Though my family now lives in San Gabriel Valley, I was born in Chinatown and shortly after we lived in Highland Park — two neighborhoods in Los Angeles that are currently experiencing major resurgences. That said, when I’m in town for work or a visit, it’s not only a trip down memory lane to take a stroll through these areas, but it’s actually a trip to see the many ways they’ve changed.
Even just five years ago, Highland Park seemed like a different place completely, but I’m certainly not complaining, since one of the biggest changes is the influx of new businesses: cute coffee shops, curated vintage stores, and eateries boasting fresh, local ingredients among the new crop of storefronts on York Boulevard and Figueroa Street. I love the way that even though Highland Park has gotten decidedly trendier as a destination, the majority of the neighborhood’s newcomers are independently owned small businesses. As an American Express Blue Cash Everyday Card holder, shopping such spots means I’m not only supporting them, but I also get rewards regularly — as if I needed more incentive to shop there! And to make things even sweeter, Amex is offering 2X Rewards when you enroll your eligible Amex card and spend at qualifying small businesses through the end of the year. Don’t yet have one of the eligible cards? Sign up here to get in on this sweet deal. And if you’re not sure where to shop with your card, they’ve also got you covered with this super handy small business map. It’s pretty fun to search for all the qualifying small merchants nearby!
In addition to the 2X rewards I can now earn from shopping small, my Blue Cash Everyday already gives me 1% cash back for every dollar I spend, so I couldn’t think of a better excuse to head to Highland Park’s best and latest new haunts to give the small businesses a little love, and earn back some extra cash.
First on my list: Kitchen Mouse, a vegetarian and gluten-free bakery and café that’s as perfectly decorated as the food is delicious. With a pink, white, and mint color scheme, precious bud vases on the tables, and mini macramé wall hangings, it’s incredibly Instagram-worthy, and when it comes to the menu selection, the oat and buckwheat pancakes with berries are not to be missed. I swear, those and the huevos rancheros with vegan cilantro cream, and I’m pretty much guaranteed a good day.
As an interior design nut, no trip to HP would be complete without a stop at Matters of Space, a shop and showroom (owners PJ and Katerina are also for-hire designers) with an absurdly good selection of furniture, ceramics, and other objets d’art I could drool over all day.
Nearby Meridian Design also had some stunning ceramic vessels amid furniture by owner/designer Jay Dunton and some cherry picked vintage pieces. Can I just move in?
Another stop on my shopping outing was Dotter, which mixes things up with brightly colored textiles, design-centric books, kitchen wares, minimalist women’s clothing, and pretty much the most adorable selection of children’s and baby stuff imaginable. I’ll definitely be stopping back in for cute kiddo stuff. Also, I spy our book, The New Bohemians!
I ended the day with a drink at Cafe Birdie, another neighborhood newbie. This bar / restaurant has a lovely open air interior space (those high ceilings!) and the patio is so intimate and romantic, it feels like I’m somewhere in Paris! It’s designed by Sally Breer and Jake Harrison of ETC.ETRA. Though the menu has goodies like house made pastas and Moroccan fried chicken, I focused on one of their tasty, artisanal craft cocktails to reward myself for spending smartly.
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