Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Echo Park

I went on another Los Angeles Conservancy walking tour this weekend.  This is the third of eight tours that the conservancy offers, and I'm determined to go on all of them before the end of this year.  This one was of Angelino Heights, a neighborhood within the Echo Park district of L.A.  A few friends joined me on this day's excursion.

Angelino Heights isn't large, but it has a distinct identity, particularly known for its Victorian homes.  The 2.5 hours tour focused on Carroll Avenue, a picturesque street that's often used as backdrops for movies and t.v. shows.
Among the featured houses are three that were used for the t.v. show Charmed, Michael Jackson's Thriller video, and the recent movie, J. Edgar.
Halliwell residence
Many of the houses in Angelino Heights look like fairy tale cottages, highlighted by turreted architecture and pastel exteriors.  The residents of these houses take obvious pride in their homes, pouring money into renovating and upkeeping the standard for which the historical district is known. 
There are some houses, however, that are sadly neglected, if not decrepit, and clearly showing their roughly century-old age.  Being part of the Historic Preservation Overlay Zone--part of Angelino Heights' preservation plan--the zoning rules require strict adherence when remodeling in which any improvements must resemble original architecture in design and materials.  No doubt, these rules make for costly renovation and possibly explain the sorry state of some of the houses.
Still, for those residents who can afford renovation, their houses are super impressive.  Indeed, a couple of them (one of which is the aforementioned Charmed house) are open for Conservancy visitation.  The interiors of these homes are gorgeous.  Unfortunately, the owners of these homes requested that I don't post any interior photos, which I am respecting.

It was a very good tour.  Our guide, Janis, is extremely informative and friendly.  The only bad part of the tour was the very warm day.  Ideally, I like to book these outdoor walking treks on overcast days, but the Angelino Heights tour is only given once a month, so I had to prebook this weeks ago and take a chance with the weather.  I wasn't lucky this time, obviously, and the glaring sun was oppressive on some parts of the walk.  What made it worse is that though my friends and I brought water, we didn't allow ourselves to drink any since there are no bathroom breaks during the 2.5 hours tour duration!

After our tour, my friends and I headed over to nearby Taix, a restaurant specializing in French country cuisine, for lunch.  I found this place on Yelp, and it looked promising.  It was an excellent choice.  Unlike many French restaurants in L.A., this place isn't froufrou and the prices are super reasonable.  But more importantly, everything tasted delicious.  This restaurant is a keeper.  However, traffic in the area is horrendous so for that reason alone, I'd have to make sure I'm in a very good mood to visit Taix again.
I had the portobello mushroom risotto--so good!
After lunch, we walked a bit down Sunset Blvd (the same street where Taix is located) to check out this place I'd read about in my guidebook:
Whenever you are, we're already then.
Echo Park Time Travel Mart sounded intriguing so I had high hopes for this shop.  Yelp ratings are also high.  Yet, though cute and clever, the shop is SUPER tiny.  I didn't expect it to be so tiny.  But we had a good laugh at the gag merchandise in the short time were in the shop. 
As we walked back to Taix to pick up our car, we poked our heads into a couple other shops in the area but didn't linger long nor did we purchase anything.
Sunset Blvd.
That concluded our day.  Surprisingly, though our day began early at 10am with the tour, our Echo Park visit ended around 3:30pm.  We didn't realize that so much time had passed--a sign of a good, productive day!


  1. Say what? Oh hells no. The Halliwells were supposed to live in SF. We have plenty of fine Victorians up here. Check "Full House" and "Party of Five." Think I did a drive through that neighborhood though back in the early 90s. I was working downtown and dating a guy who lived in Echo Park. I mean his place was literally 2-3 blocks from Echo Park. So yeah, totally know that end of Sunset. Good eating. For SoCal, you know...

  2. Awww...don't be dissing SoCal cuisine! Love it down here, where I can find pretty much anything I'm in the mood for.