Small World Books is one of those places. You have to kind of awkwardly walk through the dining patio of a nearby cafe to get to this bookstore and it's a bit hidden, but once you're in the selection of books is excellent. This bookstore not only carries very good small authors (and gives them a prominent place in the display area), but carries larger titles as well. I've liked everything I've picked up at Small World Books, which might not exactly be the store's doing but some persuasive advertising of smaller titles has expanded my list of authors.
Just up the street, one block away from Ocean Front Walk is Mao's Kitchen. This place has amazing "countryside" Chinese food, the dishes largely hailing from The Chairman's native Hunan province. It's also one of the few places in Los Angeles that I know of where you can find tofu prepared in three different ways (steamed is great). The walls here are covered in replicas of 1960s Cultural Revolution propaganda, including smiling 12 year olds holding AK-47s -- a bit creepy. Seating here is communal ... of course.
Walking south on Ocean Front Walk you can bump into iconic Muscle Beach, a former hangout of our current governor and a home to bodybuilders.
A tip: I've noticed the further I head north on the Venice Beach the sketchier it gets. Ocean Front Walk also isn't fun after it gets dark.
Enjoy the weekend!
-- Lauren Williams