Commentary

Pauley Pavilion: If You're Going …

Updated: February 16, 2009, 7:49 PM ET
By Doug Ward | Special to ESPN SportsTravel


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In their 1983 hit song, Missing Persons famously laments that "nobody walks in L.A."

But Westwood Village, where there are restaurants, movie theaters and live entertainment all within steps of the UCLA campus, offers an exception.

Once the destination of choice for sophisticated Westside Los Angeles dwellers, Westwood has largely devolved into a village of fast-food joints, chain restaurants and college dives and other hangouts. Not that that's a bad thing.

Like most college towns, the dining options in Westwood are easy on the wallet but tough on the calorie count. Unless you're a student, you probably wouldn't want to make a steady diet of Westwood, but a number of places there make for a perfect pregame or postgame splurge. Westwood is also home to several classic movie houses and one great playhouse.

In-N-Out Burger
922 Gayley Ave.
Westwood, CA 90024
Web site
Bruins basketball fans line up before and after games at the Westwood location of In-N-Out, which is a short walk from Pauley Pavilion. The place is always packed with UCLA students, and the long lines can move slowly. But the hot-off-the-grill burgers and fresh cut skinny fries are well worth the wait, especially if you're coming from out of In-N-Out's sphere of influence, which spans Southern California, Nevada and Arizona.

Diddy Riese Cookies
926 Broxton Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90024
(310) 208-0448
The Diddy Riese cookie is to Westwood Village what the Dodger Dog is to Chavez Ravine. A Westwood visit isn't complete without stopping by the small storefront, where you can pair up two freshly baked cookies with a scoop of Dreyer's ice cream to create ice cream sandwich nirvana. Diddy Riese has been a Westwood staple since 1983, and the fact that an ice cream cookie sandwich fetches a mere $1.50 results in walk-in traffic jams of UCLA students and locals.

Stan's Corner Donut Shoppe
10948 Weyburn Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90024
(310) 208-8660 | Web site
Since 1965, Stan's has been serving up gourmet doughnuts, ranging from chocolate-iced chocolate chip cinnamon rolls to pretzel-shaped chocolate doughnuts. The Reese's Peanut Butter pocket doughnuts are self-explanatory and come with as with much goodness as guilt.

Mann Bruin Theatre
948 Broxton Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90024
(310) 208-8998
You can see a movie anywhere, but you can't experience one quite the way you do in Westwood, the unofficial home of the Hollywood premiere. You've probably seen stars entering the Mann Bruin Theatre -- Westwood's most impressive movie house -- with its glittering neon facade during the movie premieres shown on "Entertainment Tonight" and "Extra."

Geffen Playhouse
10886 Le Conte Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90024
(310) 208-5454 | Web site
Built in 1929 as a Masonic clubhouse to serve UCLA students and alumni, the building was converted into the Westwood Playhouse in the 1970s. The theater was donated to UCLA in 1995, and after a founding gift of $5 million from entertainment mogul David Geffen the playhouse was renamed for him. Jason Alexander, Neil Patrick Harris, David Hyde-Pierce and Martin Short are among those who have walked the boards here.


UCLA students have also been known to leave Westwood on occasion, and when they do, they often head to:

Tito's Tacos
11222 Washington Place
Culver City, CA 90230
(310) 391-5780
Tito's is a nondescript taco stand that's practically located under a 405 Freeway underpass … but nobody seems to mind. The place is open from 9:00 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. daily, and there's a never-ending line out front at all hours of the day. The queue, which cuts through all socioeconomic backgrounds, is a microcosm of the L.A. melting pot. Blue-collar and white-collar workers, as well as Bruins and Trojans, all line up for the sneaky-good tacos, which come accompanied by tortilla chips and tangy salsa.

Father's Office
1018 Montana Ave.
Santa Monica, CA 90403
(310) 393-2337 | Web site
Located five miles away from the UCLA campus, the original location of Father's Office draws a thirsty crowd of students and young professionals. The Office Burger, which comes with caramelized onion, bacon, gruyere, blue cheese and arugula (don't even think about special orders or substitutions), is legendary. And the Basket of Frites, with garlic parsley aioli, is equally good. There are 30 beers on tap. A second branch is located in nearby Culver City (3229 Helms Ave., Los Angeles, 90024, 310-736-2224).

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