Moving to LA. Which neighborhood for a Hound?
- abijah May 23, 2010 12:17 PM
This summer, my partner and I are moving to LA from Sunset Park, Brooklyn.
I don't know LA that well, so I've been having fun learning about the neighborhoods, and trying to decide where to look for a home.
I realized that many of our preferences revolve around food, so I thought I would turn to all of you for suggestions.
Non-food requirements: Under 30 min commute to Westwood. Two-bedroom apartment under $2000/mo.
Here are the food-related desires:
- Friendly, good coffee shop in walking distance (comfortable for sitting and reading/working)
- A neighborhood watering hole or two -- we prefer the quiet and friendly to loud and overcrowded.
- Tasty, inexpensive takeout
- Nearby variety of groceries (Whole Foods or TJs?)
- At least one very good, interesting restaurant (tasty and good, but not fine dining/expensive) that we're excited to take guests to when they come to visit.
Your thoughts? Los Feliz, Ktown, MidWilshire, West LA...?
We used to live in WLA near Westwood (near Santa Monica and Westwood), a 15-20 minute walk or 5 minute bike ride from Westwood Village. We found a 2 br for about $1600-1700, and liked the area quite a bit more than we thought we would (we're mostly east-siders). Philly West is nearby as a neighborhood bar and for their sandwiches / burgers, and it's not too bad a bike ride to the Daily Pint. Not the greatest takeout; Sunnin for Lebanese food is pretty good, and there's some so-so Thai places nearby.
Coffee places... so-so. There's a Peets on Westwood just south of Santa Monica; maybe a couple of similar places. Up in Westwood Village there are some more relaxed places, but I imagine the coffee is only so-so. Funnel Mill (in Santa Monica) is worth a visit, but not quite walking distance. There's a Whole Foods in Westwood Village, and the little Middle Eastern markets nearby are actually very convenient, and sometimes have some great deals. Also, the Wednesday and Saturday Santa Monica Farmers Markets are probably two of the best in the city.
Aside from the Persian places along Westwood, there's nothing super exciting as far as somewhat nicer places, but there is some good food around. Also, that area is very close to both Santa Monica and Culver City; since Westwood is a huge pain to commute to, I'd recommend living closer to work / school and then driving a little more when you want to eat something special.
I think Los Feliz is a great, really walkable neighborhood with a lot of what you're looking for. The commute could be < 30 min on a good day, but I think you'd be looking at 45 min more of the time.
930 Broadway, Santa Monica, CA
2310 Pico Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90405
In case you didn't know, Mitsuwa in Little Tokyo is gone. I think the Korean H-Mart chain took over the space.
In response to coffeebrownies:
For groceries, there is a Trader Joe's in Hollywood, 10 mins from DTLA on the red line subway (ultra convenient since you don't have to worry about parking). Not to mention the Little Tokyo Galleria Marketplace in Little Tokyo, which is excellent.
For movies theaters, the LA Live complex has movie theaters galore.
Regarding the statement that the "community shuts down" at night, here's an LATimes article that talks about downtown LA, which provides a different perspective about nightlife in DTLA:
I like both of these recommendations.
Literati is the coffee shop you want in West L.A. (Bundy/Wilshire). Bar Food is a fabulous hang for casual drinks. and 118 restaurants deliver to the area (90025)
The only two real problems with Westwood traffic are UCLA and the 3-year 405 fwy renovation. Your ability to stay OFF the freeway is key. And, traffic is always tolerable on Wilshire as long as UCLA is not in session (or god forbid, the president is in town. hah)
third the culver city area
less congested than westwood
FAR better traffic/air quality conditions than downtown
absolutely terrific choices for food locally and within EASY driving distance to all of the westside.
good freeway access (because, let's face it, if you are food adventurers you will be driving some of the time).
My vote is the Santa Monica/Venice area. A little more money but worth it and not just for the air quality.
Lots of Westsiders chiming in, which makes sense if you're commuting to Westwood. Agree that downtown, while great for all things food and culture, will be rush hour drag. I would allow 40 minutes for that trip. (of course on a Sunday morning it would be 15). Western Ktown would be a good eastside option. Definitely the most interesting food, especially if you love Korean. Loads of great Asian and Mexican food (taco trucks galore). But It may be more ethnic/urban than you're looking for if Whole Foods, TJ's, lattes, and martinis are your thing. Not sure what prices in West Hollywood are for 2-brs these days, but it would be close to Westwood and has loads of all that.
The problem I have with the general KoreaTown area is that traffic is a nightmare. If there were any part of town that I would implement a local mass transit program as well as levy stiff tolls on drivers, it would be this area. There is no easy way to get in and out of this area, if the Westside is the target. Relying on major boulevards around this neighborhood as pathways to and from is a date with insanity.
Thanks, everyone. This discussion is really helpful for me so far -- particularly the tip on Culver City (that hadn't really been on my radar, and now that I've looked into it, is intriguing) and the more realistic expectations of drive times. I think I've been way over optimistic on that one.
Perhaps even a bit cheaper than Culver City, but still a good location for restaurants in that area such as Father's Office, (a bar with great food), Fraiche, Brunello's, Akasha, Green Peas, Metro Cafe, K-Zo sushi, Sushi Zo, Gloria's Cafe as well as easy access to Westwood, Santa Monica, Marina Del Rey and Venice - is the Palms area...and they even have the new bricks and mortar place by the developer of the Korean taco/burrito truck, Chego on the SE corner of Overland and Rose.
10227 Venice Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90034
9824 National Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90034
11188 Washington Pl, Culver City, CA 90232
9543 Culver Blvd, Culver City, CA 90232
3229 Helms Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90034
9240 Culver Blvd., Culver City, CA 90232
4437 Sepulveda Blvd, Culver City, CA
3300 Overland Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90034
A lot of folks have you dialing on the Westside with good reason. Many have mentioned the air quality - mucho importante' in my book. The air in the LA basin can get downright nasty. The winds usually come from the west/northwest, so everything floating in the air eventually gets pushed to the east or through the passes. Sad but true for our fellow Hounds in those areas. If you can stay as far west of the 405 (San Diego) freeway, you'll be better off for this as well as much milder weather. It's not unusual for Venice or Santa Monica to be 73 degrees in the summer and Westwood to be 90-95 - add another 10 degrees in the valleys. Luckily, we don't usually have the humidity New Yorkers openly curse while sweltering in the subways.
Neighborhoods like Culver City (Downtown Culver City aka DTCC), Palms (Venice Blvd, DTCC, Overland, National and Motor aves), West LA (Santa Monica, Wilshire, Sawtelle, parts of Olympic and Pico, Westwood Blvd), Brentwood (San Vicente, Barrington), Santa Monica (Main St, Wilshire, Montana), and Venice (Abbot Kinney, Main Street) (Mar Vista starting to get clusters of walkable eats as well) have Chow-worthy areas that are conducive to walking, biking or a short ride. West LA would probably be your best bet for commuting to Westwood, since the two communities are next to each other.
I'm not so hot on Westwood - it's really crowded; although Westwood Village is very pedestrian-friendly, it's really busy most of the time and most eateries don't rate high on the Chow scale. Westwood Blvd to the south of Wilshire is good, but not enough to make me want to live there, given the minuses. The weather is pretty bad in the summer, and Sepulveda and the 405 belches exhaust and heat 24/7 down Wilshire.
Something to also consider if you're looking for an apartment. Some of these apartment neighborhoods can be awful thick with buildings, cars, people and dogs - I mean really dense. Unlike New York, folks here and their cars are attached at the hip. We tend to take our cars almost everywhere. This means everyone coming home has to park their car somewhere. Newer apt bldgs are required by code to have a certain ratio of parking spots to the number of bedrooms, but he older ones don't. If you and your partner are planning to each have a vehicle, please ask about assigned parking. Otherwise, finding parking can be a real hassle. Having friends over can be a logistical nightmare. Just something else to consider.
Please join us in Park LaBrea--or the neighborhood surrounding us. We tuck our cars away on Friday and pull them out again on Monday am. Farmers Market is our home away from home--for coffee, doughnuts and frequently lunch and dinner as well. If the 10 minute walk is too much, there are two little coffee places inside Park LaBrea. We can walk to Ralphs (supermarket), Whole Foods and even Trader Joe's (although a car is a little more practical for bringing home the heavy groceries!). We also walk to Little Ethiopia on Fairfax, all of the restaurants on Third, (like Joan's on Third) and Animal and Canters on north Fairfax. On days when I work from home, I saunter over to Wilshire to check out the lunch trucks for lunch. There is free jazz across the street at LACMA on Friday nights. I work in Westwood--and it is 20 minutes going in the am (there are some back routes) and about 15 minutes coming home. There is also an express bus that goes from Wilshire/ Fairfax to Wilshire/Westwood, with only a few stops (so you can pretend to be living in a city that actually has useful public transportation).
Little Ethiopia Restaurant
1048 S Fairfax Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90019
As a current Culver City resident I'm biased to the CC but as a former Brooklyn resident for the first 25+ years of my life I'm going to agree with the above poster. Can't vouch for Park La Brea but when I moved out to LA I ended up nearby along third street between the Beverly Center and the Grove. You've got two easy malls in walking distance, the shops and restaurants along third and beverly, bars on La Cienga and Fairfax plus a walkable distance to both grocery store you want and a Ralphs as well. As far as I'm concerned Third St is the closest you're find to good NYC neighborhoods in LA. Once I got used to LA and things like having a garage and a yard became more important than having a takeout place and a bodega on the nearest corner I moved to Culver City which has a lot of what you're looking for a well.
Downown, Los Feliz and Ktown are only going to be under 30 mins commute to Westwood when you get really knowledgeable about the drive and learn the shortcuts. I wouldn't recommend either if commute time is a concern.
If this is just for "the summer" camp out in Westwood. If a pemanent move, keep in mind that young unattached people move every 6-12 months around here. So you can try different things. The Culver City/Mar Vista/Palms suggestion is a good one if you don't want to do too much driving. OTOH, if you're young, can arrange to get to work early and leave early or stay late, downtown (or nearby Silverlake/Los Feliz/Echo Park) is where lots is happening. If you haven't got the beach out of your system, you need to do some time on the Westside. In that regard, another choice is Venice or the Ocean Park area of Santa Monica. Welcome. Now, start figuring out where the best burger/pizza/burrito/pho/sushi etc. is. You are in the game.
sawtelle! 2 miles from westwood, surrounded by tjs, and whole foods. has japanese market, tons of japanese restaurants. rent not crazy, not too far from santa monica. can be 30 minutes to an hour depending on traffic to downtown l.a. though.
If great eats are key, I'd dig out as many Jonathan Gold reviews as I could that targets the restaurants in Culver City, Mar Vista, West L.A. (east of Bundy only), and maybe as far east as Pico/Robertson, but that might be pushing it at rush hour. Whether through Chowhounds or JG, you'll find between a zillion and a gazillion great eats and it will take a while before you're bored. Of course this holds true for many of the different areas in L.A.
I'm in Northeast L.A. - love it, love it - but IF commute is paramount, I wouldn't recommend NELA or any area that's more than 15 minutes from Westwood NON-rush hour - because your travel time will double to triple during rush hour. Which is why I think even Pico Robertson might be a push during rush hour. I've been away from the Westside for almost 20 years, so I'm also not sure how realistic your rent desires are for WLA.
And this one's for Westsidegal:
"it has taken me 40 minutes to get from one downtown location to another downtown location at rush hour." I was about to say the same thing about going from the beach to Ocean Park during rush hour one spring. And that was more than 15 years ago...
that information you cite may have occurred 15 years ago, but the situation is the same or worse today.
three months ago i needed to get from the western part of santa monica to the intersection of santa monical bl. and sepulveda at rush hour. it took MORE than 40 minutes.
this demonstrates how important it is, for quality of life, not to sign up for an awful commute if you can avoid it.
that said, if the op ended up living in palms or culver city, even at rush hour, getting to and from westwood would be more than workable AND op would have proximity to a TON of terrific restaurants (even at rush hour).
I'm in complete agreement. I only wish Palms & Culver City was a culinary hub back when I was living there 30 years ago. I remember Versailles when it was only a single storefront in the building it now has taken over. Sigh...
I don't want to hijack the thread on non-food stuff, but this is for the OP: the Westside vs Downtown (or Pasadena, Northeast L.A., etc) trade off is clean air vs. horrible congestion. Which makes living near where you work vis a vis the Westside all the more important. And you'll still have great food options.
I live in Silverlake and am very partial to it. There are several very good coffeehouses nearby, at least one really excellent restaurant - barbrix - as well as a number that will do (El Cochinito has among the best Cuban food in the city.) It is near a Trader Joe's, Gelson's in a pinch and best of all an easy drive to A-Grocery Warehouse (excellent Asian market), Super King (all sorts of stuff, a lot of Middle Eastern, Armenian) and a very good branch of Super A Foods (Mexican and Latin American.)
It is also very centrally located for easy and quick freeway access to the San Gabriel Valley and East Los Angeles - the centers of Chinese and Mexican food; and close by surface street or freeway access to Thaitown, Koreatown, Hollywood, West Hollywood, Little Tokyo and Downtown. In all, you can probably hit 80 percent or so (arguably more) of L.A.'s very best restaurants and markets of all types, within a 25 minute drive of Silverlake or Echo Park. Anywhere west of about LaBrea Avenue means that you will spend a whole lot more time stuck in traffic and a lot more time getting to any good food other than high end American and European.
I recommend Toluca Lake. It's near Universal City, and Burbank in the San Fernando Valley. Great place to live. There are many restaurants on Riverside Drive which is the main street. You can walk to Starbucks or Priscilla's Coffee House which is my favorite. There is a Trader Joes on Riverside Drive. There's also a great French Bakery & Restaurant. Many writers, actors, producers live in Toluca Lake. Ex. George Lopez, Andy Garcia, Jonas Brother , Miley Cyrus Family among others.
Google Toluca Lake, CA. I lived there for 18 years.
In regards to DTLA, there is no TJ's. It wouldn't be safe walking at night in DTLA, Skidrow is blocks from the lofts. From the list that you gave, Los Felix would be good, however, getting to Westwood would be challenging. You would have to take mostly streets.
737 E Valley Blvd, San Gabriel, CA 91776
I work with a guy who lives in Toluca Lake. We work in the Westside. He's had countless opportunities to work closer to home. He confides in me that Toluca Lake is nice, but one just can't match the weather and air of the Westside. To him, he gets the best of both worlds. His commute is more merciful. He gets on the freeways before 6AM and returns for home about 6:30-7PM. So for him, it works.
I love the general San Fernando Valley and its adjacent communities for its casual feel, lots of friendly neighborhoods and ethnic eateries. Lots of places representing the Middle East, Latin cuisines, and delis fortify the tons of eateries covering the long stretch of Ventura Blvd. Just about every category of food can be found out here. The streets are broad as are the homes. In general, it's pretty hard to feel crowded in most parts of the SFV. But the surrounding hills and mountains act like solar reflectors, making for some super uncomfortable stretches during the warmer months. The public utilities are always threatening rolling brown-outs due to the enormous demand on electricity that powers the AC units in just about every business and residential dwelling. Add the smog issue and one can literally smell and feel the difference while driving through the Sepulveda Pass. And commuting between Toluca Lake and Westwood would be pretty tough unless it's a similar schedule to my work associate.
Santa Monica. Santa Monica. Santa Monica. Has it all. A number of Whole Foods (three), a seafood market, and gobs of restaurants like Melisse, Rustic Canyon, Capo, La Botte, Piccolo, Vicenti, Fraiche, Fig, Anisette, Catch, Whist, Josies, Joe's, Buffalo Club, Cache, Ado, Border Grill, Michaels, Jiraffe, Wilshire, Chinois, Father's Office, La Cachette, One Pico, Drago, Daily Grill, LA Farm, Bay Cities Deli, Sam's, Tacos Por Favor, Cezanne, etc. It's also immediately adjacent to Brentwood, West LA and Venice - and when you add those into the mix, you're adding all the Japanese restaurants on Sawtelle (Westside Little Tokyo), all the Italian restaurants on San Vicente, Mori, Valentino, Gjelina, 3 Square, Japanese markets, Oh, and one of the best farmer's market in the country.
1445 4th St., Santa Monica, CA 90401
502 Santa Monica Blvd., Santa Monica, CA 90401
Little Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90067
3 Square Cafe
1121 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice, CA 90291
1 Pico Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90405
Tacos Por Favor
1406 Olympic Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90404
1520 Olympic Blvd., Santa Monica, CA 90404
2628 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica, CA 90403
Father's Office Bar
1618 Montana Ave, Santa Monica, CA
1429 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice, CA 90291, USA
Little Tokyo Restaurant
150 E Bonita Ave, San Dimas, CA 91773
I think West LA, Brentwood, and Culver City are going to be your best bets. Reasonable commute to westwood, and lots of great food to be had in these neighborhood. I love Santa Monica and it has great food, but it takes me 50 minutes to commute back and forth between Santa Monica and Westwood during rush hour (although it is maybe 10 min when there's no traffic). I would not live in Westwood...it's expensive, and I wouldn't live there unless I was a UCLA undergrad, which constitute the vast majority of the Westwood population. Someone mentioned Palms...it's a good commute to Westwood, but just not a great neighborhood and food is not great. Downtown is just too far, and sketchiness varies quite a bit depending on the specific downtown neighborhood.
Right, but if the OP is WORKING in WW then he wouldn't be on that stretch of road going in that direction at that time. The idea that moving west to east from West LA or SM at evening rush hour is horrible, while so very true, does not seem to be applicable. He's have to teleport himself and his car to west LA and then drive the horrific stretch between Bundy and the 405. An unlikely series of events.
I understood this section of the thread to be suggesting the OP live WEST of WW, which would mean a westerly route home. For instance, Foodiemahoodie suggested SM. That would also be west of WW and the OP would not have to commute through the westside traveling east.
Traffic heading west is very light and offers no real congestion. Of course, with the way things have been going, that might not be the case for long.
While I don't necessarily rate SM higher than DTLA, Silver Lake, or even CC, in terms of commuting it is probably the easiest outside of WW itself and does provide some of the conditions the OP was requesting.
I've lived in DTLA for four years and agree with many of the good things that Ipsedixit and others have said about it. You could get a great apartment for your $2000/month and there are lots of excellent food options in DTLA at all price points - plus, it's a great jumping-off point if you want to go on food safari on the weekends (very convenient to many ethnic enclaves, especially the San Gabriel Valley). The Ralph's on 9th is nice (and you don't really need to live near a TJ's if you're working in WW!), the coffee at Bottega Louie is excellent, and there's plenty of take-out. And lots of watering holes! Also, I think New Yorkers tend to feel comfortable in DTLA - it's definitely the closest thing to NY in LA.
I will say though that if you're commuting at fairly normal times of day (like between 7 to 9 AM and 4 to 6 PM), you would probably only average a 30-minute commute to WW at best. I've been commuting to east Santa Monica lately and it's pretty awful at least half the time. That said, the traffic on the Westside is pretty awful in general - my husband lived in Culver City when he was a grad student at UCLA, and he is still traumatized by the traffic on Sepulveda. And when I used to drive from west SM to my boyfriend's apt. in WLA, it often took forever. And please don't even consider the Valley!
I think you should consider Culver City and mid-Wilshire and also Beverly Hills (it actually fulfills your desires better than the other neighborhoods and is a surprisingly pleasant place to live). And check out DTLA (but be warned about the commute)!
700 S Grand Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90017
i live in Beverly Hills, and personally love it. i can walk to everything. you'll have to do some hunting to find a place that fits your budget and standards, but lots of great things about living here. we're missing a good watering hole, as well as divier eats, but everything like that is pretty much a stone's throw.
places i frequent:
greenleaf chop shop
beverliz cafe (seafood salad is good, and egg white omelettes)
mako - good for out of towners
the cheese shop :)
mickey fine coffee shop
frida (last visit wasn't good tho...)
peet's (free wifi)
places i drive to: west hollywood, culver city, samo, etc.
markets include whole foods, TJ's (10 min away), kosher markets, pavillon's, ralph's,
I don't know what the current market is like, but back in 2006, I had a very large and beautiful one-bedroom for $1400/mo - so it seems like $2000/mo should be achievable. And there are lots of apartments to be had in BH south of Wilshire. Plus there's a Whole Foods there, which th OP wanted!
depends how big and what amenities... i.e. hardwood floors are more expensive. depending upon the building, you can find one bedrooms that range from 1350 - 1900 or more. you can find some two bedrooms for around 2000, and even less if you look south of olympic north of pico between beverly and doheny.
One way of looking at the drive time issue is that it gives you an excuse to eat takeout stuff as you are stuck in traffic. Rest assured you will not be alone in doing so.
Fairfax District, Third&Fairfax.
It is walking distance from:
- The Farmer's Market (which contains a decent selection of various cuisines and a good butcher)
- The food trucks on Miracle Mile
- Fairfax District: Animal and Golden State
- Beverly Blvd between La Cienega and La Brea: Terroni, BLD, Grace-soon-to-be-Rivera, Bistro LQ, House Cafe, Milk, etc
- Third St between La Cienega and Fairfax: AOC, Ortolan, Joan's, Little Door, etc.
It is near:
- Sunset Strip spots
- Thai Town
- Little Ethiopia
- Beverly Hills
- West Hollywood
It is not far from:
- Downtown Culver City
- Downtown LA
- Los Feliz
8022 W 3rd St, Los Angeles, CA 90048
7450 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90036
7605 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90036
Little Ethiopia Restaurant
1048 S Fairfax Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90019
The Golden State
426 N. Fairfax Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90036
8009 Beverly Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90048
The Little Door
8164 West 3rd Street, Los Angeles, CA 90048
I'm in the Palms/Culver City camp. There are tons of great restaurants in the area and it's accessible to Westwood. If you need to, you can take the #6 Culver City bus (on Sepulveda Blvd.) straight into Westwood. I used it plenty of times in a pinch when I lived in CC and worked in WW. I think it only runs until 7pm though, so keep that in mind.
Good info about the Culver City bus, especially if the OP doesn't have parking in Westwood. I lived in Culver City and worked in Westwood about four years ago and my commute was great, almost never more than 25 minutes from getting in the car to walking in the office door. But that was because the job came with parking, so I never had to hunt down a spot. If the OP's going to need to look for Westwood parking, then public transit is the way to go most of the time.
Downtown Culver City is pretty decent for walking, but it's a very small area. For most of the city, cant talk...eating is right that it's not very pleasant for walking, at least out of the residential areas and over to businesses.
"cant talk...eating is right that it's not very pleasant for walking, at least out of the residential areas and over to businesses."
However, Culver City has one huge advantage for walking (and biking). Easy access to the Ballona Creek bike/walk path that goes all the way to the ocean without one automobile to worry about. Now that's what I call a plus of major proportions.
Agreed for hiking around. I love to go for walks and bike rides in lots of places in Culver City.
I meant that urban walking in order to get somewhere commercial (shops, restaurants) is typically not terribly pretty. Often quite practical -- I could comfortably walk to two grocery stores, a yogurt place, a couple other stores, and a few moderate-quality restaurants, but the trips were mostly along busy arterial roads and through parking lots.
Livability has a lot of different factors that need to be considered, depending upon your age and life style and interests. The Ballona Creek bike path actually opens up quite a few places of interest in term of eating on both the west side and even down into the South Bay without much exposure to traffic or summer heat. Places like Mariscos Chente in Mar Vista and The Shack in Playa Del Rey spring to mind. But I routinely ride down to Redondo Beach pier via the bike path and that opens up places like Izakaya Bincho on the Pier and Martha's for breakfast / brunch / lunch in Hermosa Beach on 22nd Street.
4532 S Centinela Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90066
112 N International Boardwalk, Redondo Beach, CA 90277
Re: some of the above, finding a <$2,000 2BD in Beverly Hills would be a feat (having lived there recently). Of course, anyone can get lucky and find a steal anywhere, but realistically, I wouldn't plan on this happening (or if you do, you may just get what you pay for in terms of a landlord/neighbor issue!). (I now realize that I've lived in Culver City, Beverly Hills, mid-Wilshire, Fairfax, West Hollywood, Highland Park, Glendale, and Pasadena, and that's just since grad school - yikes.).
People on this board (and on the Westside generally) seem very concerned about air quality. It's a complex thing. There's summer temperature, and obviously there can be a 30- to 40-degree drop from the coast to downtown during the summer. But, you'd be hard-pressed to correlate that with air quality (check AQMD's site) - there's a big break between the valleys and from Hollywood/Downtown west, but to think that you're breathing better air in Palms vs. Koreatown?? I'd worry much more about your apt's distance to a freeway/major artery before deciding on one spot vs. another west of downtown.
Also, maybe I missed it, but when you leave for work has a lot to do with traffic. You can get anywhere at 6:00 AM, sure. But leaving Westwood at 5 or 6 PM and heading east will be painful. Your personal tolerance will determine whether you feel like making it to Bundy vs. Robertson vs. La Brea vs. Vermont, and we're not gonna settle that here!
In terms of a walkable place to live, as a (former) resident of Culver City, I'm not sure I'd call much of it walkable. People do walk, but strolling along Venice or most of Washington, to me, isn't charming. The whole zoning and layout is nuts. I'd say Fairfax has been by far the most walkable area I've lived in fitting your other criteria (I'm talking about the stretch btwn Beverly and Melrose, but W. 3rd St. is ok too. Hey, you could live between two Whole Foods! Maybe there's even good coffee there by now (moved in '05).
I actually like the suggestion about Westwood - it's set up to be walkable (as opposed to being set up for auto body work and strip mall tenants). Beverly Hills is really walkable but out of your price range.Los Feliz is too far; West Hollywood food-wise is pretty sub-par. Sorry if this is rambling - I guess like a lot of people, I'm really fascinated by this city and how people navigate it.
One other thought that came to mind is the Beachwood Canyon/Hollywood Dell area. There's a stretch of Franklin Ave between Tamarind and Bronson that feels like NYC. To get to WW, you'd have the option of either taking Sunset or the 101 to the 405. Not sure about the relative drive times. Meanwhile in that area, you'd be close to lots of food, clubs, the Arclight, Amoeba, etc.
I live in downtown, right by the 7th street bridge, and I'd rather eat broken glass than have to drive to Westwood everyday. Why torture yourself?
You can probably find a sublet in Westwood, cheaper below Wilshire (and good Japanese food around Sawtelle).
Takeout's not such a big deal here in LA, as it is in NYC and environs. Tasty, cheap and local is a food truck.
Most people drive out of their immediate neighborhoods when they have guests (why eat Westside Chinese when you can go to the SGV?)
Quiet and friendly bars are bars with lots of old guys. You're in LA.
You could take a walk on the wild side and look in Sherman Oaks/Studio City or even (gasp!) Van Nuys, north over the hill.
But the real ticket is to give up pre-conceived notions of what your neighborhood will be like--you can live in an apartment and walk to everything, but you'll miss so much. LA's big and spread out and there's cool places in every zip code.
Are you both commuting to Westwood, and if so, together, and at what time of day?
sherman oaks and Studio City just over the hill in the valley have very easy access to Westwood if you can leave the valley by 7am. Leaving at 8am changes all the issues.
Most all the issues you address you will have available to you, and of course warmer weather, with very little morning drizzle/fog if bright skies most of the time mean something to you. The closer you live to Ventura Blvd., the better the air, as the afternoon breeze sweeps from west to east and clears out the skies, keeps the temperatures moderate(by valley standards), and the traffic is much more palatable, yet still has its moments, but not west side moments!
Rents are in your range, and you will have many more options of places.
Ahhh, the holy grail for NYers moving to LA—a short commute, affordable rent and a walkable neighborhood...if you find it, let me know!! :-)
Seriously, I moved to LA twenty years ago from NYC (Lower East Side) and have been looking for it. I've lived in Palms, Mar Vista, Westwood, Venice and Santa Monica. The closest I have found to something that resembles living in the LES or Brooklyn (affordably) is where I am now, in Wilshire Center (Koreatown). I have Korean, Bangladeshi and Mexican markets, dry cleaners, restaurants and bars all within a few blocks. The Metro is nearby, and buses stop in front of my building. My building has that old school charm (1926)—wooden floors and french doors and a view. Did I mention it's affordable? Best of all, I am 30 minutes from the Westside, 10 minutes from Los Feliz, and 15 minutes from Downtown.
I lived most of those 20 years on the Westside. It was_really_quiet then and pretty cheap but we'd have to make the haul to Hollywood or the Eastside to go out. Now the traffic there is unbearable. I think that Ktown traffic is actually better. The air is definitely better on the Westside but where I am it is not bad and it actually gets warm, unlike on the Westside.
Seriously, if you're not a motorcyclist, that 30-minute commute and your budget will be your determining factors. You can find apartments in that price range within the 30-minute range but you will have to be on it, the nice places go fast. I suggest Mar Vista, Brenthood, Sawtelle, West LA, parts of Palms and Culver City. Culver City, IMO is sort of overpriced near the downtown for what you get. (Dingbats).
LA's not-so dirty little secret is that you have to be willing to drive (lots) to get the good eats. Don't worry, you'll get used to it. Or, you'll just wind up cooking and entertaining at home more, which is okay because the apartments here are bigger. :-)
>>Or, you'll just wind up cooking and entertaining at home more, which is okay because the apartments here are bigger. :-)<<
We do this when we're in the mood for a nice bottle or two. No worries about driving. Cabs are ridiculous, buses really aren't a viable option, but once rail starts to truly reclaim LA, that integrated with the buses might actually work. Still waiting...
"Ahhh, the holy grail for NYers moving to LA—a short commute, affordable rent and a walkable neighborhood...if you find it, let me know!! :-)"
Or like the movie punchline, just pick two... (well, except if you're living on the westside).
As michaelyee is discovering, as soon as you leave the westside, this "dream" becomes more of a reality. Eagle Rock, Highland Park, Pasadena, South Pasadena, Alhambra, Glendale, Silverlake/Echo Park, Fairfax. Mid-Wilshire/Koreatown, DTLA, ALL meet the criteria michaelyee has listed. And all with great to exceptional food adventures as well.
The west side version of Little Tokyo comes as close as possible to all three criteria for working in Westwood. Affordable rent is available. Sawtelle has a lot of walkers coming out of the neighborhood around the Buddist Temple sampling a plethora of very good food that runs the gamut of Japanese (and even some Korean and Chinese), and the commute to Westwood would be very short via back streets to Veteran and then into Westwood.
"Two-bedroom apartment under $2000/mo."
WHOA! For FAR under $2k per month, you could be renting a rather palatial pad in Summerlin... But hey, that's Las Vegas for 'ya. LA is just so much more expensive. ;-)
So getting back to LA and food, you'll probably be just fine staying in the Westwood area. You may have to go south of Santa Monica Blvd. to find a spacious apartment for the price, but it's certainly doable in that part of West LA. And the great thing about this area is that you're smack dab in the heart of good grub land!
All the hot Santa Monica restaurants aren't too far away. Melisse is the one of the best French restaurants this far away from SF and Vegas (yeah, it's fancy, but you MUST try it at least once). Border Grill still sets the standard for fabulous gourmet Mexican fare. Oh, and did I mention they have one of the world's most famous farmers' markets? ;-)
And Westwood is plenty good enough for good eating as well. Yeah, you'll do well there. (And I wish I could afford a West LA pad to visit often...)
1445 4th St., Santa Monica, CA 90401
Las Vegas Bar
2343 S Bristol St, Santa Ana, CA 92704
Not sure if your still looking but West Hollywood is a great option, especially by Melrose/Fairfax area.