One of L.A.’s most quickly changing neighborhoods, Silver Lake is a mix of young musicians, writers and creative types, film-business workers, and professionals who enjoy the hilly streets lined with architecturally significant homes and the proximity to Downtown L.A. In the past few years, the neighborhood has gained still more gourmet food shops, under-the-radar restaurants and funky boutiques.
Start a walking tour of Silver Lake at Sunset Junction, the area starting around Sunset Boulevard and Sanborn Avenue, where several tasty shops are close together. INTELLIGENTSIA COFFEE & TEA, which originated in Chicago, kicked up the local coffee competition by several notches; its shady terrace is a great place for lingering over carefully drawn lattes. After fueling up on coffee, stop by the CHEESE STORE OF SILVERLAKE, one of the city’s top cheesemongers, and stock up on cheeses, condiments, charcuterie, olives and wine for your pantry.
For a leisurely dinner, dine next door to the Cheese Shop at CAFE STELLA for pricey French bistro food in a seriously charmant bohemian sidewalk-café atmosphere, or go across the street to Silver Lake’s order-at-the-counter eatery of the moment, FORAGE LA , where the chicken is Jidori, the produce is from local backyard farmers, and the baked goods are incredible. If ice cream is more your dessert style, walk next door to PAZZO GELATO, which carries unusual flavors of hand-crafted gelati. And the block has more! BERLIN CURRYWURST has brought a taste of Germany’s favorite street food to the area, and SPICE STATION is a destination for serious cooks, its walls lined with hard-to-find herbs and seasonings. Or head east on Sunset to pick up some salted caramels or red velvet cupcakes at the dainty LARK CAKE SHOP.
While the area is more ethnically diverse than it once was, it’s still rich in Latino culture and food, and you’ll see lots of Mexican restaurants. Try the fish tacos at the popular EL SIETE MARES taco stand; for lighter, updated Mexican dishes, a tasty mole and good vegetarian choices, head to ALEGRIA ON SUNSET. And if it’s a drink you’re after, you’ll find margaritas and a killer tequila selection at MALO, a hip hangout whose drinks are better than its food.
Breakfast is the favorite meal for a certain sort of Silver Lake resident. Late sleepers favor grungy old-school diner MILLIE’S, while Francophiles order omelets or quiches at a sidewalk table at Madame Matisse. People who want room to spread out in a booth with the newspaper settle in at DUSTY’S BISTRO, which has a full bar and French-Canadian specialties. If Dusty’s is packed, try the new FOOD + LAB, where the food has a Viennese slant.
Vestiges of the area’s scruffier past can be found at CAFE TROPICAL, a Cuban café serving up café con leche, fresh-squeezed juices and baked goods, like the iconic guava cheese pastry. Or dig into a bowl of steaming pho noodle soup into the wee hours at PHO CAFE, a Vietnamese mini-mall spot with a modern décor but no sign out front.
As you leave the area, head north onto Silver Lake Boulevard to check out LA MILL, a high-style coffee emporium with baroque brewing methods and top-notch food conceived by Michael Cimarusti, chef of Providence. Continue along the Silver Lake reservoir to Glendale Boulevard to find SILVERLAKE WINE, where regular tastings (as well as the every-Thursday appearance of the Let’s Be Frank truck) draw enthusiastic crowds of oenophiles.
— Pat Saperstein
Alegria on Sunset
3510 W. Sunset Blvd., 323.913.1422
3827 W. Sunset Blvd., 323.663.1989
3932 W. Sunset Blvd., 323.666.0265
2900 W. Sunset Blvd., 323.661.8391
Cheese Store of Silverlake
3926 W. Sunset Blvd., 323.644.7511
3200 W. Sunset Blvd., 323.906.1018
El Siete Mares
3131 W. Sunset Blvd., 323.665.0865
Food + Lab
3206 W. Sunset Blvd., 323.661.2666
3823 W. Sunset Blvd., 323.663.6885
3922 W. Sunset Blvd., 323.663.6173
1636 Silver Lake Blvd., 323.663.4441
Lark Cake Shop
3337 W. Sunset Blvd., 323.667.2968
4326 W. Sunset Blvd., 323.664.1011
3524 W. Sunset Blvd., 323.664.0404
3827 W. Sunset Blvd., 323.662.1410
2841 W. Sunset Blvd., 213.413.0888
2395 Glendale Blvd., 323.662.9024