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Incase you were wondering, there’s more to Los Angeles than the Kardashians. Somewhere between the seediness of the strip and the sparkle of West Hollywood you’ll find a thriving metropolis of creative, chilled-out cool. If you want to see a little soul in the city of angels, step away from the vegan juice bars of Sunset Boulevard, ride east in an Uber and stop when you see the sign above.
All this quirkiness I speak of culminates over in the semi-gentrified Silverlake neighborhood around Sunset Junction, about six kilometers from Downtown LA. It’s here you’ll find chic gourmet institution L&E Oyster Bar, where you’ll munch on fried oyster po’boys with shaved fennel, lettuce and gribiche (a sort of cold-egg mayonnaise sauce thingy which I promise is supremely good!) and rub shoulders with another hundred people dressed in skinny jeans and cardigans.
But it’s not all kitchy comfort food and kick-ass coffee, if you take a stroll down Silverlake Boulevard you’ll find some of the best bohemian home-wares, vintage finds and record stores in LA.
Explore Silverlake and Sunset Junction
This little hole in the wall shop does gourmet grilled cheese like a boss. And judging by the mammoth lines going into the wee hours of the morning, pretty much every silverlakester (and tourist) seems to think so too. Try the triple cream brie and fig jam offering melted into walnut fig bread. *Salivation* Gluten Free options are also available!
As I pointed out, this packed hipster haunt dishing up upscale comfort food warms the heart of the Silverlake neighborhood by showcasing some of the best oysters available in North America. They’ve recently added an upstairs bar so you can drink the night away instead of wandering home in an oyster-induced coma.
If dairy and seafood aren’t your thing, there’s plenty of raw vegan options around the Silverlake neighborhood. For some yummy inventive fare try the tempeh tu-no Salad at busy Flore.
Support the LA urban farming community by dining at this sleek yet wholesome joint. Forage has an ethical and ever-changing menu of seasonal goodies and sources all of its ingredients locally… like I’m talking seriously locally. The restaurant exchanges produce from backyard farmers within LA county for free meals and provides grants to help urban farmers get certification as approved food sources within the city.
If you haven’t already guessed by the name, Intelligentsia takes coffee pretty seriously. It’s also the go-to joint for those creatives who seriously need a coffee fix in the morning but not so seriously they can’t bare the fifteen-minute wait.
For a less pretentious vibe than Intelligentsia but equally good coffee (and some Parisian-inspired brunch) take two steps to the right and you’ll find this cute French café just next door.
Formerly known as Spaceland, this live music venue on Silverlake Boulevard is the eastside’s equivalent of the Viper Room, embracing up and coming indie-rock bands from all around the globe.
One of the most interesting and visually appealing shops in Silverlake, Reform School sells unique arts, crafts home-wares and gifts made my independent artists.
This retail space connected to famed coffee boutique is a true sensory experience. Stocked with decadent chocolates, designer beauty products and beautifully scented aromatherapy oils, you can easily lose an hour experiencing the shop and all its treasures.
If the name Elliott Smith doesn’t ring a bell then you best skip this electronics shop paying homage to the now deceased singer. Before his career took off, Smith worked at the store selling everything from microphones to televisions, and now there’s a mural where fans can reminisce and write tributes.
A trip to this fondly christened ‘music museum’ will leave you feeling nostalgic even if records were before your time.
Getting To LA
United Airlines flies daily direct from Melbourne to Los Angeles on their new Dreamliner 787-9 aircraft. United also flies daily direct from Sydney to Los Angeles on its B777 aircraft.
For more information on discovering LA, head to the Los Angeles Tourism website.