Los Angeles holds a special place for me. Although I grew up in Sacramento and now call it home again, LA is where my parents met, where I was born, and where I went to college and stayed for a few years afterward. After college, I moved to the Silverlake neighborhood on the east side, and worked across town in Venice, the west side. Not an ideal situation traffic-wise, but it did give me a chance to get to know each neighborhood, which are both artsy, trendy, and full of eclectic shopping and amazing restaurant options.
So it only makes sense that when I go back there to visit, I visit those two neighborhoods the most. It works out that my closest friends live in each of those locations! On my recent visit I wanted to check out a few of my favorite places, sure, but I was also itching to try some of the new places I’d only heard about on podcasts and swooned over on Instagram. Of course, I couldn’t cover too much in two and a half days. But the good news is, if you have just a weekend to spare, the recommendations below might be just what you need!
Silverlake | Sunset Blvd.
Moon Juice | Juicery
I first heard of Moon Juice on Girl Boss Radio, and was intrigued by the cosmic approach to the menu and the refreshing approach to wellness. Names/recipes like “Beauty Nectar” and “California Sun” inspire you to try everything, and a variety of “moon milks”, juices, and tonics offer the option to leave feeling full and satiated or light and invigorated. And with grabbable, pre-made juices, and a surprisingly serene vibe (I went twice over the weekend and both times I didn’t have to wait in line), it’s worth a trip if you’re on you need a quick pick-me-up on your way to another destination.
Night + Market Song | Thai street food
Song was an IRL discovery! As I mentioned, I usually hear about places on podcasts or come across them on Instagram, but Song captured my attention with its pink facade and large crowd. It was right across from my friend’s place where I was staying, so we couldn’t not try it. The cuisine is Thai with Burmese influence and, as evidenced by the florescent pink “Larb King” sign in the foyer, is known for its larb, which is a minced meat “salad” (in which the only greens are little bits of cilantro). Be warned that the hand-chopped pork is accompanied with plenty of spice. The vibe is relaxed, the flavors intense, and the walls hot pink. *Fire emoji.*
Forage | Local, seasonal fare
Forage is too cool for signage, so you’ll have to know where to look for the all-white restaurant front. But don’t be fooled – the vibe is pretty relaxed at this quick-serve lunch and dinner spot. The menu changes daily and is full of fresh seasonal salads and proteins to order from. Whole foods reign supreme at this locavore-happy eatery. Leave room for dessert – the pies and pastries they have on display are always tempting.
Flore | Organic vegan restaurant
Oh boy, so many memories at Flore. When we lived in the neighborhood, my girlfriend and I would gather around the chicken and waffles every Saturday to talk about our weeks. That, and the lemon berry cake. Yeah, we didn’t exactly do vegan the lite way. The brunch is amazing (get there before 11:00 a.m. to beat the crowd) and the interior is cozy and diner-esque.
Sqirl | Breakfast + lunch
This was on my must-visit list because foodies and tastemakers alike have been covering it so much in the media lately. And the rumors are true – the menu is full of delicious “reimagined classics” that are accented with tasty jams and next-level pickled veggies. There will be a line, but there will undoubtedly be elation if you stick it out. Order a few things so you can try a medley of imaginative flavors.
Thirsty Crow | Whiskey/cocktail bar
Delicious cocktails, sexy crowd, great DJs. Whiskey is their specialty, which is a plus in my book. This is also where Aziz Ansari checked me out once. Need I say more?
The Echo | Must-visit club/venue for people who love to get down
Go to Funky Sole night on Saturdays. You won’t be disappointed. They project Soul Train on the wall, and have DJs who play deep, funky cuts that will have you dancing literally for hours. Venture outside to the “funk yard” for even more wild times. Make sure you check out the band lineup at the Echoplex downstairs to see a live show.
Sweat Spot | Dance studio
I used to go to Sweat Spot on Sunday mornings for their “Sweaty Sunday” class, which is a feel-good, energetic experience where you warm up to thumping, high energy electropop, and then transition into learning a choreographed routine set to the best new music. It can be a bit intimidating to be dancing alongside experienced career dancers, but the vibe is intentionally body-positive and embracing of all levels. If you enjoy dance at all, check out their eclectic selection of classes and give it a whirl.
Reform School | Gift and home decor shop
This is truly my must-visit shop when I go to Silverlake. I can always find a gorgeous coffee table book, handmade pillow, witty card, or a pair of dainty bar earrings. It’s perfect for gifts, but impossible not to swoon over the specialty items for yourself. I especially love their selection of poster art. It’s packed wall-to-wall with those little artistic details that can really make your home feel special. I love how they champion both local and well-known artists, like ceramicists I recognize from my Instagram feed (like Tactile Matter).
Vacation Vinyl | Record shop
Emanating with music, this shop is a fun place to hang out and peruse, and has a friendly atmosphere too. Intimate in size, but packed with crates of vinyl, the store has a curated, well-organized feel. Alas, they didn’t have the Spacemen 3 record I wanted, but they did have a promising markdown crate and a decent cassette section, if you’re into that sort of thing.
Silverlake Farmers’ Market | Saturdays, 8am-1:30pm; Tuesdays, 2pm-7:30pm
This is one of those farmers’ markets that has it all – live music, fresh-cut flowers, prepared food to munch on while you shop, produce of course, and a ton of cool vintage clothing and jewelry vendors.
Venice | Abbot Kinney Blvd.
Cafe Gratitude | Plant-based restaurant
We had a nice long dinner with friends at Cafe Gratitude, which I desperately wanted to visit again. I’d been a couple years ago, and remember loving the super healthy bowl and smoothie I’d ordered. This time was amazing as well – they do a great job of covering all the flavors – Mexican, Indian, Japanese, etc. so you can get something healthy and filling to satisfy any craving. Macro bowls, seasonal salads, wraps, and appetizers – I find myself tantalized by everything on the menu, which is full off hippie dippie dish titles like “I am Extraordinary”.
Kreation | Raw, organic eatery + juicery
Kreation is a tasty organic eatery and has a ton of cold-press juices perfect for sipping while you walk around the boulevard. All of their elixirs are made with produce from the Santa Monica Farmers’ Market, which is worth a visit itself if you’re in town on a Wednesday.
LF | Boutique
Truth be told, this store is frequented by cute, wealthy teens and college girls, but I still love the well-curated boho selection and fun, sassy (yep, I said “sassy”) styles. Now I mainly go for the shoe selection because they always have a bunch of wild Jeffrey Campbell boots and cute gladiator sandals scattered throughout the store. Be on the lookout for their crazy 60%-off-the-entire-store annual sale in August.
Warby Parker | Eyewear
How cool is it that Warby Parker now has brick and mortar retail locations? I was so psyched to see the store when I was strolling along Abbot Kinney. I’ve been in the process of checking their site for their selection of clear frames, but the ones I want to try on are always unavailable because they’re so popular. So it was a huge help that to have the specialist there pull all the clear frames they had so I could methodically try them on to find my perfect pair. They arrive in about a week, can’t wait!
The Otheroom | Wine + beer
Ever-so-slightly scene-y, but great for a glass of wine, with open-air windows great for people watching if you stop for a drink during the day. It’s a bit overpriced, but then again, you don’t necessarily go for the drinks. You go for the sexy-casual atmosphere and to breathe in the Venice vibes.
The Brig | Bar
This was the happy hour spot I used to hit up when I worked on Abbot Kinney a few years ago. It has a pool table, cheap drinks, and a DJ once the sun goes down. Great place to start the night.
Intelligentsia | Coffee
This cult coffee spot is quintessentially LA – you’ll see impossibly stylish people, screenwriters hard at work on their laptops, important-looking meetings in progress, etc. The lattes are expensive, yes, but worth it. Ugh, so good. We bought a bag of coffee to bring a taste back home with us.
Pho Cafe (Silverlake), Kind Kreme (vegan ice cream in Echo Park, Pasadena), Gracias Madre (Mexican vegan in West Hollywood), Wasteland (vintage shop on Melrose), Reformation (boutique in Santa Monica), Nasty Gal (Boutique in Melrose, Santa Monica).