City Portrait

L.A. Hot Spots with Southern Flair

Searching for Southern soul in La-La Land

>City Portrait: Los Angeles, California

Where to Eat & Drink

Blacktop Coffee
West Virginia native Tyler Wells—formerly of Handsome Coffee Roasters, a cult favorite on the L.A. coffee scene—is gaining big fans by thinking small. His 250-square-foot, European-style espresso bar in downtown’s Arts District is a hopping neighborhood hub where patrons order “whites” (cappuccinos and lattes), “blacks” (shots and Americanos), and “chocolates” (mochas) from the tiny drink menu, and spill out onto the sidewalk to perch on clusters of stools. Hungry? Order the avocado toast or poached eggs. On Fridays, try the Guerrilla Tacos truck parked out front.—blacktop.la

Bludso’s Bar & Que
Third-generation pit master Kevin Bludso made a name for himself at his no-frills Compton storefront Bludso’s BBQ, with real-deal Texas-style barbecue cooked low and slow over a mix of mesquite charcoal and apple, pecan, and red oak. In 2013, he opened this dressed-up version of the classic joint closer to Hollywood, complete with a full bar. Eliminate hard choices and order the Bludso’s Tray. It comes loaded with brisket, ribs, pulled pork, and chicken and standout sides that would do his Texas Granny proud.—bludsosbbq.com; barandque.com

 

 

The appetizer selection at Hatchet Hall.

photo: Amy Dickerson

The appetizer selection at Hatchet Hall.

Hatchet Hall
From the Southern-accented menu down to the antique lighting fixtures, farm tables, and taxidermy wall mounts, this newly opened and beautifully appointed Culver City restaurant reflects chef Brian Dunsmoor’s Georgia upbringing. His seasonal SoCal interpretation of modern Southern cooking includes such dishes as a succulent pork chop from San Diego heritage pig breeder Oliver Woolley, served with redeye gravy and creamy white grits. If it’s after 8:00 p.m., retreat to the Old Man Bar, where the sophisticated cocktails are a worthy attraction all on their own. Careful, though: The booze-heavy concoctions, such as the Julep No. 1, made with rye, cognac, Cynar, Amburana cachaça (a Brazilian spirit made from sugarcane), and mint, pack a wallop.—hatchethallla.com

HomeState
Betting she wasn’t alone in her longing for Austin, Texas–style south-of-the-border eats, Briana Valdez opened this bustling café three years ago in the hip Los Feliz neighborhood. The masses of hungry diners who start queuing up early for migas and breakfast tacos served on homemade flour tortillas along with cups of Austin-roasted Cuvée Coffee prove Angelenos know good Tex-Mex when they taste it.—myhomestate.com

Sea bass crudo at Little Beast.

photo: Amy Dickerson

Toast of the West Coast

Sea bass crudo at Little Beast.

Little Beast
Georgia native Sean Lowenthal left the high-flying kitchen at the Sunset Strip’s fabled Chateau Marmont hotel in 2012 to forge a decidedly more down-to-earth path. The result is this low-key neighborhood restaurant in Eagle Rock, serving eclectic comfort food that subtly hints at the chef’s Southern roots. Sate your burger craving or savor farmers’ market–inspired veggie risotto from a seat on the charming wraparound porch, which takes full advantage of L.A.’s hospitable climate.—littlebeastrestaurant.com

Little Jewel of New Orleans
The surrounding streets of Chinatown suddenly feel a world away when you step through the doors of Little Jewel. At Marcus Christiana-Beniger’s bustling New Orleans–style grocery store and deli, you can peruse an ample selection of hard-to-find Louisiana pantry staples, but the real draw is the oyster po’boy, which, let’s face it, can be tricky to pull off beyond Pelican State borders. Paired with an Abita root beer, Christiana-Beniger’s ten-inch rendition, on crusty New Orleans bread, is transportive.—littlejewel.la

Maple Block Meat Co.
Adam Cole spent time living in Texas, North Carolina, and Georgia. The common thread? Barbecue. Later, he studied whole animal butchery at the L.A. specialty meat market Lindy & Grundy and honed his smoking techniques under Ken Hess at the Greenbrier in West Virginia. Hence he doesn’t adhere to any one particular regional style at Maple Block. There are pork spareribs and sliced turkey breasts, but his smoked brisket using Southern California peach wood has quickly become the barbecue talk of the town.—mapleblockmeat.com

Odys + Penelope
North Carolina–raised Quinn Hatfield and his wife, Karen, said so long to white tablecloths when they shuttered their Michelin-starred fine-dining restaurant in 2014 to open Odys + Penelope. A Brazilian churrasco, a smoker, and an open grill anchor the space, turning out tender maple-and-rosemary-glazed Niman Ranch pork ribs and smoked lamb lettuce cups with green hummus, pickled onions, and yogurt. But if you order only one thing, skip right to dessert, where Karen works sweet magic on next-level treats such as a velvety chocolate meringue pie with a heaping scoop of homemade coffee ice cream and cornmeal ricotta fritters with salted honey butter and whipped crème fraîche.—odysandpenelope.com

The poolroom at Seven Grand.

photo: Amy Dickerson

Southern Comforts

The poolroom at Seven Grand.

Seven Grand
Any L.A.-bound whiskey hound will swoon at the sight of the hundreds of labels that fill the shelves at this downtown drinking den owned by Cedd Moses, one of the city’s cocktail pioneers. Serious brown-water geeks should head for the not-entirely-hidden entrance (hint: look for a light switch) to Bar Jackalope, the backroom saloon where eighteen exclusive seats guarantee access to the rarest of bourbons, ryes, Scotches, and Japanese whiskeys.—sevengrandbars.com

Lemonfish poke at Son of a Gun.

photo: Amy Dickerson

Lemonfish poke at Son of a Gun.

Son of a Gun
Since switching coasts, chefs Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo have been building a tasty seven-restaurant empire, starting with the much-lauded Animal. The fish-camp-inspired Son of a Gun hews closest to their Florida upbringings but also takes the creative leaps the duo is known for, with a seafood-centric menu full of bold flavors and multicultural influences. The pot of mussels comes in a Koreatown broth with country ham and kimchi. And the shrimp toast is laced with hoisin, herbs, and sriracha mayo—Angelenos do love their sriracha.—sonofagunrestaurant.com


Where to Shop

Bar Keeper
That cocktail devotees and bartenders now have a temple of their own in which to worship is a credit to Austin, Texas, transplant Joe Keeper—yes, that’s his real name. Located in the Silver Lake neighborhood, his one-of-a-kind shop stocks an extensive selection of new and vintage barware, obscure spirits, and a dizzying array of bitters.—barkeepersilverlake.com

Hammer and Spear
At Kristan Cunningham and Scott Jarrell’s stylish Arts District boutique, you can get the same layered—edgy but approachable—look that earned Cunningham her own design show. Stockpiling a singular mix of furnishings, artisan-made accessories, and well-worn finds, the pair are known to pick up unusual treasures, from midcentury lighting to cast-iron hardware, on road trips through their native West Virginia and neighboring states. Rare is the estate sale for which they won’t brake.—hammerandspear.com

Fresh blooms inside Suzanne Rheinstein's elegant shop, Hollyhock.

photo: Amy Dickerson

Golden State Style

Fresh blooms inside Suzanne Rheinstein’s elegant shop, Hollyhock.

Hollyhock
Legendary interior designer Suzanne Rheinstein’s charming greenery-covered shop in the La Cienega Design Quarter is an urban oasis of graciousness and civility. The New Orleans native oversees this West Coast source for pedigreed antiques and traditional furnishings, which can be hard to find out here. She forgoes of-the-moment trends in favor of a curated selection of art, furniture, rugs, and other home goods that spans locales, eras, and styles.—hollyhockinc.com

Stag
High and low. Vintage and new. Cary Grant and Willie Nelson. For the guys behind this Austin-based men’s store—which injects a dose of contemporary Texas influence into Venice’s retail scene—modern masculine style is a study in contrasts. Inside the 1920s brick building, you’ll find everything from plaid button-downs and rugged outerwear to sport coats and oxford dress shoes. You can also pick up vintage textiles, local artwork, and apothecary essentials—for the bearded and the not.—stagprovisions.com


What to See & Do

The Bluegrass Situation Monthly Brewgrass JamBrewgrass Jam
On the first Tuesday of each month, you’ll find a passionate group of L.A.-based mandolin, Dobro, and fiddle players burning up their strings at Chloe’s, the backroom bar at Golden Road Brewing. The Bluegrass Situation, the music promotion outfit cofounded by Atlanta-raised actor and musician Ed Helms, hosts the free jam sessions. Show up with your banjo in tow, or just sit back and enjoy the show.—Dobro, and fiddle players burning up their strings at Chloe’s, the backroom bar at Golden Road Brewing. The Bluegrass Situation, the music promotion outfit cofounded by Atlanta-raised actor and musician Ed Helms, hosts the free jam sessions. Show up with your banjo in tow, or just sit back and enjoy the show.—thebluegrasssituation.com

The Broad
Whether you call its architecturally innovative digs the Cheese Grater or the Honeycomb, downtown’s newest cultural institution is stealing the spotlight in a city full of stars. Founded by philanthropists Eli and Edythe Broad, the museum is built around the couple’s significant collection of contemporary art in various media. Its inaugural exhibition includes examples from such modern Southern masters as Jasper Johns, Cy Twombly, and Robert Rauschenberg.—thebroad.org

 

The lunch crowd at Grand Central Market.

photo: Amy Dickerson

The lunch crowd at Grand Central Market.

Grand Central Market
This historic downtown landmark’s ongoing makeover honors the 1917 food hall’s past while revitalizing its present to reflect the evolution and diversity of L.A.’s culinary culture. Its new tenants include Wexler’s Deli, Micah Wexler’s traditional Jewish-style sandwich shop, and Sticky Rice, which serves Thai comfort food made with California ingredients. Kevin West, a food preservation expert, journalist, and cookbook author from Tennessee, is the co–creative director of the team leading the hall’s revamp, and he’s not finished yet. Up next: District Market, which will sell sustainably grown produce, and Bar Moruno, which will add live-fire Spanish cuisine to the mix.—grandcentralmarket.com

 

 

Mar Vista Art Dept.
Embracing the best aspects of DIY and indie craft culture, this hybrid creative studio and retail space offers a collection of old- and new-school items that range from men’s and women’s clothes to flea market furniture finds to handbags and jewelry. Customers can also get their hands dirty at regular in-house workshops. Indigo Dye Nights allow participants to stain pillowcases, bedsheets, clothing, and curtains in the Southern hue.—mvartdept.com


SEE MORE: NOTABLE SOUTHERN-BORN ANGELENOS


Where to Stay

The Chapter 4 guest room at Hotel Covell.

photo: Amy Dickerson

The Chapter 4 guest room at Hotel Covell.

Hotel Covell
A hotel inspired by a fictional character? Of course L.A. would have one. Meet George Covell: a made-up writer who leaves Deer Creek, Oklahoma—his creator, hotelier Dustin Lancaster’s actual hometown—in search of a new life. The five-room, stunningly designed “micro-hotel” opened in Los Feliz in 2015 in the space above Lancaster’s Bar Covell. Each room’s unique interior—dreamed up by designer Sally Breer—attempts to relay the narrative of Covell’s life; Chapter 3, for instance, imagines his time in a compact but luxuriously appointed Paris apartment.—hotelcovell.com

Palihouse Santa Monica
The 1927 Mediterranean Revival building oozes period charm. Exposed beams and whitewashed walls with warm touches of pink, navy, and mustard yellow make each of the thirty-seven rooms feel like your very own coastal cottage. It’s the perfect base from which to explore Santa Monica’s beaches and pedestrian-friendly commercial districts, and—for the road-trip-inclined—the Pacific Coast Highway.—palihousesantamonica.com


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