Discover Los Angeles
Many Angelenos are rightfully proud of our historical waterway, the Los Angeles River. But not many people know about the hidden gem that currently houses the Los Angeles River Center and Gardens. Located in the Cypress Park neighborhood of Los Angeles (immediately east of the river, where the 110 and the 5 meet), this compound of stunning buildings in the Midcentury version of “Spanish” or “Colonial” style (both euphemisms that try to conceal the obvious Mexican influences) was built by the Lawry’s spice company in the 1950s. They expanded it in the 1960s) and Lawry’s became a famous collection of restaurants that highlighted the brand’s seasonings. The complex, known as Lawry’s California Center, operated until the early 1990s, when the City prevented its demolition and redevelopment by turning it into the Los Angeles River Center, with a stated mission of serving as "a focal point for the renewal of the Los Angeles River, and a prime location for community gatherings, educational conferences, and special events.” The buildings also serve as a home to several conservancy groups, including the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority, which manages it.
The combination of open and closed environments that look like a Technicolor, movie-set version of a Spanish-style villa—complete with ivy-covered walls, courtyards, soothing fountains, lawns, and even a working fireplace!—has made the Los Angeles River Center a word-of-mouth success with people planning all manner of events, especially weddings. (The location is reportedly recouping its entire operational costs out of wedding rentals.) Located in an inconspicuous nook of the city, guests are surprised and then thrilled when they arrive to this ideal (and idealized) version of a California-style fantasy only a few minutes away from DTLA and northeastern neighborhoods like Los Feliz and Silver Lake. The complex also features an educational exhibit about the L.A. River, and it’s right next to the River Garden Park.
570 W Ave 26, Los Angeles 90065
Edgar Rice Burroughs, author of “Tarzan,” subdivided his sprawling Tarzana Ranch in 1923, and within a decade, his land and surrounding plots officially became Tarzana. Since then, the neighborhood has thrived between the Santa Monica Mountains to the south and Victory Boulevard to the north. Tarzana has become a hotbed for Middle Eastern and Asian food in recent decades. Start culinary explorations with these 5 dishes.
The Asapahu family’s seven-sauce line-up has been the backbone of Ayara Thai Cuisine, a beloved restaurant on a Westchester side street that debuted in 2004. As Vanda Asapahu states, “As our restaurant grew, visitors came to love not only the food we prepared, but also the sauces served with them, whether they were used as dressings, dips or marinades.” Top sellers include When Tigers Cry steak sauce, a nuanced dip or marinade that’s geared toward grilled meat. This sauce balances roasted chiles with tangy tamarind, umami-rich fish flakes and fish sauce, garlic, red onions, and cane sugar. Thai Chili-Lime "seafood dipping sauce" delivers bite to cooked crab and salmon or raw oysters. This bottle blends Thai chiles, garlic, lime juice, fish sauce, and cane sugar. Thai Peanut Sauce balances sweetness with umami-rich hoisin, garlic, onion, and cane sugar and works as a grilled meat dip, dressing, or sandwich spread. 8-ounce bottles of all sauces cost $9.75.
6245 W. 87th St., Los Angeles 90045
The world’s busiest motion picture and television studio can double as your own private event venue. Picture this, your group surrounded by the hustle and bustle of a working studio. With three screening rooms, 13 historic backlot sets, a fine dining room, museums and a premier theater, they have the capacity for an intimate retreat for 20 guests or an extravaganza for 3,000.