LA City Guide: Where to Eat + What To Do in Silver Lake

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Silver Lake, also known as Los Angeles’ most trendy and hipster neighbourhood, is located in the heart of the city, bordering onto Echo Park, Los Feliz and East Hollywood. This area of town is known for its food culture, indie coffee shops, boutique stores and nightlife. During our trip, we spent a lot of time in Silver Lake, getting to know it more intimately and it has quickly become my favourite neighbourhood in all of Los Angeles. Aside from its obvious attractions, the neighbourhood is wonderfully calm while also brimming with creative energy. It’s equally a retreat as well as a destination. Regardless of your interests, budget or taste, you will for sure find something to fall in love with in Silver Lake.

So if you’re planning a trip to Los Angeles any time soon, here are some things I recommend you check out in Silver Lake.

EAT + DRINK

Silver Lake is a quintessential food-focused destination with a diverse range of options within walking distance of each other. From street vendors and taco trucks to thoughtfully made vegan food or a romantic and elevated brunch experience, there is something available for every taste and budget.

Starting with coffee (as I always do), some of my favourite coffee shops in Silver Lake include Intelligentsia and Cafecito Organico, both of which I’ve raved about in my Favourite Coffee Shops in Los Angeles blog post. Both coffee shops serve superior quality coffee and pastries (please do yourself a favour and have a croissant at Intelligentsia) and have a great atmosphere both to work and hangout in. I would say that Cafecito Organico is a hidden gem and has a more “unbuttoned” quality to it, which I absolutely love.

In terms of food, my diet is primarily plant-focused so I purposely sought out places that would cater to that. Thankfully, Los Angeles has been coined the vegan capital of the United States, so there was no shortage of places to eat mindfully and well. Flore Vegan is a great place to grab lunch on Sunset Boulevard, and would recommend the Portobello tacos. Forage, also located on Sunset Boulevard, is a staple in Silver Lake. They source all of their ingredients locally, exchange produce from backyard farmers for free meals and gives grants to help urban farmers. Recognized for their sustainable and ethical ethos, people come from all over the city to enjoy delicious, seasonal, fresh food for lunch or dinner.

If you’re craving something hearty and filling, but are on a budget, you can’t go wrong with Silverlake Ramen, where for $15 you can enjoy traditionally-made ramen.

SHOP

If you’re in the mood to shop, Sunset Boulevard is lined both ways with vintage shops, bookstores and retailers. Start at the Sunset Junction after you’ve fuelled up at Intelligentsia and make your way down. Two stores you have to check out are MRKT and Ragg Mopp Vintage Store. Located right next door to each other, you can spend a good hour simply browsing through bins of vintage scarves, records and books. Ragg Mopp Vintage has a huge selection of hand-picked casual and high end garments.

Also, if you’re in Silver Lake on a Saturday between 12:00pm - 5:00pm, be sure to check out the Flea Market and browse vintage, handmade and antique goods.

As we were exploring the hills of Silver Lake, I turned to Alex and said “wow, what a beautiful church'“, only to look closer and notice all of the furniture strewn about on the front steps. It turns out the church, located at Lucille Avenue and Griffith Park Boulevard, was actually purchased years ago and transitioned into a vintage store. From front doors to altar, the entire church is filled floor to ceiling with vintage gems found at estate sales throughout California. We spent some time browsing through bins of aged postcards and post-war memorabilia and walked away with a postcard for a friend.

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WANDER

One of my favourite things to do when I’m in Los Angeles is to wander the streets. From the fresh air, to the wonderful contrast of architecture and landscape, to the cacti or palm tree lined roads, walking through the neighbourhood of Silver Lake is a great insight into the everyday, pedestrian and honestly, underrated, beauty that this city has to offer. While most people would assume that Los Angeles is hectic (and surely if you’re stuck in traffic on the 405, that’s no doubt your reality), my experience was different. Walking through Silver Lake reminded me so much of a small town, especially as I was walking past families picking up their kids from school, an older gentleman pruning his lemon tree, clothing hanging outside to dry. It reminded me of simplicity and a return to nature and what is essential. Surely Sunset Boulevard (the core street that runs through Silver Lake) is bustling with nightlife and people chattering on patios, but as you walk upwards into the hills, it becomes more and more of a retreat.

As you’re exploring the neighbourhood, keep an eye out for the Silver Lake Hidden Stairways (hint: a great place to start your search is across the street from Alfred’s on Sunset). We were only able to find a handful of them, but each one stopped us in our tracks with their colour and creativity. We also learned that the stairs are actually historical reminders of a time when people travelled through the city by trolleys and streetcars, so they were used as direct routes for pedestrians to get down the hills to school, the supermarket, and transit lines.

We climbed our way through the Silver Lake Hills, walking up steep streets lined with thoughtfully-designed homes and well manicured landscapes. We imagined a world where this would be our own backyard, our own neighbourhood to live in. We played pretend, acting like locals just walking home from Trader Joe’s. Los Angeles has this wonderful ability to encourage dreaming and creativity, unlike any other place I’ve travelled to before.

If you’re planning a trip to Los Angeles in the near future, be sure to spend some time in Silver Lake. Walk up and down Sunset Boulevard, enjoy well-made food, peer into vintage shops and then make your way into the hills and enjoy getting lost through the maze of homes and palm trees.

Until next time,

Vanda