Travel

Echo Park

Establishment neighborhood
Cookbook Market
1549 Echo Park Ave., Echo Park
Artisanal grocer Cookbook Market has kept its shelves and fridges packed with essentials like flour, yeast, beans, and eggs, even as the big-box stores sell out. Both locations (Echo Park and Highland Park) are enforcing strict rules to keep everyone as safe as possible, cutting their hours to allow for deeper cleaning and pivoting to curbside pickup only. Call and place your order over the phone for same day collection (they’ll call you once your tasty goods are ready to go). They are also doing their part to offset the surplus many farmers have due to restaurant closures by putting together boxes of produce available for free to restaurant industry workers who have lost their jobs because of the pandemic.
Bar Bandini
2150 Sunset Blvd., Echo Park
Thursday through Saturday, Echo Park’s sexiest bar, Bar Bandini, is offering curbside pickup. The goods: organic, biodynamic wines from the best of small-batch producers around the world. Also on the roster are the ultimate in refreshing, nonalcoholic beverages, effervescent Topo Chico, and Mexican Coke. We have spent many a night munching oozy grilled cheese and sipping glasses of whatever was on tap in the dark, moody confines of this vibey bar, and we would like to continue doing so once this pandemic passes. If you’re a dedicated Eastsider, keep the booze buy local and order a bottle or two from the Bandini stash.
Lowboy
1538 Sunset Blvd., Echo Park
Our favorite new but not-so-new Eastside bar. Lowboy is actually one half of the former LA institution the Lost Knight. (The other half is now the fantastic Adamae.) If you're familiar with the location, you'll likely have some nostalgia for its former occupant. But once you enter, you'll be happy to see the space's new life. Lowboy is everything you crave in a bar: It's moody and softly lit, it has cozy booths and a generous beer list, and the bartenders can whip up a perfectly tart Paloma or a breezy and sweet mai tai in less time than it will take you to decide on your bar snack. (The popcorn sprinkled with Old Bay is a real crowd-pleaser.)
Hey Hey
1555 Sunset Blvd., Echo Park
We love our almond milk lattes as much as the next person, but when we’re looking for a break—and not for coffee—Hey Hey is where we go for milk teas and boba. And the experience is more like one you’d have at a cocktail bar: The drinks are handcrafted by a barista who layers chewy tapioca balls with loose-leaf tea and other ingredients that are all made in-house, like almond pudding and sea salt cream. The space, which is meant to be like a modern tea room, is more like a lounge for locals, often serving drinks late into the evening.
Bar Caló
1498 Sunset Blvd., Echo Park
The most coveted seats inside this small, dim tequila bar are on the wraparound velvet couch, and if you can snag it, by all means do. On the weekends especially, Bar Caló gets crowded with Eastsiders who come for the mezcal and stay for the food. Everything on the menu is meant to be shared, like the Oaxacan hot chicken, roasted garlic guacamole, or a quesadilla with queso fresco and mezcal salsa. The cocktails are all impressive, the food is authentic, and in the summer when the patio is lively and bustling, the whole place hums with a good time.
Ototo
1360 Allison Ave., Echo Park
Like its sister restaurant Tsubaki, Ototo serves an iteration of Japanese pub grub. These are the snacks and bites you devour with beer and sake (if you’re looking for sushi and sashimi, look elsewhere). Once you start ordering and eating and ordering more, you just get it. Kara-age (Japanese sweet and sour fried chicken), potato salad with pickled carrots and ponzu, and miso-grilled eggplant is food made to be paired with cold, fizzy beer. Panko-crusted fried oysters and smoky daikon need the silkiness of unfiltered sake. Come on a Saturday night with a pack of friends as an excuse to order the whole menu.
Konbi
1463 Sunset Blvd., Echo Park
Recently, we couldn’t help but notice the sudden proliferation of egg salad sandwiches on our lunch menus. Eventually, through the egg-and-mayo haze, it dawned on us that every dining establishment across Los Angeles was trying to imitate the brilliance of Konbi. But they can’t. No one can. The Konbi egg salad sandwich—whole boiled eggs inside two slices of airy white bread—is light on the mayo and heavy on the yolk with a dribble of rice wine vinegar and a dollop of mustard to cut through the richness. There are only ten seats inside this sleek Echo Park café, and snagging one requires strategy. But failing that, those egg sandwiches taste just as good from Konbi’s takeaway hatch.
Adamae
1538 Sunset Blvd., Echo Park
About a year ago, we caught wind that the team behind Wolf & Crane, our favorite downtown Japanese whisky bar, was overhauling the Lost Knight, an Eastside LA institution. The new place revealed itself, after a lot of excited anticipation, as Adamae, an unexpectedly unique—and stunning—bistro serving dinner (and soon brunch). What sets Adamae apart: its solid menu and prices. Come here with a date for incredible wine and food—whipped goat cheese and homemade crackers, shaved vegetable crudités with tzatziki, juicy bone-in roast chicken with the crispiest skin—and leave having spent around $50. That's an anomaly in LA. But don't let that keep you from letting the bill swell. Everything on this menu is worth trying. Finish your meal and head next door to Lowboy, from the same owners (and in the second half of the former Lost Knight space), to round out your night with a craft beer.
Tsubaki
1356 Allison Ave., Echo Park
Tsubaki co-owner Courtney Kaplan knows her sake. She'll come to your table and tell the story behind a variety's founder or the acidity of the soil in the region where it's from. Kaplan has spent a great deal of time in Japan (she's fluent in Japanese) and built her career as a sommelier of wine and sake in some of the top restaurants in NYC and LA (i.e., Bestia). Her love for craft sakes and shochu (a traditional distilled spirit of Japan) makes coming here an education in the first ten minutes. And then you start to order, and the food adds a layer of fun. Chef and co-owner Charles Namba pulls from his Japanese roots creating authentic dishes and adding a Californian flair. A few (of many) goop favorites: tofu salad with garlic soy vinaigrette, tomatoes with whipped tofu, sake-steamed Alaskan king crab with French seaweed butter.
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