqua stand at La Brea and Olympic serves up some of the best roast beef sandwiches in the LA area. Choose from a variety of combinations, with or without horseradish cream or "Cheese Whiz," and you'll be in a happy place in no time. Saddle that up with a basket full of dirty curly fries, a pistachio-strawberry milkshake and finish off with a frozen custard "concrete." Your meal is complete.

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Versailles on La Cienega | Photo courtesy of puregroove:dot:org, Flickr

Versailles - LA

Originally opened in 1981 by the formidable father-son team of Orlando and William Garcia, Versailles has become a Los Angeles landmark and expanded to five locations. The Versailles on La Cienega is indeed a gem. You'll love the huge portions of Cuban food at this small restaurant, with the most popular dish understandably being the pollo asado (garlic chicken). If you're feeling more like a sandwich at lunchtime, get the Sandwich Cubano (Cuban sandwich).