Let’s call it the next Atwater Village. The stretch of blocks where Melrose Avenue intersects with Heliotrope Drive in East Hollywood is rapidly filling in with a similar density of cafés, design boutiques, and cute spots—but it’s still hanging on to a cool, just-under-the-radar vibe. The distinct personality of the corner is such that it’s even inspired a nickname, Hel-Mel (Heliotrope-Melrose, get it?), though locals remain mixed on wholeheartedly adopting the term. To encourage you to venture a few blocks farther after your next Sqirl run, here’s a guide to a few of the best spots to check out in this burgeoning micro-hood.
Claudia Diaz, a fashion industry vet who, until recently, was the buyer for Silver Lake’s Mohawk General Store, has struck out on her own with this gorgeous new boutique. Step into the lush, jewel-toned shop outfitted with whimsically-chic vintage furnishings to find a perfect new statement garment, indie jeweler’s bauble, gift for your most effortlessly stylish friend, or really good hat. 4314 Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles
Adorable magenta-and-turquoise coffee shop Cuties is immediately inviting, from the sparkly disco ball hanging under the awning to the alluring scent of Counter Culture-roasted coffee and fresh vegan doughnuts wafting from within. This café has a mission beyond just keeping you caffeinated: Providing a safe and positive space for L.A.’s LGBTQ community and allies, hosting gatherings and events, like movie nights and the popular “Queers, Coffee and Donuts” meet-ups. 710 North Heliotrope Drive, Los Angeles
Ex-pat East Coasters longing for the neighborhood pizzerias of their youth flock to Gracies for classic NY-style pies, upgraded with farm-fresh ingredients. Two pies on the menu lovingly salute the owner’s Sicilian grandmother and pizza muse, Gracie—the Grandma, topped with pesto, tomato sauce, roasted garlic, and burrata, and the Gracie topped with tomato sauce, three cheeses, soppresatta, radicchio, arugula, and pinot grigio-sautéed mushrooms. 4330 Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles
No hip neighborhood is complete without a good vintage shop. That’s just a fact of urban planning. And, in Hel-Mel, Hutch fills that niche. Mid-century modern chairs and dressers line the sidewalk outside the stuffed-to-the-gills store, inside of which you’ll find items to check every vintage-cool box, from Pucci-esque patterned dresses to 1960s barware and truly excellent macrame wall hangings. 706 North Heliotrope Drive, Los Angeles
If there is an essential decor look that defines L.A. right now, it’s precisely the sort of sunny, boho-chic-ness that Clad Home nails. Do you need some indigo shibori textiles, a softly-colored flat-weave rug, some minimalist ceramics, and maybe a perfect leather chair? The team here can sell you the whole kit in one go and offer design services and custom furniture to help you make your home look like the Instagram backdrop of your dreams. 4306 Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles
This pocket-sized neighborhood pub, which shares an owner with Gracie’s Pizza, was one of the first of the current generation of businesses to open. Grab a spot at the bar or snag a table on the patio. Order from a rotating selection of Cicerone-curated craft beers and a menu of casual, well-executed sandwiches, salads, and snacks. 707 North Heliotrope Drive, Los Angeles