Neighbourhood guides: Live like a local in Silver Lake, Los Angeles
23 Feb 2022
Silver Lake often gets labelled the “Brooklyn of Los Angeles,” however, this pocket of L.A. is much more than a hipster hangout.
The central L.A. neighbourhood has gone from urban grit to sophisticated chic over the years, and is now home to creatives and celebrities alike. Back in the 1970s, Silver Lake was the epicentre of Los Angeles’ gay leather subculture. While this is no longer the case, the area still finds itself a hub for artists and musicians. Expect a diverse, eclectic, and most importantly, authentic vibe, as you walk down streets with Hollywood hilltop views, independent boutique shopping, and a delectable dining scene.
We recommend you start exploring the area at Sunset Junction, where Sunset Boulevard meets Santa Monica Boulevard. This historical spot holds importance in the fight for LGBTQ+ rights – it’s where the first documented demonstration for gay rights took place in the U.S.A.
These are our favourite spots.
At Botanica, you’ll find fresh, produce-forward dishes, natural wine and herbaceous cocktails. Hence why it's a fave among the locals. They even host the occasional author talk and wine tasting event. Owners Emily Fiffer and Heather Sperling have managed to build a health-conscious café with all-day fare, third-wave coffee and yummy pastries that’s on the top of everyone’s lists.
This family-run Cuban flavoured cafe has been serving fresh juices, Cuban coffee, traditional pastries and sandwiches in the ‘hood since 1975. A legendary institution, people come here from all over the city for to get their hands on one of their hot-pressed Cuban sandwiches.
Mowhawk General Store
This consciously curated shop features high-end clothing, shoes, accessories and homeware – don’t miss the shop’s impressive collection of modernist furniture and lighting. The polygonal terrariums by Score + Solder are also a stand-out design available here.
Akbar’s retro-style lounge has become Silver Lake’s ultimate LGBTQ+ hangout. “We believe in the power of rock and roll,” explains the Akbar website. “We love guitars. We abhor homophobia. And hetero-phobia. We enjoy a cold beer. We cannot abide a mean drunk,” the list goes on – you get the idea. It’s this inclusive vibe that runs through, and draws in a mix of all ages, from other L.A. pockets of cool such as Echo Park and Downtown.
One thing you’ll notice about this neighbourhood is that its residents love their coffee. And their coffee shops, too. Which is why you’re spoilt for choice here. Dinosaur is one of the best for its laid-back community vibe and spacious design.
“Vinovore is the first wine shop to carry only female winemakers,” says owner Coly Ben Haan. From bio-dynamic rosés to orange wines, this is the spot to go and discover your all-new favourite bottle, and there’s a good chance it’ll be all-natural and organic, as Haan tends to focus on these types of wines, as well as those in small production.
Established back in 2002, UNDEFEATED considered itself one of the OG sneaker stores. They aren’t wrong. Here, you’ll find the latest kicks and apparel from sportswear giants, as well as hard-to-find and exclusive collaborations.
Sick City Records
Head to Sick City Records for vintage tees and matching vinyl. The store was founded by a “fundamental love and passion for music and vintage clothes,” which you can see as soon as you enter. The owners pride themselves in the fact that whatever sort of record you may need, they’ve got you covered. Just ask.
Kathryn Bentley opened her first flagship store, Dream Collective, back in the spring of 2012. It’s located in the heart of Silver Lake's vibrant artist community, and showcases both Kathryn's fine and costume jewellery designs. Discover a selection of clothing, accessories, footwear, apothecary, ceramics, home goods and artwork – basically any type of creation by like-minded and local designers.
Alfred Coffee in Silver Lake is the third location, after the previous ones in Melrose Place and Brentwood, for the Insta-favourite coffee shop brand. As you walk in, you’ll instantly notice the cute and whimsical design, which is perfect for brightening up an afternoon.
Pine and Crane
Pine and Crane is known for their delicious Taiwanese foods and bubble tea. The original goal was to introduce authentic, delicious Taiwanese fare in a comfortable, modern setting to the Silver Lake neighbourhood. Which they certainly did. The passion and pride comes across in every dish. Try the Taiwanese staples like Three Cup Chicken and Beef Noodle Soup.
Some call this spot the “coffee snob’s choice”. We call it a must. It has some of the best caffeinated drinks around, and fun fact: they roast their coffee beans in the gas-powered German vintage roaster from the 1950’s to ensure even roasting.