How to Hollywood

Breaking L.A. down by district, this week we start in…

“Xu Fangfang” Photo by Jonathan Kos-Read


There’s this beautiful image of Hollywood in my mind – one where Marilyn Monroe laughs into Cary Grant’s arms, and we all sip cocktails while listening to Sinatra. Then there’s reality, where the Hollywood sign sits on a hill overlooking an area drenched in seedy shops, tourist traps and a boulevard of broken dreams.

This, my friend, is a section of Los Angeles primed for gentrification. And that’s what’s happening. In the 80s and 90s, Hollywood was where you would go to get stabbed by your local heroin addict. Now, this comeback kid’s been making a slow conversion from a crime corner to a trendy nightlife scene as restaurant, shop and bar owners invest in properties throughout it.

Don’t let this throw you. There’s no such thing as a safe city… except probably in Sweden or something… I just want you to be prepared.


People tend to think that Hollywood is synonymous with Los Angeles, but it is its own distinct district.

The range of Hollywood I’m focusing on basically extends from La Brea to Western and roughly between Hollywood Blvd. and Santa Monica Blvd. I would call anything east of Western more “East Hollywood” if there is such a thing.

There are two main parts of Hollywood as I see it.

  1. Hollywood and Highland. This is the touristy section of town.
    1. Grauman’s Chinese Theater – The cement outside this landmark holds the handprints and footprints of famous Hollywood stars. I love walking around finding meaning in the fact that my hand size may or may not match Judy Garland’s. I see what I want to see.
    2. Roosevelt Hotel – It’s a trendy spot for young stars, who you can spot at the nightclubs and bars inside.
    3. Shopping – The boulevard is lined with popular retail stories, gift shops both large and small and also shady shops (housing sex toys and paraphernalia).
    4. The Hollywood Walk of Fame will take you right over to…
  2. Hollywood and Vine. This area has a bustling nightlife and great restaurants.
    1. My favorite restaurants are Umami Burger, Stout and Chipotle…I lost you there at the end. These places also all in my price range, though I’ve heard great things about Katsuya and Beso.
    2. The Piano Bar is my faves (yeah, I said it). They have live music every night, switching up styles between jazz, folk, bluegrass and blues. It’s small, but get there around 9 and you might snag a seat while they set up. Another place for live music is the Hotel Café. I’ve never been, but it’s on my list. Let me know what you think.
    3. Other popular spots are Hemingway’s, Outpost, and Supperclub. Just to name a few.
    4. The comedy clubs UCB, Second City, and Improv Olympic are all in this area. Some of the best comedians in entertainment come from these institutions. Mental, I know.
    5. The ArcLight Hollywood plays a mix of indie and mainstream movies. It’s a deluxe theater with a lot of history. Sometimes they have Q&As with actors and directors. There is also a bar inside. 
    6. Don’t forget Amoeba Records! Sometimes they have artists visit.
    7. For fun, go find the photo booth in Space 15 Twenty.


Rent is affordable as far as Los Angeles is concerned. Situated in the TMZ (thirty mile zone) means that it’s centered between all areas of L.A. I like this neighborhood because of the walkability. There is a lot of nightlife and activity to keep you and your friends busy. Despite what I’ve said, it’s generally safe. Just don’t be stupid.

Parking is parking. If you live in Los Angeles, you know what that means. If you don’t, it means that for guests it’s terrible – you, however, can get a city parking permit and a couple visitor passes and then walk to where ever. The 101 is the closest freeway. Remember that traffic in this area can be dense, but again, it’s L.A. When is it not dense?

Dean Martin

Next week I’ll be coming at you with another area. In the meantime, let me know if you have any questions! 🙂



7 thoughts on “How to Hollywood

  1. Joy Christi says:

    I’ve been in Hollywood once. A local took us through for a day walk, then we went to a nice restaurant and walked around after dark. It was a totally different crowd, let’s just say that. I was shocked by the appearance of people in the section we walked through, it was nothing like I pictured it. The Chinese Theater and that area was as I pictured it, must have wandered into a special section.

    Liked by 1 person

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