Whether it’s a flat white and a flaky croissant, or a Daily Harvest smoothie to go, here are our favorite places to get a headstart on the day
Words by JOHN WOGAN and CRYSTAL MEERS
Coffee has come a very long way in L.A. In the past year alone, dozens of cafes — from tiny Aussie-owned spots in Silver Lake to a giant new food and coffee emporium downtown — have opened around the city, which means it’s easier than ever to break your chain-bought caffeine fix. Here, our picks of the best of L.A.’s new crop, plus an option in San Francisco that really stood out from the pack.
Cafe Highly Likely
The historic West Adams neighborhood has seen its popularity grow in the past few years, as businesses on the west side move further east in search of more space and reasonable rents. The result has been a jump in the number of cool spots to eat and drink, including Highly Likely, which opened last May in an old furniture store by husband-and-wife team Alex and Chelsea Matthews. It quickly became a local hangout for its bright, airy interior and killer espresso drinks, matcha and turmeric lattes, and a Japanese-influenced food menu full of delicious sandwiches and healthy bowls. 4310 W. Jefferson Blvd., L.A., 310-622-4550.
What to order: The all-day menu includes a clutch breakfast sandwich served on Bub and Grandma’s focaccia with melted cheese, roasted cherry tomatoes and scrambled eggs.
Bloom & Plume Coffee
Maurice Harris, the visionary behind high-art floral boutique Bloom & Plume, has opened a coffee shop by the same name next door to his studio in Historic Filipinotown. “Flowers are a straight-up luxury,” says Harris, whose work is sought out by bold-faced names and next-level event planners. “Coffee is still a luxury,” he adds. “But it’s a luxury most of us allow ourselves to afford.” Harris partnered with his brother, Moses, on the cafe concept in 2014, and after facing several hurdles, it finally opened in late February. On any given morning, a mix of longtime residents and newer neighbors can be found out front, perched on neon peach chairs, enjoying their honey oat milk lattes. With any drink, there’s an option to “make it black” with activated charcoal. 1638 W. Temple St., L.A.
What to order: The Deacon Herb egg sandwich is a fan-favorite: a fried egg, Havarti cheese, arugula avocado and a housemade herbal aioli served on a black sesame potato bun. There’s also a bomb vegan toast topped with almond butter and sliced bananas.
No one does coffee quite like the Aussies, and this new Silver Lake cafe (conveniently on a block next to Sunset Triangle Plaza) is a testament to that idea. We love the cheerful space, which is flooded with natural light and dotted with pink terrazzo tables. As for the coffee, you can’t go wrong with the Australian specialty, a flat white (made with Counter Culture Coffee beans). The iced Macadamia nut lattes are great too. 1523 Griffith Park Blvd., L.A.
What to order: If you’re feeling peckish, Roo’s version of avocado toast (the Avo Smash) stands out, made with beet and goat’s cheese whip, wattle seed dukkah, lemon and poppy seed micro herbs.
Inspired by the design concepts of hygge (Danish for an atmosphere of coziness) and wabi-sabi (a Japanese perspective that embraces imperfection), Neighborhood’s gorgeous, blush-hued space on La Brea is a serene, calming experience that feels worlds away from the everyday coffee shop run. The concept is a family affair — a labor of love for blogger Geri Hirsch and her husband, Darin Friedman. They consciously designed the cafe with a single, large communal table in order to encourage engagement with other guests. In addition to serving locally roasted organic Canyon Coffee, there’s cult favorite Craig’s vegan ice cream, Daily Harvest smoothies, kombucha, and snacks from Moon Juice. And they plan on hosting special events featuring L.A. artists, makers and artisans. 133 S. La Brea Ave., L.A.
What to order: A matcha latte — iced — because iced coffee drinks are a year-round thing in L.A.
After a sensational debut in San Francisco, the L.A. version of Tartine Bakery’s Manufactory was bound to create a lot of buzz when it opened in February in ROW DTLA. Luckily, the hype was well-deserved. The gigantic space impresses with its sheer size (40,000 square feet), and holds eateries like chef Lee Foden-Clarke’s Alameda Supper Club and a market that sells high-quality Italian specialty items (pasta, cheese, canned tomatoes). But our first stop is always coffee at the aptly named Ice Cream + Coffee Window for a cortado before a day of shopping and exploring downtown’s many diversions. 757 S. Alameda St., Ste. 160, L.A., 213-375-3315.
What to order: You won’t be disappointed if you opt for one of Chad Robertson’s heavenly croissants.
Hilltop Coffee + Kitchen
In South L.A.’s View Park-Windsor Hill, this spacious cafe opened last August and offers the neighborhood’s most welcome spot for breakfast, lunch and coffee. The area has typically been short on options, and Hilltop definitely filled a void for a hip, independent, all-day place for creatives to come during the day to hang out, work and sip some cold brew or almond turmeric lattes. Bonus: Hilltop’s owners, Ajay Relan and Yonnie Hagos are committed to ethical work practices, hiring from the local community and paying employees above-average wages. 4427 W. Slauson Ave., L.A., 323-815-9833.
What to order: If your sweet tooth kicks in before 9 a.m., both the nutella beignets (served with berry sauce) and waffles are pretty stellar.
Andytown, San Francisco
Up north, Andytown’s new outpost in San Francisco’s SOMA neighborhood (a few blocks from the Ferry Building and SFMOMA) joins the coffee roaster’s existing Sunset District cafe. At present, the place has a speakeasy vibe: You enter via the lobby of a high-rise. There’s no sign, but take the elevator up to the seventh floor, where you’ll find the beautifully designed space by local architecture firm Juniper. But its clandestine location won’t be under-the-radar for long; the main entrance (accessed via an elevated park) will open this summer. So, take advantage of the minimalist, industrial-influenced cafe — and the perfectly made lattes — while things are still relatively quiet. 181 Fremont, seventh floor, S.F.
What to order: All of the pastries — from the cookies to the muffins and scones — are made in-house, but the Irish soda bread is the thing we keep coming back for.
April 30, 2019