2150 Sunset Blvd., Echo Park
Judging by the droves of locals who come out to newly opened Bar Bandini on a nightly basis, the dimly lit, refreshingly underdesigned spot met a very obvious need for a chill—but just romantic enough—neighborhood watering hole. The owners earned their stripes working in the food industry in both NYC and LA and wanted to focus on all-natural and organic wines, which they source almost exclusively in-state and serve on tap (the craft beer selection is also worth exploring). It's all supported by a menu of bar snacks (the Sicilian olives are bomb) and small plates of cured meats and local cheeses.
Shout and About
547 Echo Park Ave., Echo Park
Known for fun, colorful stationery and cards for every occasion, it's entirely possible to (happily) lose an afternoon at Shout and About browsing through every good on display. In addition to their stationery, the store has a selection of jewelry, plants, and other gifty items, making it an ideal one-stop shop for last minute birthday, housewarming, and just-because presents.
1115 Sunset Blvd., Echo Park
The duo behind the Hollywood cocktail lounge, Spare Room, opened the Winsome in early 2016 on the ground floor of the towering Elysian building in Echo Park. The interior, which is a fun, sophisticated play on traditional diner aesthetic, was done by Wendy Haworth Design (who created the look of Gracias Madre and Cafe Gratitude, among others). They serve California fare for breakfast, weekend brunch and dinner.
1525 W. Sunset Blvd., Echo Park
We love the fun and casual atmosphere at this neighborhood restaurant, which sets itself apart care of its bright white facade in a stretch of dark buildings on Sunset. Inside, a forest green banquette hugs one wall, while a marble bar graces the other, which are all elegant touches from husband and wife team Jaime Turrey (aka Monsieur Egg, the one-man pastry, and egg cart) and Brooke Fruchtman (formerly a VP at LACMA). They do not serve ostrich—the restaurant is named after an old railway that led to Griffith Park—but rather a selection of flatbreads, salads, meat mains like beef pot pie, and their own take on pork ossobuco. Brunch is a mix of tartines, sandwiches and salads, savory bowls, and breakfast classics like brioche French Toast and blueberry pancakes (plus lemon and ricotta).
Guisado’s Echo Park
1261 W. Sunset Blvd., Echo Park
There's no short supply of Mexican food in LA, so when we say that Guisado's has some of the best, it's a hefty stamp of approval. Guisado is the Spanish word for stew—the kind of slow-braised, spiced meats that taste just as good with a side of rice and beans as they do starring in a taco—and that's exactly where this spot excels. Slow roasted pork with pickled red onions is the fan favorite, but they also do excellent fish, steak, and chicken. The original is in Boyle Heights, though they now have locations in Echo Park, West Hollywood, and Downtown as well.
2141 Sunset Blvd., Echo Park
Though it calls a former Vaudeville theater home, we like to sit outside, near the giant, wood-burning fire. Here, you’ll find locally sourced ingredients, and a host of craft beers and wines from small California producers. Though vegans can rejoice in their dairy-free pizzas (they do lactose-dependent iterations as well), the real pull here is the beer.
Blue Bottle Coffee
1712 W. Sunset Blvd., Echo Park
Blue Bottle is a top-notch coffee roaster and café with a sustainable ethos, in multiple locations throughout LA, the Bay Area, NYC, (and Tokyo). This Echo Park outpost has a handful of small tables, breakfast, and lunch offerings. We go for the coffee, though. Our picks: The siphon filter and the New Orleans iced coffee.
2828 Newell St., Echo Park
There are many large and glossy salons in LA (with prices to match), which makes the small, intimate, and fairly-priced Lucas a nice alternative. Located in Echo Park, they strike a nice balance between hip and classic, and the experience is friendly and attentive.
1805 W. Sunset Blvd., Echo Park
This place attracts a local crowd of stylish Echo Parkers with its woodsy/design-y interior, great music, and well-curated selection of beer and wine. It's a bit small, but we actually like that it's snug, while the location makes it ideal for a pre- or post-Echoplex drink.
1305 Portia St., Echo Park
According to lore, the medieval “trencher” is an ancestor of the modern-day open-face sandwich, so it makes sense that the Veggie Trencher—eggplant and kale topped with a dollop of fresh burrata—is top notch. There's also a proper dining room where you can sit, should you want to make your sandwich into a bit more of an event.