East Hollywood Is Low-Key the Coolest Nabe in Town: Here’s How to Spend a Day There
Want to feel a whole lot cooler in one afternoon? Roll up to East Hollywood, a bifurcated bit of no one’s land that’s become a little stretch of what’s happening among cultural creatives. The restaurants and boutiques are clustered in two places: one, along North Virgil Street near early adopter restaurant Sqirl (real estate types keep trying to call this “Virgil Village,” but whatever) and two, on the stretch of Fountain Avenue in the shadow of the big blue Scientology center. The vibe recalls days of yore when Silver Lake was edgy and we’re here for it big-time.
1. Browse the Coolest Shoes at Intentionally Blank
When a veteran shoe designer creates his own line based on what people really want to wear (not just limp around in), it’s time for celebration. Well, pop a cork and put your feet up—as long as they are shod in shoes from Ty McBride, who designs sexy black chunky-heeled booties, puffy-strapped pastel sandals and square-toe sling-backs in patent leather. All these are displayed next to a rack of vintage clothes in actually wearable sizes. TLDR: The only regret you’ll have concerning these shoes is not buying a pair when you find one you love, because the small production runs mean when they’re gone…sigh.
718 N. Virgil St.; 323-522-3366 or intentionallyblank.us
2. People-Watch Over Lunch at Five Leaves Los Angeles
The West Coast outpost of a popular Greenpoint, Brooklyn, restaurant is less gritty, more glam and equally delish (just like its new city). The menu items all have a little extra pizzazz, like the scrambled egg sandwich with basil and spicy tomato jam or the arugula salad with watermelon and feta. This place is proud of serving “American Australian” cuisine, so instead of ordering the usual cup of joe, be sure to order a flat white (made with Cali’s own Leadfoot Coffee). Oh, and at night, this place is the date spot that East Hollywood’s been waiting for.
4845 Fountain Ave.; 323-426-9997 or fiveleavesla.com
3. Shop All the Indigo and Leather at Made Solid
Need a gift for that discerning Los Angeles homeowner who’s such a snob about great design, carefully sourced materials and supporting local craftspeople? Done, done and done. Made Solid is full of gorgeous handmade leather goods created from vegetable-tanned cowhide that develops a rich patina over time and is supposed to remind us of the animal that gave the hide as it gets stained and scratched. (OK, but we just think it looks cool.) African indigo and woodwork, along with cool art made by Japanese surfers, round out the mix in this beautiful space with a soaring ceiling and a workshop in the back, hosted by friendly, knowledgeable owner Peter Maxwell.
4855 Fountain Ave.; 213-373-1062 or madesolidinla.com
4. Try on Fancy Euro Clothes
A charming shoebox of a boutique, this is inspiration central when you’re shopping for a conversation-starting outfit. A curated selection from global independent designers—a lace jumpsuit, say, or a pair of brocade ankle boots—this collection is constantly evolving. Owner Claudia Cassina graduated with a degree in fashion from a design school in Milan, and her sophisticated point of view is reflected in everything from separates to accessories here.
4851 Fountain Ave.; desperatelosangeles.com
5. Eat the Rice at Sqirl
The little storefront counter that could, Sqirl began as a preserves company in 2011, then added a lunch counter to the 800-square-foot space a year later. The rest is history, with chef Jessica Koslow’s creative way with market-driven ingredients inspiring crowds to queue up around the corner to get a turmeric tonic or a sorrel pesto bowl (brown rice, preserved lemon, sheep feta and poached egg with a dash of hot sauce). While Koslow’s book of recipes and upcoming restaurant opening on the West Side are attracting attention from the foodie elite, grabbing breakfast or lunch at this spot is a pilgrimage you won’t regret.
720 Virgil Ave.; 323-284-8147 or sqirla.com
6. Have a Nightcap at Gold Diggers
This combination bar, performance venue, recording studio and mini hotel is the brainchild of a local nightclub owner who turned a former “bikini bar” into a cool spot to stop in for a drink after work, see an up-and-comer on L.A.’s indie music scene or put up your out-of-town guests in the uber-cool and reasonably priced rooms. Oh, and the ’70s-era lighted sign with curvaceous lettering is still up out front, but no worries—it’s just ironically transgressive branding.
5632 Santa Monica Blvd.; 323-601-1091 or gold-diggers.com