12 Fun Things to Eat & Do This Memorial Day Weekend

ROCA Pizzas. Photo courtesy of ROCA.

Angelenos are emerging from their Covid-induced cocoons and Memorial Day Weekend is upon us. Whether you’d like to marvel at nature, try a new food pop-up,  listen to live music, or savor vegan Mexican dishes or some BBQ, we have a few ideas to bring some fun to this long weekend.

Spotting butterflies always feels a little magical. Now see a plethora of butterflies at two Los Angeles butterfly pavilions. SOAR is a tropical butterfly pavilion at South Coast Botanic Garden in Palos Verdes Peninsula, while the Butterfly Pavilion at the Natural History Museum in DTLA features hundreds of butterflies, native plants, and lots of natural light to help ensure excellent views of these delicate creatures. Entrance to the Natural History Museum’s Butterfly Pavilion is $6, while SOAR is $22 (price also includes garden admission). Info on SOAR and on NHM’s Butterfly Pavilion

Enjoy a daycation or staycation at Downtown’s Hotel Figueroa. The beautifully restored Downtown hotel, first opened in 1926, has a new ‘Summer is Not Dead’ package that includes two complimentary cocktails, late checkout at 2 p.m., and a coffin-shaped pool float to take home (inspired by the hotel’s famed coffin-shaped pool). While you’re there, lounge by the historic pool, and savor ceviche, tacos, and margaritas at Veranda Al Fresco. Conversely, you can buy a day pass for the Hotel Figueroa through ResortPass.  Day passes begin at $35 a day and include a reserved poolside lounge chair, pool access, high-speed Wifi, towels, and $5 valet parking with validation. More information

The Hotel Figueroa’s coffin-shaped pool. Photo courtesy of Hotel Figueroa.

Feast on BBQ and cocktails from Messhall Kitchen. Los Feliz favorite Messhall Kitchen, known for its Carolina-style BBQ and cocktails crafted with house-infused spirits, is offering two special BBQ platters for Memorial Day Weekend. The Biggie Platter offers a pound of pulled pork, a whole kitchen dry rub wings, and a smoked ribeye for $99, while the Smalls Platter features a 1/2 pound pulled pork, 1/2 a rack of baby back ribs, 1/2 chicken, dry rub wings, and a smoked ribeye for $69. Each platter also comes with house pickles, sweet rolls, pit-baked beans, cheddar mash, brussels sprouts, and coleslaw. Both are available for eating in or to-go. In addition, a new cocktail, the Bob Hope, is available to go on Memorial Day. This 16 oz. serving makes four cocktails, comes with a bag of ice, and is $45. Four other cocktails (Negroni, Boulevardier, Brown Derby, and house special The Amanda) are also available to go for $22 (two cocktails) or $40 (four cocktails). More information

Enjoy vegan Mexican brunch at Gracias Madre on Sunday or Monday. This superior plant-based Mexican restaurant, whose notable dishes include Hearts of Palm Crab Cakes, Coconut Ceviche, and cauliflower topped with chipotle nacho “cheese” and pepitas, is open for lunch and dinner on Sunday, May 30 and on Monday, May 31 (Memorial Day). Gracias Madre opens at 11 a.m. both days. Fans of mezcal and tequila should know that this WeHo restaurant offers flights of both. More info

Take an evening stroll at Huntington Gardens. Though botanical gardens are beautiful year-round in Southern California, we are currently experiencing the lushest, most verdant time of year. Summer Evening Strolls begin on Memorial Day and continue through August. Hours are 4:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Non-members must buy tickets in advance, while members need to make advance reservations. Spring Evening Strolls continue through Sunday, May 30.  More info

Butterfly photo courtesy of NHMLAC

Listen to live music at The Original Farmers Market. Live music is back with ‘Summer Sounds on the Plaza.’ This Friday, May 27, and every Thursday and Friday evening through June 25, hear live music from an assortment of genres from 5 to 7 pm. The Original Farmers Market is also a great place to dine (they currently have 30 eateries) or pick up gourmet groceries, quality meats, and farm-fresh produce. More info

Try the Ingrained LA pop-up during its brief (two-day) appearance. Ingrained LA is an artisanal rice bowl concept that came to be during the pandemic. A collab between two USC Village neighbors — Honeybird LA and Cafe Dulce — a new menu arose when numerous international students, particularly from Asia, were stuck in LA during the pandemic, so a special “alter ego” to-go menu called Ingrained was created with flavors reminiscent of home for students unable to return to their home countries. At the Ingrained LA popup, taking place at ROW DTLA’s Cafe Dulce location, you can try the Hainan Chicken Bowl (twice-poached Hainan chicken, rice steamed in chicken broth, ginger scallion paste, sweet soy, ginger, garlic, Asian pickles, fresno chilis, and ginger hot sauce) and the Japanese Beef Bowl (USDA Prime brisket simmered in homemade gyudon broth, with Onions and a perfect egg). Each bowl is $14. The pop-up happens on just two days: Saturday, May 29 and Saturday, June 5. More info

Try a new pizza pop-up. ROCA is a new Roman-style pizza popup co-founded by Rick Rosenfield of California Pizza Kitchen fame. ROCA opens in time for Memorial Day weekend on Friday, May 29 and features pizza “by the cut,” as is the Roman street style. The pizzas are made with premium products, including organic produce from the Santa Monica Farmers Market, specialty cheeses, and artisan dough that took 70 years to research and develop in Rome. Standout pizza varieties include prosciutto and asparagus, squash blossom and ricotta, potato and porcini mushroom, and asparagus and goat cheese. You can also get an Italian chopped salad or kale and almond salad. This is your chance to try ROCA before two brick-and-mortar locations open this fall. Visit the ROCA pop-up at The Americana in Glendale. More information

BBQ & Cocktails from Messhall. Image courtesy of Messhall.

Have a taco-and-cocktail picnic with a Picnic Party Pack from Lanea. The Santa Monica cocktail bar and taqueria is offering the Picnic pack (6 tacos, 2 cocktails, chips and pico de gallo, and a Mexican serape) or the JAJA Juego Pack (6 tacos, 2 JAJA cocktails, chips and pico, a Mexican serape, and a pack of What do You Meme cards), each $49, or the Mini Fiesta (4 tacos, 2 cocktails, chips and pico, and a pair of sunglasses) for just $29. More info

Can your own cocktail at Lanea’s Third Street Promenade Pop-up. The aforementioned Lanea will have a popup outside the Apple store at Santa Monica’s  Third Street Promenade. Visit from 1 to 6 pm on Saturday, May 29, and Sunday, May 30. The first ten people to arrive each day can purchase a 4-pack of Lanea cocktails for just $15.

Savor Kosher brunch accompanied by a jazz/salsa piano prodigy. The Milky Way, owned by the Spielberg family, is offering brunch with live piano from Zak Astor, a young local talent who began studying salsa piano at age 9 at Plaza de la Raza School of Performing Arts, then  jazz piano at age 10.  One of the stars of the documentary “Fame High,” Zak will play tunes both classic and modern during brunch on Sunday, May 30. More information

Go to the grand reopening of The Brig. This Venice stalwart, located on Abbott Kinney for over 60 years, unveils a makeover on Friday, May 28. The memorable exterior sign, featuring boxer and former owner “Babe” Brandelli, remains, but an expansive new patio has been added and the interior has been remodeled, as has the cocktail menu. Another new addition: ‘wiches from sandwich luminary Uncle Paulie’s. More info

Karin E. Baker

About Karin E. Baker

Karin E. Baker is a native Angeleno who loves the eateries, history, nature, architecture, and art of her hometown. When not exploring poke shacks in Kona, tascas in Córdoba, and konditoris in Malmö, she writes about food, culture, lifestyle and travel. She obsesses over comma usage and classic films and is always happy to find an excuse to open a bottle of champagne.
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