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Itinerary: West 3rd Street

July 29, 1999|MATEA GOLD

In the mood for a weekend stroll through a bustling urban neighborhood? Check out West 3rd Street, a 12-block-long corridor quickly becoming a hot spot for eating and shopping in the Fairfax District.

That's 3rd Street, Los Angeles--not the other, more well-known promenade in Santa Monica. Tucked between the Beverly Center and the Farmers Market, the popular street boasts an eclectic collection of about 50 unique gift shops, clothing boutiques and bookstores. Sit and dine at one of the laid-back sidewalk restaurants and watch pedestrians stream by: young couples pushing baby strollers, Hollywood types, hipsters with brightly dyed hair. You'll feel like you live in a big city.

Friday

End the workweek with drinks and tapas at Cava, a sophisticated Spanish restaurant and bar with a Caribbean influence (8384 W. 3rd St., [323] 658-8898). Stick around for the live Latin jazz and salsa music upstairs. Or go down the street to El Carmen (8138 W. 3rd St., [323] 852-1556), where you can choose from 300 tequilas to make the margarita of your choice.

Saturday

Grab breakfast at Who's on Third, a relaxed cafe with inexpensive dishes like breakfast burritos (8369 W. 3rd St., [323] 651-2928).

Then stroll over to Cook's Library, a snug bookstore packed with every culinary tome imaginable (8373 W. 3rd St., [323] 655-3141). Grab one of the 5,000 titles and sink into an overstuffed chair to browse through the recipes. A few doors down, check out Rhythms, a gift shop with unique items imported from South America, Indonesia and Africa (8365 W. 3rd St., [323] 653-6913).

Across the street, stop in at La Bella Cosa, where you can find handcrafted furniture and decorative accessories from Mexico, Morocco and India (8364 W. 3rd St., [323] 852-0559). The shop is an outlet store for decorators and designers, so you can find items 20% to 70% lower than department store prices.

Next door is Ga-Ga, which has an array of whimsical gifts for mothers and babies, including toys, blankets and bath products (8362 W. 3rd St., [323] 653-3388).

Try dinner at Zen Grill, a new "pan-Asian fusion" restaurant drawing rave reviews (8432 W. 3rd St., [323] (655-9991). End the meal with a sauteed banana dessert drizzled with chocolate and caramel sauce.

Sunday

Start the morning with a leisurely brunch at Doughboys, a cozy bakery and restaurant with imaginative dishes like Stuffed French Toast (8136 W. 3rd St., [323] 651-4640).

Spend the afternoon buying gifts to pamper yourself--the perfect way to end a weekend. Nearby is Body & Soul, a boutique with specialty bath soaps, cosmetics and aromatherapy products (8222 W. 3rd St., [323] 655-2559). Down the street, check out Illumine, a small storefront shop packed with candles of every color and scent imaginable (8302 W. 3rd St., [323] 782-0342).

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