A Stroll Along West 3rd in Los Angeles with Tastemaker Tim Chan

by Trina Hendry

I first met Tim Chan through a mutual friend when I moved to L.A. in 2015, and we became instant friends.  As Torontonians, we immediately bonded over the trials and tribulations of moving to a new city, as well as our mutual love for food, travel, fashion and divine West-Coast living. As managing editor of the lifestyle website, spy.com, co-founder of the men's fashion magazine, Corduroy, and man about town, Tim has gained a reputation as a tastemaker in the City of Angels. So, when it came time to uncover the best-kept secrets along West 3rd Street, I knew he was the guy to show us around.

Located between La Cienega and Fairfax in the Beverly Grove neighborhood, West 3rd is best known for The Grove and the Original Farmers' Market, a famous open-air shopping and dining complex located at West 3rd and Fairfax that features 50 upscale retail shops and restaurants, a movie theater and, of course, the farmers' market. It is also known for its celebrity spotting and has served as a backdrop for many movie premieres. But, if you venture beyond The Grove along West 3rd toward La Cienega, you will discover a vibrant, walkable street chalk full of local designers, bustling cafes and restaurants, a wine tasting room, and other lifestyle businesses catering to the neighborhood.

"West 3rd Street still has that neighborhood feel. Almost all of the shops and restaurants on the street are independently owned, and many of them have been there for years. I like the idea of shopping local and supporting small businesses."

Read on to discover Tim's favorite places to shop, dine, hang and enjoy his best life in Los Angeles.

You are well-regarded as a tastemaker in Los Angeles, but you hail from Canada. Can you tell us how you got your start in LA and what you do now?

My background is in writing and producing, but I moved to Los Angeles about five years ago to consult for an accessories brand. After a couple of years working in fashion and consulting for a number of other companies, I realized I missed writing. So I joined the team at Penske Media Corp. and I'm currently the Managing Editor of their new lifestyle site Spy.com.

Photo courtesy of Tim Chan

Photo courtesy of Tim Chan

West 3rd, most specifically 3rd and Fairfax, is famous because The Grove is located there. But there is so much more to West 3rd than the shopping mall. Why is it one of your favorite neighborhoods?

When I first moved here, I worked on Abbot Kinney Blvd. in Venice. I saw the street change from being a cool local hangout to being overrun with corporate stores and partygoers who turned it into a scene. West 3rd Street still has that neighborhood feel. Almost all of the shops and restaurants on the street are independently owned, and many of them have been there for years. I like the idea of shopping local and supporting small businesses. Also: I live right off West 3rd, so it's got everything I need, from bars to restaurants to clothing stores and services, all right at my fingertips.

How you would spend a perfect Saturday along West 3rd?

Well, I would start off with a spin class at Aura Cycle. I've been taking Saturday morning classes with Blake - he's super motivating and always plays uplifting music, which makes you want to work harder. Then I would grab a smoothie at Kreation or a coffee at Verve. I would probably text some friends to meet me on the street, and we'd have brunch, either at Toast, or at Quality Food and Beverage (get the Sea Scallop Benedict - it's amazing!). And then we'd spend the rest of the afternoon shopping.

One of my favorite menswear stores in the city is Wittmore - literally half my closet is from there and Paul Witt, the owner, always stocks the most interesting new brands. I'm also a huge eyewear fan, and I own a couple pairs of glasses from Gogosha Optique. If you're looking for something unique that no one else will have, I definitely recommend popping in. Nathalie Seaver boutique has great Parisian-inspired gifts and home accessories. Nathalie, the owner, also designs her own line of clothes, and if she doesn't have the piece you like in your size, she'll go and make it for you! 

We would wind down the day at The Blending Lab, which is one of the only wine tasting rooms in the city. They source all their grapes from Central California, and then bottle it just for their tasting room. They always have tasting flight specials too, so I highly recommend checking it out.

Photo courtesy of Tim Chan

Photo courtesy of Tim Chan

Must-shop boutiques?

Wittmore and Douglas Fir for classic yet contemporary menswear (including many independent brands you won't find anywhere else)

Raquel Allegra for boho, Cali-inspired womenswear. (Chrissy Teigen is a fan!)

Monserat de Lucca  for luxe leather bags and accessories that are all made in LA. They have minimal branding on their bags, so it's great if you're one of those people who prefers something chic and subtle rather than carrying around a big "it" bag.

Polkadots and Moonbeams for fun and girly clothing and accessories (they also have a vintage boutique next door)

Photo courtesy of Goldie's

Photo courtesy of Goldie's

The Original Farmers Market is located at 3rd and Fairfax. What are your favourite food stalls there?

Definitely a place called Singapore's Banana Leaf! The name is a little misleading because they also serve Indonesian and Malaysian dishes there. I love their noodles and their curry dishes. So flavorful and satisfying.

Call me old school, but I also can't resist getting Pinkberry every time I'm at the Farmers Market.

Best hidden gem in the neighbourhood?

El Carmen. It's a tequila bar next to Vanderpump Dogs and it's easy to walk right past it if you don't look up and see its red awning and sign. Inside, it's like walking into a Mexican dive bar, with luchador masks lining the walls and a jukebox in the corner. The food's surprisingly great too. I always get a watermelon or blood orange margarita and then an order of mushroom tacos. 

Do you have a go-to coffee shop?

Verve Coffee is my go-to, although there's something nostalgic about hanging out at Joan's On Third, too. Even before I moved to LA, I knew about Joan's, so it's pretty great that I now just live up the street.

Where do the locals hang out for a fun night out?

My friends and I have done many bar crawls up and down the street. We usually start at The Phoenix, maybe pop into Toca Madera if it's not too packed, then grab beers at Goal, and end the night at El Carmen

What do you love most about living in LA?

LA can definitely live up to its stereotypes, but what's great about the city is that you can also find incredible neighborhoods like West 3rd Street, where you feel like everyone knows each other and you can be around normal, down to earth people. I love seeing all the families out on the weekends, and all the storeowners and restaurant owners know people by name. There's a beauty supply store that I've been going to on West 3rd Street for years, called Glamour Beauty, and the manager, Stephanie, has seen my hair color change from black to brown to blond. She knows exactly what I'm coming in for based on the condition and color of my hair, and she'll always yell at me for not taking care of my hair better. And I love that, because in a city has big and spread out as Los Angeles, it's nice to find a sense of community and find a place that really feels like home.

Follow's Tim's adventures in and around LA on Instagram.