Brentwood is a stylish town between Westwood and Santa Monica that over the years has been the home of celebrities such as Shirley Temple, Doris Day, Joan Crawford, Fred MacMurray, and of course, O.J. Simpson.
So it seems a little peculiar to see a big red barn sitting in the middle of this affluent neighborhood. But there it is, big as life, near the corner of San Vicente Boulevard & 26th Street, less than a mile from the home where Marilyn Monroe died.
The Brentwood Country Mart, a small collection of shops and restaurants, is something of a local landmark in this community. Established back in 1948, it's a modest little center, but it has its own rustic, New England charm. Not unlike a small version of Farmers Market - only trendier.
From the outside, this old-fashioned shopping center looks just like a large red barn, replete with green awnings and white wood trim. Inside, you'll find 26 quaint shops tucked away between shady brick courtyards and winding walkways. It's the kind of place where you half expect to run into a celebrity around the next corner. And sure enough, the L.A. Times reports that Robert Redford, Michelle Pfeiffer and Steven Spielberg have been spotted shopping here on Saturday mornings, and that in 2006, the new City Bakery attracted both Gwyneth Paltrow and Tom Hanks in its opening week..
There's a nice gourmet food market (similar to Gelson's) offering colorful produce and deli sections. The center's various shops sell toys, gifts, antiques, books & magazines... even shoes. There is a coffee & juice bar, a post office, a pharmacy, and several food stands including Taste o' Chocolate, and Reddi Chick BBQ (where broiled chickens whirl on skewers). The brick patios offer tables and chairs where you can sit, relax and enjoy you meal outdoors in the sunshine.
Nancy Reagan was a regular customer at the BBQ chicken place here, where she was waited-on by a certain high school student (a Democrat) who used to tease her by always asking her to spell her last name - he grew up to be an actor (Hart Bochner, of "War & Remembrance").
The center is open daily: 9 AM - 6 PM. ( Note the early closing time.) Admission is free. There is a small, free parking lot with a two-hour limit.
Getting there: The Mart is located near the southeast corner of 26th Street and San Vicente Boulevard. / From the San Diego (405) Freeway, take the Wilshire Blvd (west) exit. Go west on Wilshire (half a mile) to San Vicente Blvd, and turn right (northwest). Follow San Vicente west (about two miles) to 26th Street. Turn left (southeast) on 26th Street, and the Mart will be on your left (east) side. (It looks just like a large red barn, so you can't miss it!)
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