By Eric Lavey
There’s a reason Silver Lake has become one of the hottest neighborhoods in Los Angeles for homebuyers over the last decade. The lifestyle it allows is hard to duplicate, as there’s something intoxicating about the Mountain and City views, abundant green spaces and the progressive, ever-changing atmosphere of this well established LA enclave.
If it’s the weekend (and I am not working), I will take my Vespa down into the heart of the ‘hood. For me, that is LAMILL, one of Los Angeles’s premier coffee boutique that not only taps into the artisan coffee craze (Picture Bunsen burners and glass beakers from your H.S. chem class), but is a great place to have breakfast, snack or a late lunch. Throughout the day it’s filled with writers, actors and east-side industry folks taking a meeting for their next “project.”
For dinner, another favorite of mine is right across the street – L&E Oyster Bar. The place has received a lot of attention in the last year or so, and for good reason. L&E has expanded, and its vibe of European cafe and Lower East Side eatery has become something locals and others have been waiting for. Get here before 7pm, when tables are easier to come by; after that it’s a free for all – but still well worth the wait. As a native New Englander, I am a tough critic when it comes to fresh seafood – however their menu is second to none. (#laveyapproved)
Silver Lake also sets the bar for the boutique shopping experience and DIY design, which is often tagged “so Brooklyn.” A few doors down from LAMILL is one of my all-time favs – Lawson-Fenning, a shop with mostly heirloom-quality vintage accessories and handcrafted home furnishings and furniture from artisans around LA. It’s definitely a place you don’t want to miss if you’re lucky enough to find yourself in SL with some time to spare. Another must-hit is Hemingway and Pickett, a very cool store that carries on the area’s continued comparison to Brooklyn (or anything un-LA). From locally-designed bags, jewelry and stationery – if you’re looking for a gift, you’re almost guaranteed to find something special here. My favorite, as of recently, is the collection of Taxidermy (yes, stuffed birds are hot these days).
Finally, you’ll also find Rubbish Interiors – somewhere I like to go if I’m in the market for higher-end vintage accessories and furniture of a certain pedigree (which these days, is too often). This Silver Lake store, started by Scott Mangan and with Nick Bianco regularly holding court in the shop, was one of the first around the LA (remember the 1990s?) and remains a top destination for interior designers and the GP in the know. If you are looking to score something special, (maybe an early 70’s Karl Springer lamp or an original Eero Saarinen Tulip base) – and they don’t have it – Nick will scan his mental rolodex of someone who may want to part with it…
On the weekend, I love to take Leo for a walk around the Silver Lake Reservoir, connecting with some friends and their dogs and kids while soaking in the friendly energy of the whole place. Although we are lucky to have almost perfect weather 12 months a year, it’s especially great in spring when everything is in bloom and the Fever is in full swing.
If I really have some time, I love exploring (and at times, selling) the unique architecture of the neighborhood. If you’re not familiar with the area, Silver Lake is home to some of Los Angeles’ most pedigreed architecture by some of the true greats. Check out some of the architecturally significant and pedigreed homes in SL (like those on Neutra Place – about 10 of his small Pavilion homes are here, on his namesake street). If they come available (which is hardly ever, and always off market), they are some of the priciest-per-square-foot and most desirable jewel boxes to acquire in this city.
I’m also a giant fan of the 1947 Gregory Ain designed condominium building on Avenel Street. These are so special. Perfectly sited and each with its own dedicated outdoor spaces – even some views. One recently traded in original condition around $700k. Lastly, I always love when I get to visit some Barbara Bestor’s homes in SL and other “eastside” locations, as she has certainly become a modern master of architecture, living in our own backyard.
Then there’s dinner – often a tough choice, since Silver Lake is a gastronomic mecca in a city of foodies. Blair’s is a classic bistro with a comfortable bar scene with inventive takes on New-American cuisine. It was one of the originals to open here before the area went to the next level and still remains high on my list. Barbrix, another favorite of mine, is a well-known wine bar that was one of LA MAG’s top 10 new restaurants when it launched a few years back. Their take on fresh ingredients and an ever-changing menu is something the locals have widely supported. This is also one of the best wine-by-the-glass spots, which are not always easy to find. On the topic of wine, I regularly stop by Silver Lake Wine, one of the finest wine shops in LA – especially when its Monday, as they sometimes have different types of food trucks parked in front of the store.
If we are talking about Silver Lake, it would be almost criminal if I didn’t mention Sunset Junction, with its own range of options: Café Stella, Intelligentsia Coffee, Forage and Barkeeper (the place to pick-up that fancy tool for crafting perfect cocktails, just like they do at Bar Stella, a few doors down). Sunset Junction deserves a guide all to itself, and is usually a “First Taste” of the Silver Lake lifestyle for most Angelinos.
Finally, for the families out there, we must mention Ivanhoe Elementary. As an agent, I’m always a bit apprehensive to discuss how “well regarded” certain schools are, but there is certainly a good reason why real estate which falls into this district can command a premium of 10-20%. It’s important to have a reputable, top-notch school close to home, and this one is definitely worth mentioning. After all, while Silver Lake is a great place to be single, it’s also a wonderful place to raise a family.