Los Angeles

Walking in L.A.: Exploring Fairfax

Photo courtesy of Helen’s Wines

The mighty Fairfax Avenue has about as many identities as it has stoplights along its five-mile span, bisecting Los Angeles like a traffic-jammed slash down the middle. We’ll save you the whole drive, because there’s a great culinary stroll instead. The hottest stretch by far is just south of Melrose, just north of Beverly, where the new cool of Supreme meets the old cool of Canter’s and so much more. Here are our favorite ways to while away the day on Fairfax.

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Photo by Eat Sydney/Yelp

Jon & Vinny’s
A local legend, with hip hop over the speakers and American-Italian favorites like fried mozzarella sticks, red-sauce pizzas, and spicy fusilli on the table. Once you’ve tried those, come back for the gem lettuce salad, six-hour Bolognese, polenta…OK, everything. Get it all. Make a reservation in advance if you want a normal dining time. Note that two-person reservations always sit at the counter. There are excellent wines on the menu, plus a great wine shop in the back called Helen’s. 412 North Fairfax Avenue; 8 a.m.–10 p.m. daily

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Photo courtesy of Helen}s Wines

Helen’s Wines
Call it a shop or a nook, this gem tucked in the back of Jon & Vinny’s was curated by the prolific restaurant wine director who was named best new sommelier by Food & Wine in 2016. Focused on the natural and unfiltered side of winemaking, Helen’s offers not just a superb bottle shop experience but also classes and a wine club. 412 North Fairfax Avenue; 8 a.m.–10 p.m. daily

This place is spicy, loud, fun, stylish, and totally soulful, with an inventive identity all its own. Bright, updated Indian cuisine that hasn’t lost any of its traditional depth begets unconventional crowd favorites like chicken tikka poutine, butter chicken samosas, spicy lamb burgers, and chili cheese–stuffed naan, all of which sit nicely next to classics like channa masala and saag panner. It’s all delicious, so come with hungry friends and get one of everything. 418 North Fairfax Avenue; Monday–Wednesday, 12–10 p.m. & Thursday–Saturday, 12–11 p.m.

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Photo courtesy of the Golden State/Facebook

The Golden State
The Golden State wants to show you how great gastropub grub can be when it’s proudly made with California ingredients. Measure its depth and skill by its burger, an unpretentious beef-bacon-cheese affair in which the quality speaks for itself. 426 North Fairfax Avenue; Sunday–Monday, 12–9 p.m. & Tuesday–Saturday, 12–10 p.m.

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Photo courtesy of Family Bookstore/Facebook

Family Bookstore
Don’t be misled by the name—Family is not a place to pick up children’s books, unless of course your kids are into photos by Nobuyoshi Araki or local punk zines (in which case your kids are really cool; good job raising them!). If you’re looking for a special gift, check out the selection of prints and signed editions. 436 North Fairfax Avenue; Tuesday–Saturday, 1–9 p.m. & Sunday, 1–7 p.m.

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Photo by Rupert R./Yelp

In all likelihood, there will be a morning that calls for coffee, doughnuts, and burritos—in that order. Cofax hits the trifecta. There’s nothing much to the storefront other than a case of freshly made doughnuts in flavors like pistachio and strawberry, someone making the Stumptown drinks, and another asking whether you want bacon, chorizo, or a hot link in one of L.A.’s best burritos. The secret to its greatness? The smoked potatoes. 440 North Fairfax Avenue; Monday–Friday, 7 a.m.–4 p.m. & Saturday–Sunday, 7 a.m.–5 p.m.

Prime Pizza
It’s hard to find a pizza joint that resists the urge to complicate the art form. Prime Pizza’s short menu plays like a greatest hits of thin New York–style pies and other pizza-adjacent essentials (hi, garlic knots), while still throwing in a few bits of L.A. influence, like the sausage-kale option. Whatever you choose, you won’t be disappointed. 446 North Fairfax Avenue; Sunday–Thursday, 11 a.m.–11 p.m. & Friday–Saturday, 11–2 a.m.

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Courtesy of Sweet Chick

Sweet Chick
L.A. knows a thing or two about beloved local chicken-and-waffle chains, so New York–based Sweet Chick doesn’t try to infringe on the stomach-stuffing territory of Roscoe’s. Instead, the Nas-owned place carves out a perfect niche on Fairfax, with smaller, more Instagrammable plates, a stylish interior, and a full bar all appealing to the trendy local crowd. Waffles come with a selection of handcrafted butters that will have you swearing off anything else forever—don’t say we didn’t warn you. 448 North Fairfax Avenue; Monday–Thursday, 11–12 a.m.; Friday, 11–2 a.m.; Saturday, 10–2 a.m.; Sunday, 10–12 a.m.

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Photo courtesy of Paramount Coffee Project

Paramount Coffee Project
Originally an import from Sydney, Australia, this growing L.A. café enterprise—the long-and-lean location on Fairfax and its larger sexy sibling at Row DTLA—features excellent coffee and pulled espresso, teas hot and cold, plus daytime fare from overnight oats to avocado toast and roasted lamb sandwiches. The vibe is perfectly relaxed and conducive to long laptop sessions as needed. 456 North Fairfax Avenue; Monday–Saturday, 7 a.m.–5 p.m. & Sunday, 8 a.m.–5 p.m.

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Photo courtesy of Melrose Trading Post/Facebook

Melrose Trading Post
Flea markets can feel overwhelming, but the Melrose Trading Post is more adorable than anxiety inducing. The relatively small weekly affair boasts some 200 vendors offering up vintage clothing, antique furniture, and home goods, plus locally crafted items, which is where you should focus your efforts. Stop by the Purrrshop booth for one-of-a-kind threads crafted from dead-stock vintage (very popular in Japan). 7850 Melrose Avenue; Sundays, 9 a.m.–5 p.m.

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Photo courtesy of Supreme Los Angeles/Facebook

If there’s anything that has fully embodied skater culture for decades without losing any cred, it’s this shop and institution, which was founded in downtown New York City while also amassing a cult following in L.A. The name is now king of unlikely collaboration, with everything and everyone from filmmakers to fine china to camping chairs. If you see a line down the block of stylishly unruly kids, it’s because they’re waiting here for the next major product drop. 439 North Fairfax Avenue; Monday–Friday, 9 a.m.–5 p.m.

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Photo courtesy of Animal/Facebook

In case the name didn’t give it away, this is not a restaurant for vegans. Chefs Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo have created a mecca for carnivorous celebration, with a menu that does things with meat that you have never seen or tasted in your life. Go with friends and get a lot of dishes to share—and get two of the foie gras biscuits. 435 North Fairfax Avenue; (dinner) Sunday–Thursday, 6–10 p.m.; Friday–Saturday, 6–11 p.m.; (brunch) Saturday-Sunday, 10:30 a.m.–2:30 p.m.

Kibitz Room
This bar—the cool, rock-star younger brother of the adjoining Canter’s Deli—has played late-night hangout to a surprising number of famous musicians making the pilgrimage down from the Sunset Strip for a soul-curing stack of pastrami and some beer. The well-kept local secret regularly hosts rock shows, comedy, and more, with a food menu bolstered by the legendary institution next door. Have your kreplach and eat it, too. 419 North Fairfax Avenue; 11–1:40 a.m. daily

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Photo courtesy of Canter’s Deli Kibitz Room/Facebook

Canter’s Deli
An utterly expansive and inexpensive kitschy classic, open 24 hours and full of round-the-clock shenanigans from any given Los Angeles scene and culture, high and low. The menu is strictly old-school Jewish deli, with matzo ball soup and a pastrami sandwich that consistently makes best-of lists. 419 North Fairfax Avenue; open 24 hours daily