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Sunset Junction

A boho chic locale for those with upscale tastes seeking gourmet cafes and a unique shopping experience

This Silver Lake neighborhood, named for the intersection where Santa Monica and Sunset boulevards meet Sanborn Avenue, has gentrified rapidly in the last decade. The shops and eateries now cater to well-heeled boho tastemakers who have cash and time to spend. Look no further than coffee emporium Intelligentsia, with its meticulously brewed $4 lattes. Come to the junction for nontraditional shopping and dining, and be sure to bring a sense of curiosity.

 
 

theessentials_masa_t1. Tacos Delta

Along with chila-quiles, chorizo-and-egg burritos, and fish tacos (preferably with chipotle crema), the colorful shack is known for low prices and a small shaded patio. Here patrons can recuperate from the previous night with a steaming bowl of menudo. » 3806 W. Sunset Blvd., 323-664-2848.

Background Check

Local Landmark
In 1967, two years before Stonewall, the Black Cat Tavern was the site of a watershed gay rights protest. Renamed Le Barcito in 1993, it closed in 2011.

Public Access
Until 1953, the intersection was a key stop for streetcars.

Local Tradition
After 30 years, the Sunset Junction Street Fair was canceled in 2011 when organizers couldn’t pay fees they owed the city.

 

theessentials_masa_t2. Mohawk General Store

The array of goods is beyond eclectic: Moscot sunglasses, Comme des Garçons wallets, Cire Trudon candles, Rachel Comey boots. You’ll also find carefully culled midcentury modern furniture at the not inexpensive shop. » 4011 W. Sunset Blvd., 323-669-1601.

 

theessentials_masa_t3. Surplus Value Center

Classic black balaclava or camouflage pith helmet? Leatherman Multi-Tool or body-hugging Israeli Coca-Cola T-shirt? The military surplus store is crammed with all sorts of items that veer from practical to whimsical. » 3828 W. Sunset Blvd., 323-662-8132.

 

theessentials_masa_t4. Berlin Currywurst

Germany’s ubiquitous street snack—sausages slathered in sweet-and-spicy curry ketchup—gets an L.A. twist, with choices that range from traditional porky bratwurst to tofu kielbasa. The thick, crisp fries are some of the best around. » 3827 W. Sunset Blvd., 323-663-1989.

 

theessentials_masa_t5. Pull My Daisy

Art deco style meets a punk rock ethos at the playful boutique, where the clothes are all made by local designers. Owner and former musician Sarah Dale often works the counter. » 3908 W. Sunset Blvd., 323-663-0608.

 

theessentials_masa_t6. The Secret Headquarters

The charms of this comic book haven are hardly clandestine. Like the adjacent Vacation Records (from the same owner), titles span mainstream to indie. » 3817 W. Sunset Blvd., 323-666-2228.

 

theessentials_masa_t7. Forage

The devotion to locally sourced fare recalls a Portlandia episode minus the smug servers. While you relax in the narrow dining room waiting for your organic free-range chicken breast, ogle desserts like vanilla pistachio macarons and German chocolate cake layered with fresh coconut. » 3823 W. Sunset Blvd., 323-663-6885.

 

theessentials_masa_t8. Pazzo Gelato

This artisanal gelateria makes dense, velvety creations in flavors as simple as caramel, pistachio, and mint chip and as singular as sour cherry chèvre and coconut curry. The plain Venezuelan chocolate, with a 72 percent cocoa content, is a chocoholic’s fever dream. » 3827 W. Sunset Blvd., 323-662-1410.

 

theessentials_masa_t9. Cafe Stella

The intimate French bistro offers frisée salad with lardon chunks as large as life rafts and delicate lemon ricotta pancakes. A recent expansion doubled its seating, and the acquisition of a full liquor license means that cocktails will be added to the beer and wine menu. » 3932 W. Sunset Blvd., 323-666-0265.

 

theessentials_masa_t10. Spice Station

Rare seasonings like ajwain and kalonji seeds coexist with sassafras bark, Szechuan peppercorns, and housemade blends such as a Uighur barbecue rub and three types of za’atar. A room dedicated to tea attracts connoisseurs of the leaf. » 3819 W. Sunset Blvd., 323-660-2565.

 

Richard Joe Keeper
Owner, Bar Keeper

I’ve lived in Silver Lake since 1987. When I found this location, the tenants who were in the space made me write a business plan explaining what I wanted to do. They wanted to make sure I wasn’t going to ruin the neighborhood. Nobody comes down here to buy things they need; they come here to buy things they want. The clientele is very eclectic. I feel so connected with the stores on my block. While I’m out of town on my next buying trip, my mailman is going to work at the store for two days. That’s why I say it’s a small town.

Photographs by Mindee Choi. Illustration by Andy Friedman