You can imagine the Olmsted Brothers, sons of architect Frederick Law Olmsted, self-consciously making it their life's work to outdo their father's Central Park masterpiece. Leimert Park's square mile of planned residential neighborhood in South L.A. is one testament to the brothers' legacy.
In the 1950s, African Americans left the South in droves, and Leimert Park was the Southern California settlement for many middle class black families. It has flourished as a community with an especially artistic bent ever since. Blues, jazz, spoken word, and even a drumming circle has made this a destination for music lovers. The Leimert Park Art Walk on the last Sundays of the month and Art + Practice, a community art space and hub founded by native son and established artist Mark Bradford, fosters the visual arts scene.
Ackee Bamboo Jamaican Cuisine: Ackee Bamboo is located in Leimert Park Plaza, the heart of the neighborhood. So it's no wonder this laid-back establishment is one of the more popular spots for Jamaican cuisine. You can count on the jerk chicken here, but the offerings are so much more: oxtail, goat curry, salt fish, and patties. And if you happen to be here on a Sunday, you'll probably hear the weekly drumming circle started up by Afrobeat musician Najite Agindotan doing their thing.
4305 Degnan Blvd #100, (323) 295-7275
Phillips Bar-B-Que: There are three Phillips outposts in South L.A., but Leimert lucked out by having the best one, according to die-hard fans. Phillips is indeed a real person, but his name is Foster Phillips, a Louisiana native who founded the joint back in 1980. The window service is really what you would call no-frills, but the small ends, the spareribs, and just about any of the smoked and grilled meat make up for the lack of ambiance.
4307 Leimert Blvd, (323) 292-7613
Tak's Coffee Shop: Tak's is a reminder of the Japanese American community that settled into this area after being interned during World War II. Many residents consider it as an extension of Holiday Bowl, a Japanese-owned bowling alley that brought the entire Leimert Park community together. The Bowl also served Japanese and Hawaiian-inspired fare. Tak's, just down the street from the original bowling alley, is a tiny, cash-only Hawaiian comfort food diner, serving loco moco, Portuguese sausage, and standard buttermilk hotcakes.
3870 Crenshaw Blvd #101, (323) 295-0195
Delicious Southern Cuisine: Money is being pouring into Leimert Park as part of revitalization efforts, which includes the Crenshaw Line extension that's currently underway. Home prices are increasing here and through the surrounding neighborhoods of Inglewood and West Adams. And one relatively new restaurant might be the destination for Soul Food in Leimert Park when the Metro stop opens in 2019. (Though neighborhood favorite Earlez Grille has been one restaurant casualty of the underground expansion.) So far, the locals love Delicious for their Southern classics.
4371 Crenshaw Blvd, (323) 298-0445