By Karen Vazquez, Owner and Founder of LoSoCal
A little over a year ago, I had the opportunity to spend four months in L.A...specifically the Silverlake area. I did my best to get out and explore and this post highlights a little glimpse of what I loved the most in Silverlake and the Sunset Strip. I am highlighting one particular fun-filled Saturday that I will never, ever forget because it represents LoSoCal in its essence with a completely unplanned adventure that opened my eyes to the local scene of Silverlake. Certain aspects of my day were very touching and others were pure fun!
What did I do the most when I was in L.A.? Eat. Eat and shop! I eat what I love, but as a personal choice, I don’t eat meat. I eat fish, but not meat. I have chosen a non-meat eating diet for most of my life and I generally gravitate towards healthier food as part of my lifestyle. That being said, this particular Saturday morning a neighbor friend, Peter, invited me to a quaint little cafe called Dune Restaurant right in the heart of Atwater Village. We had spoken several times prior to our lunch outing about our mutual appreciation for farm-to-table restaurants and farmers markets with fresh local produce, and so it made sense that he would be a good tour guide for an afternoon "food and farmers market excursion." I drove us to the village in Atwater that day and we were able to park right in front of the restaurant. That was a huge plus with so many areas of L.A. having limited parking. Atwater Village is quite easy to get around in and so it is a perfect destination spot in Los Angeles if you want to enjoy local restaurants, shops, shows and markets without dealing with a lot of headache!
Their specialty: a freshly made Gyro!
Dune is a local restaurant that aspires to make fresh, locally sourced cuisine that resembles “the street food of the Levant and the Eastern Mediterranean.” We arrived inside the cafe and after he gave me a bit of a verbal tour of their menu and options, we both agreed to select gyros and fresh juice, as that was a “local favorite” at Dune. I had a nice time visiting with Peter over lunch. We sat outside on their front patio area dining and chit-chatting about a variety of different topics. Peter knows I am a blogger who focuses on the local SoCal scene and I could tell he was feeling proud of his community that day as he explained some of his favorite places in Atwater Village and Silverlake. Dune Restaurant was at the top of his list and after our lunch, I was converted to a believer! The food was fresh and flavorful and the portions were enormous. When we were finished I was stuffed!
Interestingly enough, the conversation we had during our lunch was something that has impacted me to this day, and without him even realizing it, our impromptu dialogue over lunch was entirely in line with why I created LoSoCal to begin with over four years ago.
You see, while we were eating, Peter shared a great deal about the cost of living in the Los Angeles area. He was extremely complimentary to the local businesses that he loved in his neighboring community, but there was an undertone of concern with what he shared that day over our lunch. He shared that he has a disability which prevents him from driving, and that he lived in one of the few remaining buildings that had rent control. He also explained that investors had just purchased his building and that he would have to move very soon. Our conversation over lunch was so moving as he was extremely concerned about where he was headed with his fixed income on disability. I really appreciated that he was so open and honest about this topic. The cost of living in Southern California is an extremely sensitive issue for many long-time locals.
We chatted for a little while and then decided to walk to a farmers market across the street. Peter gave me a tour again of his favorite vendors and local farmers. I bought some fresh herbs and a few other things and then I mentioned that I wanted to check out a few vintage shops later that day. He was more than happy to offer a few local suggestions as we strolled around the farmers market. We had a really enjoyable time, and then we decided to head back to our neighborhood.
I took my pup, Oskar, for a quick walk, changed into something a little bit dressier, and then went out again to explore some of the places that Peter had recommended. I wandered around the Hollywood area for a while and then stumbled upon this amazing flea market in the heart of Silverlake. I was definitely on the hunt for a unique local shop or market that day, but this went above and beyond my expectations. There were thousands of interesting pieces at this local market! Silverlake flea market is every Saturday from noon to 5pm and it is located on the playground of the Micheltorena St. Elementary school near West Sunset Boulevard and Golden Gate Avenue. It is very easy to find with lots of parking in the neighborhood and there is no entrance fee.
Silverlake Flea Market
Here are a few pictures I took that afternoon at the Silverlake Flea Market and the picture I took of the Fallbrook avocados for sale that day (a shout out to my home base of North County San Diego).
I have been to this market several times now and after every visit, I leave with a collection of goodies that are truly one of a kind. My first visit was after the heartfelt lunch I had with Peter, and that's probably why that was my favorite trip to this local market. After discussing how expensive it is to live and thrive in Southern California with Peter earlier that day over lunch, it was very poignant that I should choose to visit an affordable vintage flea market. That is what a great deal of locals in SoCal practice on a regular basis: living in style with a budget in mind. It goes with the territory here for most of the locals because everything costs more in Southern California.
I was on a budget that day with what I could spend during my exploratory outing in Silverlake. This market was perfect! I bought a gorgeous leather belt, a dress, a candle, a book and scarf and I spent $48 dollars total. It was a good day with good finds. I did a bit more "solo wandering" around Sunset Boulevard and ended up stopping at another nearby farmers market, picked up some produce there too, and even saw a familiar stand selling avocados from a Fallbrook grower. Ha! What a small world...North San Diego County avocados are the best!
I wasn't tired at all by this point. For some reason after shuffling through vintage books and vinyl records at the Silverlake Flea Market, I wanted to explore some live music next. And, so I did! I had no intention of heading home at this point. I was feeling very refreshed by the local people of Silverlake, and going home would have killed my energy buzz. The locals of Silverlake are very artistic and quirky. It was quite an experience to wander around on that beautiful Saturday meeting locals and asking them about where they shop and where they hang out for fun and entertainment. It was around 6:30 pm by the time I finished my local shopping for the day at the farmer’s market that was right next to the flea market. I stopped at a food truck in the farmer’s market just to be safe that I had something for dinner and then I was on my way again...this time to The Silverlake Lounge, which was not far away at all. I found out about the Lounge from a vendor at the Silverlake Flea Market and so my journey continued.
photo credit: Silverlake Lounge
When I first found the Silverlake Lounge, I was surprised by how casual the ambiance was. It was a pleasant surprise! Take your favorite local dive bar and add an artsy stage with red satin curtains and “voila,” that is the Lounge in Silverlake. It reminded me of a bar you might even find in Downtown New York City because it was very nostalgic in style. There are quite a few details of the Silverlake Lounge that stand out where it is obvious that they are aiming for a vibe from another time. That is what I loved about it! Everyone was super friendly and mellow at this spot and that evening I met some very interesting and talented people who I still connect with to this day. I met a ton of local musicians at this venue and also connected with a few comedians and artists from other industries like make-up artistry and even chatted with a few local dancers. If you love the creative types of this world, then this place is for you! It was like a melting pot of creativity at the Silverlake Lounge. I have a tendency to make friends with local people of any community and honestly, it stems from a genuine curiosity about how locals of different communities choose to live their lifestyles. I have found that for some people their lifestyles are more about dining and shopping and for others it's all about the arts and entertainment. At this lounge, you'll definitely connect with people from the latter group.
photo credit: The Silverlake Lounge
They do such a variety of entertainment at the Lounge. I have seen quite a few performances at this musical venue anywhere from rock band shows to comedy nights to DJs... you name it! It is a cash only bar, so keep that in mind if you decide to check it out.
That night I became friends with one of the promoters at Silverlake Lounge, and after I shared my blog with him and how I wanted to further explore that neighborhood, he was happy to recommend another popular, local bar, The Thirsty Crow. He even walked me to the bar himself and introduced me to a few of the regulars and bartenders! Talk about hospitality!!!! It was within walking distance from the Lounge, so after we said our farewells to the peeps at his spot, cruised over on foot down about a half a block away and across the street...suddenly there we were and I was meeting some of his neighborhood friends. That is how I love to do LoSoCal.
The Thirsty Crow
photo credit: Danielle Bernabe
As soon as we walked in the door at this bar, I knew it was a popular local spot for live music. There was a fabulous band playing. People were talking, laughing and dancing. It was a blast!!! The energy at this bar is outstanding. My new friend from the Lounge had to get back to work (bummer), but he left me in good hands and I ended up spending the rest of the evening there. I had great conversations with locals, danced, drank crafted cocktails that were delicious and divine and left that evening with about ten new friends! I always hear people say that Los Angeles folks can be a bit hard-edged... but I think it is more about where you go and what vibe resonates with you. If you are looking for a "scene," then I can't help you...BUT if you are down to meet cool and interesting people in L.A. then I recommend doing things on the local level. It's way more enjoyable and you'll meet the most interesting and authentic people that way.
I always tell my friends if they are visiting the Sunset Boulevard area in Silverlake then they should eat lunch at a local restaurant like Dune, visit the Silverlake Flea Market, the farmers market that is nearby, The Silverlake Lounge and then finish off their journey at The Thirsty Crow to wrap it all up! That is a fun Saturday in my book, and I am speaking from experience. All you have to do is go out in a local area like Silverlake with an open mind seeking to connect with other people on a local level, and you're bound to find an adventure in the local neighborhoods of Los Angeles and SoCal.
I had such a memorable time that day. It was because I connected with some very special people and I did it "LoSoCal Style" with a desire to connect, learn and explore an area outside of my comfort zone. I am so happy and proud to share that I have many stories just like this one, so stay tuned for part two! Let me know if there are any local spots that you love in Los Angeles. I love travelling there and I will definitely check out your recommendations.
Owner and Founder of LoSoCal
...find us on Instagram @LoSoCal @LoSoCalStyle
Owner, Lead Blogger
Hello, my name is Karen Vazquez. I have lived in Southern California for over thirty years. I realized about four years ago that it was time for me to give back to this wonderful community by supporting local SoCal businesses, performers, restaurants, spas, boutiques, fitness studios, farmers markets and more. My support shines through here by highlighting these fabulous local SoCal spots. You can also follow me on Instagram, Twitter, PInterest and LinkedIn. I will be featuring many local destinations in the area that have been my personal favorites for years and am currently recruiting guest bloggers to expand the voice of LoSoCal. I have had guest bloggers in the past, but aim to incorporate local SoCal bloggers on a regular basis as a fun, creative and collaborative way to connect with the community here. Essentially, LoSoCal is a community blog, and it is meant to be resource to locals in this area and visitors from around the world. Please like or follow LoSoCal on the social media business pages and tell your contacts about the blog. Thanks for stopping by...
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