Aaron Rose's Guide to LA
Artist Aaron Rose navigates Los Angeles—a seemingly endless sprawl of restaurants, chaos, bars, museums, beach, mountains, and people in their cars—with classic sophistication. You may have seen him, in a button down and glasses (find some unparalleled pairs here), enjoying a studio break lunch at Musso and Frank.
He’s lived and worked in the city for years and has pinned down a succinct, playful, and thoughtful list of places that he frequents and loves.
Whether you’re planning a visit to Los Angeles or live there, we’re honored to introduce (or remind you of) a few fabulous, hidden gems in the city. Slip into your favorite shades—it’s almost always sunny in Los Angeles, and enjoy your adventure.
Here, the best of Los Angeles, according to Aaron Rose.
Musso and Frank
The Musso and Frank Grill has been a Hollywood stalwart since 1919. From the beginning, Charlie Chaplin was an early regular. In the ‘20s and ‘30s, it wasn’t uncommon to see Greta Garbo and Gary Cooper enjoying a leisurely breakfast together or to see Humphrey Bogart having drinks at the bar with Lauren Bacall.
In the ‘50s, Hollywood legends like Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, and Steve McQueen could be found enjoying drinks and appetizers in Musso’s famous Back Room. Even Groucho Marx, with his incredible eyebrows, was often there.
Reading glasses still on? Good—you’ll love this: F. Scott Fitzgerald, William Faulkner and Raymond Chandler were almost always at the hot spot. Fitzgerald would proofread his novels while sitting in a cozy booth at Musso’s. Faulkner met his mistress of 20 years here, so if you’re looking for your other half, this may just be the place. T.S. Elliot, William Saroyan, Aldous Huxley, Max Brand, John Steinbeck, John O’Hara and Dorothy Parker were usually found at the bar.
One Trick Pony
One Trick Pony is a new gallery founded by writer Arty Nelson under the direction of Christie Hayden. Rose loves to attend openings, and has been in the art scene for ages—so when he’s into a gallery, it’s not to be missed. One Trick Pony is a fantastic place to view the works of new, undiscovered, and hot artists.
Into pinball and beer? Walt’s Bar is a new-ish neighborhood spot in Eagle Rock that calls itself an arcade bar. Don’t worry, it’s not an arcade bar. Rather, it’s a retro dive that has a bright row of pinball machines in the back. The crowd is bustling and there’s a light night menu—it’s a great place for guys night out. Most of the pinball cabinets will set you back just 50 cents per play.
Every now and then, the games will rotate from the trio’s collection of two hundred or so cabinets, and every Wednesday at 8PM the bar hosts a tournament night: $5 buy-in and winner takes all. Grab a beer or a glass of wine from their collection of California reds, whites, and rosés, and pinball the night away.
On the hunt for some amazing wardrobe staples? Meet Greenspans, which is located in South Gate. Greenspans is an adored and venerable neighborhood hotspot that’s known for its selection of Pendleton shirts, straw hats, and men’s dress shoes. It’s a total classic men's clothing that’s brimming with treasures and essentials from 50's, 60's, and 70's. It’s known to be, "The last original clothing store." Greenspans has been family owned and operated in Southern California since 1928, which is a rarity in the city.
Clark Street Diner
It’s a sunny morning in Los Angeles. Looking for a brown leather booth to snuggle in to as you enjoy two eggs, sunny side up with bacon, and a hot cup of coffe? Sometimes a diner meal is just the ticket, at Clark Street Diner is a new and fantastic place to have this very experience.
The new diner replaced Hollywood’s beloved 101 Coffee Shop, which closed last January. The diner comes from owner Zack Hall, the mastermind behind Clark Street Bread.
The vibe is old school diner. Warm, friendly, neighborhoodly. What can you expect, food-wise?
Traditional diner-style items—pancakes, waffles, breakfast sandwiches, eggs, hash browns, and french toast. It being located in Los Angeles, most of the items are comprised of beautifully-sourced, high wuality ingredients such as organic eggs and Hobbs’ bacon.
For a casual lunch, get the arugula salad and a lox plate. On your way out, stop by the larder, where you can grab essentials like fabulous SALTS, raspberry jam, hand soap, almond milk, tea, and vegan yogurt.
The Underground Museum
Into secret gardens, fantastic art, and community? Us too. Founded by artists Noah and Karon Davis in 2012, The Underground Museum (The UM) is an arts and culture center that’s planted in four converted storefronts in Arlington Heights. They bring art experiences that are traditionally reserved for major institutions to diverse audiences, at no cost.
The Underground Museum is a thriving cultural hub that makes it so that no one has to travel outside the neighborhood to see world-class art, or to learn from innovative thinkers, educators, chefs, and artists. They even offer free yoga and meditation classes to our neighbors, and provide fresh food for adults, kids, and families in their hidden gem of space space and garden.
Think of it as family X friends X nature X art. It’s very LA, in the best way.
Think ridiculously strong martinis, crimson booths, shrimp cocktail, classic cuts of steak, and dim, romantic lighting. Built beside the world-famous Warner Brothers lot in Burbank, California, The Smoke House is a beloved hang out for Los Angeles locals, actors, producers, and other members of the industry. Get dressed up, head to Burbank, and order a briney martini, the artichoke, a classic wedge, and a great steak or salmon. It’s a great, romantic spot for date night, for dinner alone at the bar, with friends, or for work dinners. Think of it as your neighborhood spot that’s far away.
Carter-Sexton art supplies
Rose is an artist, and this is his favorite spot for paints and other supplies. Founded in 1944, the family-owned Carter Sexton Artist Materials is Hollywood's premier art supply store.
The store always has artists working here. The staff is like one big family who always does their best to find whatever you’re looking for.
It’s an old school, beloved, and reputable source of art supplies. Get your supplies and then head to Musso for a pre-painting lunch. You may just run into Rose.
Inhale the sweet scent of salt water and feel the warm sun and breeze on your face as you enoy gorgeous treasures from the sea.
Located in gorgeous Malibu, Reel Inn is a classic fish shack that’s loved for their fresh, flavorful seafood and the California casual setting. Get the lobster—or whatever your heart desires—and perhaps a side of the famous cabbage slaw, and settle in for a breezy, playful lunch. The seafood is fresh, delicious, and clean, and it’s a great LA experience. It’s worth the drive west.
Hollywood Toy & Costume
Whether you’re looking for a halloween costume, an outfit for a party, a selection of items for an art project or event, or just want to poke around a bizarre and fabulous store, look no further than Hollywood Toy & Costume. For over 70 years, the store has catered props, oddball knick knacks, and costumes to tourists, locals, talk shows and movie studios. It’s a fun place to visit, and you never know what you’ll find.
So there it is—Hollywood and beyond—at it’s finest, according to Aaron Rose. Drizzle a few of these stops into your Los Angeles itinerary, and you’re in for a series of treats.
Written by Alexandra Malmed for SALT.