Iconic Neighborhood Restaurants: Glassell Park, Elysian Valley, Echo Park & Elysian Park


This collection of small 'hoods in the northeast region of L.A. is bisected by the L.A. River and nestled among the 5, 2, 101 and 110 freeways. It's one of the most diverse areas in the city, with a large number of Latino and Asian families that have lived in the area for decades. With a recent influx of young professionals moving into the neighborhood, new businesses, music venues, bars, and an arts scene are all thriving in this part of town.

The area is home to Dodger Stadium, which is a source of civic pride today, but has its own sordid history. The area where the stadium stands today is known as Chavez Ravine, and was once a community of mostly Mexican-American families. The City of Los Angeles used eminent domain to take control of the land, originally with the plan to build public housing. However, that plan lost political support and the land was sold to the Dodgers in 1958. Residents of the area who held out of the buyout process were later removed by force and their homes were razed to make way for the stadium.


Photo: The Park's Finest
Photo: The Park's Finest

The Park's Finest: It seems that Filipino restaurants just aren't abundant in L.A. despite a large and thriving Filipino community, but luckily Echo Park has one of the best Filipino-inspired barbecue joints in town. Originally a catering company, the Concordia family opened the Park's Finest in 2012 to bring their own unique fusion of Filipino and Los Angeles cuisine to the area. On the menu you'll find traditional Filipino items like bibingka and longanisa, but the emphasis here is on the expertly marinated ribs. Open daily for lunch and dinner, except on Mondays when they just have dinner service. 1267 W Temple St.; (213) 481-2800.


Guisados: Taco shops are a dime a dozen in Los Angeles -- especially in this part of town -- but Guisados is a bit different than all the rest. Guisado means stew in Spanish, and most of the menu items reflect the name. You'll find tacos containing braised meats like chicken mole, steak picado, chicharron, as well as both fish and shrimp tacos. There are even a few choices for vegetarians. Armando De La Torre Sr. and Armando De La Torre Jr. opened the first location in Boyle Heights in 2010, but due to demand have since expanded to this location as well as a spot in downtown L.A. 1261 Sunset Blvd.; (213) 250-7600.


El Compadre: Sure, this one's a chain with other locations in Los Angeles, but the Echo Park location is especially important thanks to its proximity to Dodger Stadium. You can't miss this brightly colored Mexican restaurant on Sunset Boulevard, just west of Elysian Park, the main thoroughfare for stadium parking. Walking into this dimly lit, bustling bar and restaurant can be a stark contrast to the street outside. You could sit at the bar and jockey for the best angle on the TV, or take up one of their massive booths. Either way, a live mariachi band will serenade you as you dig into everything from ceviche to mole. This is a true neighborhood haunt that has a friendly, local vibe on weekdays when it's not as crowded. Did we mention they serve flaming margaritas? 1449 W Sunset Blvd.; (213) 250-4505.


Taix: This family-owned restaurant (it's pronounced "Tex") serving French country cuisine is one of the oldest eateries in Los Angeles, having opened its doors for the first time in 1927. The Taix family immigrated to Los Angeles around 1870, after leaving their lives as sheepherders and bakers in southeastern France. When you walk in it's like you've been beamed to another era, only it's filled with the hipsters, flirty couples, and salty regulars of today. The restaurant is classy and intimate, but the real fun happens in the lounge up front where everything from comedy to live music to futbol matches happens. You can order dinner off a decently-sized menu while enjoying the free show. (While it's free, that doesn't necessarily mean it's good.) 1911 Sunset Blvd; (213) 484-1265.


Gold Room: Let us start by saying this local, pre- and post-Dodger game hangout is still the best deal in town. Nowhere else in L.A. can you get a shot of tequila and a beer for $5 in a up-and-coming neighborhood. The Gold Room's glowing yellow lights have lit up the corner of Sunset Blvd. and Echo Park Ave. for decades. Though the neighborhood around it has changed and it recently underwent a "sprucing up," it still retains its dive bar appeal (with an occasional brush with bad behavior). 1558 Sunset Blvd; (213) 482-5259.

Honorable Mentions: Elysian L.A., Lemon Poppy Kitchen, Brite Spot, The Short Stop, and Sunset Beer Company.