Food & Drink:
Peace Pies (peacepieworld.com)
Lewis Barbecue (lewisbarbecue.com)
Leon’s Fine Poultry & Oyster Shop (leonsoystershop.com)
Charleston Farmers’ Market (charlestonfarmersmarket.com)
Sugar Bakeshop (sugarbake.com)
Bitty & Beau’s Coffee (bittyandbeauscoffee.com)
Callie’s Charleston Biscuits (calliesbiscuits.com)
Madison Mathews (madison-mathews.com)
Lily Charleston (lilycharleston.com)
Nathaniel Russell House (historiccharleston.org)
Unitarian Church Cemetery (charlestonuu.org)
Two Sisters Historic Walking Tour (twosisterstours.com)
We were so lucky to experience the kindness and generosity of the Cuban people. We went on self-regulated visas and were able to explore off-the-tourist-track and learn about the country but this is now in flux/part of a policy change. The future of American travelers to Cuba will require going with a tour group. Check current requirements before travel.
Freeway and surface-street traffic jams are no LA myth. So if you want to venture across town, you want it to be worth the travel time. From Koreatown to Westlake to Echo Park, here are a few worth-the-time-in-the-car culinary destinations.
This unassuming place packs a crowd for its signature dish, the popular Korean chicken dak galbi. Once you’re seated, oil is heated in the large cast-iron pan at your table. Food is layered in and stir-fried with a wooden spoon (boneless chicken pieces cooked in a savory chilli sauce with sweet potatoes, onions, tube-shaped rice cakes, cabbage and snipped perilla leaves, from the mint family) and served with kimchi. Half the fun is the anticipation–during the cooking time, fragrant steam fills the table. Order a refreshing Hite to ease the spice. Minimum order two servings.
On-the-scene: Groups of friends dominate the space.
Address: 1008 S. St. Andrews Place
Good to know: Free valet parking.
“World’s Best Pastrami Sandwich” is quite a boast. While we haven’t had the #19 ourselves, we are onboard with everything served by a dedicated staff at this much-loved Westlake institution. Since 1947 this Jewish deli has been serving up breakfast, lunch and dinner, including all things pastrami, corned beef, as well as matzo ball soup, blintzes and giant egg breakfasts. Rye bread, oversized jars of pickles and knishes available to-go.
On-the-scene: Weekday lunch diners starts early here. Expect the naugahyde booths to fill up by 11:30am.
Address: 704 South Alvarado
Good to know: Curb service available.
Fancied up grits. Eggs over easy. Piping hot coffee. Breakfast dominates here at this Echo Park spot. The patio (dog-friendly) is surrounded by one building to order food (wait for your coffee and take your number to your table) and another that’s the kitchen where friendly chefs prepare avocado toast, ciabatta french toast, wraps and burgers and hand deliver their dishes with pride.
On-the-scene: Bustling weekday dining complete with laptops, and “chill” power meetings kept us people watching while eating.
Address: 2100 Echo Park Avenue
Good to know: Mainly outdoor seating.
A short walk from Cannery Row (in the up-and-coming area on Lighthouse Avenue) this connected boutique/cafe is as far away from the tourist-wharf vibe as you can get. Lilify opened four years ago and is stocked with letterpress cards, soy candles, rustic ceramics, Milkhaus bags and a well-curated collection of jewelry. The small outdoor nook is dog-friendly and the perfect place to indulge in a crumbly blueberry scone and a pour over/cold brew served up by one of the friendly Bright Coffee baristas.
On-the-scene: In the midst of construction across the street and whizzing traffic, it felt like an oasis to find this lovely spot.
Address: 281 Lighthouse Avenue
Websites: lilify.com and brightcoffee.com
Good to know: Check out sister cafe, Cafe Lumiere, in Downtown Monterey.
Located in the heart of the town of Woodstock (a one-hour drive south of Albany), this is the go-to spot for a casual breakfast or lunch. Always bustling and with friendly service, the menu features healthful fare including vegetarian options like French lentil soup, Tempeh TLT, red quinoa salad and curried coconut tofu hash. Carnivores can indulge in the house-made brisket.
On-the-scene: We stopped in for bowls of soup on a chilly fall afternoon during the Woodstock Film Festival.
Address: 17 Tinker Street
Good to know: Breakfast served all day.
The Golden Notebook
A hub of the community, this independent bookstore has been selling since 1978. Sponsoring readings and events, including a holiday-time poetry scavenger hunt, the Golden Notebook goes beyond just selling. Doris Lessing would have been proud.
On-the-scene: I’ve been visiting since I was in high school and love that it feels the same, even after the ownership changed.
Address: 29 Tinker Street
Good to know: Perfect for uninterrupted browsing.
Perched over a small waterfall (pictured above) this boutique offers clothing made from all-natural fibers (designed by the co-owner) and a carefully curated selection of jewelry, home goods and bags.
On-the-scene: I made two trips in one day on my last visit.
Address: 8 Tanery Brook Road
Good to know: Locations also in Soho and Hudson.