Travis Woods, the man behind the long-running music blog Web In Front, gives us a tour of his go-to neighborhood haunts. Woods, in his own words, below.
Best Obvious Pick And Blatant List Cheat: / /
So, ok, yes, this is not only supremely obvious, it’s also a bit of a cheat—and by “a bit,” I mean “100% wholly a cheat,” since I’m cramming three joints into one entry. But! No night of music in Echo Park is complete without this triad of cool.
You park your car behind Stories, in that little lot on Lemoyne. Then jaunt over to Origami Vinyl to pick up some new wax, or just some old Ramones oddity like End of the Century or some Qawwali weirdness like Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, all in the vain hope that you’ll someday be able to smugly brag about listening to Nusrat and your taste in Ramones discs in an interview about Echo Park (even though you never do end up opening that Nusrat wax).
Then stop next door at Two Boot Pizza for a monolithic slice of Neapolitan cuisine and a soda, all christened with pop culture references (I recommend The Dude: a Cajun bacon cheeseburger pie that’ll change your life [but not in a cloying Zach Braff way, I swear]).
Finally, next door to that, you step into The Echo, a music venue that on any given night will house shows by such local hotshots as the Henry Clay People, the Happy Hollows or Fool’s Gold as well as varied rock bigwiggery such as Spiritualized, Mission of Burma, or Beck. Grab a drink at the bar settle in for a night of rock ‘n roll. It’s a perfect trio for an Echo Park music lover looking for a cheap and easy night of good food and good tunes.
Best Hidden Gem of a Restaurant:
Great wine list? Nice mixed cocktails? Small plates? Pretty décor? An affordable menu? And everyone who works there seems bizarrely pleased just to be feeding you? Allston answers "yes" to all of the above. It’s a hidden little gem off of Sunset on Echo Park Ave—ask no questions, just go there, order the braised short ribs and a bottle of wine, and weep quietly to yourself at its goodness, or maybe my breathless hyperbole, whichever overwhelms you first.
Best Taco Truck:
People in L.A. take their taco trucks seriously, so it is with that air of deadly seriousness that I recommend Tacos Arizas, on Logan Street (right off of Sunset) next to Walgreen’s, as Echo Park’s finest taco eatery-on-wheels. Like, if God was a taco truck guy/gal/thing, he/she/it would probably be like, “Crap, I’m hungry, but I don’t have time for Two Boots or before that show at the Echo starts, so hell, I’ll just hit Arizas and maybe flood the American Southeast and then hit the show.” Because Tacos Arizas rocks, gang. Rocks. And I was just kidding about the whole “deadly” thing, it’s probably unlikely that I’m gonna go all final reel of Rolling Thunder on anyone if they disagree. Probably.
Best Place to Feed Your Head:
Great little indie bookshop that keeps on keeping on while places like Borders go all black hole on us. New books, old Raymond Chandler paperbacks, classic literature, music bios, philosophy tomes, a coffee shop, a helpful staff… Stories has it all, and you don’t have to wade through endless displays of Dan Brown, Jodi Picoult or—god help us all—Dean Koontz to find it (although they probably even have some of that, too).
Best Late Night Stop For Debauchery And/Or DJ Sets:
Seems like everyone else mentions the Short Stop, but I’d be remiss not to do so as well—the Short Stop is where your night should always end up after an evening in Echo Park, thanks to the wild crisscross of clientele cat’s cradling the joint, the straight-up get-down DJ and dance sets of Super Soul Sundays, the stiff drinks, and the odd Bermuda Triangle effect-thing that seems to happen to me every time I go—I always remember entering, but somehow never recall leaving the Short Stop, and yet I always end up at home on my couch the next morning, in a fetal ball and with an alarm clock headache that feels like my cerebellum is going mid-concert Ian Curtis on me (which is my body’s way of saying “Great time last night, Travis! I had the best time ever! Thanks!”). Highly recommended.