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7 Reasons You Should Be Hanging Out in Frogtown

By / June 12, 2017

Frogtown has been an “up and coming” neighborhood since at least 2014, when big-name artists Mark Grotjahn and Shepard Fairey moved their studios into the tiny riverside community.

At that time, the hype was a little premature, given that there were few retail businesses operating in the area. But along with a $3.2 million transformation of nearby Marsh Park and the approval of a luxury housing development, it was a sign of things to come. Three years later, after several new openings including indie venue and Brooklyn transplant Zebulon, and with more on the way, there’s a new wave of hype for Frogtown in 2017.

If you’ve never heard of it, you’re not alone. You may have driven by the odd collection of warehouses and suburban homes wedged between the LA River and the freeway behind Silver Lake, but if you blinked, you probably missed it. Originally named Elysian Valley, it became known as Frogtown in honor of the amphibians that would invade its streets during the rain.

Frogtown’s days as a hidden enclave are long gone. With an eclectic collection of art and performance spaces, cafes, restaurants, and community centers, it’s more or less become an extension of nearby Echo Park and Silver Lake. If you’re keen to see what the hype is about, here are seven reasons to visit Frogtown.

 

 

Zebulon

Zebulon’s opening night set the tone for things to come with a performance by legendary New York psychedelic outfit Endless Boogie. The venue is open daily from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m., and features a bar area, an outdoor dining patio, and a dedicated performance space focused on indie and electronic acts. Zebulon has also partnered with Cinefamily to bring retro and art house cinema over to the East Side.

 

 

Clockshop

Clockshop was founded in 2004 by filmmaker Julia Meltzer as an artist-run organization, and regularly hosts literary readings, book launches, music, and performances in their Bowtie space in Frogtown and along the LA River. Previous events have included everything from chamber music to poetry and even a performance for “three parked cars.”

 

 

Wax Paper

Founded by husband and wife duo Lauren and Peter Lemos in 2015, Wax Paper is a tiny sandwich shop with a focus on gourmet baguettes. The duo knows their way around a sandwich, bringing experience from LA establishments like SPQR, Étoile, L&E Oyster Bar, the Ace Hotel, and Sweet Lady Jane. As a bonus, everything is made from scratch daily.

 

Facebook/Salazar

 

Salazar

Be warned: Salazar has topped many local best-of lists, so you may be in for a long wait if you show up without a reservation. The core of the up-market Mexican menu is tacos and mesquite-grilled meats, but the real treat is sitting in the garden dining area on a warm LA night with a margarita.

 

 

Frog Spot

Frog Spot is an initiative of Friend of the LA River, a nonprofit that has been advocating for a “publically accessible and ecologically sustainable” river since it was founded by LA poet Lewis MacAdams in 1986. This riverfront outreach center is designed to provide education through entertainment, and features a weekend bar, live music and events, LA River tours, and yoga and meditation classes.

 

 

Spoke Bicycle Cafe

It might be a pipe dream to get Angelenos to give up their cars, but that’s not stopping Spoke Bicycle Cafe from trying. Founded in 2015, it claims to be the first cafe/bike shop in LA. While the space is specially designed for cyclists who come via the riverside bike path, you won’t be turned away if you arrive on foot (although they do discourage motorized forms of transport). The cafe boasts a sunny outdoor space that regularly hosts live music and a sustainable menu featuring burgers, breakfast, healthy salad bowls, and a selection of local beers and wines.

 

Frogtown Brewery

 

Frogtown Brewery

Frogtown Brewery is a relative newcomer to the LA craft brewing scene, but even though it only opened in 2016, it has already made a name for itself. The interior has a no-frills warehouse vibe, because the focus here is on quality brews. The brewery is open to the public from Friday through Sunday, with rotating seasonal and experimental brews mixed in with Frogtown staples. Oh yeah, and you can bring your dog along.

 

 

By

Matthew O’Shannessy is a writer living in Los Angeles. He grew up in Tasmania, Australia and moved to LA via Melbourne where he joined an art collective and worked for the Melbourne International Film Festival. His work has been published in various magazines and he’s currently co-editing an arts anthology. He lives in Echo Park, but you can often find him scouting out the San Fernando Valley.

More articles by Matthew O'Shannessy

Comments

8 Comments

  1. F. Donaghy Robitaille

    Did you know? Elysian Valley was a blue collar manufacturing and multi-cultural neighborhood – and still is? That Fairey, Michael Todd & Frank Romero were there, along with several 100 artists long before 2014? That Elysian Valley is more akin to Atwater Village not Echo Park or Silver Lake due to its River adjacency? In addition to the 7 newbie places, there are many other longtime entrepreneurs living and working there. Did you know that the Cosmo Kim Chi factory there churned out 10,000 pounds of kimchi every week? That the Kruegermann’s Pickle factory has been there since the 70’s and supplies kraut and pickles to Red Lion, Carney’s and Whole Foods? That there used to be 4 bakeries there? That some of Elysian Valley was part of the original City of Los Angeles in 1888? That the Bowtie is actually in Glassell Park and Clockshop shares it’s space with Elysian – the first restaurant in Elysian Valley? That Modernica has a curated museum of mid-century furniture available for rent? That the Frogtown moniker refers to an active gang name? That Co-Co’s Variety has been fixing and renting bikes for decades there? That Capsule Labs actually makes vinyl records, no, like MAKES, not just records them in Elysian Valley? That Brad Pitt is hunting for a warehouse to sculpt something other than his body? That Fred Armisen has an office there in an old prop-engine repair shop? That the Frogtown Artwalk has been going on there for over 10 years? That there are two pop-up taco shops hidden in front yards? Easy to see the new stuff, but the real adventure takes place with a walk along the LA River and stumbling on art studios like NOMAD, Cactus Gallery and the JR cigar factory, where you can see abuelitas hand rolling cigars. Happy hunting!

  2. goaterboy

    I have lived in Frogtown (1976-present) does that make me ultra cool or an earlier version of 2days carpetbaggers? Should I move to improve my image?

  3. Frogtown is just one part of Elysian Valley. Elysian Valley is alive and well and is still called that. Also Salazar doesn’t take reservations.

  4. “Up and coming since 2014″… Because no one lived there before then. Nothing counts if it happened before a couple of artists came and Columbus-ed the place.

  5. David Thorne

    Thanks for the above comment. It takes almost zero effort to make a list of the new spots and then brand Elysian Valley as “up and coming.” It’s almost as if history never existed!

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