I plan to do a “best-of” series over the next few months in both LA and OC (and eventually in NYC)…focusing mainly on mom & pop shops, restaurants, and bars. I want to document my favorite things in and around the city and promote these local establishments so they continue to thrive for many years to come!
I currently reside in Echo Park, California which is a tiny part of town nestled between Elysian Park (Dodger Stadium) and Silverlake. It has been up-and-coming for a while now and is home to many of my favorite places on the Eastside. With music, food, and cheap rents (not really anymore) abundant in this area, it is no wonder musicians and bands like Elliott Smith, Rilo Kiley, Frank Zappa, and Glenn Frey once called Echo Park home. Steeped in history, Echo Park encompasses the best of the old and new and just keeps getting better everyday! With new businesses opening up shop, and houses being renovated all over the hills, I am sure this area will be just as expensive (boo) and family-friendly as its very hip neighbor, Silverlake, soon.
Here is my staycation guide to Echo Park on a Saturday!
- Start your day off with a coffee and egg pastry from cookbook on Echo Park blvd. They have some of the best French-pressed coffee in the city (Sight Glass), feature produce and meats from local farms, and sell great products like Dr. Bob’s ice cream and dairy products from Strauss Family Creamer.
- Then go for a stroll on a staircase walk…get the tour-guide iphone app here! So much fun, exercise, and history all rolled into one! Make sure to stop by Baxter Street…the 5th steepest street in the US and try to make it up to the top!
- If you’re feeling up for lunch after your hike, stop into Masa and order the deep dish. The cornmeal crust is sinfully delicious! Be aware that it takes 45 minutes to make one pie, so call ahead if you’re in a rush!
- After lunch, you’re probably feeling a little tired from all those carbs. Head down to the lake with a blanket to take a nap….the newly refurbished lake opens on June 15th at 10am! More info here.
- Once you’re all rested up, you may need to quench your thirst at one of the many local drinking establishments. My favorites include: Sunset Beer, El Prado, and 1642. Sunset beer has an extremely large selection of hard to find beers, with a tasting room attached! They will let you open a bottle from the fridges and drink it there for a small fee. I had my 30th birthday here, and the location was a big hit (the pizza place next door delivers!). El Prado and 1642 are both wine and beer bars with their own flair. 1642 has a resident kitty that roams the bar, and occasional live music while El Prado has a record player and great snacks to munch on! Note: stop into El Prado on Tuesday for their Origami Vinyl night and 1642 on Thursday night for free tamales during happy hour.
- If you’re the vintage loving type, check out some of the amazing vintage this area has to offer, starting with Hutch. The owner is the sweetest woman from the mid-west and she has EXTREMELY reasonable prices! My husband and I bought an orange 60s armchair there for $60! Other notable shops include: Bear cat, Taxi CDC, and the pricy, Lemon Frog.
- With all that shopping, I’m sure you’ve worked up an appetite to stop into my favorite local place for dinner, Taix. It is outstanding French country cuisine at a reasonable price! Everything that I’ve tried there is delicious. You can’t go wrong with the trout almondine, or salmon with champagne sauce. The mac & cheese is garlicky and gooey, and the soups are ALL amazing (and vegetarian friendly, too!!) Sit in the dimly-lit lounge and have a couple cocktails or wine with your meal and enjoy the relaxed, unpretentious atmosphere, or fancy it up by dining in one of the nicer time-capsule worthy rooms featured on Mad Men.
- After dinner, head over to the Echo for a show (The Rolling Stones just played there!) or dance night! On Saturday nights they host a funky sole dance night that features great DJs.
- And if you’re still out partying after all the food and festivities from the day, head over to the parking lot of Vons, where you’ll find the Taco Zone truck parked. Order a suadero (brisket) taco (or many!). So so good (and cheap).
- Since music is such a huge part of this area, I cannot do a write up without mentioning The Fretted Frog (where my husband got my banjo!), and Bedrock rehearsal studios (where my band and I practice often)….they have a huge room filled with pinball machines that is open to the public! Also, I have to mention the many festivals that take place here throughout the year- Echo Park Rising, Cultures Collide, etc.
- other notable places: Pizza Buona– great, greasy and cheap NY style pizza (FYI-cash only). Mohawk Bend– located inside a beautifully renovated space (formerly an old Vaudeville theater), it has a photo booth, 71 (mostly) California beers on tap and an entire kitchen devoted to vegan cuisine! Sage– a vegan restaurant with a great reputation (I have not eaten here yet, but it’s on my must-try list!).
Can you tell I love my ‘hood? 🙂 I hope to see you out in my neck of the woods soon!