Thursday, April 14, 2016

Café Catelog: Los Angeles

When I lived in Los Angeles from 2005-2009, the only cafes I went to were Starbucks and Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf. I don't know if I had bad taste, or if great local cafes just didn't exist in the city back then. I'm pretty sure every cafe on this list opened in the last decade, so it's quite possible that we are in the midst of a coffee renaissance in LA. Now that I have documented great cafes all over the world, I looked forward to returning to my former home and sampling the very best of the city. 

 In order from my very favorites:

 Verve (downtown)

This is my default oasis and one of the most beautiful and atmospheric cafes in the world. I wouldn’t even suggest bringing a computer for trying to get work done. Sit in the cover patio and soak up the lush greenery. As this is located in a fragile territory between downtown LA and the fashion district, expect to reminisce to the sound of car horns and buses. I can never get sick of this place. 

Blue Bottle (downtown)
Like Intelligentsia, this place is a chain found throughout the city, but a stunning and spacious downtown location makes this one of my favorite places. Plenty of seating and natural light, and even a mini library!

Black top (downtown)
Black. White. Chocolate. The minimalist menu says it all. This simple café is a gem on the outskirts of Little Tokyo. Lack of tables make this a difficult place to work from, but who wants to look at a computer screen when you are surrounded by lush vines.


Maru Coffee (Los Feliz)
This tiny gem in Los Feliz is a real treat. Reminiscent of Japan, Maru coffee has a cozy and sparse atmosphere. I ordered a green tea latte - which was the right choice. The only downside is that all the tables are too low to work from, so this is a place to enjoy the company of others, or a silent, self mediation. 


Intelligentsia (Silver Lake)
A shaded gem on Sunset Blvd, I spent hours people-watching from this cafe's ceramic-tiled patio. Lack of seating inside is one downside, but if you are lucky enough to be on the patio, you will witness a magnificent spectacle of human migration.

Paper or Plastik Café (Little Ethiopia)
A popular place for meals and entertainment. But full of rules. Kitchen opens and closes at odd hours throughout the day. They sell magazine but don't allow browsing. You can only open your laptop on community tables - smaller tables are reserved for those guests who wish to dine. But all is forgiven because of their amazing Lavendar Chai. In hot and iced forms this drink is worth.

Coffee Colab (downtown)
An alternative cafe in a back ally near Santee, this cafe seems strangely out of place in LA's quickly gentrifying fashion district. Ten years ago no one would ever think of opening a boutique coffee shop in this district, but it seems well-loved by the neighborhood. No seating so grab your coffee to go and savor the charm and grit of the streets as you walk away.

Go Get Em Tiger (Larchmont)
A frenzied neighborhood joint tucked almost discreetly on Larchmont Street. Popular for their kale salad and other fad-food, this place is constantly packed and a bit chaotic.

Dinosaur (Silver Lake)
A bustling space with interior design that evokes the likes of the Fukuoka Starbucks, but lacks the atmospheric quality of a truly artistic space. When I arrived, it was on the eve of their one-year anniversary, and they had a petting zoo in their parking lot to celebrate.   

 Menotti's (Venice Beach)
I might be biased because I hate Venice Beach, but Menotti's is a nice retreat from the neon thongs and blaring pop music of the main drag. I ordered an iced vanilla latte which was wonderful. The size of the cafe and constant shuffle of people coming and going makes it impossible to work from, but the coffee and service were good. 


 G&B (downtown)
An overrated and over-hyped joint in the famous Grand Central Market in downtown. Let me clarify: the market is awesome; but G&B coffee is disappointingly just "ok." After waiting 20 minutes for a drink I was expecting something spectacular, but my macadamia latte was barely drinkable. I must have ordered the wrong thing.

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