Best Of :: Melrose/ Beverly/ Fairfax
Best Place to Relax With Cats: Crumbs & Whiskers
Others might be nipping at its heels, but Crumbs & Whiskers, which opened in September 2016, was the first cat cafe in Los Angeles. Legend says the very first opened in Vienna more than a century ago, but in more recent times it was a phenomenon that spread from Taiwan to Japan and beyond. Full of hidey holes, shelves and comfy pillows, this place is perfect for hanging out with our feline friends, and there are fluffy mice and colorful things on sticks to tempt the kitties to come out and play while java and treats come from a store nearby. You're at their whim, of course (hint: come early or late to avoid the midafternoon snooze), and there are rules: Don't wake or pick them up, don't take flash photos, and don't feed them. The 75-minute sessions allow enough time to meet all the bow-tied four-paws here, so try to snag a spot on the white rug, as it seems to be the prime place for patting and petting. Everyone drags their heels when they leave, but if you meet a cat you just can't leave behind, you're in luck — they're all available for adoption courtesy of Karma Rescue.
Just when you think that zine culture might be poised for a major comeback, you go into a place like Family and find that it never really went away. Opened in autumn 2006, Family carries scores of individually designed, printed and packaged art zines reflecting the best and oddest of their creators' various intentions. Whether it's How to Talk to Your Cat About Abstinence; L.A. XXX, artist Sandy Kim's mocking mock-up of longtime L.A. scandal sheet L.A. X-Press; food-and-culture journal The Gourmand; or even books about zines such as Under the Radar: Underground Zines and Self-Publications 1965-1975, Family is staunchly, honorably devoted to carrying these zines that are in essence wild creative outbursts that were somehow lassoed and held down long enough to be Xeroxed, stapled and delivered to shelves. Zines have long been at the forefront of artistic movements, giving people on the brink of something fresh a place to develop their ideas, which they might have done in total oblivion were it not for the efforts of places like Family. The store also regularly rotates its stock of zines — if you don't pick up the one you want, you might never see another copy again.
Virtual reality has come a long way in the past few years, and now there's a growing bounty of experiences to try. The catch is that, if you want a highly immersive experience, you'll need high-priced gear, a powerful computer and a lot of space to move your physical body. That's where IMAX VR Center comes in. The virtual reality hub is a cross between a movie theater and an arcade. You buy a ticket to try a specific experience at a designated time. Inside the venue, you enter a cubicle-type area, suit up and step inside the VR world to play. IMAX's selection of VR titles includes works based on pop-culture mainstays as well as original pieces. Don't worry if you haven't tried VR before your trip; there's content designated for VR newcomers here, too. Come solo or bring friends; there are experiences for one person as well as for duos and groups.
Australia, you may have heard, is known for its cafe culture; its cities are full of sunny, casual spots that serve great coffee and creative breakfast and avocado toast by the ton. L.A. now has a cafe culture of its own that borrows a lot in spirit and taste from Australia (see: Sqirl, et al.), but the most accurate representation of that certain Aussie je ne sais quoi is Fairfax's Paramount Coffee Project. PCP is a true Australian import, having launched in Sydney in 2013. As with its Australian branch, the L.A. outpost offers coffee from a variety of roasters, with a focus on educating customers about different styles and regions. The food is mainly breakfast-focused, full of international flavors, with the odd grain bowl and salad thrown in for good measure. Is there avocado toast? You'd better bloody believe it, complete with hazelnut, Persian cucumber, chervil, lime and Aleppo pepper — smoked salmon and poached eggs optional. There's no Wi-Fi here, so don't go looking for a place to settle in and use as your office for the whole day, but PCP is a fantastic place for a casual breakfast or lunch meeting, and the gaggle of ridiculously attractive (mainly Australian) waiters and baristas is as sunny and friendly as the space itself.
Runner-up: Nancy Silverton, Osteria Mozza, Pizzeria Mozza, and chi SPACCA