In eternally sunny, fast-paced Silver Lake, coffee rules all. And on its gloriously hip stretch of Sunset Boulevard — one of the most walkable in the city — each coffee shop is like a small cathedral to caffeine. Though many will flock to hipster-packed Intelligentsia, (the town’s unofficial coffee mecca) there are other diverse options popping up for those willing to explore.
From neighborhood landmarks to lesser-known gems in the Silver Lake area, we’ve rounded up the best places on Sunset Boulevard to get your daily dose of coffee.
The quintessential neighborhood café, Café Tropical has been serving up Cuban-style coffee and pastries to the Silver Lake community for over 40 years. Bask in the funky, dim-lit vibe of hanging colorful lanterns and plant-lined windows, then linger awhile with a strong cup of café con leche. Take a gander at their glass dessert case and try the famed house specialty, a warm, flaky slice of guava cheese pie. Creamy tropical fruit shakes blended with fresh mango, papaya or guanabana are perfect for washing down their famous Cuban sandwiches.
Filipino-inspired custard desserts are the highlight at FrankieLucy Bakeshop, featuring tropical flavors like ube, buko and pandan. The ube crème caramel is particularly phenomenal — satin-soft, not overly sweet and melts perfectly in your mouth. Samples of each flavor come free to help you decide before indulging. For drinks, get the dirty ube horchata latte, a sweet, nutty and satisfyingly rich hybrid of Mexican and Filipino flavors. The dreamily purple drink combines espresso, ube extract and cinnamon with a creamy trifecta of coconut milk, almond milk and rice milk.
One step into Dayglow and the first thing you’ll notice is the high grammability of the place. A menu on the wall written entirely in neon letters? Check. Millennial pink interior? Check. But the real reason to come to Dayglow is for the unique, innovative things they’re doing with coffee. Their signature drink menu, inspired by Wes Anderson films, features drinks as photogenic and detail-obsessed as the movie it’s based on. If you’ve ever wanted your morning cup o’ joe to resemble a fancy craft cocktail, wish granted. Take the Life Aquatic, which combines a double shot of espresso with smoked pineapple, cream of coconut, passion fruit shrub and bitters for balance. Or the Darjeeling Limited, a mixture of distilled juniper berries, Tanzanian coffee, Darjeeling tea, tonic, thyme and sweet lime. A great selection of vegan donuts are available for snacking, but you simply must try one of their homemade blueberry pop tarts.
ALI MAMA CAFÉ
Located steps away from the iconic Piano Stairs, stumble into Ali Mama Café, the only place in Silver Lake that serves an authentic cup of Turkish coffee. A ritual-like process dating back to the 1500s, the method of brewing Turkish coffee involves grinding coffee beans to an ultra-fine, dust-like powder then boiling it unfiltered with water. This results in a thicker, more decadent cup of joe. Amine, the café’s owner will brew this up for you himself and infuse it with your choice of cardamom or jasmine. Ali Mama gathers a hookah-smoking crowd at night, offering an extensive shisha menu, Tunisian tea, and free usage of board games. Make sure to check out the lofted room and patio in the back for a true bohemian respite from the rest of Silver Lake.
A true dog-lover’s hangout, Muddy Paw operates by the motto: “Have a cup, save a pup,” helping to raise funds and awareness for local animal rescues. Their coffee menu features doggie-themed drinks with charming names like “puppy love” and “wag the tail.” Floral coffee fans will love their honey lavender latte, which combines the sweet and earthy notes of wild honey and fresh lavender. After ordering, pass by a polaroid wall of happy puppy customers and find a seat at the shaded patio, which offers oasis for both humans and pups. A complimentary treat and water station is also provided for dogs. Don’t miss the oft-grammed Micheltorena stairs nearby, a Silver Lake landmark that will surely add some color to your step.
Tucked away on charming Sunset Triangle, Roo brings a bright, cheery dose of Australian café culture to Silver Lake, offering food that’s (almost) too pretty to eat, served alongside expertly crafted coffee. Try their Aussie cappuccino, topped off with a generous pile of shaved chocolate, which apparently is the norm down under. Pair it with one of their whimsical, quirky toasts, like their iconic fairy bread. If you still haven’t heard of fairy bread, it’s the buttery, sprinkled treat at every Aussie kid’s birthday party. Roo is one of the first cafés to bring it stateside, giving it a grown-up makeover with charcoal-crusted sourdough, fresh mascarpone, an edible flower, and of course, loads of sprinkles. Yes, it’s just as insane and delicious as it sounds.
Spot the fun, quirky mural on Hyperion and Sunset and step into La Colombe, a recent addition to Sunset’s caffeine scene. With gorgeously arched windows and ample seating, the Philly-based coffee chain pumps out top-notch brews and espresso drinks — one of the standouts being their iced black and tan, a mixture of cold brew coffee and draft latte. Try it with oat milk, which they always keep on hand along with other dairy alternatives. Pastries, like their utterly moist almond croissant, are supplied by local Sugarbloom Bakery, and unlimited still and sparkling water are both available for free on tap. Counter service is lightning-fast, sometimes with your order being ready before even deciding how much to tip.
SUNSET JUNCTION COFFEE SHOP
Sunset Junction Coffee Shop is a classic American diner where breakfast is served all day and the coffee flows freely. If you’re looking for a true neighborhood hangout, this is the spot. Traditional diner eats are on the menu as well as hearty salads and sandwiches. Order the challah French toast and sit at one of the sidewalk tables to truly take in the ambiance of Sunset Junction, Silver Lake’s cultural haven for writers, artists and coffee lovers alike.
Though not essentially a coffee shop, Blossom is one of the few places in Los Angeles that still serve Vietnamese iced coffee the traditional way. The brewing process is performed right at your table, as dark roast coffee drips slowly from a metal filter over condensed milk, then swirled together and poured over ice. It’s surely an exercise in patience, but well worth the wait for the bold, buttery-sweet libation. Ordering a plate of lemongrass steak spring rolls served with a side of peanut sauce can help you kill some time.
Dinosaur beckons locals into its warm, cozy space with plenty of bright light and seating. Whether lingering awhile or grabbing a cup on the go, Dinosaur’s fuzzy-framed neon quote reminds us that indeed, “things will be fine.” Though there’s no huge sign on its exterior, the coffee shop bustles with regulars who come for the impressive assortment of artisanal brews, made with Four Barrel coffee beans. House specialties include a coconut cacao cold brew and sweet baby jo, which is sweetened with condensed milk. Baked goods rotate daily and are supplied by Farmshop, while Maury’s Bagels does pop-ups on Saturdays.
Try to catch a glimpse of Vincent Lamouroux’s former art installation nearby. Titled “Projection,” Lamoroux completely covered an abandoned hotel and its palm trees in an opaque white limewash. The now fading white against the bright blue Los Angeles sky is still quite remarkable.
On the corner where Sunset Boulevard meets Sunset Drive, Caffe Vita sits proudly in a stunning black and gold art deco building. Inside, soaring high ceilings and second-story loft seating provides the perfect space for getting work done. The Seattle-based coffee chain offers first-rate espresso drinks and siphoned drip coffee on the menu, and a must-try is their espresso granita. Essentially an upgraded coffee slushy, it’s best imbibed on a hot day in LA.
Never go hangry.
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