Culver City…one of the many smaller, lesser known cities and neighborhoods that make up the greater Los Angeles area. Yes there’s Hollywood, its sidewalks dusted with stars, engraved with the names of those gone by, and its towering iconic sign. But Hollywood’s not the only town in LA that’s making dreams come true on the big screen.
Within the heart of Culver City sits the film lots of Sony and Amazon Studios, among others. But that’s not what we’re exploring in this often passed through city, nestled between the crashing waves of the west side and the hustle of Downtown Los Angeles.
We’ve come to dive into the food that makes this place so magical, take in some art, have a drink, and of course —grab a pre-roll or two.
HIGH NOTE WEST
We start at High Note West, a dispensary that makes a statement on today’s cannabis culture, simply by the way you enter the space. We walk into a small room, no bigger than a hallway. The welcoming staff checks us in, excited for what’s next. We’re directed towards a mysterious bookcase which, yes, you guessed it, doubles as the door to get in to see the goods.
Richard, the director of retail, tell us most of their customers come from the airport, and the High Note’s speakeasy vibe is a fun way to experience recreational cannabis that travelers may not have in their own state.
He speaks to the parallels between the prohibition era and today’s “behind closed doors” cannabis culture. While we know legalizing cannabis is the right thing to do, he says, the speakeasy entrance is a nod to that current political climate. We thank Richard for telling us about the store, grab some Spark pre-rolls and step out into the beautiful morning air.
Warm, the size of your head, piled high with goodness. That’s right, it’s that trendy toast craze, and at Lodge Bread, it’s not to be missed.
We’re not talking about that pre-sliced, thrown-in-your-toaster type of bread either. This is handmade and fresh baked on site every day. We opt for the “ace ranch” garnished with purple radishes, sea salt, and olive oil, as well as their ricotta and jam. And damn, it’s good.
After a few mouthwatering bites, we chat with Javier, one of the managers. He tells us how the place runs almost as two spots. The bakery, which kicks out 200 to 300 loaves a day, and their other half, a coffee, beer and pizza joint with a wood fire oven pressed against the window luring in passers by.
Javier tells us they follow the seasons, so their menu changes every four months with local and organic ingredients. The place is full of locals, some with their kids in strollers and a couple, limbs tied together in a warm embrace, sipping a beer with their morning pastries… Sounds like a perfect start to the day.
We jump onto the convenient city bikes that litter the street. It’s a beautiful sunny Southern California day and we feel the ocean breeze as we cruise down to check out FP Contemporary in the Culver City Arts District.
We meet up with their director Paul Dahmen; he takes us through the gallery that holds upwards of 5,000 artworks at a time.
“I sell art that people want to live with,” he says. And it shows.
The outstandingly beautiful and thought provoking pieces are just…cool, and would certainly be a talking point in any home.
Paul tells us about the various pieces and the masterminds behind them, but we gravitate toward a piece called “Genesis” by Phil Hawkins. Its array of color seems to shift as you walk past. And as you look closer, you realize that the piece is smaller on one side, making an odd play on your own depth perception. After some art taken in, it’s time for something to eat.
Snuggled in the historic Helms Bakery District between La Dijonaise Café and The Rug Warehouse, sits Pasta Sisters.
The streets of the Helms Bakery District have been closed off for people to stroll through, take in the town, find something new for the home, and snag something delicious. We find a table outside at Pasta Sisters and are immediately given a plate with fresh bread. Olive oil and balsamic vinegar sit on the table, eager to be poured onto the plate for your bread to take a swim.
First up, burrata atop pasta with pesto clinging to it, ready to be fork spun. The cold of the burrata paired with the warm pesto sauce creates a perfect harmony of cheesy, pasta goodness. Next up, the pappardelle Bolognese with thick, thick noodles in a meaty sauce. To round it all out, porcini mushroom gnocchi. Soft, deeply satisfying. It’s need-to-take-a-nap-after-this good.
After getting some carbs in, we cruise over to the Blind Barber. We’re not here to get a cut, but rather to grab something refreshing after our bike ride and mountain of pasta.
We walk in and to the naked eye, it looks like an old school barbershop. An aisle down the middle of the long room leading to the broom closet with big black barber chairs lined up on either side and people getting their haircuts, all while sipping on old fashioneds.
There’s no bar in the shop and yet everyone’s having a grand ol’ time drinking their perfectly crafted whiskey cocktails, so where’s the bar?
No one bats an eye as walk straight to the broom closet door at the back of the store. Turns out, that unsuspecting door leads us to a full on bar/restaurant cloaked as the storage closet.
We go with the bartender’s suggestion of the tequila-based Hot Heather cocktail. It’s sweet, with a spicy kick to it and a smooth finish garnished with a grapefruit wedge. Gotta admit…that’s a feel good drink right there.
As they say in the movie biz, that’s a wrap. Until next time Culver City.