It happened in Williamsburg. While that now media saturated hood had already become ground zero for the unstoppable hipsterization of Brooklyn, when the first sceney boutique hotel, The Wythe, opened in 2012, it was off to the races…and on to the inevitable yupsterization phase.
Arguably its Los Angeles equivalent, Silver Lake, has already sort of gone beyond having that moment; at this point, it’s a bit of a parody of a neighborhood having a moment. Celebrities, boutique coffee roasters, and critically acclaimed chefs are as common a sighting as people in wool hats rolling their own cigarettes. Surrounded by Echo Park, Los Feliz, and East Hollywood, Silver Lake is the ultimate epicenter for the young and trendy of LA.
But word has it that SL’s first boutique hotel is set to open at Sunset Junction in early 2019…which means hipster-seeking tourists will be soon added to the mix.
We would tend to avoid anything that’s already been labeled “tragically hip” (as Silver Lake was in a GQ piece earlier this year); but after recently spending the day meandering through rows of sun-drenched houses, sipping on high-voltage cold brew and feasting on produce fit for the gods, we too found ourselves newly enamored of its undeniable charms. And so just might try to get in as much time pre-hotel opening.
Should you be so intrigued, here is our by-no-means-exhaustive guide to Silver Lake at this pivotal cultural moment. Funny enough, and in very un-LA fashion, you can actually get everywhere on this list without driving.
A Cool Caffeine Jolt
First things first, coffee. Intelligentsia (3922 Sunset Blvd) is located in a bright red building in Sunset Junction’s open air pavilion. Unlike many of the austere, minimalist cafes trending as of late, it has a refreshingly vibrant sensibility. They’re one of several single source roasters in the area; and like Stumptown, they were recently acquired by Peet’s. Dinosaur Coffee (4334 Sunset Blvd), co-owned by one of the founders of Cards Against Humanity, and Philly export La Colombe (3900 Sunset Blvd) are just a stone’s throw away, as well.
An SL Art Fix
Next stop, the Sunset Pacific Motel (4301 Sunset Blvd). It’s known to locals as the Bates Motel, because of its location on Bates Ave, and its menacing facade. In 2015, artist Vincent Lamouroux whited out the abandoned building with limewash, in an activation he called ProjectionLA – prompting other street artists and passersby to leave their marks. And though it’s inevitably going to be torn down and redeveloped, for now, it’s living public art.
Speaking of public art, remember the cover to Elliott Smith’s Figure 8 album, when he stood in front of that black and white swirl mural? The photo was shot by Autumn de Wilde on Sunset Boulevard (4334 Sunset Blvd), and part of it still stands today. But only part of it. This past year a wine bar replaced half the mural with glass block windows. The neighborhood revolted by never going there, putting the bar out of business less than a year after it opened. When will they learn? Don’t mess with emo kids.
After paying your respects, pop in to Trois Familia (3501 Sunset Blvd). The imaginative, if not totally practical, fusion concept blends French and Mexican cuisines (though leans more French). Ludo Lefebvre joined forces with Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo to bring this idea vividly to life with dishes like the beet tartare tostada and a double decker potato taco with lime and crème fraiche. The rainbow neon, ‘70s funk music, and strip mall location all feel exceptionally on-brand for the area.
Gorgeous Things (To Buy)
If your credit cards are like hot, burning coals in your wallet, there are plenty of places to use them. Find yourself an orange and blue vase from the ‘60s or a hand-woven rug made of alpaca fur; there are no shortage of stores filled with good-smelling, carefully considered wares. Le Labo (3531 Sunset Blvd), Clare V. (3339 Sunset Blvd) and the Dream Collective (1404 Micheltorena Ave) are all within spitting distance.
A winding, twenty-minute detour leads to Silver Lake Boulevard and 1619 (1619 Silver Lake Blvd), a gem of a vintage store with elegant silk slips, kimono robes, crocheted dresses, and so much more. They also have a sprawling outdoor patio, where they plan to host regular craft fairs over the summer (how very on-trend).
A few steps away is L&E Oyster Bar (1637 Silver Lake Blvd). Grab a spot on the outdoor balcony for some dry white wine, fresh-shucked oysters and other seafood menu delights. It’s pretty easy to snag a bar seat or table here at any given time – there’s a lounge upstairs, and a full-service restaurant downstairs.
Just across the way is Botanica (1620 Silver Lake Blvd), which opened to much anticipation last year. The multi-platform establishment (part market, part all-day restaurant, part publication) is owned by editors and chefs Emily Fiffer and Heather Sperling. Their expertise in California produce and natural wines shines through on the menu. The airy, wood-lined space (formerly a liquor store built in the 1940s) was reimagined by design firm Weekends.
Hipster Bands + Hipper Comedy
If the sun has fully set, or who cares if it hasn’t, make your way to Silver Lake’s obligatory legendary music venue, The Satellite (1717 Silver Lake Blvd). Rilo Kiley, the White Stripes, and even the New York Dolls have graced the marquee and stage here. It doubles as a comedy club too, with regular sets from local faves John Early and Neil Hamburger.