The Manual Awards: The Best of Los Angeles, California
This is the first year The Manual is giving awards to our favorite spots in eight cities across America that we think are doing great things for their neighbors, town and overall community. Winners were chosen both by writer’s opinions as well as readers who could vote on The Manual’s Facebook page. Winners will receive a decal to mount in their establishment as well as exposure on the site and on social media. We are excited to take this trip across America with our friends at the leather and lifestyle brand, Moore & Giles. Enjoy!
Los Angeles loves its award shows: the Oscars, Emmys, Grammys– but it’s not often that the beloved spots across town get their moment in the spotlight. It’s a vibrant city, home to people from across the United States and the world, harboring big dreams and talent. Diverse creativity pulses through the streets, fostering innovative food, fashion, drinks, and salons. Here are just a few Manual favorites:
Messhall has absurdly delicious food, a sense of humor, and legitimate Hollywood history. Its building has played home to a number of famous eateris: it was designed by famed architect Wayne McAllister who helped bring in that futuristic feel of the mid-century, but it all started when Cecil B. DeMille opened Willard’s Chicken Inn at the location. This major Hollywood hotspot also had one of the first air conditioners ever installed in an LA restaurant. In the 1940s it became the Brown Derby, a 24-hour drive-in. Now we have Messhall. The theme, if you can call it that, is a posh camp dining hall: they use words like “Chow,” “Late Provisions” (their dinner menu), and “Troops” to talk about their staff. Rob Serritella, who we can also thank for Holy Cow BBQ, started Messhall to a focus on regional American food using local, sustainable, and seasonal ingredients. You can get lunch, brunch (highly recommend), supper, or just order off their killer fresh oyster bar. Their patio has great family-style tables with fire pits in the center and the main dining room has a sophisticated rustic feel. The staff is charming and friendly and you never feel rushed. Do yourself a favor and go– then order the Mac n’ Cheese with garlic breadcrumb topping.
Tony’s is as if some stylish frat boys took over a Wild West saloon from the 1930s and added a ping-pong table. It’s laidback and trendy all at the same time, with gorgeous wood panelling, bankers lights, animal heads on the wall, and pool tables. The drinks are reasonably priced (e.g. $7 for “Rye of the Beholder” Rittenhouse 100 Rye, Amaro Nonino, and Orange Twist or around $4 for a draft beer special) and are generously poured from a great group of bartenders who work hard to keep the wait times down for drinks, even at peak times. There’s a pseudo-backyard with string lights crisscrossing over a ping-pong table. It also has the added benefit of being right next door to the heavenly Pizzanista. There’s a magical window between the two buildings where your pizza emerges while you enjoy your booze. For a damn near perfect night, fuel up with Pizzanista and then drink and socialize the night away at Tony’s.
Best Coffee Shop:
Glanville & Babinski (G&B) is a tough one to pin down with a label: coffee shop doesn’t quite fit. Their Grand Central Market location has tall garage doors that open outside, flooding the marble bar in natural light, giving the somewhat stark and industrial space some softness. Just like a bar, you walk up and order anywhere, from anyone– no lines, no pick up area. The gentlemen behind this caffeinated revelation are Charles Babinski and Kyle Glanville, who also have a Larchmont spot called Go Get Em Tiger, and boy, do they care about coffee. Not only do they scour the planet for the best tasting coffees, but they’ve also got trophies confirming they know what they’re talking about. Babinski is the 2015 US Barista Champion, heading to the world championship next year, an honor that came on the heels of The New York Times article suggesting G&B has the best iced latte… in America. Could have something to do with the fact they make their own almond-macadamia milk fresh every day.
Best Local Brew:
Even if Angel City didn’t make delicious, refreshing beer, they’d win for their building alone. In 2010, homebrewer-turned-Angel-City-founder Michael Bowe moved into the John A. Roebling building in downtown, a monolithic brick structure built in 1913 with gorgeously preserved architectural details coupled with a funky, modern aesthetic. Roebling, the man we can thank for useful items like the Golden Gate Bridge and Brooklyn Bridge, used the building for wire rope manufacturing and Angel City has found ways to preserve the building’s history while making it exactly the kind of place people want to hang out in and return to. They host tours, holiday parties, and live music. They offer event space for rent. Since Angel City is winning for their beer and not their kickass real estate purchase, let’s talk about the hooch. They offer four categories: Year Round, Limited, Seasonal, and Barrel Aged small-batch craft brewing. Their Year Rounds are classic choices: IPA, Pilsner, Wheat Ale, the Social IPA (a slightly lighter, fruitier version of the other IPA), and the Belgian Wit. But, Angel City really shows their ingenuity with their Barrel Aged options, creating a rye lager that’s got a surprisingly sweet, oaky finish and Funky Wit, a wheat ale aged in oak with coriander and orange peel. They attract food trucks like moths to a flame and you’re welcome to bring food in from anywhere while you tibble their unique, lovingly-crafted libations.
Ultimately, we can thank a 19th century Australian barber for inspiring this fantastic shop. Toby Hemingway’s great-great-grandfather started the first Hemingway and Sons. The family sold it when Toby Hemingway was young, but it clearly left an impression. In 2011, he opened Hemingway and Pickett, a store stocked with art and furniture. A short four years later, he opened Hemingway and Sons, which has an emphasis on classic menswear and accessories. Do you want to look like a sophisticated modern gentleman who has his interesting, vibrant life together? Hemingway and Sons can make that happen. Quirky greeting and birthday cards imported from Australian artists for you friend’s birthday, a face wash made with Australian-grown extracts to keep your mug looking moisturized and handsome, a rugged and buttery leather weekend tote to whisk your paramore away to Australia? All covered. Sensing a Down Under theme? Hemingway makes a concerted effort to seek out items from his native-Australian in addition to the LA-area, creating an eclectic, totally original, where-on-earth-did-you-find-that kind of store.
Best Barber Shop:
It’s hard to believe a barbershop can be this beautiful and rustic and so perfectly channel the elegance of an age-old custom: haircuts and shaves. The guys behind Baxter Finley created a masculine oasis, offering the straight razor shaves and hot towels of a seemingly-bygone era. Wide-plank wood floors, antique barber’s chairs, and glossy subway tile walls belie the reasonable prices. Each customer’s experience is slightly different: everything is tailored to the man’s skin and hair type, as well as cut preferences. Their expertise doesn’t end with your newly coiffed do– they offer tips on how to keep up the look and how to take care of your hair and skin.
Best Local Brand:
Combatant Gentlemen exploded onto the scene in 2012, offering men the chance to dress well and keep enough money in the bank to enjoy said clothes outside their home. Suits can start as low as $140, but they’re clean, classic, and sophisticated, giving everyone the impression you spend large on your wardrobe. Tuxedos, suits, shirts, ties, they’ve got your entire ensemble covered and with a variety of options that can suit virtually any taste. Ties, even silk ones, are just $16. Combatant Gentlemen developed a quick quiz to help determine the correct sizing, which rarely requires additional tailoring. Let’s not forget the free shipping.