From one concrete jungle to another
A New York City native spends a day Los Angeles exploring the city’s nooks and crannies. | Tim Seeberger/THE CHIMES
Coming from New York, I am proud of my identity. Being 3,500 miles away causes me to do weird things like defending my home city — New York City — as the greatest city in the world. Up until Saturday though, that claim had no backing. April 23 marked the first time I went and explored Los Angeles.
a mellow and laid-back aura
For my first LA experience, I had my friend Andrew Daedler and his wife, Kasey Daedler, guiding my friends, Adi Lal, a freshman business major and his younger brother Anj, and I through the city. We arrived by car at the arts district at approximately 1:15 p.m. The area had a Williamsburg, Brooklyn vibe, but was spread out over more surface area because Los Angeles is huge.
Our first stop of many was Stumptown Coffee. The famed coffee shop that originated from Portland makes their own beans and coffee in-house, which I found awesome. Their specialty? Nitro Cold Brew coffee. According to Andrew, one cup of Nitro is “as strong as six cups of Caf coffee.” Oddly enough, the store was not crowded at the normal peak hours. Although there are many up-and-coming shops and eateries in the arts district, the area has a mellow and laid-back aura. I could spend a day just exploring the arts district itself.
the best taquitos in LA
After Stumptown, we headed to the historic Olvera Street. The famous marketplace street is an integral part of Los Angeles history since it was the first street in the city. The marketplace is filled with different stands selling a myriad of Mexican merchandise and food. Sounds of mariachi bands echo from the open-air restaurants on the cobble-stone street.
Andrew took us to the place he considers has “the best taquitos in LA” — Cielito Lindo. Opened in 1934, the taquitos, which traditionally come smothered in a green avocado sauce, are considered world famous. I suggest beef taquitos covered in avocado sauce with a side of beans and cheese. It was like having the Los Angeles equivalent of New York $1 slices of pizza in one of the most unique marketplaces I have ever explored.
Right before we left, we decided to get homemade churros from Mr. Churro. It was convenient that the dessert shop was nestled in a building right next to Cielito Lindo. We opted for traditional churros, although you can have them filled with chocolate, strawberry, creama or guava fillings.
not a complete concrete jungle
Next, we ventured to Hollywood and Sunset Boulevard. Andrew and Kasey knew better than to have us walk the tourist trap roads on a weekend, so we drove them from start to finish. Seeing all the famous Hollywood destinations and studios, such as the TCL Chinese Theater and Dolby Theater with the Hollywood sign in the distance was an awesome experience. It also helped that we blasted Drake and Kendrick Lamar the entire drive with the windows down. In all seriousness, I felt like a true Californian by avoiding the tourist trap of the boulevards. It felt like I was back in New York City avoiding Times Square at all costs.
After dropping Kasey off at Tribal Cafe, yet another amazing coffee shop none of us went to before, Andrew, Adi, Anj and I hiked one of the many stair hikes in LA. We navigated our way through the extremely narrow streets of Echo Park. The quiet neighborhood was cool because there were restaurants and bike shops nestled among groups of houses. After stair climbing, a bit of trailblazing and walking, we approached a lookout point that overlooked Downtown LA. Although Los Angeles is a city, I quickly found out it is not a complete concrete jungle like New York City.
a different vibe
After a long period of indecisiveness, Adi, Anj and I picked the famous Philippe’s The Original for dinner. Philippe’s opened in 1908 and claims to have created the original French Dip Sandwich. The dining hall-like restaurant felt like a Jewish deli in New York City, which I loved. The sandwiches tasted amazing and it was easily better than any French Dip I had eaten on the East Coast. After stopping quickly at Urth Caffe in the arts district for some green tea boba, we headed back to Biola.
I learned a lot about New York City and Los Angeles in just one day. Traveling through Los Angeles made me realize I cannot compare my old and new homes. LA has a completely different vibe from New York City. I absolutely loved what the city had to offer in the span of a day. I also wish public transportation was more accessible and faster to use. LA and Manhattan are similar because they are both unique. There are feelings and experiences present in LA. that do not exist in New York City. Manhattan is a city known for its staple landmarks like Times Square, Central Park and the Statue of Liberty. Los Angeles is like a millennial city because it has staple landmarks such as the Hollywood sign and the Griffith Observatory, but many up-and-coming locations as well. The food and historical landmarks of LA are completely different than New York City. Being used to New York City, I loved the refreshing feel of exploring a new place different from my home. In the end, I will always choose my home over Los Angeles. But, I now know I would not mind calling LA my home in the future.