Often overshadowed by its glitzy neighbor –Hollywood- the Fairfax District is a secret delicious-eats spot where the food is rivaled only by historic significance. To the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust, the Original Farmers Market, the Grove and CBS’s ‘Television City’, the an with good shopping.
The Fairfax District is teeming with history. Historically, the area is the center of the Jewish community in Los Angeles. After the Jewish community left Boyle Heights post World War II, they settled in the Fairfax district and with them came the traditions, history and food. The Fairfax district is also home to some of the best vintage, thrift and consignment shops in Los Angeles. Shoppers can revel in the history of the clothes they purchase and the food they scarf down.
For an unforgettable trip to the Fairfax district start your day with donuts and coffee from Cofax Coffee on Fairfax Avenue. Cofax Coffee is relatively new to the Fairfax scene. Its doors opened in 2014 and since then owners Jason Bernstein and James Starr have been wooing customers with coffee, donuts and breakfast burritos.
This bright and clean coffee shop boasts Dodgers themed decor, with a few benches and bars to sit at and enjoy breakfast. Dodger blue adorns the Cofax coffee sign and decorations and drawings of famed Dodgers’ Sportscaster Vin Scully hang on the walls.
To drink order an Iced Vanilla Latte with almond milk. Flawlessly brewed Stumptown Espresso meets silky almond milk and vanilla in the perfect morning pick-me-up. To fill your belly, grab one of the delicious donuts on display. Head pastry chef Nicole Rucker is the brains behind the tasty donuts at Cofax; she does donuts justice. Although the raised donuts at Cofax are denser than your average raised they are still perfectly delicious.
The classic Vanilla Donut is a raised donut covered in a simple, but incredibly tasty, vanilla glaze and topped with rainbow nonpareils that make your morning more colorful. Shaped like a clover, the Honey Joy Donut is a raised donut finished with a delicious honey glaze and a mini mountain of corn flakes. The crunch of the cereal adds a textural contrast to the donut’s dough. The Honey Joy is a fan favorite, and for good reason. Finally, the Lemon Pistachio Donut is a delicious and unique combination. Like the other two donuts the Lemon Pistachio is a raised donut, however, this one is coated with a tart lemony glaze and topped with crushed pistachios.
Well known for its eclectic array of vintage and consignment shops, take a stroll around Fairfax and see what else the area has to offer. Bark N’ Bitches off Fairfax Ave is Los Angeles's first humane pet shop. Check it out and pick up some goodies for your BFF or adopt a new forever friend. A little over a half mile walk away you can find Heath Ceramics, a gorgeous shop filled with beautiful bowls, cups and other ceramic wares. Nearby is the Jonathan Wright and Company storefront, where you can purchase too pretty stationary.
When it comes time for lunch head to Canter’s Deli one of the oldest shops on the block. The current location opened in 1953, after moving from Jersey City, Boyle Heights and further down Fairfax Ave. In all Canter’s has been in business since 1924 and thriving in Los Angeles since 1931.
For your meal, grab a sandwich in the 1950s themed dining room –take a moment to marvel at the fall themed drop ceiling. When it comes to picking off the almost absurdly long menu, Canter’s regulars love the Hot Pastrami sandwich. After lunch grab something for dessert found in the bakery case by the entrance.
Under the glow of a starburst chandelier, the bakery case at Canter’s stretches from the front door to the edge of the dining room and is filled with tempting treats. The case is stuffed with all sorts of goodies including tea cookies, pastries, muffins, cakes, butter cookies, croissants, cinnamon rolls and more. Above the bakery case, golden brown rolls, bread and loaves sit perched, waiting to be bagged up and shared with loved ones at home.
Tea and Butter Cookies are purchased by the pound. To purchase, patrons pick a pink pastry package size and then stuff it positively full of butter and tea cookies. Be sure to try a Black and White Cookie; the black and white glaze will leave your fingers covered in a sticky sweet glaze, as you eat chow down before even leaving the store. Purchase a sticky bun, covered in sticky caramel and yummy pecans, to save for breakfast the next morning and serve with coffee.
The butter cookies at Canter’s are exactly as they should be. Like a true buttery shortbread, the cookies burst in your mouth leaving behind a delicious cloud of cookie crumbs with the added bonus, rainbow sprinkles. Canter’s had an extensive selection of butter cookies but the ones with the edible rainbow confetti are a favorite.
Once you’ve finished at Canter’s hop in your car and head up the street for an afternoon energy burst, Blue Bottle Coffee. Blue Bottle Coffee first started out in Oakland in the early 2000's and they've been brewing delicious coffee made fresh to order ever since. No choice is a bad choice at Blue Bottle.
For an introduction order a Hot Almond Milk Latte. Blue Bottle coffee is in a category all of its own. Just the aroma of the beans could lift you out of an afternoon slump. The coffee here is smooth and never bitter. The inside of the cafe boasts a minimalistic style. Simple white walls and tables are accented by the wooden menu and cabinetry that stretches across the front of the room. After relishing in the air conditioning head back out to the shops of the Fairfax district in search of something borrowed or rather given a second life by way of a thrift shop.
Wander around the consignment and vintage shops on Melrose for a bit. Here you’ll find items perfect for a Gatsby-themed party, brilliantly beaded dresses that looked like the Empire State Building threw up all over it. Or you’ll find that magnificent pair of mom jeans to rock on your next date. Shops like Wasteland and American Vintage offer unique finds for the serious thrifter.
Circle back to the Goodwill store not far from Canter’s Deli and Cofax Coffee. Here you’ll find second-hand goods at a more reasonable price. Skip past the incredible Cheech and Chong sweater that is absolutely screaming your name and head to the housewares section. Here you can find unique dishes and mugs to enjoy all the cookies and treats that you’ve purchased earlier that day. You might even find a mug for a whopping 99 cents, Macklemore would be proud.
If you never give the Fairfax district the time of day you’ll truly be missing out. It’s an area rich with history like Canter’s. It’s an area full of new experiences and new delicious spins on classics like the donuts at Cofax coffee or the carefully roasted beans from Blue Bottle. It’s a place to connect with the past, enjoy the present and dream about the future.
Never go hangry.
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