We take a peek at some of the hot-n-hip spots in the adjacent enclave of Silver Lake.
By Cuyler Gibbons Photos by Agustin Cruz
Just a quick 11 mile jaunt, southwest of Pasadena lies the hipster enclave of Silver Lake. Established in the early 1900s around the city reservoir that gives the area its name, Silver Lake was home to the first Disney studio in the 1930s. In the ‘40s and ‘50s it became a middleclass Latino community, where workers lived, who worked in the manufacturing center that was Los Angeles. With the demise of American manufacturing Silver Lake went into something of a decline until gentrification struck with a flourish in the ‘90s. Despite the “upgrade,” Silver Lake retains its funky charm and was named the nation’s “#1 Hipster Neighborhood” by Forbes magazine.
Until recently, Agustin “AC” Cruz spent his weekdays doing creative services and marketing for the Pasadena Convention and Visitors Bureau. But when he wasn’t out selling Pasadena and the surrounding area to visitors, he was out enjoying it for himself. Now, as the creator of the independent blog “Discover Silver Lake”, his mission continues. It’s a convenient twist of fate that makes knowing what’s hip and happening a big part of his job, which is just fi ne with AC. We recently went to him for some local color and he turned us on to some of his favorites in Silver Lake, AC’s hot neighborhood of the moment.
SILVER LAKE FARMERS MARKET
Sunset Triangle Park
The Southland is of course, positively thick with farmers markets, but the cucumber cognoscenti know they’re all different, with their own distinct personalities. One of the hippest is certainly the Silver Lake Farmers Market, held on Tuesday afternoons and Saturday mornings. Each day is distinct, but AC says Saturday is the better option. It’s about the artisans as much as the vegetables. “Marsten Company,” says Cruz, “is owned by Leigh Marston, [and] sells artisanal soaps, lotions, candles, fragrances and essential oils—her stuff is outstanding. Tobacco Vanilla is her signature scent. There’s also a great succulent vendor. Ruth, the famous Pupusa Lady is set up here each week… and there’s a good spot for tamales to take home too.”
4210 Santa Monica Blvd.
The motto of this shop is “Where the metaphysical meets the individual.” Martin and Mark, Spellbound Sky’s owners, left careers in the fashion industry to open their store that offers minerals and crystals which, they say, “possess a profound mystical and healing benefit and vibrate energies that help you create abundance and harmony in your life.” And who can’t use a little more of those? In addition to healing crystals, the shop also carries a full line of Spellbound Sky jewelry, clothing and accessories, essential oil potions, and ritual candles. “There are a lot of metaphysical shops in the neighborhood,” says AC, “but Spellbound Sky stands out because they focus on crystals rather than tarot readings.”
2839 Sunset Blvd.
More than a juice shop that sells coffee, Moon Juice features different adaptogenic blends made with superherbs and other organic, plant-based ingredients. Adaptogens, originally conceived of in the 1940s, are purported to promote cellular homeostasis and to relieve the deleterious effects of stress. At Moon Juice the blends, fancifully known as “moon dusts,” are each meant to promote or improve, well, just what they say they do—Beauty Dust or Sex Dust for example. “My favorite item here is the Spirit Dusted Coffee,” says AC. “It’s the best tasting coffee I’ve had in Silver Lake, and I don’t have to wait in a long line, wait for a pour-over, and stakeout a table. It’s off the beaten path and they don’t cater to laptop-toting mobile office-ing folks.”
THE CAVERN CLUB THEATER
1920 Hyperion Ave.
Beneath an old pink house, now a Mexican restaurant called Casita del Campo, with a giant rubber tree growing in the main dining room, lies a cabaret called The Cavern Club Theater. Still a center of gay life, Silverlake experienced one of the first public demonstrations for gay rights 50 years ago, when protesters gathered to protest a recent police raid on the Black Cat, a local gay bar. While Stonewall would come two years later, the Cavern Club Theater has been there proudly throughout. “The Cavern Club Theater represents the previous incarnation of Silver Lake,” says AC, “it’s where the counter-culture thrived—this place is still going strong and continuing the legacy.” A mix of drag shows, revues and the sometimes indescribable. “It is,” says AC, “the soul of the neighborhood.”
3626 Sunset Blvd.
Rated by Wine Enthusiast as one of America’s 100 best wine restaurants, the Cliffs Edge restaurant is almost certainly The Best wine restaurant in America with a giant 75 year old ficus tree growing in the middle of it. AC calls the patio “spectacular”, and a visit to this hidden outdoor space, lush with tropical foliage and bedecked with twinkling lights will confirm the most extravagant adjectives. It is magical in every sense. Owner’s Dana Hollister and Pierre Casanova describe the food as “rustic and elegant”, with an emphasis on local produce and simple preparation. “Specials” change with the season, complimented by innovative and expertly prepared craft cocktails. If you thought Silver Lake was too cool to do true fi ne dining, it’s time to reevaluate with a trip to the Cliff’s Edge.