WEST ADAMS

Welcome to one of LA’s oldest neighborhoods, a historic place in South LA that runs from Baldwin Hills along Adams Boulevard and up to the University of Southern California. West Adams boasts a rich Latino culture, a lively urban vibe, and more old mansions than you can imagine.

And just so you don’t get confused: Historic West Adams is different than the West Adams district (which includes some of Arlington Heights, Jefferson Park, and Harvard Heights). It’s an Angeleno neighborhood in that it’s located along two freeways, and unfortunately for us, a car is the easiest way to get around (although by foot and bus work too!) A walking tour of West Adams is the best thing to do if you’re an architecture buff — craftsman bungalows and Neoclassical mansions abound, but you’re also going to see Gothic, Renaissance, and Mission styles too (oh my!) The Soriano House and the Stimson House are two highlights along the way.

It was an uncharacteristically cold and windy weekend when we did our exploring, which means we spent a lot of time EATING (surprise, surprise) and there’s certainly no shortage of great places to grab a bite. Better yet, strap on your walking shoes, grab some fried plantains or a freshly-made taco, and see where these expansive streets will take you.

Stop 1: Vees Cafe

Vees has been a favorite for a long time, back when we used to work around the corner in Leimert Park. It’s one of the few places with healthier cafe items — think salads, sandwiches, juices, and organic coffee. They also have a pretty darn delicious breakfast menu (we LOVE the egg scrambles and breakfast burritos). We knew we’d be eating nothing but fried and barbecued dishes all day, so we grabbed a nutrient-packed smoothie for the road: a Green Beast Shake with cucumber, kale, spinach, mint, strawberry, pineapple, and chlorophyl. NOM.

(5418 W Adams Boulevard, Los Angeles)

Stop 2: The Shops at Adams Gateway

Talk about cool and creative — this shopping center is a cluster of Easter-egg-colored shipping containers housed next to a finger-lickin’ barbecue & burger stand. The Shops at Adams Gateway is home to vintage clothing, furniture, a tattoo shop, interior decor, and more.

We nabbed a beautiful pair of dangly crystal earrings for under $35 (they’re our new favorite!). Hours and days are a bit sporadic, but the center is generally open Thursday-Saturday.

(5746 W Adams Boulevard, Los Angeles)

Stop 3: JNJ Burger & BBQ

This old school barbecue stand is one of the best in the city. Although owner and legendary pit master Jay Nelson Jr. passed away last summer, the menu doesn’t seem to have suffered in his absence.

Start by heading to the right if you want barbecue (or order at the front window for burgers). We ordered a brisket sandwich with homemade potato salad, and a BBQ chicken plate with collared greens, plus a couple of cold Cokes. The sun was just shining through the clouds, so we settled on the picnic tables on the shaded patio and dug in — we’ve never been to Louisiana, but this is what we imagine great southern barbecue tastes like.

Insider’s Tip: Cash only!

(5754 W Adams Boulevard, Los Angeles)

Stop 4: The Kobbler King

It’s called “world famous” for a reason, folks. Brian McMillan has been gracing the neighborhood with his sweet pies for over 20 years, and they’re still as good as ever.

The banana pudding and monkey bread are both legendary, but we’ve heard the peach cobbler is most popular (particularly with the pecan crust!) so we ordered that along with the sweet potato pie. The shop doesn’t have any seats (and we couldn’t stand to wait!), so we grabbed a spot on the curb outside.

(3622 W Jefferson Boulevard, Los Angeles)

Stop 5: Honeybee's

It’s called The House of Breakfast, but it was nowhere near breakfast time when we walked through the front doors — fortunately, the restaurant is known for its home-cooked Salvadoran food, and we quickly saw some Central American snacks calling our names.

Now, the building isn’t much to look at from the outside — but your doubts will vanish once your plate of hot food arrives, TRUST US. This is a cozy local’s spot, and the homemade hot sauce is enough to keep us coming back. Our fried plantains (with aforementioned hot sauce), bean & pork pupusas, and fried yucca root were all delicious — the warm starchy snacks balanced perfectly with the spicy sauces. See you next time for breakfast!

(4715 W Adams Boulevard, Los Angeles)

Stop 6: Taqueria Los Anaya

We couldn’t possible eat anymore, right? WRONG.

It’s ALL ABOUT THE TACOS at Taqueria Los Anaya, and we were craving their thick warm tortillas as soon as we left Honeybee’s. It feels like this has been a neighborhood staple forever, but it’s really only been 5 years. The inside is all cheer and warmth — brightly colored tablecloths, rainbow paper cut-outs and piñatas hanging from the ceiling.

We ordered the all-time favorite: Combo with 3 Tacos. One of us chose chicken mole, grilled shrimp, and carne, and the other chose grilled fish, al pastor, and asada. The al pastor was the favorite of the bunch, for sure.

Don’t forget to order an agua fresca and guacamole, too! Both are fresh and too good to pass up.

(4651 W Adams Boulevard, Los Angeles)

The Details:

We took the Expo Line to the Farmdale Station, and then alternated between walking, taking the bus, and one Uber ride.

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