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Soap Plant Wacko in Los Feliz

The Los Feliz neighborhood in Los Angeles has become a popular hotspot for local artists, many of whom have opened up innovative gallery spaces and boutiques to capitalize on walk-in traffic from younger residents looking to purchase quirky artwork. Today, we’ll give you an insider look at one of the most unique of these fashion-forward neighborhood fixtures: La Luz de Jesus Gallery, known to neighborhood residents as, simply, “Wacko.”

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Photo Credit: Weekendtrips.com

Looking for a place to grab a bite nearby? Check out our post on the best restaurants in Los Feliz!

Wacko is what you could call a Kitsch Convenience Store – or maybe Pee Wee Herman’s Roadside Souvenir Stand – a cornucopia of obscure toys, inventive and colorful housewares, eclectic books, vibrant prints, personable figurines, and innumerable other random doodads that you don’t really need but absolutely must have.

Every shelf and wall is densely stocked with myriad odds and ends (but mostly odds), enough to fascinate any visitor for hours. Kewpie dolls in pink pinafores, desktop gumball machines, robot cookie jars, taxidermy moths and beetles, rare art and print books, unicorn statuettes, Star Trek figurines: Wacko aims to have a tchotchke for every taste.

Whether you’re looking for a wind-up Godzilla, a watermelon-scented eraser, a sock monkey shoe tree, or a pair of pineapple-print suspenders, you can probably find it at Wacko. Wacko is also the best place in Los Angeles to shop for a truly unique gift – loyal trekkies, comic-book nerds, kitsch enthusiasts, and lovers of innovative design will all treasure presents purchased at Wacko. Most of the merchandise embodies a singular sense of humor, such as the solar-powered Queen Elizabeth II figurine, who executes a smooth royal wave when installed on a sunny windowsill – the stately statuette has a companion piece, a head-bobbing Corgi that’s solar-powered as well.

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Photo Credit: Laweekly.com

Owner Billy Shire has taken a hands-on role in managing the merchandising and marketing since taking over the family business back in the early 1980s. The store’s full name is Soap Plant Wacko, and it began as a handmade soap shop in Los Feliz, followed by a stint on Melrose Avenue before moving to its current digs on Hollywood Boulevard in 1995. Since then, Soap Plant Wacko has become a Los Angeles landmark, adorned with vibrant murals that can be spotted blocks away.

Staying in the neighborhood for the evening? Stop by the Rockwell Table & Stage in Los Feliz!

In addition to its curio collection, Soap Plant Wacko’s La Luz de Jesus art gallery has been displaying the works of underground artists, showcasing California’s “lowbrow” art movement. Fine arts aficionados know this humble knick-knack emporium as one of the most important, ground-breaking galleries in the Los Angeles area, which quickly gained renown with collectors, galleries, and artists around the world.

La Luz de Jesus Gallery was established several years after the Soap Plant first opened, founded by Billy Shire as a space to showcase innovative art and foster creative expression by unconventional local artists. The original gallery was located in the venture’s bright pink building on Melrose Avenue, upstairs from Shire’s retail outlet, the Soap Plant artisanal soap store and the Wacko literally everything else you could imagine (and many things you probably can’t) store. When Wacko moved back to its original Los Feliz stomping grounds, the gallery went along with it, re-opening in its current gallery space on Hollywood Boulevard near Vermont Avenue. In April 2005, Shire opened a sister gallery in nearby Culver City, California, Billy Shire Fine Arts.

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Photo Credit: Voyagela.com

La Luz de Jesus Gallery provides both an exhibition space and a support structure to the Lowbrow arts movement and associated pop surrealist artists – the movement and the gallery share a sensibility with Wacko’s affectionate enthusiasm for all things pop, and most of the artists producing Lowbrow art use pop culture tropes, palettes, and graphic design features as the springboard for their own original artistic creations.

In a 1988 interview with the Los Angeles Times, Shire summed up the gallery’s philosophy as, “Art should be by the people and for the people. It should be something that speaks to you, that entertains and challenges and changes your outlook.” In keeping with this popularizing, community-oriented approach, the gallery offers an impressive lineup of original art exhibitions, showcasing a fresh exhibit every month that kicks off with an opening reception on the first Friday of each month.

The gallery showcases primarily figurative and narrative painting and unusual sculpture, with a focus on themes and styles including folk art, outsider art, religious-themed art. The gallery has launched the careers of a number of famous artists who were working in near-total obscurity when their work took center stage at the gallery, including Manuel Ocampo, Joe Coleman, and Robert Williams. Notable established artists who have exhibited new work at La Luz de Jesus include Marco Almera and Joe Sorren.

On top of regular solo and two-person shows, and in keeping with its collaborative, pop-culture-oriented brand, the gallery also hosts a variety of group shows throughout the year, including a much-anticipated annual group exhibition called “Everything But the Kitschen Sink,” which is dedicated to promoting the work of relatively unknown and emerging artists still at the beginning of their careers.

So if you’re in the market for a solar-powered monarch, a Chewbacca Pez dispenser, or a Steven Universe-style beanie, stop by Soap Plant Wacko in Los Feliz. Even if you have no idea what you’re looking for, you’ll find something to love.

Real Estate Unlimited is a real-estate company dedicated to representing clients in Los Feliz and other historic neighborhoods throughout the Los Angeles area. We pride ourselves on our in-depth knowledge of the Los Angeles area, and we’re glad to give our clients the benefit of our local expertise. Call us to schedule a consultation today!

The Dresden in Los Feliz

Like so many other neighborhoods in Los Angeles, Los Feliz is home to multiple buildings that are cinematic as well as local landmarks. One such iconic locale is the Dresden, and today we’ll take you on a tour of this atmospheric bar.

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Photo Credit: Takesunset.com

Since its opening in 1954, The Dresden attracted the attention of directors seeking to capture a sense of Old Hollywood magic because its interior gives such a strong impression of glamor and character – it’s the paradigmatic midcentury Hollywood lounge.

In the mood for more music venues in Los Feliz? Check out our post on the Rockwell Table & Stage!

The Dresden’s most famous star turn was in indie classic Swingers – it’s the setting for the “You’re so money!” speech Vince Vaughn’s Lothario character delivers in an attempt to inspire his friend to approach the object of his desires. The Dresden acknowledges the homage with a permanently-installed Swingers poster, which you can find on the wall leading to the back exit. En route, you’ll also be able to check out a wall of headshots donated by the Dresden’s celebrity patrons and regulars, including Jon Hamm, Dolly Parton, Jay Leno, and Adam West

The Dresden has starred in more than one cult classic – it also features in a pivotal scene in comedy That Thing You Do, as the place where striving musician Guy Patterson, played by Tom Everett Scott, finally meets his idol, musician Del Paxton, played by veteran character actor Bill Cobbs. For many moviegoers, the Dresden forms part of their image of classic Hollywood cool and characteristic Hollywood luxury – it’s also been the stand in for that essential Hollywood lounge atmosphere in Los Angeles-filmed movies like Anchorman and What Women Want.

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Photo Credit: Laweekly.com

As soon as you enter through the front door off noisy Vermont Avenue, you’re instantly transported back to the Los Angeles of the silver screen era. The Dresden’s interior has been carefully preserved ever since its renovation in the sixties by then-proprietor Carl Ferraro, and the quiet interior is the perfect place to escape from the crowded streets of contemporary Los Angeles.

As your eyes adjust to the dimly-lit lobby, you’ll see a private room to the right, perfect for intimate gatherings or a refuge from the crush of the always-busy bar area. On the left, you’ll see the restaurant, fitted out in true midcentury style with white leather booths and striking floor-to-ceiling light fixtures. The menu also has a vintage feel, with classic American fare like prime rib and pork chops. The menus capture the succulent Continental fare that was characterized American midcentury fine dining, with offerings like rack of lamb and the hearty chateaubriand for two.

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Photo Credit: Franklinavenue.blogspot.com

Straight ahead from the lobby is the lounge, equipped with unforgettable retro-chic décor: semicircular brown leather booths lining the faux rock walls and richly-toned wood paneling, or small white tables with red rolling chairs clustered in the center of the room. If you’d like to be close to the action, you can sit at the long table that wraps snugly around the piano at the center of the room. Heavy globe chandeliers adorn the ceiling. The bartenders wear tuxes, mixing drinks efficiently and expertly – and be warned: cocktails at the Dresden are made at midcentury strength, with liberal pours of whiskey, gin, vodka, and rum. Old-fashioned cash registers are used to settle your tab at the end of the evening.

Music-lovers who visit after 9 p.m. from Tuesday through Saturday – the Dresden’s most popular hours by far – you can sip your cocktail as you listen to live music provided by resident jazz musicians Marty and Elayne, who have been playing soulful jazz standards at the Dresden since 1982. Sometimes they’ll share the stage with a select roster of guest musicians, but more often than not, Elayne plays the piano as Marty plays the drums or strums along on the upright bass. The duo also appeared in Swingers.

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Photo Credit: Scpr.org

Looking for the perfect place to see a concert? Visit the Greek Theater in Los Feliz!

If you were enchanted by the Dresden when you saw it on the silver screen, or if you just want to grab a drink and listen to some live jazz in watering hole fit for the Rat Pack, then head to the Dresden. Their signature cocktail, the Blood and Sand, is a tart blended rum drink not unlike a cross between a margarita and a Jamaica. If you prefer to stick with classic drinks, you can’t go wrong with an expertly chilled martinis or a bittersweet old-fashioned. The bar is open until two every day but Sunday, when it closes at eleven.

Real Estate Unlimited is a real-estate company dedicated to representing clients in Los Feliz and other historic neighborhoods throughout the Los Angeles area. We pride ourselves on our in-depth knowledge of the Los Angeles area, and we’re glad to give our clients the benefit of our local expertise. Call us to schedule a consultation today!

Seven Best Restaurants in Los Feliz

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Alcove Café Patio – Photo Credit: Alcovecafe.com

Like so many of Los Angeles’ signature neighborhoods, Los Feliz is a vibrant mix of quirky charm, hip upscale hot spots, and old Hollywood glamour. In this post, we’ll give a list of the seven best restaurants in Los Feliz!

Why not dinner and a show? Read our post about the Rockwell Table and Stage in Los Feliz!

Little Dom’s

As the name insouciantly implies, Little Dom’s is the little brother of gone-but-not-forgotten Dominick’s in West Hollywood. Italian-influenced cuisine with an emphasis on satisfying plates like scrambled eggs bruschetta, meatball sandwiches on soft baguettes, and crisp golden whitefish picatta. If you’re in the mood for a sweet breakfast, the fluffy ricotta and blueberry pancakes are ridiculously delicious. If you’re looking for an affordable prix fixe spread that will leave you stuffed, the three-course Monday-night supper provides you with delicious home cooking at a bargain price.

Alcove Café and Bakery

Don’t let the name fool you – the Alcove’s menu is by no means limited to scones and avocado toast. This cottage-like café serves up heaping plates of gourmet American dishes as well as a long list of lighter fare like salads, wraps, and paninis. If you are hoping to grab a cup of coffee and a bite of pastry, the plethora of baked goods in the pastry window includes raisin-studded scones, buttery croissants, soft danishes, and frosted cinnamon rolls. If your sweet tooth still isn’t satisfied, grab a house-made chocolate bar from the display by the register – flavors include but most definitely are not limited to red velvet, salted caramel, and orange-infused mimosa. If you stop in for an early dinner, the adjacent Big Bar is the perfect spot to stop for an eclectic lineup of cocktails, craft brews, and fine wines alongside an innovative selection of bar bites.

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Diners at HomeState – Photo Credit: Myhomestate.com

HomeState

As with most neighborhoods in this SoCal metropolis, you’ll be spoiled for choice if you’re looking for tacos or tortas in and around Los Feliz. If you’re on the hunt for Tex-Mex in particular, however, your options may be slightly more limited so many miles from El Paso. HomeState will cure your homesick yearning for Lone Star-style Mexican food, with an exhaustive menu that is especially heavy on the savory breakfast options: fluffy scrambled eggs, crispy bacon, melted cheese, refried charro beans, spicy chorizo, tender brisket, and more. Migas, chilaquiles, tamales – and if you really want to try an original fusion creation, check out their signature Frito Pie in a Bag, a crunchy bag of Fritos covered with chile con carne, black beans, lettuce, tomato, and Mexican-style giardinera.

In the mood for a picnic in the sun? Check out our post about Griffith Park in Los Feliz!

Stamp Proper Foods

This unique café-market hybrid brings a whole new meaning to “farm to table” – Stamp Proper Foods is designed to serve as your one-stop shop for purchasing healthy ingredients and sampling healthy meals. Breakfast is on offer all day long, including savory Mexican-inspired fare like molé omelets, vegan chilaquiles, and piquant avocado toast. Sandwiches, soups, and salads are also served all day, with an emphasis on fresh, seasonal ingredients in inventive combinations. If you’re gluten-free, vegan, or vegetarian, Stamp Proper Foods is a very welcoming place – try the roasted sweet potato sandwich and or the zoodle salad with lemony vinaigrette dressing. Fill your basket with house-made granola bars, cookies, and other snacks.

Farfalla Trattoria

Traditional Italian fare makes a strong showing throughout Los Feliz, but we like Farfalla’s wholesome yet piquant menu. Portions are hearty, with an emphasis on familiar Italian favorites like chicken marsala, fluffy gnocchi, and homey pasta e fagioli. Crispy thin-crust Italian-style pizzas are also on offer, with toppings like juicy red onions and tender artichoke hearts. If you’re in the mood to split a bottle of authentic Italian vino rosso, Farfalla Trattoria boasts an exhaustive wine list, with flavorful selections starting at under ten dollars.

MessHall

MessHall is a dinette with a difference. Their theme is an original twist on summer camp food, with the mission statement to revive – and riff on – All-American comfort food favorites. Flavor profiles are simple without ever being bland or predictable. Their turkey kale chili is served with a thick slice of fresh golden cornbread, and their smoked corn fritters are garnished with a piquant poblano chili and pumpkin seen romesco. If you’re in the mood for more adult fare, MessHall also has a standout raw bar, including oysters with a variety of fresh dressings, tart ceviche, succulent shrimp cocktails, and delicate tuna tartare.

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Spitz – Photo Credit: Eatatspitz.com

Spitz

Spitz is quickly becoming Los Feliz’s prime location for primo döner kebab. Spitz is part of a chain, and you can find sister locations in nearby Eagle Rock, Little Tokyo, and Studio City. Each location in the franchise offers customers a colorful, comfortable spot to dig into a hearty Meditteranean platter filled with creamy hummus, crunchy falafel, and savory braised meats. If you’re in the mood for a salty snack, try the Street Cart Fries, smothered in feta, green onion, tomato, olives, pepperoncinis, and garlic aioli.

Los Feliz is a thriving neighborhood, and new eateries are hanging out their shingles on a weekly basis. Try these popular Los Feliz restaurants, and see if you find yourself a new local favorite.

Real Estate Unlimited is a real-estate company dedicated to representing clients in Echo Park and other historic neighborhoods throughout the Los Angeles area. We pride ourselves on our in-depth knowledge of the Los Angeles area, and we’re glad to give our clients the benefit of our local expertise. Call us to schedule a consultation today!

Rockwell Table & Stage (Los Feliz)

Are you a Broadway lover but you aren’t in New York City? Don’t fret, because the Rockwell Table & Stage in the neighborhood of Los Feliz in east Los Angeles features musical performances alongside meals crafted by Chef…If you haven’t been to the Rockwell yet, definitely check it out for a one-of-a-kind experience.

Rockwell Table & Stage is a restaurant mixed with an entertainment venue for musical performances, DJs, comedians, special events, and more. The shows at the Rockwell celebrate Los Angeles’ history as a leader in entertainment and innovation. In addition to excellent dining and craft cocktails, people go to the Rockwell to see musical parodies of their favorite Hollywood movies and cult classics.

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Photo Credit: http://rockwell-la.com/i/homepage/hp-slide5.jpeg

The Return of The Unauthorized Musical Parody of Hocus Pocus this year celebrates the goofy Halloween movie, that you may remember watching every year, starring Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy. Or take for example the Rockwell’s past product Cruel Intentions the Completely Unauthorized Musical Parody. Actresses Sarah Michelle Gellar, Reese Witherspoon, and Selma Blair (who starred in the 1990s film Cruel Intentions) all met at the Rockwell for a performance of the parody. Gellar also appeared there with the writer and director of the film, Roger Kumble, and actor Sean Patrick Thomas.

The production Romeo & Juliet: Love is a Battlefield was another nostalgic drama performed at the Rockwell. This time the play featured Pat Benatar’s 1980s music about love. Similarly, Rockwell Drops the Mic: Madonna is another celebration of an iconic singer’s music. Other performs and film directors celebrated at the Rockwell include Baz Luhrmann, Martin Scorsese, Tarantino, John Hughes, and Jeff Goldblum.

The Rockwell is about more than musicians though. The venue hosts DJs, special events, parties, and more. Audience members look on at the 360-degree stage while enjoying the amazing ambiance, atmosphere, and comforting food. Back in the 1940s, the site of the Rockwell was an Italian Pastry Shop (Sarno Pastry Shop). Today, Chef Wayne directs the kitchen as well as Crumble Catering.

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Photo Credit: http://rockwell-la.com/wp-content/gallery/gallerypage/rockwell_brunch_0201.jpg

Lunch, brunch, dinner, happy hour — you name it — you can enjoy it at the Rockwell. Diners partake of filet mignon tacos, sesame seed crusted Atlantic salmon, crab cakes with saffron aioli and watermelon radish, espresso rub pork chop, grilled cheese with Havarti cheese, truffle butter, and tomato bisque, to mention a few of the items on the current menu. On the menu, you’ll also find an array of flatbreads, salads, and burgers. Don’t forget to try some of the craft cocktails designed and served at the Rockwell, like the Alhambra (grapefruit vodka, elderflower, and jalapeno soda) or the the Rejected Suitor (honey scotch, blackberries, mint, and cointreau). The bottomless mimosas at Brunch are another popular item.

Where:

1714 N. Vermont Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90027

When:

-Performances typically begin 8pm-9pm

-Open from 11am-12pm on Sundays through Thursdays and 11am to 2am Fridays through Saturdays

-The restaurant does take reservations

-They deliver!

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Photo Credit: http://rockwell-la.com/i/homepage/hp-slide7.jpeg

Why:

Enjoy the beautiful atmosphere, fun performances, and delicious dishes at the Rockwell. There’s nowhere else you’ll have the unique experience of rocking out to your favorite tunes while enjoying amazing, Californian cuisine.

Los Feliz is a neighborhood in central Los Angeles, just south of the Santa Monica Mountains. Homeowners enjoy close proximity to downtown Los Angeles, Hollywood, and Silverlake in Los Feliz. Los Feliz — named after Jose Vincente Feliz —  is known for its hilly landscape, celebrity homes, and shopping, dining, and nightlife.

Other entertainment venues in Los Feliz:

-Greek Theatre

-Vista Theater

-The Dresden Room

Real Estate Unlimited is a luxury real estate agency with a team of professionals that are excited to assist buyers and sellers in Los Feliz and the other surrounding neighborhoods in Los Angeles. Feel free to contact us with questions about Los Feliz, Eagle Rock, Mt. Washington, Highland Park, Elysian Park, Echo Park, and more.

Greek Theatre (Los Feliz)

Music-lovers, get ready for the September lineup at the Greek Theatre in Los Feliz, including Mary J. Blige, Classic Quadrophenia, Future Islands, Nickelback, Harry Styles, Kenny G, Lifehouse, Goo Goo Dolls, George Benson, Switchfoot, and Explosions in the Sky. Located at 2700 North Vermont Avenue, the Greek Theatre of Los Angeles is one of the most beloved outdoor theatres of the nation.

The architect Samuel Tilden Norton designed the original plans for the Greek Theatre, which seats up to 5,870 viewers. This September marks the 87th-year-anniversary of the music and event venue. The theatre’s tagline, “To Play, See and Be Among the Stars” expresses the wondrous experience waiting to be had there.

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Photo Credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Greek_Theater_2007.JPG

Colonel Griffith J. Griffith was a journalist and a gold mining expert who purchased Los Feliz Rancho, started an ostrich farm, and later donated 3,000 acres of land to the city of Los Angeles. Griffith specifically stated that the land was meant for a city park and “made a place of recreation and rest for the masses, a resort for the rank and file, for the plain people.” The land became what is now known as Griffith Park. In addition to donating the park land, Griffith also allocated funds (up to one-million dollars) for the construction of the Greek Theatre, as well as the Griffith Observatory. While in or near Griffith Park, be sure to visit the Autry National Center, the heritage tree, the Hollywood Sign, Travel Town Museum, Bronson Canyon, the picnic areas, and the hiking trails. You’ll also find a merry-go-round, baseball fields, soccer fields, and the Griffith Park Zoo.

The Ancient Greeks gathered around outdoor theatres to view the dramas and tragedies of their day. In 1931, the first performance in the venue was held for an audience. Fifty years later, the seating was renovated to fit a larger crowd. Now, famous entertainers, musicians, and comedians perform at the Greek Theatre in Los Feliz. Bruce Springsteen, Sir Elton John, and Frank Sinatra are a few of the legends to play there. The venue has also been used over the years for motion picture filming, high school graduations, and other public events.

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Photo Credit: https://www.facebook.com/pg/thegreektheatre/photos/?ref=page_internal

Thinking about visiting the Greek Theatre? The theatre offers off-site parking for visitors and the Pony Ride Train shuttles patrons to the venue. You can also purchase food and drink on site. Enjoy music and fun at the Greek!

About Los Feliz

Los Feliz is a neighborhood in the city of Los Angeles near Hollywood, the Santa Monica Mountains, Silver Lake, and the Los Angeles River. Los Feliz was once a part of Rancho Los Feliz. Today, Los Feliz Hills, Los Feliz Estates, Los Feliz Square, and more are communities in the neighborhood.

Other historic destinations in Los Angeles include:

-Griffith Park

-Getty Center

-Ennis House designed by Frank Lloyd Wright

-Hollyhock House designed by Frank Lloyd Wright

-Santa Monica Pier

-Sunset Boulevard

Real Estate Unlimited is a real estate company in Southern California that specializes in luxury real estate in Los Angeles. We are passionate about sharing our knowledge of the area and with placing our clients in the best-fitting homes. Feel free to contact us with questions regarding real estate in Los Feliz and other neighborhoods in Los Angeles.