GLASSELL PARK

As nearby neighborhoods in the hip Northeast LA area gain notoriety, real estate experts, young families, artists (and just about anyone in Los Angeles interested in both eating AND paying their rent), have begun to explore Glassell Park. Northeast LA has gained in popularity in recent years because of its proximity to the LA River, sweeping views and nearby mountains, cool cafes and unique boutiques — but while bordering neighborhoods Highland Park and Eagle Rock have become “it” areas, Glassell Park remains more homey than hip.  The mellow residential streets of Glassell Park sit in the shadow of downtown LA’s skyscrapers, but the peace of this neighborhood is welcome — especially knowing that the big city is just a hop-skip away.

The neighborhood is named after the Glassell family, who are considered early LA pioneers. Andrew Glassell arrived in the city from the South just around the time of the Civil War, and was a wealthy land developer who purchased most of the land that is now Glassell Park (the neighborhood is located atop what was once his expansive farm).

The neighborhood itself is just under 3 square miles, but like Los Angeles itself, doesn’t have a clear center. We walked from place to place during most of the day, and had many happy surprises after turning a corner on a tree-canopied street (finding a group of grandmas selling homemade pupusas outside their church was only one of them!) So prepare for a short trek north, and get yourself to Glassell Park for some real good Filipino food, pints of local beer, a few slices of LA history, and a whole lot more.

Stop 1: Habitat Coffee & Tea

Habitat Neighborhood Coffee seems to be a modern version of the area’s beloved morning diners. Everyone in the place had either stopped in with their pooch during their daily walk, or was talking LA city politics as they sipped coffee and munched on grains made-to-order (the warm quinoa with rice milk honey, maple syrup and pecans is a personal favorite).

As it was the first sunny day in quite a while, we enjoyed a hazelnut cold brew (so good!) and slow scrambled eggs with cheese and fresh vegetables. So delightful.

(3708 Eagle Rock Boulevard, Los Angeles)

Stop 2: Streetside Pupusas (outside the Evangelical Church)

Best. Part. Of. The. Day.

We stumbled across the sweetest abuelas selling homemade pupusas to raise funds for their neighborhood church. They recommended the pork and cheese pupusa, which came right off the griddle next to us, and doled out sauces from white plastic buckets on folding tables with big smiles. The thick masa casing and slightly sour cabbage slaw on top were perfect, and we could have easily eaten a half-dozen of these, called it a day, and been fully satisfied with our exploration of Glassell Park.

These lovely ladies sell their pupusas every other Saturday in front of the church (next one: March 11th).

(3552 Eagle Rock Boulevard, Los Angeles)

Stop 3: Walt Disney's Gravesite & David Bowie Exhibit

As two girls who know every word to every Disney movie ever made (WHO IS THE MOST EXCITED ABOUT THE “BEAUTY & THE BEAST LIVE-ACTION REMAKE?!), we were told that Walt Disney’s grave is a must-see. The grave itself is located in Glassell Park, but it sits in the very back of the Forest Lawn Memorial Lawn in Glendale — a cemetery on land originally donated by the Glassell family. Disney isn’t the only big name here — Elizabeth Taylor and Clark Gable are also among the stars buried on site. His grave is located in a serene garden with a statue of the original Little Mermaid and a large plaque commemorating Walt and other family members.

Our second exciting find of the day came as we were exiting Forest Lawn and saw a sign for “David Bowie: Among the Mexican Masters” — a collection of archive photos of Bowie’s first and only trip to Mexico in the late 1990s. The gallery is small, but each of the 27 images — of Bowie and his band at the Mesoamerican pyramids, in front of Diego Rivera murals, and inside the Frida Kahlo Museum — is touching. For David Bowie fans, we recommend the opportunity to take in this colorful homage to one of the greats.

(Disney’s grave is on Cathedral Drive inside Forest Lawn. Bowie’s exhibit is just past the entrance: 1712 S Glendale Ave, Los Angeles)

Stop 4: Auntie Dee's Pan De Manila

There are no shortage of bakeries in Los Angeles, but this one is a go-to for Filipino treats. The ube roll is our pastry of choice here, a bright purple yam cake that is sweet and perfect with a hot cup of coffee. Ube (OO-BAE) may be slightly unknown in the United States, but it’s a national obsession in the Philippines, and for good reason.

Insider’s Tip: Cash only.

(3756 W Ave 40, Los Angeles)

Stop 5: Eagle Rock Brewery

Local breweries have popped up all over the city in recent years, but Eagle Rock Brewery was one of the first when they first opened their doors in 2009.  The small taproom is a cozy place for cold brews and delicious eats from the food trucks outside — we ordered a Revolution Pale Ale and Cerveza Frambuesa, and stopped for a chicken pita and garbanzo bean salad with lamb from the Gyritto food truck (with all sorts of tasty Mediterranean/Indian fusion dishes). We can’t wait to while away an afternoon here again.

(3056 Roswell Street, Los Angeles)

The Details:

You can walk or bike around most of Glassell Park. To get from Eagle Rock Boulevard to Forest Lawn, we took the 603 bus (which took just over 20 minutes). More here.

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