Best of L.A.

Best Of 2017

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  • + West Hollywood (8)
  • + West L.A./Sawtelle/Brentwood (6)
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Best Of :: Hollywood/East Hollywood

Best Weirdo Glam Store: Glitter Death

Best Weirdo Glam Store
Glitter Death
Genevieve Marie

If you'd rather get mauled by wolves than go into an actual mall, Glitter Death is a unique alternative, a badass buyer's and browser's paradise hearkening back to the trash-tastic early days of Hollywood. Owner Rio Warner might be a stylist to the stars (Ariana Grande and Rihanna are among her clients) but her store caters to anything but mainstream pop style-mongers. Selling groovy vintage clothing and freaky fashion plus custom work for nine years now, she devotes a lot of space to alternative designers (Nikki Lipstick, Indyanna, Laser Kitten) and crazy accessories (giant pentagram earrings, hologram chokers, lip-shaped sunglasses, unicorn cellphone cases ... you know, the essentials). An impressive vinyl and retro rock tee selection, plus tons of art and ephemera ('90s Furby dolls, campy old signage), adds to Glitter Death's eye candy and must-have-it appeal. Collectors, young punks, glam-rats and normies looking for to explore their weirdo wild side will all find something to die (and sparkle) for here.

1443 N. Highland Ave., Los Angeles, 90028
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323-839-9872
Best Concert Venue in a Cemetery
The Masonic Lodge
Mathew Tucciarone
Dawes play the Masonic Lodge in September 2016

While the folks at Hollywood Forever are no strangers to promotion, with their popular outdoor movie screenings on the Fairbanks Lawn, the Masonic Lodge, a darkly ornate Spanish Baroque former Freemasons' meeting place just a gravestone's throw from the crypts of the famous, is now one of the most talked-about concert and cultural venues in town. In recent years it has hosted appearances by everyone from Dawes and Depeche Mode to Joyce Carol Oates and Roxane Gay (the lodge also hosts literary salons, in partnership with PEN Center USA). With its lugubrious trappings, it's a kind of Transylvanian Troubadour. Other recent performances have included Hurray for the Riff Raff, Ty Segall and Bad Religion's Greg Graffin. Lately more and more Southland concertgoers have awakened to this hip space, which may also have awakened the nearby dead.

6000 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, 90038
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323-469-1181
Best Magic-Themed Bar That Features Actual Magic
Black Rabbit Rose
Danny Liao

When the Houston Brothers closed down their restaurant/bar Butchers & Barbers last year to reinvent the space, it was safe to assume they would launch another themed bar — that's what twins Mark and Jonnie are good at, after all. Good Times at Davey Wayne's, Breakroom 86 and No Vacancy each have their shtick, and Black Rabbit Rose does, too: the whimsical world of old-school magic. Just inside its doors, a dimly lit, wood-paneled bar greets you with velvet booths and leather stools. Murals of magicians like Chung Ling Soo adorn the exposed brick walls as you munch on Chinese and Thai small plates (from next-door takeout window Crying Tiger) and sip craft cocktails. There's even a Zoltar fortune-telling machine in the lobby. But this is not just another "themed" bar. The other half of the building is the Black Rabbit Rose Theater, a small, speakeasy-esque showroom that runs a top-notch variety program showcasing burlesque, comedy and sleight-of-hand magic that will blow even the biggest skeptic's mind. Think of it as an intimate Magic Castle, one you don't need a membership to attend.

1719 N. Hudson Ave., Los Angeles, 90028
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323-461-1464
Best Porn Theater

A red-tiled, flashing vestige of Hollywood's seedier, stickier past, the Tiki Theatre is the best porn theater in L.A. by default. Alas, it is the last of a dying breed to exist within the city limits. Wedged between the darkened windows of a holistic health botanica and a 99-cent discount store, it is open 24 hours. For a $14 fee handed to the peevish cashier behind the bulletproof glass, you too can push through the turnstile and take a padded seat among the silent, silhouetted heads in a darkened theater. Admission pays for a four-hour stay, and judging by the smattering of theatergoers dozing in unseasonably warm flannel shirts — unroused by the muted chorus of grunts and groans from a speaker mounted on the wall — the Tiki could double as the city's best deal on a four-hour nap. Misspelled house rules prohibit drinking, smoking and unzipping. The XXX on offer here is a simultaneous double feature: one film projects on a drop-down screen, a second flashes on a TV in the corner, like keeping two tabs open on the browser. A furtive third drama plays out in the exits and entrances of the audience.

5462 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, 90029-2332
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323-466-4264
Best Dive Bar Makeover

Gold Diggers was transformed from creepy strip club to cool scenester hub earlier this year, but its owners have been relatively low-key about the takeover until recently, letting the space find its groove organically. Melanie Tusquellas (of the now-shuttered El Chavo) and Dave Neupert (Short Stop, La Cita, Footsies) have turned the once dingy and sad dive bar into a gilded grotto that spotlights the space's original allure; they stripped the walls inside to reveal gorgeous flocked wallpaper from decades ago. There's more to come at the legendary space, which once was home to Plan 9 From Outer Space filmmaker Ed Wood's studio, as its stretch of Santa Monica Boulevard evolves, possibly including recording studios and a hotel. The stripper pole may be gone but Gold Diggers still offers a unique mix of sexy, sketchy neighborhood ambiance enhanced by stiff drinks and hot DJs spinning everything from metal (every other Saturday) to international funk and disco (Fridays).

5632 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, 90038
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818-562-3062
Best Addition to L.A. Improv Scene
The Pack Theater
Karen Krantz

In July 2016, the Pack Theater opened on Santa Monica Boulevard with a seven-hour improv comedy marathon called Pack Con. It was the comedy school-slash-theater's big debut and it certainly was big, featuring legends like Bob Odenkirk and Adam McKay. Founder Miles Stroth, who studied under improv king Del Close, set out to open a theater that's set apart from iO, Second City and UCB by the specific lessons taught to students. Last year he said, "The [Pack's] underlying philosophy is that comedy should be constantly evolving. ... Take risks, be bold, be weird, be you and, whatever you do, don't be boring." From a patron's perspective, the theater has succeeded, with its schedule jam-packed with weekly improv showdowns and quirky monthly fare like Bill & Ted's Excellent History Report. The pay-what-you-can price structure is pretty bitchin', too.

6470 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood, 90038
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Best Late-Night Thai Food
Crying Tiger
B. Rodell

Despite the fact that Hollywood Boulevard is a place where many people find themselves stumbling around drunk late at night, until now we would have been hard-pressed to heartily recommend late-night food to help with that drunkenness. But all of that changed earlier this year when Crying Tiger opened a takeout window on the side of Black Rabbit Rose, the new nightclub from the Houston Brothers. Crying Tiger is operated by the same folks who own Luv2Eat Thai, one of Thai Town's best restaurants, and they bring the same level of heat and funk to the food here. For $9, you can get an order of drunken noodles that are exactly the sticky/sweet/spicy thing you need at 1 a.m. after a few too many Manhattans at Musso & Frank. Dumplings, fried rice and papaya salad are all excellent, cheap and fun to eat while standing on the sidewalk among your fellow revelers. If more of Hollywood was like this, we'd drink there far more often.

1721 N Hudson Ave, Los Angeles, 90028
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Best Cocktails
Musso and Frank Grill Critics' Pick
Musso and Frank Grill
Anne Fishbein
Staff at Musso & Frank's Grill

Runner-up: Harvard & Stone

6667 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles, 90028
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323-467-7788
Best Comic Book Store

Runner-up: Golden Apple Comics

7522 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, 90046
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323-851-7223
Best Hike
Runyon Canyon Park
Ryan Vaarsi/Flickr

Runner-up: Griffith Park

2000 N. Fuller Ave., Los Angeles, 90028
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323-666-5046
Best Movie Theatre
Vista Theatre
vpisteve/Flickr

Runner-up: Arclight Hollywood

4473 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, 90027
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323-660-6639
Best Music Venue
Hollywood Bowl
Paul R. Giunta

Runner-up: The Teragram Ballroom

2301 N. Highland Ave., Los Angeles, 90068
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323-850-2000
Best New Bar

Runner-up: ETA Highland Park

1800 Argyle Ave., Hollywood, 90028
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213-279-3534
Best Pizza
Pizzeria Mozza Critics' Pick
Pizzeria Mozza
Anne Fishbein

Runer-up: Casa Bianca

641 N. Highland Ave., Los Angeles, 90036
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323-297-0101
Best Public Pool
Hollywood Pool
Courtesy Hollywood Pool

Runner-up: Culver City Municipal Plunge

1122 Cole Ave., Hollywood, 90038
MAP
323-460-7030
Best Record Store
Amoeba Music
Ted Soqui

Runner-up: As the Record Turns

6400 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, 90028
MAP
323-245-6400
Best Theater Company
The Pack Theater
Karen Krantz

Runner-up: Santa Monica Rep

6470 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood, 90038
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