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With its reasonable rents and small-town vibe, York Boulevard (especially between Avenues 50 and 52) has been a retail and restaurant mainstay of northeast L.A. for decades
View Streetsmart: York Blvd in a larger map
Today retro boutiques, art galleries, and vinyl shops share the street with by-the-slice pizzerias and Mexican markets. The march to gentrification may be unstoppable: Condé Nast Traveler recently declared York “L.A.’s Coolest Street.” Right now it’s a happy medium, and we hope it remains that way.
1. Donut Friend
Coconut cream and candied lime. Cheddar cheese and apples. Ricotta, caramel sauce, and cayenne. No combo is too weird at this doughnut shop, where you can build your own or try the in-house creations named after punk bands. » 5107 York Blvd., 213-995-6191.
2. Pop-Hop Books & Print
The cheerful space sells used books, zines, and literary journals at affordable prices and has a comfy couch where you can peruse them. Workshops, readings, screenings, and other events make this a community hub. » 5002 York Blvd., 323-259-2490.
3. Meridian Mercado Diseño
From gorgeous old typewriters to artful hourglasses to locally crafted vases, the high-end shop has everything a stylish Eastsider needs to decorate that revamped Craftsman. The furniture ranges from vintage Danish sofas to onyx lamps, and there are plenty of modern ceramics to adorn tabletops. » 5007½ York Blvd., 323-994-6629.
4. The York
The Hermosillo is the street’s new beer and wine bar and Johnny’s is the dive, but on Saturday nights it’s all about the York. The large bar offers a full lineup of suds, vino, and cocktails along with a friendly atmosphere. Packed and loud but not obnoxious, it makes a mean burger, too. » 5018 York Blvd., 323-255-9675.
5. Café de Leche
After downing a stiff espresso here, head to Schodorf’s Luncheonette. The low-key spot serves sandwiches on fresh ciabatta or French bread. » 5000 York Blvd., 323-551-6828; 5051 York Blvd., 323-258-8040.
6. Wombleton Records
Vinyl aficionados flock to this idiosyncratic shop, which feels as if you’re in owner Ian Marshall’s home. LPs and 45s are sorted into categories like ’90s indie power pop and ’60s psychedelia. » 5123 York Blvd., 213-422-0069.
7. Thank You Comics
The sister store of Secret Headquarters in Silver Lake, the minimalist space has bright green-and-white shelves. Choose from a collection of comic books and graphic novels with an emphasis on indie publishers like Fantagraphics and Drawn & Quarterly. » 5011 York Blvd., 323-739-6138.
The newest outpost of the funky cash-only ice cream shop has no sign and is small and spartan, but it stocks a constantly rotating selection. In addition to flavors like maple Oreo, dirty chai, and the ever-popular brown bread (sprinkled with Grape Nuts), there are intriguing nondairy options. » 5105 York Blvd., no phone.
Every aspirational neighborhood needs its own upscale bistro. The vibe is Portland by way of Paris, thanks to a French-influenced menu and a few streetside tables. Work your way through a terrine of duck liver mousse or linger over quiche Lorraine at brunch. » 5100 York Blvd., 323-739-6243.
It’s hard to know where the store ends and the gallery begins, but everything hews to the modern craft aesthetic. That might mean canvas gardening totes, suede jewelry, retro glassware, or pop-ups featuring hot local designers like Justina Blakeney. » 5027 York Blvd., 323-230-7475.
Why I Love It Here
by Edmundo Rodriguez
Co-owner, Elsa’s Pan y Café, 15102 York Blvd., 323-256-9455
Elsa’s has been here about 40 years. It was established by a family from Mexico who supplied every major market in L.A. with pan dulce. That’s why we kept the name when we bought it in 2013. We kept the same baker, Benjamin Lopez, who has been here since it opened; now it looks like a café. My son, who co-owns the bakery, and I saw the development of York. My fear was that if we didn’t buy this place, someone else would turn it into a vintage store or a trendy shop. That’s the risk that gentrification brings. It happened in Venice, where I grew up.
Photographs by Mindee Choi; Illustration by Nigel Buchanan