Walking Tour

Walking in L.A.: A Day on Figueroa Street

Photo by Camiloarenivar via Wikimedia Commons

Highland Park has received a lot of national hype in the past few years, consistently named one of the best neighborhoods in Los Angeles for its food, shopping, bar scene, andshockinglywalkability. Vogue, NPR, Food & Wine, and we at WSWD all concur: Figueroa Avenue is a great place to spend a day and get a taste of what the area is all about.

Photo courtesy of the Bearded Beagle/Facebook

The Bearded Beagle
Start your stroll on the northeast side of Figueroa and pop into this vintage clothing shop, curated with an eye for contemporary fashion trends, with cute and weird gems for all genders. The price point makes it worth splurging on that fun thing that expands your wardrobe’s horizons. 5926 North Figueroa Street; Monday–Saturday, 11 a.m.–7 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m.–6 p.m.

Go Get Em Tiger
Head just a bit south and duck into the alcove where you see Go Get Em Tiger and the pizza-makers from Triple Beam Pizza hustling in the storefront windows. Go Get Em is a super-hip local chain of coffee shops concepted as bars. It makes the whole cuppa experience much more social, as you step up to the counter and enjoy an intimate experience with your barista. Everything’s delicious—especially the breakfast-y all-day menu, perfect for that light bite between meetings or while shopping. If you want something special, get the home-brewed fizzy hoppy tea, which tastes almost like a beer, without any alcohol. 5916 North Figueroa Street; 6 a.m.–6 p.m. daily

Photo courtesy of Triple Beam Pizza

Triple Beam Pizza
This is what makes the whole area smell delicious. Roman-style pizza from Nancy Silverton and Matt Molina (now running Hippo, in this same hangout hamlet, formerly of Osteria Mozza). Show ’em the slice size you want by measuring with your hands; they cut it with scissors, and you pay by the ounce. If you’re grabbing a slice on a Wednesday night, hop next door for a wine tasting at conjoined Highland Park Wine. 5918 North Figueroa Street; Sunday–Thursday, 12–10 p.m.; Friday–Saturday, 12–11 p.m.

Highland Park Wine
This is the trusty Figueroa branch of the Silverlake Wine empire, the city’s enduring bastion of natural, biodynamic, and otherwise interesting vino. It’s nestled behind Triple Beam Pizza, so if Hippo (see below) is too packed, this situation is brilliantly arranged for grabbing a Roman-style pie there, a bottle of Gamay here, and joining the two in perfect union on their shared patio. 5918 ½ North Figueroa Street; Sunday–Thursday, 12–9 p.m.; Friday–Saturday, 12–10 p.m.

Photo by Wonho Frank Lee/Yelp

Hippo
This is what happens when the Silverlake Wine people team up with Mozza alum Matt Molina. Tucked between the wine shop and their Triple Beam Pizza concept, Hippo is bustling, big, and extremely communal. Try not eating everything on the menu, from seasonal starters to handmade pastas, like tagliolini with duck ragu or corzetti with clams, to pancetta-wrapped quail with honey. Yeah, it’s all fantastic—even the handmade gluten-free pasta. 5916 ½ North Figueroa Street; Dinner: Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, 5–10 p.m. and Friday–Saturday, 5–11 p.m.; Brunch: Saturday–Sunday, 10 a.m.–2 p.m.

Kitchen Mouse & Topo
A totally gluten-free, ovo-vegetarian breakfast and lunch café, meaning eggs but no dairy—and it’s so delicious there’s regularly a decent line of people who can and do eat anything they want. Go for the breakfast tacos, gomasio rice cakes, and snickerdoodle pancakes. Bring the kiddos—there’s an enclosed children’s play area all the way in the back with a toy kitchen. If the line is too long, pop into Topo, Kitchen Mouse’s attached market, for a pre-made vegan sandwich. 5904-5906 North Figueroa Street, Highland Park; Kitchen Mouse: Monday–Friday, 8 a.m.–4 p.m.; Saturday–Sunday 7 a.m.–4 p.m.; Topo: 8 a.m.–8 p.m. daily

Photo courtesy of Wild Terra/Facebook

Wild Terra
Continue your exploration southward and go here for bulk organic, biodynamic, wild-crafted herbs, spices, teas, tinctures, salves, and miscellaneous gifts of your witchiest dreams. It’s the purest spot for curatives, potion ingredients, or even just seasonings. 5858 North Figueroa Street; Tuesday–Saturday, 11 a.m.–6 p.m., Sunday, 12–5 p.m.

Photo courtesy of Sunbeam Vintage via Yelp

Sunbeam Vintage
When you’re on the hunt for the perfect vintage piece for your home, there aren’t any more affordable options than Sunbeam. With regular hauls from the funkiest L.A. interior sell-offs, this warehouse of a spot has stacks and stacks of furnishings, from mid-century modern to postmodern, and you’re bound to find something you like. A good spot for hidden treasure, if you can focus and don’t mind digging. 106 South Avenue 58 (off North Figueroa Street); 10 a.m.–6 p.m. daily

Owl Bureau
An eccentric high-end bookstore and magazine shop celebrating all the arts, from design and fashion to classics and cuisine, serving as the achingly cool storefront of a creative studio. A spectacle for lovers of any sort of aesthetics, and totally worth perusing. 5634 North Figueroa Street; 11 a.m.–7 p.m. daily

Photo courtesy of ETA Highland Park/Facebook

ETA
A casually swank little bar with great classic cocktails and cool DJs playing music you can have a conversation around, plus regular live jazz. 5630 North Figueroa Street; Monday–Thursday, 5 p.m.–12 a.m.; Friday, 4 p.m.–2 a.m.; Saturday, 3 p.m.–2 a.m.; Sunday, 3 p.m.–9 p.m.

Photo courtesy of Gold Line/Facebook

Gold Line
Cross the street and check out this excellent neighborhood bar that appears extremely low-key, until you realize what’s going on inside: It’s absolute audio heaven, with a warm-wood interior, walls lined with LPs, and a groovy vintage sound system that makes everything sound like ice cream. DJs play a variety of genres every night—vinyl only—with lots of exciting surprise guests, as the bar is owned by Stones Throw Records’s Peanut Butter Wolf. 5607 North Figueroa Street; Monday–Wednesday: 5 p.m.–12 a.m., Thursday–Friday: 5 p.m.–2 a.m., Saturday: 2 p.m.–2 a.m., Sunday: 2 p.m.–12 a.m.

Photo courtesy of HomeState/Facebook

HomeState
Breakfast. Tacos. Enough said. This place is the Tex-Mex authority on eggs and anything else stuffed into a fluffy tortilla—or a Frito pie served in a bag, if you’re feeling adventurous. HomeState has a few locations around town and lines form every hour it’s open. They’re quick, so don’t despair: The wait won’t be long. 5611 North Figueroa Street, Unit #1; 8 a.m.–10 p.m. daily

Cookbook
You may not be hungry anymore, but this spot is worth a peek for vibes alone. It’s the brick-and-mortar, European-style concept of what your neighborhood bodega would look like if it was polished, charming, and curated with gourmet sundries, gorgeous organic produce from local farmers, top-of-the-line sustainable meat, a deli case straight out of the recipe pages of Bon Appétit, and flowers from the fields of Los Angeles. 5611 North Figueroa Street; 8 a.m.–8 p.m. daily

Photo by Danielle Bernabe/Courtesy of Highland Park Bowl

Highland Park Bowl
Leisure time! This is L.A.’s oldest bowling alley, established in 1927, skirting prohibition laws with an in-house pharmacy prescribing whiskey—intended to be enjoyed while bowling and enjoying live music, obviously. Whether you come to drink, eat a true Neapolitan pizza, or just bowl, the truly stunning interior restoration alone makes it worth the steep hourly lane fees. Note: not the most kid-friendly of the local bowling alleys. 5621 North Figueroa Street; Monday–Friday: 5 p.m.–2 a.m., Saturday–Sunday: 11–2 a.m.

Photo courtesy of Civil Coffee

Civil Coffee
An excellent choice for coffee and tea, plus a very L.A. breakfast menu of toasts and bowls topped with whatever sounds good from the farmers’ market. The gluten-free toast is the best in town, a sort of crispy-soft brioche with whatever you want on top. This place is large and attracts a fashionable, creative professional crowd, which always makes for good people-watching. 5629 North Figueroa Street; Monday–Friday: 6:30 a.m.–5 p.m., Saturday–Sunday, 7 a.m.–5 p.m.

Photo courtesy of Cafe Birdie

Café Birdie
Here’s the restaurant and bar that can satisfy everyone—those with labyrinthine dietary needs and those with none—with beautiful cocktails and a vibe that’s made for congregating at leisure. While it serves full meals, Birdie is that perfect spot when you want a small bite and a drink with friends. Dress it up a little bit if you want—it’s fashion friendly. 5631 North Figueroa Street; Monday–Thursday: 5:30–10 p.m., Friday: 5:30–11 p.m., Saturday: 10 a.m.–2:30 p.m. and 5–11 p.m., Sunday: 10 a.m.–2:30 p.m. and 5–10 p.m.

Photo courtesy of Good Housekeeping HLP

Good Housekeeping HLP
Everyone wants to call everything a speakeasy these days, so we won’t go there with Good Housekeeping, even if it is legitimately “tucked away” in the back of Café Birdie. With consistently great mixologists, the staff enjoys a good pop-up concept; past gags have included a “Bad Housekeeping” menu featuring cocktails harking back to the fabulous nightmares that 1950s recipes were made of. Midori Sour Jell-O mold “shots” and glazed ham aside, most nights it’s a perfectly cozy, quirky little spot that’s still upscale enough to dress up a bit. 5631 North Figueroa Street; Sunday–Wednesday: 6 p.m.–12 a.m., Thursday: 6 p.m.–1 a.m., Friday–Saturday: 6 p.m.–2 a.m.

Otoño
You can find just about anything in Highland Park these days, but what it was sorely lacking was a proper Spanish gin and tonic, the kind served in a massive goblet with a bit of pine tree, orange peel, and star anise floating on top. This Spanish-inspired spot, with its long dining room, brick walls, and colorful murals, has everything from jamón and pan con tomate to full-on paella (for two). Sangria, sherry, and especially the natural wines are great reasons to stop at the bar. 5715 North Figueroa Street; Tuesday, Wednesday, Sunday: 5:30–10 p.m., Thursday–Saturday: 5:30–11 p.m.; Brunch: Saturday–Sunday, 11 a.m.–3 p.m.

Photo courtesy of Prelude & Dawn/Facebook

Prelude & Dawn
One step in this boutique and you know you’re really in Los Angeles: A veritable cornucopia of specialty incense, small to medium one-off ceramics, handmade organic wellness and beauty products by super-hip brands, artisanal food, CBD products, and a well-curated selection of vintage clothing. It’s a great gift store and perfect for picking up a little something for your home. 5727 North Figueroa Street; 11 a.m.–6 p.m. daily

Photo courtesy of Sonomama

Sonomama
Take a break from the bustle of the street with a stop into Sonomama. With a minimalist approach to beautiful, natural, even ritualistic wares for home and body, this shop offers a fresh update on the wabi-sabi philosophy. 5711 North Figueroa Street; 10 a.m.–6 p.m. daily