This must be Larchmont

This is the L.A. neighborhood you want to cheat on your own neighborhood with. There are, as there always is with philandering, many reasons you may find yourself stepping out on your own ’hood. Maybe it reminds you of your very first neighborhood, with its Main Street, Anytown, USA, feel. Maybe it’s you know, convenient and uncomplicated, the accessible, shoppable equivalent of hooking up with a hometown honey in the big city. Larchmont never asks too many questions, Larchmont makes you feel seen. And, most of all, good old familiar, reliable Larchmont, even when it changes its look or tries to get fancy, always seems to have what you need — even when you don’t know you need it.

I say this as one of those cheaters. Even though we broke up almost two decades ago when I moved a few miles west (why is it always west?), it’s still where I go to get my prescriptions refilled, have my eyes checked and score the occasional slice of practically perfect pepperoni pizza (from 27-year neighborhood fixture Village Pizzeria). Maybe I’m holding on to those as some sort of cover, plausible deniability for when I eventually get caught. If and when that happens, I will explain (there is always a good explanation) that you’d forgive me, sympathize with me even, if you really knew this neighborhood the way I did, knew the things that shaped it, that made it what it is today.

Let’s start with the boundaries; according to The Times’ Mapping L.A. project, Larchmont proper is bounded by Melrose Avenue to the north, Western Avenue to the east, Beverly Boulevard to the south and North Arden Boulevard to the west. The heavy concentration of shops and cafes clustered on the stretch of Larchmont Boulevard and First Street that tugs at the hearts (and wallets) of folks from all over the city is known as Larchmont Village and is — wait for it — actually located in the neighborhood of Windsor Square. And it is mostly (but not exclusively) here that I’ve focused my efforts in this guide.

Get to know Los Angeles through the places that bring it to life. From restaurants to shops to outdoor spaces, here’s what to discover now.

The look and feel of the boulevard can be traced back to 1921, after Los Angeles extended the trolley system to the Hollywood Mineral Hot Springs at Larchmont Boulevard and Melrose Avenue. That’s when developer Julius LaBonte saw commercial opportunity and laid out the business district roughly the way it looks today, with the Los Angeles Railway’s Yellow Cars line running down the middle of the street flanked by stores (and a few second-floor offices). Bounded by Hollywood to the north and Paramount Studios nearby, the neighborhood was an occasional bit player itself, serving as a backdrop for movies featuring the likes of Buster Keaton and the Three Stooges, the latter of which, according to a 1985 story in The Times, “careened down the boulevard in their Model A’s, weaving precariously among the power poles.”


Swap the Model A’s for Range Rovers, Teslas and the occasional Toyota Prius — all with their hazard lights blinking — and you’ll get an inkling of what this neighborhood’s one big problem is today: traffic. Having taken shape over a century ago, the Larchmont Village stretch of Windsor Square is ill-equipped to handle the influx of car-driving folks drawn to its nostalgic charms (of which there are many). It’s not a parking problem, though, it’s a people problem, because there’s a three-level, 167-space, city-run underground garage (at 218 N. Larchmont Blvd., right next to the Rite Aid) that’s rarely at capacity — even when cars clog the median end to end, lights flashing as their occupants dash off for a cup of coffee or an unusually large cookie, and other automobiles circle like hungry vultures looking for a tell-tale reverse light.

But forewarned is forearmed, so if you’re headed to this ‘hood to check out some of the recommendations below (and you really should), either plan on parking on a side street (and read the signs) or aim your wheels for the lowest level of Lot 732.

Either way, rest assured that, if I see you walking the streets of Larchmont, your secret is safe with me.

What's included in this guide

Anyone who’s lived in a major metropolis can tell you that neighborhoods are a tricky thing. They’re eternally malleable and evoke sociological questions around how we place our homes, our neighbors and our communities within a wider tapestry. In the name of neighborly generosity, we included gems that may linger outside of technical parameters. Instead of leaning into stark definitions, we hope to celebrate all of the places that make us love where we live.

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Hands holding bagels above paper wrapping on a wood table
(Shelby Moore / For The Times)

Start your day with the best of everything at Sam's Bagels

Windsor Square Bagels
No one would fault you for starting your day at the BOBP (Big Obvious Bagel Place) at the top of the block, with its slick, streamlined ordering system and standard-issue bagel and schmear offerings. But if you resist the urge to take the easy path and head further down the pedestrian-heavy, car-crowded block — a little less than halfway to 1st Street, to be precise — you will reach the door of this blink-and-you’ll-miss-it, hole-in-the-wall, no-nonsense bagel shop. Inside, your quest for quality carbs will be rewarded by huge, fluffy discs of dough that hold their own against any bagel in the city.

I’ve never sunk my teeth into a Sam’s bagel I didn’t like, but my go-to is something I’ve dubbed the “everything, everywhere all at once”: a toasted everything bagel with light everything cream cheese. I watch the man behind the counter brandish a pair of tongs, fish my bagel from the glass case beneath the counter and send it back to the kitchen. I do not know, but heavily suspect, some unseen hand furiously whips a handful of bagel-bin detritus — castoff sesame seeds, poppy seeds, flakes of onion, garlic and salt — into a good-sized dollop of low-fat cream cheese and uses it to spackle two toasted bagel halves back together.

They say you can’t have everything. They are wrong. You can have everything. And you can have it for breakfast.
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People seated and standing inside a coffee shop
(Shelby Moore / For The Times)

Buy some magic beans at Groundwork Coffee

Windsor Square Coffeehouse
Larchmont Boulevard has no shortage of caffeinated options to choose from, whether you’re looking for a smaller craft cafe experience (like Bricks and Scones or Go Get Em Tiger) or prefer one of the bigger names (a Starbucks and a Peet’s compete for attention barely a half dozen doors apart). But this 34-year-old, L.A.-based organic coffee company’s Larchmont outpost is the only place in the mix to grab a bag of the most magical beans this side of a fairy tale.

That bag is labeled Bitches Brew (named after a Miles Davis album) and the locally roasted Arabica beans inside are dark and oily and strong enough to power a city block. They yield a smoky sip with hints of caramel and chocolate that makes mornings (even Monday ones) worth getting out of bed. Sure, you can buy a bag of these giant-slaying beans at some local grocery stores, but here it comes with a free cup of coffee. It also comes with the option to double down on the flavor profile thanks to a couple of food items — a hearty sandwich or a hash — made with Bitches Brew-braised short ribs (trying saying that five times fast).

Magical beans indeed.
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A green table holds various Chinese dishes
(Shelby Moore / For The Times)

Impulse shop for Sichuan comfort food at Suá Superette

Windsor Square Sichuan Grocer $$
The interior of this grab-and-go Sichuan superette is the architectural equivalent of a palate cleanser; spare, mostly empty, with a few wooden stools clustered around a couple of barely leafy potted trees stretching toward the exposed wooden beams. Like a well-executed magic trick, the space momentarily steals your focus from the stars of the show, which you’ll find along one wall. The first is a refrigerated case full of freshly prepared packaged Chinese food — kung pao chicken, forbidden rice salad, vegan mapo tofu and the like — all made with organic local produce and sustainable meat. It is from this brightly lit case that I recently snapped up a whole shrink-wrapped rotisserie chicken and a container of cold soba noodles with napa cabbage and a sidecar of sesame dressing. (Both were delicious.)

If this is as far as you make it — especially on your first visit — you’ll leave happy. But to truly make the most of your visit (this one or the next — because there will be a next), check out the second star of the show, the jarred Fly by Jing condiments lined up on the spare wooden shelves a little deeper into the store. While Times Food columnist Jenn Harris confesses a weakness for the Chengdu Crunch, I’ve got a jar of the Sweet & Spicy Zhong sauce in my fridge at all times. Whether you grab one of those or another option, rest assured it’ll pair perfectly with whatever you’ve plucked from the gleaming display case. How do I know? Because the brand’s founder, Jing Gao, is one of the partners in the space, along with fashion and beauty content creator Stephanie Liu Hjelmeseth. Now that’s superette synergy.
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A red-haired woman buys citrus fruit from a woman at a farmers market stand.
(Shelby Moore / For The Times)

Soak in the scene and snap up organic goods at Larchmont Village Farmers Market

Windsor Square Farmers Market
You have two chances to stroll the cluster of tented stalls in the parking lot here: Wednesday afternoons from 1 to 5 p.m. and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The former is less crowded and more manageable, the latter is a full-on, jam-packed, people-watching, produce-palooza scene that routinely attracts some of the freshest veggie vendors and worst parking behavior in the city — cars pulled into the median with impunity, hazards lights flashing, you get the picture. So, if you must discharge your farmers market business on the weekend, gird your loins and brave the madness. (Pro tip 1: Most of the Sunday vendors seem to be up and ready for business a good 20 minutes or so before the scheduled start, so go on the early side. Pro tip 2: Save yourself a headache and walk if you live close enough or park somewhere other than the block of Larchmont Boulevard north of 1st Street if you don’t.)

My weekly must-visits include Dry Dock Fish Co. (for salmon and trout), Mom’s Products for all manner of Mediterranean dips (the tomato garlic dip has some punch) and Frecker Farms (certified organic Brussels sprouts, a head of butter lettuce). After that, I wander, bumping into old friends (who, more often than not, don’t live in the neighborhood either) and listening to the steel drum stylings of musician Prince Bernard, who has provided the Sunday soundtrack from a stretch of sidewalk here for the better part of two decades.
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A blue and green dinosaur and kids clothing on a rack outside a store
(Shelby Moore / For The Times)

Score the perfect present for the gift-worthy kid in your life at Flicka

Windsor Square Clothing store
If there’s a gift-worthy baby, toddler or preschooler in your life, you already may have experienced this delightful kids’ shop that’s been a fixture on Larchmont Boulevard for more than 30 years. If you haven’t, go now, because those deserving little ones won’t be little forever. Case in point: owner Kristen Sato, whose mother opened the Dutch doors of this children’s clothing and toy boutique in 1992 and passed it along to the next generation two decades later.

Sato estmates that 80% of her boutique’s business is gift-related and says that among the brands customers are currently making a beeline for are Esme (darling allover-print pajamas), Rowdy Sprout (vintage rock ’n’ roll T-shirts for tykes) and Spanish kids’ brand Mayoral. (She also said “anything slimy and squishy” seems to sell well, including “slime and stress balls.” Make of that what you will.) A fairly recent addition to the offerings is a rack of vintage denim — with options for both children and adults — that you’ll find just inside the front door to the left, which means you can snap up a tiny Morado Designs T-shirt emblazoned with “Larchmont is my happy place” and a pair of well-worn kids’ Levi’s and have the cutest-ever mini-me moment in the bag. (Or gift bag, as the case may be — they’ll gift-wrap your purchase gratis, complete with a spray of dried flowers.)
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People walk in front of a store.
(Shelby Moore / For The Times)

Find the best potions, lotions, oils and grooming tools at Larchmont Beauty Center

Windsor Square Beauty Supply
Potions, lotions, soaps, salves, creams, oils and pastes; if it gets slathered or lathered on your skin, hair or nails, you’ll find some high-quality version of it crammed onto the glass shelves of this shop that’s been a presence on Larchmont Boulevard since Fred and Sharon Cohanim opened the doors in 1992. “We want to carry a few of the best of every product,” Sharon said about the shop’s merchandise mix, which is delightful but borders on overwhelming.

Looking for a tube of fancy toothpaste? There’s cult Italian brand Marvis shelved next to an Ayurvedic herbal toothpaste called Auromère. Restocking your suncare products? Your options range from $3.99 Sun Bum lip balms to $74 tubes of Murad Resurgence. The men’s offerings are particularly noteworthy here: high-end shaving and skincare products by Proraso, Geo. F. Trumper, Truefitt & Hill, Anthony and Caswell-Massey. There’s a particular focus on all things haircare here too. In addition to an on-premises hair salon (in the back), there’s an entire wall devoted to row upon row of bins and shelves filled with brushes, clips and combs. If you’re in need of something to tame, trim or pluck your plumage, there’s a quality tool for it in the mix, from the Mason Pearson hair brushes to the handmade Kent combs to the German-made Solingen grooming tools.
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A potted pant on a shelf under wall displays in a store
(Shelby Moore / For The Times)

Bag your new favorite outdoorsy carry-all at Topo Designs

Windsor Square Outdoor gear
I’ve been a fan of this Colorado-based outdoors company for a long time, so I was stoked to find out that its first standalone SoCal store had opened here just a few months ago. Leaning heavily into the mountaineering vibe, its hard-wearing bags are both for the peak-scaling sort (backpacks and expedition bags) as well as those who climb the mountains of everyday life (trail-worthy daypacks, briefcases and laptop cases).

The bag that put Topo Designs on the (topographical) map is called the Rover Pack, a strappy, buckle- and loop-festooned backpack that almost makes you want to take a hike, but you’re likely to find a bag that strikes your fancy even if all you’re toting is toiletries, photo gear, diapers or dirty laundry. The bags I have the most experience with are the accessory bags, envelope-sized zippered nylon pouches that are a household favorite for stowing the cords, plugs and other tech tethers of our modern world. In sum: If you’ve got stuff, Topo has something outdoorsy to stuff it in.
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Three young girls sit on stacked-box seating sipping boba tea at Boba the Great.
(Shelby Moore / For The Times)

Sip what generation alpha is all about at Boba the Great

Windsor Square Boba Tea
What I know about bubble tea can fit snugly inside a single one of those tapioca spheres, but after my Windsor Square bestie told me how much her two boys (a teen and a tween) — not to mention the rest of the neighborhood kids — loved it, I decided to pop in and bubble up. As I waited for my drink to be made, I watched a trio of Girl Scouts, fresh off cookie-table duty, chat animatedly with their parents, baby brother and each other about the season’s sales so far (better than last year, but not as good as pre-pandemic, they said) before jabbing the outsized pearl-sucking straws into the plastic-sealed cups of pearl tea almost in unison, each with a satisfying snap. As another family with preteens in tow ambled into the shop, I realized I was watching coffee-shop culture on training wheels.

When the boba barista (bobista?) handed me my drink — the signature milk tea (black tea, milk, boba and house-made brown sugar), I followed the Girl Scouts’ lead and jammed my straw in with a satisfying pop. As I took a deep pull of the sweet elixir, a half-dozen pearls tumbled into my mouth. This generation might just be on to something.
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People standing and sitting outside Larchmont Wine Spirits & Cheese
(Shelby Moore / For The Times)

Order the No. 4 sandwich at Larchmont Wine, Spirits & Cheese

Windsor Square Deli Cheese Shop
Enter, hang a left and head toward the display case filled with cheese. Wait patiently. (You will almost always have to wait. Patiently.) Watch the sandwich makers behind the deli case make magic, slicing and assembling and wrapping. When it is your moment, step forward and order with conviction. You want the No. 4. You will give other sandwiches on the list a try, but you will always gravitate back to the No. 4: a roast turkey breast sandwich with Gruyère cheese, mixed greens, tomato, sundried tomato spread, extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar. You will think (but only briefly) of changing the natural order of things by omitting or adding something. But you will not. You will order your sandwich on a baguette (not the ciabatta). When you are handed your sandwich, wrapped tightly like a freshly swaddled newborn, you will thank them. And then you will proceed to the cash register, where you will be offered two tiny, plastic condiment cups. One contains cornichons. One contains salty black olives. You will take both. You will pay the man behind the register and then walk out the door. Later, when all that remains is an empty husk of oil-stained deli paper and a few olive pits, you will know exactly why you always order the No. 4.
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People sit on benches and play on playground equipment in a small park on a sunny day
(Shelby Moore / For The Times)

Pay homage to a shaper of local green space at Robert L. Burns Park

Windsor Square City park
This delightful, gated green oasis at the southwest corner of Beverly Boulevard and Van Ness Avenue isn’t just a respite from the snarled traffic of Larchmont Village, or a place to picnic, or walk your dog or use a few fitness machines — though it is definitely all of those things. It’s also a wholly appropriate homage to a man who helped shape the city’s recreational green space — the park’s namesake, Robert L. Burns, who served on the Los Angeles City Council before becoming a member and president of the Board of Recreation and Park Commissioners.

A metal plaque set into a boulder in the park notes that the city acquired the property in 1957 and dedicated it as a memorial to him in 1959. It’s not far from a picnic pagoda and a fenced-in area featuring a few pieces of children’s playground equipment. A meandering, roughly semicircular walkway around the perimeter and ample benches throughout allow you to explore the park at your own pace — as long as it’s between dawn and dusk. Outside of those hours, the gates are locked and its nature’s own. (Note: Since this is not one of the city’s designated dog parks, if you take Fido for a stroll, he needs to stay on leash.)
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Looking through a glass storefront into a shop where men are looking at clothes and items on shelves.
(Shelby Moore / For The Times)

Scratch your itch for guy gear at Wittmore

Windsor Square Clothing store
Wedged in between the Larchmont Mail Shop (a great, no-hassle place to get your passport photo taken) and Clark Street Bakery (top-notch grab-and-go bakery treats), the location of Paul C. Witt and Douglas Geller’s Larchmont outpost (they also have shops in Malibu and the downtown Arts District) is fitting. That’s because shopping the men’s apparel and accessories boutique is kind of like stamping your fashion passport or discovering a tasty (wearable) treat.

In the stamping-your-passport department, you’ll find chinos, corduroy trousers and overshirts from Paris-based gentleman-surfer brand Cuisse de Grenouille (Wittmore is one of only two U.S. stockists), leather goods from Florentine accessories maker Il Bisonte and Cableami’s handmade-in-Japan cashmere, cotton and linen beanies. Closer-to-home but equally transportative brands include Ohio-based Relwen (think hard-wearing flannel shirts and cargo pants) and old-school T-shirts from Velva Sheen (originally from Cincinnati, now based in L.A. if you’re checking your frequent-flier miles).

The tasty treats — and in this instance I’m referring to those fun little accessories a guy could live without but wouldn’t necessarily want to — are mostly on display in a glass case full of man candy front and center: solid-looking accessories from Craighill including brass ashtrays, keyrings, bookmarks and bottle openers, colorful bracelets by Roxanne Assoulin and subtle chainlink ones from Miansai.
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Hands hold up a paper cup with two scoops of gelato and a spoon
(Shelby Moore / For The Times)

Taste the local farmers market in frozen form at Bacio di Latte

Windsor Square Ice Cream Shop
I do not come by recommending you get your frozen-sweet-treat fix here lightly, since both Jeni’s and Salt & Straw have scoop shops on the same block, and the latter has long been the only place that scratches the flavor itch for this former Ben & Jerry’s scoop-shop employee.

But when I stepped inside and cast my gaze upon the tall glass case full of freshly made gelato (the chain prides itself on making its product fresh each day in each shop), all that frozen-dairy anxiety melted away like a single-scoop cone in a hot car. Inside lay long narrow tubs of the stuff, each easily as long as a fully extended adult arm and as beautiful as an Arctic landscape. Some tubs resembled flash-frozen ocean waves, their peaks studded with flotsam of crumbled biscotti, brownie chunks or shards of dark chocolate. Others were as placid as ice-covered lakes, one dusted with crushed pistachios, another stippled with hazelnuts. And yes, it turned out to be as pleasing to the palate as it was to the eye.

Although the 24-flavor lineup varies (thanks to seasonal options and occasional new flavor drops), the Larchmont shop is one of two locally (the other is in Brentwood) that churns up a different Farmers Market Special each Sunday that uses at least one main ingredient sourced from a farmers market vendor. On a recent visit, for example, the result was a Belgian chocolate and orange flavor made with Arnett Farms’ orange jam. As if you needed another reason to swing by the crowded street on a Sunday.
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A woman and a little girl look at books at a low table, with bookshelves behind them
(Shelby Moore / For The Times)

Have a human help you find just the right thing to read at Chevalier's Books

Windsor Square Book Store
Chevalier’s Books would merit inclusion here for longevity alone — it lays claim to being the oldest independent bookstore in Los Angeles, dating to 1940 when Joseph Chevalier opened his doors in the neighborhood as a lending library. But you’re not coming here to soak in 84 years of history (though you’ll find that — especially if you look at the framed vintage book cover posters hanging just above the top shelves), you’re coming here for books. Or, more accurately, the kind of help finding books that the Amazon algorithm would be hard pressed to compete with.

Like the young parents who wandered in on a recent Sunday and casually asked a fellow shelving books: “Do you know how many books there are in the ‘Amulet’ series?” Before the last syllable was even uttered, the bookseller was off like a shot, walking, talking and motioning toward a rack of books all at the same time.

“There’s nine,” he said. “The ninth one just came out and if you buy it here, in person [the shop also sells online through], you also get a print!” He punctuated this shared knowledge by holding up, with all the flourish of a bookstore magician, a copy of “Wave Rider: A Graphic Novel” by Kazu Kibuishi.

And while you can certainly find almost anything (books or otherwise) online with a few clicks of a button, the joy here is finding things you weren’t looking for at all, like “The Cookie That Changed My Life” (by Nancy Silverton with Carolyn Carreño) three cookie-lengths away from a book about basketball fashion (“Fly” by Mitchell S. Jackson) a basketball’s bounce away from three books about mermaids (Anna Claybourne’s “The Mermaid Atlas,” “A Field Guide to Mermaids” by Emily B. Martin and an interactive, illustrated version of Hans Christian Anderson’s “The Little Mermaid and Other Fairy Tales”).

Throw in the shelf of eclectic staff picks, a robust calendar of events (think author appearances and bookbinding workshops) and a cozy kids’ reading nook that’s a welcome respite from the bustling boulevard, and you’ve got a must-visit that borders on can’t-leave.
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An assortment of yellow and beige stationery supplies at a store
(Shelby Moore / For The Times)

Score something delightful for your desk at Shorthand

Windsor Square Stationery store
Confession: I once arranged all the apps on my iPhone by color and it brought me great joy. I felt that same kind of joy the first time I stepped inside this stationery store and spied a large table merchandised entirely by color: mint green pencils, pencil sharpeners, pens, spiral-ring notebooks and even a pair of metal bookends on one side, forest green tape dispensers, mechanical pencils and notebooks on the other, with desk accessories in other gradations of green meticulously arranged in between. Nearby was another table stocked in a similar assortment but in various shades of yellow. This is apparently Shorthand’s thing, and while it’s not (currently) mine, something about this visual order in a world of desktop disarray pleases me greatly.

Another thing that pleases me greatly? The robust assortment of damn cute greeting cards, from birthday cards festooned with whimsical animals, flowers, rainbows or banjos (yes, banjos) to a clever congrats-on-your-baby card featuring a cartoon Bjørk in a swan dress (go ahead, think it through, I’ll wait), many of them letterpress printed by hand at the shop’s original Highland Park location.

If you’re familiar with this stretch of Larchmont, you might be saying to yourself, “Self, wasn’t there a perfectly good stationery store here before?” And you’d be right. Landis Gifts & Stationery — once my go-to for bespoke holiday cards — used to be located just a few doors away. The good news is, it’s still around, just about two blocks north.
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People around the front door and exterior of a white building with an orange awning.
(Shelby Moore / For The Times)

Grab some gourmet groceries at Cookbook Market

Larchmont Grocer Café Wine Shop
If you’d asked AI to create the perfectly quaint, all-in-one neighborhood market for Larchmont, the result probably would look a lot like this spot that’s taken up residence in a former Thai restaurant next to a dry cleaners just north of Beverly. And I mean that in the best possible way. Part of the Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo culinary empire (Son of a Gun, Jon & Vinny’s, Petit Trois and two other Cookbooks, one in Echo Park and the other in Highland Park), it includes a postcard-perfect, bordering-on-hyper-realistic display of produce that would be the envy of any movie set, a highly curated but still somehow impossibly wide assortment of grocery items (like 14 different vinegars, a shelf and a half of pasta and a dairy cooperative full of cheese options), bottles of wine and all manner of spices, sauces, nut butters, oils, condiments, accouterments and, yes, an assortment of cookbooks.

There’s also a coffee bar and a sit-down cafe (with a patio) here, though neither of those are particularly novel in this neighborhood. Which brings me to what makes this place worth visiting in the first place. While category-wise there isn’t much here that can’t be found elsewhere on the street, the variety is mind-boggling. So don’t be surprised if you stop in for a coffee drink and walk out with a hunk of beer-washed tomme from Vermont, a box of caramelized onion crackers from Wisconsin, a bay leaf wreath the size of a life preserver and a box of Jon & Vinny’s pancake mix for your troubles.

You’ve been warned.
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Two people walk in the parking spaces in front of Healing Hands Wellness Center in a small yellow building
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Get your knots kneaded at Healing Hands Wellness Center

Larchmont Massage
If you’re looking for a massage place that leans into the New Age aesthetic — canvas-tarp room dividers, walls filled with fiber art, a stack of crystals at the front desk — you won’t find it in this bungalow-like space that feels more like a private residence than the full-blown wellness center it is. What you will find, though, is an attentive staff and an assortment of acupuncture, chiropractic and massage services.

I’ve only availed myself of the last of those options, a few times back when it opened in 2003 and once again recently (it’s called research, people). Each time, I’ve left my 60-minute deep-tissue massage drooling and close to cross-eyed with relaxation. Most recently, a massage therapist named Taksina deployed the heels of her hands, fingers, elbows and what felt like a knee (or two) to knead the knots, pummel the pressure and coax every last coiled muscle in my back into submission. Pro tip: Plan your day (and book your appointment in advance online) so that you can roll right from the traffic-related tension of the lower boulevard into a session so that what happens on Larchmont stays in Larchmont — stress-wise, anyway.
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A hand shaves a cured egg yolk over a dish of panna cotta.
(Shelby Moore / For The Times)

Enjoy a Michelin-star meal solo at Kali

Larchmont Californian $$$
The timeline of epicurean greatness for this neighborhood restaurant wedged between storefronts for a frame shop and a wedding florist on Melrose Bouelvard includes 2016 (when it opened), 2018 (when it was reviewed by food god Jonathan Gold), 2019 (when it received its Michelin star) and the day you lift the first spoonful of meringue gelato to your lips in the final act of your first meal here.

But I’m getting ahead of myself, emphasis on the “self” part. Since there’s not much I can add to what’s been said — in the pages of The Times or elsewhere — about the upscale, California-leaning, fresh-as-a-spring-morning cuisine (besides to rave about it — and recommend the risotto), I’m singling Kali out as the perfect place for a party of one to enjoy some high-end dining without feeling as awkward as a vegan in a butcher shop. That’s because the Scandinavian-influenced dining room is small (2,000 square feet with seating for 65) and the long end of the L-shaped bar (which seats another 16) faces the bustling open kitchen. A single rider posting up at the bar will end their meal not only feeling well-fed but also taken care of. Seen.

Which brings us back to the end of the meal where I will, very much, weigh in. You might be tempted by the butterscotch panna cotta with its medley of pepitas and its cinnamon crumble, or weakened by the siren call of simplicity that is the cheese plate. But you must resist. You must order the meringue gelato. Because this dessert is more about what’s grated across the top of it as it sits in front of you by the man with a cheese grater in his hand. It is a dusty yellow disc that looks like a cross between a coin purse and an egg yolk. It is, in fact, an egg yolk that has been cured — in a little plastic container under the counter — in a mix of salt and sugar with a half dozen other egg yolks. The man who grated my yolk on a recent Sunday night was the chef himself, Kevin Meehan. As he grated yolk flakes across my gelato, he let me in on a little secret.

“This guy here pays the bills,” Meehan said. And as I spooned the first bite to my lips, it was easy to understand why: the sweet bite of the gelato mingling with salty, sweet umami of the cured protein that melted like snowflakes on the tongue. The best part was, I was here alone — and didn’t have to share it with anyone.
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