#ToplessSummer: Neighborhood Guide to Echo Park, Silver Lake and Los Feliz
By Vanessa Payes
You don’t have to be a hipster to hang in Echo Park, Silver Lake, and Los Feliz. Don’t let the block-to-block record stores, snazzy coffee shops and bushy-bearded dudes sporting canvas totes throw you off. These ethnically-diverse communities are also a cultural and culinary cornucopia. The feel and flavors of Mexico, Central America, Southeast Asia and the Caribbean all come together harmoniously.
Thinking of taking a day trip? Good. It’s about time these beloved Eastside treasures get some shine. Here are some historic Los Angeles landmarks, night spots, incredible bites, and offbeat shops hidden beneath the hip façade of Echo Park, Silver Lake and Los Feliz.
Adjacent to Dodger Stadium, most Angelenos just pass through this neighborhood on their way to a game. Leonardo DiCaprio and tough guy Danny Trejo both grew up in Echo Park. The neighborhood has come up and changed a lot with the recent influx of young professionals but some things remain true. On any given Saturday morning, just passed Sunset on the Southwest side of Echo Park Boulevard, you will find the Oaxacan Quesadilla Cart where Alejandra has been grilling her infamous hand pressed blue corn quesadillas to long lines of loyal locals. Head back onto Sunset and hit up Angelus Salads for a euphoria inducing amazon fruit bowl.
Check out the one and only Time Travel Mart and buy a donut from 1985 or a pint of robot milk. For the most legit Chicago deep dish pizza in all of Los Angeles, just walk one a block East to Masa of Echo Park. Tucked away off of Echo Park Boulevard and Scott Avenue is Kien Giang Bakery where you can score an authentic Bàhn Mí on a fresh baked baguette. On the weekends, Echo Park Lake is loaded with families and fruit vendors and offers up paddle boat rides around the lake.
Head down Glendale and past the lake to Tigeorges Chicken for some down home Haitian fried pork and spicy coleslaw. If you wanna get your twerk on, hit up Bootie L.A. on the 1st and 3rd Saturday of every month at the Echoplex. If you’ve been having strange and inexplicable dreams or you just wanna know that your boo is being faithful, get yourself a psychic reading at House of Intuition . This neighborhood is also a treasure trove of nom noms.
Cruise down Sunset and into Silver Lake where you’ll find a plethora of unique and quirky shops and restaurants. Nestled between Benton Way and Rampart on Sunset Boulevard is La Caridad Cuban restaurant which serves up moist roast pork, sweet plantains and stays true to the traditions of real Cuban cuisine. Try the spicy peanuts and Taiwanese beef rolled up in a scallion pancake at Pine and Crane. You may find James Franco having an almond milk latte and blowing up his Instagram feed at Intelligentsia coffee bar. You’ll get a kick out of Diablo Taco’s playful micheladas made with a tomato-flavored popsicle dunked in beer.
Don your flashiest Hawaiian print button up and kick back at Tiki Ti for some exotic Polynesian mixed cocktails. Check out the live Flamenco dance show and traditional Spanish food on Saturday night at El Cid and get your hot and sexy Latin boogie on at Los Globos on Sunday night. One of the coolest comic books shops in Los Angeles, Secret Headquarters, boasts an eclectic collection of graphic novels, indie comics, and books that are worth a peep.
If you’re into sneakers, see if you can grab hold of some of this summer’s hottest kicks at Los Angeles’ premiere sneaker boutique, Undefeated . Explore this section of town on foot and discover all of its unique nooks and crannies.
Just North of Silverlake Boulevard, off of Hillhurst Avenue, sits The Good Luck Bar. With its sexy red light ambiance, classic jukebox, and a lounge set up like an opium den, this Los Feliz dive is a long-standing fave among locals. Just across from the bar, you can catch an indie flick or even a summer blockbuster at one of the oldest single-screen movie theaters in Los Angles, The Vista. Los Feliz has a long history of mystics and clandestine secret societies, so check out the spooky library at The University of Philosophical Research for a peek through antique books by Edgar Allen Poe and magician Harry Houdini.
Be sure to stop by Ricky’s Fish Tacos for what could arguably be on of the best fish tacos in Los Angeles. Known to be one of the most romantic look out points in the city of angels, Griffith Observatory’s outdoor balconies offer stunning views of Los Angeles and their high-powered telescopes will give you a closer look at actual stars. Grab some brunch at the Alcove Cafe and find yourself elbow to elbow with celebs like Glee’s Dianna Agron or do breakfast like a Parisian and dig into a fluffy croissant at one of Figaro Bistrot’s sidewalk tables.
Just outside of Los Feliz, in Atwater Village, you’ll find Tam O’Shanter’s where you can grub on carved prime rib, hand cut french fries and top your meal off with a frothy micro-brew from local breweries like Angel City and Golden Road. Travel back in time to the days of swinging crooners at a vintage Los Angles landmark, The Dresden with its resident old school lounge act, Marty and Elayne, the iconic duo featured in the film Swingers.