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Seven Things to Do (Actually More) in Atwater Village

Hugo's Tacos

Hugo's Tacos, photo via their website.

You’d think Atwater Village would be overrun with hipsters after gaining attention from The New York Times this past year. But the little pocket of northeastern Los Angeles bordering Griffith Park, just a stone’s throw from both Silverlake and Los Feliz, is still uncrowded and neighborly, even though Details magazine named it one of the six best emerging neighborhoods on the planet.

Situated between the two main thoroughfares of Los Feliz and Glendale boulevards, Atwater is eminently walkable, its residential streets lined in towering palms, and its many dogs waiting on leashes outside local businesses. It’s the best of both worlds: as relaxed as a suburb but with all the culture of the city.

1. Any Atwater aficionado will tell you to wait in line for brunch at Canele, and you should. But a few doors away are two cheaper, faster options that are just as delicious: The papas-and-chorizo breakfast burritos at tiny Tacos Villa Corona, and any variety of burrito at Hugo’s Tacos right across the street. Personally, I could eat Hugo’s version with soy chorizo and white beans every day for the rest of my life.

2. Read up on Atwater, and you’ll undoubtedly read about Proof, the small but amazing bakery on Glendale where some of the city’s best croissants and bear claws are crowned with patient pour-overs by Cognoscenti Coffee. Over on Los Feliz, meanwhile, The Village Bakery is a larger, brighter space where you’ll find full breakfasts, hearty sandwiches, and scones to die for—while sharing wifi with actors such as Breaking Bad’s Giancarlo Esposito.

3. Atwater is home to several iconic LA bars and restaurants including the old Disney hangout the Tam O’Shanter Inn and infamous dive bar The Roost. But for atmo, my favorite is The Griffin, a lowlit hideaway with a brick ceiling, glowing fireplaces, and strong drinks. You kind of expect Vince Vaughn to walk in any moment.

4. Tucked away on an unknown side street (that isn’t, despite the name, in Eagle Rock), Eagle Rock Brewery is the place for serious suds-heads. The microbrewery turns out about a dozen beers, including several cultishly adored pale ales. There’s usually a food truck parked outside, and on Wednesday nights, the small taproom fills with regulars for the neighborhood’s most comprehensive round of pub trivia.

5.  The Hollywood Farmers Market is too big, and the Silverlake Farmers Market is a tad grungy, but the Atwater Village Farmers Market is just right. Every Sunday, a dozen farmers bring the freshest, most gorgeous produce to the small Wells Fargo Parking Lot on Glendale. It takes about 15 minutes to load up for the week, and then you can sit down to a mouth-watering sandwich from Bigmista’s Barbecue.

6. I’ve frequented a lot of dance and yoga studios in my life, but I’ve never been to one as fun as Heartbeat House. Whether you’re into Zumba, Bollywood, AfroCaribe, salsa, or flamenco, the airy little studio is always  pumping with music and moves, which inevitably draw passersby to the sidewalk-fronted windows. And though most yoginis know you don’t go to a dance studio for honest yoga, Heartbeat House is an exception. Their community flow classes are for real.

7. The good thing about Alias Books East is its highly curated, impeccable selection of used and out-of-print titles, stacked neatly in vertical alignment like a testament to the grandeur of literature. The bad thing is that you’ll be afraid to touch them. You needn’t be, though. The staff is friendly, and the store hosts frequent readings and exhibitions.