Back by popular demand, Dylan King—Funkhaus Project Manager and in-house connoisseur of LA’s finest—brings us his next rendition of Dylan Recommends.
Once considered the longest street in the United States, Figueroa Street runs from the edge of Pasadena all the way to the beach, passing through nearly every subsection of the Los Angeles sprawl along the way. Most recently, North Figueroa street in Highland Park has been experiencing a complete transformational renaissance, displacing the long-forgotten camera repair shops and re-purposed bowling alleys to deliver some of the most interesting food, shopping, and entertainment in East Los Angeles.
Here are four hits and a miss from this rapidly changing area.
Hailing from Pasadena, Afters has firmly entrenched themselves in the Highland Park scene, giving some strong competition to Scoops. Afters has an incredible array of flavors to sate even the most scrupulous ice cream aficionado. To bolster their street cred, they sell a range of tongue-in-cheek t-shirts riffing on the logos of popular streetwear tycoons from Off White to Palace.
My favorite American pastime has to be going to see a movie, and I have an unspeakably strong affinity for the local multiplex. In my former days, I loved the dilapidated charm of the Vista and Los Feliz 3, and have found the same at The Highland Park Theater.
It’s not fancy, but there’s a soul in there that is sorely lacking from the big chain theaters, which then trickles down to a true community film-viewing experience. My first time here was by myself on a weekday to see 2017s Get Out and it has gone down as one of the best movie-watchings I’ve ever had. The audience was engaged and responsive and it felt like I was watching with 100 of my closest friends. Since then, I’ve seen a good dozen films here and have enjoyed each like it was my very first time.
My first week living in Highland Park, I frantically called a friend and long-time Highland Park resident in a bid to find a nice bottle of whiskey to bring to a birthday party. Unfortunately, at the time, the best I could find was a dusty bottle of Gentleman Jack. Despondent, I accepted my fate and made the long (7 minute) trek to Pasadena to Everson Royce. This trip would become all too familiar to me for the next few years as I patiently waited for a local solution.
To make this deal even sweeter, they have a not-so-secret deli hidden behind an “Employees Only” sign. Get a pound of their pastrami and then thank me later.
Longtime Highland Park denizen Andy Mueller started The Quiet Life in 1997 with nothing but a dream and a few t-shirts. Slowly, he has made the transition from burgeoning indie designer to a veritable force in the fashion scene, all the while championing his Midwest roots. Quirky designs with a sense of humor, The Quiet Life has expanded enough to open their first retail store right on Figueroa.
As a brand, The Quiet Life has always been one of my underdog favorites, and as a person, Andy comes second to none. Check out their store and if nothing else, get yourself a Highland Park pennant so the world knows you’re rooting for the home team.
5. Triple Beam Pizza
When I first heard that Nancy Silverton was teaming up with Matt Molina to open a pay-per-ounce pizza parlor in my neck of the woods, I was ecstatic. Combined with the fact that they were attaching themselves to longstanding fan-favorite Silver Lake Wine, it seemed like I would never again have to leave the comfort of my mile radius: everything I needed to eat, drink, or watch was all within walking distance. After a few false starts (and missed openings), I finally had a chance to try it this weekend.
After being rung up, I assumed that my eyes were indeed larger than my stomach, but that hardly rang true. More importantly, the pizza somehow went from a tantalizing raft of crispy dough and melty cheese to a congealed lukewarm soggy slab of bread in the mere minute it took for me to take my seat and pull out a napkin. Apparently the gimmick is to serve “room temperature” pizza just like they do in “Rome” but I think that’s “gross.”
I’m hoping that these missteps were merely the result of a first-weekend opening, but unlike the lauded Jonathan Gold, I don’t have the patience or the opportunity to try a location multiple times before putting in my review. And with The Town Pizza, home of the best slices on the East Side, mere blocks away, I’m not immediately pressed to return.