Hollywood Sites & Bites
It’s been a while since I’ve visited Hollywood. Shame on me since it’s just a couple of hours from San Diego. Not so many years ago, without a second thought, I would load my Opal up with three wacky friends and a $10 bill in my shoe. I could find the place with a map and some backseat drivers. I knew the hip places to dance, the cool places to listen to new bands, and the most affordable, funkiest places to eat. Fast forward a couple of years and, even though I only live about two hours from Hollywood and Vine, I had to research it on the Internet, program my GPS, and call my insurance company to make sure I would be covered. My Coach purse was filled with mad money. The only thing that did not change: I still had three (writer) friends in my car, and some of them were backseat drivers.
Now that I’ve spent a day there, I muse over what place could have a more dazzling appeal than that of Hollywood. If Los Angeles is the city of dreams, Hollywood appears to be the one place in California where people of all walks of life are still living it.
To properly see Hollywood you could easily spend a couple of days if you want to explore every nook and cranny, but if you’ve only got one day you can still enjoy the best of what it has to offer. My lifestyle—and probably yours—says I’ve got six hours at the most.
When most people think Hollywood, they think movie stars. But even ingénues have to eat, and Hollywood is home to iconic, classic eateries as well as a diverse international food scene. This is the Hollywood I wanted to discover—the culinary one. I contacted TOURific Escapes about its Hollywood Sites & Bites Food Tour ($99). They had a Saturday morning tour open so I booked myself and my friends and off we went.
The four-hour (part walking, part minivan) tour started out at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. Parking ($10) was just across the street. There were about 10 of us plus a guide and a bus driver. We spent our time visiting six unique Hollywood eateries to sample signature dishes, explore the history of the area, and hear the stories of the movers and shakers that made—and continue to make—Hollywood the crazy heaven of dreams. The tour integrated cupcakes with monuments, the Walk of Fame, ice cream, and a deli sandwich, sprinkled here and there with a music venue. It was interesting to notice how easily the whole group got into the swing of things including tasting, picture taking, and being mesmerized by the grandness of it all.
You can visit Hollywood year round; the weather is always good. Whatever time of the year you go Hollywood Boulevard is sure to woo the kid in you, movie buff or not. It’s that special, otherworldly quality that makes Hollywood, well, Hollywood. At least once in your life, get over there, walk down the glamorous lane for a day with the stars, and check out the fabulous places to eat.
Here’s what the $99 Hollywood tour gets you:
- Interactive and knowledgeable commentary
- Four hours of fantastical fun
- Six yummy food tastings (see round-up below)
- Patient guides
Time: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Dates: Wednesday to Saturday
Price: $99 Adults; $59 Kids (under 10 years old)
Booking & Additional Info
Six yummy eateries I won’t soon forget:
Stop 1: Crumbs Bake Shop – Crumbs Bake Shop first opened its doors in March of 2003 on the Upper West Side of Manhattan; the Hollywood Boulevard shop followed shortly. The menu is an irresistible blend of comfort-oriented classics and elegant baked goods, but the specialty of the house is the Crumbs signature-size cupcakes. We had a mini cupcake and a smooth, cool coffee drink. A perfect starter combo.
Stop 2: Susan Feniger’s STREET – This is an edgy, trendy, vegetarian-friendly place showcasing cuisine from around the world and was my favorite stop of the day. Our tastes included some brilliant offerings such as a tamarind ginger cooler, kaya toast, and shrimp and chicken pot stickers. Expect a perfect blend of mind, spirit, and taste.
Stop 3: Mozza2Go – This was an interesting dash-and-dine experience. The venue is just what it says: a place to purchase items to go. Our host pre-ordered two pizzas: bianca with fontina, mozzarella, sottocenere, and sage and salami, mozzarella, Fresno chilies, tomato. We stood outside and ate our slices of pizza; it was some of the best pizza I’ve tasted on the West Coast.
Stop 4: Greenblatt’s Delicatessen & Fine Wine Shop – This was also a favorite spot because of it’s large selection of old-fashioned, high-quality deli foods. I felt as though I was back in New York. Among customer favorites are homemade matzo ball soup, a hot pastrami Reuben, the #3 hot corned beef sandwich, triple-decker combination sandwiches, rare roast beef, and double chocolate fudge cake. The wine shop was a wine lover’s dream. Rows of well-known and small-lot choices kept me interested for a very long time, however it was the quirky shelf-talkers that make this place a must see.
Stop 5: John Kelly Chocolates – A chocolate-lovers haven for sure. Smooth, delicate chocolate made with a vision. It’s a small place, but our bites where mighty and flavorful. I’d return here in a nano second.
Stop 6: Mashti Malone’s – Can you say—and taste—no preservatives, no eggs, no refined sugar, no corn syrup, no trans fat, no artificial flavor, and no artificial color? Yup, just pure, tasty indulgence at this exotic ice cream and sorbet shop. Each scoop promises, “Healthy benefits in every bite.” Ingredients such as rosewater, saffron, ginger, lavender, cardamom, and pistachios deliver big. I especially loved the orange blossom with pistachio flavor. It was certainly a great way to end the foodie tour.