Los Angeles Day 2:  Runyon Canyon Park, Thai Town and Venice

Raw Cane Super Juice

We started our day like a true Californian by getting some juice for breakfast at a nearby shop called Raw Cane Super Juice. It was a cozy little shop with minimal to none seating. We ordered one with just sugar cane juice, coconut and avocado, as well as a more “green” one with the aforementioned as well as kale and lemon. The first was deliciously smooth and creamy. The second tasted perhaps a little too healthy with the kale and lemon. Our two 16oz cups came out to be around $22 CAD, which was pretty pricey. Apparently this store does a subscription service for those who want a 3 to 10 day “cleanse”.

Runyon Canyon Park

We then headed to Runyon Canyon Park. Trying to find parking again was a headache. There was not parking lot at the trailhead, so you would just have to test your luck by looping around the neighbourhood trying to find street parking. We arrived around noon on a Sunday and the streets were packed. I thought we were being silly but hiking at noon but apparently, we were not the only ones. Luckily, our trusty Yaris managed to fit into a tiny spot and we were on our way. The trailhead was not difficult to spot with a huge sign marking the entrance to the park. There is a small honour-system stall for food and snacks here. Immediately as you enter the park, there was a little grassy area, where people do organized yoga and other fitness classes throughout the week. Note, there are no bathroom facilities along the trail, so just make sure you’ve relieved yourself before you come.

We walked along the nicely paved path before making a sharp turn to the left towards the West Ridge Trails. Those who prefer an easier hike can continue on the inner loop along the paved path, but we opted for more of a challenge. The dirt path soon became quite steep and the terrain was mostly super dehydrated dirt, which basically resembled sand. As I went up, I worried about how I would manage to go down later without slipping and sliding down. Unlike the trails on The Chief in Squamish, BC that we recently hiked, there was no shade to be found anywhere here. I felt like I was in a dessert with just sand, dried plants and some cacti. We finally reached what we thought was the summit of the West Ridge and stopped for a water break and some pictures. Little did we know that there was an even higher point which we had to climb up to. Finally feeling accomplished, we headed back down the other side of this peak, only to find that the path down was super steep, requiring us to go down using our hands and almost our buttocks for support. The rest of the trail was less challenging, allowing to us appreciate views of the large mansions nearby as well as snap a few selfies with the Hollywood sign in the distance. The entire hike took us around 1.5 hours, but definitely felt longer with the steep ascents as well as the dry heat.

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Runyon Canyon Park. Photo credit: Aaron.

Thai Town

We have pretty much burned off our juices from this morning, so it was time to look for food again. Today, we will explore Thai Town for some good authentic Thai food, since LA apparently has the best Thai food in America. We went to Ruen Pair Thai Restaurant, located in a plaza entirely consisting of different Thai restaurants. Parking was valet only which I found unnecessary as we could’ve easily just pulled up to one of the spots in the lot that they were going to park our car in anyway! Anyway, as you can tell, I am not a fan of the parking situation in LA. As you enter the restaurant, remember to put your name down on the clipboard if there is a crowd waiting. It wasn’t too bad because we got a table within a few minutes. We ordered the highly-rated papaya salad with raw crab as well as morning glory with crispy pork. Of course, we had to also order some staples: Thai iced tea and pad thai. The iced tea tasted authentic but sweeter than how I remembered it to be. We were not able to finish it. The papaya salad was disappointing because I realized was not a fan of the raw crab. The texture was too slimy for me. I also though the crab meat will just be mixed in with the salad but it was full-on crab legs you will need to de-shell. We ordered it to be “spicy” but it was nothing compared the regular spice level in Thailand. The morning glory was very tasty especially if you add the Thai version of nuoc mam onto it. Aaron was a huge fan of the crispy pork but I felt that it was too hard and chewy for me to appreciate. I was expecting more of a crunchy texture, like the Chinese roast pork. Aaron would always order pad thai at any Thai restaurant we go to, as a standard to compare the restaurants. He felt this one was pretty good. It was missing some heat, which we corrected by adding some chilli powder in containers on the table, just like in Thailand! It turns out that we over-ordered, so we had some leftovers.

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Thai iced tea @ Ruen Pair Thai Restaurant. Photo credit: Aaron.
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Papaya salad with raw crab @ Ruen Pair Thai Restaurant. Photo credit: Aaron.
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Pad thai and morning glory with crispy pork @ Ruen Pair Thai Restaurant. Photo credit: Aaron.

Venice

Next, we headed to Venice for some beach time! It was about a 45-minute drive, which was fine as we go to see different parts of LA. As we drove near Venice Beach, we were not amused to see public parking lots charging up to $30 USD! We later found out that the lot right on the beach only charges $9 USD but it probably fills up quickly, allowing these other lots to charge such ridiculous prices. We decide to loop around the neighbourhood and found free street parking instead. Our first stop was at Menotti’s Coffee Shop to enjoy a tiny cup of cortado. Then we walked towards the beach, stopping by the skate park where a crowd formed. There was another crowd on the beach, which was the Sunday drum circle, where people played their drums, danced and smoked some marijuana. There was a police station situated on the beach, so I’m assuming this is legal here. This sighting reminded me of the Tam-Tams in Montreal. We then headed off to the busy boardwalk filled with different types of vendors, from souvenirs and clothing shops to food stands, bike rental shops, as well as a store with vending machines for SnapChat Spectacles. We continued our walk to the Venice Canals, which I was a bit underwhelmed by.

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Venice Beach.
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Venice Canals.

For dinner, we had to stop by the highly-rated Tocaya Organica for some fancy tacos. Aaron had the 2 tacos and 2 sides and I had the Sweet Corn En Fuego bowl. You had a choice of protein and queso with your meal and I just went with the suggested turkey picante with the queso manchego. It came with spanish rice, street corn, jalapeno cabbage, salsa, and avocado. The turkey was super flavourful with just the right amount of heat. I was not a fan of the jalapeno cabbage but once I ate all of that, then mixed everything else together, the bowl became a lovely fiesta in my mouth. Aaron had the Barrio Style with the carne asada and the Baja Chipotle with the seabass. The seabass taco was pretty impressive as they were quite generous with a huge piece of fish. The carne asada was ok as I did not like the chewy/touch texture of the beef. Again these were served on a corn taco, which as you know, is not my favourite. For sides, Aaron picked the street corn, which was good and the salsa trio, which was ok. I think I would’ve preferred the plantain chips with guac that people from the other tables were ordering.

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Tacos @ Tocaya Organica. Photo credit: Aaron.
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Sweet Corn En Fuego Bowl @ Tocaya Organica. Photo credit: Aaron.

Churros 

Aaron, being Aaron, decided we must stop by the number one churros place in LA, Churros Calientes, on our way home. They were pretty busy on a Sunday night, so we decided to order their original Churros Calientes to-go. As soon as we got it, we took our first bite and it was probably the best bite of churros I’ve ever had. It was so fresh and crispy with the perfect balance of oily and sweet. Aaron has had his fair share of churros and he reports this is probably one of the best he’s ever had as well. It was another pleasant drive home, enjoying some latin pop hits on the radio.

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