NFT Los Angeles Los Feliz

Los Feliz

Essentials
Los Feliz perseveres despite the burden of being America's most hyped neighborhood. It continues to have ample room for everyone--from grannies wearing old cardigans to hipsters wearing...old cardigans. You'll find multimillion-dollar playpens on the hill, as well as crowded studio apartment buildings lining Vermont and Hillhurst Avenues. Los Feliz is home to some of LA's most beloved and relevant attractions--Griffith Park, the Los Angeles Zoo, and the Greek Theater--proving that, even in Los Angeles, sometimes you really can believe the hype.

Sundries/Entertainment
With the Griffith Observatory twinkling down on the neighborhood, Los Feliz reminds us that the stars are among us, even where you least expect it. There's a democratic quality to hedonistic pursuits here, and it's not uncommon to see your favorite celebrity catching a film at the See more.

>Vista or grabbing a bite on Hillhurst. Whether you're enjoying the world's best breakfast dish (the smoked salmon stack at the Alcove Café) or enjoying a divey round of dirty photo hunt at the Drawing Room, Los Feliz is the perfect place for brunch, booze, and the pursuit of happiness.

Figaro Bistrot on Vermont squeezes in thirsty hipsters. Malo on Sunset has an industrial-looking, surprisingly intimate outdoor seating area with heating lamps. The Dresden Room solidified its fame with a cameo in 1996's prerequisite LA film Swingers, and comes with its very own lounge act. Paru's is a bounty of all-veggie Indian fare but don't forget the local outpost of Zankou Chicken, the Armenian mini-chain with the most delectable poultry you will ever have the privilege of fingerlicking.




         


This Neighborhood Featured in...
A Burrito in the Haystack: Authentic Mexican Food in LA

By adam c. marshall
A.C. Marshall knows a good tamale when he eats one. Follow him as he wanders the multi-ethnic streets seeking memories of his mother's Mexican cooking.

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A Guide to Seeing the Stars (Off the Beaten Path)

By Ellen Flaherty
Los Angeles: Where celebrities come to live. You may meet them in a by-street, you may see them in the square but when a crime's discovered, celebrities aren't there. Know what I'm saying? Cue Ellen Flaherty as she fills you in on the hiding secrets and tactical escape methods of the famous and the frightened.

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Literary Los Angeles

By Christine Ziemba
L.A.'s independent bookstores are as idiosyncratic as its inhabitants. Its highs as high, its lows as low. The life of an Angeleno-bound textual object is no day at the beach.

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On Our Radar:

Posted By:  Alisha Miranda
Photo:  Alisha Miranda

Griffith Observatory
Science geeks take note: the Griffith Observatory will be your new favorite place. Set inside Griffith Park in Los Angeles, it's a favorite for locals and tourists due to prime panoramic views, an impressive astronomy lesson, and a sizeable interactive planetarium. Despite the hoards of people always here, it's a must-see landmark, especially in the evening which provides an extra stellar atmosphere.



Posted By:  Emerson Dameron
Photo:  Emerson Dameron

Y-Que Trading Post
If you don't like hip, confident, inventive young people with fun jobs, this place might piss you off. Your loss, chief--you're making Christmas shopping that much harder on yourself. Like a more streetwise answer to Wacko, Y-Que hawks a plethora of cards, collectables and clever gifts. Personally, as a shameless urban geography geek, I'm most intrigued by the neighborhood-themed t-shirts. The Y-Que kids make these on site, and will customize them if you ask. For now, they can only be had through the Y-Que storefront or website. There's a gag for every enclave from Alhambra to WeHo (though there seems to be an East Side focus), and some are amusingly edgy. Echo Park gets some brass knucks. Downtown gets a shopping cart. The Glendale shirt... I'm not going to ruin it for you. Compared to your East Coast urbanites, young Angelenos tend to lack civic pride, particularly of the backhanded, self-aware variety. Y-Que is making it happen.



Posted By:  Emerson Dameron
Photo:  Emerson Dameron

Surplus Value Center
Yes, it's dingy and chaotic. Yes, you can get better deals on camping gear (though I doubt you'll get this kind of durability in your local big box). And yes, cammo pants look like shit on anyone. Still, rummaging this military surplus store can be revelatory. I was used to paying $100+ for a good pair of black boots--here, I found a similar pair for closer to $40, and they're still in decent shape, almost a year later. Aside from the armed-forces uniforms, there's a fine selection of jeans and jackets that won't make you look like a survivalist. There are a lot of accessories here that everyone should have but most of us rarely think about (e.g., First-Aid kits). And no one's ever said anything when I've taken a few swings at the conspicuous punching bag. Not a date spot, but not just for punks and creepy talk-radio fans, either.



Posted By:  Emerson Dameron
Photo:  Emerson Dameron

Green Leaves
Green Leaves is the cheap, humble, crunchy, veggie-friendly alternative to… pretty much anything else in walking distance. The service? Preternaturally friendly. The level of pretension? I've seen bus-station grills with less thought-out interior design. The prices? Hovering around diner-level. A menu that's not branded, but rather expanded--everything from "Rock and Roll Noodles" (they're wide as a freeway) to previously undiscovered pancakes and other unique breakfast-for-whichever-time-you-come-through options. (I'm into the tropical pancakes.) If you have to spend over seven bones on lunch, you're bad at math. Green Leaves is young, and still finding its way. If you're a strict vegan, tell the waiter (and also the cook, if you can) before you order--as long as you're not an unapologetic assache, they'll keep the cheese off you. Whatever else it's got, it's got the drop on anyone else in Los Feliz who wants to play "recession-friendly." If you're from a small town, it's like a trip home without the stomach ache.



Posted By:  Noah Albert
Photo:  Noah Albert

Spicy BBQ Restaurant
Spicy BBQ features great food in a low-key LA mini-mall setting. The northern-Thai dishes here are really off the hook. I can not recommend the Northern Thai Egg Noodles (Khao soi) enough! The other dishes I have tried so far from the northern-Thai section of the menu include the spicy jackfruit, the pork dip and the pork salad and they are all really good too. Jonathan Gold mentions the pork patties in his review and I will have to try those next time I eat there. There is no keeping me away from this place which I honestly consider a neighborhood treasure. The dining area is small; a lot of people come by to pick up their to-go orders too.



Posted By:  Emerson Dameron
Photo:  Emerson Dameron

The Figure 8 Mural
Stephen Paul "Elliot" Smith wrote some painful, painful music. Nothing in his catalogue can be heard passively--to listen to Smith's records is to behold and absorb the hopeless agony that, uh, his characters felt. Smith grew up in the South and made his name in the Pacific Northwest, but he died in LA. Supposedly from self-inflicted a stab wound to his chest. Which is a tad suspicious. Aren't there martial artists that spend their whole lives learning to do something like that? No one is quite sure what really happened, and Silverlake has not gotten over Smith's death--he's still the Smokey Robinson of the protracted breakup. This swirly mural, which was featured on the cover of his 2000 LP Figure 8, has become a living shrine, with flowers and graffiti. Figure 8 includes the song "Easy Way Out," which is, going-on nine years after Smith's early exit, still confusing as all hell.



Posted By:  Rob Tallia
Photo:  Rob Tallia

Vermonica
Vermonica is an example of why it's great to be alive, to have internet access, and to work at NFT. I took this shot when we were in LA of these seemingly random streetlamps in a Rite-Aid parking lot on the corner of Vermont & Santa Monica Boulevard; we then ran a photo contest to see who'd be the first person to correctly identify what it was. The result? Dozens of responses within an hour, correctly identifying it as Sheila Klein's urban "sculpture" from 1993. Anyone have any night shots they want to upload of this? We'll send anyone who has a good one a free NFT-LA guide!



Posted By:  Bon Vivant
Photo:  Bon Vivant

Sapp Coffee Shop
Sapp Coffee Shop is my favorite Thai restaurant in LA--this place is the ultimate dive with great food. I remember a while back I was going to host a dinner at Sapp and some well meaning person sent me an email informing me that Sapp had received a "C" grade from the County Health Department (I was convinced that said grade was due to the fact that the chef hung out in the kitchen wearing a bathrobe and curlers.) My belief is that, with the exception of sushi restaurants, the lower the grade the better the food.  The grade has since been bumped up to a "B" but the food here is still great. Sapp is known for two dishes: Thai Boat Noodles and Jade Noodles. When I'm coming down with a cold or flu I instantly eat Boat Noodles because no bacteria or virus can survive in a host along with Boat Noodles (long story).  But most of the time, since I'm a girly-girl, I order the Jade Noodles. Why? Because they are so pretty.



Posted By:  Emerson Dameron
Photo:  Emerson Dameron

Steve Allen Theater
Showbiz polymath and Tonight Show creator Steve Allen helped build platforms for many of the 20th Century's great eccentrics, including Lenny Bruce, Jack Kerouac and Frank Zappa, exposing them to a national audience. He was also an avowed skeptic and secular humanist his namesake theater shares a building with the Center For Inquiry. If he was wrong about the afterlife, he must be proud of the cast of raisincakes that perform at the SAT. It boasts one of the most diverse and unpredictable schedules of film, music and comedy in Southern California. Recurring features include Friday night's "Drive-In" (showcasing campy horror flicks) and the Tomorrow Show (at midnight, separating Saturday and Sunday), a raw, messy and sporadically brilliant variety show. If the show drags on, the seats can get uncomfortable, but that's usually a worthwhile risk.



Posted By:  Emerson Dameron
Photo:  Emerson Dameron

Cuba Libre Latin Café Bar
Everyone likes Cuba Libre. No one loves it. Everything is in place. It's a decked-out dining room. It makes you feel the way Olive Garden did when you were in Iowa, and five. The drink specials are a good value, particularly for this enviable strip of Los Feliz. And well crafted! (Last time I was there, a Fat Tire was three frogskins, and a "bitchslap" was free.) If you're here on a date, it's a classy joint, and you're a total crotch magnet. But something crucial is missing. I don't know what it is. Everyone is nice. Everything is nice. Nothing curls my hair. I'm putting this down, Cuba Libre, because you're relatively new. And your specialty is being a restaurant/bar. You know that world. I don't. But I know you've got a mission in that world. And I'm hoping that, if you read this in the right light, you'll realize that it's a love letter. I want you to find your mission. Because I want to see what happens when you go balls-to-the-wall at whatever it is that you're good at.



Posted By:  Emerson Dameron
Photo:  Emerson Dameron

El Cid
I love El Cid. I really do. I was ready to punch in my cell number, instead of the 666 Silverlake digits that make the wall phone ring out during some virgin comic's first set, out of devotion and courtesy. Depending (roughly) on which night of the week it is, you get a very different place here. Some nights, it's standup, which, in the interest of full disclosure (and covert self-promotion...shhh!), is what sucked me in, and got me to the point where the waiter knows the first syllable of my first name. Some nights, it's flamenco or salsa dancing, and you're encouraged to clothesline your date. Some nights, it's serious ex-peer-uh-mental thee-eighter. Whenever, it's scene-y in a way that's comforting in eternally status-conscious LA; people show up here as a retreat from something else, something they didn't really want to do, because this is what they'd do in the dark--and they're usually cool, in a way you haven't seen cool recently. It's "under new management" as of late, so don't trust the posted schedule, like, at all.



Posted By:  Bon Vivant
Photo:  Bon Vivant

Tacos Delta
Since the dollar has been devalued as of late, it's been said that the US is the "new" Mexico. On your next stay-cation get the taste and feel of Mexico at Tacos Delta in Silver Lake. What looks to be your average taco shack is actually a hidden gem. Well, it's not really that hidden anymore since Tacos Delta was written up in the LA Times a couple of years ago for having one of the best Mexican breakfasts in the city. Breakfast is not a bad way to go: you can get a big plate of chilaquiles con huevos for less than five bucks. On weekends they serve Birria (a roasted chile based goat stew which besides Menudo is one of Mexico's great cures for a hangover.) Once I asked a cheeky Brit if the Birria tasted funky and he replied, "It depends on how funky you like it, girl!" Hmm, food for thought.



Posted By:  Emerson Dameron
Photo:  Emerson Dameron

Pacific Auto Service
The first thing you need in this town is an ace mechanic. All things move toward their ends, and your ride will crap out, sooner or later. Save yourself the heartache of dealing with chain-shop wage slaves and shake the filthy, calloused paw of a professional. These lifers make their living from repeat customers--they're on the level or they’re homeless. If you want to take my humble advice, go with Jimmy, my man in Silverlake. For sure, he's eccentric, but Jimmy won’t make you think your ignorance of transmission blocks qualifies as a learning disability. (This sort of niche condescension is the calling card of the lazy, inept and pathological--whether it's a mechanic, a computer guy or a record-store clerk, run.) If things aren't perfect by the time you roll out, Jimmy's shake is as good as a warranty. If you fail an emissions test or hear a mysterious knock after getting your oil changed elsewhere, Jimmy will shake his head and stare at the engine at a certain tilt, and the problem will vanish. And his rates are competitive.



Posted By:  Kevan Peterson
Photo:  Gillian Wee

Original Thai BBQ
It's housed in what looks like an old Taco Bell building. Its bathrooms are reminiscent of the worst gas stations in Los Angeles, around the back and to the rear. Why then is their food so good? I have visited Thai Town, located on the outskirts of Hollywood, many, many times before, but have never felt the urge to place my behind on one of the small diner-like tables inside Thai BBQ. However, thanks to my desire to inform the public of the best (and worst) places to frequent in Los Angeles I gave this one a try, and much to my surprise certain dishes outshone their peers. Try the seafood soup or, as the name of the restaurant would imply, anything BBQ. Particularly, the BBQ spareribs, which were so tender the meat was falling off the bone. See their website for the multiple locations, scattered mostly throughout Los Angeles County. Not sure which one is actually the original, as they all carry the same name.




Posted By:  Noah Albert
Photo:  Noah Albert

Orange 20 Bikes
The Hel-Mel neighborhood (Melrose and Heliotrope) may well be the center of bicycle culture in Los Angeles. The recent enlargement of the Orange 20 bike shop has made this even more so. Owned by two people from the Bicycle Kitchen (Jim and TJ), Orange 20 is a full service bike shop that specializes in fixed gear bikes. (In case you hadn't noticed, fixies are all the rage these days. All the city kids have a Bianci Pista.) Orange 20 does not exclude the world of gears--I just bought a new 6-speed wheel here. The bike bags and bikes tend to be higher-end and more expensive. I'm just grateful they don't have those cookie-cutter aluminum bikes that are so impossible to avoid these days! After price comparison of stuff like wheels and tires and handlebar tape, their prices do seem competitive and fair. The only drawback: this place is something of a scene. Mostly it's a matter of showing up at the right time--it tends to be a lot easier to get service when there aren't 15 cool kids hanging in the shop. But when I do finally establish contact with a staff member, they are very helpful and friendly.




Posted By:  Kevan Peterson
Photo:  Gillian Wee

Sanam Luang Cafe
The canopy over the outside eating area proudly proclaims it "The Best Noodles in Town." This is of course hard to prove, though I would advise you not to argue with them, as they do have some angry waiters. Upon a recent visit there I witnessed one of the waitresses throwing change at a man who apparently didn't tip well. Admittedly, I did not witness the whole event and so he may very well have deserved a good pelting on his back with a few nickels and dimes. I can attest to three simple facts. The food is well priced, it tastes good and I will promise to always tip well. Remember to bring plenty of cash as they do not accept cards and the waiters apparently do not accept change.



Posted By:  Noah Albert
Photo:  Noah Albert

Guatemalteca Bakery
Guatemalteca is the best. The food here is affordable and tasty and healthy. It is a little confusing to order: I still haven't figured out what some of the menu items are. The pan de chile (veggie and bean stuffed fried green chile sandwich) and pan de pollo (tomato-base shredded chicken sandwich) and la comida carne guisada (beef stew) are the old standbys. The platano breakfast is really great too. I am fascinated by the pan de chow mein but haven't had it yet. The food is tasty but not really that spicy at all. It must be remarked upon that the bread they make is a great complement to whatever you order (it is included with las comidas). Not all the servers speak English so if can't speak Spanish you may be passed-over until someone can take your order. They also have a bakery and a little store. The new Santa Monica branch (near the subway stop) is bigger and more accessible. I am so happy to see that they have invested in this new outlet!



Posted By:  Bon Vivant
Photo:  Bon Vivant

Thai Patio
Judging by the fact that it's located in the old Thai Palms space (and thus still has a built-in stage for budding Thai Elvises and Karen Carpenters) one might think that Thai Patio is a "safe" Thai restaurant: a lack of chiles, pigs' blood, and offal; food that is "clean" and lacks the "funk" of things that Americans normally don't eat; or vats of the ubiquitous Pad Thai, which in Thailand is the equivalent of Wonder Bread. While Thai Patio does have such safe items on the menu, and a Thai Elvis, it also has some pretty unique dishes that even impress this jaded Angeleno's palate. In other words, there is something for everyone at Thai Patio. If you lean towards the swinealicious, I highly recommend the crispy pork salad: deep fried pork belly served with raw onions, tomatoes, and cilantro in a wonderful sweet and spicy dressing. This dish is good enough to be found on any upscale restaurant's tasting menu at triple the price. I do have to warn you though that if you are allergic to MSG the cooks can have a heavy hand with it; after my last meal there I was living la vida migraine.



Posted By:  Emerson Dameron
Photo:  Emerson Dameron

Fred 62
If you moved to Los Angeles to follow the Swingers dream, you're bound to end up at this 24-hour diner at some point (probably around 4 am), so you may as well be ready. The dim lighting goes easy on drunken eyeballs. The servers are breathing monuments to the capital-A "Alternative" mid-'90s, with fishnets on the girls and ironic aphorisms on the guys ("Homosexuals are gay"--it's funny because it's true, people). Please keep in mind that they are human. Most of them are quite nice. They probably don't want to sleep with you tonight. The food isn't "overpriced," exactly--it's market-priced for the neighborhood, which tells you a lot about the neighborhood. The $5 Fat Tire doesn't quite erase the pain of paying $8 for a souped-up McGriddle with no sides, but you're not going to remember this, anyway. If you're driving, don't drink coffee. Just pass out on a doorstep nearby. It'll make a good blog post.



Posted By:  Emerson Dameron
Photo:  Emerson Dameron

Bru Coffee Bar
Your mileage may vary. I took an immediate shine to this place when asked "for here or to go?" In most LA coffeeshops I've tried, even if I specify "for here," I get my diesel in a paper cup, which somehow doesn't seem dignified (I've had a hard life. Give me a cup of coffee I can chip a tooth on, you sullen hipster bastard). Then a few of my sources complained that for-here mugs are a once-in-a-while thing. Not a big deal. If you really need a break from your sedentary gamer roommate, you'll find the place cozy enough, and it's open late. The lights are bright in here, probably because most of the patrons are drizzling brilliance on their Macbooks and only look sexy by accident. With a name like Psychobabble, the mud could be a lot stronger. If you're a smoker, you'll want to outside, in view of the Vermont party parade, because nothing's hotter than suicide on the installment plan.




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