During these late November days, I find myself walking bacon-wrapped-hot-dog-smelling streets, humming “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of The Year,” but it has nothing to do with Christmas. It has nothing to do with overeating being socially acceptable for a few months or temperatures finally dipping low enough (this week aside) to comfortably wear more than a T-shirt without rage-demanding some AC, though these are very good things. No, I’m humming like the happiest of jerks this side of the San Gabriel Mountains because Thanksgiving brings with it the most striking seasonal change in Los Angeles: Starting this week, transplant Angelenos travel back home to spend the holiday season with their families of origin, leaving us born-and-raised City of Angels citizens with the very best version of our smog-induced-pink-sunsets hometown.
Gone are all the Hollywood hopefuls on flights back to Detroit and New Jersey with an arsenal of lies about how well their careers are developing. Gone are all the Silicon Beach newbies, Rick Caruso real estate wannabes and pasty Midwestern college students who clog our driving lanes and shopping aisles with their Pacific Ocean obsessions and food-truck dreams. Gone are all the headaches of existing in a city bursting at its bumper-smashing gridlocked seams.
Have you ever driven from West Hollywood to Staples Center in 20 minutes? Can I interest you in arriving right before an opening-night showing of PTA’s newest movie at the ArcLight with no seat reservations? How would you like it if I said every Whole Foods parking space from Silver Lake to PCH was yours for the taking?
Welcome to Thanksgiving in L.A. It’s the most wonderful time of the year.
The quiet calls for a nap, but there’s so much time off from work, I can finally do all the things I always wanted to when the city was packed. It’s time to live it up. It’s time to finally make that last-minute reservation at Felix, where I’ll eat more carbs in one sitting than the surgeon general suggests for a week. And I’ll be able to get into Felix because it’s Thanksgiving weekend. Thank you, L.A. transplants, for leaving to spend time with your parents who don’t understand why you’re still single. I’m going to eat mezze maniche alla gricia and tonarelli cacio e pepe while you’re home, not eating it. I’ll go on Resy and make this reservation and … it’s, um … it’s fully booked. Gotta be a mistake; it’s Thanksgiving in L.A. It’s the most wonderful time of the year.
Let me call.
Called. Not a mistake. They’re totally booked. No cacio for me.
Bestia? Bestia seats twice as many people as Felix and I rarely get to Bestia because who’s really making reservations that far in advance and it’s Thanksgiving in L.A., where the city is emptier than a KFC bucket on Air Force One after a Trump flight to Florida. No time for OpenTable or any other reservation app, so let me just call the Arts District real quick … and Bestia is booked as well.
But, let me tell you something, people: I climbed a basically desolate Runyon Canyon in record time earlier today — the hard route, not that easy paved shit — because it’s Thanksgiving weekend. It’s only us L.A. natives in the city. The real Angelenos. The ones that do not transplant! So, I call Jon & Vinny’s — and that’s no consolation prize, that’s top-notch, first-choice grub like my former choices and … nope, they got nothing. Then I call Madeo and it’s a nah from them, too.
Maybe it’s just Italian restaurants that are booked because that green, white and red flag cuisine is hotter than this unfortunate heat wave we’re currently living through. I try to call Mh Zh, but they’re so desperately hip they don’t even have a phone, so I check out the scene on some random Instagram live feed and I see people waiting in a fat cluster of a line for that Bub and Grandma’s seeded bread dipped in labneh and za'atar. It’s the most wonderful time of year in L.A. and our restaurants are so popular that losing a big fraction of population makes absolutely no difference. I’m equal parts proud and totally bummed, so I drive to Petit Trois where they don’t take reservations. There’s a line out the door of chilled-chablis-sipping L.A. natives just like me and I wait just as I would have a month ago; just as I should for an upper-echelon meal in one of the greatest food cities in the world.