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Playa Vista/Pacific Palisades Highlands

This really is a question about food, not about the other aspects of certain neighborhoods. We now live just east of Bundy, just south of Santa Monica and thus are ideally situated to enjoy the offerings of Sawtelle/Little Osaka, with easy access to plenty other neighborhoods. But, we are probably going to move, and have the option of a beautiful, renovated townhouse near the top of Pacific Palisades Highlands (with killer views and an amazing kitchen) or a lovely apartment with great amenities in the heart of that little oasis known as Playa Vista (and I work in the Beverly Hills Triangle and fly out of LAX every other week, while my Sig Other works at the Whole Foods Markets in Santa Monica). While I will miss the proximity to Sawtelle terribly, I assume that I will have vastly greater dining options (at least without a lengthy drive) if we select PV over PPH. Yes, from PPH it would not be hard to get to Nobu Malibu, but that's a special occasion thing, not a spur of the moment, I don't feel like cooking thing. There are maybe a couple places in the village of Pacific Palisades (a 10-minute drive), but not much that is inspiring, as far as I know (which isn't much). So many of my need-to-go-to restaurants are in Venice, I think it's a no-brainer. I just need the validation for deciding to turn down a rare chance to live by the mountains and the sea in the same house.

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  1. My vote is Playa Vista. Much closer to LAX and BH. You also have the Marina and Venice. Lots of food choices. And Culver City too.

    1. PV without any doubt for all the reasons you listed. The one negative you didn't note for Playa Vista is the airport noise. You aren't far away from an active runway on the N side of the LAX, but since you are flying out of there every other week that may be a wash.

      1. Playa Vista for the food, Pacific Palisades for everything else.

        1. A First World dilemma if I have ever seen one.

          1 Reply
          1. re: ozhead

            Absolutely! Just like most queries on Chowhound about where to eat.

          2. Definitely PV. The highlands get very, very hot and you're really in the middle of nowhere.

            1 Reply
            1. re: whatsfordinner

              Playa Vista also has a farmers market 2x per week.

            2. I agree this is a first-world problem, and a nice one to have! ;)

              If you have kids, I assume that being able to access the Palisades Charter School district trumps all else.... Don't really know much else about either area, but, depending on the specific time of day, driving eastbound on Sunset (to get from the Palisades to Beverly Hills) can be truly hellish.

              23 Replies
              1. re: ilysla

                Playa Vista now has their own school - I think it's K-8. Great parks, dog parks, very peaceful (most mentally blot out LAX noise), and it's centrally located to many areas - increases food choices.

                Pali is very peaceful, can be reasonably scenic, good schools, has a seemingly quaint downtown with a few good places to eat ( and some LA's best croissants). The Highlands are secluded and so far away are from everything. If that's your priority, you've hit paydirt. The weather is like the SFV but without the access. If you have to commute, you need to plan a minimum extra 30 minutes just to get to civilization. One road in and out, and your life is dictated by PCH and Sunset.

                I know someone who gave The Highlands a go but moved out because the driving was always frantic. Practically no one drives in a sane manner on any of those streets because everyone is always trying to make time.

                Like moat others, I vote PV. Your sanity and food choices will prevail.

                1. re: bulavinaka

                  There is only one reason I'd move to the Highlands, biking (or hiking if you don't like 2 wheels) access to Topanga Canyon.

                  1. re: Servorg

                    Thanks to all for your input on this (food-related to satisfy the board moderator) decision and first-world dilemma. We declined the PPH house late this morning, and I'm wracked with second thoughts because we do love to hike and enjoy the canyons. And it would have given us a real house-like structure rather than an apartment (albeit a nice one). But I think we made the right decision and not just because the food options will be much better from the more central location of PV.

                    1. re: Wayno

                      You can always go hiking on the weekend. ;) As everyone else has said, my understanding is that the Highlands are really isolated. Even "regular" Pacific Palisades isn't that close to the rest of LA. If the school system isn't an issue, then I think access (both to food and other stuff) outweighs having a real (almost) house....

                      BTW, on a food-related note, after 3 tries, I finally had a FANTASTIC croissant at Amandine! Their bread loafs, though, leave me quite unimpressed (good smell, but I like the bread to be much crustier). Will be trying Maison Giruad hopefully shortly (to bring this back to something vaguely related to the original post....).

                      1. re: Wayno

                        Sounds like you've already made up your mind, but perhaps you could have spoken to someone who actually knows what they are talking about, LOL.

                        I live in the Palisades. Yes, the Highlands are a bit isolated. Not in the middle of the busyness in the village, or the sprawl of west LA. Nobody comes though that canyon and up that hill unless they have business or a home there. Nobody just passes through. Very family oriented neighborhoods. And most people that live there stay there. For decades. Because they love the fact that they aren't in the middle of the megalopolis.

                        Commuting is a fact of life in LA. Unless your work commute would be significantly longer, it's not a big deal. It only takes me 10-15 minutes to get to Santa Monica and the entrance to the ten freeway. Are PCH & Sunset busy? Yes. But not constantly. My husband works in Century City. Most nights it doesn't take him more than 30 minutes to get home. Now, if there's an accident on PCH or Sunset, does it take longer? Yes. But I've sat in less hellish traffic here than when I lived on the Eastside of town and was trying to get to the Westside...... There is another way out of the Highlands if there were an emergency like a wildfire, so it's much less isolated in that regard than Malibu. But we are surrounded by some of the best parts of LA (IMHO) - Malibu to the north & west, Santa Monica to the south, Brentwood to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west and south. So that's the price you pay to live in paradise, when you have to sit in traffic sometimes.

                        ALL of our schools are excellent and which is why people from all over the city send their kids to our charter schools. But if you're not parents that probably doesn't matter to you, but it does help when you're ready to sell your property.

                        And the weather is beautiful in the Highlands. Whomever stated that it's like the valley, again, doesn't know what they're talking about. When the village and rest of Palisades are socked in with fog and cold, it gets warm & sunny up there much earlier. But it doesn't "bake" like the Valleys do with no relief. There's excellent air quality at all times. And each night it gets the marine layer influence with fog and moisture rolling in, since the beach is only two miles away.

                        And we are FINALLY getting some decent chow here:
                        Maison Giraud
                        il Ritrovo del Piccolo
                        Chez Mimi
                        Casa Nostra
                        Modo Mio
                        Taj Palace
                        Cafe Vida
                        Pearl Dragon
                        Pinocchio Ital deli
                        Hungry Cat
                        Sam's by the Beach
                        Marix tex-mex
                        Giorgio Baldi
                        (Ok, last four are in Santa Monica Canyon, but right on the border)
                        Plus we have three decent grocery stores for those of us who enjoy cooking,

                        Does every single place hit a home run every single time? No. But I feel fortunate to have a wide variety, and am still only six miles from Santa Monica and all that that city has to offer, as well as Venice & West LA. all are very doable from the Palisades.

                        So it just depends on what you're looking for. We moved here when my oldest turned one. We wouldn't live anywhere else in the city at this point, we love all that the Palisades has to offer.

                        1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                          We have lots of friends in the Palisades. Dirtywextraolives succinctly sums up how most of them feel about the place.

                          1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                            Unless ozone layer has altered the weather throughout the upper parts of pali, then it is hotter than s%!*. I used to go gardening in pali 2x a week (early 70s-early 80s) for my dad. The summers were pretty tough to deal with as the temps typically hit the 90s midday (upper Charmel, Pali Highlands Dr.) Down around El Medio and DT pali - 15 degrees cooler.

                            1. re: bulavinaka

                              It's true, it gets significantly warmer up there than on the bluffs, that is a no brainer..... But to say it the weather is just like the valley is just plain inaccurate..... It is definitely a separate micro climate than at 1500' lower in altitude......so yes, it makes sense that it could be as much as 20* cooler when you descend that hill.

                              1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                                I don't know how much the weather in the lower part of the Palisades differ from that in Brentwood, but I live in Brentwood and commute to Encino almost every weekday, and it's roughly about a 15-20 degree difference btw the two.... I assume that the air quality, though, might cause the weather to seem even more different?

                                1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                                  Sunset Magazine considers the pali highlands zone 23 and 21, 21 being the same climate zone as the general Thousand Oaks/Calabasas area.

                                  1. re: bulavinaka

                                    Whatever. Somehow, I highly doubt Calabasas gets a marine layer every night. I think instead of some magazine's pinhead stats, I will rely on my own 12 year history in the region, thankyouverymuch.......

                                    1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                                      You called me on it - Sunset Mag's climate zones are gospel.

                                      1. re: bulavinaka

                                        Too lazy to search online: What zone is Sawtelle?

                                        1. re: J.L.

                                          Barely within 24. Convection from the 405 is mitigated by the westerly ocean influence. Cross the 405 and you're in zone 22.

                                          1. re: bulavinaka

                                            Thanks! I didn't know the 405 was such a factor!

                                        2. re: bulavinaka

                                          LMAO..... I know!! That mag is gospel for So Cal, especially the gardening tips....! That's okay, I pay someone to do that for me anyway.... (Spoken like a true Palisadian...)

                                          1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                                            ...but our caviar is getting cold... :-)

                                            1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                                              >>That's okay, I pay someone to do that for me anyway.... (Spoken like a true Palisadian...)<<

                                              And that's why you think it ain't so hot up in them highlands. Since I used to be the payee, I know what the climate is like from the beach to the tops of those hills.

                                              1. re: bulavinaka

                                                Hahahaha! Okay, I'll give ya that one! By the way I have some roses and trees that need to be trimmed.....

                                        3. re: bulavinaka

                                          Isn't Thousand Oaks considered relatively temperate? Calabasas is def cooler than some of the worst parts of the valley (e.g., Woodland Hills).

                                          To bring this back to food, um, there's a Brent's Deli in Westlake Village! =)

                                          1. re: ilysla

                                            I never intended to compare pali highlands to the "worst parts of the valley." Canoga Park, Chatsworth et al are often nearly as hot as the low deserts on really hot days. Parts of the west and south SFV, particularly where ocean influence can move in at night via canyons, gulches, etc., can be one to three zones cooler than the hottest parts. My only intent was to point out that that part of pali is reminiscent of the SFV in terms of heat - which it is midday - but without access to all the food choices found in the SFV. Sunset zone 21 is hotter in the summer than most would find comfortable without a/c.

                                            1. re: bulavinaka

                                              No, but those of us who might one day wish to purchase in the Highlands read your comments w/ great interest and appreciate the distinction. ;) I can do the cooler parts of the SFV, but the hottest days in the hottest areas are genuinely unbearable.

                                              To bring this back to food, there's a shaved ice place near CSUN that I'm sure would be quite refreshing on a hot day in the valley.... ::snort::

                                    2. re: Dirtywextraolives

                                      The Palisades is a great place to raise children. I grew up there and raised my son in Malibu. The air is fresh and the schools are great. Though every outing required a car, traffic on PCH was never too bad since there was always the view of the ocean. But you're absolutely right - it depends on what you're looking for. The time came when our son left home and my husband and I wanted something more lively and walkable. We recently moved to West Hollywood and can now walk to a number of cafes and restaurants.

                            2. Not that anyone gives a flying fusilli, but OP here to post that we've made a (new) decision, and it represents a 180 degree change-of-mind that, in no small part, was influenced by the dialogue in this thread (before it detoured into a discourse into the esoterica of microclimates). Even though we had accepted (and paid a nonrefundable deposit) on a unit in PV, we found out the PPH townhouse is still available and we retracted our rejection of it, and paid a substantial lease deposit to the lessors. So, even though the food options are much greater in PV, we are going to the Palisades and, as part of our due diligence the other night, went into the restaurant, Cosa Nostra, and met the owner. We had already eaten, but he showed us around and was as welcoming as can be. It has a wonderful atmosphere and, since it's about a quarter mile from our soon-to-be home, I'm hoping it's pretty good. Anybody been?

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: Wayno

                                Oh yes, it's very good! We have a lot of Italian places, and Casa Nostra is one of the better ones. Welcome to the 'hood!

                                1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                                  Thanks, Dirty. You know, it was your comments that may been the most influential. And watching the sun set over the Santa Monica mountains from the deck of the townhouse.

                                  1. re: Wayno

                                    I'm glad I could give you some perspective. And it's a killer view, isn't it? Don't worry about the weather, it's been beautiful lately....

                              2. Playa Vista is a brand new state of the art. self contained community. I just put a deposit on a unit and look forward to moving there.