Editor’s note: With the opening of the Expo Line’s extension to Santa Monica, locals have a new way to explore neighboring areas. The Daily Press will publish a weekly travelogue about what to eat, see and do near each of the stations along the Expo Line, continuing this week at the Culver City stop.
There’s a “Choose Your Own Adventure” book waiting to be written about the Metro light-rail stop in Culver City. A column, at least.
Beyond the borders of its massive parking lot, the station that until recently served as the Expo Line terminus is surrounded by top-notch restaurants and recreational attractions. To the east there’s shopping in the Helms Bakery District, where Father’s Office turns out one of the region’s most well-known gastropub burgers. To the west there’s entertainment galore in the epicenter of Culver City, including nightly live music at the historic Culver Hotel and movies at ArcLight Cinemas. Heck, you can even see where some of those movies are made on a tour of nearby Sony Pictures Studios.
Ready to choose your own adventure?
Enjoy live music and cocktails at Culver Hotel.
You don’t have to book a room at Culver Hotel to enjoy what the renovated Culver City landmark has to offer. Nearly a century’s worth of history oozes from the walls at 9400 Culver Blvd., a fitting venue that manages to be classy without being pretentious.
Live music carries the evenings in the grand lobby, where jazz offerings throughout the week are punctuated by deliveries of swing, soul, blues and folk. Sonic enjoyment starts nightly at 7:30 p.m.
It’s the perfect complement to the hotel’s stable of signature cocktails, which include the Culver Cactus (tequila with lime juice, agave and muddled cucumber and jalapeno) and a pomegranate mojito. They’re all $13 after happy hour, which isn’t a bad deal considering the live tunes you’re getting for free.
The Culver Hotel strikes a delicate balance, providing an upscale atmosphere while maintaining a down-home charm. Those qualities make it a fine choice for a gathering, whether you’re going on a date, celebrating friends’ milestones or just jonesing for a spot to unwind after work.
Sample two of the region’s most well-known burgers.
One is cheaper than some cups of coffee and can be customized specifically to your heart’s content. The other is going to run you more than $12 and cannot be modified at all.
Indeed, the burgers at In-N-Out and Father’s Office could hardly be more different, but both have managed to carve out iconic status in the Southern California food world. And both are within walking distance of the Culver City station.
Simplicity reigns at In-N-Out (9245 Venice Blvd.), which has become known as much for its slow expansion as for its secret menu and bargain prices. The chain’s hamburger is a thin patty on a perfectly toasted bun with lettuce, tomato and onion, and it’s all tied together by an addicting secret spread. Make it even better by asking for chopped green chiles for a little spicy kick, and order a vanilla shake for good measure. Nay, great measure.
East of the light-rail station is Father’s Office (3229 Helms Ave.), a stalwart in the gastropub scene that pairs burgers and other entrees with a daunting list of craft beers. The brainchild of chef-restaurateur Sang Yoon, the Office Burger has remained popular among L.A. foodies even as competitors attempt their own similar iterations. It comes on a slightly oblong bun with caramelized onion, bacon, gruyere, blue cheese and arugula. You won’t find ketchup at Father’s Office, but you won’t find many unhappy diners, either.
If you have to ask which of the two burgers is better, you should just try both.
Take a tour of Sony Pictures Studios.
Ever feel like being a tourist in the region you call home? Consider a trip to Sony Pictures Studios for a behind-the-scenes tour.
On 2-hour guided walks at one of the movie industry’s Westside hubs, visitors can catch glimpses of the stages where Dorothy followed the Yellow Brick Road in “The Wizard of Oz” or where Spider-Man duked it out with his nemeses. Attendees may also see the sets of long-running game shows “Jeopardy!” or “Wheel of Fortune” and the famous RV from “Breaking Bad,” among other attractions.
Tours at Sony Pictures Studios (10000 West Washington Blvd.) cost $40 per person and are typically given on weekdays, although additional walks are held during peak seasons. For more information, call (310) 244-8687, visit sonypicturesstudiostours.com or email email@example.com.
The Expo Line now has 19 stations covering 15.2 miles between Downtown Los Angeles and Santa Monica. A regular one-way fare is $1.75 and includes two hours of free transfers for riders using a TAP card. A daily pass good for unlimited rides on Metro is $7 and monthly passes are $100. Visit taptogo.net for more information.
Contact Jeff Goodman at 310-573-8351, firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter.