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Views of the LA skyline and lake from Echo Park.

Angelenos know that “Eastside” is a blanket term for a vast area that consists of several smaller neighborhoods, each with its own nuances. As a former New Yorker, I always referred to the area as Brooklyn in LA (read: grimy, edgy, hipstery). While Silver Lake was arguably the Williamsburg of the west, Echo Park has rightly earned the title in recent years. Just the right amount of grunge in between fountain-filled parks, gorgeous historic homes and scenic views of the hills make it one of the most desirable neighborhoods in the country. Not to mention the best design I’ve seen in the city over the past few years has come out of Echo Park.

Which brings me to one of my favorites, the great Kathleen Whitaker. If you’re not familiar with her, you should be. The ceramist-turned-jewelry designer has made quite a name for herself through her classic gold line and dot earrings that spawned tons of copycats. But nobody does them better if you ask me. I was lucky enough to get a peek inside her beautiful Echo Park home, impeccably curated down to the perfect shade of paint.

Right now, you’re about to experience a day in the life of Kathleen’s favorite hood she calls home. And when it comes to great taste, you don’t question this lady. Trust.

“I give you a round-up of spots with an Echo Park center of gravity. It’s where we live and have for 8 years (before migrating further east from Beachwood Canyon). I do much of what I’ve listed here on foot — often I am on a walkabout with the dog.  It’s so rare to have superior destinations within a mile of home. A rarity in LA anyway.” – Kathleen Whitaker

Image by Emerald Carroll

 

Kathleen Whitaker bio image.
Collection of Kathleen's gold jewelery displayed in ceramic bowls.

Image courtesy of kathleenwhitaker.com

 

It’s so rare to have superior destinations within a mile of home. A rarity in LA anyway.

Looking through Cookbook's window from the outside.

SHOP

Cookbook

A teeny green grocer with a small selection of prepared meals — the recipes for which come from a different cookbook each week. I once went to Whole Foods to shop for a dinner party and they didn’t have everything I needed. Cookbook did. Whether for a quick stop (excellent coffee and hard boiled egg on the way to work), a full week’s stock-up or super sweet, inspired conversation with the lovely shop girls, it is all around perfect.

Cookbook / 1549 Echo Park Avenue / 213.250.1900

Image courtesy of fritzhaeg.com

Collection

I pass by the Collection storefront on my way to work (downtown).  If I’m running on the late side, I will see if Elizabeth’s store is open and check out her always-great selection of vintage, most especially her well-edited denim.

Collection / 1282 W. Sunset Blvd / 213.640.2572

 

Peter Shire Studio

Walking into his studio on Echo Park Avenue is an adventure.

Peter Shire Studio / 1850 Echo Park Ave / 323.662.8067

Peter Shire Studio image courtesy of flickr.com

Interior of Peter Shire studio.
Pastries fill the window of Dinette.

EAT

Dinette

Gareth Kanter has the magic touch.  This is his third venture (after the venerable Cafe Stella and its newer sidekick bar, Bar Stella) — a walk-up window with a perfectly limited, great breakfast and lunch menu and sidewalk tables.

Dinette / 1608 1/2 Sunset Blvd / 213.278.0301

Image by Diana Koenigsberg

 

Taix

An institution.  Perfect when you’re in the mood for a steak, a martini, and crappy service.

Taix / 1911 W. Sunset Boulevard / 213.484.1265

Image courtesy of Timeout

Patrons enjoy themselves at Taix.
Beatuiful wooden flooring and brick wall adorn the interior of the Blue Bottle cafe.

Blue Bottle

I’m very excited about the Blue Bottle that opened.  Though New Orleans chicory coffee and a fresh waffle cannot mean good things for my waistline.

Blue Bottle / 1712 W Sunset Blvd / 213.621.4194

Image by Wonho Frank Lee

DRINK

El Prado

If the martinis went down easy at Taix and you’re game for more, El Prado is a dark, moody, simple (no pretense) bar just down the street.

El Prado / 1805 W Sunset Blvd / 213.484.6079

 

SEE

LA River

Echo Park residents are fortunate to have Elysian Park — the very large city park within which Dodger Stadium sits. But I prefer the quiet bike path that hugs the LA River — the part bordered by Fletcher and Figueroa. It has changed so much in the 10 years since my first morning run. It’s very urban and lined with large warehouses (slowly being converted to artist studios), but quiet and solitary.

LA River Bike Path

Image courtesy of John Wachunas

A man cycles the bike path along the LA River.
Kathleen Whitaker bio image.

ABOUT KATHLEEN WHITAKER

Bio by Monica Khemsurov

For the past few years, Kathleen Whitaker’s name has been practically synonymous with the ubiquitous gold dot and line earrings that are a staple in boutiques everywhere. But once you learn a thing or two about her biography — ceramics and Russian history studies at Tulane, a job at the Met in New York, jobs in PR and financial services, night classes in jewelry making in LA — it becomes clear that evolution is her natural state. And so in addition to the minimalist metal studs that dominate her main line, she’s been quietly building up a parallel, more elevated collection that merges her signature geometric shapes with rough chunks of stones like opal and lapis.

The same could be said of her Los Angeles studio; she moved her office and workshop out of her Echo Park home and into 1,200 square feet of a 3,700 square-foot loft Downtown. There, she’s not only developing the new collection but overhauling her branding and packaging — introducing lambskin envelopes and lucite boxes, a new website, and the first lookbooks she’s ever made.

Image by Emerald Carroll