Seven Things To Do in Silverlake
I don’t have to introduce the concept of Silverlake. If you read, you know it’s Hipster Central, all ankle boots and fedoras. You can certainly find enough to do within walking distance of its nexus, Sunset Junction (where Sunset and Santa Monica boulevards meet). But Silverlake’s top treasures are a little more spread out than that and require a car. No worries though, you’ve got a car or else you wouldn’t be in LA. Right?
Casbah Café. Crowds line up in the shadow of the iconic Sunset Junction sign at Intelligentsia Cafe for their morning fix, but I recommend you head one block south to Casbah Café and enjoy a cozier, more relaxed morning ritual. The tiny tables, homespun signage, strong coffee, pots of tea, and sugar-dusted pastries are straight out of Paris, or Morocco, or some combination thereof. The wifi is free and the people-watching is intimate. Celebrity sighting bonus: Mena Suvari.
Forage. This little deli-style eatery takes fresh and local to a new level, sourcing all its ingredients from local farmers markets and even offering trade to neighbors who bring in produce from their gardens. But crunchy as it may sound, the food is downright amazing. The constantly changing rotation of dishes mixes super-healthy combos of alternate grains and fresh veggies (think bulgur and caramelized cauliflower, farro and cavolo nero kale) with hearty meat and fish (chimichurri rib-eye, free-range rotisserie chicken). You won’t leave hungry, but you won’t feel sluggish either.
Saito's. Sushi lovers seek out this hidden spot in a nondescript strip mall, the kind of restaurant where the fish is as fresh as the service is quiet. I can’t tell you what to order; ask Saito-san what’s good that day and leave it up to him. It’s not the most expensive sushi in town, and it’s not cheap either, but it’s the best you’ll find in northeast LA. Celebrity sighting bonus: Fred Armissen.
Vista Theater. There’s only one screen at this historic theater, but it’s always playing the latest hit, and the space itself is so visually stunning you can go early, bask in the gilded Egyptian theme and pretend you’re on the set of Raiders of the Lost Ark. Don’t worry about finding a seat; there isn’t a bad one in the house. Every second row has been removed, meaning you can come and go and stretch your legs as if you were in your own living room.
Barkeep. This vintage bar supply store is a joy to browse and a required stop before throwing a party. Mixology fans can find the latest muddler, the most delicate julep strainer, the decanter that offers maximum aeration, or simply get lost in the antique cabinet housing hundreds of bitters.
Spice Station. No matter how exotic your recipe, you can probably find that last rare ingredient at Spice Station, a cornucopia of spices, chiles, salts, sugars, and teas. Turkish sumac, Indian kalonji seed, and anardana (dried pomegranate seeds) are just the start of it. Sixteen sugars alone—from habanero to sweet onion sugar—will have you dreaming up your own concoctions before you leave.
LA Mill. This airy cafe, tucked away on Silverlake Boulevard near the reservoir, is the most luxurious way I can think of to spend a morning. The thick upholstered seating, friendly table service, and steaming cups of single-origin and blended beans (the coffee menu reads like a wine list) make for a coffee shop experience sans lines. Everyone—every single person—is on their smart phone or laptop, half of them working on screenplays. And the breakfast sandwich is killer. Bonus celebrity sighting: Thom Yorke!