By Jeff Game
Los Angeles is a massive, diverse and sprawling city that is ever evolving, even for a lifelong Angeleno as myself, and it is extra cool when you discover a new and revamped area of the city like the new Culver City.
Culver City is rapidly ushering back the spirit of “Old Hollywood Chic.” Longtime tenant and prominent filmmaker MGM (now Sony Studios) helped resurrect the town’s image as a cool stomping ground, bustling with trendy restaurants and hip hot spots.
Harry Culver’s initial concept that “all roads lead to Culver City” may finally be realized, as its location is accessible by all points around the greater Los Angeles area. As attainable as it is, Culver City has managed to tuck away some of the most unique hangouts that even the most active L.A. local may not know exist.
No Place Like Home
Fast becoming the “Crown Jewel” in the Culver City rebirth is the Culver Hotel, Harry Culver’s own brainchild. Built in 1924, it’s now even better than it was in its glory days when it hosted some of the cast members of Wizard of Oz, Gone with the Wind and countless film stars. Walking into the Culver Hotel elicits the feeling of stepping back in time and summons visions of Hollywood royalty sipping Champagne at the hotel bar.
The Culver Hotel’s elegant renovation played a big role in the new Culver City transformation from a derelict downtown to the stylish section of L.A. into which it has evolved. Touring the decorative halls of the Culver Hotel with general manager Seth Horowitz, he has this perspective: “You take care of your backyard and your backyard will take care of you.”
According to Horowitz, city officials took notice of the possibilities with what a new Culver City would look like and set out to attract some the best businesses and finest restaurants that the city has ever seen. Still, there so much more to come, as so many are now flocking to Culver City.
As the history lesson of the Culver Hotel continues in his South African accent, Horowitz does a great job of showcasing the new Culver City and why it is becoming a go to place to check out, for either locals or travelers around the globe. Horowitz has an eloquent case and tells me, “Combine our brilliant location and accessibility with a robust growth of businesses (specifically entertainment and restaurants to the Downtown of Culver City) and you have a DESTINATION.”
Even so, the new Culver City gives off a great vibe of rebirth and you can experience that mojo all through the city.
Behind the Curtain
Taking the Sony Studios Tour will make you feel like you are taking a course in cinematic history. Guests of the tour not only have the chance to see classic motion picture sets from the Ben Hur to Singing in the Rain but also modern-day hits such as Spiderman, and even the Winnebago that Bryan Cranston’s character (Walter White) traveled around in the Emmy award winning TV show, Breaking Bad. Elvis filmed most of his movies on the lot, including the musical classic Jailhouse Rock and the list of MGM films is just staggering – some of the biggest movies and stars of all time walked the streets of Culver City and the history of cinema is woven into the soil.
Wizards of Washington Boulevard
Slide down Washington Boulevard and you will come across a string of culinary choices that are helping to rank Culver City among other cities of renowned gastronomical pleasures.
Los Angeles native and king of the Kogi food truck empire and one of the Producers on the Jon Favreau film Chef, Roy Choi has two great brick and mortar joints to fill your belly: A-Frame, and the Alibi Room, with both places offering up Choi’s Korean take on classic American comfort food.
Waterloo and City’s executive chef, Brendan Collins, started the culinary revolution by opening, a modern day pub with sophisticated dining and great happy hour cocktail choices. Waterloo’s happy hours is truly one of the best in the city and is also usually slamming busy. A couple of business type guys who work at Sony Studios and did not want to be named for the article tell me that they try and head to Waterloo and City’s happy hour at least once a week, even wrapping up their day early to throw down a plate of their to die for curry deviled eggs with bacon. I love the entire vibe of this restaurant and Chef Collins does a great job of flat out cooking good yet complicated comfort pub food.
The Emerald City 2.0
Back in the 1930s, the Helms Bakery delivered fresh baked bread every morning to households all over Los Angeles and was the official bread of the 1932 Olympics, held in the city. The bakery has been closed for over 40 years, however this L.A. landmark, now the Helms Bakery District, has now become one of the hippest places to shop for stylish décor and where so many want to dine.
Father’s Office has quickly become the go to place in the Westside to grab one tasty burger and a cold craft beer. Chef Sang Yoo loves to pair great food with one his 36 rotating beer selections and is one of the premiere gastropubs in all of Los Angeles. However, leave the Heinz at home, because chef Yoo has a strict no ketchup rule in the office space. You want ketchup on his “perfect” burger? No burger for you!
Bucato opened with bang and was named one of the top restaurants in the city by Los Angeles Magazine in 2013. Boasting an ever changing “seasonal California” menu, which basically boils down to freshly made pastas, baked breads, awesome salads and their own meat done up by their own butcher. A list of whose who love to frequent this rising culinary star, including the night I grabbed a bight to eat and fresh off her Emmy win from the previous night, Julia-Louise Dreyfus and SNL alumni husband Brad Hall. Although, we don’t stare in L.A., even for a T.V. Vice President.
If you are looking for spectacular furniture places to redo the house, check out Helm’s Bakery District website for a list of their very posh stores, such as HD Buttercup. helmsbakerydistrict.com
With so many interesting and great places to discover and experience, Culver City will draw me back to try and even more of what they have to offer…This L.A. story will continue.
Movies have always played an important part in my life and can end up being a great way for a mental escape. Here are my 5 favs from the massive MGM Studios catalog. I still quote all these movies.
Culver Hotel: 9400 Culver Blvd Culver City, CA 90232 (310) 558-9400
Sony Studios: 10000 W Washington Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90232 (310) 244-8687
A-Frame 12565 W Washington Blvd Culver City, CA 90066
Alibi Room: 12236 W Washington Blvd Los Angeles, CA 90066
Waterloo & City: 12517 W Washington Blvd Culver City, CA 90066
Helms Bakery District,Father’s Office, Bucato: 8800 Venice Blvd. Culver City, CA 90034