NFT Los Angeles Silver Lake / Echo Park / Atwater

Silver Lake / Echo Park / Atwater

A few years on, and still the coolest neighborhood in Los Angeles. The hip kids are becoming slightly wealthier adults, with retail following the trendy money: Sunset Junction is now home to the longest meals in town, fancy salons, local designer boutiques, and enough specialty stores to fill a giant supermarket, from cheese to spices. But don't grow up too fast--there's still plenty of fun nightlife, from live music venues to cool cocktail lounges.

OK--let's stop rambling on about how this area is oh-so-hip and discuss all the great things to do. Feel like a king (or at least a baron) drinking in the castle-like interior of The Griffin, get beautiful views (and make your legs burn) walking the stairs in the hills near the reservoir, or catch some comedy and music at See more.

>The Echo. Oh, and that Silversun Liquor? That's where the Pickups got their name.


On Our Radar:

Friday, November 20, 2009

Posted By:  Emerson Dameron
Photo:  Emerson Dameron

Hyperion Tavern
Ah, "hipsters." Don'tcha jus' hate 'um? Bashing "hipsters" (a term once analogous to "hepcat," now misapplied to shabby, coke-sniffing retro-'80s tokenists) was old news by 2003, and yet, as long as most of us are suspicious that someone out there is having more fun than we are, it'll be open season, at least until the next ridiculous youth subculture comes along. Many East Side bars have served their time as the hipster clubhouse of choice (Cha Cha, Short Stop, Gold Room…). And now, HYPErion seems to be taking the mantle. Once an S&M dive (the bathroom door still has a large, mysterious hole in it) and still possessed of a sinister speakeasy vibe, Hyperion has rapidly become the it party spot, without so much as a liquor selection. (Even the beer menu is no great shakes; overpriced Corona, anybody?) The upshot: If you can stomach the namedropping and pretension, some of the programming is quite interesting. At this stage, the Hyperion is still experimenting. Garage Comedy, exiled from El Cid, now runs Monday nights here. One recent Sunday night was "sad night," and I had no idea what a mindfuck it would be to hear non-stop Slowdive and Galaxie 500 all night, in a bar.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Posted By:  Emerson Dameron
Photo:  Emerson Dameron

Origami Vinyl
According to music-nerd god Neil Young, if listening to a vinyl record is like taking a shower, listening to a compact disc is like getting a bucket of ice cubes dumped on your head. At best, CDs are a stopgap technology, rapidly outliving its usefulness, that never created the sort of art objects that vinyl records can be. As regular folks shift to iPods and MP3s, hardcore music fetishists are resurrecting the vinyl elpee--it's been a "trend" for the last 20 years or so--and artists such as Bob Mould are offering free downloads to anyone who buys the twelve-inch physical object. Origami Vinyl sells nothing but new analog reprint LPs. They're sealed, and compared to a copy of Whipped Cream and Other Delights as Goodwill, they're pricey. The selection is lovably erratic, ranging from the rock canon through the electronic underground. But OV also styles itself as something of a social center, hosting parties and live performances and getting damned crowded on weekends. Compared to the experience of using a file-sharing service, it's a pop-art gallery.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Posted By:  adam c. marshall
Photo:  Courtesy of Dtox to Retox

Dtox to Retox
In a TGIF variation on "one step forward, two steps back," the day spa Dtox and the nearby Bigfoot Lodge have teamed up for a happy hour one-two punch every third Friday of the month. Step 1: Saddling up at Dtox to purify and reboot. For $39 you get to choose from one of eight twenty minutes services, including Stress Relief (neck & shoulder massage), Girls on Heels (a calf and foot massage for the ladies) and Text Message Delete (a hand and forearm massage). It's best to show up early to take advantage of the environment. The spa is centered around a lounge area with chairs and sofa seats where a DJ spins, hors d'oeuvres and drinks are served, and people chat while waiting for their appointment. Then, when you're good and ready, Step 2: Off to the Bigfoot for a free drink. "Whatever you want," the bartender told me, "so order something expensive." I saw many a woman whose ear-to-ear grin made it clear that a spa treatment and a Girl Scout Martini was a no-contest trump to the shop-worn dinner-and-a-movie combo. In what I guess you could call a happy hour mini-crawl, a devilish concept has been unveiled. Instead of unwinding with a drink, why not unwind before you drink? Brilliance.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Posted By:  adam c. marshall
Photo:  Courtesy of Barbrix

My Silver Lake feelers were already a-buzz with the impending opening of Barbrix before I ran into one of the owners. She told me that they wanted to open a great wine bistro with affordable prices. LA sacrilege! In a completely comfortable and warm space, Barbrix offers a wonderful alternative to Spanish tapas. I've long since given up trying to find decent Spanish tapas in LA, but the format itself is always appealing. Barbrix melds the structure with a Euro-fusion menu. Combining plates from a selection of starters, salads and grains, cheeses, charcuterie, fish and meat, and desserts, a deliciously varied and broad spectrum is offered for any curious palates. My fellow diners and I opted to start with a cheese plate and our own attempts at wine pairings--what better way to start a meal?--and then enjoyed a yellow brick road of burrata with olive tapenade, a pleasing roasted cauliflower salad, deliciously salty and sweet wild boar sausage, and Adria's favorite ginger shortcakes. And several glasses of wine. True tapas be damned, Barbrix was a wonder of experimentation. Throw in a love of good wine, and this is a meal to be moaned over--not the bill.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Posted By:  Emerson Dameron
Photo:  Emerson Dameron

I didn't get my first taste of Internet access until I was in college, after my brain had been dealt most of its meaningful habits. I can't speak for anyone younger than me, but I wonder what it's like to get most of your introductory reading material without reading books, and do most of your ground-level masturbation without stealing a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue from your local library. Maybe you aren't a long-haul library lover, but, golly, I'll always be. As one of the few public works that doesn';t pretend to turn a profit, the LA library system is in constant danger of extinction, but it keeps evolving anyway, from online requests to free public events to a growing selection of books, CDs, and other things you can see without viewing their source code. The humble, atmospheric Edendale branch is a good low-budget city-dweller litmus test--if you can't spend a few hours reading in here without being disturbed by the community chaos, it's time to move into your folks' basement in Palmdale or Oxnard or wherever.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Posted By:  Rob Tallia
Photo:  Rob Tallia

Rockaway Records
Sweet. Another place to drop some cash, for any of us that still have any. In addition to used CDs and used vinyl (many, many bargains to be hadpicked up some classic Blue Note CDs for, like $5 each), their glass cases chock-full of classic rock memorabilia (Beatles Poker-Chip Tray, Led Zeppelin Concert Ticket Stub, Lenticular Cream and Jimi Hendrix posters) will definitely make the nerd-o collector in you (See "Ghost World") come out. If it's in you at all. It's sure as shit in me.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Posted By:  Emerson Dameron
Photo:  Emerson Dameron

Machine Project Gallery
Machine Project is, to quote its eye-catching promotional flyer, an art collective that "valorizes the passionate generalist, the curious amateur, the heartfelt thinker," and "exists to encourage heroic experiments of the gracefully over-ambitious." This credo manifests itself in a musical performance based on the CO2 output of tomato plants, a floral model of the Eagle Nebula, a raucous satire of Catholic mysticism, an "underground" film festival that can only be watched through holes in the floor, and the annual "Fry-B-Q/Pie-B-Q," at which volunteers will fry anything for five bucks. The basic formula: Think of a cool thing. Pick an artistic discipline wherein that thing is not normally seen. Put it there. Its cozy gallery space sits adjacent to the chic-ass Downbeat Cafe in Echo Park. It's active mostly on weekends. These people are always a pleasure, and you’ll wish your friends had this much fun. Be glad they're approachable, as you won't find the bathroom without directions. B all of YOB you can carry.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Posted By:  adam c. marshall
Photo:  adam c. marshall

Bigfoot Lodge
I usually avoid LA theme bars as a rule. But a going away party left me with little choice and I found myself at the Bigfoot Lodge. What you've heard is all true. Cute theme drinks. Log cabin decor. Bartenders in girl scout uniforms. And a motley collection of East side hipsters--the cute and cuddly variety from what I could tell. But what they don't tell you (here's the fine print) is that it's not repulsive at all. Seriously. The bartenders were all nice (I know!), the drinks were moderately priced and strong (my fiancee was waaaaa-sted), and everyone seemed to be there to drink (egads!). Is this what a theme bar in LA is? You drive away the wrong element and leave a place where the merry go for general merrymaking? And here I've been putting up with smugness and practical interiors. Who wouldn't like a stiff drink and a friendly face? Who isn't intrigued by a drink made from minced and naughty girl scouts? You can't fight that. So embrace the kitsch. Follow the breadcrumbs with friends. (I found that a Jack & Ginger made an evening at the Lodge go down right nice.)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Posted By:  Emerson Dameron
Photo:  Emerson Dameron

Silversun Liquor
Los Angeles does not boast the hearty drinking scene of a Boston, a Chicago, or even a San Francisco, for one obvious reason. Someone has to drive. If you and all of your friends are pathological barflies, then you ain't crashing in Silverlake, unless it's into a parked Saab. And you're in the city of "fake tits and real assholes," where a potable margarita starts at eight bones; the coziest low-pressure dive bar is usually someone's living room. Silversun Liquors has been in the neighborhood longer than ironic Atari shirts, and soothes the boredom and guilt of the hipster class with only perfunctory condescension. It inspires the non-threatening shoegazer-rock band Silversun Pickups. And it sells rubbers, porn, potato chips, and other accoutrements of the actively passive hard-drinking lifestyle. If you seek "success" in Los Angeles, memorize the address--on most nights, Silversun sells the nearest approximation of whatever it is you want.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Posted By:  Bon Vivant
Photo:  Bon Vivant

Red Lion Tavern
Oh, man. Either you are the subject of a big practical joke or the cook is making a very overt sexual advance towards you. Judging by the laughter coming from the patrons at the next table, there is no graceful way to eat your Beerstein Soup. Your dining companion, who is either very clueless or really enjoying your discomfort, exclaims, "Wow, that's a big weenie!" You are at the Red Lion, a Silver Lake institution popular with New World hipsters and Old World Germans alike. Los Angeles used to be littered with Milwaukee-style beerhouses but the Red Lion is now the last of its breed. Its staying power is obviously due to the great beer and numerous sausage platters but there is more to that: it's just a great place to hang out. It doesn't matter what you look like or what type of car that you drive, everyone who goes to Red Lion leaves their pretensions at the door while they sit for hours and hours drinking hefeweizens, eating wursts, and watching the Lakers game.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Posted By:  Andy Gillette
Photo:  Andy Gillette

The Short Stop
Most of the time, the Short Stop is a pretty unremarkable little bar. It's full of Dodger fans during the season, and the rest of time it's pretty straightforward: decent jukebox, couple of pool tables, photo booth. But on the 2nd and 4th Wednesdays of the month Anne Lee and Shadowscene come together for Awesometown. It's a fun, very consistent dance party. It's tough to find parties that you can count on. This one always has great DJs and there's a substantial crowd of regulars and Echo Park cool kids that always turn out. onus tip: $3 Dewars drinks all night long.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Posted By:  Emerson Dameron
Photo:  Emerson Dameron

Bigfoot Lodge
You're entertaining friends from parts elsewhere. They imagine your life as one of stylish excess and unfiltered wackiness, and you shan't let them down. Bring them here, to Atwater Village's spacious, incredibly detailed forestry-themed pseudo-dive. The clientele is mixed and often transitory. Full-tilt boozehounds have cheaper, cozier options within stumbling distance but your pals didn't come out here to meet leering strangers. The tables near the back can sit a small middle-school field trip, and the woodsy bric-a-brac (take your picture with Smokey!), cute drink specials (the flaming toasted marshmallow!) and frequent theme nights (karaoke is on Mondays, for those who still fear Koreatown) hammer down the ironic innocence. The staff can be a mite haughty, but the silly, mellow ambience seems to keep out the more aggressive poseurs. A good deal during happy hour (5-8 PM), a typical deal afterwards, and a campy charmer regardless.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Posted By:  Emerson Dameron
Photo:  Emerson Dameron

Gold Room
One of the last holdouts from Echo Park Classic, this rococo dive bar attracts a few pasty scensters (who often scoot abruptly), but it still belongs to its Mexican regulars. The clientele varies a bit by the night, but the bar maintains its own reality, and it welcomes anyone who'll drink on its neon-lit terms. The juke still pumps out festive banda music, and the staff still consists exclusively of curvy women in low-cut tops and short skirts. There's still a potent shot-and-beer combo available for under five bones, and an avalanche of free peanuts to dehydrate the drinker and feed the need. If you're an outsider and you know it, remember to observe bar etiquette here--beatdowns are not unknown. If you can drink with a wide variety of grown-ups, you can witness this local treasure in transition, and show up while your ten-spot can still get you banjoed.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Posted By:  Bon Vivant
Photo:  Bon Vivant

The buzz surrounding the opening of LAMILL Coffee Boutique had reached the proportions of “Snakes on a Plane.” But since then, two distinct camps have formed: those who hate the “pretentiousness” and the high prices and those who, like me, appreciate the North Berkeley quality of food and drink. This is not really a place for stopping by and getting a cup of coffee to-go; instead, LAMILL offers you a coffee experience. So when you have an hour or so to sit and drink fabulous coffee, LAMILL has several brew methods to choose from. For individual cups there is the famous Clover machine, but I recommend ordering a Chemex pot of the limited reserve coffee. Want a little more show? How about the Siphon Brew? The brewing paraphernalia looks like it was developed in Dr. Frankenstein’s lab. If you’re a regular Joe, you’ll probably just stick with the French Press. I love the menu at LAMILL since the food works so well with the coffee. Added plus: they put bacon in almost every dish!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Posted By:  Emerson Dameron
Photo:  Emerson Dameron

India Sweets and Spices
You don't want to take a date here--or anywhere with overhead fluorescents, for that matter. Don't think of this place as a sit-down restaurant. Think of it as a market with an attached cafeteria, serving a cheap, tasty vegetarian dinner. By that standard, it's quick, clean, and perhaps the area's best value for your Indian-food dollar. Not that you can't lounge here. A mammoth TV spools Bollywood videos, and there's ample seating for large groups. If you're a masala novice, NFT recommends the specials (conveniently dubbed "number one," "number two" and "number three" in escalating order of heaviness); they start with yogurt, a salad and a samosa, then let you pick your entrees by pointing your finger. It's a cafeteria in flux--the grease level varies by the day, and the (still refreshingly cheap) pricing scheme recently edged upward. But it'll keep you full for the evening's duration. The shop hawks opium incense, cannabis incense, and other essential ingredients for a faux-badass lifestyle.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Posted By:  Bon Vivant
Photo:  Bon Vivant

Viet Noodle Bar
Claustrophobic? Then you probably never patronized the Lilliputian-sized Vietnamese Soy Cafe. Viet, the owner of said cafe, recently opened a new spacious place called Viet Noodle Bar in Atwater. Although the intimate charm of the cafe may be lost--as well as some menu items--the Noodle Bar seats about 6 times more people, is open daily and has extended hours, plus it's slightly easier to find. As the name suggests, it's all about noodles: pho has replaced the beloved banh mi. There are also some interesting new appetizers on the menu, my favorite being the jackfruit salad served with black sesame crackers. It looks odd but the flavor combination is totally wow! The flavored house-made organic soy milk is now served in sleek glasses, as opposed to the old plastic cups, which adds to whole the stylish mise-en-scene of Viet's new place.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Posted By:  Bon Vivant
Photo:  Bon Vivant

The Swan Place Steps
Though not nearly as famous as the "Music Box Steps" located on Vendome Street (featured in the 1932 Oscar winning Laurel and Hardy short) the Swan Place Steps have a particular notoriety amongst serious exercisers, leaders of scavenger hunts, and a certain sadistic, yet gorgeous, private trainer. Silver Lake and Echo Park are teeming with public staircases nestled into the hills but the Swan Place Steps are perhaps the most difficult to navigate: three levels of aerobic hell. At the bottom of the first level you think to yourself, "No problemo, dude." When you've reached the second level you say, "I can probably do this," and once you look up at the third level you exclaim, "Holy crap!" Please consult your physician before even thinking about walking up these stairs.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Posted By:  Bon Vivant
Photo:  Bon Vivant

Silver Lake Wine
Now that the Hollywood Bowl season is over, I’ve been searching for a venue where I can experience the collective bonhomie of my fellow Angelinos. I think that I have found the perfect place: the Sunday afternoon wine tasting at Silverlake Wine. Unlike the Monday and Thursday night tasting, where you can just drop by between the hours of 5 and 9, the Sunday afternoon fete requires a reservation–and one that is often made well in advance due to its enormous popularity. No wonder the anticipation of the afternoon delight hits you as you walk through the front door. For a mere $20 you get five heavy pours of the featured wines. But wait, there’s more! You’ll receive a food pairing, either a savory or sweet dainty, to complement each of the wines. If you are a true oenophile you’ll be terribly excited to meet the winemaker who will be on hand to discuss the history and characteristics of each wine. Bring extra cash because I guarantee that you’ll walk out of Silver Lake Wine with at least two bottles of wine that you’ve sampled.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Posted By:  Sarah Wallin Wightman
Photo:  Sarah Wallin Wightman

Once, on a whim, I decided to research Vietnamese-American literature. I wondered, was it all about the ongoing effects of the Vietnamese war or was there more to it than that? What I came up with could wallpaper your studio, but more important was the discovery that I am more-than-slightly addicted to Vietnamese food. Slightly sweet, slightly spicy, and a little savory (thank you, France), there is much to salivate over and KP’s Deli in Silverlake is a place I advise you to do said salivating. Serving up a diverse menu of both Vietnamese and American style sandwiches and salads, the bahn mi sandwiches are excellent whether you’re of the meat or veggie persuasion, and there are lots of fun extras to try, like spring rolls and Bahn Bao, a delicious pork sticky bun. There’s also a small marketplace where someone like me can purchase shrimp chips, Pho noodles, and Vietnamese coffee for at-home cravings. Speaking of coffee, you may want to bring your laptop or your business meeting to KP’s because it offers free wi-fi and a per hour conference room with all the fixings. You’ll find me there, elbows to eyebrows in the food, mmm-ing after every bite.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Posted By:  David Horvitz

Silver Lake Reservoir
The perfect walk at the perfect time of day: the Silver Lake Reservoir at dusk at the end of summer. Summer is ending, and it's still hot like this was Bikram City, and there is no better way to spend the last hour of daylight than on a nice walk around the reservoir in Silver Lake. You used to be able to actually walk near the water, but since 9-11 there is a fence around it. Still, it's a nice walk/jog through the neighborhood. I fully recommend getting a nice view of Silver Lake from one of the surrounding hills. It is a spectacular view that many don't have access to. Park your car around Telsa and Silver Lake and take the nice stroll. There's a dog park too if you've got a dog. It's quiet and tranquil and perfect for the end of day, before your crazy nights begin.

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