(between Highland Avenue and La Cienega Boulevard)
before TV's "Melrose Place" hit the TV airwaves, there
was Melrose Avenue, the real Melrose Avenue - one of the unique
sections of the city which help define the L.A. experience. It's a funky,
New Wave, walking/shopping/dining/ people-watching area which is, in turn,
both bizarre and delightful.
Melrose is to the young, cutting-edge trendies of the West Side what Rodeo
Drive is to their affluent elders, and what the Venice boardwalk is
to LA's residual 60's counterculture: a place to shop, a place to stroll
outdoors, but most of all, it's a place to see and be seen.
is one of the few genuine pedestrian neighborhoods in our City of Angels,
and it is unique, with a quirky, slightly-demented personality all its
own. It's a neighborhood trying desperately to be hip and outlandish, and
succeeding wonderfully; a garish blur of day-glo and neon, of pierced noses
and red Ferraris; row after row of eccentric, trendy little boutiques with
gaudy storefronts done up in florescent colors, sporting curious names
"A Star is Worn," "Humphrey Yogurt Cafe," "Warbabies,"
"Some Crust: the Bakery," "Retail Slut," and
also offers comedy clubs, night spots, one-of-a-kind nostalgia shops, and
unusual stores selling records, books, Disney memorabilia, fine art, jewelry,
and antiques.Melrose is home to some of L.A.'s hottest restaurants such
asChianti and Ago, as well as older establishments such as
People-watching is half
the fun here, as curious tourists mingle with the black-leather-&-mohawk
crowd. Unlike Rodeo Drive, Melrose isn't afraid to poke fun at itself,
yet it remains on the cutting edge of fashion, dining and even home furnishings.
Saturday afternoon is the best time to people-watch, when the trendy crowds
are the thickest. (On the other hand, the avenue can be relatively deserted
There are those who say Melrose
is changing, though. losing its rough edges and becoming too mainstream
for its own good. And there's some evidence to back this up. One landmark,
a fast food stand called "The Burger That Ate L.A." was
recently replaced by a Starbucks. And you'll see more tourists and fewer
kids with purple hair than you used to on the avenue. But the boulevard
remains crowded on weekends, and still has more than enough flash to rate
To sample the Melrose experience,
you may want to begin by simply driving down Melrose for a quick visual
overview. You will get an eyeful.
But to truly appreciate Melrose,
you have do it on foot. The crazy interiors of eccentric shops like
Wacko must be seen to be appreciated.
are some of the more notable establishments that you will encounter as
you head west on Melrose, starting at Highland (except for Patina, which
is east of Highland):
are on the north side of Melrose; even-numbered addresses
are on the south side of the street.)
L'Angelo (6602 Melrose,
at the southwest corner of Melrose and Highland); formerly Emilio's,
a landmark, authentic Italian restaurant whose owner liked to play
his accordion. (323) 935-4922.
Have a Nice Day (6907
Melrose, between Highland & La Brea); 70's nostalgia items. (323)
Cadillac Jack's (6911
Melrose, between Highland & La Brea); offers movie cowboy nostalgia
from the good old days of Roy, Gene and Tex. (323) 931-8864.
The Golden Apple (7018
Melrose, between Spaulding & Genesse); superstar Michael
Jackson was spotted buying comic books
here. (323) 658-6047.
Super Max (7270 Melrose,
three blocks west of La Brea); offers more than 120 different kind of baseball
caps, with as many different logos.
Angeli Caffee (7274
Melrose, three blocks west of La Brea); a noisy, busy, Italian New Wave
trattoria popular with those who like to wear all black. Scenes from the
upcoming movie "It Came From the Sky" were filmed here.
Groundling Theatre (7307 Melrose, four blocks west of La Brea);
an improvisational comedy group, which gave many comics their start, including
Pee Wee Herman,Phil Hartman
Tommy Tang's restaurant
(7313 Melrose, between Fuller & Poinsettia); top-notch but unconventional
Thai cuisine and sushi in an ultra-trendy setting noted for people-watching
and paparazzi. Sean Penn
proposed marriage to Madonna in
the restaurant's original courtyard (which was a few blocks west, at 7473
Melrose). (323) 937-5733.
Off the Wall (7325
Melrose, four blocks west of La Brea); they carry big ticket nostalgia
items, dating from the turn-of-the-century through World War II, from vending
machines to furniture. (323) 930-1185.
Red Balls (7365 Melrose);
You can't miss the flashy exterior of Red Balls, marked by dozens of chrome
spheres, acting like fisheye lenses as they reflect the passing traffic.
(Oh yes, they sell trenddy clothes inside.) (323) 655-3409 .
The Wound & Wound Toy
Company (7374 Melrose, between Fuller & Martel Avenue); a
universe of crazy wind-up toys and music boxes. (323) 653-6703.
Joys & Toys (7375
Melrose, between Fuller & Martel); toys and games for all ages.
Atomic Garage (7379
Melrose, between Fuller & Martel); snowboards, skateboards, ski
equipment and other grownup action toys. . (323) 651-3487.
Chianti Restorante and
Cucina (7383 Melrose, between Fuller & Martel); a dark, romantic
Italian restaurant, long a favorite on Melrose, despite its high prices.
Time After Time (7425
Melrose, between Martel Ave and Vista); antique wedding gowns and vintage
dresses in a Victorian garden setting. (323) 653-8463.
Wasteland (7428 Melrose,
between Martel Ave and Vista); vintage (often camp) clothing from 1940's
to the present. (323) 653-3028.
The original Johnny Rockets
burger joint (7507 Melrose, between Gardner & Sierra Bonita) sits
at the northwest corner of Garner and Melrose. (323) 651-3361.
Leathers & Treasures
(7511 Melrose, , between Gardner & Sierra Bonita); leather wear
and Western duds.
Hollywood Neon (7553
Melrose, between Sierra Bonita & Curson Avenue); custom made neon signs
Gelati Per Tutti (7653
Melrose, between Stanley & Curson); great Italian ices.
Wilder Place (7975
Melrose, one block west of Fairfax); fascinating decorating accessories
Fantasies Come True
(8012 Melrose, two blocks west of Fairfax); top-notch Walt Disney memorabilia
for the fan or collector. (323) 655-2636.
Segal (8100 Melrose, at Crescent Heights, four blocks west of Fairfax);
a collection of trendy shops which take up an entire block, selling everything
than you can shake a stick at. (323) 651-1935. (See
Faire La Cuisine (8112
Melrose, four blocks west of Fairfax); a wide array of cooking gadgets
and gourmet foods, as well as a flower-filled patio restaurant in the rear.
Improv (8162 Melrose, at Kilkea Drive, five blocks west of Fairfax);
the Improv, a major comedy club. (323) 651-2583. (See separate page.)
Sweet Lady Jane (8360
Melrose, at King's Road, three blocks east of La Cienega); desserts and
coffee. A favorite, they recently prepared the wedding cake for TV's "Hercules,"
(8478 Melrose, one half block east of La Cienega);
Ago restaurant, which includes Robert De Niro
as an investor, was the scene of an infamous encounter on Oct. 22, 1997
between "Pulp Fiction" director Quentin
Tarantino and producer Don Murphy ("Natural
Born Killers"). According to news reports, Tarantino, angered at criticism
about him in the book, "Killer
Instinct" (which was written by Murphy's producing partner),
attacked Murphy in the restaurant. The
police were called and Tarantino spent some time in the back of a squad
car before a truce was negotiated and he was released. Murphy later sued
Tarantino for the assault. The case is still pending. (323) 655-6333.
(See separate page.) [Up until 1997, 8478 Melrose was the site of Cicada, a country-French
restaurant owned by Elton John's
lyricist, Bernie Taupin
(the man who wrote the words to hits such as "Candle in the
Wind" and "Goodbye Yellowbrick Road"), and his
wife, maitre'd Stephanie Haymes (daughter of actor Dick Haymes).
Cicada has moved to the old Rex site at 617 S. Olive St., downtown
The Melting Pot (8490
Melrose, just east of La Cienega); a nice outdoor café with reasonable
Homebody (8500 Melrose,
#104) Sandra Bullock
has been seen enjoying the scents here. (310) 659-2917. / At the same
address (#105), you'll find Crystalarium, a rock shop which has
had their jewels featured in Hollywood movies like George Clooney's "Out
of Sight" and Jim Carrey's "Man on the Moon".
Aunt Vi's Garden (8576
Melrose) also offers scents which attract the likes of Rene
Russo and Julia Roberts
as customers. (310) 289-7869.
Just a block and a half south
of Melrose, at 440 1/2 La Cienega, is Clog Master, a shoe
store frequented by Whoopi Goldberg,Cher,
Sarah Jessica Parker,
Jamie Lee Curtis,
family and Madonna,
where the wooden clogs go from $80 - $150 a pair. (310) 657-8083.
The western stretch
of Melrose Avenue, between La Cienega Boulevard and Doheny Drive, is more
sedate, but notable for its interior design shops, restaurants and antique
stores. At the west end of Melrose, near the
Pacific Design Center you'll find
almost exclusively furniture and interior design shops. Nearby is
the Beverly Center Mall., just a
few south of Melrose, on La Cienega.
The Bodhi Tree (8585
Melrose, between La Cienega and San Vicente); a metaphysical book store,
frequented by Shirley MacLaine
and rocker Meredith
Brooks. (310) 659-1733 .
Samuel Bassett (8620
Melrose, two blocks east of San Vicente); features whimsical toys
The Pacific Design Center
(8687 Melrose, at San Vicente); a West Hollywood landmark, nicknamed "The
Blue Whale" (for obvious reasons) its two enormous, modern glass
buildings - the original "blue center" and the newer "green
center" - house what amounts to a private mall for interior decorators.
You can go inside and look at the furnishings and art in the more than
200 showrooms, but they only sell to professional designers (except for
a special once-a-year public sale).
Gideon Gallery (8748
Melrose, between San Vicente and Robertson Boulevards); a fabulous collection
of old prints, including Currier & Ives. (310) 657-4194
(8800 Melrose, at Robertson); an American/continental restaurant with a
huge celebrity following. This is where the 1994 Academy Awards party was
held. (310) 276-5205 (See separate
(Be warned: Shops open and
close here every day on Melrose, so some of the stores listed above will
probably be gone by the time you read this.)
An offbranch of Melrose Avenue
is called Melrose Place, a three-block long street that contains
numerous fine antique stores. It lies to the north of western Melrose Avenue,
between Orlando Avenue (on the east) and La Cienega Boulevard (on the west).
Melrose Avenue is an east-west street located about a mile and a quarter
south of Hollywood Boulevard, and about a mile and a half north of Wilshire
Boulevard. The most interesting stretch of Melrose lies between Highland
Avenue (on the east) and La Cienega Boulevard (on the west), centered around
Gardener, but the trendy area keeps expanding to the east. / From Hollywood
&Vine, take Vine Street south (about a mile and a quarter)
to Melrose Avenue, and turn right (west). Drive another mile west on Melrose
to its main shopping district. / FromFarmers
Market, drive north on Fairfax Avenue (less than one mile) to Melrose
Avenue, and turn right (east). / From the Santa Monica (10) Freeway,
take the Highland exit from the Santa Monica Freeway, and go north to Melrose
Avenue. Turn left (west) on Melrose.
for something in particular? Search the Seeing-Stars website!
This webpage is not associated
with any business described in the article above, and does not constitute
endorsement of this or any other business. The photos of celebrities on
this page also do not constitute
endorsements by them of any kind, and are used by the author solely to
illustrate this online article.
here to read other disclaimers)