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Over the last decade, the hilly and ethnically diverse neighborhood of Highland Park, Calif., in northeast Los Angeles has shed its associations with gang violence, seen steady gentrification and become a haven for creative types.
Southern California native Jessica Isaac — a freelance photographer and writer with a focus on architecture and interior design — has lived in Highland Park for the past three years and witnessed its energetic renewal. Here, she shares her tips for digging into the area.
Where do you head to unwind? The Hermosillo. It’s a great beer and wine bar on York Boulevard that is my “Cheers.” It’s low-key and always stocked with high-quality beverages and my favorite friends.
If you’re seeking design inspiration, look no further than: Cafe Birdie. It’s a new spot on Figueroa Street with a gorgeous interior, with a subtle nod to French art deco. And check out Amsterdam Modern, a mid-century-modern Danish furniture store that recently opened a location on York.
From start to finish, an ideal food day is:Breakfast at vegan-friendly Kitchen Mouse. If I’m on the go, I’ll grab a salad at Monte 52 (located inside La Tropicana Market), but for better ambiance, I’ll hit Max City BBQ and sneak a kid’s plate of brisket. Try the “Pig and the Fig” pizza at Town’s dine-in location for dinner.
Another way to spend the day is: Urban hiking. Meander through the winding streets of Highland Park’s hills, along with neighboring towns Mount Washington and Eagle Rock. You’ll spot jaw-dropping historic homes and killer city views.
It’s Friday night. Where to? Catch a musical performance at The Hi Hat or Highland Park Ebell Club, a historic women’s club that has recently been used to host rock shows. Foodies should check out Amara Kitchen, where meals are garnished with edible flowers and produce. Also, its house-made almond milk cappuccinos are like liquid velvet.
The best place to find style inspiration is: Bearded Beagle on Figueroa, one of my favorite vintage stores in L.A. You’ll also find great gift and vintage shops on York between Avenues 51 and 53.
The best spot for a photo op is: The top of Eldred Street — it’s the steepest drivable street in L.A. And Civil Coffee is a frontrunner in the #fromwhereistand hashtag feed.
What is Highland Park’s best-kept secret? From the Southwest Museum to Heritage Square and Lummis Home, Highland Park has preserved some really interesting historic architecture. Many neighbors have no idea these time capsules are quietly tucked away in their own city blocks.