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March 10, 2015 / oneworld82

Valentine’s Day Weekend in Los Angeles: beach, food, and perfect weather

Valentine’s Day means different things to different people. Some women expect the obvious – flowers and a nice dinner; some others, completely hate it (Valentine’s Day should be everyday, they claim); and single people, well, they usually are depressed on that day.

I have the luck to have a girlfriend who doesn’t necessarily care about it, which is great, as it allowed me to still arrange something special for the occasion avoiding all the usual stereotypes associated with the day.

In my mind, there is nothing better than a romantic weekend getaway with your loved one – and that is true ALWAYS. When you go somewhere, you break loose of the daily routine experienced at home, and enjoy life more. Staying at a hotel, eating out, doing things you wouldn’t necessarily be doing at home are all part of the cathartic ritual of traveling. It was then obvious that I would take my sweet half somewhere.

Over Valentine’s Day weekend, Dallas was seeing decent weather, so I had to find somewhere with even better weather and something that Dallas could not offer: a nice beach.

After checking various destinations, it was easy deciding on L.A. Perfect sunny weather (mid-80’s), nice beaches in Malibu and Santa Monica, a glitzy place where to stay (the Andaz West Hollywood), and decent food to try. All of this – coupled with the fact that my girlfriend had never been to Los Angeles – made me decide to go to SoCal for the weekend.

We left on Saturday morning on the first American Airlines flight out, and we landed in LAX on time around 8.30a. After picking up our rental at AVIS, we were on our way to Malibu for some sun-kissed brunch.

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There are many nice places to have brunch with a scenic view in Malibu, but unfortunately they tend to book up well in advance on special days like this one. But there’s one place that has a great location (on the beach) and does not accept reservations: I am talking of course of Paradise Beach Cove Café.

This café is a Malibu institution – think your quintessential SoCal sandy beach, American food, tanned bodies, bikinis, cocktails… The atmosphere is very informal, jovial – portions are big. After waiting for about 50 minutes we got seated and we enjoyed a nice meal to kick start our day (we took the time to walk around the beach and take some good photos).

Brunch :)

Brunch 🙂

After the meal we soaked up some more sun by the beach before heading back to L.A. Driving through Malibu is always pleasurable, as the town is very scenic, with its cliffs falling into the ocean (reminiscent of my hometown, where the Alps fall even more dramatically into the Mediterranean Sea).

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In any case, from one beach we jumped to another beach – Santa Monica. Justly famous for its immense sandy beaches, it’s fun pier, and Baywatch, this beach town is just as much of a state of mind as Malibu is.

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The pier is always a fun place to do some people watching, as is the boardwalk. I think we spent a couple of hours there in total, and we had a good time given also that the sun was generously shining upon us (you wouldn’t have bet it was February!).

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In any case, we left Santa Monica and we headed to our hotel – the Andaz West Hollywood. I opted for the Andaz because I wanted something centrally located (whatever that means in Los Angeles), and I figured that the Andaz was close enough to Sunset Strip and Beverly Hills to deserve my attention, and glitzy enough for a Valentine’s Day weekend.

West Hollywood

West Hollywood

The Andaz is as sleek as they say it is. Modern, minimalist, open space lobby; friendly staff; complimentary beverages and amenities; nice and spacious bedroom. This historic hotel is definitely a trendy place to spend a few nights, and we were very happy we decided to stay here.

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After freshening up we headed to the Sunset Strip for some people watching – this area is really just a tourist trap these days – before heading to Beverly Hills for dinner.

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To find a good dinner spot for Valentine’s Day in L.A. with just a couple of days of advance notice isn’t very easy – especially because Los Angeles doesn’t have that many good restaurants to begin with. After thorough research we settled for Il Buco, a seemingly-authentic Italian restaurant. While authenticity was perhaps (only) 70%, the food was well-prepared and well-presented, the wine list extensive, and the service excellent. We had carpaccio, lobster salad, risotto with ossobuco, tagliatelle with funghi, chocolate cake, apple cake… all washed down with a good bottle of Negroamaro – the Italian (better) equivalent to Zifandel (produced in the Apulia region).

Carpaccio

Carpaccio

Lobster salad

Lobster salad

Tagliatelle ai funghi

Tagliatelle ai funghi

Ossobuco with Parmesan risotto

Ossobuco with Parmesan risotto

Chocolate cake

Chocolate cake

Apple cake

Apple cake

After a good night’s sleep we went to Mass on Sunday morning before bidding goodbye to our hotel and heading to Beverly Hills yet again to check out Rodeo Drive. I would like to mention that the Andaz offers free (good) coffee in the lobby in the morning, together with freshly-baked palmier cookies. A real treat!

Rodeo Drive I was saying. I like this part of Beverly Hills – so polished, so posh.

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After some shopping at Barney’s it was already 1pm, and hence it was time to get some tacos. After looking extensively for the best taco place in town, we decided to try Guisados, near downtown and the Dodgers Stadium. Boy, I am so glad we went there! This place was not only authentic, but also AMAZING! We had seven tacos in total, and we could probably have had more! The tortilla, the cheese, the chorizo… everything was oh-so-good! If you go there, have the mole taco – to die for!

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After our late lunch we headed back to LAX to catch our American Airlines flight back home. No delays, no hassles… and by 10pm we were back in DFW.

Overall, Valentine’s Day weekend 2015 has been a success! The only thing missing? A romantic couple spa treatment at one of the fancy LA spas – again, when I tried to book something everything was already sold out. Oh well, next time. Till then, arrivederci Los Angeles. It’s been good seeing you again – as always.

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