LA city guide: A walking tour of Eagle Rock
Explore Eagle Rock with our LA city guide and check out some of this Eastside hood's best shops, restaurants and bars.
Our LA city guide to Eagle Rock explores some of the best eats, shopping and quirky discoveries this up-and-coming ‘hood has to offer. Like its Eastside neighbors Highland Park and Silver Lake, Eagle Rock exudes eclectic charm and a quirky mix of the old and the new. Bohemian youth, urban homesteaders, Occidental College students and multigenerational families converge in this small-town stretch of northeastern LA. The well-trafficked Colorado and Eagle Rock Boulevards are lined with specialty clothing stores, unique markets, antique crafts shops and enough restaurants and bars to keep your belly heavy and wallet light. Take a day tour through this charming burg, just bear in mind that like its offbeat character, many shops keep erratic hours, so call ahead.
Grab a table at Pat and Lorraine’s, the diner that served gangsters played by Harvey Keitel and Steve Buscemi in the 1992 film Reservoir Dogs. Career waitresses pour bottomless mugs of coffee that steam alongside thick, fluffy omelets. Servings are anything but skimpy at Pat’s, so prepare to get stuffed on a monstrous portion of bacon or one of their signature Mexican breakfasts.
After all that eating, you’ll definitely need a walk, so leg it up the street to Old 55, a vintage furniture store that puts a modern spin on old-school desks, tables, mirrors and electronics. After browsing the best home furnishings from years past, head to Toros Pottery, a boutique gallery featuring pottery handmade by owner and proprietor, Toros Tngrian. Browsing the works on display here may inspire you to sign up for a class: Toros offers a variety of group pottery-making workshops that are open to the public ($110 for 3 hours).
Next, head to the Zweet Station, a specialty candy and soda store housed inside a former auto-body shop. Find virtually any Jones Soda flavor, Sprecher Root Beers, Mexican Pepsis and Cokes made with pure cane sugar, plus an obscure assortment of taffies, gums and chocolates available for the scooping. Feel free to hang out and enjoy a cup of coffee or surf the web with Zweet’s free wi-fi network.
Ready for lunch? Head to Señor Fish for your choice of light and healthy or thick and hearty Ensenada-style seafood that’s always fresh. You’ll be presented with a myriad of options, but your best bet is a combination plate featuring fish of your choice, fresh salad and fries ($9-$14). If fish isn’t your thing, try the giant shrimp and scallop burrito ($7.45, fried or grilled) and enjoy it on the spacious, sunlit patio with a margarita or beer. If it’s American-style fast food you’re after, journey over to Oinkster for some extra-decadent takes on American classics by local chef Andre Guerrero. Order a slow-roasted pulled BBQ pork sandwich ($7), crispy Belgian-style fries ($2.25-$3.25)and, of course, a local draft beer. The Coffee Table has lots of decidedly healthy options like wraps, sandwiches and salads. Try the BLTA wrap ($9.50) or chopped chicken breast salad ($10.50). And be sure to note that the Coffee Table has a lounge with a full bar that opens nightly at 5pm. Auntie Em’s Kitchen also offers a varied lunch meu, including vegetarian tortas ($10.50), Indian-spiced chickpea sandwiches ($9.95) and country meatloaf ($12.50). If you can afford a bit of a splurge, check out Cacao Mexicatessen, a little eatery offering dishes such as duck confit tacos ($4.15 each) and shredded venison sopes ($7.25 each). If you’re not too full from fresh chips and tasty homemade salsas, top off your meal with a champurrado (Mexican drinking chocolate).
After you’re all grubbed up and ready to go, cross the street to Permanent Records, which stocks a wide selection of pop, post-punk, rock & roll and hip-hop LPs from scores of artists old and new. This West coast outlet of the Chicago-based record store (and label) is also engaged in the community, putting on shows with touring and local bands most Saturdays at 8pm. More into the visual arts? Trot back down Colorado to Jose Vera Gallery, a sprawling two-room art space that features paintings usually pertaining to California and Chicano themes. You’ll be mesmerized by the sheer volume of art in the gallery, as retail items range from furniture and metalwork to ceramics and scores of other mediums.
In addition to all of the old-school auto body and home improvement shops, Eagle Rock is home to a menagerie of antique and collectible stores. Check out the Snivling Sibbling, an antique furniture shop boasting a slew of turn-of-the-century items, with clocks and creaky-looking chairs slung up on walls and from the ceiling. If you’d rather adorn yourself than your home, head over to MediaNoche, a co-ed boutique where you'll find a trove of hats, boots and accessories on offer. For an afternoon pick-me-up, stop in at Swork, a café with organic, fair-trade coffees and teas. Chill out for a bit, grab an English tea latte and hook up to the free wi-fi. If you’ve got kids, bring them along as Sworkland—a small indoor playground for tots—is nestled right next to the seating area. When you’re caffeinated and ready for more trekking, head to the Eagle Rock Italian Bakery, a neighborhood staple for more than 40 years known for its cannoli and tantalizing rum cakes. Leave with a bag of Pasticiotti and Italian pastries and you won’t be disappointed.
Eagle Rock has a plethora of dinner options, from new and hip to generations-old. For a little bit of the old Eagle Rock vibe, check out Casa Bianca, a vibrant pizzeria that’s been open in the same location for more than 50 years. The menu is traditional Italian-American and the pizza is usually voted among the best—if not the best—in LA: Try the sausage pie with peppers and fresh garlic ($14.50) and you’ll know why. Camilo’s California Bistro specializes in local renditions of world favorites. The Red Thai Curry Snapper ($17.95) provides a unique medley of tastes whereas Camilo’s Chicken ($15.95), a house favorite, will satisfy your craving for a simpler meal. A few blocks away on Eagle Rock Boulevard you’ll find Mia Sushi, a modern Japanese restaurant with a fine-dining feel. Eat your way through specialty rolls named after the local areas, from the popular Mt. Washington—a crab and cream cheese roll ($11) with fresh eel and avocado—to Highland Park and you guessed it, Eagle Rock. For dinner on the cheap (and we mean seriously cheap) check out Abby’s Diner, a small, 1950s-era food stand that’s open until 10pm. Every item on the menu is served all day and burgers range from $3 to $5. You can grab a whole hearty meal, fries and shake included, for under $10. It's a cash only joint, but with prices so reasonable you can almost always scrounge together enough bills to avoid a trip to the ATM.
Now you’re ready for a drink. Your first stop should be the Black Boar, a lodge-like setting with low ceilings and a quaint fireplace that’s got all the right whiskeys for sipping. If you’re into knocking ‘em back, the shot of the day here is usually just $4. Oenophiles may want to check out Colorado Wine Company, a wine store that doubles as a bar. The Wine Co. is open six days a week for by-the-glass selections of sake, champagne and beer from around the world. Don’t despair if you’re not flush with cash; the Wine Co. specializes in $25-and-under bottles. For a final nightcap, head far down Eagle Rock Boulevard to Verdugo. The tap selections are vast (22 in all) and a spacious beer garden out back is a great spot for a secluded tete-a-tete. On your way out, hit one of the food trucks outside the bar for some cheap, cheesy Mexican grub that will satisfy any late-night snack hankering.
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