Feliz means “happy” in Spanish and it’s an accurate name for such a pleasant and livable area of L.A. It’s hard to be down when you’re in walking distance of coffee shops, theaters, boutiques, and sidewalk cafes on Vermont Avenue, between Franklin and Hollywood, or the Hillhurst corridor between Los Feliz Boulevard and Prospect Avenue.
Twenty years ago, when Swingers (film) mania tore through LA like a proto-hipster storm, Los Feliz, emerged as LA’s next great neighborhood. For it was here, north and a touch east of Hollywood, on the clean-swept, tree-lined streets in the shadow of Griffith Park, that packs of aspiring actors and writers lived in one-room apartments housed in old Hollywood relics, and gathered in bars and coffeehouses cracking wise, and dreaming and flirting big. What gave it depth was the fact that Los Feliz has history.
This whole area was once one enormous ranch, called Rancho Los Feliz. In fact, the adobe ranch house, built in the 1830s, still stands. In 1882 Colonel Griffith Jenkins Griffith bought the majority of the ranch and later bequeathed it to the city of LA, forming what became Griffith Park, LA’s largest municipal open space. Early movie studios sprouted in the flats, along with mansions in the hills. These days, however, the hipster hub has migrated east to Echo Park and into Downtown, and Los Feliz is still way too cool to care.
Nestled up against the southern border of Griffith Park, is Hillhurst Avenue. This is one of those big city avenues that is just crammed with cool restaurants, boutiques and watering holes (mostly of the lounge variety here in Los Feliz). For example, you can dine at the Vinoteca Farafalle, a upscale Italian restaurant with an excellent selection of wines; or get Japanese food at Mako; or get really delicious Mexican food at Yuca’s—which is just a shack.
In terms of boutiques, you have Little Boutique of Los Feliz good for clothing. Of course, since you are in Hipster Heaven, you have a number of vintage clothing stores like American Vintage and Oou, both good places to go to keep your wardrobe from getting fresh.
There is also a great indie bookstore, Skylight and a great movie theater, Vista.
But where Los Feliz really shines is the cool lounges. The Good Luck Bar (a lounge that makes you feel like you are in China), Covell—a very sophisticated wine bar that makes you feel like you are in a Post-Modern version of Madmen, the Drawing Room, a great dive bar, and, of course, the Dresden—the joint that you may know from Swingers. It is definitely worth a visit in and of itself.
In terms of living in the area, North of Los Feliz Blvd., nestled up against the hills by Griffith Park are some really beautiful homes from various architectural styles, but all exuding a feeling of wealth. You get everything from really cool looking Tudors to Spanish Revival, to Ranch Homes up in this area.
There is one odd section of the neighborhood built on a horseshoe set up that just has a plethora of these homes that most anyone would consider themselves lucky to live in. There is also a section of the neighborhood that has a high percentage of wonderful Fairytale Cottages.
Most people who live in the area will also tell you that it is a very walkable neighborhood in way that few LA neighborhoods are. If you want to take an early evening walk, check out the sunset and the Hollywood sign, and some of the Frank Lloyd Wright homes in the area, you can spend a pleasant evening doing so.
Lots of people from the creative professions live here and many people from different cultures. Overall, it is a gem hidden right in the middle of Los Angeles.