L.A.'s Sunset Junction at a Crossroads

Times have certainly changed for L.A.'s Sunset Junction, the once-bohemian enclave in the city's Silver Lake district (situated just east of Hollywood). Judging by it's current popularity with the city's hipsters, I think it's safe to say that this neighborhood is officially up and come, but is that ultimately a good thing?

It's just that it's not very, well, Sunset Junction-ey anymore. A lot of the things that made this neighborhood special, like its sunny laissez-faire attitude and motley crew of residents, are fading fast. Case in point: the Sunset Junction Fair.
Happening for the last 30 years, it's traditionally been a free event where neighborhood residents can come together and mingle. A great example of community building, especially in a city famous for its sprawl and isolation. But this past year, admittance cost $20 bucks: Long-time fair attendees (rightly) argued that charging $20 bucks for a street fair in a mixed-income neighborhood violated the inclusive spirit of the event. To add insult to injury, the fair almost didn't happen because the neighborhood's more affluent arriviste residents complained about the fair being too "noisy" and "disruptive." Hmphh, I say. Why move to a place famous for its friendly vibe and popular events if you plan to kill them? I know Christmas just passed but it does seem like something Mr. Potter would do.

Even five years ago, I had to DRAG friends over to this area. Eventually, they stopped resisting, and, like all good things, word spread. Venues like Tantra, El Conquistador (amazing margaritas) and Spaceland (for music) were instrumental in putting this neighborhood on the map as a Williamsburg West for the creative set. But we know how stories like this end, don't we? "They" found out about it. Which meant higher rents, and change.

Not surprisingly, the inimitable feel and vibe in this once working-class, artisan-friendly part of L.A. has been greatly impacted by the recent shifts in this neighborhood's local economy. Fortunately, there are still a few classic haunts tucked away in this hood for those of you looking to experience the magic of the Sunset Junction that captured my heart years ago.

My advice: Go now, before the thrill is completely gone.

El Conquistador
3701 W Sunset Blvd.
(323) 666-5136

4100 Bar
1087 Manzanita St.
(323) 666-4460

The Kitchen

4348 Fountain Avenue
(323) 664-3663

Cafe Stella

3932 W. Sunset Blvd.
(323) 666-0265

Ricky's Fish Tacos

4006 Santa Monica Blvd.
(323) 665-0865

The Bohemian Vibe of Silver Lake [L.A. Times]
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