Street Wise: A Stop-by-Stop Guide to Sunset Boulevard, Silver Lake

From Sunset Junction to Echo Park, LA's iconic Sunset Boulevard segues into hipville as it runs through Silver Lake
From Sunset Junction to Echo Park, LA's iconic Sunset Boulevard segues into hipville as it runs through Silver Lake | © ZUMA Press, Inc. / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Leon Beckenham
29 November 2021

Cuban-style cafes, wow-factor boutiques and a historic tavern that played a part in the LGBTQ movement line up in LA’s hipster ‘hood.

Snaking some 22mi (35km) through the Greater Los Angeles Area, Sunset Boulevard is a heavyweight stretch of Los Angeles. While some sections are easily skippable, others are downright iconic, with the Sunset Strip claiming the twinkliest slice of Tinseltown real estate. Further east, from Sunset Junction to Echo Park, it segues into hipville as it runs through Silver Lake, dubbed the Brooklyn of Los Angeles. It’s here you’ll find some of the best in stylish second-hand threads, landmark coffee shops and pretty cool places to stay, bookable on Culture Trip.

Silver Lake Pool & Inn

The laid-back hipster pool area with lounge chairs and umbrellas at Silver Lake Pool and Inn
Courtesy of Silver Lake Pool and Inn /
The Silver Lake Pool & Inn is a low-rise, upscale hotel that sits on a corner just south of Sunset Junction, within strolling distance of all the area’s highlights. There’s something of the desert Palm Springs motel about it, albeit with understated styling and first-rate features. On its upper level, the swimming terrace is a prime spot to soak up some Cali sunshine while perusing the pool menu. Bright, restful rooms come with luxe linens, Nespresso machines and smart TVs; better rooms add views of the Hollywood Sign.

Mohawk General Store

Set right on the junction where Sunset meets Santa Monica Boulevard, this trendy clothes-and-more designer store is a great place to start your trip along the boulevard. Together with an expert eye for men’s and women’s fashions from dozens of designers, this elegantly laid-out boutique has a supremely browsable collection of fragrances, beauty products and quality, sometimes quirky, homeware.

The Black Cat

Gastropub, American, $$$
The stylish dark-wood bar area and recessed ceilings of the Black Cat in Silver Lake, Los Angeles
Courtesy of the Black Cat
It was protests here at the Black Cat Tavern in 1967 that helped launch the LGBTQ civil rights movement in the city, and it has since been declared a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument. Photos of the demonstrations are displayed on the walls, above handsome leather booths and below elegant brass chandeliers. The menu is mostly old-school American – burgers, house-made pastas, fried chicken – and cocktails mix up classic with cutting-edge twists.

Pine and Crane

Restaurant, Taiwanese, $$$
Earthy light wood interior with pendant lights and concrete floors at Pine and Crane in Silver Lake, Los Angeles
Courtesy of Pine and Crane
This Taiwanese restaurant describes itself as fast-casual, which equates to first-come, first-serve seating and simple small-plate dining, quickly whipped up from fresh ingredients. The menu is mostly comprised of Taiwanese staples like noodle soups, shrimp wonton and – the always popular – pan-fried pork buns. There are solid vegetarian and vegan options, too, plus loose-leaf teas sourced from Taiwan and a rotating list of craft beers, wines and sake. The result? A honeypot for local hipsters.

Millie's Cafe

Restaurant, American, $$$
American restaurants don’t come much more classic than Millie’s – a Silver Lake mainstay since 1926. Pick a counter-front swivel chair or curbside table and choose from a long breakfast- and brunch-oriented menu – there’s a dozen iterations of eggs benedict alone. They’re committed to cooking the old-fashioned way, too, with real butter, nothing processed, and everything made from scratch. It’s unpretentious, morning-after comfort food at its best, and there are plenty of vegan options, too.

Golden Age

Chic interior with racks of vintage clothing at Golden Age in Silver Lake, Los Angeles
Courtesy of Golden Age
It wasn’t long after their 2017 opening on Melrose that Golden Age was soon counting a long list of LA celebs among its regular customers (Lily-Rose Depp is a big fan). This, their second store, boasts a similarly impressive range of expertly curated vintage pieces, mostly from the 1920-50s golden age of Hollywood (hence the name). They also offer a collection from their own fashion brand, with their chic-yet-comfortable footwear lines garnering particular attention.

Candid Home

White couches set amid an eclectic collection of colorful and decorative contemporary homeware pieces at Candid Home, Los Angeles
Courtesy of Candid Home
Some stores just have that wow factor, and Candid Home is one. Owner Ashley has a background in residential interior design, and it shows in her wonderfully eclectic yet cohesive collection of colorful homeware. Browse loads of one-of-a-kind retro objets, from ’60s lighting to ’80s ottomans, together with an abundance of decorative contemporary pieces, fashion accessories and handmade candles and other pleasant-smelling items. You’ll go for a gift and come out with a little something for yourself, too.

Café Tropical

Coffee Shop, Cuban
Another fab restaurant with a few miles on the odometer, Café Tropical has been serving Silver Lake since 1975. This distinctly Havana-tinged coffee shop specializes in freshly baked traditional Cuban-style pastries, cakes and pies. Their breakfast sandwiches are the stuff of legend around these parts, while their coffee is single origin, organic and custom-roasted to the café’s specification (read: strong).

The Steady

Bright and hip dorm room with cactus print wallpaper and Mexican rugs over hardwood floors at the Steady in Hollywood, CA
Courtesy of the Steady /
If you’re looking to stay within striking distance of Sunset Boulevard, but keen to keep costs down, consider a stay at the Steady. Just west of Silver Lake, it’s a hip and breezy hostel brimming with upbeat West Coast vibes. Choose from sunny mixed and female-only dorms, or treat yourself to a private room – all bathrooms are shared. Wake up to a free breakfast before setting out to explore the neighborhood. Return to a cozy lounge to mingle with other guests, before whipping up dinner in the shared kitchen.

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