Before Echo Park was hip

The L.A. Times today published a story – “Echo Park evolves into hipster destination” – about the neighborhood’s bustling nightlife.  The former “no mans land at night” is now one of “L.A. most densely packed night-life corridors, with more than 15 popular bars, clubs and restaurants drawing crowds each weekend and often on weeknights too,”  the story says (The Eastsider was among those interviewed). While not exactly a “no man’s land,” Echo Park’s nightlife and bar scene of a decade or so ago was certainly different, dominated by a string of low-key and somewhat dingy bars that catered primarily to working class Latinos. Former Echo Park resident and writer Jesse Katz recalls those bars in his book “The Opposite Field.” In fact, Katz met his wife, Reynelda, who worked at The Sunset, a bar that was demolished to make way for the Barragan’s restaurant parking lot. During the 1990s, Jesse and Reynalda became a familiar sight at bars that many neighbors avoided:

“We became the royal couple of Echo Park’s cantina row. In those days you could walk to a dozen raffish saloons in the span of a half mile  – gentrification has since shuttered or spoiled near all of them – and whenever Reynelda’s shift ended at The Sunset, we would parade through the others. The Gold Room, The Hollyway, El Prado, Los Pinos, The Suku Suku, Little Joy. Someone always wanted to buy us a round, if not gentlemanly runners-up who wished to pay their respects, then sad-faced bar girls who dreamed of themselves being spirited away. Reynelda and I were cheered as proof that in the den of sin, there were still fairy-tale endings.”


  1. I wish there was a boring, lame, tired bar in Echo Park. Sometimes it’s nice to just have a drink without a band, dj, or blackout-drunk hipster screaming in my ear.

  2. 1642 is good for that … at least for now!

  3. booshthelurker: That’s what we thought the Short Stop would be when it changed hands. That nice quiet neighborhood bar lasted for about a year then the obnoxious USC kids started showing up.

  4. Is Jessica Gelt the only Times reporter to write on EP? I knew this was one of her lame articles before I even clicked the link. Like your commentary & insight, Eastsider.

  5. I remember and used to go to every dive bar in Echo Park my fav was the gold room, Suki I must admit was scary on some nights. You could drink your beer, play the juke box and just be part of the goings on around you. Now I’d rather stay home buy my own New Castle and listen to my Bose. It’s cheaper and I don’t have to listen to the neighbor booth people talking about there beaner neighbors, cant wait till they move. yes I’ve heard this crap. so like i said. I’ll stay home. The party is now at my place. jejejeeje…..

  6. Are you refering to my Suki? Hope not Echo Park Lady.
    It seems there’s still lot’s of crime in the new white Echo park.
    Lots of lame drunks as well. I love real dive bars!

  7. Isn’t the appropriate reaction to hipsters taking over neighborhood bars to start a private drinking club? I don’t have the resources to do it, but it would be great if someone with the will could start a bar where pay monthly dues for a set number of drinks (and you can buy more), and the patronage is limited to people who have been approved.

    In essence, you would look to see if: the person is a hipster, if they do not live in the area, if they have a trust fund, etc. Anyone of those things will disqualify.

    So there you go – isn’t that how the Elks got their start?

  8. hipster bars only hold that status temporarily. then the hipsters don’t want to go anymore. endless cycle. this time next year everyone will be drinking in highland park. and we’ll all be complaining about the bridge and tunnel people that have taken over the neighborhood.

  9. I agree regarding Jessica Gelt. Most of her pieces read as if they were written by an intern for the college newspaper instead of the LA Times. She is not a bad writer but she never makes any interesting observations or writes anything non-obvious.

    I don’t understand why the LA Times printed this story. The whole topic of hipsters taking over Echo Park is old and tired and not interesting. I thought, at first, that maybe they had a new angle on it, but they don’t. And, they got the story wrong.

    Isn’t the real story that hipsters are moving on to other pastures (Highland Park; Elysian Valley; Boyle Heights) and that Echo Park, a neighborhood ever in transition, is getting “grown-up” restaurants? AYC caters to some aging-hipsters, but mostly, it caters to adult professionals who live in the neighborhood — not “hipsters.” So, the real story is that the hipsters are moving on, not that they are coming in.

  10. I 100% agree with you Cristi. you have said perfectly what I was thinking-all of it.

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