York Boulevard makes room for another Highland Park cafe

Breakfast Tostada | Photo by Valentina Silva

By Valentina Silva

The speed at which York Boulevard’s food scene is developing has hit break-neck status recently. There’s that new French place Ba, a little place called Fusion Burgers has quietly opened across the street from Maximiliano, and now there seems to be enough room for two cafes on the same Highland Park block.

That’s right. Highland Cafe has opened a few doors down from mainstay Cafe de Leche. The new place, housed in what was the Guatemalan restaurant El Chapin just a few months ago, stakes its claim with a small, Mexican-tinged breakfast and lunch menu along with a full coffee bar fueled by Downtown’s Handsome Coffee Roasters.

Beef Bulgogi sandwich/Valentina Silva

The new restaurant/coffee house courts a college crowd, offering a 10 percent discount to Oxy students and plenty of room (plus a few easy chairs) to hash out the deets of a class project. Even so, the crowd is mixed enough that older-than-22 patrons won’t feel out of place and probably won’t mind paying full price for above average egg dishes, pastries, sandwiches and salads.

The breakfast menu includes common York Boulevard fare like huevos rancheros–here they’re made with extra crispy fried corn tortillas and function more like breakfast tostadas than I’m used to, but they aren’t chintzy with the avocado, and the salsa has an impressive kick. The chilaquiles, equally crispy, light on the sauce, and heavy on the sour cream, are also worth a try even if you can probably get a more authentic version down the street at El Huarache Azteca.

What you won’t find nearby is a perfectly flaky strawberry danish or a big bowl of milky steel cut oatmeal served with fresh fruit, for that matter. Highland Cafe has both. And if you go for lunch, there’s fish tacos, a bean-based veggie burger and an inventive beef bulgogi sandwich. You wouldn’t think that the Korean staple has any business going near cheese, but well, I suggest you just give in and enjoy its oddness—it’s the way things are going on York.

Valentina Silva writes about food and restaurants. You can also find Valentina’s reviews and stories on her blog, Eastside Food Bites.


  1. Not a few doors down – one door down. There’s just one store front between CDL and these newbs.

  2. This is great, Cafe de Leche is notorious for treating their employees like crap and the female owner is disliked by most local business owners.

    • Does Cafe de Leche have more than one owner?

      • husband and wife team, husband seems nice if whipped. Wife has pissed off half the neighborhood if not more with her attempts to take over highland park and act like she’s lived there more than a few years.

  3. Good for York Blvd!

  4. Shut all these pansyass places down and bring back the Dragon.

  5. @ Sherrie – Actually, there is the vintage clothing shop, then Johnnies, then the art gallery, then Cafe de Leche. Making it more like three doors down.

    • I hope not, I feel like we just got rid of that one hit wonder ..

    • The art gallery has now been replaced by a groovy used bookstore. With a kids area, and silk screening to boot. But yes, a “few doors” would be accurate.

  6. TypicalLA Hater

    I bet these fuc$&?$ hipster douchbags shut down another party rental store water purification center to open this place driving out the hard working citizens of Highland Park and replacing it with some generic heartless eating place they brought over from Silverlake. We need to reclaim the neighborhood…more stucco, more window bars, more chain link fences, more barking dogs, and more graffiti! HLP is just turning into another cookie cutter LA neighborhood.

    • Hilarious! Yes, God forbid I have to walk more than 3 blocks to rent my party needs!

    • I’ve lived in HP since I was 1 year old…and have lived here over 30 years, and I’ll tell you that I’d rather the ENTIRE neighborhood be overrun with NOTHING BUT HIPSTERS instead of all the lowlife scumbag gang members or ppl that do NOT speak English (and i’m Hispanic so it’s not rascist, just CLASS-IST). I’m tired of watching my neighborhood turn into a ghetto slum because the majority of ppl that live here are low income renters (thanks Tom Bradley) who couldn’t care less about the area!

      • Monica, you’re classism and attitude toward immigrants is disgusting. I’m an upper middle class woman who prefers living on the east side exactly for the reasons your ign0rant self seems to hate. People who do not speak English are just as human as I am. I agree that the gang members are sometimes a problem, but I’ve never had a problem as of yet because I’m not overly paranoid and am as friendly to them as I would be to the frikking president of this country. Maybe you should move to Brentwood, that is, IF you can afford it. People like you make me embarassed to be a human being.

        • I moved to the area about three years ago. I am an Occidental Alumn and love it here. Monica, your neighborhood is beautiful! It’s quiet, the people are great and I love the fact that I go out for a run and nobody bothers me. There is nothing wrong with your neighborhood. I lived in several different places and there is a certain charm about Highland Park that I enjoy. I speak three languages and I’m not bothered by people who speak or don’t speak English. Believe me, this is a great place to be in. Embrace what makes your neighborhood unique and beautiful…and the Highland Cafe is great by the way! Try their Mayan latte. It’s great!

  7. The employees at Cafe De Leche are the worst. The short fat chick that works there always gives off the worst attidtude. I am happy to go to The Highland, they seem a lot more down to earth and the food puts them over the top. Plus they make a better cup of coffee.

    • Try to forgive crabby, bitchy baristas… I mean, they are making cups of coffee for a living — no wonder they’re miserable! But as long as clueless Judah Friedlander lookalikes put up with the lousy service, it will keep happening. I remember having SERVICE jobs and a smile was an important part of my uniform. Guess what? It also made the day go much quicker and I actually made friends. Can you imagine going through life essentially announcing to everyone that you hate it? Sad.

      • Amen, Jackie.

      • Yes…more service employees need to remember that their attitude warrants whether or not they get a tip, which, BTW, is NOT mandatory! Shitty service and all you’ll get from me is $0.01 telling you how much your crappy service was worth!

  8. TypicalLA Hater-


  9. Wow, I’ve never had a bad experience at Cafe de Leche. I love that place. Anyway, I’m happy to have a new place in the neighborhood — hopefully all these businesses can reinforce each other. That end of York is really coming along nicely.

  10. I love going to cafe de leche and waiting 25 minutes for them to realize they forgot my order. A regular black coffee.

    Go Highland Park Cafe.

  11. Now if only they’d do the same with Figueroa St and Monte Vista and maybe the neighborhood would stop LOOKING like a ‘hood!

  12. Not sure why opening a new coffee shop/restaurant means that we have to hate the others. This isn’t high school basketball. I say if there are more places to mingle with locals and have a tasty cup of joe, then the more the merrier. I love walking this neighborhood, and I love having lots of yummy options to keep me entertained. Go York! Keep ’em coming!

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