Best place to get coffee:
Silver Lake doesn’t want for coffee shops; it seems as if a new one opens weekly. But easily my favorite spot is Dinosaur Coffee. It has excellent coffee, fantastic baristas, creative craft sodas, and Maury’s Bagels on Saturday mornings. However, if you are breezing down Sunset and want a quick pick-me-up cup, pop into Scout. They don’t have seating, but they brew a good cup of coffee (from Heart beans) and serve a mean sandwich.
Best bar for when you want to be alone:
Black Cat is a reliable spot to meet friends, but it’s also a perfect place to get a beer and read a book. On weeknights, Jay’s Bar is also great place to grab a solo beer (and their fries!) and read a book or chat with the bartenders. Jay’s also often has Turner Classic Movies playing on their two TVs.
Best free cultural thing to take part of:
The Silver Lake Farmers Market is a fun spot to peruse on Saturday mornings or Tuesday afternoons. There are maps to take a self-guided tour of the painted stairs of Silver Lake, or you could take a stroll around the Silver Lake Reservoir. Outdoor movies (the Silver Lake Picture Show) screen at the Sunset Triangle Plaza.
Best street for finding a birthday gift:
There are a series of boutiques and vintage shops along Sunset heading south towards Echo Park. Begin with Mohawk General Store at Sanborn and Sunset.
If you want to buy something truly special and made in Los Angeles, veer slightly off the beaten path to the strip mall at Fountain and Sunset and into the Los Angeles County Store. You’ll find beautiful jewelry, cool prints, candles, chocolate and more. The shop owner also hosts artists showings, trunk shows, live music, art workshops and even pet adoption days!
Best spot for an Instagram:
The go-to spot in Silver Lake was the Elliott Smith wall (the mural where Autumn DeWilde took the photo of Smith that became the cover of “Figure 8“). Only part of that wall survives now. A now-defunct bar called Bar Angeles cut into it and turned part of the mural into their indoor decor. And while we don’t suggest trespassing, you’ll often see people taking photos in front of the old Bates Motel building, which was painted completely white in 2015 as a public art installation called “Projection” by the French artist Vincent Lamouroux. You can also spot people taking photos in front of Stella’svine-covered walls, or in front of the “Things Will Be Fine” neon sign in Dinosaur Coffee.
Blossom. It offers a comforting bowl of pho at affordable prices for takeout and delivery. It’s busy, but never packed, and houses a pretty bar area downstairs. If you’re looking for Chinese food, head to Fat Dragon. For Thai, go to Same Same. And make sure to hit up Hache for a filling burger.
Favorite outdoor lounge spot:
Cafecito Organico has good coffee and an even better patio. If you’re just looking to chill at a park, have a picnic on a grassy spot adjacent to the Reservoir, or relax at Bellevue Park.
Best date spot:
If you want to wow your date with the food, head to Alimento, but make sure to get a reservation in advance (and ask to sit inside if you can). For date-night drinks, Edendale has a great patio, good food if you want to shift drinks to dinner, and a photo booth!
Best alone spot:
The back counter at Dinosaur with a newspaper on a weekend afternoon. Walking through the hills with good music or a podcast. Weeknights at the bar at Melody or Blossom. At home with takeout from Fat Dragon.
Best place for a workout:
One Down Dog! Great yoga community with a wide variety of classes, from chill meditation to butt-busting boot camp-like classes. For a free workout, you can always run around the Reservoir, or use the outdoor gym at Bellevue Park.
Best place take an out-of-towner:
Wolfdown or Cliff’s Edge are for the adventurous out-of-towner. They’re pretty and serve good food that’s meant to be shared. Order and try a lot! They also have outdoor seating, so everyone can marvel at how beautiful the weather is. For a picky out-of-towner wary of foodie culture, get a steak at Stella and maybe a celebrity sighting.