Los Angeles Tour: Los Feliz
Glamour meets small-town charm in this walkable L.A. neighborhood.
As an early site of Hollywood film studios and a longtime favorite roost for celebrities, Los Feliz has seen its share of Tinseltown glamour. But the eminently walk-able enclave retains a certain small-town charm and, in recent years, has become known more for its hip counterculture patina than a sprinkling of stardust. Its main thoroughfares are studded with sidewalk cafes, vintage clothing, pop art boutiques and loveable dive bars, yet taking a trip up its sleepy side streets is equally rewarding for the striking residential architecture. Above it all, the so-close-you-can-touch-'em foothills offer a chance to commune with nature.
Located in Los Feliz, Yuca’s is a no-frills, family-owned taco stand that has been serving up authentic Mexican food to residents of Los Angeles for over forty years. What it lacks in style, it more than makes up for in flavor and a decidedly casual atmosphere. How casual? Yuca’s staff actually serve food (and write down customer orders) on paper plates. Cochinita pibil, a traditional dish of marinated, slow-cooked pork from the Yucatán Peninsula, is one of the most frequently requested items. Since seating is somewhat limited, many patrons order their food to go or simply eat in their cars.
The Dresden Room
Immortalized in the 1996 flick Swingers, this Los Feliz cocktail bar and Continental restaurant was established in 1954. The Rat Pack-era lounge has starburst chandeliers, leather booths, and dark-cork and stone-patterned walls. Jazz duo Marty and Elayne sing an eclectic range of hits from Frank Sinatra to the Bee Gees; performances take place Monday through Saturday nights; there’s an open-mic night on Tuesdays. A full beverage menu includes the house signature Blood and Sand—a secret mix of bright-colored fruit juices with a rum-base. The adjacent dining room has served its specialty prime rib for more than 60 years, as well as Italian fare like veal marsala.
Cherry Pick Vintage
Los Feliz teems with funky vintage stores, but this sweet boutique is the cream of the crop. It stocks a chic, well-edited collection of pieces for both ladies and gents from the 1940’s through ’90’s (without a whiff of must) as well as gently used contemporary finds. Scoop up everything from stylish frocks to hip denim to classic cuff links for that quintessential Los Feliz look.
This expansive urban park hugs the hills above Los Feliz and has enough attractions within its 4,210 acres to please both nature and culture lovers. Those seeking a brush with the wilderness will love its miles of hiking and horseback riding trails as well as the onsite L.A. Zoo, while those less inclined to traipse through the chaparral can get a cultural fix at the Greek Theatre, the Autry Museum of Western Heritage, or the Griffith Observatory. But all can agree on the stunning views of the L.A. basin and valleys.
Vintage Cinemas Vista Theatre
This historic neighborhood theatre offers one of the best movie-going experiences in town. Housed in a Spanish Revival building, the single-screen cinema boasts the original 1923 Egyptian-themed decor reminiscent of movie palaces like Grauman’s Egyptian Theatre, but locals love it for a more practical reason: the expansive leg room. A restoration completed in 2000 cut the capacity in half—it’s as if they took out every other row of seats.
Soap Plant / Wacko / La Luz de Jesus Gallery
What began as a handcrafted soap shop in the early 1970’s has today become a cult purveyor of pop ephemera and a counterculture art gallery. The wildly colorful retail space brims with lowbrow objets d’ art, novelty books, tongue-in-cheek gift items, collectible toys, and crafty home decor, while the gallery hosts exhibits by underground, up-and-coming painters and sculptors.
Frank Lloyd Wright’s first foray into Californian architecture was this impressive “California Romanza” residence he designed in 1919 for oil heiress Aline Barnsdall. Wright fans will appreciate the unique indoor/outdoor design and custom furniture, but even non-architecture buffs will thrill to the stunning views from the rooftop terraces and garden spaces. The house is ensconced in Barnsdall Art Park atop Olive Hill, so it’s worth checking out the surrounding theater and gallery spaces, too.