Photography by Trevor Smith

Elaina Bellis and James Branaman

Art Director and Photographer

| Sawtelle

Our world is filled with beautifully different people, but cross paths with Elaina Bellis and it’d be easy to wish that there were more like her. Grounded and supernaturally kind, she’s the type whose spirit seems almost too big for her body— in just a smile, you’ll feel her genuine lightness, love and quiet understanding (and, trust us, you’ll walk away trying to channel it too). What’s perhaps most special about the former model, now art director and mother is her dedication to living her own truth. Case in point: whereas most social media accounts present motherhood as a dreamy breeze, Bellis took to hers to reveal a very different side— first the stillborn birth of her first child (a beautiful boy named Lincoln), and later, her struggle to breastfeed her twin daughters, Quincy Kay and Rowe James (FYI, both stories went viral and have since supported countless women grappling with similar experiences). Seriously, could there be a more incredible woman to honor this Mother’s Week (we mean, don’t they all deserve more than a day?)? And, if you can believe it, Bellis’ partner, photographer James Branaman is cut from the same cloth; the father of two is refreshingly charismatic, down-to-earth and really quite funny (and yes, an all-around dream husband and dad)— maybe every superwoman deserves her superman? As if we had to say it, we know one thing is clear: Quincy and Rowe are two very lucky peas in a West LA pod. Here, the family sits down with CITIPHILE to reveal their little black book on LA.

NEIGHBORHOOD STANDBY: JB: My favorite spot has to be Dune in Atwater Village (MAP IT, x). Their falafel wrap is one of the best I’ve had; the fresh pita they use is to die for!

COFFEE OR TEA: EB: Coffee from Blue Bottle (MAP IT, x) because they do pour over.
JB: Coffee. The best cup in town is at Love Coffee in Santa Monica (MAP IT, x) because they use Counter Culture roasters from Chicago— it’s hard to find!

ALL-TIME FAVORITE RESTAURANT: EB: Gjelina (MAP IT, BOOK IT, x)! I love the mushroom toast and the smoked trout salad.
JB: Gjelina in Venice— it’s always so good; it never disappoints. The mushroom toast is my favorite!

LADIES LUNCH: EB: Superba Food and Bread (MAP IT, BOOK IT, x).

WITH THE BOYS: JB: When I hang with the guys, we go to Lamonica’s Pizza in Westwood (MAP IT, x). It’s been around for ages and has a old, nostalgic vibe. They fly the dough in from New York! If we want something a little more upscale, we go to Gjusta (MAP IT, x) in Venice. They have a beautiful communal sitting area that’s not too busy in the evening.

WHERE TO BRING OUT-OF-TOWNERS: EB: A hike from Malibu to Point Dume or one through Temescal Canyon.
JB: I would take them to Jon & Vinny’s (MAP IT, BOOK ITx) on Fairfax because not only is the food delish, but it’s in a great little area for walking.

MUSIC PICK: JB: I love indie rock and alt-country. I’ve seen a lot of shows at The Music Box at The Fonda Theatre in Hollywood (MAP IT, x); they always get some of my favorite artists.

BEST BRUNCH: EB: Gjusta— literally everything there is outrageously good!
JB: Bru’s Wiffle in Santa Monica (MAP IT, x) is great— the chicken and waffles are my favorite.

BEST PEOPL WATCHING: EB: Venice Beach.
JB: Abbot Kinney, Venice.

HEALTHY STAPLE: EB: Sweetgreen (MAP IT, x) for the “Spicy Sabzi” (baby spinach, kale, spicy broccoli, beets, carrots, bean sprouts, spicy quinoa, basil, roasted sesame tofu, hot sauce and carrot-chili vinaigrette).
JB: Sweetgreen for the “Shroomami” (wild rice, kale, beets, bean sprouts, basil, spicy sunflower seeds, roasted sesame tofu, warm portobello and miso-ginger dressing).

GUILTY PLEASURE: EB: Osteria Mozza (MAP IT, BOOK IT, x)— the best pasta I’ve ever had!
JB: Sidecar Doughnuts in Santa Monica (MAP IT, x). They make them fresh all day and the huckleberry donut is unbeatable.

LA’S BEST-KEPT SECRET: EB: Bay Cities Deli (MAP IT, x).
JB: How much beautiful nature surrounds this city!

FIRST THING I MISS WHEN I’M AWAY: The sushi.
JB: My community of friends and family.

REGULAR AT: JB: Love Coffee is my regular spot. They have amazing coffee, but I really go there to work when I need some new scenery during the week.

DATE NIGHT STANDBY: EB: Sugarfish (MAP IT, x). Their sushi is my personal favorite. The rice is served warm and it melts in your mouth!
JB: Sugarfish. The fish is always so fresh and delicious and the dining area is nicely lit.

KID-FRIENDLY PICK: EB: Pitfire Pizza (MAP IT, x)! They’re super kid-friendly and offer gluten-free crusts and dairy-free cheese!
JB: We like to take the girls to Tender Greens (MAP IT, x)— they are always so accommodating, even though we wreck the place with the twins!

TO ESCAPE AND UNWIND: EB: Always Malibu.
JB: Topanga Canyon.

GO-TO GETAWAY: EB: Big Sur! There is so much to explore there and we go often; the views are insane and it has one of my all-time favorite places to eat: Big Sur Bakery (MAP IT, x).
JB: Ojai— it’s not too far of a drive from LA and it has a lot of charm/vibe, plus beautiful hiking.

CLOSET CHECK: EB: Less is more. I wear a lot of Christy Dawn (MAP IT, x); she makes the most effortlessly beautiful dresses.
JB: Since becoming a father, I’ve embraced my “dad” style, haha. I mean more simple, clean and classic pieces. A.P.C. (MAP IT, x) is my favorite place to shop.

BEST HOME DÉCOR: EB: Our home is a mix of mid-century and modern. I love to “treasure hunt” at flea markets.
JB: I like a mix of modern and vintage. I go from CB2 to The Rose Bowl Flea Market (MAP IT, x).

BEST HOST/HOSTESS GIFTS: EB: Midland Shop in Culver City (MAP IT, x).
JB: General Store in Venice (MAP IT, x).

FOR HIM: EB: Union Made.

FOR HER: JB: Christy Dawn in Venice.

GIFTS FOR KIDS: EB: Quinnie & B in Santa Monica (MAP IT, x).

BEAUTY/GROOMING BLACK BOOK: EB: Amanda Jones (x), my hairdresser at Salon Republic (MAP IT, x)! I’ve been seeing her for 10 years and I love her!
JB: The Now massage in Santa Monica (MAP ITx).

FIT PICK: EB: I rotate between The Dailey Method in Venice (MAP IT, x) and Power Yoga Santa Monica (MAP IT, x).
JB: Power Yoga in Santa Monica is the best!

ULTIMATE LA MOMENT: EB: I was having my birthday dinner at Katsu-Ya (MAP IT, x) (which is another favorite sushi spot of mine) so we were all dressed up for my birthday-themed party in roaring ‘20s flapper wear. All of the sudden, I felt a tap on my back and it was Rita Wilson and Tom Hanks! They wanted to know why we were all dressed in theme and ended up standing and talking with us for 20 minutes or so! That kind of stuff doesn’t happen in Quincy, IL where I’m from.
JB: I was at a restaurant that had single stall restrooms and someone in the men’s room was taking forever. I decided I would just jump in the women’s real quick, but as soon as I locked the door,  I heard a knock. I tried to be as quick as possible and when I opened the door I was met with Cameron Diaz waiting to pee! CP

Elaina & James’ LA

From L to R: First Row: Coffee from Blue Bottle; Morning at Love Coffee; Paper from General Store; Pasta at Osteria Mozza. Second Row: Dinner at Gjelina; Plants from Midland Shop; Sidecar Doughnuts; Inside Sweetgreen.

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