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Canter's Deli
Photograph: Jakob N. LaymanCanter's Deli

Where to eat, drink and explore in Fairfax

Eat, shop, and sightsee in one of L.A.’s busiest and most eclectic neighborhoods

Written by
Sylvio Martins
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The Fairfax District—or just Fairfax for short—is a highly urbanized and historical 3.2-square-mile block where you’ll typically see a revolving door of tenants rather than new real-estate developments. It’s this mixture of old and new that makes it one of Los Angeles’s most eclectic neighborhoods, which often attracts diverse crowds and age groups as one of the city’s top shopping, dining and entertainment destinations.

Traditionally considered to be the heart of L.A.’s Jewish community, you’ll still find plenty of kosher supermarkets and halal eateries scattered around the neighborhood. However, many of these businesses now coexist alongside popular streetwear brands, major tourist attractions like the Grove, and some of the most Instagrammed restaurants in town (if not the country.) Fairfax Avenue’s palm-lined sidewalks are also usually packed with locals and tourists alike queuing in line for a bagel, the latest sneaker drop or whatever celebrity pop-up is currently on display. In other words, it’s not somewhere you’d go to avoid crowds.

But there’s still always something to do in the hustle and bustle, and chances are, you’ll at the very least transverse Fairfax on your way to other popular L.A. neighborhoods. As you might’ve assumed, the area gets its name from Fairfax Avenue, the epicenter of the neighborhood's fashion and food scene that also bleeds into Melrose’s buzzing traffic. Its substantial distance from major freeways and prime positioning between West Hollywood and Beverly Grove also makes it a commonly explored part of town, whether you’re watching a taping at Television City or stuck in traffic on your way to lunch. With so much going on at once, it might take some time to find the spots that appeal to you, and that’s even before you factor in street parking. We’ve compiled a list of our favorite restaurants, attractions and L.A. landmarks that we still frequently visit, even as seasoned Angelenos.

  • Restaurants
  • Sandwich shops
  • Fairfax District
  • price 1 of 4

Located inside a tiny strip mall off Beverly Boulevard, this father-son operation makes some of the chewiest New York-style bagels you’ll find on this side of the Mississippi and at a great price point, too. With over a dozen varieties of freshly boiled bagels to choose from, you can fetch a quick $5 egg, ham and cheese or a loaded bagel sandwich with lox and all the usual fixins. Parking in the tight lot and the Sunday morning line out the door might make the experience initially daunting, but the final outcome is definitely worth the wait.

  • Things to do
  • Event spaces
  • Fairfax District
  • price 1 of 4

This open-air food hall isn’t a one-day-a-week event like the other farmers’ markets around town: Instead, it’s open seven days a week with over 100 vendors to shop and eat from. A designated Los Angeles landmark that dates back to the 1930s, you’ll find a mix of locals and tourists from around the world stopping for lunch here or buying everything from fresh produce to butchered meats and French wines.

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  • Things to do
  • Fairfax District

Once the site of the famous Pan-Pacific Auditorium, this large grassy area has now become an urban park that sees its fair share of dog walkers, picnickers and group workout classes at all hours of the day. It’s rare to find quiet places in this typically noisy neighborhood, making it the go-to spot for those looking to unwind with friends or read a book under a tree. Pick up lunch at the Farmers Market or any of the several nearby restaurants to complete a relaxing afternoon in the park. The park is also home to L.A.’s Holocaust Museum, which was founded by survivors back in 1961. Today it exists as the oldest Holocaust museum in the United States, with its latest restoration being completed back in 2010.

  • Movie theaters
  • Independent
  • Fairfax District
  • price 1 of 4

Seeing a film at the New Beverly Cinema isn’t the same experience as catching a screening at your local cineplex. The revival house dates back to the 1920s, making it one of the oldest in the country. It was eventually purchased by acclaimed director Quentin Tarantino in 2007, who has kept the tradition of screening 35mm double features alive and well. An evening at the New Beverly is experiencing classic cinema in its original glory, with many of the 35mm and 16mm prints shown coming from Tarantino’s personal collection. The acclaimed director also handles the majority of the theater’s monthly programming himself, and plays his own work at Friday midnight screenings for anyone wanting to watch a Tarantino film on the big screen.

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  • Restaurants
  • Italian
  • Fairfax District
  • price 3 of 4

A product of chef-duo Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo, this Italian-American restaurant has developed a devout following since opening its first location on Fairfax Avenue back in 2015. Their lunch/dinner menu offers a large selection of delicious and cheekily-named pizzas (“The L.A. Woman” pie with burrata) and some equally great pasta dishes like their popular spicy fusilli. Jon & Vinny’s also has a popular breakfast menu that challenges the notion of what time of day a person should eat a slice of pizza.

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  • Restaurants
  • Israeli
  • Fairfax District
  • price 2 of 4

You’ll find plenty of Kosher eateries around Fairfax, but few are as popular (and undeniably great) as Ta-Eem Grill. This casual lunch and dinner spot serves some of the tastiest shawarma and falafel in town, both of which can come served inside a warm pita, a soft sesame baguette or on a plate with various Israeli sides. Their creamy hummus alone is a good enough reason to stop by for one very filling meal.

  • Restaurants
  • Coffee shops
  • Fairfax District
  • price 2 of 4

If you’re in the area and in dire need of a strong cup of coffee, Cofax is the place to go. But truth be told, coffee isn’t really the main attraction here, even though the name may suggest otherwise. A morning at Cofax is all about the breakfast burritos generously filled with everything you need to get over that 9am slump. Options range from the spicy chorizo burrito with soft scrambled eggs, pico de gallo and crunched-up tortilla chips to the Impossible burrito with plant-based meat and tater tots.

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  • Restaurants
  • Delis
  • Fairfax District
  • price 2 of 4

No matter what hour of the day, anyone can stop by Canter’s Deli for a Reuben sandwich or milkshake. This 24-hour establishment has been feeding crowds looking for food after concerts and late nights in the city since 1931. If you’re not awake and hungry at 2am, you can still enjoy Jewish comfort foods for breakfast or lunch like matzo brei, lox and eggs, and a very good potato knish. But if you happen to be out late and in the mood for a cocktail and live music, head over to the Kibitz Room that’s adjacent to Canter’s main dining room. The small lounge has seen live performances by likes of the Doors, Joni Mitchell and members of Guns N’ Roses, making it an iconic (and intimate) venue in L.A.’s music scene.

  • Restaurants
  • Cafés
  • Fairfax District
  • price 2 of 4

With multiple locations around town, Blu Jam Café has won people over time and time again with its extensive brunch menu. This spot—the original location—is also well-known for its creative spins on morning-time foods, such as breakfast pasta with scrambled eggs and smoked bacon or their signature crunchy French toast that’s rolled in crunchy cornflakes.

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  • Restaurants
  • Mexican
  • Fairfax District
  • price 2 of 4

Madre is one of the city’s best Oaxacan restaurants, and it’s recently expanded to three locations across Los Angeles. Each offers regional specialties like banana-leaf wrapped tamales with mole negro, tlayudas and pork ribs coated in creamy coloradito. But what makes the Melrose location unique is its mezcal collection, which boasts a staggering selection of over 400 bottles to choose from. Sip your mezcal neat or have it mixed in a spicy cocktail for your next happy hour in Fairfax.

  • Restaurants
  • Mexican
  • Fairfax District

There’s a lot of history surrounding this Mexican diner, including an eerie connection to the Manson Family murders that rocked Hollywood back in the 1960s (Sharon Tate and her friends infamously had their last meal here). But since its doors first opened in 1931, El Coyote has been deemed an iconic LA establishment that serves some of the best (if not the best, according to some sources) margaritas in town. You won’t necessarily find the most authentic Mexican cuisine here, but enjoying a meal under the ceiling’s Christmassy string lights has become an experience that everyone in Los Angeles should have at least once in their life.

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  • Shopping
  • Shopping centers
  • Fairfax District
  • price 3 of 4

Fairfax is home to one of L.A.’s most popular and recognizable malls: The Grove. Whether you’re running errands or in the mood to shop after a meal at the Original Farmers Market, you can do so in an Art Deco-style village with a synchronized water fountain and a double-decker tram that transports shoppers around nearly 600,000 square feet of retail space. If you happen to be in town during the holiday season, you can also experience the mall’s famous tree lighting ceremony, an over-the-top, celebrity-filled event with live music performances and an impressive firework display that most locals opt to catch on TV rather than face the traffic.

  • Things to do
  • Festivals
  • Fairfax District
  • price 2 of 4

Fairfax High School’s campus transforms into L.A.’s famous Melrose Trading Post each Sunday, with tickets available for sale either in person or online. You’ll find an endless assortment of secondhand goods at reasonable prices, including thrifted clothing, cameras, furniture, art pieces and vinyl records. A Sunday afternoon at the Trading Post is one of those L.A. traditions that attracts locals from all over town, making it a great place for some quality people watching (and bargain deals, of course.)

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Immerse yourself in streetwear culture on Fairfax Avenue
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

Immerse yourself in streetwear culture on Fairfax Avenue

The subculture that’s made the biggest splash on Fairfax in recent years is, without a doubt, the streetwear scene. The entirety of Fairfax Avenue is now lined with some of the world’s most recognizable clothing brands, including Supreme, GOLF WANG, HUF and The Hundreds. You’ll regularly find lines of shoppers out the door and long wait times before prospective buyers and spectators can check out the latest collections. Regardless of whether you follow the streetwear scene, it’s worth exploring how fashion is evolving right here in Los Angeles.

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