For some, The Grove is a manufactured retail wonderland that epitomizes everything thats wrong with L.A., but we still cant help feeling like a kid at Disneyland when we go there. Its like the Magic Kingdom and the Third Street Promenade rolled into one, but The Grove is a tourist trap we dont mind getting caught in. Sure, the train that runs through it is a cheesy trip to nowhere, and its way more old-school cool to hang at the adjoining Farmers Market eating fish and chips with the elderly Jewish ladies, but sipping wine by the dancing waterfall fountain after a movie or a bit of shopping is an absolutely lovely way to spend a warm weeknight (weekends are a bit too crowded). The two restaurants that bookend the outdoor malls main courtyard, La Piazza and Morels, serve flavorful Italian and French (respectively) edibles and have surprisingly good wine selections. While the medley of stores offers nothing you havent seen anywhere else Crate & Barrels earthy-swanky house stuff, Forever 21s throw-away trendoid fashion, the omnipresent Apple Store dropping cash here isnt just about the merch. In fact, The Groves Apple Store is quite the social swirl. While recently in the colorless asylum nabbing some accessories for our iBook, we ran into a singer-songwriter pal, a goth-dance-club promoter and a pro-marijuana activist we interviewed a few years ago all within 10 minutes. Third St. at Fairfax Ave., L.A., (323) 900-8080.
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