This is the place to go when you're in the mood to browse. They have a great selection of books, including stuff that is off the beaten path. If you're into the history of Los Angeles, check out the section on Los Angeles architecture. You could lose an hour there alone. Also, the staff recommendation cards say more than just the standard, "Love this book, read it." They give you insight into what specifically about the book make it likeable to that staff member so you can decide whether you think it is a book for you. Also, if there is something you are looking for that you don't see, ask and they shall order.
PROS: Great staff
CONS: Parking is not easy
If you're looking for special paper in a different color or texture, this is the place to go. They've got a much more interesting selection than your average stationary store (or Hallmark). Not only can you get cards in many colors, they have envelopes to match. They can also do bookbinding, custom stationary or invitations, and are also good for people who do scrapbooking and stuff. If you're looking for a gift, they've got a selection of quirky books also.
PROS: Good selection
CONS: More expensive than chain stores
Whether you've got something specific in mind or you're just going to browse, this is a good store for seafood lovers. They even have sushi grade stuff for those adventurous enough to try that at home. From the prepared foods, I recommend the seaweed salad or the clam chowder.
PROS: Huge variety of seafood for a retail place
CONS: Some items are pricier than the market
If The Getty or LACMA is overwhelming, MOCA is the place for you. Both the Warhol Exhibit and the Basquiat one were really well planned, and even in the biggest crowds this is a place that is easy to take in. While you're out, hit up one of downtown's good eats.
PROS: Cool art
CONS: Downtown parking issues
You can't get a bad bottle of wine there, and I'm not exaggerating. Whether you're paying six bucks or sixty, you know you'll take home something of quality. The sommeliers there are excellent in making reccomendations, so don't be shy about letting them know what you need the wine for (or whom). Next time you are going to the market for wine, make a stop in there instead. For the same price (or less), you'll be surprised at the quality.
PROS: Great way to get an inexpensive yet thoughtful gift.
CONS: Parking spaces limited, and closed on Sundays
While there are some cute pictures displayed, you may not always walk away with professional looking portraits. Our family (and another who was sitting in the vicinity looking over their pictures) were both appalled that after spending $100, we ended up with pictures that were dark in color and poorly centered.
For the money, you're almost better off finding a private photographer or smaller studio who takes more pride in their work.
A store like this is really a niche store, but great for most any pro or serious drummer. In addition to the awesome vintage pieces they have, they've also got a good repair business going. If you need specialty hardware added to your kit or something unconventional, this is the place to go.
PROS: Serious drummer store run by serious drummers
CONS: Hours are limited
This place makes some elegant chocolate. This is the kind of chocolate gift you won't be embarassed to give. They also have some unique chocolate shapes, including airplane-shaped chocolates if you've got an aviation enthusiast in the family.
PROS: Best chocolate in town
CONS: Very pricey - this ain't no See's Candies.
Although the place is small, the ambience is nice and the sushi is fabulous. At lunchtime, they have a great menu of specials that have various combinations of sushi, salad, and/or teriyaki. Their salmon salad combination which includes a generous portion of sushi is a steal for the price.
PROS: Great sushi, easy on the wallet.
CONS: Can get very crowded, and very limited parking and street parking.
In addition to their excellent produce section, deli, and butcher, they have one of the best salad bars and prepared food bars around. Check out their great hummous varieties, including red pepper hummous and scallion hummous. On most evenings, they have a carving station with fresh roasted turkey and roast beef. This is a great place to pop in and pick up dinner for the family when you don't have time to prepare a fresh home cooked meal - and you won't even sacrifice quality.
PROS: Huge variety of food in the prepared foods section, also a carving station.
CONS: A bit pricier than big chain supermarkets