A trendy dining experience in Echo Park and Silverlake

I’m in my 7th year of living in Echo Park and in my opinion, it keeps getting better.  The real downside of things is if you’re not into gentrification nor hipsters, this is definitely not the place for you.  In the 1980s and 1990s, this was a different neighborhood full of gang violence and immigrant businesses, not a hipster in site.  Nowadays, it is filling up with specialty boutique shops, trendy bars and organic, vegan-friendly restaurants.  What drew me to Echo Park were a variety of different factors: Historic Filipinotown, the lake (which is currently being renovated) in Echo Park, full of lotus and ducks that every year was home to not only the Lotus Festival but also the Cuban Festival; the artistic history and energy, the lingering carnicerias and tamale spots, the local bars/clubs like The Echo/Echoplex, Shortstop and now, Los Globos which all host some incredible events in the city and the list goes on.  Historically, Echo Park used to be called Edendale and the Los Angeles Film Industry was centered in Edendale prior to World War I.  The Three Stooges, Laurel and Hardy, Charlie Chaplin and many more silent comedies/films were shot in Edendale.  Mi Vida Loca, Quinceanera, portions of Michael Jackson’s Thriller and even Gilligan’s Island were all filmed in Echo Park.  Before WWII, the neighborhood was nicknamed “Red Hill” for all the political radicals that lived in the area.  The mix of Latino, Filipino and Chinese residents was a taste of home as it reminded me of my San Gabriel Valley and Duarte roots.  During the 2000s, it has been known as one of the most diverse neighborhoods in the US full of musicians, actors, artists and gay couples of all races.  I won’t even begin to go into the story of who my next door neighbors are.  That, my dear, is a whole ‘nother interesting blog entry on its own.

Tonight, I had a good friend/co-worker coming in from the Westside, so I offered to take her out on a “Silverlake/Echo Park dining experience”.  Our first stop was Malo, one of my favorite restaurants in the neighborhood due to their “chewy tortilla chips” and their vegetarian/vegan options.  The prices are reasonable and the venue/atmosphere is trendy and comfortable.  They did so well, that they opened up a second location in Downtown LA just below Seven Grand, a “must go” for whisky connoisseurs.  A couple of tacos, a glass of red/white sangria and a serving of chips could be all you need to have a satisfying and affordable meal. But, be aware that there are plenty of more yummy items on the menu to choose from that could satisfy your Mexican food craving, meat-lovers and vegans alike. (malorestaurant.com)

For a post-meal drink, to wash our dinner down, Mohawk Bend is a personal favorite.  I only took pictures of the outside sign because the environment is an experience on its own.  Unassuming, this place which was a former Vaudeville Theater has so much charm and character, you almost feel like you’re in a restaurant that could be placed in Manhattan or Williamsburg, Brooklyn.  But their eco-friendly, organic, and locally grown focus will definitely bring you back to Echo Park.  It’s fairly new, and celebrating their one year anniversary this month.  Check it out, when you have the chance (mohawk.la).  Word of advice: Please check Yelp for their hours since they are not open until 2am and their hours vary.  Also, if you’d like to eat in their indoor back patio, reservations are STRONGLY SUGGESTED.  Otherwise, there are plenty of other seatings options where you could enjoy a light meal and/or drink, while taking in the atmosphere alongside a good conversation.

Welcome to Echo Park/Silverlake!  Hope to see you soon!