Travel

The VICE Guide to Los Angeles: Neighborhoods We Like

Here's a helpful list of the neighborhoods you should comb through when you're ready to move to LA.

by VICE Travel Staff
Jan 20 2016, 5:00am

Photos by Katie McCurdy

People love to hate Los Angeles. Tell someone you're visiting or moving here and steel yourself for a barrage of unsolicited jabs about how "the people are so fake," or "the traffic is unbearable," or "there's not enough water."

OK, well, that last one is totally true and we have no clue how to fix it. But look, LA's changed, we promise. It no longer manages to combine the trashiness of a Poison song, the pointless vapidity of an episode of Entourage, and the quiet desperation of the quiet and desperate who move here with hopes and dreams of stardom, only to have those hopes and dreams dashed upon the harsh rocks of reality. We've got amazing restaurants! And pretty OK bars! And history and culture and a cost of living that is (slightly) more affordable than New York's!

If that didn't sell you on our fair city, the least you can do is visit the place. And when that happens, these are the neighborhoods you should check out:

NEIGHBORHOODS WE LIKE

Koreatown
Come for the amazing food, proximity to public transportation, good vibes, and extreme walkability, stay because you've been priced out of Silver Lake. For an evening straight out of an episode of one of the millions of shows about depressed rich LA hipsters (in a good way), try hitting Pot at The Line, then walking the mile over to Lock & Key's killer backyard patio (wear pants, dudes—the bouncers are kinda picky), and finishing off the evening by drunkenly throwing gutter balls at Shatto 39 Lanes.

Franklin Village
There's no denying Hollywood sucks, but like WWII Paris, pockets of resistance to that suckiness are there if you know where to look. One such oasis in the desert of awful clubs and tourist traps is the little strip of commerce known as Franklin Village. On the surface, an improv theater, cheap sushi, and a smattering of bars doesn't sound like much, but it's one of the few foot-traffic friendly areas for blocks that won't run you the risk of being accosted by mangey dudes in Spider-Man costumes in Hollywood proper.

Arts District/Little Tokyo
Little Tokyo has some decent stuff in the slightly-too-cute outdoor plaza, but you're missing the point of this place if you skip the Galleria. This mall is a dilapidated relic of the 90s full of specialty shops, a grungy BYOB booth karaoke spot, and a strangely fun bowling alley/bar/arcade on the third floor.

Cross Alameda Street into the Arts District and you'll find a totally different set of great restaurants, bars, and arcades altogether. Don't go into Wurstkuche if there's a line, and for the love of Christ, have some respect for yourself and don't take Instagrams in front of the murals that litter the area.

North Hollywood
You'd think The Valley was Mordor the way some people speak of it, but The Valley of today is much less concerned with what you think–especially in hotspots like NoHo. The cheap rent coupled with myriad acting and dance schools have made the area a mecca for fresh-off-the-bus transplants. Naturally, the requisite bars, shops, and eateries have bubbled up to accommodate the bright-eyed and bushy-tailed young things (until the city crushes their dreams and the move back home.)

Sawtelle
Technically, it's Little Osaka, and some even call it Japantown. Angelenos are a utilitarian breed, so this neighborhood is only really ever referred to by its main thoroughfare, Sawtelle Blvd. Half of LA refuses to travel west of the 405, but this enclave of hip shops and experimental restaurants—just spitting distance from the cacophony of the freeway—is enticing enough to coax even the staunchest East-Side-4-Lifers from their snark bunkers.

Eagle Rock
Eagle Rock is great and so beautiful that it will make you wish for an idyllic past that never happened. It's also very, very, very far away from everything. But this is LA so you have a car and an Audible subscription is like, $15, so who gives a shit?

Highland Park
There's a ton to eat, drink, and do in Highland Park, and you can get some killer mid-century modern furniture at Sunbeam, which is conveniently enough, right off Figueroa. Just try not to fuck the place up if you move here by gentrifying it even further.

Special thanks to Justin Caffier for compiling recommendations.

Check out more of the VICE Guide to Los Angeles.