California Soul: Silverlake Edition (LA)

It’s all in the air/ You hear it everywhere
No matter what you do/ It’s gonna grab a hold on you

California soul… California soul…

— Ashford & Simpson

It’s in my bones, I can’t shake it off- California is IN me. Took a week off to attend a wedding in San Francisco, and detoured through sunny LA and San Diego on my way up. It’s been a glorious trip meeting up with old friends, and most importantly, voraciously eating through each day.

My bff Sara lives in Silverlake, in LA, which I absolutely adore. It’s hipster central, but not so annoying– lots of shops and restaurants and cafes that is totally walkable (very rare for LA, or California in general).

Every morning, I walked to a Chicago-based coffee joint called Intelligentsia- an authority on fine coffees and hot baristas. Good coffee, lots of locals, minimal interior and again, hottie central.


Right next to Intell is The Cheese Store of Silverlake, which is a fancy little fine foods shop (lots of imported condiments, chesses, olives and wine), that specialize in making awesome paninis.


Look at this wrapped panini- flat and compact, like a notebook!
Turkey, cranberry, cheese, and some mysterious green oozy stuff. Who you gonna call? C’mon, laugh.
A cup of cornichons
We went to El Conquistador for my first supper- gotta get your Mexican fix as soon as you land in Cali. This place was AWESOME. I stupidly forgot my camera, but the food was satisfying (I had the enchiladas, Sara had the ropa vieja), extremely friendly service, and flamboyantly kitchy decor. You have to go to see exactly what I’m talking about, but trust me, you will have a blast.

I was super skeptical about Pho Cafe: without a sign, overrun with hipsters, and with their orange Ikea chairs. Also, my friend, an LA native, had warned me that any restaurant in LA with an “A” rating is bogus (the LA Dept of Health grades all eateries, “A” obviously being the highest).

Boy, did they prove me wrong though- the food was excellent, the real deal (dare I use the word “authentic”). Worth the 15 minutes we waited for a seat (it seems this place is packed all the time).

Banh xeo: Crepe with shrimp, steak, shiitake mushrooms and bean sprouts

Bun cha gio tom thit nuong: cold rice noodles with egg rolls and beef

Pho tai gan: rice noodle soup with rare steak and tendon. The soup was very flavorful- a little sweet, lots of depth. I didn’t want it to end.

Possibly my absolute favorite part of Silverlake- the 99cent store. The window proudly displayed their offerings ranging from food, toilet paper, foil, to toothpaste. 99cents people!! There were 2 long aisles devoted to food– refrigerators packed with eggs and milk, condiments, dried foods and canned goods. I got Sara an awesome welcome mat here. A welcome mat for 99cents!!! GO NOW!

All the above spots are all within a 5 block radius from one another on Sunset Blvd. Can you imagine not needing a car in LA? All have a pristine view of the iconic Hollywood sign.
Intelligentsia
3922 Sunset Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90029
323.663.6173

The Cheese Store of Silverlake
3926-28 West Sunset Blvd.
LA, CA
323.644.7511

El Conquistador
3701 West Sunset Blvd.LA, CA
323.666.5136

Pho Cafe
2841 West Sunset Blvd.
LA, CA
213.413.0888

99cent Store

3600 West Sunset. Blvd.
LA, CA
323.624.9901

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2 Responses to “California Soul: Silverlake Edition (LA)”

  1. *daisy Says:

    ha ha- i’ve lived up the hill in silverlake for the past 5 years, and never knew the cheese store made panninis (I usually go in and just drool over the exotic cheeses and daydream of hosting fancy dinner parties). I must check out the sandwiches next time! thanks! : )

  2. *daisy Says:

    ha ha- i’ve lived up the hill in silverlake for the past 5 years, and never knew the cheese store made panninis (I usually go in and just drool over the exotic cheeses and daydream of hosting fancy dinner parties). I must check out the sandwiches next time! thanks! : )

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