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Indie stores and a gourmet burger shack kibitz with the historic businesses on this urban strip
Map by Michael Newhouse
For decades the stretch of Fairfax Avenue between Beverly and Melrose has served as a hub for L.A.’s Jewish community. Transplants from then heavily Jewish areas like Boyle Heights and City Terrace arrived in the 1940s, and residents came to rely on the neighborhood for hot pastrami, Sabbath candles, and secondhand goods. Music venues like Largo and the bar at Canter’s deli introduced a nightlife scene in the ’90s. Today many of the original shopkeepers have left, making room for tattoo parlors, skater hangouts, and a dining hot spot where pork’s not just OK, it’s celebrated.
Nearby Canter’s, Schwartz, and Eilat bakeries draw lines of devotees who don’t mind yelling above the din to score a loaf of corn rye. At Diamond, a 65-year-old kosher enterprise, the eggy challah (sesame-studded or with raisins, braided or round) rises above the rest. » 335 N. Fairfax Ave., 323-655-0534.
This eclectic shop offers a mix of skatewear, streetwear, and surfwear along with art exhibits and out-of-print volumes on photography, fashion, graphic design, and illustration. Sporty clothing lines like Warriors of Radness and FreshJive share space with collector’s items like a 1969 issue of Avant Garde devoted to Picasso’s erotic engravings. » 420 N. Fairfax Ave., 323-651-0131.
Kosher this place ain’t. Chefs Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo (formerly of the Food Network show 2 Dudes Catering) serve pork belly sandwiches, pork ribs, pig ear, pig tail croquettes, sweetbreads, lamb, and quail in addition to hearty seafood dishes. Want a more elegant approach to carnivorous dining? Head down the street to Chameau for French-Moroccan-inspired duck bastilla and merguez with spicy harissa. » 435 N. Fairfax Ave., 323-782-9225
4. Cochran Produce
At this 25-year-old market, display cases and bushel baskets overflow with more than 250 kinds of fruits and vegetables, from crab apples to fava beans to all kinds of squash. The fresh herbs and dried fruit are also standouts. » 525 N. Fairfax Ave., 323-653-4127.
5. Bark n’ Bitches
Shannon von Roemer’s dog boutique resembles a plush boudoir. Customers and their pups lounge on low benches, chandeliers drip from the ceiling, and the walls pop in sultry red and orange. Among the canine comforts: pint-size couture, turquoise collars, fluffy beds, and organic biscuits. Von Roemer also runs a rescue group, Jimi’s Angels, out of the shop. » 505 N. Fairfax Ave., 323-655-0155.
Since the 1940s, this Judaica emporium has stocked kiddush cups, candlesticks, prayer shawls, menorahs, mezuzahs, jewelry, and Hanukkah toys. Chabad-Ataras across the street has similar treasures along with a more extensive selection of religious texts and cookbooks, but the cluttered corners here remind us of the nooks at Aunt Goldie’s house. » 447 N. Fairfax Ave., 323-653-9045.
Graphic novels, zines,and new editions of works by Norman Mailer, John Fante, and Charles Bukowski line the shelves at this bookshop. Check out the stash of obscure DVDs, LPs, and cassettes. » 436 N. Fairfax Ave., 323-782-9221.
8. Fairfax Fishery
The inventory of kosher fish (scales and fins are musts) includes carp, pike, whitefish, Dover sole, barramundi, and cod. Both farm raised and wild, the fish comes from near (San Diego) and far (New Zealand). Smoked spreads go beyond salmon: Try sable or trout. » 345 N. Fairfax Ave., 323-653-6333.
9. The Golden State
Superb ingredients, all from California, keep diners flocking here. We rank the burger—stacked with Harris Ranch beef, Fiscalini Farms cheddar, applewood-smoked bacon, and farmers’ market arugula—among the best in L.A. Also worth the trip: the sweet potato wedges with aioli and the “beer float,” a creamy-fizzy combination of Scoops gelato and Old Rasputin Imperial Stout. » 426 N. Fairfax Ave., 323-782-8331.
Photographs by Mindee Choi