Five Things to do in Hollywood (Because the Tourists Don’t)
High season in Hollywood doesn’t seem to ebb anymore. Come January, these days, it feels like there are as many people tromping off tour buses to stare at the stars on the sidewalk as there are in August. When it comes to seeing Hollywood like the locals, there are ways to avoid this slow-moving soup of humanity and experience the reality, and even charm (yes, it does exist), of the neighborhood.
Courtesy of Yamashiro
Finished in 1914 as a private residence and showplace, Yamashiro has been by turns mansion, boys’ military school, members-only club for golden age Hollywood elite, and finally restaurant and hotel. While the tourists will be a mile away at another high-end sushi joint on Hollywood & Vine, paying too much for an upscale name, you’ll be gazing at the koi in the garden pond, mixing nicely with the Hollywood Hills set. If nothing else, head up for a drink and the vista. With its crowning location at the tip-top of the hill on Sycamore Avenue, it offers enchanting views of the Los Angeles basin.
1999 N. Sycamore Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90068
2. The High Tower Stairs
The Hollywood Heights micro-neighborhood of High Tower Court is perhaps best known for its role in the film The Long Goodbye. But for residents, it’s known as a serious workout. One of a handful of hill neighborhoods in Los Angeles inaccessible to cars, it’s a maze of walk-streets and stairs that the primary architect, Carl Kay, said was modeled after hillside-clinging Positano in Italy. Kay built the private elevator — the High Tower — circa 1920 because his wife got tired of climbing all the stairs. Tourists will be at Runyon Canyon, the park to the east, open to dogs, where it’s crowded, noisy with chatter, and smells of doggy waste.
High Tower Stairs
2178 High Tower Dr.
Los Angeles, CA 90068
3. Mashti Malone’s
Don’t let the questionable exterior of the grungy two-story strip mall scare you (it does most tourists), the ice cream is the thing for a hot day in L.A. Thirty years ago, when two Iranian brothers — one named Mashti — bought an ice cream shop on La Brea called Mugsy Malone’s, but couldn’t afford to replace the whole sign, Mashti Malone’s was launched. With flavors like Saffron, Orange Blossom with Pistachios, Lavender, and Rosewater, it’s a local favorite for a cool taste of the Middle East.
Mashti Malone’s Ice Cream
1525 N. La Brea Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90046
4. Tiago Coffee Bar
Courtesy of Tiago
All right, you will find a couple of tourists in Tiago Coffee Bar + Kitchen. But they’re only the Europeans who’ve sniffed out the best coffee in the neighborhood, perhaps all of Los Angeles. Owned by an Argentine who really knows his beans, Tiago prides itself on handcrafted, authentic coffee, often in the European style, that comes in appropriate sizes — usually one. Even a regular cup of joe is made to order, so don’t be impatient. But do try a cappuccino: one of the best outside Italy.
Tiago Coffee Bar + Kitchen
7080 hollywood Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90028
5. The Musso & Frank Grill
Courtesy of The Musso & Frank Grill
The lack of tourists in Musso & Frank on an average night is perplexing because of its location (since 1919) right on Hollywood Boulevard. Perhaps because it’s on the end of that famous street that caters to the local nightlife crowd and not the busloads of tourists down the boulevard staring at the Chinese Theater, it’s essentially a neighborhood hangout. It has seen every incarnation of Hollywood, both the neighborhood and the “biz.” You can still sit in Charlie Chaplin’s favorite booth and watch — discreetly — as modern A-listers slink in through the back door. Much of the staff have worked there for decades. See if Manny will make a martini for you at the bar; just don’t ask him to shake it.
The Musso & Frank Grill
6667 Hollywood Blvd.
Hollywood, CA 90028
The High Tower Stair climb, beginning at the corner of
Camrose Drive and Highland Avenue.