When you think of visiting Los Angeles, most people imagine strolling down Rodeo Drive, people-watching on Venice Beach, or “accidentally” spying a celebrity at Urth Caffe. The city, though, sprawls for over 450 square miles. On the west side, you run into Malibu and the farms in Simi Valley. On the east side, though, you can explore where many Angelenos actually reside. In the shadow of its eponymous stone, Eagle Rock abuts Pasadena, Highland Park, and Glendale. It has a character all its own, with tree-lined streets where kids ride their bikes past bungalows and restored Craftsmans.
The real gem of Eagle Rock, beyond its community, is the quality of the food. Without the astronomical costs and faux pretense of the West Side, you can enjoy some true foodie and family friendly restaurants simply by walking down Colorado Boulevard.
Without a good morning hit of caffeine, many days do not even begin. Why trudge yet again to the Starbucks where they have misspelled your name for the seventeenth time when you could experience a true barista? Bring the whole family to Swork. Besides the extensive tea collection (coffee just makes me jittery), the cold brew on tap, and the delicious vanilla bean latte, they have kid-exclusive drinks like a babyccino (steamed milk with cacao) and a happy chocolate. Because this is LA, they also have a golden latte with turmeric (natural anti-inflammatory) and other wellness blends with flax and chia. The real draw for families, though, is the children’s play area. Pick up a blueberry jam muffin, and settle in on the couch as you watch your little ones play with magnets and read board books without bothering the Laptop Brigade. They reserve the children’s area from 6 am-noon, so hopefully you need to share only with other families.
Chef Sean Lowenthal formerly was a chef at the Greenbriar in Boulder, then sous chef at Chateau Marmont. He and his wife named Little Beast after a term of endearment for their son. Because of this, they welcome children, the seasonally-inspired food pleases foodie parents and teaches their kids to try new foods. If you can, request to sit outdoors on the patio. Even if it’s chilly outside, which in LA means anything less than 70 degrees, they provide heat lamps and blankets. I recommend everything. We have tried multiple different dishes each time we have been, and everything has been delicious. Supposedly, they now offer fried chicken on Mondays. Don’t miss Monday.
Though not a sit-down restaurant like Little Beast, the food at Turning Fire rivals that of the best in Los Angeles. Indeed, LA Weekly voted it the best rotisserie chicken this past year. You order at the counter from a wide range of rotisserie options, salads, and more. Similar to Little Beast, we have never tried anything that has not been delicious. Their carefully curated wine and beer list also helps make it seem more of a dining out event. Their children’s menu offers craveable macaroni and cheese (I won’t tell if you steal from your kid’s plate), carrots and melon. It sits just half a block from the Peekaboo Playground, so it makes an easy afternoon. Burn off some energy at an indoor playground, then head down Colorado for some nosh.
What about brunch, the quintessential weekend LA dining experience? Though slightly more formal in the evenings, Red Herring offers weekend brunch with a view. Request the second floor dining room, which looks out over Colorado Boulevard. Both Red Herring and Little Beast feel like you are entering someone’s vintage LA home and enjoying an exquisite dining experience.
Dining out with little kids can be challenging. I have left more than one restaurant with my little V screaming in my arms. That doesn’t mean it is not a worthwhile experience, and in Eagle Rock, several local restauranteurs have gotten the idea that children should be celebrated, not just tolerated. Thanks to them, we have some truly great foodie and family friendly restaurants here. So make sure you show a little East Side LA love the next time you visit Los Angeles 🙂
Where do you like to take your kids to go out to eat? Please comment below and let me know!