I was out at brunch with some friends the other day at Cafe Birdie in Highland Park. Each time I walk in, despite visiting a number of times, the space takes my breath away. We started talking about the design of restaurants and how important, not just the food is, but the full experience; that truly great eateries create a kind of suspension of disbelief.
I believe that where you eat should be just as beautiful as the food you're eating. The Zagat guide (anyone remember them?) even had a score for ambiance. A great environment makes the food taste better, the company more enjoyable, and it makes you want to keep coming back. It seems LA's eastside has almost an embarrassment of riches when it comes to these spaces. And with that, I've rounded up a few of my faves so you can dine out in style this holiday season.
Cafe Birdie // Highland Park
This space instantly evokes a kind of old-world brasserie vibe that you generally find only in places like Paris or New York. I'm a sucker for greens and the hue here reminds me of Dunn-Edwards 2018 Color of the Year, The Green Hour, which is an homage to all mystery and creativity of the absinthe craze in turn-of-the-century Paris. The design by ETC.etera is magical. So magical in fact that it manages to straddle opposite worlds in all the right ways - Cafe Birdie feels familiar but exciting, bohemian but elegant.
Good Girl Dinette // Highland Park
Good Girl's design is minimal, industrial, colorful. The mid-century style vinyl diner chair add a proper dose of kitsch to this Highland Park dining experience. The large, bare brick wall and concrete floors present great contrast against the space's pops of yellow, green, and orange.
Botanica // Silver Lake
Shaker furniture paired with light colors and light woods, Botanica is a minimalists dream. The duo behind the restaurant are former food and lifestyle magazine editors so no wonder aesthetics play a major role in their restaurant. Interior design is by Paris-based husband-wife team Weekends.
Ostrich Farm // Echo Park
You'll know Ostrich Farm by the restaurant s stark white exterior. Inside, I love this space for similar reasons that I can't get enough of Cafe Birdie: the mysterious green, the white marble, the old-school brsserie. It is Ostrich Farm's small that gives it its distinct charm. The space was designed by Brooke Fruchtman, wife of Ostrich's chef Jamie Turrey.
Winsome // Echo Park
The aptly named Winsome has an airy and delightfully whimsical aesthetic, from the teal leather banquettes, to the blond wood cane chairs, to the trademark day-in-the-park wallpaper that lines the space's back room. The Echo Park eatery was designed by L.A.-based firm Wendy Haworth Design. The long, narrow space was designed to pull the eye all the way through to the back of the restaurant - and trust me, you'll appreciate that it was.
Highland Park Bowl // Highland Park
Step back in time. Suspension of disbelief is alive and well at this Highland Park spot. The 1927 building, which most recently was a punk rock venue, was originally a prohibition-era bowling alley and bar. A spectacular recent renovation restored the building to its original glory. The space was designed by LA nightlife mainstays, 1933 Group.
Have others you'd add to the list? Tell us in the comments below.
All photography by Marni Epstein-Mervis of STRUKTR Studios