Visitors come to Hollywood hoping to see TV and movie stars on the job—but you might also spot them picking up groceries, or running home to grab the cell phone they left on the kitchen table. That’s the case at least with Jimmy Kimmel, who was born in Brooklyn and grew up in Nevada but now calls Hollywood home.
The Emmy-winning host and comedian has been helming ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live! since 2009, interviewing celebrities and performing sketches in front of a live audience at Disney’s El Capitan Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard. (Interested in attending? Here’s how to get audience tickets to that and other L.A.-based shows.) We asked Kimmel to share his favorite places to eat and explore in L.A. and throughout the Golden State. Here’s what he had to say.
Why there? There are lots of nice neighborhoods in L.A., but the primary reason I live there is so I can be close to work. I have a tendency to forget things. Today I forgot my cell phone. Typically, I forget my wallet. Living in Hollywood just makes it easier to retrieve my forgotten items.
Who or what is your greatest California love? California is the best state overall—no question. Everything you could possibly want is here. In Southern California, the weather is almost always nice, there are great places to eat, and there’s the beach. But if I had to choose just one, I’d have to say the weather. I appreciate having the same weather every day.
What is the biggest misperception about Californians? That everyone is phony, that everyone is fake. That is a ridiculous statement to make about an enormous state. And, also, the whole thing about people in L.A. being bad sports fans is exceptionally false. That is a perception that’s out there, that we are fair-weather fans, but our weather is fair every day.
What is the stereotype that most holds true? The traffic here isn’t great, sure. That really holds up. But if you live here, you know how to minimize that. I am not a fan of generalizing, but that is true. That’s why I live close to work.
What is your favorite Golden State splurge? The beef short rib at APL Restaurant in Hollywood. It’s expensive and it’s worth every penny. I have it about once a week. Too much.
Time for a road trip—where are you going? I love a road trip. I liked them more before I had two little kids. You know where my wife and I like to go? Depending on how much time we have, we drive or fly up to Concord and drive over to Healdsburg. I love that area. Of course, they make a lot of wine up there. We love to get up there and do nothing all weekend but eat and drink. Sometimes we rent a house, but there are great hotels.
If you could decree an official state culinary experience, what would it be? People are going to be so mad at me, because it’s hard to get in as it is. There’s a place in a strip mall in West Hollywood called Sushi Park that I love. I go in and get the omakase—the chef picks what you get—and they keep bringing you food until you tell them to stop. And I never tell them to stop. I’m like a goldfish—I will eat until I explode. There’s also the Mariscos Jalisco taco truck downtown. They don’t have a restaurant. They just sort of cleared out and set up some folding chairs in a crappy room, near the food truck. And the food—the shrimp tacos are exceptional.
How do you define California style? I always think of those OP shirts, from when I was a kid. Or, really, here it is: I actually have a fold-up-top ’74 Volkswagen Thing that I converted to electric. That, to me, is the essence of California style. In fact, I petitioned the state department of motor vehicles to give me a permit to ride in the HOV lane and they granted it. Because previously only cars that were built electric were given them, and now they are eligible.
Best California song? “California Stars” by Wilco & Billy Bragg. Woody Guthrie actually wrote the lyrics. It’s about relaxing and looking at the sky. I listen to it whenever I’m in a really good mood.
How would your California dream day unfold? I have two little kids and two older kids. So my wife and I love to go to the farmers market with everyone on Sunday mornings. I have gotten to know the people there, like the lady with the fresh avocados. We never go with a plan for what we’re going to make for dinner, but we get it all there. We have a little lunch at the food stand there, and then go home and fire up the grill in the backyard. That for me is the best day I can think of.